Journey into a Healthier Me – Part 1, A God-centered Eating Plan

I refuse to call it a “diet.”  The word “diet” just has so much negativity associated with it. I want an “Eating Plan.” Something that can become a lifestyle way of eating. Diets are usually strict, short term, weight-loss, goal-oriented things. I want to learn to be and eat healthy. I want to be the best me I can be.

I have a Pinterest board titled, A new me in 2014. At first I was pinning only recipes, healthy eating advice and exercises onto the board. Now, I am pinning other things as well, Scriptures, quotes…that can help me overhaul the entire me. Yes, the goal is to be a healthy weight and generally be healthier physically, but if I only focus on the physical it won’t last. It needs to be a mental and spiritual attitude adjustment as well.

As a part of this journey I am doing the online Bible study (OBS), Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst on Proverbs31.org. We just started week 4 of 6. Right afterward we will begin the Made To Crave Action Plan study. Which was written by Lysa and Dr. Ski Chilton. I want this to be about more than the numbers on the scale. Hence, this sign I’ve put on my scale:

 

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I am taking a slow approach to learning about me and my eating habits and slowly making changes to my diet (how I cook, substituting healthier ingredients for some things, cutting down on others) and tracking everything on sparkpeople.com, so I can have a visual record of calories, fat, sodium, carbs, sugars… I am learning and making wiser choices. If there is something I really want (crave) I think about it and make a conscious decision about whether or not I want to allow myself to have it. So far I have been doing pretty well. Sweets aren’t usually my downfall, my taste buds are more tuned in to savory foods. That’s where my main temptations lie. Meat and potatoes with gravy, pasta, casseroles…. oh, the joys of savory foods. NOT! Not when you’re trying to get healthy. This takes a bit of work to get the flavors you crave without so much of the fat, cholesterol, sodium, and carbs. That’s where the flavors often lie. A lot of that cannot be altered in some fashion to make it healthier, but it is a process for me to learn and make those choices. And I am learning.

 This journey is different than ones I have tried and failed at before. This one, I am letting God and wisdom be my guide. I don’t beat myself up if I give in to a craving, but I am not allowing myself to eat impulsively. I am making a conscious effort to make it a choice to allow it or not. Then, I make it a small/single portion and work it into my eating plan for the day. If it’s a high calorie/fat item will I have to take some other healthy food off my plan for the day to accommodate it?

I was at lunch with a friend at TGIFridays last week. I rarely get to go there, since hubby doesn’t care for their menu. I love their Korean Steak Tacos. When I looked up the nutrition info online I was crushed. The meal was 1080 calories. It’s 3 tacos and a small dish of rice. I looked at the menu for other healthier choices. Even their healthier choices were noted to be only under 750 calories. I made an informed  decision and had the tacos. I ate only half of the rice, and when I felt full I stopped eating the tacos (A major milestone for me. That’s so hard, I was brought up as a member of the clean plate club and when I love the flavor of something even if I feel full I don’t usually stop until it’s gone). Later in the day I was thinking about it and I could have easily trimmed off 160 more calories (+/-) by only eating one of the two soft corn tortillas on each taco. I enjoyed every slow bite as I enjoyed the company of my friend over a leisurely lunch. I did not feel guilty. I had eaten a sensible breakfast and I was cooking a sensible dinner. This splurge was deliberate and I did not feel guilty, because it had been well considered and not an impulse.

I learned a lot that day. And many days before and after. Although I made that choice to allow myself those tacos, that cannot be a daily thing to allow this kind of indulgence. Otherwise, I would train wreck not only my weight loss goals, but also my health in general. What I need to do is learn how to make a healthier version of those tacos at home. Hmmm…there you go! I need to make that a plan. That’s really what this journey is going to be about for me. Planning. God-assisted, wise planning. It’s about controlling the food and NOT letting the food control me. It’s about depending upon a power greater than my willpower (or lack thereof). The power of God is Christ in me. I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit. He gives me wisdom and strength when I acknowledge that I cannot do this on my own. So many times I’ve tried and failed because I tried to do it in my own power. I just cannot do that. I don’t have it in me to do this on my own. We aren’t created to go it alone. We were always intended to be in a constant, intimate relationship with our Creator and Lord, Father and Friend. He is the God who sees us and He knows us by name. He cares so much about us that Jesus said, “even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” We have a God who wants to be a part of everything in our lives, not stuck in a box to come out on Sunday mornings and when we have a problem and need His help like a genie in a bottle. With Jesus as my constant companion I know that this time will be different. It already feels different. My focus is different on God and getting healthy, not on a list of NOs I cannot eat and a list of DOs I don’t want to eat. I have to live by this and many other truths of God’s Word:

Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything ” (1 Corinthians 6:12 HCSB).

