Category Archives: Health

I Learned Something

One of my besties and I were out to a meal discussing an issue that I was having. She asked, “What’s the pay off?” In other words, why do you keep doing that ~ Y O U F R E A K? I added the you freak part, because by the end of over annunciating every word in that sentence, it seems quite necessary.

I likely sound like a broken record or blurbs of a self help book over the last three years, but oh how much I have learned. It’s amazing what happens when you slow down and evaluate. My head has become my own Dr. Phil show.

*Really this has no point, but it’s hysterical

When it comes to my fitness journey ~ my quest for life long balance~ after 18 months of this long journey I learn another thing about myself today. Another bolt of lightening that zaps me and I remember the words

What’s the Pay off?

I was minding my own business giving a concert to no one but my cute toddler and not driving the speed limit down a back road this morning when I swear I heard bells ringing and choirs singing as my ah ha moment came to me as if from no where.

What’s the pay off?

What is the pay off? OH NO.

Do I do things for a pay off? crap it, all the time.

What do I do when there is no pay off? um, pretty much flounder.

Who am I when no one is looking? I kinda don’t like that question, next please.

The last three years of my life have been a perfectly orchestrated dance by the One who knows me better than I know myself. I asked Him for help and He is delivering by the truck full.

He showed me today while Colbie Caillat was causing some fantastic front seat in the van dancing, that if my actions are a result of a pay off that I am receiving, then can I really claim to be doing those actions as a result of obedience? Hardly. The answer is a simple no.

Pay offs bring empty gratification and lurk around every corner. They are flighty, inconsistent, and produce fast results and epic failures. Sounds all too familiar to me.

True obedience my friends. That’s what I sustains. Obedience that is not driven by pant sizes, BMI charts, Pinterest quotes, or insane work out programs. {No reference intended to all you Shaun T fans out there. I totally support you, Holla.}

I have a deeper understanding than I did 24 hours ago. My crawl of progress is continuing in the right direction…

My tired soul can rest in that.

 

 

 

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My Nineveh

On the next post I will get back to our School room tour, but life lessons interrupt and I must write them down, lest I forget.

It’s been a long week. Preceded by several other long weeks. I began a 100 day challenge about 70 days ago. It’s been a giant struggle. A time to learn to fail and be o.k. with it. Two days ago I officially aborted because God in His sovereign wisdom isn’t finished with me yet and I learned another heaping dose of self discovery.

* ingredient list for Pop Tarts. A former and occasional treat around here, but we did eat them.

My 100 day challenge was in my mind the last piece. If I did it I would be at my goal weight by the end. I would enter the fall season, thin and healthy, inside and out. I would spend the money that I have been saving for clothes. All would be well. Not too far into it, I fell off my horse and couldn’t seem to get back on. I wandered aimlessly and entered into a pit of old habits of beating myself up and concentrating on my failures. All my old vices spoke sweetly to me and I knew if I tried one, my goal weight would be in sight. I also knew that if I tried one, I would be prolonging the inevitable lessons that I needed to learn. The vices are the easy way. Wandering lost in my dessert looking for my horse is the hard way. I choose the hard way.

*The Costco Cake…formerly consumed at every event that warranted cake.

I would many times prefer to talk about cute crafts, room makeovers, gum drops, and unicorns. However, a lifetime of yo yo dieting which was a result of control issues, bad habits, unhealthy behaviors, and negative self talk is my baggage I open up today…yet again.  AND I am going to fling it wide open, pictures and everything. Sometimes, I question being so open about this. However, it NEVER fails that after a post like this, I receive multiple emails from people struggling just like me and I know beyond a doubt that I am not alone. I’m in amazing company surrounded by wonderful and unbelievably beautiful women who are battling their Ninevah, just like me. {I recently went to dinner with my bloggy friend Cara and she told me about a Bible Study that talks about what your Nineveh is. You know that Thing in your life. That pain in your butt and thorn in your side. What a beautiful way to put it. Nineveh.}

*Milton’s “healthy bread”. Formerly one of our favorites.

Praise God for my Nineveh. I told Him I would give Him everything. He wants this area too. I prayed Disturb me O Lord. He is. He promised peace. I am slowly but steadily being filled up with peace that is drowning out the yuck. It’s an incredibly difficult process.

* Nacho Cheese Dorito Chips formerly consumed for taco salad.

I need to wander right here. In my heart, I know I do. I need to go on vacation, not at my goal weight and still have fun. I need to see family pictures of myself and not cry. I need to learn to love myself from the inside. I need to stop saying “tomorrow”. I need to know how to give up control and not panic about that. I need to know these things. And because I have the best teacher ever…I am learning.

*Taken in 2005 after weeks of prescription diet pills. I’m on the very right.

I recently posted on an online fitness group board about aborting my challenge and why I was. Yesterday, I received these words from a sweet friend. Oh, how God wraps me with His arms through my friends. Check out the excerpts of this book When Wallflowers Dance that she sent me.

“Principles for Waiting

And so, the very first thing I beleive God asks of the person who is waiting their turn is:

1. Abide. Until its your turn, God is asking you to stay with Him. Don’t go anywhere. Remain. Stay. He wants you in His presence, moment by moment, so that step-by-step you hear His voice and turn at His will. Here’s where most of us give up. The wait feels too long, so we assume God doesn’t care. We push away from His presence to hurry things up. 

Arriving at our destination gives us new energy. We feel a surge of enthusiasm and resolve to push across the finish line. Enough spiritual adrenaline to keep going.

But waiting. Waiting is so draining. We begin to stumble, lose focus, and doubt. I love that the abiding Murray writes about is “for the weak.” A tired woman like you or me. We can do that. We can lean in and ask God to take hold of us. To abide is to consent in your mind and in your spirit to give yourself to God for His keeping. Here is where you can be assured that the wallflower can fall into the strong arms of God and agree to stay there. He is the One who will lift you up to dance at exactly the right time. “

~Angela Thomas.

…and so I read this in the diaper aisle at Walmart and I cry. It’s what my soul screams out but can’t find the words to say. She prays and I wipe the tears and head toward the check out.

