Monthly Archives: August 2013

Summer Joy

rhubarbEmbracing life’s simple pleasures brings joy. One of summer’s gifts in Colorado is rhubarb. Though incredibly tart, when mixed with a sugar, honey, or strawberries, it is delightful!

It’s also a gorgeous plant, hardy, and resilient. I’ve given mine very little care, but it comes back, year after year. It does require a lot of water if you want it to bear repeatedly throughout the summer, and over-harvesting can ruin your return. Only a third of the plant should be harvested at time. Also, the plant should not be allowed to flower. When blooms start to form, remove the stalk where they grow. Allowing the plant to flower reduces return.

My favorite rhubarb dish is homemade pie. My husband loves rhubarb sauce. He makes a steaming hot loaf of homemade wholewheat bread, covers it in real cream, then covers that in rhubarb. Sarah thinks rhubarb is best when mixed with strawberries. Stephen rates Miss Monique’s homemade strawberry rhubarb jam at the top.

One of my favorite rhubarb stories includes our foreign exchange student from Spain. Before coming to my house he’d never been introduced to pie or to rhubarb. His first few days here he was tenuous about trying such things, IMAG2030even apple pie during our Fourth of July celebration. But after he was here a few weeks he grew bolder–and rhubarb pie became a favorite. He even admitted to getting up in the middle of the night and having a piece! Before returning to his homeland we’d convinced him that pie is one of the USA’s best pleasures.

Part of sustaining my BeNew journey is giving myself permission to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, like rhubarb pie. I can’t eat heavy calorie treats like this at every meal or even every day, but enjoyed in balance with good fresh fruits and vegetables and a mile or two walk through the neighborhood, enjoying life’s good stuff keeps me happy and able to maintain my weight loss goals.

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Rhubarb: a simple pleasure

Grabbing Joy

I’ll let you in on a secret. I’ve prayed for joy for at least ten years, yet I’m still processing the concept.

During a particularly down day a few months ago my Dad told me, “Well, Baby Doll, the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

I have a very sweet Daddy, but at that moment his words felt hollow. I bit my tongue really hard to keep the snide remark from bursting out.

Of course joy comes from the Creator of joy–but how do I access joy? How do I push through the crap of life to grab hold of it? What is it, really? Happiness? Something deeper? Is it like peace or hope? Does it always include laughter?

After ten plus years of thinking and praying about joy, I’m still not sure I get it. But I have figured out a few things:

  • Joy can be attached to circumstancesneighborhood walk 4
  • Joy isn’t only from circumstances
  • Joy can be a choice
  • Joy can be a supernatural gift
  • Choosing to be grateful brings joy
  • Choosing to be hopeful, to trust in Someone bigger than I, supports joy
  • Worry, fear, doubt, anger are enemies of joy
  • Taking a walk and eeling the sunshine on my face brings me joy
  • Bright colored flowers are my joy language
  • The stillness of a moon-lit night seeps joy into my soul
  • Physical well-being can support joy
  • You can be joyful without physical well-being
  • Loving people bring me joy
  • I can find joy when I’m alone
  • A bubbling stream reminds me of joy
  • Grabbing hold of the simple pleasures of life supports joy

The list could go on forever, and I still wouldn’t define joy. But this I know. Soon after I asked God for joy He asked me to trust Him through the next season of my life which He assured me would include a lot of CRAP.

It wasn’t exactly the answer I wanted.

And the crap of life came. During that period sometimes I had joy, and sometimes I didn’t. But while I recognize that joy can be easier to recognize in the easy, happy times, it can also be found in the bad.

In the gratitudelast few years of the trying season I took advice from the book, One Thousand Gifts, and recorded gratitude.

When negativity was especially tangible (or joy especially accessible), I’d grab colored sharpies and write on the basement walls everything I could think of to be grateful for.  I’d remember that every good gift comes from the One who created the good gifts. And I would remind myself that He cares, and I am loved and noticed.

This week I hit #900 on that gratitude wall. It lists everything from statements like, “The boys did their chores!” to “petals making a fairy carpet on sidewalk” to “Everyone together at Dairy Queen!”

Read with a discerning eye you can chronicle the joy I’ve found in the weight loss journey–comments like, “learning to walk in the neighborhood by myself” or “I lost 20 pounds” or “Jerry said I’m ‘stunning!'”

