Where do we get the impression that we have to be perfect?
We *can’t* be — WON’T be — perfect this side of heaven. This is OK!
We say we understand this, yet again and again we get discouraged (or worse!) as we try to apply ourselves to the Thin Within principles; as we try again and again to live in freedom from being controlled by food, our desire eating, and carrying more weight than we feel we should. We get discouraged because we can’t seem to string together two “good” days in a row.
Let’s understand though: Our longing for perfection is a desire for Heaven! That is a GOOD thing! God has placed this longing deep within us (Ecclesiastes 3:11). But it is misguided and misdirected when we think we can and should be perfect here and now. In fact, it leads us perilously close to exalting self and a posture of pride.
Let’s STOP it!
This insistence for perfection will always lead to pride, self-exaltation, or conversely to self-condemnation. Neither side of this pendulum are the place where God wants us to land.
We need to extend the same grace to ourselves that Christ does. We need to allow the cross of Christ to be our focus and our stabilizer.
YES, grace teaches us to pursue godliness (Titus 2:11,12), but no where in Scripture are we told that the expectation is perfection this side of the grave.
Let’s relish, instead, the joy of being a human in process.
Let’s delight in Philippians 1:6 growth! That God will continue to do the work he began in us until HE completes it.
It is our job to cooperate.
If you ask people who have released weight and maintain their new healthy weight how they do it… are they “perfect” in applying the principles of eating between 0 and 5 and the other Keys to Conscious Eating, they will ALL tell you…NO, we haven’t been perfect! We still have times when we overeat, or “sneak” a taste of food before we are at 0 or even complete days where we never wait to be hungry! YES! It is true! Can you imagine? 🙂 In fact, it isn’t uncommon for “a successful person’s” weight to vacillate slightly in response to these challenges. God takes us to new levels of processing things that we thought were “over and done” and in our past! He keeps us dependent on Him sometimes by showing us just how much growth there is yet ahead.
I have been in such a season and I hope to share more about that in the days ahead. But I will tell you now that, instead of beating myself up for it (we can’t hate ourselves into positive change!), I try to take what Paul has said to heart:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect,
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 3:12-14
There are principles in this passage that apply to me in this pursuit. I don’t think the goal or prize is a thin body, though…the goal or prize is a heart given TOTALLY to the Lord, where my longing for Him far surpasses my longing for brownies fresh out of the oven, or to be a size ____ and able to wear my “skinny jeans” comfortably.
Do you need to give yourself permission today to let go of “failures?” DO IT.
- Press ON.
- Take HOLD.
- FORGET the past.
- STRAIN toward what is ahead.
Let’s refuse to indulge in the pity party stuff that we sometimes do when we are discouraged.
GRAB THIS MOMENT for the Lord!
Be FUTURE focused!
Invite him to sanctify you through and through…this is to be our goal, after all…not our skinny jeans. Welcome his invasion into the private spaces where you allow food to be your Comforter. Let him convince you that every single solitary babystep “Godward” you take on this journey is a wonderful offering to Him that delights his heart.
It is ok not to be perfect. He IS doing a work in you…that sounds pretty awesome to me.
Don’t think about a green elephant.
No…no thoughts of a green elephant are allowed.
You aren’t thinking of a green elephant are you?
Stop it! No green elephant thinking! No sneaking even a single green elephant thought!
Wait for it…wait for it….well??? 🙂
So, honestly, have you been able NOT to think of a green elephant since starting to read this blog entry?
I didn’t think so.
When we try NOT to think about something, often that is ALL we think about! So, if you tell yourself “Don’t think about a green elephant,” that is precisely what you are likely to think about!
And when you tell yourself NOT to think about food, that is precisely what you are likely to think about…food!
Often, people want to give up applying themselves to eating 0 to 5 (between hunger and satisfaction) because they say it makes them more food focused. Sometimes, what this really means is we are giving ourselves permission to eat whatever we want, whenever we want, in quantities that we want…making provision for the flesh instead of submitting our desires to the Lord.
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.
What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?
Those things result in death!
So if we “give up” on 0 to 5 eating, maybe we aren’t so consciously focused on food, but our lives return to becoming food-centered. We may not think about food as much, but we eat more often and in larger quantities! We plan our lives around food, which restaurants we can go to when we run errands, which movie would go best with a large platter of nachos, etc….Is that really freedom from being food-focused? Of course not!
