Don’t “THREAT” The Small Stuff

The human body is a natural wonder in the fact that it is capable of growing, shrinking – even incubating and birthing another human being. What a marvelous piece of fleshy machinery God has created.  

Over the course of my life, my body has transformed itself a multitude of times. Due to three full-term pregnancies and decades of yo-yo dieting, I’ve gained and lost well over 500 pounds over the past five decades. Yes, you read that correctly!

After having lost weight AGAIN for what I hope will be the last time, I’m finding that at this more “mature” age, my body is transforming yet again. Decades of all that yo-yoing and I’ve created some pretty significant challenges for my aged body. Not to mention, I’ve been double-teamed by Mr. Gravity and Father Time, who’ve had their way with my skin and various body parts. Things sag and hang lower than they used to. Joints creak and ache; muscles hurt more and take longer to recover. Getting older is no joke!

In addition to being older and somewhat wiser, my body now has the uncanny ability to predict the weather. Whenever the barometric pressure changes, my arthritic joints (mostly knees) begin an old familiar ache. Thankfully we don’t get a lot of precipitation in my neck of the woods, so the achy joints only flare-up periodically. There doesn’t even have to be any real rain in the forecast, but just the mere threat is enough to cause my knees to ache. 

Because Phoenix averages about 300 sunny days per year, my brain and knees tend to forget that weather changes cause my joints to ache. Whenever my knees start to throb I head into panic mode thinking things are going back to the way they were before I had knee injections. But then it’s like, “Whew, never mind … it’s just the weather. Everything is fine!”

Last week I had a threat of a different kind. When I weighed myself at my regular weekly weigh-in, my weight was up three pounds. I know that three pounds is pretty insignificant, but for someone who’s just spent the last 18 months working to lose weight, those three little pounds were enough to push me over the edge of sanity and reason.

Familiar phrases ran through my mind: I’m so fat and disgusting! I hate myself! If I gain any more weight I’m going to kill myself! I’m such a loser! Blah, blah, blah, and a whole lot of other self-deprecating words, threats and lies conveniently supplied by the master of all self-destruction … our old lying enemy, the devil.

If you’ve ever suffered with any manner of self-hatred due to depression, anxiety, obesity, etc. you probably can relate – maybe even have your own self-debasing inner dialogues much like mine.

Because I truly believe I am wiser thanks to my relationship with Jesus and years spent poring over my Bible, this latest mini-meltdown over three little pounds crashed and burned out rather quickly.

As if on some pre-programmed auto-pilot, I had a “come to Jesus meeting” with myself. When my anxiety rises due to circumstances, I thankfully have a number of “Go-To” Scriptures that I say out loud designed to take the focus off of ME and my problems and put it back where it belongs … the Lord Jesus.

I refused to let this threat best me as it once would have. After chewing on the meat of these Scriptures for a bit, I did a quick inventory of my past week and what could have caused this slight weight gain. The likely culprit was that my husband was on vacation for the past nine days, and that man can eat! He’s very tall and thin and manages his Type 2 Diabetes by eating six small meals a day. Every time he would eat, I’d start thinking I needed to eat as well. I tried to limit my frequent snacking to zero-point Weight Watcher friendly foods. FACT: Those zero point foods are still dangerous if enjoyed in excess. Over the course of two days, I practically ate an entire 10-pound watermelon and about five pounds of grapes all by myself!

One of the drawbacks of maintaining a weight loss is that it still requires a lot of diligence to track what I eat daily. As with last week’s slight weight gain, portion control – weighing and measuring my foods – is crucial. Even fruit! Grapes might be a zero-point WW food, but three pounds of grapes contain a LOT of natural sugar and calories.

Most of us know regaining weight takes very little effort on our part. In fact, I could be the queen of that club! What took a year to painstakingly lose, could reappear in a matter of days or weeks. Portion control and pushing myself to exercise a little harder than usual will help to keep that three pounds from morphing into five or ten or more pounds.

Gone are the days of telling myself, “Well, I already blew it for today – I may as well eat a sleeve of Oreos or that bag of chips in the pantry! I’ll get back on track tomorrow.”  Many of us know, tomorrow can be put off indefinitely! The time to act is NOW!

I opted to immediately rectify the weight gain situation. I added five-pound ankle weights to my morning treadmill walk. I normally walk three miles with varying incline settings, but now I pushed it to four miles. I walked at a much steeper incline and a faster pace than normal. It was a great cardio workout that had me sweating like a sumo wrestler wearing a wet suit in a gym sauna room. (That’s code for a LOT of unladylike perspiration!)