So, I take this journey, with God as my guide. He is my inspiration, my strength, my power, my will to succeed. Not, so I can wear skinny jeans, not so I can say I weight 125 pounds like I did when I got married, not so I can feel sexy or any other reason other than, I want to take care of this body because it is the temple of the Lord. I want to be healthy and strong enough to serve God for as long as He has planned for me, to accomplish everything He has purposed for me to accomplish, and, God willing, to be healthy and live long enough to see my grandchildren grow up.

“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” Proverbs 21:20 NIV

I found this verse today. I have read Proverbs many times over, but this verse never stuck out to me as it did today. This verse made me think about making wise choices when I plan meals and when I grocery shop to buy the choice (best, healthiest) foods and to also think about what I’m eating and not just gulping it down, in a hurry, without a thought as to what it is or why I’m eating it. I think the actual meaning of the verse is to store up food for the future (no grocery stores back then), rather than feasting on the abundance now without regard for future needs. That actually works for now, too, because sometimes I eat things just because they’re there, whether I’m truly hungry or not. Hmmm… So, I am trying not to buy too many things that aren’t all that healthy. I’m trying to be prepared enough that if we get snowed in a few days we have plenty to eat, yet not so much of the wrong things that I will eat just because they’re there. I do have a couple things I keep around as a treat. I do allow myself 2 Dove Dark Chocolate Promises a day. It’s dark chocolate and therefore it is healthy, but a half a bag in one sitting would not be healthy. Two chocolates is only two-fifths of a serving. I don’t feel the need to eat a whole serving, if for no other reason, the calories begin to add up, but usually two and sometimes one is satisfying enough for me as I take small bites and savor the flavor. I also have a package of Stella Doro Breakfast Treats (Jim and I call them air cookies) on hand most of the time. If I really want something more cookie/cakey I’ll eat one of those. Especially if I’m having a coffee or hot tea. One is only 90 calories. Granted, they are pretty much “empty” calories, but for that little bit I can deal with it, if it keeps me from pursuing something more decadent. I don’t like sweets so much that I will indulge in more than one of these cookies. Now, if it were an Oreo that would be a different story. And I can’t have Oreos without a glass of milk for dunking. Pretty soon that becomes a very fat, calorie, and carb costly indulgence. 

 

1When you sit down to dine with a ruler, consider carefully what is before you, 2and put a knife to your throat if you have a big appetite; 3don’t desire his choice food, for that food is deceptive (Proverbs 23 :1-3 HCSB).

This verse really puts hunger vs appetite into perspective. If I am truly hungry, I will look for something more healthy and satisfying than a cookie. One (air) cookie will not satisfy true hunger. It would probably take a whole package to make a dent in that and all I’d have to show for it is 1080 empty, unsatisfying calories. A good portion of a whole days calories wasted. I am taking to buying ready to eat packages of carrots and celery. A tablespoon of peanut butter or hummus rounds out these veggies as a very satisfying low calorie snack. Sometimes I will snack on a serving or even just a half a serving of roasted almonds – natural or Blue Diamond’s dark chocolate ones just to take the edge off if I start getting too hungry between meals. It’s better than going into a meal so hungry that you eat very fast and too much, because you don’t give your body a chance to recognize it’s full. It’s working, too! Yay! I am learning that a lean protein at each meal, and as part of a snack, can be much more satisfying than carbs alone. That was a trap I was in for so long. Eating carbs without protein just wasn’t satisfying and led me to eat more of it and more often. Fiber, also, helps curb the hunger and keep it at bay longer.

So, I am working out a plan as I go. Learning from the food tracking I’m doing on sparkpeople.com how to use wisdom in planning and that planning works out better than last minute decisions, especially if those decisions take you to fast food restaurants in desperation. I am learning to consider each thing I put in my mouth before I eat it. No more regrets. No more mindless eating. Just God-centered, wisdom choices. Amen, thank you Jesus!

