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MY 500 Pound Life!

Last week as I was channel surfing for something to watch on television (as I frequently do because even with a couple hundred channels to watch – there is NEVER anything good on TV!) I came across a show on the TLC Network called, My 600 Pound Life.

The title is pretty self-explanatory. This is a program about morbidly obese people baring their souls in a desperate attempt to get medical intervention for their out of control weight/health issues. I couldn’t tell you if anyone on this program got the much-needed help they sought because honestly, I wasn’t able to sit through an entire episode. Image result for images for TLC my 600 pound life

The show was difficult to watch, not because I was repulsed by the large people being featured – but their pain, both physical and mental filled me with such sadness and empathy I had to turn the channel after the first 10 minutes.

Clearly, people who reach that level of obesity have more than “just a little eating problem” going on. Someone who weighs 400 – 700 pounds or more doesn’t simply wake up one morning to discover they’re as big as a Kodiak bear. To amass that amount of weight it would seem likely that each of these people have some sort of story to tell. There are obvious medical reasons why someone might weigh that much, but most likely there is a lifetime of sadness, depression, abuse (physical, verbal, mental or sexual) that might cause someone to “eat their feelings” to such a degree that they end up weighing 600 pounds.

Everybody’s got a story. Maybe some of our stories aren’t as obvious as someone who weighs a half-ton, but if you take the time to really talk to someone, it doesn’t take long to discover that each of us are dealing with our own stuff.  Most of us have things we try to hide that can make us unhappy or miserable. There are no completely “normal” problem-free people. They do not exist.

I may not weigh 600 pounds, but in the past I’ve felt the pain of being obese. I’ve been ridiculed or talked about because of my weight – so I can only imagine that someone who is 600 plus pounds probably never wants to leave their house. People can be mean and if you are so large you can’t even weigh on a regular doctor’s scale – there are going to be people who will blatantly ridicule, tease and shame someone of that size. Image result for shame of obesity

If I were to add up all of the pounds I’ve gained and lost since I went on my first diet at the age of 14, the number would likely total around 500 pounds. How is that possible? I’ve lost and regained the same 30, 40 and 50 pounds more than 10 times throughout my life.  That’s my story. Each and every time I regained weight that was difficult to lose, I was eating my way through life’s problems: unresolved childhood molestation and depression, divorce, rejection, the death of both of my parents. My story – your story … we’ve all got a story.

It’s common knowledge that if you lose X amount of weight, when you regain it (as so many do), you typically add an additional 10 pounds to the previously lost amount. The number of people who actually lose weight and keep it off long-term (2-5 years) is less than 5%. Image result for yo-yo dieting

I finally woke up and realized what I was doing to my body as a result of years of yo-yo weight losses and gains. My revelation happened a couple of years ago during a routine Bible study. My epiphany struck me like a thunderbolt.  Two Scriptures that I “stumbled” upon caused me to question … were these Scriptures always in the Bible – or did somebody just add them?  I was quite familiar with the Scripture in 1 Corinthians 6. This is a verse I always reference whenever I do a book signing for my diet devotional book, Diet Nuggets and Wisdom Appetizers.  However, when I paired this Scripture with 1 Chronicles 28:20, God may as well have been talking to me through a bullhorn.

 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NLT) 

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly. 1 Chronicles 28:20 (NLT)

When I read these verses I feel as those God is standing right beside me letting me know He’s in this whole weight loss thing with me. When I feel down or depressed because losing weight and maintaining a weight loss is so tough, God is telling me to stay strong – don’t get discouraged because He is right there with me. This verse pretty much guarantees me that God is not going to let me travel this road all alone. He is promising me that He’s in it for the long haul until ALL OF THE WORK that needs to be done in MY temple is completed. As far as I’m concerned, He’s talking about me and my body.  Image result for MY body is the temple of the holy spirit

I am so encouraged by these Scriptures, so much so that whenever I feel myself being pulled back into the pit; caving into the darkness and despair of my old life – I pull out these Scriptures that I’ve printed on a 3×5 index card. I read them and re-read them over and over again until I feel that peace that only God can give. I may not think I have the strength for this healthy lifestyle for THE REST OF MY LIFE, but God has assured me it’s more than just a possibility. This is my reality as long as I include God at every turn.

My 500 pound life is my past. My temple, while currently under construction – WILL BE FINISHED CORRECTLY someday.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

What’s YOUR story!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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NOT TODAY, OLD MAN!

Last week I heard a quick story about the iconic Academy Award winning American actor and director, Clint Eastwood who recently played a round of golf with country singer, Toby Keith. Toby asked Mr. Eastwood how he’d managed to continue working and thriving in his career for so many decades. Image result for Clint Eastwood golf

Clint, who is now 88 years old, explained that as long as he remembered one thing, he knew he could stay the course and continue to be relevant and productive.

“What’s that one thing?” Keith asked.

“I can’t ever let the old man back in,” Clint replied. Image result for toby keith golfing with clint eastwood

That is great advice if you understand the Bible at all.  In Scripture, “the old man” refers to our old sinful self – the person we were before we said “yes” to Jesus.

I’ve been doing battle the last couple of weeks with “my old man” — that person I was before I committed my life to following Christ. The battle has been waged in my mind, my spirit and my body.

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It seems as though every morning, the battle begins before I’m even out of bed. The desire to roll over, stay in bed and sleep for a while longer is stronger than ever. My internal wrestling match tugs at that lazy “old man” who is tired of getting up early every morning for the sole purpose of exercise. Image result for our old man sinful self

The “old man” argues his point, painting a picture that all of this exercise really makes little difference. I’ve stopped losing weight, so it’s not like I’m going to exercise away those jiggly parts that insist on clinging to my hips, thighs and belly. I mean, really? At my age – who am I kidding?

The “old man” has some strong arguments, but he doesn’t just stop at the exercise thing. Lately, he’s been whispering in my ear about keeping my daily food diary and staying on top of my portion control. Why bother? I mean, haven’t I been at this whole weight loss thing for nearly two years now. Shouldn’t I have all this down? Why bother with diaries and measurements and portions, when eyeballing goldfish crackers is so much easier than counting out 45 little fishies. Who’s got that kind of time? Image result for fighting with the devil

The enemy is clever and subtler than ever. His end goal is to push that “old man” back into my life like an unwelcome squatter, where eventually he will convince me to ignore all of the dedication and hard work I’ve put in. The “old man” wants his life back. He was happiest when I was miserable to the point of suicide. The “old man” is a beast, demanding to unleash the monster he is and re-insert himself into my healthy lifestyle. See the source image

Every time I choose to deny the “old man” his place, he rebels. Some days though, the “old man” screams rather than whispers. I told you – he is a monster. Some days it’s hard to hold my ground and remain steadfast and committed to exercise, healthy eating, a strong body and some semblance of sanity.

