Tag Archives: healthy choices

Vigilance ~ Maintaining Weight Loss

IMAG3238-1Here I am again.

Life gets a little tough. Disappointing news hits. And I’m sitting at my computer dreaming of popcorn.

With extra butter.

For over a year I’ve fought to lose and then maintain weight.

After all of this time you’d think old habits could be completely broken.

Only maybe reaching for food to deal with emotions is more like an addiction that requires life-long, sustained effort to resist than a habit that can be broken after 30 days.

Today’s trigger is the fact that my youngest son needs another hip surgery. Tomorrow’s trigger may be something simple–like feeling bored.

But no matter which hits, I know food will solve nothing.

I just took a break to make a nice, hot cup of no-calorie, healthy antioxidant green tea. And I’m saying a prayer for strength, comfort, wisdom.

It’s one of those next better choices I seek to make over and over.

I started typing again only to have my rings irritate me because they are rolling around on my fingers as they often do now on chilly days. (And these are my smaller sets. I gave away the bigger ones.)

I love it that my fingers–as well as all parts of me–are thinner.

I hate it that the journey to health didn’t end when the chart said normal instead of obese. That even now I must be on guard to maintain.

But it is worth it, this new vigilance.IMAG3229-1

Never, ever again can I return to a lifestyle of mindless eating to numb emotion if I want to be strong and healthy, and maintain a normal weight.

And that is okay. Because food never solved the problems anyway.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ WANTING Change

san diego 6Do you know, way down deep, that you are loved?

Take it a step further:

Do you know, way down deep, that you are loved JUST AS YOU ARE?

Entering the weight loss journey is better if you start from a foundation of love. (So is life!) We change not to seek love, but because we ARE loved, and we are worthy of a BETTER situation.

So have you thought about this?

God loves us JUST AS WE ARE, and He loves us too much to LEAVE US just as we are.

Whether in physical/weight issues or inner emotional/spiritual junk the God of Love wants to see us progressing toward freedom, joy, health, and strength.

One thing that gets in the way of my weight loss/health goals is indulgence. Indulgence isn’t the occasional planned treat. Indulgence is eating without restraint, especially repeatedly. It is ignoring the need to be mindful of how we treat our bodies.

Here are reasons I indulge:
-Because I want to, plain and simple. That looks good, I want it, I have no restraint.
-Because I feel sad or empty and try to fill with something besides God
-Because I’m tired of being “good.”
-Because I’m feeling deprived somewhere else in life
-Because I’m angry
-Because I feel rebellious
-Because I’m feeling stuck creatively
-Because a treat is available that usually isn’t
-Because I act mindlessly, focused elsewhere with too much food in front of me
-Because I’m stressed out
-Because I feel hopeless

Why do you indulge?

That definition–to act in an unrestrained way– came from the Made to Crave Devotional. It really convicted me. Nowhere else in life do I think it is okay to be unrestrained, mindless, or indulgent. Why have I felt it was justified when it comes to food?

The author, Lysa TerKuerst, said, “We have to see the purpose of our struggle with food as something more than getting to wear smaller sizes and receive compliments. Shallow desires produce shallow efforts . . . The process . . . has to be about more . . . It’s about recalibrating our souls so we want to change for the right reasons.”

And so I ask myself why I want to change, and my answers are shallow AND deep. Here’s a list I made when I was about halfway to my goal:
-I want to wear a smaller size
-I want to have more stamina to do the tasks before me
-I want to walk without being winded
-I want to get out of a chair without it being hard
-I want to be healthier
-I want to be stronger
-I want to reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes
-I want to honor the memory of my friend, Phyllis, who died of cancer. She admonished me to lose weight as the cancer she had was statistically higher in women who were overweight. She wanted better for me.
-I want to give God the throne of my life, even in my body
-I want honor God by caring for His dwelling place
-I want to be the size God intended when He created me
-I want to be closer to Him, to turn to Him when I long and crave
-I want to live in greater joy, not because I’m skinnier, but because my body is being treated as it was meant to be treated and because there is joy in moving and connecting with God in my body, not just my mind and spirit and heart
-I want to bring greater joy to my husband. I had no idea how much I had deprived him of until I started losing weight, and he was so happy.
-I want to have energy for my children

Why do you want change?