Maybe the biggest thing I’m learning is how all-encompassing joy is. Joy comes from a million different places, but has One source, for every good gift comes from the Giver. The emotion of joy is more easily grasped when I choose joy in my mind, spirit, and body. It is supported by how I take care of my mind (paying attention to the thoughts I deal on), my spirit (connecting with God), and my body (the foods I eat, how much movement is in my day).

And finally, while I have some responsibility for my joy, it is always, always, always a gift from Love.

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Journeying toward joy

Lifestyle Change and Companionship

neighborhood walk 17Mindful eating. Intentional movement. They DO make a difference.

With the support of BeNew, the changes I’ve made resulted in a body I’m comfortable in. But with contentment comes complacency if I’m not careful! When even the new clothes hang a bit big it is easier to take that extra slice of pizza like I did while watching a movie Sunday night.

But being obese for several years taught me that I can’t let that kind of thing go unchecked and maintain a healthy body. So I ate smart the Monday after and followed it up with a wonderful 5 mile walk with my hubby.

neighborhood walk 12Walking is such a simple pleasure. When Jerry joins me it’s like a date only with no calories or $$ spent! We roam the neighborhood together, and the conversation goes deeper. Everything looks brighter. We’re tapping into those love languages of quality time and companionship even as we get healthier.

Often we talk about the stuff that really matters, the kinds of things that just don’t come out over the dinner table. Investing in time together reminds us that after 24 years of marriage, we’re still best friends.

Even though we usually cover familiar territory, we often discover patches of beauty we haven’t noticed before. The bright yellow flowers next to a wooden fence take me back to my small town, turned country upbringing.

I was surprised when right night to a busy road we discovered grapes growing!

neighborhood walk 14

I often see foliage I’d love to add to my yard, like these creeping flowers.

neighborhood walk 11

The other day we walked right beneath a tree with something berry-like growing in the leaves. I have no idea what they are, but it was a fun discovery, seen only because we were at exactly the right angle to spot them.

neighborhood walk 15

Starting a BeNew journey can feel overwhelming. Cutting back on unhealthy, high-calorie food can feel like deprivation. But it is truly worth the life-change when you get your body back, enjoy a walk, and smell the roses.

How can you embrace life’s simple pleasures, pouring into a new healthier you instead of giving into feeling deprived?

Many times on my BENew journey the answer was to simply take a walk and invite my best friend.

Back in the Saddle Again

 

empty plate

After eight months of consistently watching the scale go down (albeit sometimes slowly), I had the shock of seeing it go the other way!

Okay. I wasn’t really shocked. I knew there would be consequences of not thinking about what went into my mouth. We had several big meals here at home, including a huge steak dinner with all the fixings and a big going away cake for Alex, the amazing young man from Spain who stayed with us for a month.

This was followed by a day at the Broadmoor with my writing buddies–complete with two amazing meals out. And then I had an out of town guest who spoiled me rotten, buying my favorite treats, introducing me to a fancy Moscato, and taking me out to all her favorite restaurants. The picture to the left pretty much tells the whole story. That one was the desert at Carrabbas. Yes, I got every drop, but in my defense I did SHARE that dessert AND the main course. (It was the bread, wine, and mozzarella cheese sticks that were the real problem–or maybe the amount of food in all those courses.)

The other issue is that once you pull out all the stops and eat foods you haven’t had much of in a while, you crave them again. And once you give into larger portions than you need, it quickly becomes a habit. Still, I’ve always said I want to do this weight loss journey in a way I can sustain. To be too finicky about my food while in the midst of all these special events is probably not a sustainable attitude, for me at least.

So what’s a girl to do?

Go back to what she knows.

Thankfully after a few days of making a point to get in a walk, do some crunches, and eat reasonably, the scale started going the other direction this morning and that three pound pouch gone. It was easily fixed.

dance at broadmoor

What strikes me about this experience is how easily those pounds come back and how long-term this life change is for me. NOTHING, even the bread and spiced olive oil at Carrabbas, is worth putting that 50 plus pounds back on. It feels good to nip that whole gig in the bud and choose today to stay on the journey of health.

You may think that I didn’t blog for a while ’cause I was hiding out and feeling guilty. Nope. Honest. I was just having too much fun to get to a computer. And vacations, even from thinking about food, are okay if they don’t last too long.

So folks, had lots of fun this summer and enjoyed many flavors, but I’m back in the saddle again.

How About You?

Any helpful hints for me as I climb back into the saddle and stick to my life-long journey of better health?

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Make the next good choice, even if the last wasn’t so hot