I frequently ask myself, why does the devil care so much about little old me? It’s not like I’m making a huge impact on society or doing anything grand for the kingdom of God. The problem with Satan is, if any of us are doing ANYTHING, no matter how slight, to spread the love of Jesus or share the Gospel to the unsaved – we are a huge threat to his world of darkness. Image result for fighting with the devil

I am basically a nobody in the grand scheme of life – but I have asked God, “Use me, Lord,” and I know this terrifies my enemy, Satan. Image result for God use me He fights back, the only way he can with me. My battles are likely different than yours. The monster customizes his plan of attack to suit our individual likes and dislikes. The beast is tenacious.

There are days when I’m absolutely sick and tired of maintaining this whole healthy lifestyle. I can get really angry when I realize that in order to stay at this weight I absolutely cannot now – nor will I ever be – able to eat what I want, when I want in whatever amount I want. Quite frankly, that is the strongest argument the “old man” taunts me with daily. And. It. Sucks!

The last two or three days, the “old man” literally has climbed on my back and has made me so miserable that I have made some unwise food choices. I’m smart enough to recognize these attacks for what they are, yet that doesn’t make them easier to endure. The only way to quiet the “old man” is to do what I do best. Exercise. I don my work out clothes, lace up my Fila’s and walk as fast as my short squat legs can carry me. I walk until I want to drop from exhaustion. If I can’t shut the “old man” up by reasoning with him (because there really is no reasoning with a monster), my only other choice is to wear him out before he wears me down. Image result for fighting with the devil

I walked about six miles yesterday and listened to every darkness crushing, positive uplifting, soul soothing praise song I had in my play list. Christian music has always had the power to lift me out of the deepest, darkest pit. Thank you — Cory Asbury, Josh Baldwin, Zach Williams, Lauren Daigle, and so many others, but especially Hillsong United. Their Not Today song needs to be ever on my lips and the anthem of my soul that will eviscerate the devil!

Ultimately, the choice is mine and mine alone. Do I let the “old man” move back in and bring back his destructive sidekicks of depression, shame and self-hatred … or do I push through every single day facing the fact that life’s not fair and all these limitations DO suck, but my God is bigger than all of these limitations. My God is bigger than my “old man.”

Today’s choice is … Let the devil know NOT TODAY — whenever I say your name – Jesus!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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If The Genes Fit

Looking at them, you can tell that God was very, very kind to this family when it came to passing out tickets for the genetic lottery. I’m talking about those Kardashian/Jenner girls. Few would deny that they all have some pretty good genes with regards to their physical appearance and attributes.

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Part of me wants to hate them out of pure jealousy – but obviously, a “good Christian” isn’t supposed to harbor hate for anyone. But I’m not going to lie – I hate the fact that they all inherited such great bone structure and beautiful faces and bodies. In my opinion — none of them seem to possess much common sense or gifts or talents that make them productive members of society. Their one claim to fame seems to be based solely on their outward appearance. Image result for 1 Samuel 16:7

Genetics and gene therapy … that’s a tricky business to be sure. Half of those Kardashians or Jenner girls inherited small petite frames, while the other half are super tall. I have a friend whose family are all above average in the height department as well. The shortest member of their family is 5’10” and she’s considered the “shorty” of the family. The rest are well over six feet – even the women in the family.

When I feel like punishing myself, it’s very easy to fall into the “Oh woe is me” pity pool when I’m given to comparisons. She’s prettier than me, thinner than me, has better skin or hair than me … yadda, yadda, yadda. What woman hasn’t played the comparison game?

For years, I actually was a little miffed that my mother and father ended up together and made the decision to procreate. Their combined DNA didn’t exactly create any supermodel specimens. I grew up convinced that the gene pool I swam in was somewhat murky and substandard.

From my father, I inherited short stumpy legs, thick thighs, fair skin, freckles and a severe overbite. I do however, appreciate the green eyes he and I shared, rather than my siblings brown eyes. My mother’s gene pool gave me an hour-glass figure like the rest of the women in her family. While this was fine when I was younger B.C. (before children), the hour glass presented certain challenges with age. The women on that side of the family (myself included) carry a little too much sand in the bottom half of our hour-glass figures, if you know what I mean. When I was heavier, I was more bowling pin than  hour-glass. See the source image

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One of my least favor characteristics that has been passed down through several generations on my mother’s side of the family, is the depression curse. Most of the women in my family have suffered terribly with severe depression. My mother’s generation and the generation before her lived in denial rather than treating their “moodiness, constant blues and sad demeanor” as the disease depression actually is. My generation, my daughters and cousins are much more proactive, refusing to suffer in silence as did our ancestors.

There may actually come a time in the future when scientists can manipulate DNA and genetic markers and create a race of perfect humans free from defects or disease. Cloning is possible in this day and age, but that goes against everything the Bible has to say about creation.

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Psalm 139 is one of my favorite chapters in the entire Bible. Whenever I find myself getting hung up on the disappointment I feel in regards to my physical appearance, I spend some time reading and re-reading this passage of Scripture – most specifically verses 13-16

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. 

In my fantasies I’m tall – at least 5’9” tall with an athletic, perfectly proportioned body; long naturally curly auburn hair, bright blue eyes and adorably dimpled cheeks. My skin is flawless, I am graceful, musically inclined and of course have a singing voice like an angel.

In reality, I’m as opposite of this description as is humanly possible!

We don’t get to pick and choose our parents, our heritage, our ethnicity, our DNA or genetic makeup. It would be lovely, but it’s also unrealistic. I can’t change the fact that I am 5’3”, a Caucasian Sicilian American or that my eyes are green. Why should I be depressed about the things that I so obviously cannot change?See the source image

I know that for me to become the exact individual that I am – the exact individual that God created me to be — my parents had to come together at a precise moment in time, blending their DNA and genes together to create me.

It is pointless to continually complain about the things we cannot change. Why do so many of us wish away our lives longing to be like someone else rather than appreciate who God created us to be? I have a tall, lanky friend who’s always wanted to be tiny and petite. I have another friend who is big-boned and wears a size 11 shoe. All she’s ever wanted is to have tiny little feet. And me … well, given the chance – most of the time I dream of changing pretty much everything about myself – inside and out.

