Dare I??? Babystep Challenge #1

I have lived a long while fearing that the old dieting mentality will again take over my thinking. So, to safe-guard myself from this, I live relatively unstructured when it comes to exercise, eating, and so forth. I fear returning to obsession, so I tend to err on the side of “free-spiritedness.”

The thing is, I think a lack of commitment may be beneath this fear and even any good intentions.

I think God is calling me to try to take babysteps in structuring my life. So I am going to start small. I am going to take a “weekly challenge” for myself. I will see how it goes this first week before stating that I will do it again :-), but my intention is to string together a series of Babystep Weekly Challenges. These things can be relative to physical, emotional, or spiritual aspects to this journey (or any combination), but I want to dare to make physical goals, too…babysteps in overcoming my emotional avoidance–fear–of doing so. I believe that God wants me to experience freedom from this fear.

Ok…so that said…I want this week’s “Babystep Challenge” to be for me to leave *something* on my plate after every meal. I don’t do this to impress God or people. I do it to learn that boundaries can be helpful, to try to be sure to check my heart for greed, and to also help me to be sure to eat just a bit less. I tend to take smaller portions than I used to years ago before I began this leg of my journey, but my portions have grown some over the past 18 months. So this can help me get back to what I *need.*

I must admit…I am afraid I will take this simple goal and twist it into some sort of legalistic rule that I use to gauge my worth as a person. Silly! So I guess that the real Babystep Challenge for me would be “Not to turn this little babystep into a rule!” ๐Ÿ™‚

I sure do tend to over-think things!

Anyone else need to take a little “Babystep Challenge?” ๐Ÿ™‚

Stomach Hunger

When to eat and when to stop eating?

Thin Within and HEAL both encourage us to eat within the boundaries of physical hunger and physical satisfaction. This is the basic principle for the “mechanical” or “how to do it” part of our eating.

However, most of us have shut off this mechanism with years of dieting, bingeing or overeating, and/or starvation. The mechanism may seem “broken,” but it isn’t. It is dormant. I am fearfully and wonderfully made and I can trust my body because of the Maker of my body. But sometimes I need to work patiently with the consequences of my actions for the previous umpteen years! God is gracious and WILL teach me!

For those who have temptations toward not eating enough food–anorexic behavior–the HEAL book encourages you to be sure to get professional help, but also to consider prayerfully submitting to desire eating as a vehicle through which the Lord might resurrect healthy eating in your life. The authors say on page 60:

[The Lord] may give a woman who struggles with undereating the discernment that it’s helpful for her healing to eat when she experiences head hunger, while he may convict someone who struggles with overeating otherwise. (Emphasis added, HEAL, page 60)

For most of us, this is *not* the case however. We know how to eat and are all too eager to eat!

So what DOES stomach hunger feel like? The book mentions that for some there may be a growling sensation. However, Dr. Halliday has been known to say, “Hunger is not a sound.” Relying too much on a “growling” sound to signal hunger can cause a person to eat too much on some days (when the stomach “gurgles” as it digests something) and not soon enough on other days, causing headaches and plummeting blood sugar levels and potential dizziness. A stomach growl seems like an easy signal, but it isn’t the right signal for most of us. Some of us can become very legalistic about waiting for a growl and always eating with a growl. I urge you, if you are in this camp, to ask the Lord to show you the truth about what stomach hunger is like for you.

Since the stomach is somewhat “elastic” and like a bag, I liken it to a balloon. The analogy isn’t perfect, of course. Picture a deflated balloon and that is somewhat like an empty stomach (again, not completely). The stomach is located higher in your body than many people think. Follow your lowest ribs on both side of your body to the place where they join…your “sternum.” Behind this spot on the left is where your stomach rests.

As you can see from the image above, the stomach is definitely higher than most of us think. The very gurgles and growls that we are accustomed to waiting for are often lower. (Personally, I wonder if this illustration doesn’t show not only a FULL stomach, but one that is slightly disproportionate! It seems large!)

When your stomach is empty, there will be a very distinct empty sensation from the place in your body where your stomach lives! ๐Ÿ™‚ See if you can distinguish this today. It is very distinct and may or may NOT be accompanied by a growl.

Some people describe it as an ache, a pain, or a vacuum sensation.