Knowing the why helps us have the strength when we are tempted to indulge. Maybe you could make your own why list and post it where you’ll see it. You might also want to journal about what triggers you to indulge to help you become more aware as you endeavor to make healthy choices.

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Knowing the WHY helps us overcome.

Back to Healthy Choices and BeNew Thinking

The holidays are over, and with their disappearance needs to come the release of an indulgent attitude!

For me, it’s back to what I know. Just because I entered 2014 at a normal weight for the first time in years doesn’t mean I can return to old habits. And like my devotional on Sunday admitted I did a little too much indulging over the holidays.

The great thing about my new lifestyle is I now realize how easy it is to nip back thinking in the bud and get back to the goal of a forever healthier, thinner me. (So initially “back” thinking was a typo, but I liked it and left it! It’s not just bad thinking that needs to go, it’s back thinking, thinking from the old days that takes me backward!)

Here’s my plan.

Step 1: Return to being mindful of how I treat my body. This is not only important while actively losing weight, this is for the REST OF MY LIFE.

bepure

Step 2: Do a gentle, healthy cleanse to help my body stay strong and release toxins from the crud I brought into my system with holiday eating. I’m using the BeNew Gentle Detoxifying Cleanse, called BEPure. I’ve found a cleanse also helps reduce cravings for more bad food.

Step 3: Make the next better choice. As I pre-schedule this post I’m taking a break from days of long hours of writing fiction to meet a deadline. The old Paula would have devoured chocolate when the creativity waned and then munched on salty snacks while staring at the computer screen. And don’t think I wasn’t IMAG3213tempted. But instead of allowing the stress to take me into mindless eating of empty calories, I’m enjoying lunch as I write–and today, at least, I made the better choice: A healthy protein shake with mangos, blueberries, strawberries, and almond milk. Mmm. (I’m using the BeNew vanilla protein shake. With the frozen fruits blended in it’s almost like ice cream!)

Step 4: Determination to MOVE. In the house on the cold days–a few sit-ups, maybe even a workout video. Walks on the warmer days. Taking a break from the computer even if it’s just to do some stretches.

Share: What’s your healthy choices plan?

*BTW, the BeNew weight loss/nutritional products I chose for my health journey are on an amazing New Year’s Resolution special. Until the end of this month you can actually buy one month and get one month totally free! The company even paired the whole weight loss program with Body Balance, the best nutritional support available, IMHO. Follow my links, or contact me for more information. If you are a new customer and order by phone instead of on-line, you’ll get free shipping, too! I also made a video explaining how to use the products. I’ll post it after I meet my book deadline, but if you want a sneak preview it’s already on YouTube.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Balance and Transformation

san diego 6How are the social situations going for you? Do you struggle even more to maintain your eating goals with all the parties and special events?

It’s super hard to resist the goodies as gatherings with friends, and I grew up in a culture where lots of yummy food equated love. I’m afraid I’ve passed that onto my family, especially our boys. Mom cooking sure seems like love to them.

This is an area where I’m trying to find balance. I want to still bake my mother-in-law’s famous chocolate cake for special occasions, treat the family to homemade pizza or challah bread, or surprise them with homemade cinnamon rolls. In my quest to be healthier and thinner, I’m not willing to give up my love of baking or the joy the family receives from such treats.

But this BeNew journey is about being transformed. Real, lasting change. Lysa TerKeurst of the Made to Crave Devotional said, “short-term sacrifices will lead to short-term results.”

While I’m not willing to forever avoid making my mom’s oh-so-good banana cake or my grandma’s apple pie, I am also learning that there has to be a life-style change if I’m going to be healthy. I don’t make treats as often, and when I do make them I practice moderation in enjoying them. Every day I seek to add in lots of healthy stuff, like spinach and nuts, cut back on pastas, bread, and sugars, and enjoy the goodness of fresh and frozen fruits.