There’s a movie called “About Time” with Rachel McAdams and Domhnall Gleeson that was made in 2013. It’s a story about a man who has the ability to travel back and forth in time. It’s a good story and worth watching – but the one scene that has stuck with me all of these years is when Gleeson goes back in time to protect his sister from having a horrible accident. By changing that one thing though, he missed an important event with his wife and ends up rewriting their story. When he travels back to what he thought was the present time he’d just left, he discovers that his baby isn’t the same baby he left. He’s got a completely different child.  Image result for About Time movie poster

The takeaway for me was that the baby that he and his wife originally conceived was created at one specific moment in time. Everything about their timing, their genes, their DNA combined at that precise moment to create that exact child. This man changed one thing and ended up changing everything. This scene reminded me that who I am — is who I am supposed to be. God needed my parents to come together when they did so that I would be born. My Mom and Dad – 1952

The above Scripture states that God saw me before I was born and every day of my life was laid out before I was even a thought to my parents. The bottom line is – if we don’t like ourselves, we are essentially telling God He messed up. I don’t want to be THAT person. I want to be the girl who says:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24

I can never be 5’9” tall. The best I can do is to accept that the gene pool I swam in, is the exact pool I was meant to swim in. It’s time to stop wasting any more time treading water in the pity pool. This is me God … lead me along the path of everlasting life.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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YOU SCREAM, I SCREAM. WE ALL SCREAM FOR …

Tofu, soy milk, cauliflower mashed potatoes and meatless veggie burgers. HAH!  NOT in this lifetime! 

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I can’t remember a time past or present when I’ve EVER craved any of the above – or any other “diet foods,” for that matter. Occasionally, I’ll find myself hankering for fresh fruit or a big giant salad – but that’s about as close to craving “health food” that I’ve ever come.

What my flesh craves most of my waking hours are a whole long list of things on the junk food pyramid. You know … all of that stuff none of us should be eating. Things like chips and dip, Oreo Thins, deep dish pizza with extra cheese, cupcakes with lots of buttercream icing, Almond Joy’s, Gummi Bears and … Lord, help me – ice cream.

For the most part, I’ve learned to manage the cravings and abstain from junk food – mainly because my home is typically a junk-food-free zone — with one exception: ice cream. Image result for Cookies and Cream Ice Cream Recipe

What makes the ice cream craving so unbearable is my husband is a serious ice cream addict. He’s a Type II diabetic and shouldn’t even be eating ice cream, but somehow, he works around that with all manner of justifiable excuses and Metformin. At any given time, there is almost always a carton of ice cream in the freezer.

For the better part of the past couple of decades, ice cream was never high up on my MUST-HAVE-IT-NOW  list. Ice cream was one of those “I can take it or leave it” kind of forbidden snacks that never moved me the same way it did most of my friends and family. My stomach went through a dairy-drives-me-crazy phase making the consumption of any such dairy related products (mainly milk and ice cream) a walk on the wild side of riotous living and a profound adventure in pain in my tender tummy.

To this day, I still can’t drink any type of regular milk. It’s almond milk or nothing for me. The ice cream thing though? Well, life would certainly be infinitely easier and less tempting if ice cream still ranked high up on the “eat-at-your-own-risk” list. I don’t indulge very often, thank goodness, but when I do — I want to make sure I thoroughly enjoy it.

Translated, that means the most decadent flavor I can find: Bunny Tracks, Pralines and Caramel, and any flavor that has ribbons of chocolate fudge, Oreos or candy bars mixed throughout. Decadent ice cream is filed under the classification of food Nirvana. Frozen manna straight from Heaven’s gate. Especially if you top it off with chocolate syrup, chocolate hard shell and/or a generous dollop of whipped cream. When you mix all of that together – not only do you have food Nirvana, but you’ve got yourself the makings of a cholesterol power surge and a heart attack in a bowl. The biggest down side of ice cream is – too many ice cream indulgences equals too many pounds hanging over the waistband of my jeans. For these reasons, I DON’T eat ice cream very often. Image result for overweight people eating ice cream

Because ice cream is ALWAYS in the freezer (and is always vanilla – the hubby’s favorite), it’s become necessary to learn some creative coping skills – yes even with plain old, boring vanilla. When the frozen temptress siren calls, it’s somewhat easier to ignore the temptation if the ice cream isn’t the first thing I see when I open the freezer door. Hiding the container of ice cream under layers of frozen peas, chicken breasts, spinach and a Tupperware bowl of unidentifiable sauce that’s been in the freezer so long it’s likely more of a science experiment and no longer safe to consume – will usually buy me enough time to talk myself out of eating the very thing I know I shouldn’t eat. If I don’t see the carton of ice cream every time I open the door, I can go for weeks without giving in to the lusts of my flesh

But there’s always that one-day. It’s a day typically punctuated by some sort of emotional trigger. On a day such as this, I find myself standing over an open container of Very Vanilla smoothing out the top layer, brandishing a baby spoon like it were some sort of pint-size brick-layer’s hand trowel. And yes, I said BABY spoon. When that one-day bests me, I’ve learned to eat ice cream from one of my granddaughter’s baby spoons mainly out of self-preservation. If I were to go at a carton of ice cream with the giant spoon my husband wields like a snow shovel, I’d likely polish off an entire container as if I was in a race against time. Hence – the small spoon. The smaller the spoon – the smaller the bites – which in the long run helps me to eat slower and to eat far less. Image result for baby spoons

In a perfect world, my sinful flesh would never crave forbidden foods. But, I’m not a perfect person existing in my own little perfect Utopia where I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want and never gain weight.

Most people assume that after losing weight and keeping it off for more than a year, food cravings and overeating are a thing of the past. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I think my cravings are actually worse now than ever. And I absolutely hate it. The fact that my flesh craves food only reinforces that I am human and not a robot. My fleshly cravings remind me that Jesus died for us so that we might enjoy our lives. (John 10:10). Food is good and should be enjoyed. Food provides nourishment and pleasure. But as with anything, if we misuse food; turn it into an idol and are completely out of balance to the point of gluttony – that’s when we have a problem.

Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away.  These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.  James 1:14-15 (NLT)

I abused my body with food for so long, I’m almost afraid to find too much pleasure from food now. Life would be so much simpler if we ate for nourishment only. Food is so much more than that. Food is about variety and cultural experiences. Food can be a wonderful social experience as well. How boring life would be if we never had the pleasure of sharing a meal with friends or loved ones. Image result for Enjoy a Meal

The good news about life after weight loss is I can still enjoy a variety of foods. Nothing is really off limits. The most important thing to remember is PORTION CONTROL and balance. Cutting back on certain things at one meal so I can enjoy that occasional bowl of ice cream is why it’s necessary to have a daily food diary and plan ahead. Learning to balance my food portions, my daily exercise and how many times a week I weigh myself are all life skills I’m trying to relearn so I can find pleasure in food, rather than letting food control me.

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Losing weight or maintaining weight is possible if we eat smart, remain diligent with portion control; use smaller plates, bowls, forks or spoons to limit portion sizes. Eat purposefully and really enjoy what we are eating by eating slower and savoring the flavors. Look for lower fat, lower sugar and healthy substitutes whenever possible. Avoid unnecessary temptations if at all possible. Don’t go to the grocery store hungry. Pass on the “free samples” at Costco and skip the daily donuts at work.

