Category Archives: Putting It All Together

Don’t Pop Your Tires

(This is a repeat, but a good reminder!)

I don’t remember which weight loss blog I read this on, but I’ll never forget the quote: “When you get a flat tire, you change it and keep driving; you don’t pop the other three tires”. Fabulous, right?

We all have times when we fall off the health wagon. Why did I eat that? Why did I eat ALL of that? Why did I stay up so late? Lifting sofa cushions to find the remote counts as exercise, right?

UntitledThere are weeks when my butt is firmly seated in the health wagon and I’m buckled up and facing front. There are also weeks when I’m more like a little kid who’s hanging over the side trying to hit the wheel with a stick. I’m still in the wagon, but I’m being stupid. I reach a little too far and suddenly I’m eating dirt. (Low in calories, but not recommended. It tastes awful, even covered in chocolate… I mean broccoli.)

What do you do when you fall off the health wagon? You get back on. Make better choices starting now, but don’t beat yourself up about the ones you already made. If beating yourself up counted as exercise, I’d say “Knock yourself out!” But it’s not, and that was a great pun, wouldn’t you agree?

picking-yourself-upIn ten years it won’t matter that you fell, it’ll matter that you didn’t stay down in the dirt. Is falling off the wagon frustrating? You bet. Painful? Sometimes. Embarrassing? Sure. But you still have three good tires. Each day is a new day and each morning you wake up on the wagon. And next time that little kid won’t lean out quite so far to hit the wheel with a stick. Perfection is not realistic, so we’re not aiming for perfect here, we’re aiming for not-stupid.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

How have you handled a fall from the health wagon? What helps you get back on or stay on?

Eat Your Goal

Losing weight can be a mathematical headache. How many calories do I cut to equal one pound of weight loss? How many pounds per week before swimsuit season? If a train leaves the station at 10am and you race it…. The Weight Loss Bible walks you through pages of caloric math and then offers a simple alternative: eat your goal.

eat your goalThe concept is simple: if your goal weight is 140 pounds, then eat what a 140 pound woman eats. I love this idea! After all, the goal here is not only to lose the pounds, but to change your lifestyle; not only to reach your goal weight, but to maintain that weight for decades. So don’t play diet games. Eat like a thinner, healthier person and you will become one.

Look around you and take notice of the healthy people in your social sphere. Do the healthy people exercise? Then so should you. Do they eat vegetables? So should you. Do they drink water? Limit junk food? Sleep 7-8 hours per night? It’s so simple! Just move and eat and drink and sleep the way a person at your goal weight moves and eats and drinks and sleeps!

(A quick word of caution here: slim does not always mean healthy. Before you emulate a person’s lifestyle, observe them closely and critically. She may be thin, but does she eat? I’m talking healthy meals, not diet shakes. Is she overly obsessed with food or exercise? It’s possible for a perfect body to become the central priority of one’s life, but that’s not actually healthy.)

Eating your goal is simple, but I never said easy.

Brian Wansink, a professor of consumer behavior and nutritional science says that we make an average of 200 food related choices each day, many of them subconsciously. Even if we’ve got it half right when we start our health improvement journey, that’s 100 choices to be made differently each day, and that’s potentially overwhelming.

So keep it simple in your mind. Picture yourself at your goal weight or your goal level of health. Act like that version of yourself starting today. Eat your goal. Drink your goal. Move your goal. If you focus on your goal, your subconscious will adapt and those 200 daily decisions will be made for your benefit.

If you need a cheerleader, wave your arms around a bit and chant along with me:

I choose to be

A healthy me!

I’m eating wise,

I exercise.

It’s my new role:

To eat my goal!

 

“So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” 2 Corinthians 5:9

Chop and Chat

Whether you’re new to cooking at home or have been doing it for decades, cooking can sometimes feel like a chore. We eat every day, so we can potentially cook every day. Just like we go to bed on time or exercise more often when we make it fun, we’ll cook more often if we make it enjoyable.

  1. books-headphonesCook with your ears. Listen to an audio book while you cook or put on some music that’ll make your toes and your chopping knife tap together. If the audio book is a tear jerker, chop up a bag of onions and freeze the extra for later.
  2. 2014 June 049Rise and reward. Rise early twice a week to prep your recipes: chop the veggies or measure spices and save them in a little container. Get your ingredients set so that when you’re tired and hungry and it’s time to cook dinner, all you have to do is heat the pan and throw it all together. Or, in the case of a casserole, throw it in the oven. Reward yourself for your early effort with a special coffee or a favorite fruit salad. For many moms, being able to cook in peace and quiet in the early hours is a reward unto itself. If you use a slow cooker, your meal can be ready and waiting when you walk in the door.
  3. kids cook togetherThis last suggestion is my favorite: host a Chop and Chat. Invite a friend over and cook together. Yes, you will have different tastes and styles, but you will learn from each other and the cooking is accomplished—that’s the point, after all. Make salad together, scrape and cut carrot sticks for snacking, make a batch of soup or a fruit salad. We get together with friends to talk, but why not make our hands as productive as our mouths?

Cooking from scratch at home takes extra time and effort, but it’s worth it and can be enjoyable. Figure out what works for you. My favorite part of home cooking? The thing that inspires me to cook day after day, meal after meal? I love to eat and it tastes so good!

 

friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)

 

Images courtesy of: www.parentmap.com (headphones), me (knife), http://www.pinterest.com (kids)

Self Control is Not My Job

2timothy1_7For the Spirit God gave us gives us power—YES!—and love—YES!—and self-discipline—um, say what now?

Self-discipline or self-control is the Fruit of the Spirit I like to skim over. Love, joy, peace… I park it here and enjoy. Pour it on, Lord, these sound good. Forbearance (patience), kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness… I like these too, although it’ll take some work to exhibit them consistently. It’s not easy to always be kind and good and patient. I’ll need help, Lord. Self-control… I’m not a fan of this one. It sounds like work. It’s all on me: self-control, control of myself.

Or is it?

Wait, let me read those verses again. God has given us a Spirit of self-discipline. The Fruit of the Spirit is what the Holy Spirit produces in me. So it’s not all on me. I ask God to help me be patient and kind and loving, so why should self-control be any different?

fruit-of-spiritGod wants me to control my body. Self-discipline helps me say no to sin when I want to do what I know is wrong. Self-discipline helps me make time each day to pray and read the Bible when a thousand other ways to spend my time seem more urgent. And self-discipline helps me do what I need to do to get healthy.

Some days I’m focused on my goal and feel motivated to eat right, sleep long, and exercise. Other days I feel like doing anything else. Can’t I start tomorrow? Like a child I whine “do I have to? Can’t I start tomorrow?” I forget that I have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside me, ready to help me. So I pray.

I pray that the Holy Spirit, the same one God says gives us power and love, will help me be self-disciplined. I pray Lord, help me do what I need to do today to get healthy. Some days I pray Lord, help me want to do what I need to do today to get healthy, because I really want to jump off this wagon and bury my face in fudge.

Self-control is a beautiful thing, not a burden. I don’t want to be a slave to my flesh, so I need to take control of it so my flesh serves me and not vice versa. I have plans for my flesh and those plans include feeling comfortable in my own skin, feeling shameless in my tankini and swim shorts, and being mentally and physically active into my 90’s.

I’m not alone and it’s not all on me. The Holy Spirit gives me power, love, and self-discipline. Thank the Lord for all of the Fruits of the Spirit.

 

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 (NIV)

 

Images courtesy of: Pinterest (fruit tree), Verseoftheday.com (rock wall)

Weight Loss and Faith

Weight loss can be frustrating. There are times I exercise more and eat less for weeks and the scale still won’t budge.

It’s tempting to give up, but  I’ve got to believe all of that effort is having a positive effect somewhere in my body. Somewhere, deep down, I have cells that look like they just won Biggest Loser. But I have to keep trying until those effects grow beyond the microscopic and become visible to my naked eye.

Weight loss takes faith. When I started losing weight, I knew it would take work, and I knew it would take resilience, but I never expected to need faith.

I have to have faith that the vegetables I eat, the sleep I snooze, and the exercise I do is making a difference until time has passed and I see evidence of that difference: I feel stronger, my cholesterol drops, I look trimmer, and so forth. I would love faithless weight loss. Eat a carrot and BOOM: one pound lighter. Lift a weight and BOOM: a bicep appears out of nowhere. SIGH.

P1010166But God designed our bodies to adapt to our behavior over time. (And thank God that He did! If a goldfish overate like I did, it wouldn’t store fat, it’d just die.) As it is, our bodies expand to accommodate extra food and shrink back when food is decreased. When we eat sugar and sit on our rears, our bodies crave sugar and tire easily, but when we eat plants and move our limbs, our bodies miss those things if we stop. We adapt and actually begin to crave what’s good for us.

Just like people who read the Bible every day don’t expect an angel-choir mountain-top super-spiritual experience every time they read a verse, but notice changes over time in their relationship with God and others because of their Scripture reading, so too physical changes take time and perseverance to happen. Instead of faith in God, it’s faith in how God created our bodies to function.

2013 August 106Study after study has shown that the benefits of exercise and eating well start at the cellular level. There are many trillions of cells in the human body, so it takes a while for us to notice when a few million of them change.

Don’t give up. (Preaching to myself here.) Have faith that what you do for your health today will benefit you today and next week and next month, even if you don’t see results now.

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  – James 1:4 (NIV)

 

Be A Better Loser

I’m a pretty good loser, but with help, I’m a great loser.  Help can be an app, a website, a book, an accountability partner, a support group, or a lock on the fridge.  For me, it was Loseit.com.

2013 Summer 605When I first started losing weight, I didn’t want help.  Don’t give me a list of rules.  Don’t tell me any foods are off limits.  Call it stubbornness, call it arrogance, call it refusal to let go of a baking addiction…the point is, I wanted to do it on my own terms.  Also, on my bad days, I did NOT want to have to tell someone how bad I was.  My shame is my own, thank you very much!  But after four months of losing weight and two months of plateau-ing, (P.L.A.T.E.A.U. stands for Please Let my Attempts Take Effect…ARGH!! U’ve got to be kidding me!  Really body?  All this effort and the scale doesn’t budge?) I was ready for help.

P1010980Loseit.com is a free, easy, online calorie diary of sorts.  You know it’s quick and easy if a stay at home mom with four computer-crazy little kids can use it.  When I sit down at the computer, I have about 70 seconds before the boys swarm all over me, asking for a turn.  One of them will actually climb up the back of my chair and onto my shoulders.

Anyways, you create an account, telling them how much you weigh now, your weight goal, and if you want to lose 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds a week.  I love the realism here; notice that you may not choose to lose 20 pounds per week.  They calculate how many calories you should eat each day to reach your goal.  You type in a food and it tells you how many calories that food has and adds it all up for you.  So easy!  No math skills needed!

P1010979You can also create custom foods (such as a favorite homemade soup recipe or how you take your coffee) and name them.  Whole meals can be repeated with one click; useful if you eat the same thing for breakfast five days a week (like coffee, juice, and oatmeal), and previous meals are automatically saved and available to add; useful if you have leftovers for lunch the next day or you cook similar dinners every week.

You can also enter any exercise you do which ADDS calories to your daily allotment.  They even include housework and gardening.  If there’s chocolate in the house, my home gets a good cleaning!

Loseit even has a community feature where your friends and family can join as friends and see one another’s progress and leave comments.  It’s a great way to stay encouraged and be held accountable….as much as you want to be!

P1010981By the way, I am not being paid to talk about Loseit.  I wish I were.  If anyone would like to pay me, I would enjoy that.

So, how does this help?

Imagine that you’ve lost fifteen pounds and need a new outfit to go out with your girlfriends.  You have $80 to spend on clothes and your favorite brand of jeans is on sale for $40. At the store you find a fabulous shirt that you love, but it costs $60.  If you buy the shirt, you can’t buy the jeans.  So, you have to choose: marvelous shirt and mediocre jeans OR spectacular jeans and second rate shirt.  No, put those credit cards back in your pocket!  In this metaphor, debt turns into love handles!

That’s what Loseit does for me; it helps me budget.  I want to eat marvelous everything, all day, all the time.  But that’s how I gained my weight in the first place.  So, a budget example: After entering my breakfast, lunch, dinner, and exercise, I have a whopping 150 calories left for snack time.  I want to have a brownie and a cappuccino, but I can’t do that and stay within my calorie budget, so I have to choose: a brownie and tea OR carrots and cappuccino.

Not so bad, is it?1

Loseit has shown me where my calorie bombs were hiding; those foods that seemed innocent, but in reality have a lot higher count than I imagined.  Muffins, for example, and spaghetti.  The first time I entered my breakfast of muffins into Loseit, I cringed: the muffins used up almost half of my allotment that day!  Score one for the learning curve.  And over time I’ve learned which foods I can fill my plate with and still have room for treats.  (Vegetables!  Not surprised?  What, have you been reading my blog or something?)

Loseit is not the only website out there, but it’s the one I know.  The point is, at some point most of us will need some help, be it encouragement, accountability, or a dose of reality.  So, when you’re ready, don’t be afraid to get help!

“Note this: Wicked men trust themselves alone…and fail; but the righteous man trusts in me, and lives!” Habakkuk 2:4

The Burpee List (Poem)

Burpee Poem illustrationsBob found a list that was left by his wife

On top of the catalogue Gardening Life.

The list listed planks, and burpees, and crunches,

Box jumps, and twists, and lateral raises.

Bob studied the list. He thought long and hard.

Then he stared out the window at part of the yard.

I’ll make it, thought Bob, I’ll make it today!

She’ll be so surprised, she won’t know what to say.

 

Burpee Poem illustrations_0001Off to the hardware store! There he stood,

Staring at all of the planks of wood.

“She didn’t list a number, but ‘box jumps’ makes it clear.

A box is four sides of lumber. I’ll need four planks from here.”

The list said ‘burpees’—“That one’s easy.

I’ll buy seeds of carrots, peasies.”

Bob grabbed seeds from every bracket,

Filled the cart with Burpee packets.

Next was ‘crunches’, grabbed a bag. “Hey!

Must mean gravel for a walkway.”

 

Burpee Poem illustrations_0002Bob chuckled, he was quite bemused:

“She wrote ‘twists’, but they’re called screws!”

‘Lateral raises’ he took to mean

Lattices for growing beans.

He checked off each item and loaded the van.

“My wife’s going to be so proud of her man!”

 

Burpee Poem illustrations_0003Back to the house to dig in the soil.

Hauling and building, he cheerfully toiled.

His wife came home—“Come look at the yard, Hon!

I found your list and built a box garden!”

His wife took the list. She stared then she smiled

At the new plank box in which dirt was piled.

“I love it, Dear. You’re a wonderful man.

Though the list you found was my workout plan.”