When Life Hits

Image Courtesy of iStockPhoto

Image Courtesy of iStockPhoto

I was bee-bopping along…like always. Somewhat carefree, though only as carefree as I could be with  many significant life changes happening in such a short period.

Eager to help as many people as possible to experience the freedom that Jesus has purchased for them, I am trying to build the ministry of “God is Doing a New Thing,” responding to emails and texts, phone calls and blog comments.

A common theme in these written and spoken conversations is the way life throws us a curve and so often these curves upset the applecart (sorry to mix the metaphors there!). The person was going along, getting her bearings with 0 to 5 eating, experiencing some element of joy and peace and freedom when all of a sudden out of nowhere, sickness hits or a trial or a massive temptation or…whatever it may be.

This is life in a Genesis 3 world (something I learned about from my pastor). Things don’t always happen the way we anticipate. The best way to grow and move through these challenges and do so without a major setback in our godly eating boundaries is to take stock of what happened, get back on the horse, and get going again, making a plan for the next time things go wonky. If we are proactive we don’t need to let a “failure” or misstep define what happens next. Yes, I have passed this advice out quite readily.

Easy to say and quite another to do.

I should have seen it coming, perhaps. Nothing new and major in at least 36 seconds, after all. 😉

At 3:30 in the morning one day last week, my life took a strong left turn. I want desperately to describe what happened, but it would be imprudent to do so. There is nothing that compares to this. It was extremely dramatic. I had no idea just how much it had thrown me until I surveyed the damage I was doing in the kitchen following the event and the subsequent response of other people involved.

I had reverted to old old old old…ancient… “I-thought-this-was-dead-and-buried” … behaviors. I had eaten my way through anything and everything. Not only was I not getting hungry first, but I was stuffed all day long. 

Just to be clear, friends. This was last week! NOT 5 years ago! ME! I am supposed to have this WIRED! After all, I quickly encourage others how to navigate the murky waters (boy, I am filled with metaphors today) of unexpected challenges.

When I asked myself, “What is going on here?” I gave myself a flippant response… “It’s temporary…”

Hold everything…

I finally (after four days) came up for air.

I see now that what happened in our home triggered some flashbacks from my childhood. Nothing had ever done that like this event. I thought I was past having things triggered like that. But I was able to see it with such clarity.

As a child, I remember numerous times when my mom would overdose on sleeping pills, no doubt prescribed by my M.D. dad. (Weird, huh?)

In the dark of night the sirens and lights of an ambulance or Sheriff’s car came blasting down our tiny dead-end street. My unconscious mom would be wheeled out on a gurney. They would load her up and send her on to the hospital. I wondered if she would be dead when I saw her next or if she would come back the next day. My aunt and uncle would come and take me to their house to spend the night.

No one ever talked about what happened. Ever. No one ever asked me if I was ok or how I felt or…well, anything.

I am pretty sure that it was during these “events” that I learned to comfort myself with food. My aunt and uncle didn’t have children and didn’t know how to be around children so, while they could provide basic care, they didn’t have a clue how to play with me and didn’t really have any intention of doing so. I remember my uncle taking me to the “Food Circus,” an amazing place where we could go in and there was something for everyone! (It was sort of like the food courts in the mall or airports these days…we didn’t have food courts back then!) Almost all of my memories of staying with my Aunt and Uncle during these events, are of eating with them. I wonder if it was because they didn’t know what else to do with me other than feed me.

I played with their black lab, too, and prowled around in the wild jungle that was their backyard. At the time, the event with my mom overdosing and attempting to end her life never seemed to exist. I learned to live in a world where what I saw I didn’t see, what I heard, I didn’t hear, what I felt, I didn’t feel. Period. Move on.

So, when last Wednesday something traumatic happened…something that triggered these memories…and there was no ability to talk about it within my home for various reasons, I guess it is no small wonder that I turned to old coping mechanisms. It wasn’t conscious, certainly…but now that I know, I need to STOP it all. Deal with the pain and heartache. Forgive where it needs to happen. Draw close to my heavenly Abba.

I believe that is what this is about. This eating thing isn’t about us “getting it” and “getting thin” or “getting healthy.” It is about “getting” HIM. In all His fullness. This is what He desires. It is about getting dependent on our God. It is about seeing him as sufficient for my need. He is my portion.

Whom have I in heaven but you?
    And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26

Have you been thrown for a loop recently? If not, you will probably be soon. Life may throw you a curve as it often does. What can you do to plan for success, to guard your boundaries, to emerge celebrating a great victory?

