Battle of the Binge

Battle of the Binge

My recent loss with the Battle of the Binge—and the TW Lesson on Gideon—showed me three things when it comes to losing and maintaining weight. 

First, I had to admit that controlling my appetite is an ongoing battle.

I’m not sprinting towards a blue ribbon at the end of a twelve-week course. Food surrounds me daily like an enemy encircling camp. Waiting to sabotage me at every turn. 

For example, last week, the slim hostess of our book club…not knowing I’m trying to lose weight…set a plate of cookies on the table in front of me. I moved them towards the middle of the table and kept my eyes on whoever was discussing the book.

Then someone had the audacity to eat a cookie in front of me. She licked the crumbs off her fingers. Licked the mint chocolate from her lips. Actually, that’s an exaggeration, but I couldn’t remember the last time I’d had a cookie. Craving sugar gave me hallucinations.

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Instead of quoting a truth card or memory verse, I told myself, “There’s freedom in Christ. One cookie won’t hurt.” Only, that cookie tasted so good that I ate another one. 

Yep, even though I observed and tried to correct, I succumbed to temptation. Every TW lesson shredded to pieces by my emotional longing to have a cookie.

If I’d been alone, I might have crawled on the table and made a feast of those cookies like the Cookie Monster in Sesame Street. Which is strange, because given the choice, I’d much rather have a cheese plate or a bowl of buttered popcorn.

Sadly, by succumbing to my sweet tooth, I drove home and made myself some fatty, greasy nachos. I’d like to say losing the Battle of the Binge made me feel ashamed. Not really. Like Scarlet O’Hara, I said, “tomorrow is another day.” And gave myself a heap of grace.

Secondly, I can’t fight this food battle on my own. Like Gideon’s 300 men, I need others to come beside me.

Had there been like-minded women at the book club, we could have smashed the cookies and exiled them into the kitchen trash. Or I could have played the heroine. Grabbed the cookie from my friend’s mouth to save her from those worthless calories.

That’s why the TW online community has been a delectable treat. Each day, I’m able to read about other warrior’s temptations, defeats, and victories! As we’ve encouraged and prayed for each other, the battle seems less overwhelming. I’m not alone. Neither are you! 

Thirdly, I can’t fight the battle on my own strength.

Not only do I need to put on the armor of Christ each morning, I need to follow Him throughout my day.

Listing God’s attributes isn’t TW busy work. In order to trust God to lead us to victory, and lean on Him when we’re empty (no pun intended) we need to know Him. Not just intellectually, by reading His Word, but spending time with Him so we’re familiar with His voice. And thus, more eager to obey Him.

Yep, last week I went A.W.O.L. from my healthy eating habits. But nothing’s wasted. By losing that Battle of the Binge, I’ve learned the value of the right tactics so I can win the next one.

Can I hear a hoorah!!

Weight A Second

Standing on the scale, I watched the digital numbers escalate while my weight was calculated. The final number made me cringe.

How can I exercise all week, control my appetite, and not lose an ounce?

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Weeks earlier, I faced two choices: Lose weight or buy a bigger pair of pants. I elected to change my eating habits and exercise regularly. I was motivated as long as my pounds decreased. When I hit the plateau, self discipline took a nose dive.

That evening, I indulged my craving for a HUGE bowl of popcorn that was smothered with melted butter. Yep, ate the whole thing.

I don’t know how many calories I consumed, but I didn’t taste an ounce of guilt when I licked the bottom of the greasy bowl.

Contrary to all the weight loss miracle ads, losing weight (in a healthy way) is a slow, methodic process. And when it comes to building and toning muscles, forget instant gratification.  

However, since I joined Thin Within and began eating healthier and exercising, my pants are less tight. I have more energy; more strength. My mental outlook improved. Isn’t that worth the process?

Or am I only focused on an end result—reaching that ideal number on my scale? If that’s true, my healthy regimen is a temporary fling like a summer romance instead of a necessary, life-long commitment.

The same holds true for spiritual growth.

Years ago, whenever I wanted to experience more of God’s presence and become a “better Christian,” I’d pray more and inundate myself with reading the Bible and Christian material.

