Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A new start

I don't know that I have a single solitary reader or follower here, but I thought I'd give an update. Some of my past posts talk about starting anew, but they didn't last very long, and then there was no new post until I started again. This time I haven't posted or said anything, but I have made steady progress over the last couple of months.

Besides all the usual reasons to lose weight that I listed in one of my first posts here, there have been a few new factors that added impetus to the need to make some serious strides in losing weight. For one thing, at my last few physicals I've been told that my blood sugar and cholesterol are elevated - not enough to say diabetes or to say I had a serious cholesterol problem, but enough to warn that I was going that way if I didn't make some changes. Secondly, I was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation and told there was a surgery for it, but it was risky and only done in the case of three risk factors: being female, having diabetes, and having high blood pressure. Thankfully I have never had a problem with blood pressure except during one pregnancy. But I want to stave off diabetes for its own sake as well as avoiding this surgery. And lastly, my husband bought membership in a fitness center.

I never thought I would enjoy going to a gym or fitness center. One of the things I don't like about exercise is the time it takes, so it seemed better to just exercise at home rather than adding in driving and changing time. But when my husband joined, he got a free pass for me, so I tried it out for a week and decided to join as well. It's not far from home, so it's not much of a drive. There is a track for walking as well as a multitude of machines and a pool. My husband really likes the pool, but I don't know how to swim, hate changing out of wet swimsuits, and like to listen to an audiobook while I work out, so I am not inclined toward the pool. They have aerobic classes in the pool which I know are helpful by being low impact, but from what I have seen, I think I get much more of a workout doing what I am doing. What I do now is to walk a few laps to warm up, then use an exercise bike (one with poles that you can move back and forth to work your arms out, too - I am not sure what that's called. I thought it was a sitting elliptical, but discovered that's a different machine that hurts my knees). Then I walk a few more laps, then use the rowing machine, then walk another lap or two. When I first started, I could barely make myself do 7-8 minutes on the bike. Now I am up to 20. I had not thought I could do the rowing machine both because I don't have much strength in my arms and because of my knees, but I've found I enjoy it. I've only gotten up to 5 minutes, though, if I do the bike first. Another enemy of exercise for me is boredom, but there are a variety of machines to try if I get to the point that I want a break from these. I think knowing that we're paying for it is one thing that motivates us to use the gym rather than slack off, but I also like that it is climate controlled and the track is level (unlike my sidewalk at home).

I've been pleased with the progress, and I do feel more energetic. If I calculate my weight from when I was my heaviest last September, I have lost 13 lbs; if I figure from when I started at the gym at the end of January, it's more like 5 or 6.

And the exercise has spilled over into motivation for more control in my eating. The exit from the gym is filled with fast food places, and once I was planning on getting a breakfast biscuit after my workout, but when the time came, I found I really didn't want to counteract what I had just done.

Anther BIG step for me was limiting myself to one sweet snack a day. You might be thinking I need to do more than that, and you might be right. But as I said, this was big for me. I tended to keep snack-sized candy and mini cookies on hand because often through the day I wanted just a little something sweet. That would have been fine except that I indulged multiple times a day. One day I thought about trying to just eat one sweet thing that day. The hold sugar had on me was shown by the fact that I was anxious and nervous about making this commitment, even for a day. But I felt perhaps the Lord was nudging me that way, so I did. Then I had some blood work coming up later in the week, and thought I should try limiting my sweets until that day. I was amazed that it was not that hard once I made up my mind, especially after all the times I grieved at even the thought of it.  (Thank you, Lord!)

Now I am looking for ways to cut down, looking at different recipes that aren't casseroles held together with creamed soups, skipping the onion rings at the fast food place and getting a sandwich there rather than a burger, etc.

This seems to be working for me: taking small steps at a time rather than trying to revamp everything at once.

I know I need God's grace to keep on, that there will be times I am tired of it all. But I hope to continue on this trajectory.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 19: Living As An Overcomer

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 19 discusses "Living As an Overcomer."

"Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the Lord in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." Psalm 107:17-20.

"To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God." Revelation 2:7b.

