5 Daily Actions

Day 62 of my COVID-19 quarantine.

Last year I heard a powerful talk by John C. Maxwell that made a huge impact in my daily habits. Within his talk he shared what he calls “The Power of Five”, and of course he has a whole book about it that I cannot wait to read, here’s the link in case you want to dive in. During his point on the importance of consistency he shared with the audience 5 things that he does every single day of his life. Five essential, invaluable actions that he repeats over and over and over again. These actions in and of themselves were simple & straight forward, yet they are critical in helping him accomplish his call and purpose.

After hearing his talk, my husband and I were challenged to pray about and write down our own 5 daily actions. These are 5 actions unique to each individual that are essential to our mental, spiritual, & physical health. They are also invaluable to our purpose and calling. As I share mine, try to think about what your 5 daily actions might be. Some might be the same, but some might be totally different which is to be expected. I have noticed that as I engage in these 5 daily actions, they make a HUGE difference on my sanity throughout this crisis. My mood is happier, my hopes are up, and I’m able to be patience, kind, and loving toward my family. Y’ALL these 5 daily actions are a lifeline from Heaven that are making such a big difference for me. I wonder if yours would have the same affect for you???

First, I pray! My prayer time begins with a few moments of silence & stillness in the presence of God. I focus my mind and heart on Him, surrendering my fears and receiving His love. Then I pray through several lists of needs from our church, family, friends, ministries we support etc. As I intercede for these loved ones, laying their needs in the capable and mighty hands of Jesus, an interesting thing happens. I feel lighter & happier – like the burden I was carrying was literally transferred to Jesus and now I’m not weighed down by it.

Second, I write. If you’re new around here I’m a very big advocate for journaling. Throughout the quarantine I’ve begun each journal entry the same – partially to record this amazing moment in His-story and partly because I wake up each day literally not knowing what day it is, lol! Here’s what today’s entry looked like:  Thursday, May 14, 2020 at home QD 62 (quarantine day).

As I journal, I share a summary of our activities from the previous day – to be noted I don’t normally treat my journal like a diary, although you totally can but each day is so unique during this crisis and I want to be able to go back to this time years from now and reflect on this season in greater detail. I will also write a prayer to the Lord with anything on my heart that day. Then as I continue my time with Jesus, I use my journal as a space to record all the many things He speaks to my heart through His word. I’ll write verses that pop out at me, even whole passages. Something powerful takes place in my heart when I’ve not only read a verse but read it out loud and written it down. Those extra steps seem to cement the truth deep within my heart and memory banks. This space in my journal is precious to me, it’s like God’s love letter to me, beautifully crafted from our time together. Lots of times this writing becomes a blog post or is used as I serve others.Third I read. While reading my sole motivation is to PUT TRUTH IN. Listen, there are millions of things coming after our minds each day, it is critical to our sanity throughout this crisis to be vigilant with what we are putting in our minds. You are a gate keeper, choose wisely my friends. I begin with reading the Psalm & Proverb from that day’s date, then continue to whatever book in the Bible I’m studying at that time. I am currently devouring the fascinating truth within 1 & 2 Kings. As I read, I sit with my journal, my Bible, and The Tony Evans Bible Commentary. Whenever I have a question, don’t understand what something means, or am curious about a detail from the Bible I whip out Dr. Evans Commentary and look it up. It’s like having the greatest Bible teacher in the world as a personal mentor – I highly recommend it.

At the beginning of 2020 I committed to read at least 1 chapter in a book per day. To date I have completed 16 books by staying consistent with this tiny little habit. What happened was a love for reading was birthed in me, after my 1 chapter was completed, I found myself longing to read more later in the day. There have been many times that I’ve chosen reading over watching the TV at night, who am I? John C. Maxwell says, “consistency compounds” and he is totally right.

Fourth I move. God beautifully designed movement as a vital part of our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Moving is one of my favorite ways to relieve stress. My hubby and I walk at least 30 minutes daily (weather permitting, while social distancing of course) and I can tell such a huge difference in my mood when we do. Moving allows us to think more clearly, talk through the day, and dream together.

Fifth I connect. Last but not least, I try to connect with family and friends every day. This looks like texts, calls, messages, video chats, and even Zoom hangouts. God created us as relational beings and connection with family & friends brings a level of perspective and hope that is much needed. Often, I am able to encourage someone who’s having a tough time, which then encourages me as well. Connection speaks truth to the lies of isolation, reminding me that I am not alone, and I am deeply loved.