I experienced spiritual growth spurts; glimpsed moments of euphoria. However, I couldn’t maintain that spiritual high or rate of growth. Finally, I realized…

There’s no such thing as microwave Christianity.

We renew our minds by the daily reading of God’s Word. Then we’re chiseled and changed by the Holy Spirit in the minuscule moments of each day.

This slow, sometimes painful, chiseling process is necessary to achieve God’s finished product: molding us into the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:28,29)

My task is learning how to obey and cooperate when I’m confronted with God’s Word. For example…

  • Do I listen to my heart’s desire to complain, scold, attack, and ridicule? Or make peace?
  • Do I apply God’s Word throughout my week even though the lessons are painful?
  • Do I sweat to do the right thing? Or cave in when something becomes too difficult?
  • Do I rely on my own strength? Or lean on the Lord to make a way in the wilderness?

“Sanctification is an impartation, not an imitation.” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).

If I want to strengthen my faith and exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22), then I must abide in Christ.

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NOT sporadically during a spiritual whim or when I want to lose weight, but habitually.

And when I mess up…eat too much, fail to read God’s Word, condemn myself…I’ll return to the One who loves me regardless of my weight. For His grace isn’t based on my performance!  

 

Looking for Victory?

Looking for Victory?

Am I alone in thinking this Thin Within journey is like the kids’ board game, Chutes and Ladders? Move your pawn forward to a particular space, then shoot up the ladder onto victory. Or land on a bad space (like eating too many cookies) and the pawn slides down the chute cause you have a tummy ache.

That’s me! One day, I’m moving ahead. Controlling my appetite. Tightening my belt. The next day, I over indulge and slide backwards. Drats! Foiled again! Takes forever to win. However, unlike the game whose progression is controlled by a spinning needle, I’m doing this to myself. Unless of course, the “devil made me do it.”

What is so difficult about not eating until I’m hungry and stopping when I’m a satisfied? The way I whine and limp along this 0-5 journey, you’d think someone asked me to race around the track in a wheelchair or swim freestyle with my eyes closed as though I’m blind. If anyone watched the Paralympic Games, you’ll understand. These disabled Olympians push their physical limits to win the race.

What’s my excuse for crossing my boundaries and giving up before I’ve reached my goal and won the prize? I’m not an athlete. But even the Apostle Paul writes in terms that inspires me to finish the race. 

“Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave….” (1 Cor. 9:26,27).

“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Phil. 3:14).

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The cost of reaching and maintaining my God-ordained weight means I may have to suffer. But what’s wrong with suffering if the prize is a thinner, healthier me who feels good in her skin from the inside out. What if suffering is the means to help me listen to God so He enables me to walk in the Spirit instead of submitting to my fickle flesh which entices me to eat…what I want when I want.

Besides, does an empty stomach cause more (or less) suffering than a bloated belly ache accompanied by a heavy dose of guilt and regret? And why should emotional comfort and eating to numb my pain override my common sense to do what’s best for my body?

Great questions to mull over when I’m salivating for that Godiva chocolate.

The wonderful thing about Thin Within is that no one expects me to fight this battle or win the race/game on my own strength. The lessons constantly bring me back to God’s Word which teaches and trains me in the way I should go. 

That said, I’m also realizing the victory isn’t about self-discipline and buffeting my body as much as focus. Where am I looking for victory?

If success depends on human efforts alone….doing every lesson, filling out truth cards, my God list, my hunger charts, my not eating too many cookies…I’ll keep slip sliding backwards.

Instead,I must look to Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith—who suffered and died for me—that I might live victoriously.

One step forward, and day at a time.

Stress Makes Me Munch

Stress Makes Me Munch

I admit I’ve eaten when I’m lonely or bored, but stressed? Never thought about it until I flew with my husband. We own a Taildragger plane, but I rarely fly with him because it STRESSES me out.

So imagine when he flew me further than my own backyard this past weekend. The stress in my body exceeded Mt. Shasta’s 14,000 foot peak. If I’d been an earthquake, my stress level would have been a ten on the Richter scale. If I was a cat, I’d have been hanging from the ceiling by my claws with my fur standing on end.

Forget Thin Within’s boundaries and counting the cost. When we landed at a small airport, armed guards couldn’t have kept me from the snack vending machine. I wanted my sweet, endurance prize—an Almond Joy.