 

 

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A Place of Surrender

(For week 5 Blog Hop A Confident Heart) #IAmNot

    We moved to Missouri 3 years and 4 months ago. Rewind to about two and a half years before we moved. We were considering remodeling our living room, dining room, and kitchen to become one great room. One day as I was trying to figure out where to move the refrigerator and some cabinets I heard the Lord tell my heart, “Don’t worry about it. You won’t be here.” I let go of the remodeling idea. The idea of moving was exciting when I thought about where I would want to move. Hubby and I always wanted to live on the central coast of California. It would be far from our families, but only a 5-6 hour drive. Doable for fairly frequent visits.
    Some how I got a time frame in my head of within 18 months. Have you ever had a clear message from God only to in the next thought add your own two cents? I kept this idea of moving within 18 months in my head. But, once my time frame passed I forgot about it. I figured it must have been all me and not God.
    Then in August 2009 I get laid off in the first of a series of city lay offs stemming from the State of California’s financial problems. We had been told that someone from each department would be laid off. One by one we who were being laid off were called down to the assistant city manager’s office. As I sat down I said, it’s me. He and the personnel director asked, How did I know? They didn’t even know until now. I told them I just knew it was going to be me. I believe God prepared my spirit to hear the news.
    I had a very stressful job. At first I was upset about being laid off, but after a while of being unemployed I became less stressed even though I wasn’t working and money was tight. I began seeing that God’s hand of provision was actually in the lay off. I got a month’s severance, paid medical through the end of the year, letters of recommendation, and I was even allowed to use unused vacation in lieu of finishing out the week at work. It was too hard trying to work knowing I was being let go. There were at least 2 or 3 more rounds of lay offs to come. None of them got a package like we did and on at least one of the rounds, they were given 1 month’s native, but they had to work the full month knowing they were being laid off. If they left early they would be considered as quitting and be denied unemployment.
    For the people left behind, conditions on the job became more stressful as fewer people tried to accomplish the same work load. I began seeing how God was providing for me not only in the package I had received, but in not being there to work in the increasingly stressful work environment.
    Meanwhile, my husband’s employer had some big lawsuits that caused them to file bankruptcy. Just before Christmas we learned the company was being sold as part of the bankruptcy. The highest bidder so far had been another local business.
    When hubby went back to work after the new year they were informed that the company had been sold to a company in St. Louis. There were reps from the new company there. They asked hubby if he wanted to move. He came home and asked me if I wanted to move to St. Louis. My first reaction was no, but before I could open my mouth, the Holy Spirit reminded me of what He told me about 2 years before. “Yes” came out of my mouth. I surrendered. Missouri was a far cry from Southern California or my dream of California’s Central Coast.
    Hubby was put in charge of the move on the California end. It would take about 6 months to get everything organized and shipped, including making a stock of parts to be used to fill orders during the actual move.
    We had lived in our house 17 years, without many upgrades. We worked for months to get the house ready to sell. I cashed in my retirement funds to help pay for it. It took a while to get packed, painted, re-do the carpet and flooring, etc. We got the house on the market only a month before we were leaving. We sold it in two weeks, for our asking price. Absolutely amazing in June 2010.
    The Saturday before we left California our daughter revealed she and her hubby were expecting their first child. YAY! We were excited that we were finally going to be grandparents. BOO! We were moving away. The next morning I cried out to God during worship. Why God, do we have to move now that we have a grandbaby on the way? I heard, “you have a choice. You don’t have to move. But…”  I could choose to stay (not a real option after selling the house and no jobs), but I would be out of God’s will. He would be under no obligation to bless anything we did if we stayed. I knew it was Gods plan for us to move, so I surrendered, again. It was much harder this time.
    We moved, driving one of our cars, over the July 4th holiday week. Then another blow. We were in Winslow, Arizona when our realtor called saying the appraisal came in $19,000 under the agreed/asking price. The buyer’s lender would not go for it, even though their down would cover the difference, plus. We did not have time to look for another buyer in hopes a different appraisal would go better, so we surrendered to a lower price.
     God is good! We still got a good amount for our house that paid off our mortgage and our mountain of other debt, with some to spare. Hubby’s new employer let him keep his 35 years of service/seniority, gave him a raise, a signing bonus after we arrived, and they paid all the moving expenses. That’s God!
    Some months ago a friend and sister in Christ said to me, maybe God had to move me away from the grandkids (#5 was just born last month and #6 is due in February), because I would be such a dedicated grandma that I might not do all the things God has in store for me to accomplish. Wisdom, I didn’t want to hear.
    I have dealt with depression over the move, that at first nearly stopped me from functioning. And fear and procrastination may have delayed some of the ministry God has for me to do. But, even as I am writing this, the sound track in my head is playing Mandisa’s song “Overcomer.” God is not finished with me. I am learning through this difficult process. I am challenged, but I am supported by God’s Holy Spirit and the many sister-friends He has given me here in Missouri and through these wonderful online bible studies through the ministry of proverbs31.org.
    Surrender is not only the thing we do during big life changing decisions, but it is a daily thing, and a moment to moment thing. Do we listen to God’s voice as we make our every day decisions. Do we recognize the divine appointments God puts in our path and respond when He calls us to touch someone’s life? Do we follow and surrender our thoughts and ideas to Him even in the little things in our lives? I am learning that if we want God’s best we must give Him all we are and all we have in surrender and He will give us a life we could not possibly hope for or imagine. Although it is still difficult being so far away from our family, I have learned to cope and I am thankful that unlike Abraham who had to leave home and family forever, we have technology that keeps us close and rapid transportation that allows us to visit on occasion. I have learned that focusing on me, my circumstances, and my feelings only brings self-pity, defeat, and depression. When I focus on what God has for me to do, I feel joy and peace, and pleasure in knowing I am doing what He has for me to do.