“Lord, I lift up Darcy to you today. I pray that today you will give her an extra measure of grace – as she walks through the process of letting go and letting you do the work you are doing in her.”

*Near goal weight after several weeks of strict Atkins dieting.

My heart is heavy with the magnitude of the issue of control. Our sin nature permeates every thought, action, and step we take on this earth. It’s overwhelming at times. I remember that My God is bigger.

Control really stems from fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of getting hurt, and fear of bad things happening. All things not of the God that I serve. He wants control of my life, of everything. Big AND small. He wants my goal weight. He wants my health goals, but I want them too. So, I daringly and undeniably obliviously play tug of war with the Creator of the Universe. Gutsy of me, huh?

* Last week. After 19 months of a long process of working on the inside. I’m not gonna lie, seeing this produced tears. Have you ever cried at a portrait of yourself? Please tell me I am not alone on this one.

This morning I wake up and lay my rope down…..again. I ask for forgiveness. I ask Him to teach me how to abide and be content while I simultaneously continue to learn to care for this earthly body that is in fact the temple of the God that I serve. I give Him my health goals with no reservations. I feel peace. Deeply. Even though I am still 34 pounds from a healthy weight range for my height. That’s progress people.

I made a commitment to learn to be healthy in sane ways on January 1 2011. I have given up caffeine for good. I have learned to exercise consistently. I have learned to run 7 miles without stopping. I have learned to cut out processed food and eat clean. I am still learning these things and need to remember how far the Lord has brought me.

* worst marketing EVER.

I walk through Costco this morning looking at the food labels of popular foods and food that we use to consume on a regular basis and I remember loud and clear how far I have come.

God hugs me again through another sweet friend who writes.

” I know a little how you have struggled. Darcy, you are beautiful and God is refining you into what He wants and I feel like your goal weight might be a stumbling block. I said might be, this is not “thus sayath the Lord” just my thoughts that I felt compelled to share with you. You are doing so much right with being healthy , You are His workmanship”

And so I cry in the Costco aisle and praise God for the friends who give their time to write me and boldness to love me in this way. She had no idea that I had realized in the last few days, to the very depth of a stumbling block that my goal weight was for me. She had no idea that I gave it to Him this morning. I thank God for the confirmation that I am on the right path.

It’s a beautiful path full of twists and turns, success and failures. A path that somehow winds itself always at the foot of the cross. You see the thing that I have realized in all of this is…I was working for the end. There is no end. For the very life I live is my path. Finding joy in the journey and growth as I travel is what my Savior asks of me. Abiding in His arms is how I will find my strength.

This is my Ninevah. No doubt it will always be.

I will travel my path with the cross right before me and my Ninevah right behind. Close enough to remind me of my humanness and how very much I need my Jesus. Praise God for the reminder.

I can not do this on my own.

As I sit down to write this post I open my computer to this…

“Perhaps only when human effort had done it’s best and failed, would God’s power alone be free to work.” 
― Corrie Ten Boom.

Instead of tears I smile. Because this time I realize that I finally get it. There is “getting it” and “GETTING IT”. Human efforts have done their best and failed. I’m going to get out of the way now and let Him do His thing.

I’m gonna mess up again, rest assured. But in this magical life I live I GET this one now, just that much deeper. Hopefully, a year from now I will get it even deeper still.

I continue on my journey and

I’m gonna dance it the whole way because life is beautiful.

Nineveh and all.

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Pancakes That Fly and Amazing Dip

On March 18th of this year, my family embarked on a ten day challenge to eat unprocessed food only. Sounded fun to me. I like a challenge. It changed our pantry…permanently.

WE DID IT

I wish you all knew me, like come over first thing in the morning when I have no make up and I’m in yoga pants and have a hair do like a monster. BECAUSE then you would know and I mean KNOW how big of a deal this change is. IF we are internet friends only then you are going to just have to take my word for it, but please do. It’s something to consider. I’m not one of those born healthy eaters, quite the contrary. I’m a convert, through and through.

*homemade granola, popcorn, and King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour sit in giant mason jars now on my counter.

For years I wanted to eat healthier but couldn’t really wrap my head around it all. Last year I read and studied Made to Crave multiple times and led studies on it.. Then I stumbled upon 100 Days of Real Food and it all just clicked.

*fruit bowl for the fridge. We like our apples cold around here.

You see the food that appears healthy a lot of times, dare I say most of the time, is not. Salads at fast food restaurants? You might wanna read the label. Apple slices in a drive through? You might wanna read that one too. It shocked me.

I have had a lot of questions about the changes in the way we eat now. A LOT! The thing that I hear myself saying on a regular basis is this-just take the time to understand the food you are eating by reading the label and doing some research. At least then you can make an informed decision. That decision is up to you.

READ LABELS!

It’s true what they say, if you struggle to pronounce it, don’t eat it.

*the large majority of my shopping now consists of unpackaged fresh items of all kinds.

As thousands of people rallied this week via Facebook and at local restaurants I giggled to myself at home. I did not support the appreciation day at a certain chicken establishment, but it was not because of my views about the definition of marriage. I sat this one out because of my views about what I want to feed myself and my family. I’ve come a long way. I have a long way still to go. There is always something new to learn.

*toddler breakfast

As I was preparing my 1.5 year old’s breakfast this morning of whole wheat organic waffles, fresh organic strawberries and papaya, organic cream cheese, and homemade granola, I giggled again. This time because I thought back to eleven years ago. My older two children were just 3 and 2. I was a new mom of two and very on the go. Many mornings breakfast consisted of McDonald’s pancakes. I would drive through NOT in a minivan but rather a Grand Jeep Cherokee and I would give just a couple of dollars to the worker in exchange for hot “fresh” pancakes. These pancakes were always too hot for little mouths and so the air conditioning went on high. High enough to make me feel like I was a supermodel in the middle of a wind blown photo shoot. I would toss my hair as I held those nasty pancakes in the blast and then frisbe style toss them to the back to kids in their car seats. Oh this was ritual and the kids LOVED it. They thought I was the bestest mom ever. I was. I was feeding them hot “homestyle” pancakes, entertaining them, and teaching them to catch. All at the same time. I just might rock.