So yeah, Stress triggers my eating button. If I smoked, I would have inhaled two cigarettes at the same time. If I was a gunslinger about to fight the bad guy, I would have choked down a double shot of whiskey.

However, as I stood in the lobby, waiting for my husband to refuel our plane, I stopped to observe and correct my actions. I realized my taut nerves made me buy that Almond Joy. Eating it, was no solution.

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So I climbed into the backseat of our tandem-seat plane and tucked that mouth-watering baby inside the seat pouch in front of me. When the flight got bumpy, my eyes feasted on the package; imagined how it tasted. But I refused to eat it unless it was absolutely necessary.

Understand, my husband is an experienced aviator who’s flown his whole life. He’s safety conscious, especially with me, because he gets stressed when I’m screaming, “Not so high!” 

Everyone has their thing that makes them stressful. Mine is flying…actually, it’s being suspended in the air higher than ten feet. I feel the same way about aerial trams. So, I’ve had to “work” at not being stressed when I fly.

Here’s what I discovered in the cockpit that calms me and carries over into my life so I’m not a walking Almond Joy.

1) I listen to Christian praise music and meditate on the lyrics that talk about God’s presence and character.

2) I listen to imagery podcasts that help me control my breathing and relax my body.

3)  I pray for people rather than focus on myself, and relinquish my desire to control or fix their problems.

4) I recite Biblical Truths

5) I distract my mind by doing a Word Search. I also have an adult coloring book filled with scripture. Coloring books are popular because creativity relieves stress. I used to embroider and needle point to relax.

6) I read a light-hearted book.

7) I poke fun at myself and laugh.

8) I close my eyes and pretend I’m soaking in a warm bubble bath. 

These suggestions help me relieve stress…and avoid munching…whether both feet are on the ground, or I’m 10,000 feet in the air.

But honestly, when life gets crazy bumpy and it’s absolutely necessary….I munch on the Almond Joy. Only now I know to give half to my husband so I don’t consume all those calories. Why add guilt to stress? 

Sick to My Stomach with Self-Condemnation

Sick to My Stomach with Self-Condemnation

Why did you eat that? When will you ever learn? How can God love you?

Those are some of the nagging, ugly voices in someone’s head who wrestles with Self-Condemnation. They’re stuck. Unable to let go of their mistakes and sin. Or they view themselves as an ongoing failure.

I’ve been there. Sick to my stomach with self-condemnation, and I wonder….

Did Eve live in condemnation because she listened to Satan instead of God, and ate the forbidden fruit?

  • Did she justify her sin and continue to blame Satan?
  • Feel bitter towards Adam who blamed her when God confronted him?
  • Beat herself up whenever she thought of that fruit which was pleasing to the eye, but didn’t live up to Satan’s promise?

Or did Eve recognize God’s grace and praise His name? Aware that God could have struck her dead and taken another rib from Adam to create another, more perfect woman.

Instead, the Lord loved Eve and sought her while she was hiding in the garden. He listened to her explanation. Then—despite Eve’s guilt—God sacrificed an animal to provide skins to clothe her. And He promised that one day, her seed would bruise the head of Satan.

Did she gladly receive God’s grace and forgiveness…and forgive herself…even though she bore the harsh consequences of her actions?

I regret words and actions that happened decades ago. Shoot, I regret eating that bowl of popcorn last night. But there’s no place for loathing myself or living in self-condemnation. It’s also not good to overlook my wrong behavior with a flippant attitude that “nobody’s perfect.”

Even so, the enemy loves to wag his finger and lying tongue at us.

You’re a big, fat loser. Nobody loves you.

How many times will God forgive you?

You’ll never reach your weight goals.

The only way to stop the lies—and condemnation—is to take our every thought captive. Then squash negative thoughts and emotions with God’s Word as we rely on the Holy Spirit’s power to transform us.

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Barb Ravling’s book, Renewing of the Mind Project, has been a great resource for me during this Thin Within Journey. Her book is filled with introspective questions to reveal what we think and believe about God, ourselves, and our circumstances. She also provides tips and ample scripture—God’s Truth—so we can gain victory over our negative emotions and debilitating habits.