    Heavenly Father, I ask Your blessing upon everyone who reads this blog post. May we all tune our ears to hear Your voice every moment, every day. May we surrender our will and our plan to Your perfect will and Your perfect plan for our lives. Life is not easy with or without You, but help us to say, “I will take hard with You over hard or even easy without You! You are my Rock, my strength, my joy, my peace, my everything!” In Jesus’ name we surrender our lives and our will to You, amen.

A Place of Surrender

(For week 5 Blog Hop A Confident Heart) #IAmNot

    We moved to Missouri 3 years and 4 months ago. Rewind to about two and a half years before we moved. We were considering remodeling our living room, dining room, and kitchen to become one great room. One day as I was trying to figure out where to move the refrigerator and some cabinets I heard the Lord tell my heart, “Don’t worry about it. You won’t be here.” I let go of the remodeling idea. The idea of moving was exciting when I thought about where I would want to move. Hubby and I always wanted to live on the central coast of California. It would be far from our families, but only a 5-6 hour drive. Doable for fairly frequent visits.
    Some how I got a time frame in my head of within 18 months. Have you ever had a clear message from God only to in the next thought add your own two cents? I kept this idea of moving within 18 months in my head. But, once my time frame passed I forgot about it. I figured it must have been all me and not God.
    Then in August 2009 I get laid off in the first of a series of city lay offs stemming from the State of California’s financial problems. We had been told that someone from each department would be laid off. One by one we who were being laid off were called down to the assistant city manager’s office. As I sat down I said, it’s me. He and the personnel director asked, How did I know? They didn’t even know until now. I told them I just knew it was going to be me. I believe God prepared my spirit to hear the news.
    I had a very stressful job. At first I was upset about being laid off, but after a while of being unemployed I became less stressed even though I wasn’t working and money was tight. I began seeing that God’s hand of provision was actually in the lay off. I got a month’s severance, paid medical through the end of the year, letters of recommendation, and I was even allowed to use unused vacation in lieu of finishing out the week at work. It was too hard trying to work knowing I was being let go. There were at least 2 or 3 more rounds of lay offs to come. None of them got a package like we did and on at least one of the rounds, they were given 1 month’s native, but they had to work the full month knowing they were being laid off. If they left early they would be considered as quitting and be denied unemployment.
    For the people left behind, conditions on the job became more stressful as fewer people tried to accomplish the same work load. I began seeing how God was providing for me not only in the package I had received, but in not being there to work in the increasingly stressful work environment.
    Meanwhile, my husband’s employer had some big lawsuits that caused them to file bankruptcy. Just before Christmas we learned the company was being sold as part of the bankruptcy. The highest bidder so far had been another local business.
    When hubby went back to work after the new year they were informed that the company had been sold to a company in St. Louis. There were reps from the new company there. They asked hubby if he wanted to move. He came home and asked me if I wanted to move to St. Louis. My first reaction was no, but before I could open my mouth, the Holy Spirit reminded me of what He told me about 2 years before. “Yes” came out of my mouth. I surrendered. Missouri was a far cry from Southern California or my dream of California’s Central Coast.
    Hubby was put in charge of the move on the California end. It would take about 6 months to get everything organized and shipped, including making a stock of parts to be used to fill orders during the actual move.
