How to Stop Eating

Recently, someone asked on the Thin Within forums about how to know when to stop eating and how to stop when you know you should. These are some thoughts about that:

For me, considering the boundaries that are a part of my life helps me.

1.) Dog has a fence. Keeps her safe from deer hooves which flail when a deer is attacked. Seriously. And the cougar that was prowling the neighborhood. One view of the “kitty” apart from the fence, Daisy (my golden retriever) would be off like a shot to play with the “kitty.” The boundary keeps her safe.

2.) The yellow line down the middle of the road is a boundary. Oncoming traffic has to stay on one side of the yellow line and I have to stay on mine. I am thankful for that boundary, keeping us all safe.

3.) I have taught my kids that they can’t help themselves to whatever they see that they want at the mall. If they want something, boundary number one is easy enough–“Do you have the money for it?” They *can’t* take something they can’t pay for. It is a boundary.

4.) I need only so much food to sustain my energy and bodily functions. Eating according to this boundary keeps me healthy and safe.

When I think of stopping my eating at “satisfied” as a boundary that is like other boundaries in my life, it doesn’t seem so negotiable or offensive. It really is helpful, loving, and respectful.

If I want to drive on the other side of the road, that is not only disrespectful to other drivers, but it is also “disrespectful” to me…not to mention stupid. The same is true of eating. I know the risks involved with overeating. The physical ones are bad enough.

But for me, even *more* devastating is the attitude “just one more bite won’t hurt.” I play the guitar. When I have gone a few weeks without playing for some reason, I have no calluses left on my fingers. Playing HURTS until I get the calluses again. When I think about my attitude of “just one more bite won’t hurt” when the sweet voice of the Spirit has whispered, “Enough, child…” and I blow through it…when I think about what that does to my heart, in effect making it calloused so I don’t feel the pain of sin quite so readily (just like my calloused fingers keep me from feeling the guitar strings and the pain they cause to my non-calloused fingers), it isn’t worth it. It is like throwing open the gate when I see Daisy wants to chase the deer or cougar and letting whatever happens happen, acting like it doesn’t matter. It *does* matter.

We focus so much on our physical weight. Ignoring the voice of the Spirit may not cause me to gain a ton of weight physically, but the “weight” of the callouses that grow on my heart is too high a price to pay. (Boy, am I mixing my metaphors or what?).

None of this is meant in a condemning way. If it comes across that way, please reject that. Romans 8:1 says there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ. I find freedom in admitting what is going on in my life…the lack of boundaries and the need to adhere to them. His forgiveness is amazing.

How about for you? What is a boundary that you have established for yourself? What are ways you can support yourself and show respect for yourself relative to this boundary?

Lessons From Deli Lady

“You can get a WHOLE sandwich AND a soda for just a dollar fifty more!,” the woman behind the counter proudly disclosed.

A bit taken aback by the assertiveness of the deli-counter clerk, my daughter quietly replied, “No thank you.”

“Are you SURE? Do you KNOW how SMALL half a sandwich IS?” Deli Lady looked at me for support. None was forthcoming.:-)

“Yes. It will be fine. Really.” Michaela smiled weakly.

Deli Lady looked at Michaela and back to me with incredulity…back to Michaela again:  “All ri-i-i-ight then. A half really *isn’t* much food…”

I asked Michaela after we left the store how it made her feel to have Deli Lady be so insistent. She said that she gets that sort of thing almost every time she buys her (half) sandwich there. I know that folks are trying to be helpful.

Isn’t it odd, though, that we have become a society that generally needs to be told how much food constitutes a meal? Fast food restaurants are famous for this with their “meal deals.” Portions at regular restaurants are huge.

We have been trained to think we need to eat more food to be satisfied. It is no wonder that we seem somewhat unwilling when a program (like Thin Within) promotes eating (a lot) less food. We have become convinced that we must need copious quantities of hearty foods to live.

Truthfully, even if we live a relatively active life, we may not need that much. Our bodies are amazingly efficient. And it is strange that if we stand up (even politely) and say “No thank you,” people look at us like we have grown a third eyeball. πŸ™‚ It does make it challenging to maintain personal boundaries. It isn’t just friends and family members who want us to eat more! Who would have thought we would need a boundary with a Deli Lady–a relative stranger?

