5 Essential Steps to REBOOT Your Brain

STOP * PRAY * BREATHE * THINK * APPLAUD

Many of us deal daily with the challenges and heartbreak of emotional eating and the constant need to get our health habits back on track. We’re also constantly bombarded with negative, unhealthy messages about our value as human beings. Like an old long-playing record that never stops repeating hurtful insults, it just turns round and round in our heads. It’s been there so long, it’s as familiar as an old friend.

These five steps are a way to help deal with the times when we reach for solace in food and self-recrimination. They’re meant to help us redirect our thought patterns toward a more empowering outcome. So, when you find yourself  headed toward anything you know will lead to guilt and yet another emotional beat-down, try these steps instead.aware-peaceful-etc

STOP

Catch yourself and cease moving in the direction of an unhealthy choice. Imagine a stop sign in your mind. This arrested movement may only be in your thoughts, or you may physically come to a halt or both.

PRAY

Immediately ask God to give you strength to change the direction of your thoughts and the action of your body responding to your thoughts. While you’re at it, ask Him to help you feel and recognize His love for you.

BREATHE   Breathe

Take a deep, cleansing breath. Keep your mind on your prayer and other positive thoughts or an uplifting tune.

THINK

Think about the choice that will make you truly happy. The one that you will not regret later. The one that makes you say, “I can do this!” And, most importantly, the one that confirms in your mind what you already know in your heart. Your value is far above rubies and diamonds. You are greater than all the stars in the heavens. This is how one treats a person like you.Flower_reflection

APPLAUD

You made it! You kept your train on the tracks! Enjoy the moment. Revel in it. Express your gratitude to God for His help.

Please share you thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

 

Key Chains and T-shirts

Checking out at the grocery story one day, the woman behind me read my t-shirt and asked, “Do you live in Phoenix, or do you just have the t-shirt?” Honestly, I don’t think much about what’s on my t-shirt after I put it on in the morning. It took me a minute to understand what she was asking.

“My husband brought it back for me from a business trip,” I replied. “It’s a thing we do.” As I walked back to my son’s house where I’d been helping out, I thought about how the bring-me-back-a-t shirt tradition started.

It started with key chains.

Sam and I married young by today’s standards. We had our first child, Ashley, a year later. She had gained three sisters and a brother by 1992, the year she turned seven. I had gained 133 pounds and held onto most of it until 2001.

During those years, Sam had worked himself up from box maker at a local medical device manufacturer to quality manager at a local competitor. More responsibility meant he started going on business trips. Each time he went to a new city or country, he’d bring me back a souvenir key chain instead of a t-shirt. Back in the 80s and early 90s, it was difficult to find a size XXXXL t-shirt in a department store and impossible to find one at an airport gift shop. He had fun picking out a key chain he thought I’d like, and I looked forward to seeing what he’d chosen for me.

By 2003, with the support of my wonderful husband, family, and friends, I had deleted three Xs from my t-shirt size. Sam started buying me souvenir t-shirts! I was sooooo excited to finally fit into my wardrobe of choice: a t-shirt and jeans. My closet quickly filled up with t-shirts from cities all around the United States.

The colorful phoenix logo on my t-shirt is symbolic of the journey I’ve been on. In many ways, the old me has died and a new happier, more grateful person has risen from the ashes of her former self. When I look at myself in the mirror or walk into my closet and see my colorful t-shirts, I say a little prayer thanking God for His grace and for the place He’s brought me to in my life.

Diet FREEDOM!!!!

Don’t be afraid! Be free!

Sick to Death of Diets

I’ve been at this exercise-eat-right-lose weight-gain-it-back game for 37 years. I’ve followed lots of diets and “eating plans” trying to find the one that will finally transform me into a supermodel!!! Not really. What I REALLY want is for this not to be such a struggle! When someone comes up with the latest and greatest diet, I don’t want my ears to perk up and my heart race as I think this might be THE ONE that makes it all better! I want to sit calmly and think, I don’t need it. I’ve got this handled.

Most diets measure success by how much weight you lose. They entice you with, “Lose 10 lbs a Week Without Exercise!” This thinking has become cemented in your consciousness. It’s as simple as this…Air is for breathing. Diets are for losing weight. Both are true, and, done repeatedly, both will produce results. Breathe air and you continue to live. Diet to lose weight and you continue to diet.

What??

Why is that? Why have most people tried several different diets to lose weight? Why do people lose weight and then gain it back?

Answer: Diets aren’t designed for long-term success because they focus on the wrong end.