One hard lesson weight loss has taught me, is that I have to limit my time watching The Food Network and all of those baking competitions that I love to watch.  Honestly … let’s face it … all of those cooking shows on TV are like watching hard core food porn for those of us that are recovering food addicts!

Above all else, my best advice is that if you are going to make allowances for that occasional bowl of ice cream, don’t hide in the closet and snorf it down in secret. Enjoy your treat and don’t let the enemy rob you of the simple pleasure of really appreciating that OCCASIONAL dessert. That planned snack shouldn’t be consumed with a side helping of guilt or shame. That negates the whole purpose of “treating” yourself. God meant for us to enjoy our lives – yes, that even means food!  Eat smart and enjoy!

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:

When friends tell you how awesome you look, drop the “I still have more to go” crap. You worked hard and you deserve the compliment! ~Jillian Michaels

The Pants Don’t Lie!

It’s a really big deal. In fact, it’s such a big, giant biggie, it’s in the BIG 10.

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People lie all the time. Politicians lie (well, duh!). People lie about their age, their weight, their marital status, their income, their past, their education, their relationships. People lie on their income tax forms. Woman have been known to lie about their weight on their driver’s licenses; men lie about their height. Both men and women lie on dating apps. Lies, lies, lies … so many lies!

There are little white lies, Big Little Lies, the lies that bind and the lies we tell to protect someone’s feelings.

BUT there is one thing that never lies.

The PANTS don’t lie! See the source image

I learned this lesson first-hand a couple of days ago when I donned a pair of my favorite denim jeans. For some reason, they were a tad snug compared to the last time I wore them.

I did the usual rundown – did I accidentally put them in the dryer and they shrunk? Did I grab the wrong pair of jeans and these were a smaller size that hangs in the back of the the closet? Surely … I couldn’t have gained that much weight since I weighed at WW just last week, could I? See the source image

Excuses being what they are – I didn’t want to blame myself or the extra BLTs (bites, licks and tastes) I’d ignored. Nor did I want to examine the emotional snacking I’d done this past weekend that was triggered by a tough family dilemma. But there it was – the evidence was screaming loud and clear. Something changed in my body to cause my jeans to suddenly feel tight around my mid-section.

I can lie to myself and fool others – BUT THE PANTS DON’T LIE! Image result for squeezing into pants that are too small

Since I reached my goal weight a year ago, I’ve relaxed somewhat when it comes to weighing myself at home. I used to obsess over the bathroom scale. I weighed myself several times a day, seven days a week. After every workout, after every meal, after every daily constitution or dog walk, etc. I stepped on the scale to track my progress or lack thereof, way more than I reasonably should have.

Realistically, constant weighing and letting the bathroom scale dictate my moods and attitudes was merely just another type of addiction. If my weight was down, I was joyful, excited and much more sociable. If my weight was UP? Lord help me – my disposition was down, down, down. A weight increase – ANY kind of increase, even a couple of ounces was cause for self-loathing and misery. I snapped at everyone and didn’t interact with others, choosing to hide in the house until “the crisis” passed.

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My addiction to constant weighing prompted me to name my scale and put a sign on it to remind me, I’m not supposed to make an idol out of anything, even an inanimate, seemingly harmless household gadget, like the bathroom scale.

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My bathroom scale is named: PAMMI, which is an acronym for:

Personality
Altering
Mood
Monitoring
Instrument

To this day – PAMMI and I have a very frustrating, sometimes difficult relationship.

After reaching my goal weight, I remained faithful and weighed myself once a week. Over the past many months, that’s dropped down to once every few weeks. I weigh myself a few days before my monthly WW weigh-in and the morning of my WW meeting.

Since however, my jeans were a little snug a few days ago, there’s been a breakdown in the system somewhere.

In the past, I would have freaked out, gone on a hunger strike and fasted a few meals until I could breathe comfortably swathed in denim. NOW, I’m smart enough to realize that my pants being a little snug is not the end of the world.

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Yes, BLTs probably have something to do with it, but when we’re feeling “different” in our clothes, it bears a closer examination to pinpoint exactly wherein the problem lies. In my case, a number of factors could be affecting the snugness in my waistband.

I’ve recently changed up my workout program and have added some weight resistance exercises. I can tell my body is changing as it develops some additional muscle mass. Rather than doing a couple of hours of cardio these days, I’ve decreased my time on the treadmill and stationary bike, but added both upper and lower body weightlifting exercises. I feel stronger than ever and I can tell the weightlifting is changing my body composition.

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There are a couple of other reasons we may notice our clothes are suddenly tighter than usual – besides the obvious, that is.

How much sodium am I consuming in my daily diet? Sodium isn’t just the amount of salt we sprinkle on our food.  Drinking a lot of beverages other than water, can contribute to bloating – especially if we are drinking diet soda. There is a lot of sodium in diet soda, but there is also sodium in many of the “diet foods” we eat which contain sodium-based preservatives. I used to have a horrible addiction to diet soda, but thankfully, God has helped me surrender that particular vice. Now, the only beverages I ever drink are lemon water and occasionally, unsweetened tea. Some “experts” suggest that we consume half our body weight in ounces of water daily. If I weigh 140, I should be drinking 70 ounces of water each day.

Constipation can be a culprit of intestinal bloating and may add additional weight on the scale as well. This can be counteracted by increasing our daily fiber intake.

If I haven’t mentioned it recently … portion control! Portion control! Portion control! It’s easy to become over-confident and think that I know exactly what 3-4 ounces of protein looks like, or 2 tablespoons of lite dressing. Eyeballing that tablespoon of peanut butter and not counting the extra nut butter hanging on the bottom of the spoon is only cheating myself. Image result for measuring portion control sizes

My snug pants are a wake-up call! I need to get back to work and stop guessing at my portion sizes. Get back to tracking my daily foods – including BLTs.  Or better yet – stop wasting calories on BLTs altogether!

For ME, I can throw out every excuse in the book, but the harsh truth is, I’ve been a little lax when it comes to recording all of my foods lately. Family difficulties are partly responsible for some extra calories in my diet – but life is filled with problems, chaos and drama. Letting my emotions rule me only sends me to the back of the obesity line, undoing all of the progress I’ve made in the last year.

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Part of the reason I started writing my blog after such a long hiatus was so I could honestly share my struggles, my emotions and what’s working and what’s not working. The last few days has shown me that some of the things I am doing right now ARE NOT WORKING.

As I publicly admit my shortcomings, I’m publicly admitting I will never be able to continue this weight loss maintenance program without God’s help.