Truthfully, I know Deli Lady meant no harm by it.

In a way, I guess I am convicted, even. Deli Lady was very zealous about the great deal she wanted to let us in on.

I don’t just have a great sandwich and soda deal to share. I know the Bread of Life. I know the One Who is true nourishment for the heart and soul. Yet do I ever get nearly so earnest about “You need to have this!” as the Deli Lady was about the great Meal Deal she told us about?

Hmmm…food for thought.

What Would Jesus Say to *You*?

If Jesus was sitting down with you, or going for a walk with you, or…well, think of your favorite place in the entire world and imagine being there with Him–one-on-one time with the Savior–if you had that time with Him, what do you think he would say to you? What would be the number one thing on his list of things to tell you?

Would he challenge you to believe Him more? Would he encourage you with the way you have been faithful through difficulties?  Would he correct you? Would he praise you for your diligence and hard work?

Close your eyes for a minute…picture his face. Hear his words…imagine being there, with him. Just the two of you. He has one thing he will say to you. Ok…what is it?

Tell me. Be honest! Ok. Don’t tell me, but tell yourself!

Do you really think he would tell you to lose weight?

When you think about it, most of us give a TRUCKLOAD of focus, attention, and heartache to our weight. We are just sure everyone around us is thinking about our weight. Those of us who are believers even make it “spiritual,” an issue with which to measure our walks with God. Please don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we are wrong not to look at our *eating* in light of our relationship with the Lord, but do we really think that our *weight* is something that is at the top of our Savior’s list of things to “straighten out” about us? Or to “praise” us for? Or to implore us to increase or decrease?

Truly, I have to say it again:

God doesn’t call us to be THIN. He calls us to be HIS.

If I pursue thinness and ignore his voice, I am missing it. If I am thin, but ignore his voice, I miss it.

BUT…if I respond to His voice, if I answer “Yes, Lord,” to Him in the moment, if His voice, direction, guidance are sweet to me and obedience sweeter, then my eating will probably not be gluttonous, or greedy, or merely for pleasure’s sake. (Nothing is wrong with pleasure, necessarily, but if we have no boundaries for our eating and eat whenever we want pleasure, then we have crossed a line…more on this another time…)

Still, this says nothing about my weight!

I know someone(s) who are concerned … deeply … about three “extra” pounds she carries. She is convinced she must lose three pounds. What’s more, she somehow turns this into a spiritual barometer of her walk with God. Some like her are faithful to eat between hunger and satisfaction. They aren’t greedy or gluttonous. They use discernment when they are hungry to make their food choices. They respond to the Lord’s voice about their eating. WOW! They are obedient saints who have given their eating habits to God!

Their eating is not something that is a weakness in their walks with God. Much to the contrary!

BUT… they remain ensnared over their weight! Or bow to the scale.

Does Jesus really find offense at 3 pounds? Or 20 pounds for that matter?

Yes, he does want us to keep our temple as healthy as possible, but the temple isn’t just physical. It is spiritual and emotional. Many of us sell out our spiritual and emotional selves for the sake of the physical–to get to a certain weight that…get this… God may not intend for us to be!!! 

 This SO isn’t about your weight. It is, in a round about way, about eating…but only in a round about way. What I mean is, how we eat, why we eat…when we eat…all say something about our hearts.

And that is what Jesus is after.

I really think that if we each had one-on-one time with our Savior, our weight would not be on his radar screen. Our hearts would be.

So, what does your heart weigh? What does HE see when he looks at your heart?

You may be thin, thick, short, tall, lumpy, firm, round, oblong…but are you HIS?

God’s Tattoo

Please vote in the poll in the sidebar. Thanks!

…I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you 
on the palms of my hands…

– Isaiah 49:15b-16a

Did you ever have a crush on someone and write their name all over your notebook in grade school? Or worse, in permanent marker on public bathroom walls? Why did you want to do that? Maybe so everyone who looked would know! The secret was OUT! You were in LOVE!