As I pray, write, read, move, and connect I am grounded in God’s love and truth. I am building health habits that will compound, serving my calling & purpose. I am taking the best care possible of my mind, body, & soul. I hope these inspire you to pursue 5 daily actions both now and far beyond this pandemic.

Journal & Process

-What are 5 daily actions that are essential to YOUR purpose?

-What adjustments will you need to make as you begin to walk in these actions?

-What is your mind, body, & soul craving in this season?

Shattering Limits!

Shattering Limits WEB REV

Photo by Jilbert Ebrahimi on Unsplash

Have you ever said the words “I could never do that”?

What spiritual, emotional, & physical limits do you place on yourself?

Do you have people in your life that limit you and speak death over your dreams?

In 2010 I was working as a counseling intern, running at outpatient women’s program at a mental hospital. I got very sick with a fungus called aspergillus in my lungs which led to a 180* shift in my life. In the two and a half years that followed, I had 12 cases of bronchitis or pneumonia and 55 weeks of bedrest. I had 12 different doctors and they couldn’t figure out what was causing the complete shutdown of my immune system. I was unable to work because I couldn’t go more than a month without getting sick. I developed horrible fatigue and lost half my hair. When I got bronchitis I would be in bed for days at a time, often my husband would need to help me shower because I would get so weak. A case of bronchitis would take me 3 to 4 weeks to recover from. During this time I gained even more weight and at over 300 pounds I was the heaviest I had ever been. At my worst, at 35 years old I was taking 24 prescription medications. Y’all I was SICK! My life went from vibrant & fulfilling to one GIANT limit!

I don’t know about you, but I DO NOT like limits. I’m basically the personality type that says, “oh you think I can’t do it, WATCH ME!” It felt like people were lining up to tell me what I couldn’t or shouldn’t do. I was crippled with the limits placed upon me by doctors, well-meaning family & friends, but even worse myself. Now don’t get me wrong, God created limits for a reason and some of them are necessary and important. However, I began to develop a very limiting and unhealthy mindset. My thoughts and plans centered around “I am a sick person” or “I’ll always be sick”. This limited my hope, my dreams, and my future! This was NOT the truth about my life, it was NOT God’s plan, but I believed it and acted upon it for a season.

Fast forward nearly 8 years later I am a completely different person today. In the next few weeks I want to share more in depth my recovery journey but for now let’s just say God is AMAZING!! What the doctors said was broken, God renewed and healed!! See God created our bodies in this incredible way, when you give the body what it needs…God designed it to heal itself! WOW!

Now I am in the business of SHATTERING LIMITS! After losing years of my life to sickness, medication, doctors’ appointments, and bedrest I am now chasing after GOD sized dreams. One of the biggest dreams I am chasing is running in a half marathon. With the approval of God, my husband and my doctor I have registered and am training for a half marathon. {HAPPY DANCE!!!} I am absolutely thrilled and overjoyed at the favor of God for the ability & strength to run this race. God continues to show Himself powerful & mighty in my life.

Joshua 1: 9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you God.” Joshua was a brand new leader for the people of Israel after the mighty man of God, Moses had died. As all new leaders are, Joshua was probably a little insecure and scared. He had huge shoes to fill and was commissioned to fight a bunch of battles and bring God’s people into the Promised Land. I feel like this verse is like a pep talk from God. Think about the limits that could have plagued Joshua’s mind and held him back from God’s purposes. God is in the business of SHATTERING LIMITS! God’s purposes & plans will NOT be limited, thwarted, or compromised. Consider this: how has your story influenced the limits you place on yourself? Are you holding yourself back from following your GOD sized dreams? I believe God wants to give us a pep talked today, to be STRONG & COURAGEOUS, to no longer walk in fear but abide in His truth, and that HE will be with us wherever we go! Let’s break down the walls of self-doubt, fear, insecurity, and confusion friends and begin SHATTINGER LIMITS!!

What GOD sized dreams are you chasing right now? How are you SHATTERING LIMITS?

Interested in reading more? Check out My Testimony

NEW MILES. NEW BLISTERS.

