Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Let's Get Stoned!

The name of this post might have you scratching your head, but stay with me. I'm going to tell you about a ritual that I complete EVERY morning. It's something I do even though I don't want to. Here's my confession...I am a SLAVE to the scale. I'm going for full transparency on this one. I have NO idea who is actually reading this blog, but here we go. Every morning, I get out of bed and go to my bathroom. The scale is sitting there, calling to me like a siren. I cannot resist. I HAVE to know. There are certain things I must do before I step on the scale. I have to empty my bladder, put my contacts in (I feel sure that my glasses weigh more) and take all of my clothing off including my hair elastic holding up my ponytail. To further add to the insanity I ALWAYS step on with the same foot AND make sure I exhale before stepping on (how much can air weigh??). Then I stand there anxiously awaiting those numbers that cause me to feel bad or good about myself, all the while not breathing!

I just re-read the preceding paragraph and I don't know whether to laugh or cry. I was telling someone about my issue with the scale the other day and they asked me what number did I think would make me happy. Hmm. I have a number in my mind that I think would make the Hallelujah chorus ring out, but I'm not sure. Can a number make me happy? I have some days that I think it can. In my line of work when a baby is born do you know the first thing anybody asks? "How much does he/she weigh?" This question usually is asked right when we take the baby to the warmer to dry it off and make sure he/she is breathing, etc. Some days I wish I had scales built into my palms. Sigh. Everybody wants to know the weight. They proudly tweet, facebook or text this info to the world. There are other numbers too. There is our height, our age, how long we've been married, working at a job, how much money we make, the cost of our car, house, vacation and the list could go on forever.

So by now you must be thinking, what role do stones play in this madness? Well, I was watching a show called "Supersized vs. Superskinny" that is produced in the UK. Two people (a big one and a tiny one) spend a week swapping diets and then go on a healthy eating plan for 12 weeks to see if they can change their eating habits and also.....their weight! At the end of the show, they weigh the two participants and announce their numbers to the world. Of course I was curious about how much weight they had lost/gained. The host announced their weight before and after and one of the contestants went from 7 stone to 7 stone 7! Yay! They were all excited that the skinny person had gained "half a stone"!!! I'm thinking...#1 What is a stone? and #2 How do I convert my weight to stones to make it sound better. By using my handy-dandy google app on my iphone, I quickly found out that a stone is equal to 14 pounds. Doesn't weighing 16 stone sound soooo much better than 224 pounds? This also tied in to my Bible study. Jennifer Rothschild talks about how bricks are man-made, but stones are God-made. She also says that we (all of us) were never designed to be brick-makers, but to be living stones. Eureka! He designed us to be labeled as "living stones" with the words "I AM". Look at the many "I AM" statements I have discovered in Him....I am gifted with power, love and self-control, chosen to be fruitful, capable, a new creation, His workmanship, God's treasure, dearly loved, and my personal favorite, God's delight. This is 180 degrees from my usual mantra of "fat, ugly, loser" that has gone through my mind. Jennifer also gave me this gem to ponder on..."Who I am and what I struggle with are not the same thing". I don't have to be defined by the numbers...I am choosing to be defined by the numbers.

I want to know who out there struggles with the same bondage to the scale. I would love to hear your stories. I would love for someone to suggest ways for me to avoid the daily scale ritual. I could put the scales up, but if I knew where they were I would go and get them. Just being honest. I don't want to be defined by my weight....definitely not defined that way by me. I don't know that I would be happy with any certain number. I would be happy to be healthy and achieve physical fitness to live a fulfilled life with my family. That goal cannot be measured with numbers. I wonder if there is a scale that shows your reading in "stone". It takes a while to lose a "stone". For now, I will pray to be content with 16 stone. I will strive to lose a few stone and also to trust in the living stones of God's promises to me.

"The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17

Thursday, August 18, 2011

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie....

I don't know how many of you have kids, but my youngest two love the "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" book along with the other titles in the series. The book starts out with a boy (wait for it) giving a mouse a cookie. Well, inevitably, if you give him a cookie....he wants milk. This starts an avalanche of events where he asks for a straw, a napkin, and a mirror to look at his milk moustache. He then notices that he needs a haircut so he needs scissors, then he needs a pillow and blanket to take a nap and on and on and on... I've been thinking about this book as it relates to my "living a disciplined life" mindset. I have been eating healthier and making better choices, but I haven't deprived myself of anything. If I want french fries, I eat some. If I want a cupcake, I eat one. A couple of months ago, I read Lysa Terkeurst's book, Made to Crave. Lysa talks about eliminating some foods from her diet completely. She's not saying forever, just for a time. At first glance, I thought this idea was totally insane. Why, oh why would you want to give up sugar totally? Can't you eat it in moderation? Lysa then takes it a step further and gives her reason for doing this..."because my brokenness with food runs deep, my new healthy habits have to have time to run even deeper".