* I spent birthday money on cute tupperware with scrolly designs on the side for extra cuteness .  1-1.5 hours is spent immediately after grocery shopping to prep food for the week. It’s a MUST DO for me. The only way I pull off 3 meals and 2 snacks a day for four kids eating like this.

Things are different now. We have favorite new recipes like this and this and this. I make granola. I own an apron. I know what Tahini is and I can tell you the parts of a wheat berry.

BUT

The most important thing is I feel better, like pretty fabulous. Fabulous enough to break a 20 year addiction to caffeine and to be able to sit in a Krispy Kreme and not even want one. Can you imagine????

AND

Remember I told you I interviewed with a prior New York Times Journalist for an upcoming book about unprocessed food in America? NOW, She’s coming to visit us! To our house! To meet us and see our kitchen and how we roll….

* This is in our fridge at all times as well. I have learned in order to change habits it’s gotta be easy. My kids can grab this EASILY! It has a tupperware lid so it stays fresh. **Dip recipe below.

What fun to be involved in a very small way in a project like that!

Have a fabulous weekend, my friends!

Be healthy!

*For more information you can check out my pinterest board . I just started a board exclusively for healthy eating resources.

**Amazing Dip. This dip is so easy and so yummy. We have been making it since I was a little girl. Other than the mayonnaise, it fits into healthy eating quite nicely, as long as you eat it in moderation. I will figure out what to do about the mayo in time, but for now I am o.k. with it. My kids eat a ton of veggies every day now. Happiness!

2 t Beau Monde

2t Parsley

2t Dill Weed

2t Minced Onion

1 cup Mayo

1 cup Organic Sour Cream

Mix and refrigerate! {make sure and mix the sour cream and mayo together first and then add the spices, otherwise it gets all clumpy and lame. Lame dip is not good.}

Ridiculously good I tell you.

I taught my 12 year old to make it and now she is the resident dip maker around here!

Enjoy!

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Where Is My Horse?

“I’m having a really hard time right now with my 100 day challenge.” ~ me

“Get back on your horse. You are strong. You can do this.” ~husband

“The problem is I can’t  find my horse .” ~me

I knew the 100 days would be hard and the only way that in my humanness I could pull off that kind of discipline would be through God. I knew that at some point I would “mess up” and the real test would be if that “mess up” derailed me. My pride hates that I need to “fail” to learn lessons that will bring me closer to Him.

The mess up came. The derailment came. I looked for my horse. I couldn’t find it. Then He speaks. In my moments of brokenness, His words become clear….This challenge is not for me to learn to succeed, but rather for me to learn to fail.

For so many of us a journey to health seems to always have a stop or start option. By saying I have messed up and I need to start again completely tells me that I failed. Failure takes up residence in my heart and my mind and brings all of his nasty little friends and before long they are throwing a party of epic proportion….a party that I do not want to attend. That’s when I lose sight of my horse (and here is when I am thinking my use of metaphors just might be getting out of hand because suddenly I am at a party with a lost horse?). When I lose sight of my horse, I am two seconds away from calling it quits.

I need to redefine failure.

God’s truth is such that it reminds me that I am on a path of life. My health goals intertwine with every single aspect of this life. If and more importantly WHEN I choose the couch over my running shoes, or the cookie over the cauliflower, I am not saying… I give up. I am stopping this journey. I am done with all of this. I have failed, so why bother any more? Things will never change. I can’t do it.

I am saying simply this…

I am human.

I need God.

So, in light of this truth the that I have known in my head all these years, that is now taking up a bigger residence in my heart…I say this. I am changing the way I speak. I will no longer say I need to restart, or start over, or begin again, or find a new Monday. Because the truth is I’ve never stopped…..

I have not failed, I have just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.

~Thomas Alva Edison

But HE said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I Co 12:9

Pressing on, on day 38…

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Learning To Listen.

I have been a Christian for 34 years. Which almost shames me to say that because in that amount of time it seems I should have reached some sort of advanced stage of Christianity. I should have multiple capes hanging in my closet proving my super status. Instead with each passing year I realize my own sinful heart just a wee bit more.

Last summer, my journey towards physical health took a sharp turn towards spiritual health and my ability to let go and surrender each and every part of life to Jesus. Pretty incredible. Definitely painful.

I logically know that God cares about the BIG areas of my life and the SMALL ones. I have seen Him at work in my life and the lives of others for years. I know that. Why I had never asked Him for help about the body He created for me is kinda of baffling and borders on utter stupidity in my own opinion. Harsh maybe? True definitely.

All of that is changing. I have spent the last year doing little self inflicted challenges. It keeps me on track. It keeps me accountable. I like goals and I like completing them. Just recently, I have figured out after 34 years, that I should ask Jesus what those goals should be. I’m quick like that.

Recently I completed a 10 week challenge with a bunch of other ladies. It was a challenge to lose 20 pounds in those 10 weeks. I failed miserably in the goal that I set out for myself, but I learned another huge lesson that I needed to learn. Ask God. Stop deciding everything for myself. Ask God. Then obey what He says. The results will be the “right” ones because you obeyed and that is the most important thing. More important than any number that any scale, or tool, or machine can read for you because you stepped on it, let it pinch you, or laid on it submerged in water.

This is not an excuse to not use those for accountability purposes. This is the ramblings of a 40 year old woman who so desperately wants to walk with the very heartbeat of Jesus in sync with my own, that I told Him I would give Him everything. He asked me for those. When He did I panicked and then I saw just how very tightly I used them to measure my success or more often my failure. Over the last several weeks I have slowly unclenched my white knuckles and released my grasp.

This week while away on vacation the Lord answered me loud and clear. The question was, what now? I have learned so much about how to eat what this body needs, not what is convenient for me. I have learned that insane intense bursts of exercise don’t do much for me in the long run. I have learned much. Head knowledge is one thing and putting it into play is quite another. All the head knowledge in the world is not going to get me where I want to go.

So, I asked again. What now? He answered. I am embarking tomorrow on a 100 day challenge. It scares me quite frankly. I have done many challenges over the years, but the thing that is much different in this one is that I am answering something the Lord is asking me to do and something He is asking me to do His way and not mine. The lesson will be in that. Big time.