I propose that we be intentional. If we don’t want to think about green elephants, if we don’t want to think about food, the best way to do that is to think about something else. I propose that we allow thoughts of the Lord and His character flood our minds. This works wonders for me and in the Thin Within classes I have taught, I have heard great responses to this exercise as well. We have to think of practical ways of filling our minds with thoughts other than food.
For me, this takes several forms. Here are things I do. You may want to try some of them:
- Create a GOD LIST. This is a cumulative list of all of God’s attributes that I stumble upon in my quiet times, at church, as I read, in music, hymns or in conversing with a godly friend. I have started keeping my GOD LIST on my iPad since it travels with me. This list is not only what his attributes are, but it is also a list of ways he interacts with people…the things he has done for people.
- I use my GOD LIST frequently to praise God. I praise Him for these attributes. We were created for worship, so it stands to reason that the best thing I can do is what I was created to do! When I daily take time to praise God, just listing back some of the things on my list to Him in prayer and thanking him for them, my heart is flooded full. Funny thing is that I am not drawn to food as often. I can even have a “Praise Feast” like this when I *am* tempted…rather than the food and my desire for it being my focus, GOD is my focus. It really makes a difference!
- Use praise and worship music playing a lot of the time. I don’t know if it is just me, but when I drive, I love to worship the Lord. It is a time that I can do that. The words to the music don’t just wash over my mind, but I try to soak in them, praying them back to the Lord. If my heart isn’t “into it,” then I make it a prayer. “Lord make me willing to surrender all to you as this song speaks about…”
- I set the timer on my watch to go off throughout the day. When the beeper goes off, I take a moment to just give thanks to God for his character or the gifts that I enjoy in life.
- During my most difficult times of the day, I can have a quiet time. Even if I have had one in the morning, I can have another one…just times of being still in His presence and letting him fill me up. I can do another section of my BSF lesson or the next exercises in my Thin Within lesson, or open to Ephesians 1 (or another great section of scripture) and soak in the amazing truths found there. I don’t have to have *only* one quiet time each day!
Even if we are busy people with a busy work life or a stay-at-home Mom, homeschooling 4 under the age of 10, we can foster an inner attitude of worship.
Doing this is the BEST antidote for our tendency to being “food-focused.” Rather than “quitting” eating 0 to 5, why not start some new habits that focus my attention on whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8)?
This post was inspired by a few things…not the least of which is a post at Michael Hyatt’s blog.
I get asked a lot of questions in email, in chat, on forums, in person. They often go like this:
- How much weight did you lose?
- How many times a day did you get to “0” while you were losing?
- How long did it take you to lose all your weight?
I rarely get asked:
- How did God use this struggle to draw you closer to his heart?
- Or how did your prayer life change as a result of this experience?
It is common for us to focus on the outward appearance. After all, that is what draws most people to Thin Within in the first place–we want to release extra weight.
But if our primary (or sole) focus is outward appearance we will miss the work that God is really after. As I have said before and truly believe, if Jesus had five minutes to speak face-to-face to you, I don’t think he would say, “Now, about your weight…” No.
Jesus wants our hearts.
Lots of the questions we ask, assume the worst. Analyze the questions you ask and see what the underlying belief or motivator is…
- Will I ever stop overeating?
…may actually assume that you *won’t* stop overeating, thus assuming the worst.
So, rather than ask these questions:
- When will I finally get this eating thing right?
- Will I ever be free?
- Will I ever be thin?
…maybe we should ask these, instead:
- How is God drawing me closer to Him?
- Am I learning to trust Him with my body?
- How can I demonstrate my choice to love Him today?
Big difference between the questions we are prone to ask and the questions that God may want to answer for us.
What questions are you asking these days? What questions might be better ones to ask?
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
~ Psalm 131:2
Yesterday is yesterday. It is gone, past. It wasn’t like the day before and it is different from what today will hold. I choose to learn from it.
So, today as I rest in God’s presence, I feel a conviction in my heart. I know I need to bring something to him for his cleansing. At first, I feel like it is the food–my eating. Yesterday was a day filled with a lot of emotionally draining situations. Truthfully, I didn’t quiet myself with my meals…not at all. But as I evaluate, I realize that if I didn’t eat within my physical boundaries, I was close to it.
But what I *do* realize is that I didn’t quiet my heart. I didn’t really BE STILL. I didn’t follow the call of God found in Isaiah 30:15, that “in repentance and rest, is your salvation. In quietness and trust, is your strength.” I tried to find strength on my own…and that is defective. No wonder I was so spent.