By simply being diligent with portion control and increased activity, my weight was back to normal within two short days. What this little weight gain showed me though is that even the mere threat of regaining lost weight was enough to send me down the rabbit hole. If I wouldn’t have been immediately proactive, that three pounds could have doubled and likely sent me spiraling out of control, drawing me once again into the black hole of depression and the bottomless abyss of self-loathing.

The bottom line takeaway this week is: less food and more movement = less me and more God-given peace and joy. Don’t THREAT the small stuff. We can only do so much on our own, the rest is up to God.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

How strange to use “You only live once” as an excuse to throw it away. ~Bill Copeland

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I’ll Tell What I Want, What I Really REALLY Want

Unless you were born yesterday, you’ve probably heard the saying, “Be careful what you wish for!” Or if you’re a devout Christian, it’s more like, “Be careful what you pray for!”

The day I decided to begin taking my new anti-depressant medication was April 1st. I have said and done a lot of foolish things in my life, but I’d like to think I’m no fool. Like most people, I didn’t just wake up one morning to discover I was suddenly 60 pounds overweight. I don’t ever remember waking up thinking, “oh gee … I think I want to be depressed today.” Realistically, I’m smart enough to know that both weight loss and treating depression is going to require a certain amount of time. Pretty much every thing good worth having in life takes an investment of time.

I began seeing a pain management doctor for my knee pain a month prior to my son’s wedding. Because of the usual insurance company runaround, it took some time to get approved for any type of treatment. Once seen by the doctor, he prescribed a round of injections in both knees to help with the pain.

We started with Cortisone, which I’d previously tried, with little success and this time was no different. We moved onto hyaluronic acid which could provide relief for up to a year. It bears mentioning that I have an intense dislike and pretty significant fear of needles. I needed four rounds of shots times two knees. That equals eight needles. During the first round, the doctor accidentally hit my bone which only reinforced why I hate needles. He said it was a million to one shot for that to happen since he used a fluoroscope to guide the needle. Go figure. I certainly didn’t feel lucky!

I was scheduled for my second round of shots about four days after beginning my anti-depressant. My appointment was scheduled for late afternoon and I could feel myself getting all worked up in a fearful, frenzied state as soon as I got out of bed. I tried to do a simple workout on my stationary bike to take my mind off my appointment anxiety.

 

The worry that I’d have another bone-piercing, painful appointment was very real. About 15 minutes into the workout, I started feeling very winded and my heart began pounding at an unusually fast, hard pace. At first, I just assumed it was exercise exertion, but it quickly became apparent that I was feeling something I’d never felt before. I was feeling slightly dizzy and light-headed on top of everything else.

As I called my husband in a panic, I couldn’t catch my breath and thought … “Holy crap … this is it … I’m having a heart attack!” Now I know that just a week and a half ago, I’d been begging God to take me quietly in my sleep. It was never my idea though, to be fully awake when the death knell tolled. Like most people, I’d really rather have death come swiftly, painlessly and preferably while asleep or unconscious.

As much as I thought I wanted to die – when faced with the very real possibility that I was having an actual heart attack and potentially staring Doctor Death in the face, I freaked. “Lord, this is not what I had in mind at all!” My overactive imagination (or perhaps the accusatory voice of the enemy in my head), had all but convinced me the anti-depressant had caused this heart episode. This was my fault because I never read the warnings or side-effects of the medication.

In my desperation for this medication to work, I was afraid my overactive imagination would manufacture any warning symptoms. A classic ignorance is bliss mistake on my part. Perhaps I really am a bigger fool than I gave myself credit for.

My husband works quite a distance from our home, so he called my youngest daughter and she called her siblings. Within a very short amount of time, both my daughters arrived. My son called me, as well as my new daughter-in-law – who is a registered nurse. After describing my symptoms, everyone agreed that I should go the ER, just in case.

I checked in with the triage nurse, explaining “I’m 60 pounds overweight and almost 60 years old. I think I’m having a heart attack.” That was enough information to get me seen very quickly.  I explained my anxiety regarding my upcoming pain management appointment and told the nurse about the new medication I was on. After a few hours of heart tests and blood work, I was diagnosed as having had an acute anxiety attack. I’d never felt so stupid in my whole life.

The nurse who treated me said it was in fact, smart of me to get my heart checked out. She confessed to me that she also suffers from depression and anxiety. “I couldn’t do my job – probably wouldn’t get out of bed, without the help of my anti-depressant and anti-anxiety meds,” she admitted.

She reassured me that depression and anxiety are very real mental illnesses and there is no shame in taking medication for them. Both my daughters agreed with her and reinforced to me that it was smart for me to be on medication. Apparently they all could see that I was not okay with taking medication for depression.

