PROCEED WITH CAUTION

It’s a common occurrence. Most of us have done it more times than we care to count. I’m guilty. I’ve done it repeatedly. What you ask? I’m talking about pushing the boundaries. Image result for 1 corinthians 10:23I do that with a lot of things in my life. As recently as three days ago, I was guilty of improper driving etiquette regarding the cautionary yellow traffic signal. Surely I can’t be the only person who throws caution to the wind while disregarding the entire purpose of the yellow light at an intersection, can I??? Image result for yellow caution light

Unbeknownst to many – the yellow light is not an invitation to go faster as we approach an intersection. Yellow in fact, means the opposite. Slow, proceed with caution and come to a complete stop. The red light is imminent. Yet, what do we do? We hurry through mentally calculating the minutes we’ve just shaved off our commute by squeaking through another time delayed red-light waiting game. Image result for traffic signals

 

I know I’m not alone as last Friday on my way home from running a quick errand, I found myself flying through intersections, like everyone else. I was anxious to return to my cozy nest and don my favorite pair of comfy sweat pants and baggy tee-shirt ensemble. This of course, is the unofficial uniform of an anti-Black Friday shopaholic.

***INSERT Public Service Announcement SIDEBAR HERE:   For those of you who live outside the United States, the day after our American holiday of Thanksgiving is officially known as Black Friday. It’s a day that has gained popularity and a near religious-cult like status with a broad-based following. A religion created by retail manufacturers for the sole purpose of sucking the joy out of the holiday season; designed with the intent to separate men and women alike from their hard-earned money in order to continue the crippling credit card strangle-hold materialism has over today’s society. Simply put:  It’s a day dedicated to buying more stuff we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t really care about. Image result for black friday shopping

I’m not a fan of Black Friday shopping. Never have been. Never will be. I tried it once, and only once, a million years ago. I refuse to be converted and will not bow down at the altar of bargain priced merchandise. The long lines, mob mentality and people resorting to fisticuffs, name calling and body-checking one another all for the sake of a cheap, so cheap-they-are-practically-giving-it-away, 65” 4K HD television, just isn’t worth the anxiety. 

My Black Friday tradition consists of binge-watching sappy Christmas movies, a veg-out marathon in my jammies or sweats, with a sprinkling of couch potato semi-healthy snacking and the occasional nap attack. 

I make it a rule never to leave the house on Black Friday. I live within a few miles of a busy shopping mall which poses the problem of inflated mall traffic snafus, and an increase of horn-honking and middle-finger salutes.

Thanks, but no thanks – or at least that was my plan. A daughter with a sick infant at home precipitated the need for me to break my cardinal rule of social interaction on Black Friday. I was forced to venture beyond the boundaries of my bingeing bubble for an emergency trip to the grocery store.

Generally speaking, I’m a fairly conscientious driver; one who adheres to speed limits and traffic signs. Mostly. Okay, maybe about 92% of the time. As I was nearing home on Friday though, I found myself driving rather hurriedly, falling into that 8% bracket of traffic non-compliance.  See the source image

Normally, thanks to the installation of crosswalk countdown displays, I’d slow and stop at a light about to turn yellow — but I was anxious to get home to my slippers, sweats and the TV remote. As I raced through the light, I noticed in my rear view mirror the car behind me and three more cars behind that car all followed me through the light that was clearly red by that point. Apparently, I wasn’t the only lawbreaker in a hurry to get home.

Pushing the envelope of good judgment seems to be an epidemic – and not just with traffic laws. Dieting is a perfect example. I’ve been known to take that extra dollop, scoop, bite, lick or taste of whatever unscheduled snack catches my fancy. Rather than heeding the yellow caution sign blinking in my head, I sample the snack rather than stopping and avoiding the temptation altogether. My reasoning is loosely based on the premise, “But everyone else is doing it!” Image result for everyone else is doing it

This is a popular past-time at Costco. A long line forms at a snack cart and the popular opinion is, “whatever it is, it must be good, otherwise all these people wouldn’t be standing here!”