    We had lived in our house 17 years, without many upgrades. We worked for months to get the house ready to sell. I cashed in my retirement funds to help pay for it. It took a while to get packed, painted, re-do the carpet and flooring, etc. We got the house on the market only a month before we were leaving. We sold it in two weeks, for our asking price. Absolutely amazing in June 2010.
    The Saturday before we left California our daughter revealed she and her hubby were expecting their first child. YAY! We were excited that we were finally going to be grandparents. BOO! We were moving away. The next morning I cried out to God during worship. Why God, do we have to move now that we have a grandbaby on the way? I heard, “you have a choice. You don’t have to move. But…”  I could choose to stay (not a real option after selling the house and no jobs), but I would be out of God’s will. He would be under no obligation to bless anything we did if we stayed. I knew it was Gods plan for us to move, so I surrendered, again. It was much harder this time.
    We moved, driving one of our cars, over the July 4th holiday week. Then another blow. We were in Winslow, Arizona when our realtor called saying the appraisal came in $19,000 under the agreed/asking price. The buyer’s lender would not go for it, even though their down would cover the difference, plus. We did not have time to look for another buyer in hopes a different appraisal would go better, so we surrendered to a lower price.
     God is good! We still got a good amount for our house that paid off our mortgage and our mountain of other debt, with some to spare. Hubby’s new employer let him keep his 35 years of service/seniority, gave him a raise, a signing bonus after we arrived, and they paid all the moving expenses. That’s God!
    Some months ago a friend and sister in Christ said to me, maybe God had to move me away from the grandkids (#5 was just born last month and #6 is due in February), because I would be such a dedicated grandma that I might not do all the things God has in store for me to accomplish. Wisdom, I didn’t want to hear.
    I have dealt with depression over the move, that at first nearly stopped me from functioning. And fear and procrastination may have delayed some of the ministry God has for me to do. But, even as I am writing this, the sound track in my head is playing Mandisa’s song “Overcomer.” God is not finished with me. I am learning through this difficult process. I am challenged, but I am supported by God’s Holy Spirit and the many sister-friends He has given me here in Missouri and through these wonderful online bible studies through the ministry of proverbs31.org.
    Surrender is not only the thing we do during big life changing decisions, but it is a daily thing, and a moment to moment thing. Do we listen to God’s voice as we make our every day decisions. Do we recognize the divine appointments God puts in our path and respond when He calls us to touch someone’s life? Do we follow and surrender our thoughts and ideas to Him even in the little things in our lives? I am learning that if we want God’s best we must give Him all we are and all we have in surrender and He will give us a life we could not possibly hope for or imagine. Although it is still difficult being so far away from our family, I have learned to cope and I am thankful that unlike Abraham who had to leave home and family forever, we have technology that keeps us close and rapid transportation that allows us to visit on occasion. I have learned that focusing on me, my circumstances, and my feelings only brings self-pity, defeat, and depression. When I focus on what God has for me to do, I feel joy and peace, and pleasure in knowing I am doing what He has for me to do.

    Heavenly Father, I ask Your blessing upon everyone who reads this blog post. May we all tune our ears to hear Your voice every moment, every day. May we surrender our will and our plan to Your perfect will and Your perfect plan for our lives. Life is not easy with or without You, but help us to say, “I will take hard with You over hard or even easy without You! You are my Rock, my strength, my joy, my peace, my everything!” In Jesus’ name we surrender our lives and our will to You, amen.