I love to walk. There is just something so life giving to me about lacing up my shoes, filling up my water bottle, and navigating a few miles outdoors on a beautiful day. I find I do my very best praying & worshiping along those paths. I hear from God more clearly and feel His love & grace more vividly. A few weeks ago I began to walk again after an admittedly long drought without much (read any) exercise. Anyone else have seasons like that? In the past few years it has been pretty ordinary for me to walk at least 4 miles. We are so blessed to live next to a gorgeous park filled with a variety of beautiful well kept paths. I use an app called CardioTrainer to track my location, distance, pace, & steps.

Praying

My first day out was equal parts glorious & brutal!! My heart & mind were blazing with determination. I was ready!! I have learned in those moments of great zeal, that are honestly way too fleeting, to seize the day and jump in with both feet before the moment passes. In wisdom, since it had been awhile, I thoroughly stretched and embarked on my journey. I SO enjoyed the beauty of God’s creation, soaking it all in. I was very proud of myself for pushing past the zillion reasons (read excuses) that could have prevented me from walking that day.  Completing those 4 miles was absolutely glorious!!

The whole time I was monitoring myself to see how my legs, knees, & hips would do, all was well thankfully. However about mile #3 it started. I could feel the blisters forming on my tender feet and there was nothing I could do. I was over a mile from home and had to push through and finish the race (there’s a sermon in there for another day). That final stretch was absolutely brutal! It felt like both of my feet were covered in blisters, from the toes to the back of my heal, and every step brought the sting of pain. When I got home I took off my shoes and YIKES!! I had at least 5 blisters on each foot. Did I mention how tender my feet are?? Let me tell you it was NOT pretty.

Moses

I have recently been studying the life & leadership of Moses. I’m inspired & challenged by how God worked in and through his life. I see in the life of Moses a man who was called from birth, literally plucked from death, and filled with purpose. Each new mile that Moses walked with God brought new joys & new blisters. He was the man that God choose to lead His people out of captivity in Egypt, and oh what a GLORIOUSLY unforgettable exit they made. He was also the man that God choose to lead His people through FORTY YEARS of wandering in the desert. Talk about BRUTAL!!

Through the life and leadership of Moses I am learning that with each mile I walk with God there will be joys & blisters….sometimes both literally & figuratively. It gives me hope to see a leader like Moses continuing to press into God regardless of the loud and doubting criticisms of the crowd. It gives me hope to see a leader who struggled with self doubt, discouragement, fatigue, and sin to endure and be used by God in mighty and miraculous ways. BIG HOPE y’all!! Moses was not perfect, he was stretched, and challenged but he grew & ultimately fulfilled his purpose to the glory of God.

Moses 2

In my exercise & in my spiritual walk there is one truth that will prevail. NEW MILES. NEW BLISTERS. I have been walking a few times a week and slowly increasing my distance & pace. I was SO excited when I hit 6.46 miles the other day for the first time. WOW!! You know what? Those blisters from my 4 mile walks healed up and now my feet are a little stronger for it. Each time I walk a little farther or faster I may pick up a new blister or two…BUT even when I’m being stretched and challenged God is using it to produce life, and strength, and hope in me. Most of all He is using the struggles in our lives to draw us closer to Him so that he can demonstrate His glory. Today I’m welcoming NEW MILES, by His grace joyfully anticipating NEW BLISTERS, but most of all celebrating His love as he walks beside me to see His purposes fulfilled in my life.

I’d love to hear from YOU!!

What new miles are you walking today?

How are your feet feeling?

How has healing from your blisters made you stronger?

Planning for Healthy Travels

Planning for Healthy Travels

Thursday, March 14, 2013

This time of year begins the busy travel season for families. My husband and I love to travel and many of our fondest married memories are in far off places packed with lots of rest & relaxation. We are actually preparing for a 4 day trip this weekend and I thought I’d share some of my preparation tips with you!

When it comes to maintaining our healthy lifestyle, travel can also be kind of scary, BUT it doesn’t have to be!  Armed with a solid plan any vacation can be a healthy success without compromising the fun along the way. As I prepare for this trip, here is what has been on my mind.