This was never more evident than it was last week at my family Thanksgiving meal. Desserts and coffee were put out and as soon as one person made the first move, everyone followed suit. Even me – in spite of the fact that I promised myself I wouldn’t touch anything sugary! That mob-mentality-everybody’s-doing-it-so-it-must-be-okay flawed reasoning got the better of me. Rather than stopping at the intersection of “I’m full” and “I don’t need the extra empty calories,” I caved and followed the others like a lamb to the slaughter. Thankfully, I didn’t eat much in the way of carbs and desserts for the day on a whole. But I’m still disappointed in the fact that I so easily succumbed to the “but everyone else is doing it” thinking.

If one person ignores the signs and warnings, then it must be okay. WRONG! It’s not okay for those of us pursuing weight loss and good health to chase the herd. Eating like everyone else with no restraints is exactly how most of us end up carrying excess weight. Image result for everyone else is doing it

Just as a yellow light at an intersection serves as a warning, so does that little niggling voice in our spirit that reminds us of what we should and should NOT be eating. What we should and should NOT be thinking. What we should and should NOT be feeling. What we should and should NOT be pursuing.Image result for John 10:27

Every mother worth her salt has at one time or another uttered those famous words, “if your friends jumped off a cliff, would you too?”

I don’t want to end up where I was for so many years … overweight, overtired, depressed and in chronic pain.

Success will only happen if we heed the warnings and STOP for all potential hazards. What are YOUR hazards? A busy intersection of indecision; feeding your depression with junk food;, a long sample line at Costco, the dessert table for the family dinner or the all-you-can-eat buffet? Whatever your issue, make the responsible decision today to proceed with caution! 

Image result for 1 corinthians 10:23

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

Image result for images for pushing the boundaries or reason

Advertisements

It’s NOT Fair!

Whether it’s … “A day late and a dollar short,” “Win some, lose some,” “Shoulda, coulda, woulda,” “It’s not my fault!” OR “If only ,” … it may come as no surprise that life is rarely fair.

See the source image

I find myself arguing this more and more with Thanksgiving being only a few short days away. For those of you who live outside of the United States, Thanksgiving is a day established by our forefathers, set aside for the sole purpose of pigging out. (Oh yeah, and giving thanks for all of our blessings.)

Image result for thanksgiving feast images

We gorge ourselves on tons of turkey, piles of potatoes, varieties of veggies (fried, baked and/or swimming in butter and sauces), gallons of gravy, don’t forget the rolls and butter and obviously … a plethora of pies – specifically pumpkin and/or pecan slathered in whipped cream and/or ice cream.

Put on your stretchy pants kids … it’s about to get ugly! See the source image

 

Image result for joey tribbiani thanksgiving meat sweats

Image result for joey tribbiani thanksgiving pants

As my household prepares to host a large family gathering, in between deep-cleaning like a mad woman (because company’s coming!) I find myself uttering those unarguably tough, tough words … “it’s not fair! It’s NOT fair!! IT’S JUST NOT FAIR!!!

I, of course, am referring to my bad luck and familial misfortune of having swum in a gene pool of ancestors whose DNA includes slow-barely-moving-practically-in-a-coma, metabolism. I’m expected to cook, peel, chop, roast, baste and bake a large portion of the holiday meal, yet because of my recent weight loss and sudden stomach sensitivities, I’ll probably not be able to eat much of what is prepared. Hence the complaining …it’s simply not fairImage result for life's not fair

I have a friend who’s birthed six – no, seven kids; that equals seven pregnancies, mind you, and she subsists on Taco Bell, Dr. Pepper and peanut M&Ms, yet she doesn’t struggle with her weight and never seems to gain weight. Talk about life not being fair! Apparently, her metabolism moves faster than a supersonic jet because the aforementioned foods are the main staples of her regular, daily diet. Dare I say it again? It’s so NOT fair!