Tell Yourself the Truth ~ Bruce the “Shahk” :) Shows the Way

Photo Courtesy of iStockPhoto

Photo Courtesy of iStockPhoto

If I want to act differently…like sustain behaviors that support my godly goals of eating 0 to 5…then I have to believe differently. Like in this case, I have to believe that it takes less food than I want to eat to sustain me. Or I have to believe that I don’t need to be on a strict calorie-counting diet and exercise program in order to release weight.

If I am going to believe these things, I have to stop the thoughts that I have that “rehearse” the lies I believe over and over again. I have to replace the thoughts that are based on lies (or half truths) with God’s BIG T Truth.

So how to do this practically:

If you catch yourself with a runaway thought, you want to stop it as soon as you notice it. For instance, let’s say you have the thought “I need something sweet.” BINGO! A potentially runaway thought that may take you on a wild train ride and derail your godly goals. By stopping this runaway thought and taking control of it, you can inform yourself with the truth. In this situation, here are some truths that may be good ones to think about:

  • I don’t need something sweet. I merely want something sweet.
  • If I still want something sweet when I am hungry, I can have it then.
  • Will eating something sweet now (outside of my hunger/satisfaction boundary) satisfy what is really going on here? Probably not.
  • If I eat this (outside of my boundary) what next? Will this lead to me heading farther and farther off the track?
  • I don’t need anything sweet and if I busy myself with something else to do, my thought about eating will subside and go away.
  • If I don’t eat outside of my boundaries, I will have the joy of obedience and the peace that comes from making a great choice.
  • Etc!

In the video clip below, we see the sharks take a “pledge.” They start with an “affirmation” of truth…what they want to believe. They speak the truth to themselves hoping that it will cause them to act differently. You can see that they really are a hopeful bunch who get the idea that telling themselves a truth that they want to believe might affect their actions!

(Note: This video clip is mostly for comic relief. LOL! I hope it makes you laugh. Although something went awry with this approach for Bruce and his friends,  it can be effective for us!)

What are some beliefs you have that cause you to act in a way that counters your godly goals?

What are truths you can tell yourself instead?

What is a practical way you can incorporate this “telling yourself the truth” into your daily life before other thoughts run away with you?

“Weighing In” – How A Naturally Thin Eater Thinks About the Scale & Eating

My Sister, Andrea, Breezy (notice his tongue), and me!

My Sister, Andrea, Breezy (notice his tongue), and me!

Another post about the scale? 🙂 Yes. It seems to be something we need encouragement about!

In 2001, I had the joy of getting to be the collaborator with the Hallidays on the writing of the Thin Within book. Something that not many people know is that, in writing the book, I got to share stories from my own life throughout. (Don’t tell anyone!)

So the part about the Naturally Thin Eater at the top of page 136 was about my sister, Andrea. We changed the names of those whose testimonies we included, so I am “Teri.” 🙂

A Thin Within participant, Teri, tells of her sister’s eating habits: “She always eats small amounts, making a huge deal out of each bite, moving the food around in her mouth. I never could understand it before. Also, she is quite happy taking a single bite of someone else’s chocolate mousse pie instead of ordering her own. She eats strange things at odd hours. She always leaves food on her plate. It seems like she never eats much of anything at a sitting, but you can tell she really enjoys whatever she eats. When I asked her about when she likes to eat, she looked at me like I had a third eyeball and stated, ‘When I’m hungry.’ She’s been living and using the Keys to Conscious Eating all her life. I wish she had clued me in.” Thin Within, p. 136

That section of the book was written 13 years ago. Andrea visited last week and I had the chance to learn a bit more about her eating habits. We went out to a wonderful dinner and she ate what seemed to me like an enormous quantity of food given my prior claims. 🙂 I never noticed her do that before. I didn’t say anything of course. 🙂 The next day, we were talking about a dinner out with her friends one night. They expressed incredulity that she could eat such a big meal and not be larger than she is. She pointed out that she doesn’t eat that way all the time. An “occasional” meal where she eats that much is followed by eating the modest portions she almost always does. It doesn’t lead to another meal large meal, and another and another. And it also doesn’t lead to condemnation. She has found a rhythm in her life that works well for her to be a healthy size.