Here is the thing, too…something that really surprised me when I realized it. Even if I can’t eat right away…my stomach, once it is empty doesn’t get emptier, thus justifying eating more when I do get around to eating! I am either hungry (stomach is empty), or I am not! Being “sort of hungry” is like being “sort of pregnant.” Sort of an oxymoron. Hunger is an empty stomach pouch! If I am “sort of hungry” I may be at a 1 on the hunger scale, but I am not at a 0. Busying myself with other things can keep me from lamenting “Oh, gosh, I really WANT to be hungry because I WANT to eat!” And it will keep me from obsessing… “IS this hunger? Am I hungry? Maybe I am…hmmm…no, I am not sure!!!” and on and on.

Two things can help…

1.) Pray. Ask God to show you what is “stomach hunger” for YOU and your body.

2.) When in doubt, leave it out. (Again, if you are someone who has struggled with undereating, you will want to prayerfully surrender this to the Lord and choose to eat for a time when your signals are not yet discernible. Professional help is vital.)

For most of us, it takes about one fistful of food (chewed up and compressed) to have sense of stomach satisfaction. That is a LOT less food than most of us eat! Try it for a few days and see what happens, though! You might be amazed!

If you struggle with overeating, remember how easy it is to choose more food than your body really needs. With this in mind, you can courageously begin to select smaller portions. (HEAL, page 62)

I have found that if I eat half as much twice as slow, I end up thinking that I had just as much as I used to eat. ๐Ÿ™‚

Truthfully, even now I must return to smaller portions. While I know that I am not eating anywhere near what I used to, I still can see where I have some room for improvement in this area.

As you try this, you will discover that often what we insist is stomach hunger is actually head hunger…desire eating. I eat because I want it. Truthfully, most of the time the antidote to desire eating is to “JUST SAY NO.”

Please know that I don’t mean when you feel like you *can’t*. This is when you just simply *won’t*. I have noticed that once again, for me, evenings tend to be most challenging in terms of desire eating. I think of something, I want it, so I have it. Well, stomach hunger never entered the picture, yet I rationalize and justify…”Well, I am close enough to a 0 and, besides, if I don’t eat now, then in a couple of hours when I am trying to sleep I won’t be able to because I will be hungry.” These are subtle ways my heart has of resisting what I know is right, turning my back on the Lord and refusing to be obedient to what God is calling me to do. He calls me to die to self. I just don’t want to! :-/ I don’t WANT to “Just say no!”

Stomach hunger is usually easier for people to begin to identify over time than stomach satisfaction. For me, I identify that stopping point as “no longer hungry.” The stopping point for this kind of living isn’t once I have eaten as much as I can, but I am not quite uncomfortable yet! It is learning how little I need. Again, for the person who struggles with anorexic tendencies, you will have to learn to eat without thinking in these terms. PLEASE get professional help with this!

But for the rest of us, there is a sense that we want to shovel in as much food as we can before we *have* to stop! This shows me that my heart is still attached to food in a way that God wants to rid me of! I am free to enjoy my food, but to do so without a greedy heart is so important for my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being!

So, note how your stomach feels during your meal. Try to especially be aware of if the sensation of hunger is gone and keep in mind it takes at least 10 minutes for your mind to know what is going on in your stomach! That is one reason why eating slowly is so helpful!

All of this sounds so mechanical, but most of us find we need the strength of the Lord in order to change our eating to these godly parameters. We have depended on food for so many things (other than fuel for our bodies) for far too long! So when we begin to try to eat between 0 and 5 on the hunger scale, we need to call on the Lord to help us! ๐Ÿ™‚ It can be an awesome thing to see that God uses something as mundane as eating and drinking to draw us so much closer to him.

Living Room Session 2 Part 3 – 0 to 5 eating

Still hanging out in the living room together for our group study! ๐Ÿ™‚

Moving on, then, to level 3. We will do level 4 tomorrow. If you want, to, you can move on to lesson three, but I don’t think I will post that assignment until Tuesday. I want to take as long as we need to cover the material. ๐Ÿ™‚ This little book offers a lot to think and pray over!

Level 3: Hunger-Fullness Eating I am persnickety about labels. For me, “fullness” is too much food. So I prefer to have my goal be to eat to “physical satisfaction.” This is basically when hunger is no longer present. Since, scientifically speaking, there is a delay of about 10 minutes between the time my stomach is no longer empty and the time my brain registers this fact, I know that once I feel like I am no longer hungry, I am definitely good…filled with fuel for my body. To continue eating past that point will be too much food. In fact, 10 minutes after I stop is the real sensation…and it is definitely a fuller sensation than the one I stop for.

In the HEAL book, the authors have a different hunger scale than in the Thin Within materials. -5 (negative 5) to -1 (negative 1) is undereating. 0 to 5 is healthy eating…from stomach hunger to a comfortable place in the stomach. and 6-10 is overeating.