Now that Thanksgiving is upon us, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Well actually, Halloween three weeks ago was the tip of the iceberg. Halloween officially kicks off the holiday eating season. Unless you’ve been blessed with a fast-as-the-Energizer-Bunny metabolism — and you’re planning on eating your way through the next five weeks – you better be prepared to gain an average of 7-10 pounds. Statistically speaking, that is the average amount of poundage gained during the holiday season. And NO, I am not kidding! That is a significant amount of excess weight to carry into the New Year when you re-join Weight Watchers! Most weight loss classes and gym memberships dwindle during the holidays! Don’t become a statistic!

Feet On Scale

If we hope to survive the holidays without packing on an excessive amount of weight that will be much harder to lose than it was to gain — it’s up to us to devise a solid holiday plan and stick to it!  Only YOU can customize a plan that will help YOU succeed.

MY plan includes making time for DAILY exercise. With shopping, parties, volunteer commitments and what not – it can be easy to forego regular exercise – even for someone like me who is basically addicted to exercise. Exercise has got to be intentional. A great suggestion is, force yourself to park farther out in the parking lot of whatever store you are shopping at. This shouldn’t be too difficult, since parking is particularly tough this time of year. Image result for Parking far out in a packed lot

I know we’re all overtired and exhausted during the holidays, but push yourself to add extra steps on your fitness tracker. Instead of taking the elevator at the mall or idly standing on the escalator, actually walk up the escalator or take the stairs. If you do all your shopping online, you’ll need to be more creative. Take a walk around the block or take the dog or the babies to the park. Get that spare bedroom ready for Auntie Edna and Wuncle Billy Bob (that’s code for “weird uncle”) by shampooing the carpet. Do some aerobic housecleaning; bed making, vacuuming, floor mopping, sweeping – whatever you can think of. If you’re moving – you’re burning calories! Image result for thorough house cleaning

Exercise is not the only thing to focus on to avoid holiday weight gain. Obviously, watching what we eat is key. If you’re attending a big family function that’s centered around food (seriously … aren’t they all?), fill up on raw veggies or drink lots of water before the dinner bell rings. You might want to skip the wine or cocktails as alcohol is loaded with empty calories. Realistically speaking, alcohol has a tendency to lower our inhibitions. If we’re tipsy we stop caring about what we’re eating. Image result for avoiding alcohol

A daily menu plan is so important during the holidays. Tracking what we are eating is more important than ever. And it goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – portion control, portion control, PORTION CONTROL needs to be the mantra playing non-stop in your head – not just during the holidays – but every day!

Lastly (for now) … speaking of family … The holidays can stir up a myriad of emotions, which can lead to the dreaded emotional eating. Returning to my childhood home has ALWAYS ignited an emotional meltdown for me. For years, my way of coping with unresolved family issues was not unusual or unique. I stuffed my emotions down with food – and lots of it.  Heck, I practically arrived for each visit with a fork surgically attached to my wrist. Too many memories, coupled with difficult (nearly impossible) relatives made for a very ugly situation, which always ended the same way. Eating myself stupid, stuffing all my bad memories and emotional turmoil down with mounds of buttery mashed potatoes, holiday M&Ms,  or hearty helpings of pie and ice cream. Image result for Stress EatingDon’t let difficult family members or uncomfortable relationship situations push you towards the buffet or the bar.  Food and alcohol are not the answer.

I’m not a licensed therapist so I would never presume to counsel anyone on how to deal with difficult family situations. I DO KNOW, however, that stuffing your emotions with Thanksgiving stuffing or sweet potato pie will only aggravate things and make you feel worse about yourself in the long run.  I know it’s easier said than done, but try, try, try not to eat your feelings over the holidays. Image result for eating your feelings

 