I shared with Andrea that the most popular post *ever* on my blog was last week’s post: Your Body – What is Your Natural God-Given Size?  I told her that I think people are eager to be convinced that getting rid of the scale is a good idea and that life won’t fall apart if we do it. She shared with me that now, at age 62, she has never had a bathroom scale her entire adult life.  Whenever she has had an occasion to see her weight (annual physical exams), she has been the same weight since she was sixteen years old. She gets on the scale and, PRESTO! there it is again…the same number that the scale has told her for 46 years! Without doing anything differently. (She sheepishly mentioned that, even with a regular Yoga session, she finds the weight has “redistributed,” but she is still the same number on the doctor’s scale.)

She eats when she is hungry. She typically doesn’t eat when she isn’t hungry–or, if she does, it is a bite (literally…one tiny taste) of this or that. Occasionally, she enjoys a large meal and then gets back to eating modest portions again after that. That’s it. No strangle-hold on her scale or on calorie counting or some other approach. She is free.

Note: She doesn’t know Jesus. I would love for her to know that freedom. Could you  pray for her real quick just now?

Have you experienced freedom from the bathroom scale and discovered that you are approaching or found your natural God-given size and maintained it? How did you deal with the doubts and questions of “Shouldn’t I be weighing?”

HEAL Lesson 5 Preview – 2013

Image Courtesy of Stock Exchange

Image Courtesy of Stock Exchange

The material this week is INCREDIBLE! I am so excited to share it with you!

This week we get a chance to look at our lives and evaluate where legalism may lurk. Legalism isn’t always obvious, but it’s affects are. Like a wind, you can’t always see it, but you can see the impact it has, so we want to invite God to show us where we have bought in to the performance trap, as this is a sure indicator that legalism may be having its way with us.

This week we will see the difference between legalism and grace and one way we will do that is by becoming well acquainted with grace in many forms. This is where this study really gets GOOD!

Do you ever evaluate yourself based on if you ate 0 to 5 today? Or based on if you lost weight in the past week? (Hopping on the scale may indicate you are caught in a performance-based mentality.)

If you are living in a way that how you feel about yourself is based on your performance in some way, you probably feel discouraged and exhausted on the one hand or prideful and energized on the other. That may not sound so bad, but there is no stability on that pendulum! We swing from one extreme to the other. This is what Thin Within calls “The Path of My Performance.” We want to get off of that path and enjoy what God has in mind instead!

Let’s cease striving and know that he is God. Let’s lean into his grace and let him carry us along. In fact, the approval issue has been dealt with. We have God’s love, approval. Let’s tell ourselves the truth: God has lavishly poured grace all over us.

Have you ever thought about diets and how they have so much in common with Legalism? In fact, diets are rooted in legalism. If we have a long dieting history, we may have brought legalism with us (even subtly) into our Thin Within experience.

20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules:elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. Colossians 2:20-23

Let’s get the legalistic mentality out of our Thin Within/HEAL journey.

This week, you will get to look at the self-imposed rules you may still have in your life, left over from your dieting history. You may even be combining a dieting approach with 0 to 5 eating. Let’s dissect that mentality this week, too.

Let’s not buy the lie that victory can be bought with our self-will!

God’s perfect love casts out fear and allow us to embark on a freedom filled way of eating and living. Yes, inform your conscience. Turn to the Lord and do it for his glory.

Homework assignment:

  • Complete the Personal Study portion of Lesson 5 – An Aisle of Grace
  • Ask God show you where legalism lurks in your thinking and living. Share with us here what God has shown you already about this or as he shows you this week!
  • Ask him to help you to sense his approval and love for you that is based on Christ’s “performance” at the cross, rather than on your ability to “wow” him!
  • Connect with your accountability partner.
  • Check in here and share how God is at work through the study this week.

Don’t Lose Heart

Worth Not Shame Part 5 - SO WHAT? :-)

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm.

Let nothing move you.

Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, 

because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58

Instant gratification.

Instant results.

We want instant everything.

The thought that we are in this for our lifetimes often challenges us. We aren’t so interested in the character development as we are to have a body that we aren’t ashamed of.

God is doing a deeper work…and a work that–dare I say it–will result in us feeling no shame for our bodies!  We want the shame to go away and think that it will go away when our bodies look different. The shame will go away when we think differently and learn to see ourselves with the eyes of our compassionate, loving, creative Father God. The shame will go away as he teaches us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith instead of some physical flaw about our bodies.

I will stand firm…today.

I will let nothing move me…today.

I choose to give myself fully to the work of the Lord…today.

I trust Him that this labor will not be in vain like all of my “weight loss” efforts have been.