Food & Water– 90% of our meals with be out at local restaurants. When going to restaurants normally we employ the strategy of looking at their website to plan ahead of time. This trip the restaurants are pre-chosen and out of our control so there will be no way to check the menu in advance. Here are my tips:

  1. Discuss sharing a meal in advance with your spouse or travel companion and agree on something you will both be satisfied with.
  2. Look for markings on the menu that indicate healthier options
  3. Keep snacks on hand so that you don’t go into the restaurant completely starving and with less self control. Pre-portion and throw in a bag or purse for easy access on the go. For some great snack ideas that that travel well check out Re-thinking Healthy Snacks: Crunchy & Salty!
  4. Enjoy local and seasonal items, request modifications when needed, and load up on veggies as you normally would at home. =D
  5. We will be going to an area that is near the ocean and I plan to enjoy some great fish that I don’t get often in Texas. Fish is a lower calorie protein when, grilled or broiled and not fried, that is a perfect travel choice.
  6. When staying in a hotel call ahead to find out if they offer continental breakfast and what healthy options are available. Starting the day making healthy choices always keeps me on track!
  7. Don’t forget to keep drinking your water! Save money on your trip by drinking water at meals, keep a case of water in the hotel, and take a bottle when on the go.

 

Pre-portioned grab & go snacks, some of our favorite teas, Organic Stevia, and some go to granola bars!

Pre-portioned grab & go snacks, some of our favorite teas, Organic Stevia, and some go to granola bars!

Activity – Traveling affords terrific opportunities to seek out different activities not available where we live. This trip for us has a specific focus and won’t allow much adventuring. So to fit in activity we have planned ahead, here’s my tips:

  1. Call the hotel ahead to find out what exercise facilities they have available. Our hotel this weekend offers an exercise room, as most do these days. It also offers an indoor heated swimming pool.
  2. Plan ahead by packing a couple workout outfits, tennis shoes, socks, swim suits, and any of your other favorite gear. Having it with you keeps you motivated and dispels any excuses.
  3. Look for a terrific parks, bike rentals & paths, tennis or basketball courts, places to go swimming where ever you travel this summer. Explore museums and other outings that will keep you moving.
  4. Plan activity into your travel. No matter what type of trip, no matter how tight the schedule or budget may be. It is so important to fuel your body with what it needs and be consistent with your active lifestyle.  Our plan for this trip is to squeeze in time at the gym and pool during before breakfast and at the end of each day. Even 20 minutes makes such a huge difference and is totally worth it!
I'm ready for activity! I've got my shoes, socks, workout gear, and swim suit packed!

I’m ready for activity! I’ve got my shoes, socks, workout gear, and swim suit packed!

Stay accountable – Travels don’t have to be the purpose to be derailed from a healthy lifestyle.  Keeping accountable with whatever plan you chose could be just the step that keeps you on track. Here are my tips.

  1. With our Weight Watchers plan we track everything that goes into our mouths on their really terrific website. Just in case we don’t have internet I’m packing a handy paper tracker! This is a fantastic accountability step to keep you aware of food choices and staying on track. There are tons of ways to track your food or caloric intake these days, tons of free apps for the phone and websites. When in doubt pack some paper & pen J
  2. Do you have friends that you stay accountable via phone, email, or Facebook? Why not check in while traveling? We are blessed to have many layers of accountability, here is a pic of us traveling at Christmas and attending a Weight Watchers meeting while in Ohio. It was the perfect boost to get us through the holiday.
  3. Ask friends and others on the journey to help you make a plan ahead of time that works for you! I talked to some terrific friends who understood the details of our travel and they gave me great insights I hadn’t thought of. What a blessing to have great healthy minded friends!
On our trip to Ohio in December we kept accountable by attending a local Weight Watchers Meeting. It was SO much fun!

On our trip to Ohio in December we kept accountable by attending a local Weight Watchers Meeting. It was SO much fun!

We are committed to our healthy lifestyle and continuing to honor God with the choices we make NO MATTER what life throws at us. With a plan in place, tools packed and ready, we are equipped to enjoy a wonderful trip. I hope you have found some of these tips helpful and will enjoy fun & healthy travels this season!

Insights from a Marathoner

Insights from a Marathoner

February 7, 2013

Have you ever had a conversation with a perfect stranger that tremendously impacted your life? Well I did recently! I met a Marathoner about a week ago at a party we attended prior to the big game. Now I have met people here and there that have run a couple half or full marathons in the past. But this guy was the real thing, a real live Marathoner! I’m sure I’m going to get the numbers wrong but he had run something like 15-16 FULL marathons and 17-18 HALF marathons. Holy moly that’s amazing! This is the kind of guy that owns the title of Marathoner. He has mastered his skill, he has confidently triumphed through all the physical, emotional, and no doubt spiritual obstacles, and he has finished the task and completed his goal over and over and over again.