Take things one day at a time, one meal at a time, one weird uncle at a time. Don’t completely deny yourself those special once-a-year treats. SAMPLE your favorites if you must. The key word being SAMPLE! Do not snorf down a whole pie and do not make a pig of yourself. For greater perspective, try being an observer instead of focusing only on what is on your plate. Sit back and watch what the other people around you are piling on their plates. Pay attention to those people that blindly shove Christmas cookies or candies in their mouth one after another without even paying attention (or tasting or enjoying) what they are eating. Image result for Thanksgiving piesImage result for Thanksgiving heaping plate of food

The holidays should be about spending time with people you love. Thanksgiving should be a time to reflect on God’s blessings in your life. Remember … LIFE IS NOT FAIR! If you’ve got more than one pair of shoes or a change of clothing; hot and cold running water and a bed to sleep on every night – or if you are reading this blog on a smart phone or computer … you are richer than about 85% of the people around the world. Life may not be fair, but it can be fairly happy and blessed if we remember The ONE who is the source of all love and joy. Image result for thanks be to God

Give thanks to him who alone does mighty miracles.
His faithful love endures forever.
 Give thanks to him who made the heavens so skillfully.
His faithful love endures forever.
 Give thanks to him who placed the earth among the waters.
His faithful love endures forever.
 Give thanks to him who made the heavenly lights—
His faithful love endures forever.
 the sun to rule the day,
His faithful love endures forever.
 and the moon and stars to rule the night.
His faithful love endures forever.
Psalm 136:4-9 (NLT)

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

See the source image

Pay Up!

Pain can sometimes provide us with valuable insight – but how many of us willingly volunteer to sign up to be a guinea pig in a pain experiment? Not me – that’s for sure.

Image result for volunteering for experiments

Last week’s mini-brownie breakdown and handful of Halloween candies provided me with enough insight into what real pain really means. I’ve banked enough insight to last into the next lifetime and then some. I learned that candy and/or chocolate and I are no longer a great combination – prompting me to initiate a relationship breakup.  The reason for this sudden split is the horrific stomach ache (we’re talking epic proportions) that blindsided me last week after partaking of the forbidden sweet treats.  Image result for Images for a stomach ache

In the past 18 months I’ve been fairly successful at eliminating sugary foods and snacks from my diet. During this time I’ve practiced moderation of this “food group,” and unfortunately, last week I discovered (quite the hard way) that anything more than a smidge of the stuff produces a plethora of problems for my sensitive stomach. Apparently, my body can no longer tolerate candy. Who knew?

I’ll spare you the gory details, but let’s just say the discovery “episode” wasn’t pretty. It was a brand-new adventure in pain! Bowing down to the porcelain throne for a significant amount of time created a certain vantage point (hunched over, hugging my thighs, staring at the floor for long periods of time). The eventual result? The proverbial light bulb appeared over my head much like those in a Looney Tunes cartoon. It has become unequivocally clear – seriously, no doubt remains — that I don’t need sugar to survive. I’m officially turned off by the mere thought of sugary treats. Indefinitely. Image result for Ate Too Much Food

This revelation came to me one day last week after several looooonnnnnggg sessions in the “throne room.” When all was said and done — I vowed NEVER to eat sugar again. It was in the midst of severe cramping and intestinal spasms, I negotiated with God like a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal, vowing lifelong servant-hood or missionary work in equatorial Africa if He’d mercifully ease my abdominal discomfort.

Several hours later when I finally made it to bed completely spent and empty to the point that I felt as though I’d prepped for a colonoscopy — I had an epiphany of sorts. Is a nanosecond of tasty pleasure on my lips worth hours of pain and suffering stuck on the toilet? Is staring at my feet bargaining with God and begging to have the stupid eradicated from my fleshly lust of sugar really worth so much physical pain?

The answer is a definitive … 


Image result for NO!Image result for NO!

 

 

Image result for NO!

