I wrote a blog post, Why This Time It’s Different, earlier this week before realizing this week’s blog hop topics would include the topic of “intentional sacrifice” Lysa TerKeurst talks about in Made to Crave. In my previous post, I said my weight loss success is going to be different this time because I’ve made changes I can live with and I am not living in what I would consider a “deprived state.” God did nudge me to share a little more on this topic, though.
I try to make healthy food choices the majority of the time. I feel better when I eat healthy. As my children grow up, however, I realize how closely they are watching me. I am particularly sensitive to my daughter’s perception of my eating and weight loss, and how I perceive my own body image. I don’t want her to see me as always dieting or unhappy with my appearance. Recently, we were at a restaurant and one of the waiters made a comment about one of the desserts. I responded by saying, “I know it’s delicious but I can’t eat it.” My daughter immediately asked me why I can’t eat it, since I was letting each of my kids eat dessert. I explained to my children how desserts have more fat and sugar in them, and are not as healthy as other foods.
So, this got me thinking. I try to prepare meals my entire family can enjoy together, that don’t require me to eat differently than what my kids are eating. My kids often ask if a food is protein, or if it’s good for you. They are starting to make healthy food choices on their own. But there are times for celebration or special occasions: holidays, birthdays, etc. I will eat birthday cake. I love making Christmas cookies each December with my children. I believe an important component of “intentional sacrifice” is recognizing there will be special occasions and it is okay to enjoy special foods on those occasions. With that said, every day is not a special occasion and every holiday seems to be over-run with candy. (Have you seen the Easter displays in the grocery store? Easter is still almost two months away and it looks like our grocery store exploded with Easter candy on February 15.)
I am committed to making healthy food choices for me and my family. But even more than that, I want my children to grow up knowing how to live healthy. And the best way for me to do that is to be a role model for them in how I live, whether it be making food choices, how I spend my time, how I treat others, and so on.
This is not the first time I have had success in losing weight. In the past, my weight ranged between 160 and 185. I have always kept a range of clothing sizes in my closet, typically sizes 10 to 16. I have even held on to a size 8 dress – I bought it on clearance with the hope one day I would be able to wear it.
I started this latest weight loss journey in January 2012. It took me 18 months to reach my goal weight, 40 pounds lighter than when I started. But something is different this time – I’m not worried about gaining back the weight I have lost. I’m currently participating in an online Bible study using Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Made to Crave. She says something very insightful in chapter 17:
“I’m at my goal weight and in the most dangerous place for a dieting success story. Hitting your goal weight is a blessing entangled with a curse. The curse being the assumption that freedom now means returning back to all those things we’ve given up for the past months. The sacrifices. The missed treats. The deprived taste buds high on salad and low on French fries.” – Lysa TerKeurst, Made to Crave
Isn’t that the truth? With every other diet or plan I have followed, it’s always been a temporary change. That’s not the case this time. With the weight loss plan I follow know, I have learned how to eat, how my body processes food and how to enjoy food. I still enjoy treats, but I plan for them and make them work within my personal plan. I have completely transformed the way I eat, the way I live. Food (and the scale) no longer rule my life. I love to eat, and I eat more now than I ever did on a diet. I enjoy taking care of myself. I am not living in a deprived state. The changes I have made are changes I can live with for the rest of my life. I don’t worry about gaining back the weight I have lost. If I gain a few pounds, I know exactly how to get myself back on track and control my weight. This is an amazing feeling. I finally have victory in this area of my life and I can focus my energy on my husband, my children and wherever God would have me serve.
And that size 8 dress I hoped to fit into one day – it’s too big for me now.
It’s easy to be overweight these days. Just eat the processed and packaged food sold in grocery stores. Or dine out and order off the menu with no regard to portion sizes or nutrition. Drive-thru restaurants make picking up dinner so much easier for busy families. I used to go through the Starbucks drive-thru every day and order a mocha, figuring I needed the “Mommy treat” and it had some nutritional value – after all, it’s made with milk and milk has calcium, right? Maybe. But it was also loaded with sugar and calories I didn’t need.
Eating healthy takes effort. It requires planning and being intentional about my goals. I used to think “healthy food” didn’t taste as good but I have learned differently in the last two years, since losing 40 pounds and dropping from a size 14 to a size 4. Healthy food can taste great, and I feel better when I eat better. All foods are permissible, but not all foods are beneficial. You can fill your daily calorie or points allowance with foods that leave you feeling deprived, lethargic and hungry. But why do that when you can eat nutrient-rich foods?
With the eating plan I follow, I know the exact amount of protein, fiber, carbohydrates and fat I need each day. I feel much better when I eat according my nutrition plan. I have so much more energy and know that I don’t have to worry about re-gaining the weight I have lost.