  • “There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.”(Romans 8:1)
  • “Nothing can separate us from the love of God.” (Romans 8:35)
  • “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1John 1:9)

Condemnation is an insufferable place to live. So is bitterness, anger, worry, stress, and emotional eating. Barb Raveling says, “If we want to be victorious over our habits and emotions, we need to take time to renew our mind.”

After all, like Barb says, self-condemnation is “condemning someone God loves very much…YOU!”

 

Help, I’ve Fallen Off My Diet!

Help, I’ve Fallen Off My Diet!

Pink scars line my right shin where I tripped and smashed—face forward—onto my asphalt driveway. It happened a month ago while I was doing yard work. Both my wrists and my right leg had cuts and bruises. My body ached from whiplash. I’m grateful I didn’t break a bone.

Today, those scars are the visible evidence that I fell. A reminder to be more careful when I’m walking. I’m not young anymore so I don’t bounce back as quick. The same goes with my weight.

In my twenties, I could eat what I wanted without evidence showing up on my waistline. Childbirth and an aging metabolism has added to my girth. Thin Within showed me I need to be careful around food because I’m prone to fall and eat for no reason. And that bad habit increases my weight that doesn’t shed as easily.

This week’s lesson on God’s grace brought to mind those moments I’ve stumbled during my Thin Within journey. Snack food…within easy reach…is always the culprit.

The lust of the eye gets me every time. “One bite won’t hurt.” And it probably wouldn’t hurt except I stumble into having a second and third helping. Soon, I’m belly aching because I tripped and fell—again—off the eating right wagon.

Oh, I may not have visible scars like the ones on my leg, but there are mental scars because I beat myself up when I fall. Frustration turns into hopelessness and smothers me like a wet napkin.

Will I ever be able to socialize without nibbling? I want to taste the snacks. When I discover they’re good—I want more.

Remember the mythological Siren that sang and lured men to their death? Their only escape was to cover their ears. Well, food—particularly appetizers—has the same effect when I’m socializing.

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I need to hide my eyes from the doughnuts when I walk into church. Cover my ears from the sound of people chewing popcorn in a movie. Glue my lips together when the hostess serves coffee cake at our book club. Slap my hand when I’m playing a board game with friends, and the snack is inches away. Tell me I’m not alone!

When I fall, self-condemnation and a wailing regret are my first response. Grace—from the Lord or myself—no where on the table.

However, Heidi’s video about observation and correction, makes perfect sense. I’ve observed my habits for a month now so I know my weakness. Now, I need to correct my behavior.

When I get with my friend to play games, I’ll know to go hungry so I can have a small portion of her homemade snacks.

If I’m hosting book club, I’ll have the women fix themselves a small plate in the kitchen instead of bringing the food platter to the table.

At church, I’ll learn to strategically stay far from the doughnuts by pretending it’s the enemy.

Equally beneficial is studying Barb Raveling’s book The Renewing of the Mind Project to discover the little truths about myself.

Why do I love appetizers? Why do I associate snacks with pleasure and socializing? Is there something I can do to re-place food and still have fun with my friends?

Years ago, a friend of mine once struggled with her weight and she didn’t want to gain back the pounds she’d lost. Whenever we met in her home, she never served food with the beverages. Sometimes we’d walk while we talked instead of sitting around a table. At the time, I felt like food was a missing ingredient, but now I understand her wisdom. Even if I’m not there yet.

Hosting people in my home is synonymous with food. Drop into my home, and I’ll haul out the cheese and day-old crackers. Are you hungry? Let me microwave a frozen corn dog and smother it in mustard. Isn’t food the definition of hospitality? Even Biblical patriarchs killed and cooked the fatted calf whenever they entertained guests. But I assume they were hungry. They knew better than to pig out on fried pork rinds.

Who knows, I might be doing folks a favor and keep them from tripping if I become more creative, and less calorie-oriented, when it comes to entertaining.

Meanwhile, the Big Truth: God’s grace is new every morning. He’s not bringing up yesterdays belly flops and face plants. He wants us to “taste and see the Lord is good” so we’ll want more of Him and be truly satisfied.

Isn’t it time, we believe God and give ourselves some grace too? Knowing…

“The Lord is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The Lord sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down” (Psalm 145:8, 14).

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