This gentleman was kind enough to allow me to pick his brain for about 10 minutes to which I stared in awe soaking up every tid bit of wisdom he had to offer. My relationship with exercise has progressed during this journey and over the last six months and I’ve toyed with setting a new personal fitness goal of completing a half marathon to start with and eventually a full marathon. So as we entered 2013 I declared to my husband (from my sick bed-seriously) that I wanted to train & completely a half marathon by the end of the year. To my delight the Lord brings a real live Marathoner across my path in the dawn of my strength returning and as I am permitted by doctors and family to continue in my exercise journey. Totally inspiring!

As I walked (3.1 miles) this morning and reflected back to that conversation I realized there are many significant parallels to running a marathon and my journey. Let me share with you some of the things I took away from our conversation and how they parallel to the feat of getting healthy physically, emotionally, spiritual, and losing over 110+ pounds! Getting healthy has been my mountain, but no matter what mountain we face in life I believe these truths are invaluable to success.

1. Visit a local running club and get connected with a team to train.

Why is connecting with a team so vitally important? God created us as relational beings and we need one another as we face challenges in this life. A team will be built of individuals at different stages of experience & expertise. Surrounding myself with people who know a lot more than I do about finishing a marathon sounds like a terrific place to start. When I have faced challenges on this journey to getting healthy I have surrounded myself with people who have had success, experts with experience, people who passionately care about this journey, and people who will cheer me on! I am on a team that is working together to get healthy and you are part of that team!

2. Start small & work your way up. Jog a 5K, then a 10K and so on.

As a counselor I would sometimes see people choking on their own issues. If a pizza represents all of the issues one faces I would see clients trying to stuff the whole pizza down their mouth at one time. When in reality to successfully work through issues we need to take one slice of pizza and then eat it one bite at a time. Starting small is manageable, it allows your body, mind, soul to adjust & grow without discouragement. If I went out today and tried to run a half marathon I would fail and probably never try it again.

3. Get the proper equipment you need such as good running shoes.

There are many tools available on the market today that can help you conquer a marathon. Everything from specially designed shoes, watches that record your pace & aid with training, compression pants, to belts that hold water bottles.  This equipment by itself does nothing to get you across that finish line BUT it does allow some level of comfort and direction in the training process. Finding & using the right equipment when we face a challenge is critical to success. In getting healthy I use a website to track my food and store recipes, I use a food scale to accurately determine the quantity of food before I consume it, and I use weights and a medicine ball when working out. These tools support my goal and keep my focused on the journey.

4. Train faithfully and expect your training to affect the lives of those around you.

Transforming into a Marathoner requires a day by day commitment to train. According to Brad Boughman’s MarathonRookie.com “The secret to successful marathon training and half marathon training lies within staying supremely motivated, training smart & safe, and maintaining proper nutrition.” I hear a lot of commitment in that power packed statement. It is a slow progressive process of choices that lead to the ultimate goal. Daily choosing to stay focused and committed empowers each new day. Similarly our journey to health requires daily focus and commitment. We are in training and determined to finish the race!

Let’s be honest we don’t live in a box; ALL of our choices both positive and negative affect those around us. The family of a Marathoner sacrifices time, money, and energy for the goal. They walk through life with this person in training and see the transformation taking place. A legacy is being built through their sacrifices that will last a lifetime. A legacy of endurance, determination, willpower, strength, hope, and good health will certainly be passed on to the next generation. When we started this journey I had no idea how the changes we would make would affect the lives of our family & friends & many others. Somehow through our authentic transparency people have become inspired and encouraged toward honoring God through living a healthy lifestyle.  May a legacy of good health and a lifestyle that honors God be passed on to our future generations.

5. Don’t give up on your dream.

My dream to complete a marathon will not be achieved overnight. It will take time, determination, and a lot of work. I need to surround myself with a team of experts who are focused on the same goal. I need to start small and build on my successes. I need to get the tools that will support and encourage my goal. I need to faithfully train no matter what it takes and remained focused no matter what hurdle I face. Finally I need to never give up my dream to finish a marathon!