I have always kept spiritual things and eating things separate. Last summer was the first time that I combined them. I felt like the Lord had asked me to give up desserts, caffeine, and fast food for 12 weeks during a study I was leading, Made to Crave. It has been almost a year now and I have stuck with so much of what I have learned during that time. In fact, in just a few days it will be a year of caffeine free living for me. For me, that is huge. HUGE. When you do things His way. They work. He takes away cravings, He gives strength and endurance, He gives answers, and He gives peace.

So, beginning tomorrow on June 15th, I will go 100 days with eating 1600 calories a day (plus 400 calories extra a week), at least 30 minutes of exercise 6 times a week, and a daily quiet time. 100 days in a row. Major discipline required. Thank you Jesus He is on my side. He gives help if I ask Him.

I would love to report the numbers and the success that I will achieve physically during this time. However, I can not. I don’t know what I weigh today. I don’t know the inches. I don’t know the body fat percent and I will not be checking. In time, I will know those things again, but for now that is not my focus. My focus is Jesus. I know those things will come because that is healthy living and of course I haven’t given up on that. My way there is different. My way there is Jesus.

100 days from the start will be September 22nd. I will go to bed on that night having completed the 100 day challenge that the Lord asked me to do. I will be successful if I have obeyed.

End. of. Story.

 

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Grocery Store Reflections.

Today I was shopping for my non perishable groceries. The majority is purchased at Whole Foods, a few items like my flour and Shredded Wheat come from Target. My bread comes from Great Harvest. Today we picked up some special order hamburger buns for the first time as well. Yum.

Some estimates are that Americans eat 22 teaspoons of sugar a day (teens eating up to 34 teaspoons). Prior to our 10 day food challenge, I would have absolutely said that that did not apply to my family, but rather to the ones who let their kids eat pop tarts, oreos, sodas, and candy. After the 10 day food challenge, which forced me to read every label, I would absolutely say that we did eat that much. The food challenge started me researching chemical dyes (seriously, we have to chemically color something that has an intended purpose of making my children healthier?), preservatives (even my beloved Chick fil a has MSG in their chicken?), oils, breads, and sweeteners. It had me watching documentaries like Sick Fat and Nearly Dead, Food Inc, and Forks over Knives. You know what my conclusion is? This food situation we have in America is depressing. Bottom line. Where is the food in our food?

I wallowed a little, got angry, and then decided I can do the best with what I have available to me. I have improved five bajillion percent for my family and I am proud of us. It is in every way worth it. The bottom line is I never thought that the food we were eating before was “unhealthy”. I didn’t ever think about it. I mean really connect it. But now, why would you eat all these chemicals if you can eat the same food without them? Yes it is harder. Yes it is more expensive. However, when I consider the benefits vs the risks, I see no choice that needs to be made.

These days it is no longer even as much about WHAT you are eating as it is about how it is made. You can eat pizza. Just not Totinos Pizza, please. There are healthier ways to eat our favorites that involve actual real food. There are also new favorites waiting to be found. One of my families new favorites is some whole grain pasta with sugar snap peas, corn, and carrots mixed in. Add a little balsamic vinegar and some fresh grated cheese. It’s so yummy.

Bread crumbs recently taught me a valuable lesson. I just never would have thought to read the ingredients in the standard bread crumbs. After all it is B R E A D C R U M B S. Wrong. You can buy healthy bread crumbs or ones with a whole bunch of words that challenge even the best readers. The same is true for many products and we need to invest the time to read the labels.

So, my husband and I have landed in the following place. We will not eat preservatives such as MSG and others. We are no longer eating chemical dye of any kind. We go for whole grain always. We go for organic, local, cage free, free range, pasture raised and however else you want to phrase it. We are researching and learning to become more educated. We are reading and questioning what we are putting on our table. We are trying to stay within our original food budget prior to our change in eating, which was $600 a month for a family of 6. I am struggling to do that and we will likely need to raise it to $800. We are willing to do that if necessary. We cancelled cable already and will do other things to make it work. Our health is too important to say we can’t afford to eat this way because the truth is we can. It is all about where we are going to spend our money. We will still occasionally eat sugar, but it will be for sugar sake. For example a cookie or a birthday cake. This will be and can be done much healthier than the ways we were doing it before. I am still learning what those are.

I would consider myself far from properly educated on all things healthy food related, but I am learning. When I use the word WE it implies my whole family. My thirteen year old just attended a swim party where there was junk food galore. He passed it all up because he said it wasn’t good for him. The next morning at church when the leftovers where present he caved and ate 5 Oreos. We have some work to do, but one out of two times is 50% better than it was before, right?

I wish that true food education was easier to come by. Marketing is so deceiving. Fresh n Easy may carry some healthy things but they are not a health food store (you still have to be careful), there is really no such thing as a healthy fast food restaurant, Nutella is not a healthy breakfast option, and on and on… It’s amazing to me that Kellogs and other companies manufacture the same foods in Europe without chemical dye as they do here in the USA. They have the recipes. It can be done. Strange.

I am currently grocery shopping weekly for perishables and bimonthly for non perishables. Every meal and snack is planned out for 15 days at a time. This morning I bought several things that I have never purchased before and  I was cracking up a little bit. I have a bunch of new recipes to try in the next couple of weeks. As I was asking the Whole Foods worker this morning what Tahini was because I needed some for a new recipe I was going to make, I could only crack up. How far I have come.

 and you may be asking why I keep talking about this? 🙂

Basically because my family feels fabulous.

It’s so worth it.

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Surrender

Surrender. It’s not something I am good at. In fact, with each passing year I grow increasingly aware at how my heart struggles with this word on a daily, sometimes minute, by minute basis.

