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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Happily FORever After

There comes a point in every self-respecting human’s life when they have to make the choice to put down the remote – step away from the television – and turn off the Hallmark Channel. I mean, a person can only ingest so many sappily happily-ever-after, cheesy story lines. Image result for happily ever after

That time came for me this past weekend. After having watched what felt like the millionth sappy Christmas movie, my saturation level of cheesy dialogue and saccharin story lines reached its pinnacle.  I reached the diabetic emotional coma stage.. Enough is enough.

Hallmark movies work and so many people watch them because of their predictability. We like knowing everything is going to turn out all right in the end. We need to know  justice is always served; Christmas miracles really do happen; the feuding couple who only met a week before Christmas will of course overcome all the odds, fall deeply in love and seal the deal with a last-second kiss … all within the two-hour time frame – including commercials. Image result for hallmark logo

Binge watching mindless television has always ranked high on the de-stressor list for me. Reading Scripture, prayer, quiet time with God, exercise, and reaching out to friends and family are what I typically advise (and rely on myself) when faced with a pit of despair or a bout of depression. Image result for take my advice

The taking of one’s own advice can be a tricky thing though.

For as much progress as I’ve experienced in the last 1-1/2 years battling my depression, you’d think it would only make sense for me to follow my own sage advice. But as predictable as any Hallmark movie, so is the predictably unpredictable gamut of emotions I experience by turning the calendar to the month of December. (Yes, I still have a paper calendar that hangs on my wall!) Image result for December 2018 paper calendar

It’s a yearly occurrence, which thankfully – isn’t as bad as in years past — but there’s no denying, it’s still there — hovering, just waiting for me to succumb. I’m not going to lie – three days in and the temptation to hole up in bed and hide from the world sounds like a much better alternative than getting up with the alarm and pretending everything is fine.

What should be The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, rarely pans out that way for me and many others who struggle with depression. Even though I may be surrounded by friends and loved ones, December tends to be the loneliest month of the year for me. It’s not even something I can pinpoint. As with most things in my life, it’s likely tangled up in a myriad of unmet expectations from a severely damaged childhood. Not expectations for expensive toys or gifts, but expectations for a normal, happy celebration. My family was the antithesis of A Brady Bunch Christmas.  Image result for brady bunch christmas Our family Christmases were fraught with tension and the inevitable parental tug-of-war between two unyielding parents determined to inflict maximal pain to each other, while using me and my siblings as unwitting pawns in their divorce drama.

My parent’s emotionally driven, divorce anger somehow trickled down to the children, scarring us for life. It’s that trickle-down dysfunction that clings to my emotional state of being this time of year; covering me from head to toe much like all that holiday glitter that is liberally applied to every box, bag, package, card, ornament, ribbon and gift wrap. In the same way that annoying glitter sticks to everything it comes in contact with, so the holiday despair from Christmases past clings to me in a way I’m unable to shake. And I hate it. Image result for Glitter Mess Meme

 

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In past years I’d turn to my “go-to-drug-of-choice,” which not surprisingly, is/was food. If’ it’s crunchy, salty, sugary or sweet it’s got my name on it. But I can’t exactly do that this year and maintain a hard-won 55-pound weight loss battle.

I’ve briefly entertained the idea of doing some serious retail therapy. While I can see the appeal of such an undertaking, retail therapy poses certain obvious obstacles. Number one, shopping would require me leaving my house (because let’s face it, on-line shopping doesn’t evoke the same satisfaction). And of course, number two and the most obvious complication … I have no money!

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Realistically, I don’t want to exchange one addiction for another. I’m surrounded by people whose coping methods are all manner of synthetic substances and self-destructive behaviors. I want to be better! I want to come through my December despair stronger than ever. For once I’d like to see spiritual growth and significant emotional maturity, not another trip around the same old mountain.

I’m smart enough to know that these feelings of despair and depression aren’t going to lift off of me like some sort of Hallmark Christmas magic.  Overcoming depression is a long, hard battle, not unlike the battle we encounter losing weight and maintaining that weight loss. Obtaining anything of value in this lifetime, is going to require hard work and commitment.

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In order to fight the good fight, I want to be a walking example of Romans 12:11-12. What that means is I’ve got to make an effort to serve the Lord enthusiastically.  It’s more important than ever to stay plugged in to God’s Word and reach out to friends and family if need be. Isolation will only compound the feelings of despair. It probably would behoove me to saturate my soul with daily spiritual podcasts and more Christian music and less Hallmark Channel.

In addition, I’m re-reading two of my favorite books, which I highly recommend if you’re struggling with depression or despair. Rick Warren’s book, What on Earth Am I Here For? This book is the expanded version of Pastor Warren’s international best-seller, The Purpose Driven Life. 

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My other favorite self-help book is The Battlefield of the Mind, by Joyce Meyer.  I promise you – this book is life-changing! Image result for joyce meyer battlefield of the mind

 

We are not guaranteed a Hallmark happily-ever-after ending in THIS life. Remember, life on this earth is temporary, but eternity is forever. Until then — Work hard, be patient in troubles and keep on praying …. Our Heavenly Father longs for His children to spend eternity with Him where we are sure to, at last … live happily-FOREVER-after!

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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! 

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QUOTE OF THE DAY:

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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.

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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.)

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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

 

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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!

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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:

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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.

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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 … 


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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.

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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?

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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.

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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: 

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