But all of this pondering eating habits doesn’t really get to the heart of the struggle, does it? Lysa encourages, “Every time I make a choice I have to ask myself, ‘Am I being conformed, looking a lot like the crowd and staying stuck in defeat? Or, am I transformed, breaking away from the vicious cycle of defeat by courageously saying no? No more. No thank you’.”

I especially love the phrase, “every time I make a choice.” This journey is on-going. Every single day we make multiple choices, choices that either conform to social pressure to eat (or our own need to fill a void with food) or lead to transformation of our lifestyle and body. For me, this is also a spiritual journey as I draw near to God, inviting Him into my choices, my thoughts about food, my struggles and my successes.

Lord,
Please help us to trample the old ways for good. We don’t want short-term solutions, but transformation life change. Give us the wisdom as we navigate treats and holiday celebrations, showing us the balance of enjoying good things without sabotaging our health. Please pour out your strength and your guidance. Give us new desires for healthy living. We don’t want to make our bodies off limits any more. We give You permission to ALL of who we are. Inside, outside, body, spirit, mind, will, and emotions.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Victorious Small Successes

IMAG2685“Self-control starts by making one good choice.” Lysa TerKeurest

Don’t you love the idea of victorious small successes?

That means we can feel successful several times a day! We can celebrate each tiny step forward. When we fall down it doesn’t have to sabotage us, we can just make a good choice the next time and celebrate victory again!

In her Made to Crave Devotional, Lysa TerKeurest said, “Sometimes victory seems so far away because we measure it only by the end goal. And end goals can seem overwhelmingly huge, daunting, and just plain hard to reach. But if we start measuring our victories by the smaller choices we make each day, victory won’t seem so impossible.”

I appreciated the Scripture Lysa chose, too. “Make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance;”

It’s similar to a verse that deeply impacted me in college, found in Romans 5:3-4: “we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”

In both of these Scriptures perseverance played an important role. Today I’m applying Lysa’s verse to weight loss. In college I studied this verse during a time of great despair. I remember life being so hard that I saw it in black and white. It was like all the color drained out. I even contemplated suicide. I have several memories of God’s intervention in that time, but two stick out. The first is that I walked to class and felt led to take an unusual route. I passed an amazing flower that was exactly my favorite color. I KNEW He was showing it to me, and the bright happy pink burst upon my black and white world.

The second was the study of that Scripture. The commentary I read talked about how hope is the mark of Christian maturity, how if we allow God to produce perseverance in our suffering, our character will deepen, and eventually we will discover hope. (And hope does not disappoint.)

Hang with me; this is all coming together in my mind. Putting these two concepts together is important, I think, for the weight loss journey.

Lysa says, “Self-control starts by making one good choice.” Her Scripture said that self-control produces perseverance, and my Scripture said that perseverance produces hope.

If we make that one good choice–whether it be in weight loss or in life–we can celebrate that small success. As we persevere, one good choice after another, celebrating each one, hope grows! We can truly begin to believe in change, that life can be different. That we can overcome our struggle, whether it be with our weight or some other life issue.

As Lysa said, “Big things are built one brick at a time. Victories are achieved one choice at a time. A life well lived is chosen one day at a time.”

Yes, Lord, help us all build a path to victory one choice at a time!

How about you? Let’s celebrate a victorious choice!

Celebrate victory one good choice at a time.

Epiphany #6 ~ Stretching into His Arms

IMAG2573I warned you my summer was a summer of discovery. Obviously now that we’re into October and I’m still getting epiphanies, my fall is following suit.

Honestly, those first five epiphanies wore me out. Highs and lows. Hopes and struggles. Dreams and Disappointments.

Growth.

If you’ve hung with me this far, thank you. I’m hopeful that today’s epiphany will be the last I need to write about–at least for a while.

Actually, even though I was bawling when this epiphany came, it might be my favorite. With it comes a picture I cling to. I think about it all the time. Even envisioned it as I walked about my neighborhood last week.

I’m posting this blog ahead of time because as you read this I’m embarking on yet another new adventure, attending the 2013 National Life Force Convention. I’ve no doubt but that I’ll need this epiphany as I continue to discover what it means to become a business woman who is yoked with Jesus in unforced rhythms of grace. 