Tattoos seem to be all the rage these days. People get them for a variety of reasons. I don’t know about *them*, but pain is not *my* thing–not intentional pain–no way. I can’t imagine going and having someone engrave with a needle on my back, ankle, wrist, a design proclaiming my love or devotion “Heidi loves Bob.” No way. Yes, I love my husband, but there are certain boundaries I must draw. Intentional pain is one of them. I bore the dear man children–that was enough of a sacrifice of love! πŸ™‚

But God has engraved you on the palms of His hands. He wants all the world to know! The secret is out. He is in LOVE! The object of that love is YOU!

I remember as a kid when I was madly “in love” with someone and had written it all over everything. It was so humiliating when the object of my affection made it clear to anyone and everyone that mine was an unrequited love. It was so embarrassing. It made me want to hide. It produced so much shame…

I wonder if I do that to God? He has engraved me on his hands for all the world and heavenly realms to see. Do I mock His love for me? Is His lavish love for me unrequited? Does Satan laugh at God because of me?

I look to His hands and see that the engravings on his palms are the shape and size of nail scars. I realize that the pain He went to knows no endβ€”no limit. His love knows no boundary.

Continuing to Begin :-) — Part 1

When I ran the San Francisco Marathon in 1996, I vividly remember crossing the starting line. You see, I knew that my speed would be…well…not speedy. So I “strategically” placed myself at the back of the pack. As we waited for the “starting gun” to signal the begin of the “race,” the fog shrouding the Golden Gate Bridge  was an accurate portrayal of what I had felt looking forward to this day for six months. There was no doubt that I was fit enough. I had trained hard. But the partner that was planning on running my first marathon with me had bailed out at the last minute due to a family emergency. Could I actually do it without someone there to be accountable to? I was so afraid of failure, that even being willing to start was a big deal. As I crossed the starting line, tears streamed down my face. You would have thought that I had won. In fact, I wanted to scream “I WIN! I WIN!” I had overcome my fear of failure and had actually crossed the starting line! The rest didn’t matter to me!

As hard as getting started was, it would have nevertheless been anticlimactic to quit a mile into it. Sometimes getting started IS tough. But sometimes once we get started, it is tough to keep going, one foot in front of the other.

I have been doing a “series” here at the blog on “How to Begin.” This is for those new to the “non-diet” approach or for those of us who just need to re-start…begin again again, sort of thing. πŸ™‚

There are 5 parts to this series (sort of) and this blog entry is actually sort of a part 6 of that, but rather than call it part 6 of How to Begin, it occurred to me that really this post is about continuing…which is something we have to learn to do every day (maybe every hour) for the rest of our lives.

If you have read the other parts of this series, then, I assume that you are waiting 5 minutes when feeling drawn to food. Or that is what I challenged all of us to do.

And, as you wait, you are asking God “What is this pull to food about?” The various possibilities are first and foremost:

“I am drawn to food right now because I am physically hungry and my body needs fuel.” <–This is the answer we WANT if we are going to eat, of course! πŸ™‚

So basically, the answer to “Am I physically hungry?” is “Yes” or “No.”

I have suggested waiting 5 minutes with the Lord asking him this question because if you are physically hungry, it typically won’t kill us πŸ™‚ to wait 5 more minutes to feed the need for food.

However, if we aren’t physically hungry, we may have lots of other answers to the question of “What is this lure to food about?”

This post addresses what to do next if your answer to the “Why am I drawn to food right now” question is answered with *anything* other than “Because I am physically hungry.”

I shared with you some of my answers to this question. Here is the rub…when I am in the place where any number of other answers may be the honest one, I typically don’t *want* to wait 5 minutes! In fact, the very fact that I “can’t” wait 5 minutes may be evidence of what is really going on! That I am not physically in need! We tend to put physical needs off so much of the time without being bothered by it. For instance, when was the last time you knew you really should go to the doctor about something or other, but you put it off? With physical hunger, we have a way of being able to put things on hold for a minute without freaking out about it. (Not always, but often.)

So if 5 minutes spent with the Lord before eating seems impossible, then 1.) You aren’t alone 2.) Consider that an early warning that something other than physical need is likely going on…Instead of eating immediately, I put off eating for a mere 5 minutes. Imagine with me that I have the luxury of actually sitting down some place alone (this isn’t necessary, as you can go through the thought/prayer process in your head in the company of people any time at all) with my journal. This is what I might write.

Ok, Lord…here I am. I am thinking about those chocolate muffins and I am ready to go eat half of one right now. But, out of obedience, I will wait 5 minutes and I choose to take the time now to ask you…what is this desire for food about?