A phrase that has stuck with me throughout my journey to getting healthy is “This is a marathon, not a sprint”. Losing over 110 pounds does not happen overnight, it is not fast, it is not a perfect journey, it has its ups and down, and bumps & bruises along the way. The Marathoner I met last week left an impression with this statement: a marathon is not about speed it is about finishing the race. I plan to finish the race I am in and continue on to the next one. Whatever challenge, mountain, or race you find yourself in I pray that you are encouraged and inspired that you too CAN see your dream fulfilled and succeed!

Top 10 Weight Loss Tips & Tricks

Top 10 Weight Loss Tips & Tricks – November 1, 2012

Welcome to my new web page! I hope you will enjoy the new format and find it easy to use! Note the pages on top to review My Story and Pictures of our journey! Also note the categories listed on the left side which are convenient for quick reference to previous posts with recipes, food tips, inspiration, my journey, and exercise. If you had previously received my blog via email you WILL need to re-establish your email in the box to the left to continue to receive direct emails. Please let me know if you have ANY questions!

When you’ve lost over 100 pounds you get countless people asking you for tricks & tips! Well that is a good thing and I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned over the last 14 months. Plus it is a good refresher for me going into a busy holiday season. Here are my Official Top 10 Tricks& Tips to live by!

1. Pray about committing this area of your life to God. God does care about this area of your life and He desires that you involve Him in the process. Allow Him to create change in this area of your life. Pray daily for strength and self control. Pray often for continued direction. Pray. Pray. Pray!

2. If you have more than 50 pounds to lose based on guidelines that your primary care physician should discuss with you then I strongly suggest joining a healthy weight loss program. I say this because if those of us (myself included) who have 50 pounds or more to lose could do it on our own we would have already! Start with talking to your doctor and then find a program that works for you. My husband and I chose Weight Watchers because it provided the structure, flexibility, accountability, and group support that we needed. There are many healthy programs available but the important thing is committing to a system that will work for you! Don’t try to do this alone!

3. Get 7-8 hours of sleep at night. I know this may seem odd to have at such a high importance but stress management begins with getting enough sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical to decision making and exhibiting self control. Don’t underestimate how major this component is to your success. Doing this may require cutting back certain activities to give sleep a higher priority. If so, DO it!

4. Drink lots of water. New studies show we should be drinking 8 oz of water for every hour that we are awake. I drink about 140 oz of water each day and that makes my body really happy. So many times we eat when all our bodies need is water.

5. Get moving! Exercise is not an option it is a requirement for healthy living and certainly for weight loss. Explore new activities and seek out expert help. The best decision we ever made in this journey was hiring a personal trainer who taught us about what was best for our bodies. She educated on us muscles, taught us tons of activities, and gave me the courage to try new things. My self confidence with exercise soared through the help of our personal trainer.

6. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. I have eaten an average of 5 fruits and 5 vegetables each day for the last 14 years. Our Weight Watchers plan allows us to eat as many fruits & veggies as we want without penalty. That many fruits don’t work for all people but my body seems to like it. I try to eat a fruit & veggie or two at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The healthiest way to absorb vitamins and nutrients our bodies need is through consuming healthy foods. They also fill you up with fewer calories than other foods. If you are fruit or veggie challenged, as you begin to change your habits you will adjust and eventually begin to crave fruits& veggies.

7. Eat at home more. I know eating out is popular in our fast paced culture. I’m not saying you can’t eat out at all but eating at home allows you to have absolute control over what you are putting into your body. Think about eating at home more meals than you eat out.

8. Keep track of everything you put into your mouth. Yes I’m talking everything. Coffee creamer, spray butter, no cal sweeteners, etc. No matter what plan you chose this is a helpful tip. I keep track of everything….even if it doesn’t cost me any calories. Self awareness is what we are trying to learn and writing it down helps keep you accountable and aware of your choices. It also helps you keep track of your hunger patterns and what your body needs.

9. Measure! Measure! Measure! Don’t rely on guessing or on your own estimation. Invest in a good digital food scale, measuring cups, and measuring spoons. Even after 14 months there is nothing that I eat without measuring. We weigh meat, potatoes, popcorn, chips, well just about anything on our digital food scale. Accuracy is critical to weight loss and in this day and age there is no need to guess at anything. Measure!