So, Lord … here I am … asking for help. I don’t want to be a liar! Help me get back on track and help me to be an encouragement to others who may be struggling in this area!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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HAPPY YOU NEAR

Most professional, career dieters know that a true “New Year’s Diet Resolution” doesn’t officially begin until the first real Monday after New Year’s Day. Oh wait, maybe that’s just me! No … wait – it’s NOT just me! I just attended my first WW meeting in the New Year, and it was predictably packed to the rafters – standing room only. Just as predictably though – by Valentine’s Day, 75-85% of the New Year’s newbies will have given up and thrown in the diet resolution towel.

For more years than I care to count or admit to, this was me. Each January 1st started with the same “resolution.” I’dImage result for Diet Notes promise that I’d begin on the first Monday in January – which coincidentally, left me sufficient time to polish off any Christmas cookies, pumpkin pie or New Year’s Day Queso and chips AND have one more “last supper” before I dragged my miserable self into a Weight Watchers meeting.

Finishing off holiday leftovers and those last suppers likely added an additional five pounds to my already insurmountable goal of losing weight. Every year I’d think, “If I could just lose 20, 30, 40 … oh who am I kidding … 50 pounds of excess weight, then life would be perfect.

My New Year’s prayers were always the same. I prayed “Please Lord, let this year be the year I’ll finally lose this protective layer of fat covering most of my body. In doing so, help me  to discover true inner peace and happiness at long last. Help me to stop hating everything about myself. THIS YEAR, help me to learn to love the face and body staring back at me in the mirror.”

I mistakenly assumed the end-result could only be achieved with a certain number on the scale. I truly believed the core of all my problems were related to being overweight. In my twisted mind, there could only be one road to happiness: MUST LOSE WEIGHT AT ALL COSTS! 

Boy, there are a whole lot of worms in that can. Self-hatred versus self-love. Is happiness only defined by what I think I should weigh? Changing everything about myself? Hating EVERYTHING about myself! And why did I naturally assume that by merely losing weight, every other problem in my life would somehow magically resolve itself?

Honestly, after losing 55 pounds and maintaining if for a full year – I’m not out of the woods yet. Inner peace, happiness, contentment and loving myself are at times elusive. Some days are better than others. I still have days when I’m unhappy about the woman staring back at me in the mirror. It frequently feels like every step forward is automatically followed by two steps back. Image result for two steps forward one step back

One week into the New Year and my body, my will and my emotions continue to push against one another. A lot of my old bad habits are at long last gone. For once, I didn’t eat myself stupid with holiday leftovers. I’ve resumed normal eating and tracking my daily food intake since Christmas and my bout with the stomach flu. Probably not a big deal to most people – but to me, it’s a magnificent sign that God is working in my life.

New Year’s Day, holidays, birthdays … whatever the reason – I’m committed to a lifestyle, not a diet. That lifestyle begins immediately, not after all of the birthday brownies or Christmas cookies are gone. The lifestyle  doesn’t need a Monday to start. Choosing a set “start date” to begin a diet or exercise program is counter productive to long-term success. Delaying your start date opens the door for a flexible end date, which implies a temporary change. But a lifestyle change is just that … a change for the rest of your life.

Image result for lifestyle changesLosing weight significantly improved many things in my life. I’m obviously healthier, have more energy. I wear smaller sizes and have a more choices when clothes shopping. I’m happy that I’ve lost the weight, but inner peace, overall happiness and contentment are not synonymous with a big weight loss. Deep down, I always knew this to be true, I just got really good at listening to the lies of the enemy, rather than the voice of the Holy Spirit.

We are as happy as we choose to be. We can have peace and learn contentment even if our lives aren’t perfect. We can enjoy life even if we aren’t at our “perfect weight.” Finding peace and contentment when we’re unhappy with our weight might mean pressing forward when it feels like the last thing we want to do.

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Maybe we didn’t achieve everything we’d hope to accomplish last year. I know I certainly didn’t. But last year has come and gone. Forget the past and hit the reset button on a new month and new year. Beating ourselves up over shoulda, coulda, woulda is an exercise of frustration and only delays this year’s progress.

It’s okay to look down the road to the end of 2019 and visualize where you hope to be with your body, your emotions, your spiritual life, your relationships, your finances … whatever. But don’t get stuck looking too far in the future that you forget to live today. The same goes for dwelling on last year’s regrets.  Do your best TODAY. Make a plan TODAY. Set realistic goals and start TODAY. If you mess up – don’t wait for next Monday to roll around to start over. Start over TODAY.

The opening page of my diet devotional book, Diet Nuggets and Wisdom Appetizers, 365 Days of Encouragement for Dieters, (Available on Amazon) says it like this:

Hopefully by incorporating all these suggestions into your life, you will achieve your New Year’s goals and uncover a brand new you. This year can be different! Don’t fail at another resolution for a Happy New Year, but realize there’s a Happy You Near!” Diet Nuggets and Wisdom Appetizers 365 Days of Encouragement for Dieters by [Kurlin, Kathleen]

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead,  Philippians 3:12-13 (NLT)

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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Baby, it’s Cold IN-SIDE!

Last week I got more than I bargained for at Christmas time. Santa came bearing gifts, to be sure, but his final parting gift is one that I would have loved to return. He brought a bad case of the stomach flu to five members of my immediate family – including me. My tummy twisting tantrums tagged me two days post Christmas. As if that weren’t enough, about 10 days before Christmas, I caught a mild cold with a nagging, mucous-y cough. The combination of the two were just … oy! No fun at all!Image result for images for a cold, coughing and sneezing

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My cold was in its final stages until the stomach flu swooped in. For days before the flu, I was limiting my caloric intake because basically I couldn’t taste anything. Once upon a time I could eat my weight in junk food from every major junk food group on the junk food pyramid – whether I was hungry or not. If this past year has taught me anything, it’s that I no longer enjoy eating my feelings. Now, if that’s not healing – I don’t know what is!

Realistically though, having a cold made me see that God has truly done a marvelous work in more than just my physical body. God opened me up and did a major overhaul on my head, my heart and my soul throughout this past year. Through the healing of my emotional eating issues, this cold made me appreciate the finer things in life — like taste buds. In the past, I rarely ate for the sheer pleasure of enjoying the taste of food. I ate to suppress emotional pain rather than pleasing my palate or satisfying physical hunger. The faster I ate, the quicker I could smother my pain, fear, anxiety, depression – etc. But this cold … Eating without being able to taste is a futile, pointless effort. Without taste, why bother? Who knew???