Learning to do something new without falling back into my negative patterns of perfectionism and performance-driven behavior isn’t easy for me. But this epiphany helps.

It came while I was praying with my friend, Jill. She told me that God liked that I was competitive and wanted to do everything I did with excellence. He just didn’t need me to get caught up in performance and perfectionism. Then came the epiphany. She said, “You push too hard to stretch yourself. All he asks of you is that you crawl into His lap, lean into Him, and let Him do the stretching.”

Let Him do the stretching.

All that struggle melted away.

I don’t have to try so hard, to question myself so harshly, to push myself. I simply hang out with my Father, safe in His arms, and let Him do the stretching.

I know if He does it I’ll bend but not break. I will grow and change, but it will be natural healthy growth, like a branch full of grapes connected to a strong vine. Not straining and groaning, just sweet, normal growth.

Yes, I’ll change as I need to.

It just won’t kill me in the process.

After all, He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.

How about you? Are you resting in His arms today? Looking to Him to teach you how to do YOUR work in the unforced rhythms of grace? If not, I invite you along. It’s way better this way.

Adaptation Not Compromise

IMAG2531Sometimes my feet know where I’m going before I’ve consciously processed my decision. This morning they headed for the brilliant red bush about a mile up the street.

Growing up in Northeastern Oklahoma meant incredible autumn foliage with a variety of colors. I’ll never forget the joy of early morning walks across Northeastern State University’s campus when the air was crisp, the leaves crackled beneath my feet, and vibrant color still clung to strong branches.

I love yellow. Honest. It’s almost my favorite color, somewhere below pink. But when I first moved to Colorado I was disappointed in autumn because I felt the season shouldn’t be ONLY yellow. IMAG2576

But my neighborhood has continued to mature over the years, bringing new color with it, and as I’m farther from my roots I suppose I’m more easily pleased. Maybe, just maybe, I’m also giving it a more fair shake this autumn, choosing to meander in the cool fall days by foot instead of whizzing past nature while looking out of a car window.

As I walked this morning I found myself conflicted. Now that I’m satisfied with my new weight I’m not sure what my walks are about. Health? Maintenance? Emotional and spiritual nurture? Joy?

IMAG2540-1-1

This time last year I spent hours in bed, recovering from some wonky sensations in my head after back-to-back car accidents. For a time I stepped away from most of my responsibilities, my only goal to get well. Part of my journey back to health was developing a new habit of long, meandering walks. I strolled, prayed, and didn’t care how long it took me. I was finding life again. As I healed, I began picking up the balls. I learned to fit in a shorter walk/jog to stick with my weight loss/get healthy goals when the demands of schedule increased.

But after my encounter today with the red bush and the orange leaves and the yellow canopies, my feet wouldn’t listen to my mind rattling off the to-do list. My soul engaged my gait, longing for more of this day than checking off boxes. It cried out for beauty, for quiet, for spiritual refreshment. I circled the elementary school, praying a bit for the children there, then slipped into my favorite coffee shop, not for a beverage, but for the restroom. My mind had finally caught up with the agenda my heart and feet set, and I knew the conveniences of home were still a long way off.

Another little nature trail some distance from me cried out to be explored. I wandered the path, missing the twitter of the birds that usually serenaded me on this stretch. I suppose the wind was too strong, and they chose to hunker down wait it out rather than to brave it and allow their song to be lost, carried away on the stiff breeze.IMAG2559

I tried to cut home after the trail but found myself at a cluster of three churches I prayed often for last winter, so my meanderings included prayers of blessings for them, which turned into song at my favorite of the three. I guess I don’t mind if the notes dance upon the breeze, for He hears at all times.

I still don’t have it all figured out–this juggling act of protecting the strides I’ve made in physical and emotional health, this love of the sunshine longing to wander–all while adding new balls, more commitments, more responsibility into my daily routine. Even now my schedule mocks me, telling me there was no way to conquer it.

But I must cling to what I learned in the dark of last year. That caring for myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually isn’t a waste of time; it is a necessity. If I don’t take care of myself, I’ll find myself unable to take care of my responsibilities.