A lot faced me yesterday. Each one of the situations individually would have been challenging, but it was a day filled with one thing after the other…four HUGE things.
As I look back on yesterday, then, I want to allow God, invite the Spirit, to invade my thinking. To, again, change the way I think–even in retrospect.
Lord, I thank you that I find strength when I am quiet, repent, rest and trust IN YOU. I tried to navigate the emotional and situational challenges of yesterday with my own strength and it didn’t work. Lord, sometimes it feels like being still and knowing you are God is a waste of time I could be using to get things done. Wow! Such arrogance. Thank you that you forgive me for that. You have said in your Word that being still provides strength. I choose your way, Lord. Today, I know I need your strength, too. Change my thinking, Lord. Transform me. Renew my mind. Being still in your presence is the most power-infusing place I can be. You will be magnified. My life is totally beyond me. I need you today. I choose to quiet my soul right now. Be Lord in me, in my life today. Here is my hand, Lord. I choose to walk with you. Thank you, Jesus, that you make it possible. Amen.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
Yesterday’s post before I went out to eat was a raw expression of what it looks like for me to do battle! I know I have to recognize lies that I believe and replace them with and affirm truth.
But as I was praying to the Lord while feeding my horses (just after posting to my blog), I realized that I was filled with thanks. I thanked God that I have the freedom to go to Fresh Choice at all (and the means). I thanked him for the taste of the Chicken Pozole–the spiciness of the jalapenos, the yummy flavor of the broth. I told him how much I appreciated the fresh french bread with such a dense texture and the whipped butter!! I told him that even though I wouldn’t get to each much, I was thankful for that, too–that my body IS efficient. He has made it that way! I thanked the Lord that I could have a bit of chocolate chip muffin (exceptional fresh out of the oven). As I thanked God for the tastes and textures of what I knew I would be able to eat once I got to dinner, I realized I don’t need to be greedy for more than I need. My need would be supplied by wonderful “treats.” I could be thankful for that, too!
For me, gratitude makes all the difference in the world. I think I was so “full”–satisfied– with the presence of God in my spirit that I really didn’t want to overeat! I enjoyed the tastes with delight and joy and didn’t feel “ripped off” like I so often do when I am no longer hungry after such a small amount of food.
Gratitude makes a difference!
My accountability partner has been teaching me the value of renewing my mind about food and eating. This is helping me tremendously to get back on track. I haven’t been at peace with food and my body for a couple of years (if I *ever* was, really!).
I had a season of exercising a lot and I “justified” eating outside of my boundaries, just like I would back in the dieting days! “I have worked out long and hard! I can ‘afford’ to eat this!”
Recently, I wondered about returning to 1-2 hours of intense cardio each day (in addition to the tennis I play almost daily). I also wondered about getting a bathroom scale again… “Just to motivate me!” I have to be honest with you…these are thoughts–temptations for me, really–that would short-cut what I need to learn. I need to learn to think differently. When I think differently, I will act differently.
My mind has to be renewed. How I view food, it’s purpose and place in my life, how I view boundaries…whether I will have them and which ones, etc…etc… All of this has to be determined, committed to.
This evening I am meeting my sister who is coming from out of town. Our meetings are typically somewhat intense as we have to make decisions and have conversations about our mother’s care. Add to this fact, this morning, my husband left town, beginning a long season of travel, which changes the dynamic in our home considerably given my 19-year-old son and I struggle in our communication. Bob typically runs interference for me with Daniel. So I find myself a bit keyed up (something else I need to renew my mind about!).
Soon, my daughter and I will leave to meet my sister for dinner at a buffet–“Fresh Choice.” I want to be proactive right now and plan to be very specific about what I will eat and how I will look at food given the abundance provided there coupled with the emotions I feel.
With the help of my accountability partner, I have learned how to ask myself questions and how to answer them, evaluating what I REALLY want. Affirming the TRUTH has made a huge difference for me. I am committed to doing this at least once each day regardless of if I have struggled with my eating or not. Practically, this is training me to think differently. But it *is* a slow process.
Right now, I am going to do this with the buffet and how I feel today. I thought I would give you a glimpse into this process, in case you might find it helpful. So here it is, happening in “real time!”
