Help, I’ve Fallen

Pink scars line my right shin where I tripped and smashed—face forward—onto my asphalt driveway. It happened a month ago while I was doing yard work. Both my wrists and my right leg had cuts and bruises. My body ached from whiplash. I’m grateful I didn’t break a bone.

Today, those scars are the visible evidence that I fell. A reminder to be more careful when I’m walking. I’m not young anymore so I don’t bounce back as quick. The same goes with my weight.

In my twenties, I could eat what I wanted without evidence showing up on my waistline. Childbirth and an aging metabolism has added to my girth.  Thin Within is a Grace Based Approach to losing weight. It has showed me I need to be careful around food because I’m prone to fall and eat for no reason. And that bad habit increases my weight that doesn’t shed as easily.

This week’s lesson on God’s grace brought to mind those moments I’ve stumbled when it comes to food. Snack food…within easy reach…is always the culprit.

The lust of the eye gets me every time. “One bite won’t hurt.” And it probably wouldn’t hurt except I stumble into having a second and third helping. Soon, I’m belly aching because I tripped and fell—again—off the eating right wagon.

Oh, I may not have visible scars like the ones on my leg, but there are mental scars because I beat myself up when I fall. Frustration turns into hopelessness and smothers me like a wet napkin.

Will I ever be able to socialize without nibbling? I want to taste the snacks. When I discover they’re good—I want more.

Remember the mythological Siren that sang and lured men to their death? Their only escape was to cover their ears. Well, food—particularly appetizers—has the same effect when I’m socializing.

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I need to hide my eyes from the doughnuts when I walk into church. Cover my ears from the sound of people chewing popcorn in a movie. Glue my lips together when the hostess serves coffee cake at our book club. Slap my hand when I’m playing a board game with friends, and the snack is inches away. Tell me I’m not alone!

When I fall, self-condemnation and a wailing regret are my first response. Grace—from the Lord or myself—no where on the table.

I’ve observed my eating habits for a month now so I know my weaknesses. Now, I need to correct my behavior.

When I get with my friend to play games, I’ll know to go hungry so I can have a small portion of her homemade snacks.

If I’m hosting book club, I’ll have the women fix themselves a small plate in the kitchen instead of bringing the food platter to the table.

At church, I’ll learn to strategically stay far from the doughnuts by pretending it’s the enemy.

Equally beneficial is studying Barb Raveling’s book The Renewing of the Mind Project to discover the little truths about myself.

Why do I love appetizers? Why do I associate snacks with pleasure and socializing? Is there something I can do to re-place food and still have fun with my friends?

Years ago, a friend of mine once struggled with her weight and she didn’t want to gain back the pounds she’d lost. Whenever we met in her home, she never served food with the beverages. Sometimes we’d walk while we talked instead of sitting around a table. At the time, I felt like food was a missing ingredient, but now I understand her wisdom. Even if I’m not there yet.

Hosting people in my home is synonymous with food. Drop into my home, and I’ll haul out the cheese and day-old crackers. Are you hungry? Let me microwave a frozen corn dog and smother it in mustard. Isn’t food the definition of hospitality? Even Biblical patriarchs killed and cooked the fatted calf whenever they entertained guests. But I assume they were hungry. They knew better than to pig out on fried pork rinds.

Who knows, I might be doing folks a favor and keep them from tripping if I become more creative, and less calorie-oriented, when it comes to entertaining.

Meanwhile, the Big Truth: God’s grace is new every morning. He’s not bringing up yesterdays belly flops and face plants. He wants us to “taste and see the Lord is good” so we’ll want more of Him and be truly satisfied.

Isn’t it time, we believe God and give ourselves some grace too? Knowing…

“The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:8, 14).

Photo: http://jennywredephotography.com

Craving Comfort?

As I waited in my car at a traffic light, tears came. My heart ached for my friend who had shared sad news. I also toyed with vain imaginings. What if that happens to me?

My mood darkened. And a strong craving stirred deep within me like a gluttonous creature waking up after a winter’s sleep. Restaurants on each corner of the intersection beckoned me.

“A coffee frappucvino would lift your spirits.”

I shook my head. “Too many calories.”

“How about a hamburger with fries or ice cream?”

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“I’m trying to lose weight!”

I turned left and drove towards home, never realizing how many restaurants lined the main highway in our small town. My mouth watered as advertisements for tacos, footlong sandwiches, and barbecue pulled pork vied for my taste buds.

“You should treat yourself to a personal pan pizza. Think of that warm mozzarella cheese…

I clenched my teeth. “Stop obsessing over food. I’m going home where I can control what and how much I eat.”

True story!

If I hadn’t signed up for Thin Within last week, I probably would have eaten the frappuccino and the pizza. Why?