Imagine with me that I then consider my stomach…do I have the hollow feeling in it that I have come to associate with physical hunger? Well, no. Not really…No, not at all. I continue to write/pray/journal:

Lord, I can tell that I am not physically hungry yet, so I must be lured to food for some reason other than physical need. Please show me what this is about. Please meet me here. I want to know truth. You have said that knowing the truth will set me free. I want freedom so badly in this, Lord.

As I sit in His presence, he shows me what is going on…

Lord, I have been busting my tail around here lately. No one seems to notice or care. In fact, they seem bent on making my job a bigger one by messing up things just as soon as I get them cleaned up or fixed up. I have worked hard and I deserve something to make me feel good.

At this point, it is really important that I speak what is really going on. As “spoiled baby” as it may sound to actually type that up (here) or write it in a journal or to say it in a prayer to God, this is what is going on! If I am truthful about it, it really does help me to see things more clearly.

It is important then, to declare this for what it is in the presence of God. Again, you can do this prayerfully any time any place in the presence of any one…or alone, with a bible, journal, pen in hand…or anything in between.

Lord, I see that I am believing a lie. I know you desire that I bring this feeling to you. Help me to see the truth about my attitude. Lord, I need to ask you to help others to be more thoughtful. Help me to do what I do out of a heart that wants to serve as if I am serving YOU, my Master, Lord. Help me to be loving…not to do something out of a sense of obligation, or false guilt. I see that these feelings are what are stirring me up…and the most important thing, Lord, is that shoveling half a muffin down my face will NOT make me feel better. Or if it does, it will be fleeting. I will be left with the same feeling I have had that people have done wrong to me and I will be upset at myself for stuffing food in my face.

It is here that I have discovered a vital, life-changing truth…this may not sound like fun–truthfully, it isn’t, but it will TRANSFORM THIS JOURNEY for you! I have to realize my own need to take captive my thoughts toward these folks.  Just allowing these thoughts to run away with me takes ME captive to do things and to think things I wish I wouldn’t. Here is the thing that will transform everything…I really believe this. At least it has for me. I must choose to forgive the people that I am resentful towards for being thoughtless and uncaring. In fact, I can choose to do this even while they continue the behavior and ask the Lord if I should have godly boundaries in place, too, so that I don’t continue to return to the same situation again and again in a way that doesn’t honor him or help others (or myself). 

In fact, if I see that I have an out-of-proportion response to people…I am really angry over something that, if I step back, seems rather minor (wrong, but minor nevertheless), it may be that God is allowing this situation to show me that there is something unresolved from my past affecting my ability to function in a spiritually and emotionally healthful way in the present. And this can affect my desire to eat!

Can I do something about this in the mere 5 minutes that I have suggested we wait before eating? Well, ideally, once I discover that my lure to food is NOT about a physical need and I begin to analyze why I am drawn to food, I will give attention to whatever needs attention instead of the false “solution” that food offers. If I am praying or have a journal that I am writing in, I might continue with…

Lord, it is obviously a lie for me to think that food will somehow make me feel better about this situation. What will actually make the difference is if I choose to forgive these people for their thoughtlessness. Lord please show me if I need to establish any godly boundaries and if my reaction to these people is at all rooted in things in my past or in my own behavior right now. Please help me to own it. Lord, you alone are sufficient to enable me to make it through this moment without turning to food. Show me, Lord, what I must do to feed the true need I have. Lord, I choose to forgive…and please forgive me for…

Hopefully, when we give even a little bit of time to this process, we experience a sense of deep satisfaction that goes beyond anything food could do when we are not physically hungry.

Some may think this is making a huge deal out of nothing. If that describes you, then try to figure out why you keep doing the same thing again and again (over-eating) and expect a different result…the fact is, if I keep feeding my emotions or agitated thoughts with food, I will continue to struggle with godliness in this area and with my size physically–not to mention all the health concerns that can go with carrying too much weight.

Phew! This was a long blog entry. Tomorrow maybe I will be able to get on to the other possibilities I have listed so far for me. Many of them are related to this very thing.

I would love to hear if any of this is helpful, but then, maybe God is just having me write all of this for my own benefit!