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 18: Things Lost, Better Things Gained

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 18 discusses the fact that we have to come to grips with the fact that we will have to say "no" to some foods forever. Lysa says that is "part courageous sacrifice and part utter repentance," and though those words can speak of hardship, they can also speak of victory. "But victory won't stay for long if I start resisting and disliking her essential requirements of sacrifice and repentance."

Being at one's goal weight can be dangerous, partly because we want to celebrate and may be tempted to do that with food, partly because we can be tempted to let up on our watchfulness and carefulness. 

Studies have shown that some junk foods are indeed addictive and require more for the same amount of pleasure, so sometimes a little compromise can trigger a major reversal.

"It's really difficult for a chips-and-chocolate girl to uninvite foods to her party that have been regulars for years. And it's even more difficult to reconcile that they aren't my friends. Some can be casual acquaintances on a very limited level, but others need to be banished for good" (emphasis mine).

Lysa brings up I Cor. 6:12 again, "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." The very next verse says, "Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them."

"Food is not the enemy here. Satan is the enemy. And his stategic plan is to render us ineffective or at least sluggish for the cause of Christ. When we're defeated and stuck in issues of the flesh, it's really hard to fully and passionately follow hard after God. So, lest we start mourning what will be lost, we must celebrate all that's being gained in this process."

"No food will ever taste as sweet as victory does."

Lysa describes tossing away something and says, "This isn't a sign that I am being deprived. This isn't a trigger for me to pout and say it's not fair. This is a sacrifice I am willing to make in order to gain something so much greater than he rest of this biscuit. This is the most empowering thing I can do in this moment!"

"We can't have the mind-set of this being a hard, impossible sacrifice. Focusing only on what we're giving up will make us feel constantly deprived. And deprivation leads to desperation, frustration, and failure. Instead, we have to focus on everything we're gaining though this process and see the gains as more valuable than the losses."

Then Lysa deals with the issue of repentance, for all of the past times we have chosen wrongly and craved food more than God. Instead of "beating ourselves up" with our failures, we can hand them to Him and seek grace, forgiveness, and the power to carry on.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 17: The Very Next Choice We Make

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 17 discusses sustaining the discipline we've developed. If we "diet," reach our goal weight, and then abandon our diet, we'll end up right back where we started from. To get to our goal weight, we have to make sacrifices. But we grow tired of them after a while. How to keep on?

We can't in our own strength. Remembering that discipline in this area is part of our overall pursuit of holiness helps.

Lysa says, "It is good for God's people to be put in a place of longing so they feel a slight desperation. Only then can we be empty enough and open enough to discover the holiness we were made for. When we're stuffed full of other things and never allow ourselves to be in a place of longing, we don't recognize the deeper spiritual battle going on. Satan wants to keep us distracted by chasing one temporary filling after another."

"The gap between our frail discipline and God's available strength is bridged with nothing but a simple choice on our part to pursue this holiness. Moment by moment we have the choice to live in our own strength and risk failure or to reach across the gap and grab hold of God's unwavering strength. . . the more dependent we become on God's strength, the less enamored we are with other choices."

II Corinthians 7:1 says, "Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God."

Lysa comments, "Holiness means to be set apart for a noble use. The very next choice we make isn't really about whether or not to eat [the wrong foods].  It's about whether we are going to stay away from those things that are not beneficial for what we are created to be. We are 'taught, with regard to [our] former way of life, to put off [our] old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of [our] minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.' (Ephesians 4:22-24)"

"Victory isn't a place we arrive at and then relax. Victory is when we pick something healthy over something not beneficial for us. And we maintain our victories with each next choice." 

Romans 6:19: "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness."

We have to continually yield, "tapping into God's strength," every moment, not just in a once-for-all expression at an altar or bedside. Prayer and Bible study are a part of that, bur Lysa maintains  that another part is "getting to a place where our lack of strength disgusts us," "at the bottom of our excuses and rationalizations . . . when our efforts fail time and time again." Along those lines Lysa asked God to "unsettle" her, which didn't make sense to me until she described it as asking Him to "rattle loose my complacent excuses and break apart my stubborn refusals to  . . really look at whatever pulls my heart away from God."