Obviously, the body needs calories – especially when fighting off an illness. Fighting a cold with toast , ginger ale and 7-up gave me sufficient calories to fuel my body. Yes, there are a lot of empty calories in soda, but my stomach and intestines needed a substantial lining for each “heave-ho” bout (which thankfully, were minimal). Image result for Devil wears prada, I'm only one stomach flu away from my perfect weight

Once the stomach flu hit me, believe it or not, I was almost relieved. I know I’m probably the only person who can thank God for the stomach flu. Truth be told, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day I did a considerable amount of damage with my food choices. Not so much with desserts – although there were some indiscretions there; but the chips, dip and bacon appetizers took a major hit, as did the homemade scalloped potatoes. And, I’m almost ashamed to admit it — I drank more wine on Christmas Day than I normally drink in two month’s time.  Before you judge me – it was about four or five glasses spread out over an entire afternoon and evening. Image result for James 1:2

I’m not a big drinker, by choice – maybe one glass of wine every couple of months, if that. When a girl grows up in an alcoholic home, alcohol as a rule, leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Literally and figuratively. When I do drink, I’m partial to sweet beverages. I enjoy an occasional strawberry margarita and sweet wines like Moscato. Christmas Day was fraught with mucho Moscato. In my defense, rather than eating my feelings because part of my family was sick and the other part were engaged in family drama and arguing – I chose to drink my feelings instead.

**SIDEBAR: I’d like to go on record as saying that I believe both eating and drinking one’s feelings are an equally self-destructive pursuit that results in zero problem resolution. Drinking to excess is inadvisable and of course, one should NEVER drink and drive.

Like junk food – alcohol, be it wine, beer, mixed drinks or shots are all loaded with nothing but empty calories. A homemade strawberry margarita has about 311 calories, while a piece of pepperoni pizza contains roughly 298 calories. If you’re going to cheat – what’s the smarter choice here? PLUS, once you tip the bottle to the whoops-you’re-going-overboard zone, your inhibitions are considerably compromised which usually results in excessive eating as well. Everything – especially eating without limits, seems like a good idea when you enter Tipsy Town.

A 5-ounce glass of pink Moscato has just over 120 calories – and that’s only if you measure out a true 5-ounces. Most people who drink at home probably fill their glass to at least twice that amount. If you’re drinking out of a red solo cup, that little plastic-fully recyclable baby holds 16-18 ounces of liquid. Do the math on that one! That’s a lot of wine and a lot of empty calories. See the source imageImage result for red solo cup

When all was said and done for MY celebratory Christmas revelry – I consumed way more calories in two days than I probably consume in a week’s time. Okay – maybe that’s a stretch – but by the time the stomach flu grabbed me, I was almost thankful for the chance to empty myself (again – figuratively and literally) of so many unnecessary, unwanted and useless calories.

The stomach flu acted as a reset button for me. For the 24 hours the virus stuck around, nothing more than ginger ale, 7-Up and oyster crackers passed my lips. After the flu funk had completed its cycle, I remained leery of eating anything that might cause the reaction of it’s worse coming up than it is going down, if you know what I mean.

My sickness turnaround time was mercifully short. I take good care of my body by generally eating well, exercising regularly, drinking lots of water, sleeping (when my body lets me) and taking my daily vitamins. I’d like to think this puts me at a lower risk for long-term illness. Less than 48 hours after I found myself lying on the floor huddled under a blanket and/or hugging the porcelain throne — and I was fit as a fiddle. Thanks to a little help from momma’s little helper (i.e., Nyquil) and an early bedtime, I slept nearly nine hours uninterrupted (woo hoo) and woke feeling like I’d been born again, again – ready to scale the nearest mountain.

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We need to listen to our bodies and do our best to take care of what God has given us. Odds are – most of us will battle colds or flus at some point. The better we take care of our bodies when we are well, the better our chances of defeating said colds and flus in record time. Choosing NOT to take care of our bodies … well, been there – done that and the “death-warmed-over-laying-around-until-I-feel-better” stage is considerably longer and really no fun at all.

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To say that I’m happy I caught a cold and the stomach flu within days of each other – well, that might be a stretch. What I am happy about is that what the enemy meant for my harm and destruction taught me a valuable lesson and reminded me that I serve a BIG God – the Great Physician, the Lord Jesus Christ! God is good all the time – all the time, God is good!

Be cheerful no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 The Message)

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New Year’s blessings to one and all!!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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Merry Christmas!

The older I get, I’m finding that Christmas decorating is nothing like it once was when my children were small. Each year I cut back and put out fewer holiday knick-knacks and festive what-nots. My Christmas village shrinks a little every December and the 10-foot Christmas tree that once held center court in front of a huge living room window – has been scaled back to a mere seven feet. The “faux-fir” (as in Douglas fir) showcases about half the ornaments it once did and is now relegated to a corner, sandwiched between a loveseat and a moderately sized entertainment unit. 

Now that I am without the help of extra decorating hands, my Christmas mantra has been, “less is more.” Which basically is code for, I’m getting lazier as I get older. Case in point – because of the corner tree placement, my holiday tree is virtually naked on its back half. The way I see it – nobody sees the back of the tree so there’s no point in maintaining that decorative symmetry I once required for the family tree. What’s the point of all that excessive work – the stretching and straining to hang things just so?  Who cares about symmetry if no one is going to bother looking back there? I don’t need to impress anyone.Image result for Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

This past weekend as I finished up my Christmas shopping, wrapping and baking, I started thinking about how my half-decorated Christmas tree was rather like the holiday depression I’ve been hiding from those closest to me.

My depression overall has gotten better in the last year, but hasn’t totally disappeared. Every Christmas seems to come with its own holiday dark cloud. It’s always been with me. Hovering. Much like rearranging priorities on my “To Do” list, this darkness patiently waits to insert itself into my day, jockeying for position to move its way up the list and take its place at the number one slot; impossible to ignore. 

When it hits, I’ve gotten really good at hiding what’s going on inside me. I’m pretty adept at “decorating the outside.” I dress respectably, put on makeup and expertly don my “I’m fine. Everything is okay,” mask. But there are definitely times when I am anything BUT fine. I can join in the holiday celebrations and socialize with family and friends, but on the inside, a lot of the time – I feel hollow and broken. I take my medication and go through the holiday rituals and motions, but the fact remains, Christmas for me is always tough for more reasons than I can list here.

I know I am not alone when it comes to holiday dark clouds. Christmas can be a stressful time for people who suffer from depression. Not everyone has a Hallmark-type Christmas where loved ones gather around the tree singing carols and sipping hot cocoa. Image result for happy families gathered around the christmas tree

With depression, no one knows the battle raging within because we work hard to shove that part of ourselves away, out of sight so no one can see what we are hiding inside. At any given time, it’s likely that we pass people on the street, in the mall, at work, at church … everywhere — that could be hiding their own pain, loneliness, depression or brokenness.