This stage is about abandoning any tendency to either overeat or undereat while learning to rely on the internal hunger and fullness cues God has given you. (HEAL, page 45)

Many of us don’t know what true physiological hunger feels like. We are so used to ignoring those either because we are on a diet and have had our allotment of points, carbs, or calories for the day (so we have to ignore our body’s legitimate call for more food) or because we want food and don’t care if we are hungry or not and dive in! So waiting for true physiological hunger seems foreign to many of us.

Add to that the fact that we are used to eating the amounts we are told, either by our diets (a half cup of this or a quarter cup of that) or by our “Full Meal Deals” at fast food restaurants or even the nice places we may choose to dine. Everyone seems to want to tell us how much we need to eat.

The truth is, only our bodies can tell us what we need and God has made us fearfully and wonderfully. He will use our physical hunger and satisfaction cues to direct us in our eating if we allow him to do so!

If you have never tried adjusting your eating to eat only between 0 and 5 (phyiscal hunger and satisfaction), this may rock your world! It makes a huge difference in everything. Without obsessing about what you put in your mouth, if you prayerfully seek to learn what your body feels like when it is hungry and what it feels like when it is satisfied physically, and commit to the Lord to allow these boundaries to direct you when you will eat, you will release weight and develop your dependence on the Lord, too.

When we stop eating for all the many reasons that we think we need to (sad, happy, celebrate, stressed, depressed, etc., etc…) we find that a lot of emotions go unanesthetized…and we need the grace of God to help us get through. We find that we have come to rely on food in more ways than we can imagine. But as we persevere and allow the Lord to get us through, not only do we release physical weight, but we experience the healing of our hearts and minds through the only One who can truly satisfy what ails us.

Here is my level 3 goal.

Level 3 Goal: To eat only when at a 0 and to stop at or before a 5.
Action Steps: To slow down, to be aware. To allow myself to take sips of a beverage between bites and put the food or fork down. I have been distracted while eating and I think this has caused my portions sizes to be larger. Also, for now, I will take half of what I have been normally. I will wait 10 minutes before getting another serving to see if I am still really hungry or not.

Your turn! ๐Ÿ™‚ For Level 3, write your goal in your journal if you don’t have the HEAL book and/or share it with us here at the blog if you want added accountability.

Goal: ________________________________________________
Action Steps: _________________________________________

Don’t forget that our relationship with God is the foundation and is to permeate everything else. Once the focus shifts to 0 to 5 eating, some of us may struggle with leaving God out of it. Be aware of this tendency and the tendency to hop on the scale repeatedly through the day. Again, I urge you to toss the bathroom scale out or to, at least, send it to a girlfriend’s house for a couple of months and see if God and you can do this thing without that tool. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tomorrow, level 4. Remember that we may not “accomplish” these levels in succession. We definitely will have to continue to work on level 1 all our lives long! ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a blessed Lord’s day!

Living Room Session 2 Part 2

Allie and Judy have done a great thing in this lesson. I really like this group study. They ask us to discuss the HEAL pyramid and then to take time individually to create personal HEAL goals for each level of it. They want us to list practical, action-oriented steps that will help us to reach those goals. We are encouraged to remember that the Lord is not concerned with our outer appearance but with the motives of our hearts. I LOVE that they remind us of this!

So how about it? Let’s take some time to do this. I may post a Part 3 of this tomorrow so that we can really take some time with this. If you don’t have the HEAL book, I want to give you enough information here to be able to participate. Feel free to post questions if there isn’t enough information for you to benefit, too.

You may want to open the book to the HEAL pyramid to have it in front of you. We will go level by level through it here.

Level 1: Relationship with God. Given that we are called by God to enjoy Him, to depend on Him, to call on Him, to serve and worship Him, to allow Him to be the only thing we worship, given our tendency as human beings to put something else in place of Him at almost every turn…maybe especially when we are concerned about our bodies, appearance, and food, what is a very real goal that you can establish for yourself in this area? Prayerfully consider what God is asking you in this?
Goal: _________________________________________________
Action Steps: ___________________________________________
You may want to have a journal that you write these things in.

I am not sure I like the way I worded my goal, but here it is without editing:

Level 1 Goal: To invite God into everything, including my eating. To obey Him in ALL things, completely. (I figure if I don’t shoot for ALL things, then I will definitely NOT be obedient. If ALL is my goal, then maybe I am more likely to obey Him more frequently.) I also want to add that this is my goal NOT because I believe I can win his approval this way. In Christ, I HAVE his complete approval. My desire to obey him is motivated out of a heart of love for him. So, I guess my goal would be best stated “To love God more!” ๐Ÿ™‚

Level 1 Action Steps: Continue to have the timer on my watch go off every 15 minutes. When it beeps, I will stop and look to God consciously and intentionally for a moment. I will pray, “THIS, I do unto you, Lord.” This will be my prayer.