Lysa describes her study through Psalm 78, about God's blessings and care of Israel from Egypt through the wilderness, and they're forgetting. She quotes verses 17-18 and 21 from the NIV, which say, "But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High. They willfully put God to the test by demanding the food they craved. When the Lord heard them, he was furious." She says, "I guess the reason this hot me so hard was because it so specifically addresses inappropriate cravings and the reality of how God feels about them."

"Crave means to long for; want greatly; desire eagerly. Pursuing holiness means God is the only One we should long for; want greatly; desire eagerly. The only One worthy of worship."

"Discipline makes disciples who truly understand what it means to delight themselves in the Lord. For the Lord has been allowed to rewrite the desires of their hearts. It's a place not wrought with sacrifice but rather a place where they see healthy choices as overflowing blessings so pure and rich, they'd never trade them."

Monday, February 24, 2014

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 16: Why Diets Don't Work

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 16 discusses the problem with diets. Many people can sacrifice short-term, but we all grow weary of it. "So, I'm not on a diet. I'm on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness."

Part of that journey is deciding ahead of time what we will eat. "Deciding in advance keeps my thinking and planning rational and on track." Planning while full, like right after a meal, is helpful, too. "The absolute worst time for me to decide what I'm going to eat is when I've waited until I'm depleted and feeling very hungry."

I Corinthians 10:12-13 says, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." The "way out" the Lord provides for Lysa, she says, is deciding in advance what she will and won't have that day. I have to admit, when I think of the "way out," I think more of God coming to my rescue with supernatural strength and reminders of His truth rather than this kind of thing, but He does also say "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (I Corinthians 10:5), and planning is part of doing that. In Israel's battles, sometimes God supernaturally intervened, and sometimes they had to take up their swords and fight in reliance on Him. When God gives me that "sword" with His promise of help and grace, I'm to use it, not wait for Him to do the battle for me.

The next verse in that passage says "Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry." Lysa says, "Expecting anything outside the will of God to satisfy us is idolatry. Nutrition, which is food's intended purpose, means consuming proper portions of healthy choices that enable our bodies to function properly. Idolatry, in the case of food, means the consumption of ill-sized portions and unhealthy choices because we feel like we deserve it or need it to feel better" (p. 158K). We don't need to flee food, because we need it, but we do need "to flee the control food can have over our lives."

Made to Crave Study, Chapter 15: The Demon in the Chips Poster

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 15 discusses the temptation to "sneak" food and the need sometimes not to rationalize but just to flee temptation. She reminds us this battle is not just physical and emotional, but spiritual as well.

Ephesians 6:10-11 say, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." Lysa points out that the word for "wiles" ("schemes" in her version) is related to our English word "strategies." Satan's temptations aren't random. Dr. Jim Berg describes them as designer sins: Satan know what will "work" with each of us. But "we hold a power greater than any craving we face" (p. 148K), the truth of God's Word.

Psalm 106:14-15 say, "But [Israel] lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul." 

Lysa mentions being in a deprived state creates danger zones, so we have to be extra careful when we're really tried and hungry.

We have to "stop thinking about what I shouldn't have and park my mind on thoughts of being thankful for what I could have." "We must affirm these boundaries as gifts from a God who cares about out health, not restrictive feces meant to keep us from enjoying life. Vulnerable, broken taste buds can't handle certain kinds of freedom. So boundaries keep us safe, not restricted" (p. 149-150K).

Lysa developed these healthy boundaries based on truth:

Made to Crave, Chapter 14: Emotional Emptiness

Continuing with the Made to Crave Bible Study hosted by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Chapter 14 discusses emotional triggers to overeat. Lysa discusses being abandoned by her father and the emotional responses that caused and her resulting attempts to derive comfort from food.

Those emotional responses (to any kind of hurt) are not just one-time events. Even when we have experienced salvation and healing in Christ, sometimes our minds can get stuck in those hurtful modes. Lysa reminds us of Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things," and reminds us to "park our minds in a better spot." She then applies each part of Phil. 4:8 step by step to the situation with her father as an example and encouragement for us to do the same with our issues.