Because in that moment, I would have gladly satisfied my deep, ravenous craving for a few minutes of delectable joy.

I realize now—hunger wasn’t the issue. As my friend, Heidi, says, “I wanted food to alter my mood.”

Funny, I never thought of myself as eating for comfort. Other folks might eat a quart of ice cream when they were depressed, but not me. So the Holy Spirit used my circumstances to show me the truth in Thin Within’s Lesson One.

I learned experientially that consuming a quart of ice cream is no less emotionally driven than grabbing the Almond Joy just because I FEEL depressed, lonely, or sad.

Sorrow is part of the human experience. When I feel like a hurt child, I want to crawl into Mother’s lap and rest. Rub my back. Kiss my bruise. Make me all better.

Only, I’m not a child and it’s necessary to deal with life’s pendulum of emotions by resting in the Lord rather than acquiring self-destructive habits like overeating to numb my pain.

It’s just like Satan (who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy) to entice people to search for comfort in anything or anyone other than God, the Father who loves us.

God knows we need comfort. He tells us, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….” (Isaiah 66:13 NIV)

Jesus said, “I will not leave you comfortless….” (John 14:18)

God longs to comfort aching hearts. However, unlike a mom who might comfort her child with an animal cracker, the Lord doesn’t lure our sweet tooth to produce a smile. He satisfies our deepest cravings with Himself.

Comfort means “to ease someone’s pain,” it doesn’t ensure the Lord will remove the problem that pains us.

Instead, God comforts us with His strength. For the word “comfort” is derived from “fortis” which means strong.

“His strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9)

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13).

  • Strength to endure pain and sorrow.
  • Strength to walk on feeble feet down the path that leads to abundant life.
  • Strength to abstain from creature comforts that might sabotage our efforts to eat healthy.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:25–26).

Now, isn’t that a comforting thought?

Photo:http://www.jennywrede.com

Patience & Perspective

Love is patient, but I’m not.

Oh, I can patiently wait in a grocery line.
I patiently listen when my son discusses the latest video game.
I’m patient while I hold the door for an elderly person who walks at a snail’s pace.

But I’m not patient with myself when it comes to losing weight.

That’s because if I’m going to “suffer” (the meaning of the Latin word patient) during a diet, I want to see immediate results. And I don’t want to suffer long. So it makes sense that long suffering is another word for patience.
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Last week I had two options: Lose weight or buy bigger pants. Only the thought of counting points, calculating calories, and avoiding certain foods left me nauseous. I decided to try…..

Thin Within which is a grace-based approach to losing/maintaining weight. Don’t eat until you’re truly hungry and then stop eating when you’re satisfied based on a 0-10 scale. Zero is true hunger, five is a satisfied tummy. Ten is stuffed.

I didn’t expect Thin Within to focus on Bible study questions and knowing God’s character. However, if that’s the secret to losing weight, sign me up for the twelve-week ride.

Day One: I patted myself on the back for answering the workbook questions, and waiting for an empty stomach before I ate. I even did leg lifts and sit ups for good measure.

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(No, those aren’t my legs in the photo).

Day Two: I gulped water to appease false hunger pains and chewed my bottom lip instead of consenting to a snack. May I recommend strawberry lip gloss?

Day Three: I bit my white knuckles. “Are we there yet?” Twelve weeks might as well be twelve months.

I also stepped on the scale—although it’s verboten—and groaned. I hadn’t lost an ounce. Doubts crept in. Does Thin Within work? Or is the Bible Study designed to get my mind off the size of my derrière?

I decided to burn calories to make things happen faster. I walked for three miles in the heat of the day. When I stepped on the scale, I’d lost a pound in one hour. Thanks to sweating profusely!

You see, Thin Within isn’t something to try on for size and discard if there aren’t immediate results. It’s a life-long journey that requires patience and a new perspective. That’s because weight loss and toning muscles is a process.

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And that process doesn’t happen overnight any more than spiritual sanctification.

Years ago, I became tired of being a performance-oriented Christian. I wanted to know God more intimately, and ask Him to use every circumstances in my life as an opportunity to transform me into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29)

Suffering succotash! Talk about a slow, painful process.

Thin Within is designed to help people lose weight by renewing the mind with God’s truth. Total makeover.

In less than a week, I’ve had to re-examine my expectations and long-term goals.

Thin Within can be a twelve-week sprint where I arrive breathless, red-faced, and a few pounds lighter.

Or this can be the starting point of a life-long journey where I learn to cope with disappointment and stress without depending on food as my ally. Or having an edible idol that enslaves me.

May sound like a tall order, but if I can be patient—suffer and show self-restraint without getting upset—then I can shed pounds naturally, AND grow more in love with God in the process.

Photos: www.jennywredephotography.com