I have written many posts about my health. From the completion of our 10 day food challenge, to the incident with my yoga pants, and everything in between. What I haven’t truly written about is the core deep down issues that God has revealed to me over the past year. I walk the fine line with this blogging thing because I tend to be an overly open person and at times there is wisdom in what to share and what not to share. However, if I have ever been amazed at any one thing, it is the number of women that I have become fast friends with and bonded over this common issue of struggles with our health. It just goes to reinforce the knowledge that Satan’s interest in knocking us out of commission is his first priority….and what an area to choose. The struggles we face with weight, body image, and health, no matter how big or small, can be debilitating. It’s incredible. So while my head screams to muzzle it, my soul says to fight it. I will remain open about my issues because there is healing in vulnerability, there is strength in connection, and in the middle of all of it, there is Jesus.

I think it is no secret these days that a great many Americans struggle with obesity. Most everyone has heard of the Biggest Loser. Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper have become household names. If you watch the show at all, you have undoubtedly seen that they teach with great urgency, if the problem that brought the contestants to this unhealthy place is not fixed, the weight loss will not remain. I set out on a similar quest to reclaim healthy, in all areas of my life. The deep down buried heart included.

I have never been super significantly overweight. For me, the issues with my health, took a little different spin. At the root of it all lies my biggest problem, surrender. I had a very tight unhealthy grip on my physical body. Control was to be mine. No one else’s. At some level I was aware of this, but a big huge vat of denial lived on the surface. I can tell you that I can’t even fully understand the behaviors that I have engaged in over the years, but I can tell you that they were wrong. I can also tell you that they plagued me with a deep sadness, a deep frustration, and an unbearable pain. I am watching the healing power of God change this in me. Why now? Because I asked, I listened to the answer, and I am doing what He says. No excuses. With the intense vulnerability accompanied with surrender comes the beautiful rushing in of healing. Peace like a river.

For years I engaged in behaviors to “control” my weight and keep me thin. I threw up everything that went in my mouth, all day long. It left me with bleeding gums, raw skin on my knuckles, chronic sore throats, and broken blood vessels on my eyelids. I sincerely didn’t think it was a big deal. It made me feel powerful and victorious. Food became the enemy because I knew if I gave in and ate, I would have to throw it up…and that was miserable.  I took all kinds of over the counter pills with no regard for their instructions. Multiple times they left me unable to get out of bed. When those were no longer enough, I moved on to prescription ones. With the common sense reality that these could in fact kill me, I obeyed the proper dosage instructions, but not without being tempted to overdose.

I lived a life of self inflicted punishment. I lived on 500 calorie a day diets, would wake up and jog in place in the middle of the night for hours in my bedroom, and put “you’re fat” notes in strategic places to “encourage” my intense workout routines. I was truly sick. It pains me to write that. It pains me to think of how many women have these struggles along side me. I know they are out there, I have heard their stories.

Looking back, the intense struggles that I faced sat between a great conflict. It was the overwhelming desire to be perfect, vs. the taking care of the wounded soul that haunted my every breath. I desperately wanted to not have issues, to be supermodel thin because surely that would prove that I was o.k. The physical pain that I dealt with on a daily basis, didn’t hold a candle to the pain in my soul. I am not sure I will ever quite understand the psychology of all of this. I am not totally sure that I need to. The Lord is gracious to reveal things in His time.

While I found a way years ago, to manage the physical destructive behaviors, my crippled heart remained an issue. A couple of years ago, the desire to truly heal from all of this and mend this wounded heart, became a very large driving force in my life. When the Lord led me to Made to Crave, I think my journey to healing really began it’s story. It is a story that there may never be an END to because my struggles were deep and I know that despite the victory I have seen God do, the pitfalls remain lurking in the shadows. It will likely be a very lifelong struggle and I am o.k. with that. His power is made perfect in my weakness.

The crossroad between my want to and my how to came at the foot of the cross. My healing began when I truly said YES to Jesus in this area of my life. I said yes before I knew what He was asking of me and that was key. It was finally, for the first time, a yes with no clauses and no excuses. If I am going to stand before the creator of the Universe and demand that He tell me what I will have to do before I will agree to His plan, well then let’s just ship me out to sea on a boat named crazy and call it a day. I don’t wanna give this up, and I’m entitled attitudes are all sin-plain and simple. If it starts with the word I, you can bet a red flag is flying somewhere. It’s all about Jesus, not me. I don’t get to call the shots on my health. I don’t get to hang on to my psychotic over intense work out schedules, have violent throw up sessions with my food, and nurse in the comfort of my bff {aka as diet coke}, all day long. I just don’t.

A big revelation came one day a couple years ago when a counselor asked me if I listened to cues that my body was giving me. I knew I was in for it because I didn’t even understand the question. Sensing the obvious stumbling for words, she continued. Do you put on a jacket when your cold? Do you go to bed when you are tired? Do you eat when you are hungry? Um no, no, and more no. It was a big deal, that question. Gut level revealing in its simplicity. God made our bodies. He made them with signals. HE did and we need to listen. I did not listen to them, or to Him. I listened to me.

This has been an unbelievable slow and painful process. I can sympathize with the best of them about the discomfort felt in giving up control. We control for a reason. Giving it up is un~believeably difficult and even more scary.

There is hope and healing in my heart and on the horizon. Peace is invading the pain, the fear, the sleepless nights, and the torturous days that I have lived with for years.

I understand the…I’ll do better tomorrow. I can’t tell you how many times I have said I will stop throwing up, I will eat healthy, I will count calories, I will just get my crap together…tomorrow. People who don’t struggle with these types of issues have verbalized to me, “why don’t you just do the right thing?” “What is stopping you?” That’s the thing. There is something stopping all of us who struggle in this area. Take the amount that you desire to be healthy, to be thin, to be peaceful…it’s intense right? Figure that the thing stopping us is stronger. It’s time to make this a spiritual issue. To look at the fact that many times, this is not even about food. It’s about something much deeper. Food just happens to be the prop. I fully believe that the struggle in these areas can be equal in severity to alcohol, drug, and sex addictions. Let’s figure out the thing that’s stopping us and recognize that the power of God is able to overcome, to heal, and to set free. Grab a hold of it. These issues are serious. They are no small deal. They are trivialized all too often.

As in all things in the world, there are people who endure so much deeper heart ache and those who have a seemingly simpler road. The fact is we all have our own different desperate situations and challenges. There is a common thread that unites us, however. Life is what you make of it.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? ~Mary Oliver.

Whether it’s been poverty, abuse, accepting special needs, depression, failed relationships, or loss, we are together learning that overcoming the unexpected takes work and sacrifice. It also yields rewards, even if it simply means we say we survived, we learned something, we helped someone else. ~Kelle Hampton.

This is one of my heartaches. Part of my story. A skeleton in my closet that I have invited out to dance with me through this miraculous life that I am living.

I have learned something and I want to help someone. I have stared in the face that overcoming takes work and sacrifice and I WILL survive. I will thrive….and by the grace of God I will heal and be set free.

For the road to healing, the road to Jesus…..it starts with surrender and ends in His arms.

It’s a beautiful thing and He alone is worthy of my praise.

 

 

 

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Real Food: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly.

We are still eating real food. I have been getting just a ton of questions about how it is going, so I thought I would update.

The short of it is: We have committed to this. No turning back.

THE GOOD

Oh, I don’t even know where to begin. I feel pretty fantastic. GONE are the sugar cravings. For the girl who would easily drive an hour to eat a Krispy Kreme, I tell you the cravings are gone. Last year, I went thirteen weeks without desserts. They weren’t gone then. You know why? I was still eating a TON of sugar in bread, salad dressings, rotisserie chicken, cheerios, and more. They are gone now because I am not eating sugar. Did you know that there are at least 50 other names that sugar will be identified as? Yeah, bummer huh? Overall, I just feel better. More energy, not full and yucky, and I definitely don’t feel like if I don’t consume some brownie dough, I just might eat my arm off.  If you want to know more about sugar, check out this video.

All my family members report feeling better, childhood constipation is gone, husband’s almost daily heartburn is gone, people in my house “feel clearer” and focus better. There have been SIGNIFICANT behavioral changes in one of my children. Sound to good to be true? I tell you I have heard people say things like this all my life, but I didn’t really take it to heart. Now that I have experienced it myself, I can tell you that letting sugar go becomes a whole lot easier because I don’t want how good I feel to go away. SO, will I eat sugar again? Maybe occasionally. Maybe not. Tastebuds change and I tell you that fruit is pretty spectacular when your tastebuds are not confused with donuts and candy and such.

THE BAD

We spent quite a bit on groceries last month. We have a $600 a month food budget for our family of six. I nailed that budget monthly for the last couple of years. Last month it all changed, which is to be expected. There will be a learning curve and we are willing to invest in it. This month, I am shopping weekly to try and stop the bleeding of overspending. $150 a week. We will see. I still have some small changes to add in, but they will come later. I hope to be able to go 100% organic or close to it. We are almost there, but not quite.

I can not believe how difficult it is to maneuver the presents, the parties, the awards for Awana, the sucker for the hair cut, the Sunday School prizes and treats, the birthday parties and on and on….It is sticky because the last thing I ever want to do is to come across as snobby or make a scene anywhere. We are moving our way through this one day at a time. Our current rule has been choose your absolute favorite treat when faced with a buffet of options. The term treat now includes rainbow goldfish crackers. It is a strange new world.

After just a week, I can see that this plan isn’t really going to work, as sometimes my kids are in these situations multiple times daily. SO, this part is still not settled in my mind. However, that is in large part due to the fact that I overanalyze everything and need a plan. It’ll work itself out. I need to relax. I continue to educate my children on what is actually in the food they are eating so that they can take ownership of their own choices. I also continue to talk to them about how everyone makes different choices and that is o.k. If they choose to turn down sugar, that does not make them weird! REALLY IT DOESN’T 🙂

My final thought in this here bad category is— I miss eating out. Long gone are the drive thru for a quick meal days, but I just would like to go out to a nice sit down meal. I know there are ways to do this and healthy-ish options out there. I just need to find them. The all or nothing in me doesn’t do well in situations like this. I need to find my balance and be o.k. with it.

THE UGLY

The ugly comes when it doesn’t occur to you to pack snacks for the Awana Grand Prix that lasts for four hours. Eating at the snack bar provided will give you options of pizza, nachos, donuts, cookies, soda, candy, and more. However, with the kids already “winning” a pack of sour skittles, it was hard to think that I would buy them more. They did have apples. That was the only option that was really real food. They were $1.00 a piece.

The ugly comes when I haven’t grocery shopped and the house is EMPTY and the kids need lunch NOW because they have been at church all morning and are starving. Ordering Mountain Mikes just may mean a day of stomach pain and feeling like a huge blob with no energy. I am guessing when you maintain a steady stream of highly processed foods that involve sugar and other additives, you become used to it. When you are truly eating clean and you put some of those processed foods back in your body. Watch out. I am sure everyone responds differently, but it’s not a fun thing. Trust me.

MOVING FORWARD

The bad and ugly in no way outweighs the good. Not by a long shot. Really making changes like we have made is hard. I am thankful that everyone in my family is on board. I am incredibly blessed in that way because it would be very difficult to change this much without everyone buying into it.

I am confident that as with anything new, in a matter of time, it will feel completely normal. I have read that a good goal is to shoot for no more than one “treat” a week. We are not quite there with the kids, but definitely working towards it. They probably eat 20% of the junk that they used to eat and at home they are 100% fine.

I never in a million years, thought that I would be so invested in label reading, but let me tell you once you start it is hard to imagine what they are trying to sell us and what we are buying. It is worth reading. It is worth digging. It is unsettling, but it is worth it. I think we all know that Spam is gross, but I never paid attention to the 80 ingredients in a Costco cake. I am SO new at all this and SO not an expert at any of it. I am learning though.

We are eating like kings and queens, I tell you, absolutely delicious food. Spaghetti and meatballs, stir fry, salads, veggies, fruits, homemade banana bread, crepes, crackers, cheeses, and snow cones….just to name a few. It is possible to make these things with real food ingredients. It actually tastes better too.

The number one thing I have been asked is “What is this diet…a.k.a. what is allowed?” The answer is pretty simple, but yet also crazy difficult. The answer is real food. Little to no processing, readable ingredients, no sweeteners, etc. That’s it. The tough part is not eating it, but rather finding it.