This incident may have been triggered by my “needle anxiety,” but it revealed my underlying issues about the depression meds. While I had prayed for peace about taking the medication, my “episode” showed me that I’d secretly been feeling very ashamed and conflicted for needing medicinal help. The ER visit made me face the fact that I really hadn’t fully released my worry and “shame” to God.

Once the doctor gave me a clean bill of health and sent me on my way with a chill-out drug coursing through my veins (and one that he recommended I take before every knee injection), I made a decision that enough is enough.

Either I believe God’s Word and trust Him — or I don’t.  I have an illness that requires medical intervention, but this illness does not have to define me and it does not have to control every aspect of my life – especially if there are medications that can alleviate my symptoms.

Insert my standard: the devil is a liar, proclamation here!  One sure way of knowing that the voices in your head ARE NOT God, is simple. If everything you’re hearing in your brain is negative or self-destructive … THAT IS NOT THE VOICE OF GOD! That is the voice of the enemy!

God’s Word tells us in Jeremiah 29:11:

Did God give me depression? Emphatically … No! BUT, God can certainly use depression to help draw me closer to Him. (*SEE: Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28.) Because God never wastes pain, I like to think that anything that He teaches me through depression and anxiety, will be something I can use to help someone else someday.

If you are suffering with depression on any level, I urge you to talk to someone. It can be a friend, relative, trusted professional, crisis hotline, etc.  God does not want you to suffer in silence. Jesus died for me. Jesus died for YOU.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

I may not be there yet, but I’m closer than I was yesterday. ~ Author Unknown

 

My daughter’s attempt to distract me from worry while I was in the ER was to steal my phone and change my wallpaper settings! I LOVE her sense of humor!

Full of It

According to recent statistics about 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year.  Many of those same people rarely keep those resolutions longer than a few weeks.  I stopped making resolutions many years ago because like most people, my resolutions barely lasted through the first month.  Most of my resolutions year after year had to do with weight loss (big surprise there).

The thing with resolutions is that if you fail to meet them at the end of the year – you tend to feel like a bit of a failure.  Since I’m not at my perfect weight and haven’t been for several years, I’ve found myself feeling like a big fat failure at year’s end as a result of all those unsuccessful resolutions.

I discovered however, that if I don’t at least set some sort of goals for the year – I end up feeling like a failure just the same.

It doesn’t take very long to realize that when we resolve to change something about ourselves, we’re usually trying to bring about that change within our own strength and therein lays the problem.  Few of us possess the willpower, ability or wherewithal to change anything on our own.  It’s that whole flesh versus the spirit dichotomy.  We typically need outside help; and yes, while Weight Watchers® or Jenny Craig® can go a long way in helping us remove unwanted weight, when it comes to making lasting life-long lifestyle changes, what we really need is a Savior. REAL CHANGE needs the Lord Jesus Christ.

Last week on New Year’s Day I went for a long and grueling bicycle ride.  I found myself pondering the upcoming year and what changes or goals I needed to adopt in 2014.  Along a particularly desolate stretch of desert on the bike trail I took notice of all the wild and overgrown vegetation and trees. Even in the shrubs I managed to see little God clues pointing me towards this year’s goal.

Somehow I could hear God speaking to me that without goals in my life I could easily become like the wild overgrown trees.  Oh, they may look like they’re sprouting and maturing, but there’s no order to their growth.  Without proper pruning trees can start sprouting all kinds of little “sucker” shoots or branches, which may be cute in the early stages, but eventually those “suckers” deprive the tree trunk and roots of the nutrients needed to mature and flourish.

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As I neared the end of my 25-mile ride I coasted down my neighborhood street and noticed the trees lining my street – with one startling difference. The trees on my street were well manicured and orderly; a result of regular pruning.

Even though the trees on my street are subjected to frequent trimming, the trees are fully mature and thriving. They still retain some of their wildness in the fact that the trunks and branches still grow in the direction that best suits them; however, the pruning maintains order and symmetry on the neighborhood street.

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God has been telling me that in order for me to fully mature in my walk with Him, I need to prune some of the commitments and activities out of my life this year that are sucking the life and energy out of me.  About six weeks ago I began to hear God speaking to me that what He requires of me is to trust Him more this year and seek Him for all my needs.  Rather than fretting about my career or looking for a job or ministry to fill this longing in my heart He is saying – seek Me first and trust Me for your future.

Granted – it’s not exactly a miracle cure to find myself this year or a clear-cut resolution that will allow me to get out of debt or erase unwanted weight in 2014. I do believe though, that trusting God and seeking more of Him in my life is a goal that will leave me full and satisfied over the next year rather than causing me to feel like a failure yet again at year’s end.  This year I resolve to be full … how about you?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.  Proverbs 3:5-6 (NLT)

Happy New Year and as always … happy reading!
Kathy K.