Toes vs. Ears

Diets focus on the number between your toes instead of the brain between your ears. The key, the secret, to success is between your ears. And just as no one has a brain or a body exactly like yours, no one but you can decide what health practices are best for you. No one besides you can design an eating plan that fits your unique needs. 

I just thought of another reason we like diets so much. Someone else did the thinking for us. All we have to do is follow their plan, and we’ll be slim and gorgeous forever, just like they said. How’s that working for you? I followed the Weight Watchers points plan for six years and lost over 100 lbs. Now, nine years after I stopped counting points, I have gained and lost the same 20-30 lbs ten times over. Grrrr! You’d think I’d have had this thing figured out!

Over the course of time, I have figured out some things. You have too. Through the perfection of perseverance, testing ideas, failing, and succeeding, we all know some of the things that work for us and some of the things that don’t. You have it in you to succeed if you will trust yourself. As a community of friends, we can discover together how to help each other on the road to freedom from dieting! Please share you thoughts and ideas in the comments section below.

Stay tuned! Here’s what’s coming up next!

An N of One

STOP * BREATHE * THINK * PRAY * APPLAUD!!!

“What is your secret?”

A two minute answer won't do.
A two-minute answer won’t do.

My husband, Sam, came home one day and said he’d overheard a conversation in which a woman who had lost a noticeable amount of weight was asked, “What is your secret?” I was shocked by her answer! I’ve been asked this question before, but I’ve always been hesitant to answer honestly. People expect you to say “I found this great diet” or “I stopped eating ice cream” or “I’ve started running every day.” So, I usually hedge, watching their eyes, trying to discern polite interest or eager anticipation to know a secret that will finally work for them. They really don’t want the truth, I tell myself. Besides, it’s not a two-minute answer.

I was shocked because the woman’s answer to “What is your secret?” was the same as mine…the one I don’t share. She said it in only four words, “I pray…A LOT!”

That’s it! That’s my answer. And it took less than two minutes. But there’s more to the story than that, which is why I started this blog.

I want you to know this upfront. My experiences with food and weight-related struggles are intertwined with my faith in God. It’s a foundational part of who I am, how I think, and how I view and respond to life. I do not expect that to be true of everyone who visits or engages with this blog. I hope for diverse perspectives and life experiences among our readers; I hope all of you will feel safe and comfortable sharing your thoughts and experiences related to health and wellness. When you have something to share, type it into the comments at the bottom of any article. We’re here to help each other!

Plugging My Leaky Bucket

“I have this yearning to be accepted and acceptable to my fellow men and women, but they have to reinforce my self-esteem constantly by telling me I’m doing well or that I’m good at something. Sam said once that when it comes to my feelings of self-worth and self-confidence I have a leaky bucket that constantly needs filling.”

The quote above is from a journal entry I made in November 2002, a little over a year after I began a serious eight-year journey to lose over 140 lbs. And while my bucket isn’t as leaky as it once was, I still struggle with insecurities about what other people think of me.

My husband Sam’s analogy of the leaky bucket may seem unkind, but over the years it’s been a great reminder to me that the only person who can control and change how I perceive myself is ME. Just before he said it, I had been begging him to tell me that I was wonderful, talented, beautiful, smart,…anything to help me feel less bad about myself. It was a cry for help, and I was probably crying. I was miserable. At first I was disappointed and offended. How could he say such a thing? Once I calmed down and listened to his explanation, it made sense. He was willing to tell me all of the things I wanted to hear because in his eyes they were all true, but that wouldn’t change how I felt about myself. The positive messages I received from people around me were never allowed to stay long enough in my brain to sink into my heart. My self-esteem bucket had too many holes, and only I could plug them.

Measuring our worth

Sociologists measure people in a society with three yardsticks: wealth, power, and status. Those are pretty narrow measures. They may be useful for some scientific purposes, but there is much more to you and me than that. Society as a whole, and especially the media, feed us the line of bologna that if we’re not as beautiful or handsome as a supermodel, as talented and fit as an Olympic athlete, and as intelligent and successful as a multimillionaire, we’re just not worth anyone’s attention. So, what can we do about that?

DON’T swallow the bologna!

Instead, try this…Think about a person you feel emotionally close to, a friend, your spouse, a parent or grandparent. Why do you love them? What about them do you value and admire? Can you go on and on about how wonderful they are and how much they mean to you? When you think about them, what is the first thing you think of? You could probably make a list a mile long!

Now, look in a mirror and ask yourself the same questions.

What about me is valuable and admirable?

What do I love about myself?

You might ask, “What if my answer to these questions is ‘nothing’?” That’s not an acceptable answer. That’s the depression demon working to torment you. Have you ever tried to comfort someone who wouldn’t be comforted? Don’t do that to yourself. Be your own best friend. Tell yourself, whether you want to listen or not, how amazing and wonderful you are. Be specific. “Your hair is a great color, and it’s so soft!” “You have such a tender heart when it comes to little furry animals.” “I love how you scoop up insects in a paper cup and take them outside to set them free.”

Don’t worry about seeming arrogant. Acknowledge your gifts, talents and strengths. Make a list and post it on your mirror where you will see it every day. You might title it, Plugging My Leaky Bucket. If you need help getting started, think about attributes other people have observed in you. Once, the nurse at my children’s elementary school told me she liked having me around, because I made her feel calm. Since then other people have told me the same thing. So, on my list I would write “I have a calming influence on others.”

This list of positive attributes is a great visual reminder, but how do we make them stick? How can we let the good in us sink into our hearts enough that we believe ourselves to be worthwhile and valuable? What can you do to start to plugging the holes in your leaky bucket?

This is the fun part!

One idea is to look for ways to use your positive attributes to help other people. If you’re a great cook, take a meal to a neighbor or someone who is having a difficult time. Let’s say you’re a good listener. Invite a busy friend or co-worker to go for a walk and let them talk about their challenges. Do you enjoy writing? Write a poem or a kind note and snail mail it to someone who could use a little more joy in their lives. Helping others can work miracles of healing for everyone involved.

What do you think? Since the purpose of this blog is to help each other, please post your thoughts in the Comments. What are some of the things on your Plugging My Leaky Bucket list? What are some ways you combat low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy? What are some things you love about yourself?

So! You Wanna Eat an Elephant!

New Year – New Beginning

The New Year is a natural time to start over or start something new. I’ve begun working on a new goal already: be in bed by 10pm and get up at 5:30am to read the Holy Scriptures for an hour and spend an hour working on my writing, particularly this blog. It’s 7:08am. I’ve already studied the New Testament for an hour, and I’ve been writing for 8 minutes. So, I’m behind schedule a little, but it’s only the first day. It’s a GREAT start!

The writing I’ve already done this morning describes my desires for personal growth during the New Year. In addition to drawing closer to God through prayer and personal study of His word, I’ve committed to focus on improving my relationship with and attitude toward food, particularly sugar. I’ve also decided to consistently exercise at least 30 minutes each day, taking Sunday as a day of rest.

The list of health habits I’d like to change isn’t new. I’ve been struggling with them most of my life: controlling my eating habits, stopping binges before they begin, exercising consistently for the rest of my life, and not using food to excess and for emotional gratification. I want to change them once and for all and NEVER have to worry about them EVER again!

Walking and thinking from my bedroom into the kitchen this morning I had a flash of inspiration:

Focus on one thing at a time, and make it your own. Get it down! Attack it with intensity until you’ve mastered it.

Here’s an example:

Eat the veggies first! I lost 11 pounds last year following a diet plan that recommended eating 16 ounces of vegetables at lunch and 16 or more ounces of vegetables at supper. Four ounces of protein per meal was also recommended. This diet taught me that if I eat the veggies first, I’m not as hungry for more. Eat the veggies and four ounces of protein and be done.

“When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.”

It’s natural to resist goal setting and not believe in New Year’s Resolutions. We set goals and make resolutions only to have our best intentions crash and burn before the new year has even begun.  The problem is we identify our dreams and call them goals. It’s like saying, “My goal this year is to eat a 15,000 pound African elephant!” Every time we think about our goal we become discouraged. “How am I ever going to do that?”

Think big! There’s nothing wrong with that.

The truth is, if you felt compelled to eat a 15,000 pound African elephant by yourself you could do it. But, it would take years, possibly a lifetime. According to former US Army general Creighton Abrams, “When eating an elephant take one bite at a time.” That’s exactly how we need to think about our goals, bite size pieces, baby steps.

My Resolution for this year is to work toward my life-long health goals mentioned in paragraph three; control my eating habits, stop binges before they begin, exercise consistently for the rest of my life, and not use food to excess and for emotional gratification. Starting today, and for as much of this year as it takes, I’m going to focus on eating my veggies first and becoming more consistent with daily exercise as if my life depended on it. Once I’ve mastered those two things, I’ll move on to something else. Hopefully eating my elephant won’t take a lifetime, but if it does, so be it.

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