Lord, I am dreading what is ahead today. I am definitely dreading taking my Mom to the doctor tomorrow. In fact, I have dreaded these two days for a while. I feel so helpless. I know, Lord, that the buffet dinner tonight will offer a whole lot of options for “numbing” myself to the feelings I don’t want to feel. I reject that, Lord. Instead of viewing the buffet as an opportunity to do what I want, I choose to take captive my thoughts about food and eating. My body was purchased by the precious blood of Jesus and it isn’t mine to do with as I please. My body belongs to the Lord. I want to feed it only when it needs fuel and I want to feed it an appropriate amount that it needs.
Lord, I want to apply myself to following the 8 Keys to Conscious Eating, even in the middle of a restaurant with my sister and daughter present. Lord. I know I may FEEL like I *want* to eat more, but what do I really want? Lord, I want to eat in a way that is in line with 1 Corinthians 10:31…to glorify you in my eating! I choose to rejoice in eating appropriately, within God-given boundaries. I choose NOT to look to food to meet needs in my heart that can only be met through fellowship with the Lover of my Soul. Is the sacrifice really too great? Is it really too high a price to pay to lay down a second brownie or another piece of french bread? Isn’t experiencing joy in my eating experience with NO regret afterward worth NOT overeating? I get to eat whatever I want within the physical boundaries of hunger and satisfaction! No diets ever again! That is a gift! Lord, I don’t want to abuse that gift by stuffing more food in than I need.
Lord, I don’t need very much food at this buffet. I know that even arriving really hungry (which I will definitely be as I am hungry now!), it won’t take much more than a fistful-sized amount of food to satisfy me. I need to slow down and really take note of the wonderful tastes and textures and delight in how efficient my body is! Lord, thank you that I don’t need much food!
Lord, another thought that is a lie that pops in at buffets is that in order to get my money’s worth, I need to eat a lot of food. That is so silly! I am not paying for this meal so that I can harden my heart, stuff my face, and boast that I have a good cost-to-quantity ratio! That is ridiculous! I want to pay the full buffet price for a wonderful bowl of the chicken pozole I love (with cheese), a piece of french bread (slathered in butter) and a brownie muffin. That will probably be enough to satisfy me and it is well worth the cost since I enjoy the flavors so much and don’t have a soup recipe that I love nearly as much.
Lord, I do have the emotions to contend with, but if I stuff food to numb my feelings, I will not only have to face the emotions again afterwards, but also disappointment in myself and feeling yucky physically for overeating. Lord, the benefit to eating more than I need is slight…it isn’t even a benefit. It is that I get to taste the food longer. Well, duh! If I eat half as much food twice as slow, I get to taste the food just as long without overeating! It makes no sense to overeat. Lord, I trust this to you.
Thank you that THESE are the truths. The lies have NO place in my mind. I choose to take captive my thoughts and make them obedient to you. I LOVE how I feel inside when I make THIS sacrifice. When I lay down my wants for the greater joy of following you. Thank you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck
and bent down to feed them.
– Hosea 11: 3,4
So many of the women I have the pleasure of connecting with via the Thin Within ministry desperately want to do this “thing” perfectly. They want to be victorious over disordered eating and to be totally, 100% healthy physically, emotionally, and spiritually–NOW. In fact, so many of us, when we struggle for a day, a week, or longer (or less!) want to throw in the towel because we “just can’t seem to do it.”
Life is a marathon…not a sprint. Even babysteps in the right direction bring us to the finish line. Transformation taken one tiny step at a time is transformation nevertheless.
In 2002, I had the pleasure of participating in the creation of some of the Thin Within program material videos. If you look at those videos, it is evident that I was no where *near* a healthy weight, but God was at work within me at the time, laying groundwork for what was yet ahead. It wasn’t until the end of 2006, in fact, when things began to click in a way that caused weight to come off of my body. In fact, my very first exposure to Thin Within occurred seven years before it became obvious physically.
What should I say about the years between 2002 and 2006? Or between 1999 and 2006? Were they a waste of time? Absolutely not! God was at work during that time–even when I stubbornly walked away from my partners in the ministry for a season. Even then, God was still at work, convincing me that I needed to return to this path, that I had been “ruined” for any other approach to lasting weight loss and for sanctification of my thinking relative to food, eating, and body image.