So there I this sentence several months after reading it for the first time. This time it hit me like a ton of bricks. I thought about the times over the past 2 months where I had fallen short of my eating boundaries. Believe me, there were more than a few. But I noticed a common theme. When I decided it was okay to eat chips...I wanted something a cookie...which made me want milk...which made me want ice cream. You get the point. Apparently, boundaries aren't meant to punish us, but to keep us safe. If my goal is to retrain my brain, maybe it IS best to eliminate all sweets for a time. It definitely worked for my Coke addiction (the soft drink, not the illegal drug). I cut them out completely for about 5 months and then one day I decided it was okay to have some at the movies with my husband. I can honestly say that I haven't had one since or even a craving for one. Maybe some people can eat all of their favorite comfort foods in moderation. Here's something I have learned....I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE. There. I said it. When I cross the boundaries that I set up for myself, I don't just stick a toe in the water....I jump in with a cannonball and swim for the other shore. Tasting the "forbidden fruit" just makes me want more.

All of this being said, the one thing that is different this time is that I haven't given up. Normally at some point I would say, "Okay, I tried. I give up". Not this time. I'm in it for the long haul. I'm writing this blog partly for accountability. It's all about progress, not perfection. Cleaning out my car and keeping it that way, organizing my junk drawer, giving away older toys, making a meal plan and grocery list, eating carrots instead of chips...all of these are baby steps. My goal is to turn these baby steps into a full out run...all by relying on and giving the glory to Him.

"Don't be so naive and self-confident. You're not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; its useless. Cultivate God-confidence. No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he'll never let you be pushed past your limit; he'll always be there to help you come through it." -----I Corinthians 10:12-13 The Message

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Voices in My Head

I have successfully completed my first session of Boot Camp with Cogi Athletics! Seven weeks of getting up at 5:30am to work out. Last year if you would have asked me if I would be going to exercise in front of people (other than the gym) I would have looked at you as if you had an extra eye in the middle of your forehead. For some reason, at the gym, I felt safe. #1-I am not going to work out at the gym as hard as I do at boot camp and #2-I know when to go so that there are not many people around. Guess what? Now boot camp is starting to feel safe. By that I mean that I feel comfortable with the people there and the trainers. I know that they are all rooting for me to become the best "me" I can be. Do I still feel awkward doing the exercises sometimes? Absolutely! This brings me to the point of this post, which is self-talk. I just started a Bible study with some friends called "Me, Myself and Lies" by Jennifer Rothschild. According to this study, we can talk "in our heads" at a rate of 150-300 words per minute. Wow. Just think about it for a minute. Most of the dialogue is neutral....What do I want to wear tomorrow? Did I forget to lock the door? But, some of it can been construed as constructive or destructive. Do any of you remember "Deep Thoughts by Jack Handy" from Saturday Night Live? Mike Myers would stand in front of a mirror and say, "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me!" This is the picture that flashes in my mind when I think about this topic. But I think Jack Handy had an excellent point. An intelligent person once told me that self-talk, no matter how irrational, is always believed.

When I think about all of the things I have said to myself over the years, I am kind of embarrassed and ashamed. After all, God made me. He made me fearfully....and wonderfully. I'm not sure when the negative self-talk started, but probably grade school. I can remember telling myself that I was ugly....stupid....fat....not good enough. I pray every night that my children know that they are worthy and their earthly parents AND their heavenly Father. Now, I know that this may not prevent negative self-talk. After all, I know that my parents love me. I also have realized that my heavenly Father loves me...just as I am. Of course, He wants the best for me and for all of you! It must make Him sad to see and hear what His children say to themselves AND to each other.

Is my self-talk now perfect? Of course not. Trust me, I have moments, sometimes daily, when the negative voice in my head comes through loud and clear. But you know what? Now I know that the negative voice is a LIAR! Jennifer makes a reference to a "thought closet" where all of the things in our minds are like a closet space. I'm hoping that eventually I can get to the point where the destructive thoughts are so far gone from my "closet" that I can't recall them. She also says that the standard for our self-talk is what is acceptable to God. I don't know about you, but I cringe when my children say negative or hurtful things about themselves. We say things to ourselves that we would never in a billion years say to someone else. I'm replacing those former adjectives with words like...child of God, redeemed, saved, fruitful, valuable, a new creation, free, capable, secure and dearly loved. These are just a few of the truthful labels that you can find in His word. I am so looking forward to learning more about His "labels" and less about the world's "labels". I have learned through this part of my journey that cleaning the inside of the cup is just as important (or more important) than cleaning the outside. I'm good enough, smart enough and gosh darn it, Jesus loves me!

Listen to Psalm 19:14...."Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer".