Mid Week Motivator- Not Hiding From the Past

Celebrating a friends birthday a few years ago.

Celebrating a friends birthday a few years ago.

The above is a photo taken of me and a few friends a few years ago. I do not hesitate to post old photos because I refuse to pretend that my life started once I lost weight.

Before I lost weight there was life. There were celebrations and get togethers. At these events pictures were taken. So when Throw Back Thursday comes around, I often find pictures that I love from before my weight loss journey. Those memories and moments are precious to me.

My older sister and I celebrating New Years in 2012.

My older sister and I celebrating New Years in 2012.

Only posting pictures from after the weight loss is just not real. I may have not loved who I was in these photos but I love the people in them. And they love me.

Christmas 2012, the day I took this photo I did not know my life would change!

Christmas 2012, the day I took this photo I did not know my life would change!

Photos tell stories and these photos tell part of the story of my life. I refuse to hide from them. They are part of who I am but not who I chose to remain.

Season of Change

Change is never easy. Even change that is for the better. Change in our lives means navigating new, unknown waters. Too often in my own life knowing this detail about change has held me back from attempting something new. Or having the confidence to say “Yes, I can do that!”. Just over two years ago I was allowing fear and lack of confidence to hold me back.

It is also easier to stay in what we know than to change our circumstances. It is the devil that we know is it not? I was willing to stay in a miserable state simply because it was what I knew.

Then I began my journey to health.

In that journey,I gained the confidence that had eluded me so far in life. It is not just about losing pounds of fat. I emerged changed not only physically but also internally. Having discovered this confidence but by becoming dissatisfied with the status quo of my life. I found I wanted and deserved more.

Currently I am in the midst of a season of change. My writing career is really ( and I must say scarily) taking off. New opportunities are coming my way and part of me wants to hide from all of it. However the other stronger, confident part of my is standing up to embrace this change. No longer will I hide from change, good or bad.

Embracing change has allowed me to grow. Gaining confidence has freed me to pursue dreams. To step outside that comfort zone. To get comfortable with being uncomfortable. To have my sense of where I belong challenged. Embracing change is not easy but in doing so I have begun to emerge as the woman I am today. The person I am in the process of becoming.

Mid Week Motivator- Combating Fall Back Habits

The toughest times with eating for me is when life gets a little more stress full. My default is to seek out food for comfort. My mindset turns to the idea that I can not do something about this situation so I might as well eat.

While I do not keep  “bad” or junk food in the house, it is still possible to overeat. Usually this means indulging my sweet tooth. In those times I need to stop and ask myself why am I eating this food. What is it I hope to get out of it.

I have a difficult time not indulging in this if I keep too many sweets available in the house. There are times that I even avoid the cookie or ice cream aisle. There have been times that most of my shopping trip is spent standing in these places mentally debating about a potential purchase.

When I do buy my sweets, it is after much consideration for not only the physical cost but financial. There are a few alternatives to regular ice cream. I like ArcticZero which is made with all natural ingredients and is 150 calories for an entire pint, which can be pricey at least for me. Other times I get frozen yogurt which I do have to be careful on how many servings eat. From time to time I will get a small pack of cookies. Also frozen fruit like grapes, watermelon and mangles are also a great alternative.

Denying myself completely would lead to utter disaster. But allowing myself to enjoy it from time to time is a good thing. Plus it tastes so much better because I have pulled back.

But at the same time, I need to be careful when I am seeking out sweets to comfort me. These are the moments to step back and reflect. To not just fall back into old habits because it is what I know best. I have worked too hard to let the past rule over me.

Mid Week Motivator- That Sweet Tooth!

I have a major sweet tooth. I mean major. Some people crave salty, I crave sweet. In my journey I have had to walk a tightrope in giving into it or fighting it. To be honest, lately it has not been much of a fight on my end. When I was in the midst of losing weight, not indulging in sweets was one of the things that surprised me. It was wholly supernatural. I did still crave something else after dinner and found myself, instead of eating ice cream chewing on ice with gum. Weird I know but it satisfied my craving. Something that I noticed is while I indulged my sweet tooth ( and often) I was not truly enjoying the food I was eating. My taste buds had become dulled. Pulling back from sugar would help to cleanse my palet.

When I did have a craving for something sweet after dinner, I discovered how amazing (and cheap!) frozen fruit was to eat. First it was watermelon. Purchasing, slicing and freezing a whole watermelon was worth the cost ( I often found them for $5 to $7 at Aldi). The texture is similar to that of an italian ice ( without the added sugar). I soon added grapes and other fruits. This gave me a small taste of something sweet and cold, just what I needed.

But sometimes I wanted more than that, namely ice cream. I discovered Artic Ice which is only 150 calories for an entire pint! I don’t know about the rest of you out there but I used to consume pints of Ben & Jerry’s or Hagen Daaz by myself. Never following the recommended serving size for two. Finding this was a nice treat from time to time, as the cost is almost $5 for one and that can be a bit high for me. I have also tried out soy ice creams from time to time. I have also tried out those natural fruit bars, there are several brands out there. Take the time to read the labels, especially the sugar content.

Having a sweet tooth is hard. I limit the amount of sweets I do have in the house. Usually its some frozen yogurt ( that I do my best to limit how many helpings I eat). But I do not keep cookies or chocolate. If I really want that I have to leave the house to get it. I still need to plan when I want to eat something like ice cream or yogurt. There are days that I am not always so careful but most of the time I do try to plan what I eat each day. If I know I will have something later on, I tend to work out harder. Not always, but on some days that is my motivation to even work out at all.

Limiting what is accessible to me at home helps to keep me check. I also know when to avoid those aisles in the grocery store. When you do indulge in your sweet tooth know that there are alternatives from the usual choices. I do not beat myself up, if you indulged and feel guilty then take a step back and evaluate what or why it happened. Perhaps it is something you just can not have in the house. Ask yourself why you ate it. Taking the time to figure this out is far more important than a guilt trip.

The more you pull back from sugar the sweeter those healthy fruits and vegetables taste! Those times when you do have dessert at the end of a meal will be all the more sweeter because your taste buds have been revived. There may be times when it is more of a struggle than other days. What matters most is how you handle it.

Mid Week Motivator- Eating Healthy Despite A Tight Budget

Getting healthy is hard. It takes motivation and determination. Eating healthy is key in this and at times can seem insurmountable because of the perceived cost. I am proof that a person can live on a extremely tight budget and succeed in not only losing weight but in maintaining it as well. The first step is something I have addressed in the past, cleaning out the fridge and pantry. The second step is buying the good healthy stuff.
Recently a friend made that sort of comment, that she wished she could eat healthy but could not afford it. Trust me, you CAN do this on a tight budget. It takes planning and turning away from those old habits. While it is possible to eat healthy on a budget, it is not possible to purchase both the healthy food and the junk food. It means taking from your eating out budget and putting it into the grocery store instead. Having less money for the drive thru or “treats” will be hard but it is worth the sacrifice.
Also do not fear! Eating healthy does not mean eating boring food with no taste. Actually you will learn to enjoy the natural flavor of things. I have found that when I do eat something prepackaged or from a drive thru that the taste is not as good. Eating healthy is an investment.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of so much flavor. Yes it can take planning and even preparation of these foods but that can also be fun and expand your palate. I have always enjoyed eating fruits and vegetables so this transition was not as difficult for me. I have discovered I do get more bang for my buck when I purchase fresh, healthy food than when I do go through a drive thru for a quick meal. It helps to keep only the healthy foods in the house too. While you may have a craving for that not so great snack, there is no choice but to eat what you do have in the house.
It also means venturing into the kitchen and breaking out those pots and pans. I am no cook but here is how I watched what I ate. Paying attention to serving sizes in addition to swapping one food for another was key. Using smaller plates to eat off of helps as well, the fuller your plate looks the less likely you are to want to more. Use this as an opportunity to try out new recipes, especially if you have children cooking as a family can be such a bonding experience. As a single woman I tend to make a lot of a side like brown rice or couscous ( my latest obsession!) or chicken and eat that for a week for dinner.
I can eat the same thing over and over. This helps me in a few ways, first I know what to expect to pay at the register when I purchase the same things. I also know how much calories I am consuming. I shop at a few places to get the best deals for my money. One is a grocery chain called Aldi, they have really great prices for fresh fruit and vegetables. I also go to my local Publix and I take advantage of their buy one get one sales. This allows me to stock on items like Oatmeal, coffee, peanut butter, coconut oil etc. Look for sales and ask friends about local farmers markets and deals. Living in South Florida I also take advantage of the various fruits and foods that I can get for free. This time of year is Mango and Avocado season. The mangoes are right outside my kitchen window and the avocadoes I get our generously given by a friends father in law from trees in their nursey.. I never have to pay for them.
Let me just say too that I have never used powders or vitamins during my journey. First I just could not afford them and second I was already consuming so much of the good stuff that I was getting what I needed from them. I also drink a lot of water, this cuts down on your calorie intake, and I just find it cheaper all around.
If you are looking for guidance on what to buy or eat check out Myfitnesspal.com where you can join a community and it will help you learn how to buy. Don’t be afraid to ask question about different fruits and vegetables either, not everyone knows what to do with a cumquat! Or what to do with a pomegranate ( believe me they are delicious!). It is a whole new world but so worth it to explore! I promise you, once you start to invest in eating healthier you will not want to go back.

Next week I will address dealing with a sweet tooth and not going off your diet. Yes it can be done!

Growing In Rest….

Rest. A simple four letter word that too many us just do not understand. It seems that in our non-stop culture the idea of rest is simply a foreign one. It is one of the ten commandments, to take a sabbath or day of rest. To rest from our work. To rest. To take the time to reflect on all that God is doing in my life.

I wondered if I even understood how to rest anymore. These last few weeks have been a bit of a whirlwind. I feel as if I have just been on the move, from work, ministry and social commitments. While I have enjoyed some of this being on the move I have also not rested.

I made a decision. I turned off my phone for twenty four hours. A full day of not being constantly connected. This meant no internet, texts, emails or phone calls. In today’s world of social media and building a platform it is expected to be tweeting or face booking often throughout a typical day. I needed a break. Seeing as I could not afford to go out of town, this is what I chose instead.

Let me tell you, it was bliss!

I woke up naturally, not when an alarm went off. This is a rare treat and one that I would recommend for anyone. Then I spent quality time in the scriptures. Every few weeks, I like to look through my sermon notes and write down scripture on index cards that were highlighted in the past weeks sermons. When I write these words down on the index cards, I feel so connected to God. It is a quiet sacred time.

I finished a book of short stories by Janet Frame. Lovely stories about life, love and family.

I worked on some blog posts. Yes, I know work and rest do not usually go with each other but writing is a form of rest for me. As strange as it sounds, writing helps to clear my head. It allows me to understand the world around me. So in this way, it is rest.

I did yoga. It has been too long since I had done that. Yoga is all about being centered and focusing on the movement. Oh and breathing, you need to breath.

I tried out a new recipe for making eggs using my muffin pans. They came out pretty well if I say so myself!

To end the day, I watched a classic film, Bus Stop starring Marilyn Monroe. I need to watch more classic films.

I recognize that having a full day to rest is a blessing and a privilege. I’m grateful to have been able to take this time to rest. It is important. I feel refreshed and ready for the week ahead of me.

What does rest look like for you?

A Case of Foot in Mouth Disease

James 3:6
The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of one’s life, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Often I have this problem of placing my foot in my mouth. It has been a lifelong affliction. It just is not the words I say but the way I say them. See I tend to react first then regret what I just said. At times I am not aware of what I am saying is hurtful due to my tone until I see the reaction from the other person standing in front of me.

I used to excuse this behavior by saying that it is just who I am. That everyone else is too sensitive. They should of known better than to ask me that or approach me blah, blah, blah. My temper was part of who I was, something that would have to be accepted. But that line of thinking is unacceptable.

Before I knew Christ, I was simply a ball of anger. And I confess, I rather enjoyed being angry. Even being mean to other people gave me a kind of high. Allowing myself to be miserable gave me the excuse I gave above. That old saying misery loves company is rather true. See when I felt miserable, I did everything I could to make everyone else just as miserable.

In the eight years that I have been a Christian, God has changed my heart. All that anger I used to cling to has dissipated. However, my temper can rear its ugly head from time to time, as it has recently. My first instinct is to say that its because I am tired. Or stressed. Or even hormonal. But the reality is I have to own these moments when my temper lets loose. I admit I felt rather at a loss on how to do this.

Then I lead at church’s camp. For the entire week each mornings devotional focused on the book of James. On the third day of camp we went through James 3:1-12 which focuses the use of our tongues. Specifically how our, my words can be either be life giving or death. Think about that for a moment, words are powerful. They can either be life giving or death.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but that makes me cringe. Flashes of how I have misused my tongue went through my mind as I lead my middle school girls through this devotional. It was not all condemnation though, as I also thought of all the words of encouragement. Words of encouragement that I have been blessed with and those I have also spoken.

I was also reminded that I can not tame my tongue on my own power. As with everything else in my life, I can not do anything with out God. It is too easy to turn to self reliance in these matters. To start thinking that God can not be bothered with my prayer. OR even worse that I can not come before God until I con-cure this tendency.

I compare this temper of mine to Paul’s thorn in his side. Something I long to have removed from myself and yet it is not. I have to lean into what it is God wants me to understand about the tongue. Not only my struggle with it but the struggle others around me have as well. To become more empathetic and giving of grace. To also continually seek God in this. It can be too easy to say I have failed forever in front of God when there is stumbling. What needs to happen is recognizing that in our stumbles there is grace.

I accept that at times in my life my tongue will cause me to stumble. That I will not always be the light to others I long to be. What I no longer accept is that this is acceptable behavior. That this aspect of myself is not simply part of who I am but something that can be changed. Something that can be used to possibly minister to others and show them grace in this struggle. As I pray I too am showed grace.

Mid Week Motivator- Soreness is Your Friend

Recently, I took a week off from working out while I lead at my church’s camp. This first week getting back into the routine has been hard. Just knowing what was waiting for me once I did start up again. Namely, soreness and lots of it.

Say this with me, soreness is your friend. Being sore, not in pain but sore is a good thing. Remember pain is different from soreness. It means you worked hard. That muscles are waking up. It is ok to admit that soreness sucks.

The thing with sore muscles is to work through it. Do not use the excuse of sore muscles to avoid working out altogether. If you worked your arms into soreness land, then focus on another part of your body the next day. When that part of your body is sore, then you work on those arms again.

Think of your sore muscles as a badge of honor. Stripes you have earned with hard work. Are you sore?
Good! Now go back for some more! And of course be sure to stretch, this will help with the soreness and help prevent injury. This is so important.

Remember, take care if you have an old injury or did hurt yourself getting back out there. The difference between being sore and injured is vast. Soreness is dealing with discomfort and an injury is actual pain. You can work through soreness, if there is pain seek medical help.