The thing is – I’ve had similar experiences with chocolate (or candy) on a number of occasions in the last 18 months, so I should know better. Somehow though, because we typically eat with our eyes first, the power of sight coupled with tantalizing, wafting smells of any confectionery treat mysteriously destroys all reasoning, erasing my short-term memory banks. Image result for beautiful chocolate desserts

The brain of someone with a significant sugar addiction—okay – ME, somehow completely misfires, blinding me to the lies of the enemy and sabotages all common-sense logic. Coming face-to-face with a chocolaty delight, causes temporary insanity or selective amnesia in my twisted brain. I somehow completely forget that eating chocolate will have disastrous consequences for me. The internal illogical exchange in my brain, my eyes, my nose, my taste buds — all possess significantly more power and control over me than my logical brain and sound judgment.

The real problem is that initial bite. As with most things in life that give rise to temptation, I blame the devil. He has an uncanny ability to convince me to “test the waters” with just a tiny taste. If no immediate stomach ache ensues, he persuades me to sample again, convincing me that maybe this time my stomach will cooperate. The real fault is in listening to the heated wrestling match in my head. Do I believe the enemy and his lies and take that first bite? OR do I listen to reason, my gut, and the Holy Spirit that are all screaming at me to STOP! STEP AWAY FROM THE CANDY! Image result for danger signs

If I could simply learn to avoid that FIRST bite, I’d be okay and eventually master the monster lying in wait for me. Succumbing to temptation is the number one reason most diets fail. Diets promise success if we are willing to trade junk food lifestyles for “healthy eating.” Diets, by their very nature are purposely restrictive; requiring us to deny our flesh of the things we crave the most. Statistics show that denial only serves to make us want what we can’t have all the more.

Image result for 1 Corinthians 6:12

My most heartfelt desire is to serve God and not abuse the blessing He’s given me with my weight loss. Losing as much weight as I have is no small thing. God has done a bona fide miracle in my life. Why would I ever want to mess that up?

Image result for witnessing a miracle

In order to always remain ever-thankful and mindful of God’s blessings, I’ve prayed and asked the Lord to remind me of my intestinal limitations the NEXT TIME temptation strikes BEFORE I take that FIRST BITE. Because let’s face it, temptation will never be completely eliminated from our lives until we get to Heaven.

Image result for Matthew 6:13

As much as I hate the stomach aches, if a stomach ache is what it takes for God to get my attention and keep me from reverting back to my old, bad habits – then bring it on God. BUT if I am smart (and Oh, Lord I WANT TO BE SMART) – the next time a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup whispers my name, I pray I’ll listen to that little voice in my spirit that asks me … is a gut-wrenching stomach ache worth a couple of bites of chocolate? The alternative is, by giving in to temptation the enemy wins and will always get the last word – which he likely delights in delivering with a smile: You can pay me now –or you can pay me later!

QUOTE OF THE DAY: 

 Image result for quotes about temptation

FEAR THE FORK … The Brownies Bite

The urge was undeniably strong and overwhelming. It required a Herculean effort of restraint on my part to suppress it.  It’s something most of us have experienced at one time or another. I’m talking about that urge to dive face first into the nearest pan, bowl, box or bag of ANYTHING gooey, chewy, and decidedly unhealthy to assuage the emotional turmoil roiling in my spirit. Image result for images for eating chocolate cake

Oh, wait … am I the only one who turns to sweets when emotionally compromised?

Last week was a particularly difficult one for me. I’ve been dealing with an impossible situation that shows no signs of resolution any time soon. My emotions have been pushed, pulled and stretched in a million different directions, plunging me into a minor funk. The sharp edge of depression was doing its best to claw its way back into my life like an unwanted holiday visitor. Image result for images for choking hands

It didn’t help that I had a family potluck to attend that required my baking skills. I love to bake and my entire family knows this. Baking can be very therapeutic, but it’s also not the greatest hobby for a girl with a not-so-secret food addiction who’s recently lost a considerable amount of weight. Because it was a family potluck though and expected of me, I baked. And I didn’t bake just anything, mind you. I made ooey, gooey, chewy chocolate frosted brownies. Throw in Halloween a couple of days later and I found myself on the business end of a near bingeing breakdown. Image result for images for gooey frosted chocolate brownies

The problematic catalyst for the aforementioned emotional turmoil was the half pan of uneaten frosted brownies left over from the potluck. My husband was supposed to take the pan to work with him the next day, but Monday’s being what they are, chaos ensued and prevented him from getting out of the house with the brownies in tow. So, there they sat, calling to me; whispering my name … all … day … long. It’s quite torturous to bear the brunt of a brownie bite.

