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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