New Year’s Letter

Dear Friend,

Here we are.  It’s the start of a new year, a blank slate.  What will this year bring?  What are you hoping for?  What are your goals?  Are you going to make any resolutions?

I remember this time last year, you made a resolution to lose weight.  You spent time, money, and energy preparing for this goal.  You got a gym membership, you asked for workout clothes for Christmas, and you stocked your fridge with organic fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.  Your pantry housed whole grains (but no too many) and tea (no coffee because the only way you like coffee is with cream and sugar).  You purchased a Clean Eating cookbook with the gift card you got in your stocking.  You were so psyched to make last year your healthiest yet!  As the year went on, you were struggling to meet the expectations you had set for yourself.  You were missing your weight goals and you could not figure out why, so you switched up your diet plan to ditch the carbs.  You knew that gave you quick results the last time you did it, but you did not have the willpower to keep the weight off.  This year would be different.  As the year progressed you were meetings your goals, but were still behind where you wanted to be.  You felt like a failure.  Then the holidays approached again and you decided you were tired of thinking about food all the time and you wanted to enjoy the holidays and start again with the New Year.

How many years has this pattern happened?  The hashtag #NewYearNewYou is so tempting and you want that to be true for you, but you are also tired of not enjoying your life.  What if you made a different resolution this year?  I know it’s scary to go into the new year without a health goal, but what if you decided to learn more about how your body works instead of forcing it to change?  What if there are some things you are already doing that positively effect your health that you might enjoy doing more of?  I hope you are able to put some thought into your resolutions this year and chose to do something that will bring more peace and less stress into your already stressful life this year.  You deserve it.

Sincerely,

A concerned friend

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My Experience with Intuitive Eating

Since I frequently talk about and refer to intuitive/mindful eating in my posts and tweets, I thought I would share my experience with this approach to health so you could see just why it is so important to me.

Growing up, weight was always somewhere on my mind.  I come from a family of overweight and obese people who always discussed weight and have had various medical conditions related to their health status.  I also was a dancer from age 2 to 18, so weight always came up even if it wasn’t purposefully.  In addition to dance, I played basketball and volleyball.  These extracurricular activities kept me fit, but one called for a long, slender body, while the other produced more muscles, particularly in the thigh region.  If you know me, you also know that my derriere is a little on the voluptuous side which always kept me self conscious.  Needless to say, I had a love/hate relationship with my body and would diet occasionally.

Upon my first year of college, most of these extracurricular activities went out the window as I explored my new freedom.  I quickly found myself 20 lbs heavier and decided that needed to change.  I then began the journey of an even more intense yo-yo dieting adventure.  I tried no carbs, the cabbage soup diet, low calorie, etc, etc.  Then I found my favorite one, the Special K diet.  I was a huge fan of cereal and this diet allowed for a cup of Special K for breakfast and lunch with a modest dinner, so I thought it was a winner.  I paired this diet with exercise as I was training for a group trip to hike the Grand Canyon and Half Dome in Yosemite.  To my surprise, I started losing weight!  The more and more I did it, the more obsessed I got.  I eventually got to the point that I would not let myself have more than 1200 calories a day (because I read it was the lowest amount you could go to and still be healthy-HA!) and would be extra happy if I was a few calories under.  I had a system worked out that if I knew there was a party or get together coming up, I would eat enough to lose a pound or two before the event so I wouldn’t feel bad if I ate too much there.  I felt like I had this dieting thing down to a science and couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it earlier!

While this all seemed so amazing, there were a lot of not-so-good things going on that I chose to ignore.  I avoided eating out with friends and family when I could or would only order the lowest calorie item on the menu.  I would obsess over what I was going to eat everyday to make sure I wouldn’t go over my limit, and this would cause great distress if I had to go off my plan for any unforseen reason.  I would get irritated very easily at anything that disrupted my routine.  Worse of all, I later got to a point where I started to binge and couldn’t stop…

This is when I got a wake up call.  I was in school to be a dietitian and I knew I couldn’t help patients if I continued like this.  I first started to recover by visiting the website FindingBalance.com.  This was a great Christian-based resource for eating disorders and disordered eating that resonated well with me.  I also came across the books Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD and Elyse Resch, MS, RD and Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  These really opened my eyes to what was really going on with my eating habits and that breaking the binge cycle required more than just changing my food choices and exercising more.

The process to becoming an intuitive eater was not easy or quick.  I have seen a lot of failures and successes.  Even now I have moments, when life gets out of control, that I feel like I could fix it if I could just eat a whole box of cookies.  It is an ongoing process and requires work.  I can’t tell you how or when it clicked, but I can tell you that it did.  I’m sure it was around the time I realized I couldn’t fix this problem myself and needed God’s help.  I had to admit that I was weak and let Him be my strength.  I can tell you that now, while I am not the size I always wanted to be, I feel the most healthy I have ever been, mentally, physically, and spiritually.  I eat foods that fuel my body well and I also indulge in my favorite “unhealthy” foods.  I am active, but you won’t find me doing any crazy workout regimen.  I love my body more than I ever have and thank God for it often.

If you want to know any more information about my journey to becoming an intuitive eater or want to know how to become one yourself, I would be MORE than happy to talk to you!

Our Bodies Need Grace

Have you ever felt like a failure because you had a meal in which you did not eat healthy?  Have you ever said mean things to yourself because your body doesn’t look the way you want it to?

I’m sure many of you, including myself, have felt this way.  You try and try to take care of yourself, only to run into failure at some point.  Then you become upset and maybe even depressed and conclude that there is no use trying any more because you always fail.

The sad news is, we will always fail.  We’re human!  There is no possible way for us to escape failure.  It is in our DNA.  After the fall, we were doomed to always fail at some point in our lives.

However, there is good news.  God is graceful.  No matter how much we mess up, He is still there when we come running back to Him.  Romans 8:11  states, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”  That means He accepts us in our entirety, unconditionally.  Before the sin, during the sin, and after the sin.  God hates the sin, not the sinner.

If God can love us, accept us, and forgive us for the terrible sins we commit, why can’t we also accept ourselves the way we are?  As discussed in First Things First, God created us as we are for a purpose.  When we spend time beating ourselves up because we aren’t some perceived form of beauty, we lose precious time that could be spent developing the gifts God gave us.  Our bodies are beautiful and precious, just the way they are.  Lets take care of them.

First Things First

GodsImage

Before we begin our journey to living out our lives healthfully and gracefully, we need to build a strong foundation.  Most of us know and/or have heard we were made in God’s image, but what does that really mean?

When I first thought of this, I focused on the attributes of God.  OMNIPOTENT.  OMNISCIENT.  OMNIPRESENT.  IMMUTABLE.  HOLY.  RIGHTEOUS.  SOVEREIGN.  LOVE.  MERCIFUL.  TRINITY.  I thought, “I am none of these things and I don’t even fully grasp what some of them mean!  I can’t be made in His image if this is who He is.”

As I really began to dig deep into this question, I realized it’s more about how and why He created us.  He did not create any of us the same as another.  We are all unique.  So, in order to keep the world functioning, he had to create us all with our own distinct abilities and personalities.  If we were all made to be gardeners, we would have a lot of food but nowhere to prepare or eat it.  If we were all followers, who would tell us what needed to be accomplished?

Some of us (myself included) get caught up in trying to be like the people we admire.  It is a good thing to strive to do/be better, but not at the expense of compromising who you were made to be.  Doing so robs everyone else of the special gifts we have to offer them.  Maybe you don’t know what that special gift is yet.  Sometimes these gifts need time to develop.  Taking care of and nourishing our bodies gives these gifts fertile soil to grow and flourish.

So what if we chose to strive to be more like God?  Would we then treat our bodies differently?  If God were to come over to your house, wouldn’t you want to make sure he was comfortable and fed well?

In our pursuit of living a healthy life, I believe the most important thing is to be reminded of the truth that God created us for a specific purpose.  With this foundation, the desire to feed ourselves well, be active, and treat ourselves with respect grows.

Psalm139