10. Have a Plan & Eat often! Breakfast, lunch and dinner are key meals and NONE of them should be skipped. It is preferable to eat those meals sitting down at a table rather than in the car on the go. You will be more fulfilled emotionally if you give each meal time the respect your body needs. If you are out and about during a meal or snack time, Plan ahead! Take a snack in your purse or car that will help you maintain control when the munchies come. There is no doubt that physical hunger is a reoccurring biological cycle, so plan ahead for a healthy choice for the next time you’ll be hungry. Here’s my meal schedule on an average day:

a. 6:30 am-Breakfast

b. 9:30am-Snack

c. 12:00 pm-Lunch

d. 3:00 pm-Snack

e. 5:30 pm-Dinner

f. 7:00pm-Snack

There are so many more things I could list but these are the top 10 because I feel they have really sustained me through the last 14 months. I hope you have found them to be helpful!

What is the Function of the Mirror?

What is the Function of the Mirror? – April 4, 2012

Our Teaching Co-Pastor, Chris Carroll, has been teaching an awesome sermon series from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) over the past few months. Check out this link to view recent messages if you’re interested in watching any of them I highly recommend it: Firewheel Bible Fellowship. Anyway as he concluded the series this week he began the sermon with a funny analogy about people looking into mirrors at the gym. Well that got my mind rolling, and I’ll admit with full disclosure my mind may have wondered off just a bit. Have you ever noticed all those mirrors at the gym and all those people looking in them? These days I’m at the gym 6 days a week about 2 hours each day. I remember when we first started and I was just beginning this journey to getting healthy. I was so uncomfortable and ashamed of my weight that I despised that there were so many mirrors at the gym. I barely looked in mirrors at home let alone wanting to have every wall covered in mirrors. Plus I thought it was arrogant and prideful that many people stared at themselves, flexing muscles, posing, gloating in their triumphs, or so I thought!

Interestingly as I got further & further along with exercise I learned that the mirrors actually do serve a purpose while working out. I have learned from my awesome trainer to use the mirrors to watch my movements while doing specific exercises in order to ensure I’m doing it correctly. For instance I often raise my shoulders in error when I’m working out my chest or arms. Without the mirror I would be unable to realize I am doing this movement incorrectly. In the mirror I notice the error and can make adjustments accordingly. I have found the mirrors useful as well in my Pilates & Zumba classes. The function of the mirror in the gym is to enable you to see what your body is actually doing and not what you perceive your body to be doing. Oh how that concept applies to the rest of my life and I didn’t even realize it! The mirror forces you to face and deal with reality, keeps you grounded, and allows growth and change to truly happen where needed.

As I continued to ponder this idea of mirrors, both literal and figurative, and their functions I recognized that at my heaviest weight I would rarely look in the mirror. Was I avoiding facing the inevitable? I definitely know that I was blind to how bad things had gotten with my weight & overall health, until I had a “Damascus Moment” (Acts 9) this summer and was lying on my back for 10 weeks with a fungus in my lungs. The function of the mirror in the physical is to reveal what we may not realize or truly want to see. Without looking in the mirror in my mind I considered myself to not have a problem, to be the same old Jen as I’ve always been, and to stay contained in my bubble of self deception. In a way avoiding the mirror physically allowed me to keep wearing a mask and tell myself & everyone else that everything was alright when it wasn’t!

Then there’s the whole emotional component of looking in the mirror. Let’s be honest I’m sure that there is not a human alive who has looked in the mirror at least once in their lives and not liked something about their bodies. Not looking in the mirror kept me in denial emotionally about my body image issues which resulted in the shame and guilt I was carrying around. How had I allowed myself to get so heavy? How had I become so out of control with food? I avoided these questions like the plague and sunk deeper & deeper into emotional denial. Looking in the mirror and truly facing yourself is a powerful component to change. It may be a literal mirror or a virtual mirror, but we all have to come to grips with where we are in life, how we got there, and how to get on the better path. No human being is perfect and I firmly believe we are all a work in process. We halt our own personal progress when we stay for a prolonged period in denial about our circumstances.

Have you ever locked God out of an area of your life? I did for many years when it comes to my health, my food obsession, and honoring God with my body. In this case I see the Bible as a spiritual mirror. The Bible is God’s word and in it we learn about His character, His standard of righteousness, and His plan and purpose for our lives. This spiritual mirror must be allowed to penetrate the deepest parts of our heart in order to produce life and transformation. This spiritual mirror allows us to see ourselves through Christ’s eyes, it allows Him to produce healing in our hearts, and good or bad it prompts action on our part. As I spent time in God’s word I would gloss over places where He was clearly addressing this weakness in my life. I am learned to stay still, focus in, and allow the Bible to be the spiritual mirror it was designed to be. I am learning to embrace the change, growth, and molding of the Potter’s Hand!

So whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual change that needs to take place in my life or yours we need to allow the mirror to function for the purpose it was designed. Physically the function of the mirror is to bring us face to face with reality. Emotionally the function of the mirror is to reveal the depths of our heart in order for change, healing, and wholeness to take place. Spiritually God’s word functions to guide, direct, encourage, correct, and ultimately mold us according to His righteous standard. May our eyes be unveiled in these areas and may we have the courage to allow the mirrors in our lives to do their jobs!

Exercise???? Exercise!!!! Exercise.

Exercise???? Exercise!!!! Exercise. – February 27, 2012

Exercise????

My husband and I have been on this journey of getting healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually for exactly six months and have definitely experienced highs and lows along the way. In the beginning I had loads of questions regarding exercise. I shared with you all in my blog post “Finding the path…to regular exercise” some of the history behind me and the dreaded “E” word. So when approaching exercise in September 2011 I battled physically through limitations due to the infections in my lungs and being morbidly obese at almost 300 lbs. I also battled emotionally through a life history not being athletic, shame from trying in the past and giving up, and shame from being overweight in the first place. Somehow I functioned by an irrational belief that everyone else in the world knew exactly what to do at the gym and that everyone would be looking at me with judgment and criticism. In the past I would have allowed these limitations, insecurities, and questions to ultimately cause me to give up yet again but not this time!

Exercise!!!!

My husband, my personal trainer, and several wonderfully supportive friends have really been an amazing asset as I am learning all about exercise for the first time ever! After about two solid months of training, exploring the gym, trying different activities, and learning about the muscles in my body I have gained a huge amount of confidence. By this time God had been really working on my heart and attitude about this exercise thing. I had a revelation that Exercise is NOT Punishment but is part of God’s perfect plan for our overall physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Have you ever thought about that? Exercise was divinely inspired! Wow! It still rocks my world to think that the God of all creation intricately designed our bodies to function at their maximum potential only as worship him through exercise, eating healthy, getting plenty of water, and appropriate rest. Wow! It honors God when I exercise, mind blowing!

It was fun at Christmas to visit Ohio and join a gym for only the two weeks we were there. This may seem strange but we were so committed to exercise and didn’t want to fall out of our routine while traveling. I wondered if my confidence would translate in this new environment and it did! I wasn’t intimidated by the “regular” muscle men types that love to mark their territory and get annoyed with new comers. I felt comfortable using unfamiliar machines with the general knowledge that I’ve gained. I was able to modify our workouts based on the equipment available at this facility which was quite different from our gym in Dallas. I even taught my mom two of the work out routines my trainer developed for us. Let’s just say my exercise enthusiasm & momentum could not be stopped, I was a leaner, meaner exercise machine!

Exercise.

So if you’ve been following my story you know what comes next. Immediately after our holiday trip to Ohio I got sick again, Bronchitis Ugh! Since I was released from bed rest in last August 2011 with the fungus infection in my lungs, I’ve had bronchitis 3 times in five months. (September 2011 – January 2012) Each time I was put on bed rest for at least 3 weeks, had to take oral and inhaled steroids along with a bunch of other meds, and did up to 4 breathing treatments daily. Adding that up it is 19 weeks of bed rest since June. Let me just tell you that continually takes a toll on me physically and emotionally and it would be very easy to lose whatever exercise momentum I have built up with that fighting against me. I mean let’s be honest I have built a routine of exercise avoidance for 35 years and with only 6 solid months under my belt I think the odds are definitely against me if I was a betting girl 😉

However, I’m a firm believer that God uses everything for His glory and definitely has a purpose & lesson in everything. I think my lesson through all the ups and downs of illness regarding exercise has been that I need to Exercise Period. As long as I have the approval of my doctor, trainer, and husband I am going to exercise. Rain or shine, good mood or bad mood, low or high motivation, and fat days or skinny days I am going to exercise. Especially when challenged with continued illnesses that are likely to occur I maintain a commitment to exercise. I maintain a commitment to honor God with my body through Exercise. I knew when I began this journey that it would be long and trying but I also knew and hold on to the confidence that as a Christ follower I can trust in an ever loving and faithful God to continue to guide and inspire me along the way!