So, where are you in this process? Is God at work within you, laying a foundation upon which he will build for the rest of your life? Is He teaching you to walk one babystep at a time? Please don’t minimize the fact that He IS DOING a new thing–even now! He is walking with you, holding you through the babysteps of transformation…one tiny step forward at a time. He is teaching you how to walk. Though “progress” may seem indiscernible now, it is, nevertheless, happening. You are being transformed. He will not waste one moment.
Believe him. He IS DOING it. Right now. Moving you forward toward your godly finish line.
I have an accountability partner who is amazing. God is so gracious in giving her to me. I don’t know if she would want to be mentioned by name, so I won’t just yet. But I hope to introduce you to her one day.
Under her guidance and discipleship, really, I am learning to speak short (well, relatively! LOL!), direct statements, declaring TRUTH about my eating and living.
Today, I had an “eating occasion” that had nothing to do with 0 to 5 eating (eating between the parameters of physical hunger and satisfaction). I decided to renew my mind (in the way my partner recommends) this afternoon and these truths are the ones I want to wrap my mind around. Can you identify with any of them following an “eating occasion” that you regret?
TRUTH: This way of behaving is NOT in line with godly goals of being Christlike.
TRUTH: Eating what I want when I want doesn’t get me what I really want—which is to be more like Jesus!
TRUTH: I am CALLED to make sacrifices in love for the Lord, but also for the people to whom He has called me to minister.
TRUTH: Obeying the Lord actually delights my heart. The “deprivation” I feel at the moment is followed by a bunch of moments of a full heart, rejoicing that I gave that tempting moment to Christ.
TRUTH: I am forgiven in Christ.
TRUTH: I am a new creature in Christ.
TRUTH: I DO care.
TRUTH: I don’t have a right to this body of mine at all…it belongs to Christ. He purchased it…with his blood.
TRUTH: I need to practice what I preach.
TRUTH: There is NO condemnation toward me.
TRUTH: I must be gentle with myself remembering babysteps get me there.
TRUTH: I don’t like how I feel when I overeat and the long-term ramifications are a bummer, too.
TRUTH: Jesus is after my heart.
TRUTH: He is using my struggle with food to make me utterly dependent on Him.
TRUTH: I want to cooperate with His plan for my life.
TRUTH: I want to be faithful.
TRUTH: Waiting until I am hungry to eat is a GODLY BOUNDARY that I value.
TRUTH: Eating in a calm environment, reducing distractions—internally and externally—before I allow a bite to pass my lips and as I eat—will help me. It is a boundary worth keeping.
TRUTH: Praising God before I eat actually fills my soul and defeats “desire eating” (outside of hunger).
TRUTH: Eating while sitting helps me be more peaceful. It is a boundary I value. I believe God wants me to keep this boundary, too.
TRUTH: I am not “overspiritualizing” this since I know that 1 Corinthians 10:31 says that whether I eat or drink I can do it ALL to the glory of God. (Implying that I can also eat or drink in a way that doesn’t glorify him!)
TRUTH: I want to eat only once my mind and body are relaxed, even if it means being hungry a bit longer…to be sure I am aware and calmly enjoying my food.
TRUTH: I will eat and drink things I enjoy…(that isn’t really a problem for me). I want to learn to weigh carefully what I choose and be a bit more selective. Lord, please heal me of my tendency to be a sweet-a-holic.
TRUTH: Paying attention to my food instead of also reading or watching something or surfing with my iPad when I am eating is valuable for helping me “record” the experience as an eating experience.
TRUTH: Eating slowly, savoring each bite can help me grow in gratitude toward the Lord for the amazing flavors and textures that he has invented as well as help me to eat less. I will also eat less too.
TRUTH: Stopping before I am full is a happy place to stop. I end up eating with joy and stopping with joy and continuing on with my day/evening with joy. It is worth it.
TRUTH: Adhering to these truths/boundaries is something I want to do and is extremely rewarding. What I suffer when I violate my boundaries is NOT worth the short-term “joy” I have when I violate them. The short-term sacrifices that I make to adhere to my boundaries are sooooo worth the pay-off!
So…which of these can YOU identify with? 🙂
Nancy Kennedy approached me some time back about sharing my story in a book about weight loss successes. Now, the project has come to print! You will find my story about releasing 100 pounds in these pages, and you will find the stories of many others who have lost weight there as well. Perhaps something will inspire you! I recommend this book. Now is a great time to be encouraged to get and remain physically healthy. Here is a link to the book on Amazon . If you get it and read it, please let me know what you think! 🙂