Here is an example of the type of planning I do now. A few weeks ago, I took an all-day class. I figured it may be difficult to find healthy snacks during the day, so I packed a bag (two snacks and my lunch). At lunchtime, when everyone else went out and picked up fast food, I ate my healthy, protein-rich lunch. I pack a cooler most days before I leave the house, which includes at least one protein-rich snack for me. If I know I am going to be eating out, I try to look at menus ahead of time and choose food that will keep me on track with my nutritional goals. I did eat a brownie today. But that’s okay. All food is permissible and while it was not the most beneficial, occasional treats are permissible (and I still stayed within my nutrition plan for the day).
Learning to eat healthy takes time. I read lots of labels and ingredient lists now. I believe it was easier to eat 100 years ago, when processed food and fast food wasn’t as prevalent. I have made small changes, one at a time. It’s been worth it, especially as my children are learning healthy eating habits. My youngest son actually sneaks broccoli off of other family member’s plates – I love that he loves broccoli and asks for it all the time.
There is a name I can now call myself – it is something I could not say a year ago. Runner. I AM A RUNNER.
A little bit of background: I hurt my back in college – fell about 20 feet from one of those cherry picker lifts during a football game. Ever since then, I have suffered flare-ups with my lower back – the pain can sometimes be so bad, it would hurt to move, let alone walk. Every doctor I have seen over the years has told me running is bad for my back.
I was at the gym one day last year and decided to get on the treadmill, just to see how it felt. I had lost about 30 pounds at that point. I ran/walked a slow mile. No pain. It felt pretty good, actually. So I talked to a doctor/friend who specializes in spinal injuries, and he advised me to go slowly – if I had any pain, stop immediately. He also gave me worst case scenarios – the ‘old’ me would have heard those and decided running was a bad idea.
I took my friend’s advice and spent about a month working up to 30 minutes of jogging. I then signed up for my first 5k. I completed that 5k in just under 30 minutes. I ended up running three races last year – another 5k and an 8k. I am now training for my first 10k. I never thought I would be part of the running community.
I still have a bad back. But I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I am grateful to God for giving me the ability to run right now, and I hope I can continue to run for many years. Running has given me a new perspective on the life God calls me to live:
“…Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
You never know who you may be inspiring. My 3-year-old son saw a video of me lifting weights last week, and I am fairly certain that’s why he found this “barbell” (also known as training wheels) and pretended to lift weights. It made me smile to see him imitate me. This reminded me, though, my children are always watching me. I pray I will be a good role model and set a good example for them as they grow and mature, physically and spiritually. Click the image and enjoy the video!
How do you measure spiritual growth? It’s a question I have been asking myself the last couple of months. With physical training, I can measure myself by the number of reps I can do, how much weight I can lift, how fast I can run a mile. So how do I know if I’m getting stronger spiritually? I can do “Christian-like” things and mark them off a list, but I don’t feel that’s a true measure of spiritual growth. To be honest, I often don’t feel like I measure up as a Christian.
When I read this week’s Bible verse for my Proverbs 31 Made to Crave Bible study, I started to re-think my measure of spiritual growth:
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Perhaps my standard of measuring progress is backwards.
“In the minds of many people inside the church, “Livestrong” is the essence and goal of Christianity. You hear this obsession in our lingo: We talk about someone having “strong faith,” about someone being a “strong Christian,” a “prayer warrior,”or a“mighty man/woman of God.” We want to believe that we can do it all, handle it all…
“We like our Christianity to be muscular, triumphant. We’ve come to believe that the Christian life is a progression from weakness to strength.”- LiveStrong Christianity by Tullian Tchividjian
Tchividjian said modern Christianity has it wrong. The progression as a Christian shouldn’t be considered going from weakness to strength, but rather the other way around. He used Samson as one of his examples – Samson believed his strength was in his hair, but it was actually the spirit of God giving Samson his strength.
“The Philistines are not defeated until Samson is weakened. His hair is shaved, his eyes are gouged out, and he’s chained up like an animal in the zoo. He finally realizes that he is weak and that God alone is strong and so he prays and asks God for a generous portion of strength. God answers his prayer and Samson brings the building down on himself and all the lords of the Philistines. It is when Samson is at his weakest that he is most powerfully used.” – Tullian Tchividjian
So, rather than putting on a facade and letting everyone believe I have it together, I am striving to live my life as transparently as possible. That’s one of my goals with this blog: I struggled for so long with my weight, I want to encourage others by sharing my struggles. I am a work in progress. I hope God will continue to use me and be glorified through my weaknesses.