IMAG2586-1I returned home today thinking the solitary rose framed by yellow leaves sprinkled upon the grass around it was a statement of summer shouting a last hurrah before giving way to autumn.

As the seasons of my life change I am forced to stretch, to adapt, to re-think. But in the midst of the struggle I don’t have to compromise on the hard-earned truths of my journey. Oh, I can’t control outside forces, like car accidents, that steal from me. But I can create margin. I can choose health. I can embrace the beauty of little moments.

How about you? Are you protecting yourself from the tyranny of the urgent?

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Life’s seasons change. We adapt, but we don’t compromise.

Spirit Seeker Sunday ~ Breaking Up

Spirit 19 stephen

Photo by Stephen Moldenhauer — taking the plunge!

Breaking old habits to make room for the new: That’s the theme of the devotional by Lisa TerKeurst which inspired this post.

Seems like I’ve done a lot of this since I took that first step onto the BeNew journey. I’ve sought to break habits of emotional or mindless eating. I’ve tried to be mindful of my movement quotient and break the habit of a sedentary lifestyle in front of my computer.

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m breaking up with the old habits or just taking a break . . . If I want to continue to feel healthier and be thinner, I have to truly break up with my past habits.

But the conviction of this devotion went deeper than healthy food habits. For a time the car accident of last June took away my journaling and Bible study. But I added in long walks and found a sweet communion with the Lord. As I’m improving, I’m struggling to balance all that. I want to journal AND take a walk, but sometimes neither gets done, much less both! In this area I want to make good habits to replace non-habits.

I also catch myself looking too often to Facebook friends/interaction to fill that empty God place. There’s nothing wrong with getting fellowship and support from my friends, but when it replaces communion with my Creator, it falls flat.

I’m seeing the need for another break-up.

But all of that is about doing. What about the BEing of life?

There are old thought habits that need to go–like worry or putting myself down or entertaining thoughts of “it will never really change” or “this is too hard.” 

I need to do a major break-up with that stuff!

Every day I make the choice AGAIN to break up with my old nemesis, perfectionism, and the stealer-of-my-joy, performance-driven behavior.

Thankfully on this break-up journey I’m never alone and neither are you. Our Creator thrills in helping us walk away from the stuff that holds us back and knocks us down. He empowers us for change, promising always to finish the good work He starts in us. I believe this means not only the good work of making us more like His Son, but the good works He calls us to, including the sometimes daunting job of getting healthy!

Father,
Make YOURSELF the priority of my heart. Help me to stop clinging to the poor, the mediocre, and even the good when YOU offer all that is BEST. Help me to break-up with the stuff that pushes me backwards so that I can walk forward in freedom, diving into all You have for me.

How about you?
Any conviction about something you need to break up with to make room for what’s better?

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Breaking Up With Poor Choices

To Remember

Reality check.

I came across an old blog post in my draft folder, one I never published. As I read through it I didn’t feel the angst I experienced when it was originally written, but it made me remember.

Let me share a snippet from that post, and then I’ll expound:

It’s a strange morning.

Usually I look at old pictures of me, when I was at least 50 pound heavier, and I just accept them for what they are.

Accept me for where I was.

Usually I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at those pictures because I see how far I’ve come.

This morning they upset me. I don’t know why I hit a wall and didn’t want to see any more, but I turned away from the computer. “Shut it off.”weight loss beginning and end

I’ve put a lot of pictures up on this site of me at different sizes. Those pictures tell the story better than all the words in the world. I’ve swallowed hard when I post those old pictures. I spent years cropping out most of my body so it didn’t show before going live with a picture, but here I sought to be real. And I thought I was okay with it all.

But today I sit at my computer, a perfectly normal size, and I’m grieving and angry.

Angry I let the pounds creep on. Grieving the loss of energy and activity I put up with. Wondering why I placed myself so low on the priority list that I allowed the weight gain, the loss of quality of life. Thankful my husband loved and accepted me even at 210, but sad I didn’t take better care of my body for his sake. Wondering why I didn’t CARE enough to change.

It does no good to wallow in mistakes. To live in the past only inhibits the future. I’m not going to allow myself to hang out in grief or anger over how I treated my body.