Numbers: Do They Work For or Against Us?

Photo Courtesy of iStockPhoto

Photo Courtesy of iStockPhoto

Why does one of my coaching clients (and friends) say: “I don’t plan to ever weigh myself again.” The answer may surprise you!

Counting Calories

I heard on the radio this morning that obese teenagers are more likely to use calorie information at fast food restaurants than non-obese teenagers  This fact was presented as if it were a good thing, as if counting calories is something that will help obese teenagers to slim down and get healthy. I think that some of the teenagers in this study are obese BECAUSE they are using external signals such as calorie counts offered by fast food restaurants to tell them how much they can/should/will eat, instead of relying on their God-given signals of hunger and satisfaction. The non-obese teens don’t need the calorie counts. They might order the bacon double cheeseburger and eat one third of it, stopping when they are satisfied.  Are calorie counts (masquerading as “nutritional information”) part of the problem or part of the solution? I’m all for nutritionally dense food, but something tells me the teens aren’t checking protein, fiber, and calcium counts. They are focusing on the calorie information. And, I’ll wager, it’s not only not helping them, it’s actively hurting them. It’s getting in the way of their ability to listen to their internal signals.


Similar to the perhaps inadvertent problems directly caused by calorie information, are the problems caused by the bathroom (or gym or doctor’s office) scale.

When I was a child and didn’t know about calories and couldn’t have guessed my own weight with any kind of accuracy at all, my eating was fine. But when I started counting things (calories and body weight), my God-given natural appetite regulation system was disrupted and it wasn’t long before I had a bona fide eating disorder. I was trying to externally regulate something that is much better left to the natural, internal regulation system ordained by God. My weight and my appetite take care themselves and run smoothly if I honor and respect them and don’t get in there and try to improve on God’s handiwork.

I don’t plan to ever weigh myself again. Why? Because I am finally convinced that weighing myself is part of the problem, not part of the solution, just like counting calories are, for me, part of the problem, not part of the solution. I’ve heard many times over the years that in order to fully recover from an eating disorder (or disordered eating, or whatever you want to call it), a person should entirely stop weighing herself and trust that God knows what our bodies should weigh, and trust that our doctors will tell us if we gain or lose precipitously. But other people telling me rarely results in me doing whatever is advised. I don’t learn very well from other people’s experiences. Eventually I had my own personal experience of divine intervention that really got my attention.

One morning, I wanted to weigh myself at home. I had the wherewithal to pray and ask God if this was a good idea. I heard very clearly in my head “you weigh X#s.”  “Should I still weigh myself, though?” I wondered, “Probably not,” I thought.
“But I want to.” My brain did this dance for a couple of minutes and then the “I wanna” part of me won out and I weighed myself.  [I weighed] X#s. Not a big surprise. Why had I been so willful? Who knows. Oh well. I’m not perfect. Chalk it up to that. I went on with my day. I went to the gym mid-morning. There’s a scale at the gym. The “I wanna” part of me thought, “I should weigh myself to see if they gym scale and my home scale register the same number.” And then, I heard the voice of wisdom, only this time, with a bit more power clearly say in my head, “If you want to never binge again, you need to never weigh yourself again.” !!! “But, but,” the “I wanna” in me spluttered, and then, as a quick follow up, I heard a powerful, “It may seem like a high price to pay, but it is THE price. “

Wow. Ok. So…I won’t weigh myself. You’ve got my attention, God. It does seem like a high price. But really, is it? I don’t think Jesus got up every morning to check his weight. Nor did any of his apostles. There are still people on earth who probably go their entire lives without even seeing a scale. It’s not like I’m being asked to do something actively unhealthy. There is, as it turns out now that I’ve thought about it, nothing helpful in me knowing my weight. It never stopped me from binge eating. It never made me feel closer to God. It sometimes made me proud and it sometimes made me feel like I could afford to binge, but both of those outcomes are ones that I am much better off without. I am so grateful for this experience because I feel like God tried to show me this in a multitude of ways over years, but I wouldn’t listen. So finally, I had to hear his wise, loving, but scarily clear voice telling me exactly what to do. I can’t complain any more that I’m not sure whether or not I should weigh myself. I’m quite clear that I shouldn’t. And I don’t plan to. Not ever. Thank you, God.

Catherine Wilson Gillespie, Ph.D.
Mary Collier Baker Distinguished Professor
Drake University School of Education
Des Moines, Iowa