For some months now, I have had my timer go off incrementally. Sometimes only every hour, but in the past couple of months, I have it set to go off every 15 minutes. It is a reminder to reconnect with God since I am prone to wander so much. This has transformed my life in so many ways. (Even now, it is going off…LOL!)

In the past few days since I included this in my “action steps” with the prayer being “THIS I do unto YOU, Lord…” oh wow…has that ever changed things! It has been incredible to see how God has used that simple, almost *rote*, prayer to stop me dead in my tracks. When I say a word to another, when I drive, when I eat…whatever it may be…saying, “THIS I do unto you…”…yikes. I can’t pray that if it isn’t true. So I adjust what I am doing (most of the time) so that I *can* say it honestly…

Anyhow, this has been really helping me with eating, drinking and other things!

Level 2: Relationship with Food. I have included “and Beverages” in my goal setting. This level of the pyramid is about how I feel about food, do I use it for meeting emotional and spiritual needs or do I truly keep food in the appropriate place, eating to live, rather than living to eat? Do I run to food to do anything for me other than nourish my body? In the HEAL book, other eating disorders are included, too, such as anorexia. In fact, on page 45, we are asked to take some time to reflect on the difference between our spiritual and physical needs. We can so often get them mixed up.

Level 2 Goal: I wrote in my HEAL book, “To relate to food as nourishment–physical fuel–instead of something to fuel my joy.

Level 2 Action Steps: This is one I am prayerfully working through. I know I need some boundaries for a while. Boundaries that I would rather not post here, as I am concerned they might be misinterpreted. If we were sitting around a living room together, I would have the benefit of explaining what the boundaries are and why, and answer questions. Since I don’t have that, I won’t post the details here, but it is clear that I need to have boundaries in effect.

Your turn!

Goal: _________________________________________________
Action Steps: ___________________________________________

Please don’t skip this. Even if you don’t want to write anything down, you can prayerfully ask the Lord–even as you read this entry–what might be your Level 1 and Level 2 goals? What action steps can you plan to take so that the goals aren’t just somewhere out there? I encourage you to do this activity prayerfully. God’s goals and actions steps are NOT a yoke of heaviness for us. They bring delight and freedom!

Tomorrow, part three of Living Room Session 2. ๐Ÿ™‚

Basics of H.E.A.L. and of LIFE! Part 2

Epiphany! Revelation! A Blinding Flash of the Obvious!

A realization hit me following a late dinner. I had a meeting at church last night. I got home very late and was famished–truly at a 0. As I debriefed the meeting with my husband, I suddenly realized that the little steak I was eating was gone. I hadn’t taken the time to enjoy it. I hadn’t focused on the explosion of flavors from having marinaded the steak for 2 days. ๐Ÿ™‚ Hubby had carefully and perfectly barbequed this little “Omaha Steak” and it was incredible. Tender and cooked to perfection. Yet, somehow, I had missed it…AND eaten it all! Sucked the thing right down.

And, in the past, that little steak would have lasted a couple of meals. Even if if IS tiny. :-/

Not only that, but I chased it with dessert–inhaled….

As I fell asleep last night, I thought over what I had eaten during the very busy day. I realized that all day yesterday, my meals involved more food than in the past. If I were to compare yesterday with a year ago, I bet I had eaten twice as much. NOT ok!

I think I will have to cut my portions in half again and see where I go with that.

Wow! I wonder what else I am blind to in my life? I bet a lot. :-/

Psalm 139:23…Search me O God and know my heart…

The light went on today and I discovered that greed has returned.

And, sadly, I tuned out the voice of God. I heard his whisper to my heart and turned my back. How often have I done that! ๐Ÿ™

This brings home to me that food isn’t the problem. But in this case my eating says a lot about my heart. I have allowed attitudes to re-emerge that have caused physical boundaries to weaken. My focus has shifted again…subtly and I see it clearly as I look at yesterday. Wow. I turned my “deaf ear” to the Lord. Didn’t feel rebellious..just felt hurried. :-/

Hmm…Reality check time.

I am redefining my stopping point for my meals today. “0” or “satisfied” will be when I no longer am hungry. (This is what it used to be!)

Lord, please be my portion today. Be my satisfaction. Help me to see the truth about myself and about you. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.