Above all, yet again I marvel at the Lord and His creation. The more that I become informed about food and what it provides for our body, the more I realize His love and care for us. When we enter in all the man made stuff is when we start having huge problems. He knows what He is doing.

Do I sound a little bit crazy? To some yes. Even to myself, I find it odd to read the sentences that I am typing. I never saw this one coming. This is where we are at and we are staying here. It’s a learning curve. I am sure it will continue to be. It’s a beautiful one and it works for us.

*For all kinds of crazy good information, check out the 100 Days of Real Food blog. She hooks you up with all you need to know!

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The Day Before Gina’s Fortieth.

My crazy friend, Gina, keeps posting a count down to her 40th. I woke up this morning and checked in with Facebook, only to be reminded that today she is 39 years and 364 days old. Her 40th falls on Easter Sunday. Pretty spectacular, Huh? Her celebration {with me} will wait until we hit the road in a couple weeks to attend a homeschool convention. Why? Because I bet she never thought she would be celebrating her 40th anything at a homeschool convention and I just think that will make it more fun. Our other fabulous friend is tagging along. Not just because homeschool conventions are just that fun, but mothers of four will do almost anything to enjoy a weekend away every once in a while. Homeschool conventions do involve some learning as there are a gajillion workshops to choose from. However, in our world they also involve a hotel room that will become decorated with brand new calendars, planners, pads of paper, and sharpened pencils. There will be people in this magical place who make your bed when you aren’t looking. There will be hours of shopping curriculums, chatting about every possible combination of these curriculums, and multiple trips to eat at the bay area’s best mexican restaurant. Although I will miss my morning snuggles and evening tuck in sessions with my littles, I do look forward to eating a meal without bending over to pick anything up off of the floor. My clothes will probably remain stain free, and I just might be able to complete a sentence. Not two mention there will be three whole days with some of my favorite people on the planet.

The Fortieth birthday should be celebrated and celebrated big. Just ask my friend Nicole. Her husband threw her an eighties party at a roller rink. I know of no better way to bring in the forties than with crimped hair and a little shoot the duck. Seriously. Speaking of fabulous, don’t you love that we can now hijack pictures off of Facebook to exploit our friends just a little?

My husband and I began our 10 week challenge of real food last Sunday. One week down. We recently completed the 10 day challenge and now are going for the 70 day extended version. Why? Mostly because I needed longer to really cement these eating changes into my brain and our pantry, before I tested out my boundaries in the real world. This has become a new way of eating for us. Every single person in my house agrees. We feel better. All of us. SO, when the challenge is over this time we will continue eating as close to real food as often as possible. The kids are not “technically” on the challenge right now, but they kinda are because I am :). We are learning to deal with their real life situations like the bags full of candy given at Awana, the neighbor kids who constantly offer ice cream and snow cones, the donuts at church, and the packages of candy that arrive in the mail. It’s a new frame of reference and a new line drawn about what we will and will not allow in our bodies and how that works into our day to day living.

Our house is almost 100% real food now. There are just a few things left that I will use up and then not buy again. They are not completely horrific and for the sake of budget we will continue using them until they are gone. I just came home from grocery shopping a little while ago and I am completely amazed at the transition that we have made. Ninety eight percent of the food that the Target grocery aisles sell are completely off limits now and I am totally o.k. with that. When on this challenge, our choices are REAL FOOD, unprocessed almost entirely. If you get it out of a package, jar, or a box it can not have more than five ingredients (none of which can be sugar in any of its 1,000 secret names). It’s strict.

I have arrived at the point, that my health and the health of my kids is more important than my tastebuds, among other things. I do not want to be preachy here. I am the girl who regularly consumed Jack in the Box tacos and a 44oz diet coke for breakfast {because it was only 360 calories}. I just have to say from the bottom of my heart that if I can do it, truly anyone can. Last summer, when I began to get serious about my health, if you would have told me that I was about to move into a world where soda was not a part of it, kale {after you told me what it was} would be something that I would buy and enjoy, I would bake with coconut oil, and that I would think that raisins were almost too sweet…I would never have packed one bag. I think that God reveals to us the exact information we need at the exact time we need it. What a blessing that is, really. This path that I am on? I wouldn’t trade away for anything. If I had seen the kale I would have  grabbed my sugar canister and headed for the hills. I am taking one step at a time asking for His guidance. He is so faithful.

With all that being said, yesterday my husband and I momentarily broke our food challenge. I realize that this is not the sentence you were expecting to read right now, but my life is a semi open book and I need to confess. We did it consciously and with intent. Here’s why….my family is all big fans of Cake Boss. We love Buddy and his bakery. My little ones have been known to play “Carlos Bakery” with play dough. They spend hours creating magical cakes that are covered in “fondant”. SO, yesterday we went to some dear friends house for lunch and they started talking about how their in laws had just returned from vacation. While they were away, guess where they went? CARLOS BAKERY. After a two hour wait they brought a box of Buddy’s cookies back to our friends. The cookies were there. At. The. House. After a momentary debate in my head, my husband and I split a very tiny chocolate/vanilla piece of heaven. It was one bite worth and delicious. I mean D E L I C I O U S. Now I have eaten famous cookies. My daughter pointed out that we had famous cookies in our bellies. She is right. They were great. Nothing permanently derailed and really we could not pass up a chance to try his stuff because I have no plans to be in New Jersey anytime soon. Will you forgive us, pretty please..with no sugar on top?

Speaking of my friend’s house for lunch, you may remember my sweet angel friend Lillian. I had the enormous pleasure of taking care of her when she was just a baby. She is quite the big girl now. She recently turned five. She is a miracle and melts my heart.

We got to hang at her place yesterday. She hugged us and sang with us and gave us the sweetest welcome you could give. She is talking, and walking, and still gives the best hugs on the planet. She has not only beaten the odds, but just crushed them. God is amazing.

 We had a great time with Lillian, her brother, and her awesome parents, catching up after WAY TOO LONG. We had yummy food, great conversation, and left with very full hearts.