But it is good to learn from the past.

To remember.

IMAG1877-1I’ve been “normal” for a few months now. I’ve hiked in the mountains, hopped out of chairs, gone swimming without the need to hide. I’ve offered myself to my husband in ways I couldn’t with all that weight between us and seen the delight in his eyes.

I’ve celebrated the return of my long, slender legs and stood shocked at the mirror when necklaces are suddenly too long instead of so tight I have to add an extender to get them around my neck.

I taken bags and bags of too big clothes to Goodwill, even dumped shoes that no longer stay on my feet.

I’ve celebrated every 5 pound weight loss, settling in at 55 pounds gone.

Even with all that joy sometimes I forget how important it is. Just this week I returned home after a bad day, emotional and hungry.

I started my snacking with wisdom. Just a small cup of yogurt to tide me until dinner, please. But then emotion took over and self-control left, and suddenly while my hand was in a bag of chocolate tortilla chips this quiet, gentle voice inside begged me to STOP, to put away the snacks, to REMEMBER.

I rebelled at first, stuffing another handful, then another. But then I slowly returned to myself, to Him, to the journey.

My little binge was a lashing out at all that made me unhappy, but its allure paled as I identified it as self-sabotage instead of self-care.

It is time to stand. To remember.

But not return.

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Self-care or self-sabotage?

Life: A Bowlful of Salad?

IMAG2309

Here I sit, munching salad and pondering the Benew journey. The salad surprised me.

As I made it a few minutes ago thoughts like boring filled my mind.

Sabotage along the lines of, “Really? For the rest of your life you’re going to mindful of how you eat? Avoid unhealthy, high calorie foods? Eat salad?”

But here I sit. The red and green grapes add sweet freshness to the spinach and the handful of mixed nuts a nice protein crunch. I’m super glad I didn’t give into the nagging negativity, the voice that tried to talk me out of getting my greens.

It seems all good things will be confronted.

It’s a strange place to be, this new phase where I am content with my body. I could lose a few more pounds, but I feel “normal.” I’m not counting calories anymore. I’m taking my BENew metabolism booster, but I only do a meal replacement shake when I want to, not daily like I did when I was serious about dropping weight. Sometimes I crave my BEfull shake, blended with frozen fruit. Other times I don’t. Sometimes, like today, I want left-overs and try to balance whatever they are by having a reasonable portion and a big salad. And sometimes I just want to blow off this whole journey. On those days I lie awake at night wondering if the bad choices I made will result in going backwards.

A good writer wouldn’t use the word “sometimes” repeatedly like I just did. But that’s where I’m living.

Sometimes. 

It comes from seeking a new normal, trying to sustain the healthier lifestyle I’ve chosen even when I’m not intentionally fighting to drop pounds. Before I was motivated by a goal. Now my only motivation is not to return to go backwards. (That and to look good in my friend Megan’s dress for the Carol Awards* in a few weeks.)

The never-never land of maintenance isn’t cut and dry. I no longer try to hit 12 or 1300 calories a day. I just try to eat smart and move. The lack of a calorie counter’s accountability is scary sometimes, and sometimes I abuse the freedom. Other times it’s freeing, and I do just fine. There’s that word again.

Sometimes.

I want to avoid extremes. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life obsessing about calories; I also don’t want to throw caution to the wind. Thus this struggle of finding a new normal.

A friend told me her method for maintenance is to weigh every few days. If she’s gained a pound or two, she cuts back to 1200 again until she returns to her target weight.  It sounds reasonable. What about you? Anybody have good advice on the end of the weight loss journey, those days when you could lose a pound or two, but mostly want to maintain?

I want my eating life to be more than a bowlful of salad–but I also want to be healthy and sustain the better habits I’ve developed.

Invite a friend to the discuss on maintenance:

Is life a bowlful of salad?

*The Carol Awards, sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers, honor a book ofHeartsongChristm.indd the year in multiple genres. My novella, “You’re a Charmer, Mr. Grinch,” included in the Christmas collection, Postmark: Christmas, is a finalist for best novella of 2012. Winners will be announced in September.