I am dealing with my black cloud. Some days are better than others with little trace of the darkness Then other days … not so much. The darkness has been such a part of my life for so many years, I’m not sure what life without it would even look like. In spite of this fact though, it’s never entirely defeated me. It’s been close, but I know that at my very core – no matter how hollow or broken I feel, I know that Jesus is bigger than the darkness. I know that Jesus loves me and fills the void in me – even when I don’t feel His presence. I know that He doesn’t want me to hide my pain or hide myself away from the world. He expects me to look up to Him and stop living in my head.

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I pray that Christmas finds you celebrating the joy of the Lord and not alone, depressed or suffering in silence. If you are struggling with your own holiday depression, don’t isolate yourself. Stop hiding your pain. Get out of the house. Call a friend or loved one. Reach out to others and in doing so, you may be the life preserver that helps to lift someone else who is sinking. Image result for look up to God

Don’t look inward, look upward. God so loved the world (YOU and me) that He sent his only son, Jesus, so that through him you might be saved.  Merry Christmas and blessings in Christ …  Image result for Merry Christmas

 

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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VACATING GUILT

If I’m being completely honest … this week’s blog was extremely difficult to compose. My spirit and my head have been battling most of the week. My head is telling me life sucks! I suck! I’m a big, fat, fake liar! My spirit is wise enough to recognize these attacks of negative thoughts aren’t how I REALLY feel. I know these negative slings and arrows are being launched at me by an enemy that hates me. An enemy who loves it when I start treading water in the deep end of my own little pity pool. He’s been pretty relentless this week.

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The reason for my angst is this past week I spent four days on vacation celebrating my son’s milestone 30th birthday. It was a trip my daughter-in-law secretly planned for months to surprise her husband. My son was properly surprised and excited to discover that most of our family would be joining him at Disneyland and California Adventure to commemorate his big birthday. 

A grand time was had by all – yes, even me – but it came at cost. 

It’s pretty difficult – if not impossible – to take a long road trip and then spend two days at a Disney themed amusement park without giving in to some pretty unhealthy snacking and eating. I’m sorry to say, I didn’t disappoint when it came to meal time.

I managed to start each day with a healthy breakfast, but beyond that – the rest is a bit of a blur.

Disneyland is said to be the happiest place on earth, and while that may be true for first-time visitors, seasoned pros and repeat park-goers like myself have learned that the happiest place on earth is also the most expensive place on earth when it comes to food. Hence the need to pack in some of life’s essentials.

My husband believes vacation road trips should include staples from every major junk food category, including but not limited to, Doritos, gummy bears, chocolate chip cookies, black licorice, red vines, beef jerky, goldfish crackers and of course, ice cream, candy bars and Mountain Dew at every gas stop. The guy doesn’t exactly make it easy for someone maintaining a weight loss to keep things legal. But being the good wife that I am, I packed accordingly. My backpack was ever ready in the snack department and definitely came in handy while standing in those long ride lines.  Image result for goldfish crackers  Image result for gummy bearsImage result for red and black licoriceImage result for doritos and mountain dewImage result for ice cream sundae with chocolate chip cookies

Most of us know, once you step off a weight loss program, it’s a slippery slope and a quick slide into poor food choices, guilt and regret. I didn’t do as much damage as I could have, or as much damage as I once was known to do – but I was certainly no angel either. Image result for slippery slope meme

The problem with travelling with a large group of people is whenever one person got it in their head to eat ice cream, churros, cream cheese filled pretzels shaped like Mickey Mouse, the delicious Beignets Disney is famous for … or whatever – (fill in the blank of the most decadent foods you can think of)  … everyone jumped on the bandwagon and everyone ate!  Image result for beignets

A pinch of this, a nibble of that, a bite of something else … As much as I tried to convince myself that each small sample barely registered a blip on the old calorie meter – I KNOW that those BLT’s (bites, licks and tastes) eventually add up and have to go somewhere.

One of the great benefits of losing weight is my stomach can no longer hold as much food as it once did. It’s far too painful for me to eat like an NFL linebacker, so I never ordered anything just for me — but there was a whole lot of sharing going on! Even though my stomach may be smaller,  my guilt-ridden mind couldn’t tell the difference whether I was eating a little junk food or lots. Guilt and regret all look and feel the same no matter the sin. At least this is true for me. Image result for guilt complex

Here it is days later and I’m continuing to wrestle with the sin and the guilt. I’m having a tough time getting back on a balanced eating track. (And balanced eating does not mean a cookie in each hand!) My head and my spirit want to resume normal, healthy eating, but my dang flesh has unleashed a beast that demands to be fed junk food at regular intervals.

On the plus side – while I did eat more than normal, amusement parks force you to do a lot of walking. Knowing it was going to be hard to resist food temptations, I forced myself to walk as much as possible. I opted to walk to and from the parking garage to the parks rather than hopping on a tram. I volunteered to walk around pushing a sleeping baby in a stroller while everyone else was riding those scary rides I dislike. We spent two days at both parks and I averaged about ten miles of walking each day.

My last visit to Disneyland three years ago found me lugging around an extra 55 pounds on two bad knees and feet that were in such bad shape, I was reduced to tears after a mere few hours. My previous Disney visits found me sitting more and walking less. I am grateful to God that I now have more energy and am able to walk for miles on end. This news alone should lift my spirits and rid me of all guilt.

But yet …

These last two weeks of the year are probably the roughest days of the entire year when it comes to watching what we eat. That’s especially true in my household since my immediate family celebrates three December birthdays which means – three birthday dinners and three different birthday cakes because everyone demands something different. Any way you look at it – combined with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and that shakes out to a whole lot of high caloric foods in my house. Yeesh! Image result for birthday cakes

So many people completely let loose this time of year and indulge in decadent Christmas goodies. The mindset of many is to enjoy the holidays with the intent to start fresh after the New Year. That is certainly an option, but why risk gaining extra weight now forcing yourself to work that much harder after New Year’s? How do we stay on track and maintain our healthy eating lifestyle through the holidays and into the New Year???

For me … I remember how hard it has been losing weight. I know exactly how many hours on the treadmill and bike it takes to whittle away those extra pounds. Losing weight is hard! Why would I willingly choose to undo all of the hard work I’ve put into this?  I’ve got to spend more time focusing on how I got here. I need to drown out the voice of the enemy. I need to focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas and less time obsessing over ME. Christmas is not about ME. Family birthdays are not about ME. Jesus didn’t send His son to earth as a tiny baby so I could stress out over what is going in my mouth. Life is more than food!

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Life, in fact – DOES NOT suck. I DO NOT suck. I AM NOT a big fat, fake liar – just a girl who wants to be better … act better … feel better … and be the best version of who God created me to be.  I don’t want to fake it till I make it.  I want to make it through the holidays and into next year the same way I made it through this year:  working hard and beating back the devil with all that is within me AND trusting God each and every day!

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

A vacation is like love — anticipated with pleasure, experienced with discomfort, and remembered with nostalgia. ~Author unknown

NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO … SLEEP?

It’s one of those things that I can say with 100% certainty: we ALL need SLEEP. The human body can only exist for so long without rest. Too many days without sleep and your entire body from head to toe is compromised and works less efficiently.  Sleep (or the lack of it) can have a huge impact on weight loss, depression and anxiety and our mental well-being. 

Without proper sleep, we are in danger of falling victim to “The Seven Dwarf Syndrome.”  You know it as Sleepy-Grumpy-Dopey–itis. Okay, so that’s only three dwarfs. But without sleep you definitely won’t be Happy and eventually, you’ll need to see a professional … a Doc.

Image result for  images for the 7 dwarfsImage result for  images for the 7 dwarfsImage result for  images for the 7 dwarfsOur bodies and brains need time to rest and recharge; there’s no way around it.  Sadly, not everyone is lucky enough to get a solid eight hours every night. Many of us struggle in this area.

I’ve got a lot of good things going for me. I get regular exercise, take vitamins, aim for fairly healthy eating, get annual check-ups … yaddah, yaddah, yaddah.  But that sleep cycle thing … not so much. Sometimes I don’t have a lot of control over what my body (and brain) wants to do while at rest. I can go for weeks on end enjoying a good night’s sleep and then … BAM! With little or no warning that blasted Hormone Fairy visits me at night and sprinkles some sort of destructive estrogen pixie dust all over me. Sticky glitter doesn’t even compare to this brand of “magic,” fairy dust. It clings so intensely, it seeps into my pores making me appear haggard and sleep-deprived and much, much older than I feel. And I’m pretty sure the Fairy and her dust are the cause of facial wrinkles, gobble-wobbles and saggy body parts.  But that’s a blog for another day!

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As if all of that wasn’t enough, estrogen pixie dust contains some sort of mysterious radioactive properties that cause my core’s body heat to rise to a near boiling temperature. Image result for radioactive explosionsMy very survival relies on two fans (one on the ceiling and one on the floor) and the cold night air seeping in through the opened window. My husband and two dogs snuggle under layers of blankets and cuddle together for their combined body heat. Me? I can’t stand to have man or beast touch me in the slightest as it only raises my temperature to even higher heat levels.

As I ignite from within, my internal furnace radiates a fireball of heat from my body. Like a neon “OPEN ALL NIGHT” sign, I glow so brightly with unnatural heat rays, I could guide a lost ship into port in the dead of night. It feels as though I’m sunbathing on the surface of the sun. Image result for images for the suns burning rays I whip the covers off and on so repeatedly throughout the night, my poor husband feels as though he’s sleeping next to a Spanish bullfighting matador.

When the hot flashes reach their pinnacle, I toss and turn constantly – making me feel like one of those giant chickens on the rotisserie spit at Costco.  Image result for images for a roasting chicken on a spitThe tossing and turning fires up my thinking cap and jump starts my brain. The same way my laptop does random virus protection scans, checking all my files – my brain appears to have a similar program. Once that organ is switched to the “ON” position, that all-important REM sleep that my body requires for maximum health benefits is impossible.  Houston, we have a problem!  It’s a “NO-GO.” 

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Ideally, I’d love eight hours of solid sleep — but that’s a rarity. I can manage well with six or seven hours, but when the Hormonal Estrogen Fairy comes calling … she is fairly stingy and allows maybe two or three hours — if I’m lucky. What makes these unpredictable interrupted sleep cycles so hard, is I love to sleep!  When I DO sleep, I’m a champion sleeper. I’m so good at sleeping I could qualify for the Olympic Slumber Team and take a home a gold medal if there was such an event.  Image result for  images for sleepSince I’ve been in a serious relationship with the obnoxious Hormonal Fairy for so many years, I’ve had to come up with a few tricks that allow me to survive those many sleepless nights.

I’ve tried prescription sleep meds and a number of natural products like lavender oil, Melatonin, Valerian and Chamomile Tea. I’ve had limited success with all, with the exception of the tea. The tea might possibly work but it has certain adverse side-effects. It makes me have to get up frequently to go to the bathroom, which kind of negates the whole purpose of a sleepy-time tea.  The pills have uncomfortable side-effects as well. All of the pills cause me to have the most intense, bizarre dreams. I’m talking dark satanic stuff. I’d rather have a sleepless night than wrestle with the devil in my dreams. Image result for satanic nightmares

The one positive outcome from experiencing regular sleepless nights is I’ve learned to “just go with it.” I no longer pressure myself  with “Sleep Math.”  You know what I’m talking about:, “If I go to sleep RIGHT now, I can still get five hours of sleep. Or four or three, etc.”  Sleep math is a pointless, stressful endeavor.

When I’m awake in the middle of the night with little hope of quality sleep, I use that time to talk to God – since I know He’s always awake. God loves to hear from me any time of the day or night.  I’ve had some of the greatest prayer sessions in the middle of the night. Image result for praying

One thing for sure, it makes the enemy really angry if I use my sleeplessness as an opportunity to talk to God. Clearly Satan loves it when I can’t sleep, because he feels as though he’s getting one up on me for the next day. He delights in the knowledge that without sleep I’ll be mentally and physically compromised and most likely, very unproductive.

There’s an Old Testament story about the prophet Elijah who’s overly fatigued after an all day challenge taking down 450 false profits. This account is an interesting and entertaining read and is found in 1 Kings, Chapters 18 and 19. I highly recommend it. The reason I mention it, is that after the miracle of defeating these 450 profits, Elijah becomes overwhelmed and terrified of one woman (Jezebel) and runs away to hide from her.

“Elijah walked a whole day into the wilderness. He stopped and sat down in the shade of a tree and wished he would die. “It’s too much, Lord,” he prayed. “Take away my life; I might as well be dead!” 1 Kings 19:4 (GNT)

God recognizes what Elijah’s real problem is. He’s tired!  God arranges for Elijah to lay down and take a long nap, then wakes him up for food and drink.. God supernaturally sends a raven to bring Elijah food. After he eats, he lays down again and sleeps for another long slumber. The fact that Elijah was so exhausted that he used a rock for a pillow is an indication of just how tired the man really was.

The moral of the story is God cares about our need for sleep!

When I’m battling depression or anxiety or working through a difficult problem, I’ve discovered that things ALWAYS seem better after a nap or a good night’s sleep.

If you’re one of those people who insists they don’t need as much sleep as the next guy or if you stay up late watching TV, playing on the computer, reading … or whatever you do that might keep you from getting to bed at a decent time — do yourself a huge favor and GO TO BED for, gosh sake!  Don’t let that old saying “I can sleep when I’m dead,” put you on the fast track to your eternal slumber. Sleep … it does a body good!  Image result for Psalm 4:8

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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