 Tomorrow is Easter.  I haven’t seen much of my hubby this week as he has been working hard to prepare for services at church. We have a yearly tradition of Boston Market for Easter dinner. Yes, I am serious. This year we are breaking it. Immediately following services tomorrow afternoon, my kids will come home to find a very special Easter Egg hunt that will not involve one piece of candy, but rather a very special surprise which I will tell you about on Tuesday when we return.

If you are reading this and know my children, please don’t mention it 🙂 They don’t even know that a surprise is brewing.

Happy Easter, my friends.

Oh, and happy last day of the thirties to you, Gina.

Nicole and I now welcome you here at the forties, with open arms. It ain’t that bad.

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WE DID IT!

Ten Days for our family of real food. It is possible. It is doable. With the exception of a short planned break for one of my girls at a birthday party, we all nailed it.  No mess ups {other than that mint my husband ate without thinking and the bunny puff that belonged to my baby that I put in my own mouth without thinking}.

About 15 years ago, I was at a conference with a friend of mine. She leaned over and whispered “Let’s go get something sweet at the cart outside”. You don’t have to tell me twice. As I picked up my jaw off the floor (she was my healthy eating friend) and followed her outside, I would have never guessed the outcome of this. I waited behind her in line to see her gaze at all the candy and deliciousness and then reach out and pick up a nutrigrain bar. I said, “I thought you were getting some junk food.” She replied, “I did.” Yes, I felt stupid.

I have spent my life in middle ground with our eating choices. I regularly see people who eat “worse” than we do. I regularly see people who eat “not worse” than we do. I suppose, on some level, everyone could say the same thing.

We have had an overhaul on our food and for the first time it makes sense to me. It’s not to incorporate a powder, or a bar. It isn’t to trick our body into behaving a certain way. It’s to eat REAL FOOD. Our ten day challenge taught me so much.

*watermelon~ I think God’s version of Krispy Kreme. It’s a great dessert and it was just that on day 4, 5, and 7.

Some questions I regularly have had….

IS IT MORE EXPENSIVE TO EAT THIS WAY?

UM YES, yes, and yes. It is more expensive. No way around that. There are definitely ways to stretch the dollar. However, it is more expensive. 

DOES IT TAKE MORE TIME?

UM YES, chopping and cleaning vegetables and making tortillas from scratch is definitely more time consuming than ripping open a Totinos Pizza Box and slinging it in the oven.

WAS THE PLANNING HARDER?

Yes, but only because it is a total overhaul in what we eat. In time, it will be no harder, I believe, than how we were eating before.

*Roasted Butternut Squash with Olive Oil and Sea Salt, Steamed Cauliflower with Parmesan, Baked Potatoes with a little real Butter and pepper, and Salad with sliced Cucumbers and Balsamic. Dinner~day 3.

The 10 day challenge was different then just trying to eat better because it forces you to read all the labels for ten days. Everything. I was shocked. I still am shocked. The things that I THOUGHT I was doing “good” or “better” than other choices…not so much. Such as marshmallows have blue food dye in them? Are you serious?

I read articles and researched and learned. I am learning new foods. Like Kale. Uh huh. It’s on my menu. I am learning new tricks like unsweetened cocoa powder and 100% maple syrup make a nice chocolate sauce that rivals Hersheys, not a fake nasty diet chocolate.

* Whole Wheat Crepes with Chocolate Sauce. Dessert~day 2.

I felt so happy with the food I was feeding my family. I was not constantly saying NO to the junk, but yes to snacks of cauliflower and carrots and apples and almonds. I was feeding them nutritious meals. It made this mama happy.

The biggest shockers of the whole thing were~

1. I expected to grin and bare it and muscle my way through some mind numbingly horrible diet tasting food for 10 days. 🙂 Instead I found immediately that real food tastes better. I don’t mean slightly better, I mean my kids were asking for seconds and thirds better.

2. My 13 year old woke up on day 7 and announced that he felt like a fog had been lifted. (I did not put those thoughts in his head ahead of time).

3. There is sugar in everything and I mean everything. EVERYTHING. Soy sauce to rotisserie chicken to mayonnaise and beyond.

4. There is also food dye in everything. My children’s vitamins, canned vegetables, throat lozenges, and everything in between.

5. My kids were 1000% on board. All of them. They even passed up donuts, candy, lollipops, and Cheez its (all offered at church).

WHAT NOW?

Yes, this has changed us. More than I thought possible. I read articles like this and this and it has made my husband and I think long and hard about our budget and our food. We are making adjustments. We are finding our own balance.

I will not be found on an intersection in a sandwich board shouting for the end of processed food. Not by a long shot. I am not turning my blog into a health food blog. There are plenty of brilliant ones out there like this one and this one. I will not be condemning anyone who does not think like me and if you invite me over for dinner, I am going to eat what you fix me, I promise.

*Chicken stir fry with brown rice, pineapple, apricot all fruit spread, and liquid aminos. Whole wheat bread, salad with peppers and balsamic, and corn with a little real butter and sea salt and pepper. School lunch on day 9.

I will tell you this, my biggest lesson came on day 11 and lingers even today on day 12. We officially stopped the challenge after day 10. As planned and promised, we made chocolate chip cookies at lunch time and ordered our favorite pizza for delivery for dinner. After a couple licks of dough and one cookie, I had my first noticeable sugar rush of my life. I only noticed it because I had been living in a continual one for as long as I can remember, but it took the true absence of sugar for 10 solid days to show me just what I was dealing with. We went ahead with dinner plans and 2 slices of pepperoni pizza later, I was less then enchanted. The grease and sluggishness~ yuck. My seven year old said it was gross and didn’t finish it (it was the same pizza she loved 10 days prior) and my eleven year old complained of a stomach ache after dinner.

I am not going to lie, there is a part of me that is irritated. Irritated that my old familiar recipes and ways of eating around here have been all messed up. I sometimes want to live in a world where driving through Taco Bell and eating that fourth late night meal of the day is fun and delicious and yes even nutritious. However, even as I type that I find that to be a fairly odd statement to even make on many levels.

God made our bodies and He made such incredible food for them. Getting as close to eating what He created to nourish the body He created ~ it just makes sense. We are committed to to do our best to continue on this path, for the long haul.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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