In “my old life,” BWL (before weight loss), I would have forked that pan of brownies to death. You know what I’m talking about. Every time you walk past that inviting pan of brownies (or cake or cobbler or whatever), you take the straight edge of a fork or a knife and you cut off “just a sliver” of brownie. You tell yourself you are performing a public service by making the lines of the brownies uniformed and even all the way around. But one thing leads to another, because then you notice that the other side is slightly crooked and you have to even that side out — and well, before you know it – you’ve forked an entire pan of brownies up real nice. Image result for images for eating cake with a fork

In my defense, I didn’t eat the entire half pan of brownies. More like the equivalent of one healthy-sized brownie. Each forked up piece of brownie sliver still slammed me with guilt and condemnation, reminding me that I am far from cured of my sugar addiction. I threatened my husband with bodily harm if he didn’t remove the remaining brownies the next day.

The day after the brownies left the premises was Halloween. Halloween candy doesn’t usually create too much of an issue for me, since I’ve learned the secret to successful holiday candy management. It’s really quite simple. DON’T BUY CANDY!

I volunteered at church Halloween night so I avoided the trick-or-treaters. The best part about this gig … no candy to buy; no candy to pass out; no leftover candy to tempt me. It’s a win-win situation. Where I tripped up though, was stopping at a friend’s house later that night. Wouldn’t you know it – she had a giant bowl of mini candy bars that were begging to be fondled and rifled through. I succumbed and picked out a few mini candy bars; all of my favs. (Let’s face it – there’s no point in wasting calories on candy that is just “meh.”) I had enough forethought to come home and immediately freeze the mini temptresses in a Ziplock bag. Practicing a modicum of restraint, I limited myself to one piece of candy every day – and even then, I made sure to log it and track it for WW points.  Image result for images for a bowl of halloween candy

As we all know, we are coming into that time of year that signals the beginning of the end. What that means is, most weight loss classes experience a substantial dip in their membership. Gym attendance slacks off and many of us slack off as well with our healthy eating and exercise commitments.

Weight that takes months or years to lose can reattach itself at a record pace. In truth, we should treat the holiday season no differently than any other time of year. If anything, we need to be more tenacious than ever about eating balanced meals, tracking the foods we eat and staying active and diligent with our exercise routines. It can be so tempting to let ourselves go this time of year for the simple reason that it’s much easier to hide our bodies under layers of winter clothing. DON’T GIVE IN TO THIS TEMPTATION. Flannel is not your friend if you’re maintaining a weight loss. This is simply another trick of the enemy! Image result for images for layers of winter clothing

If we stumble and give in to those food temptations like I did this past week, it can be quickly corrected but only if we correct it immediately. Don’t wait till tomorrow, or after Thanksgiving … or Christmas … or Hanukkah … or New Year’s … or Valentine’s Day. Holiday excuses present us with convenient excuses that turn into a vicious cycle that concludes with us porking up for the winter- AGAIN.

Holidays present us with emotional challenges as well because few of us have those perfect, happy families. Difficult family members, pressure to overspend and overeat … all are a recipe for disaster for those of us already doing battle with anxiety, depression, food addictions and weight challenges. Stressful holidays are no time to stress eat!

My absolute favorite Scripture for this time of year is the NIV translation of Psalm 141:3: I know this verse is aimed more at watching over the words that come OUT of our mouth, but I like to pray and ask God to help me watch what’s going IN to my mouth.

One day at a time. One bite at a time. One meal at a time. One prayer at a time. Put your holiday worries in God’s hands and purpose in your heart to eat purposefully.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: