Are You Carb Sensitive?

I love corn chips, pizza, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, and garlic bread…but they don’t love me back.  Why?  I am carb sensitive.  I had always suspected this, but I found the following quiz in a book (and another version in Health magazine last year) and wasn’t surprised by the results at all.  Answer yes or no to the questions below:

1.  I crave carbohydrates and sugary foods much of the time.

2.  I have been overweight for much of my life and have struggled to lose weight.

3.  I am a woman and over forty.

4.  I suffer from chronic bouts of depression and then overeat to compensate.

5.  I am sometimes nervous, panicky, or irritable.

6.  When I eat sugar, I get tired and sleepy and can’t think clearly.

7.  I’d rather have carbohydrates than protein most or all of the time.

8.  My diet consists of a lot of processed foods like white rice, bread, pastas, sweets, or sugary cereals.

9.  I don’t exercise very much or at all.

10.  I suffer from chronic stress.

If you answered “yes” to three or more of these statements, you may be carbohydrate sensitive.  (Don’t feel bad if they all apply to you — I answered “yes” to all of them!)

If you’re a woman, knowing that you’re carb sensitive is extremely important.  While men tend to burn carbohydrates for energy, women (more often than not) store carbohydrates as fat.  The fact that our bodies contain estrogen blocks our ability to burn carbohydrates efficiently.  In fact, girls are born with MORE fat cells than boys.  (To which I say, bully on female biology!)

Of course, to be on a healthy eating plan, we must include protein, fiber, fats, and carbohydrates.  A healthy eating plan includes carbohydrates from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  When you overload your body with the wrong kinds of carbs, it can no longer efficiently burn fat and fat that is not burned is stored.

Carb sensitivity increases with age and can lead to insulin resistance.  If your cells don’t recognize glucose anymore, they keep glucose from entering for energy.  This causes your blood sugar to rise, you get tired more easily, and you gain weight — mostly around your mid-section.

To lose weight, you must deplete your fat cells of glucose.  When your cells run out of glucose, the body gets the signal to start burning fat that is stored in the cells.  And even though you can lose some weight without exercising, the reason we seem to lose more weight when we exercise is because the body releases an enzyme when we exercise that tells the body to burn fat stored in the cells.  That’s why a healthy eating plan in conjunction with exercise works so well.

What has really worked for me is this:  instead of reaching for a carb-loaded foods, I have protein with a little fat instead.  Two of my new favorite foods are the Planter’s NUT-rition peanut butters:  cinnamon granola mix and chocolate cherry.  It’s something a little different from regular peanut butter and they both have less fat and sugar than traditional peanut butter.  Two tablespoons of either of these spread on apple slices or celery sticks is a treat that feels naughty but is actually good for you.  When you combine protein with a little fat as a snack, it helps you feel satiated longer.

What is your favorite low-cal, low-carb snack?

shr

Sources of Information:

Choose More, Lose More for Life by Chris Powell

The 17-Day Diet by Dr. Mike Moreno

The Flat-Belly Diet by Prevention Magazine

The 100 by Jorge Cruise

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Recipes (Without Regret): Skinny Fish Tacos

Hello, my name is regret
I’m pretty sure we have met
Every single day of your life
I’m the whisper inside
That won’t let you forget
Hello, my name is defeat
I know you recognize me
Just when you think you can win
I’ll drag you right back down again
‘Til you’ve lost all belief
These are the voices, these are the lies
And I have believed them, for the very last time… 

(Matthew West:  “Hello, My Name Is.”  You can read the rest of the lyrics here or listen to the song here.)

I’ve been listening to this song on the radio over the last several weeks.  The first verse just caught my attention and I thought, “This has been me.  This has been my life.”  Can you relate to these words?  I’ll bet most of us can.

Making a step toward being healthy has meant letting go of a lot of things — eating with abandon, never moving my body, not shopping the perimeter of the grocery store enough (where the fruits, veggies, dairy, and meat are located), fast food binging…all my regret and all the defeat I have felt in my life over countless failures.  I’d forgotten what I’ve always told my children — we learn through our mistakes.

So, I’ve made it my mission to make small, manageable changes in my life so that I can be healthy.  One way I’m doing that is to re-vamp my favorite recipes so that everybody can enjoy them and I’m not making “DIEt” food for me and all the other stuff for the rest of my family. My favorite thing to make for dinner is RESERVATIONS!  But since that’s really expensive and totally inconvenient (this means I can’t eat in my pajamas if I’ve had a bad day), I like to experiment with dishes that I might order if I were to go to my favorite restaurants.  Even though I try to make healthy choices when I do eat out, sometimes the dishes I like are not healthy.  So here is my take on a favorite of mine from Beef O’Brady’s (which is a pub-style chain restaurant, if you’re unfamiliar.)

Skinny Fish Tacos (With Garden Salsa) Serves 1

1 tilapia fillet, 4 oz. (or any white meat fish of your choice)

2 Low-Carb, High Fiber Tortillas (I use Banderitas brand)

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely diced

1/2 tomato, seeded and finely diced

1 scallion, finely diced (bulb and sprout)

shredded lettuce

Other vegetables of choice, finely diced

1 tsp. non-fat, plain Greek yogurt

Spices of your choice (I used Cajun spice mix, garlic powder, onion powder, a little salt, and pepper)

1 tsp. coconut oil  or olive oil

Add oil to a skillet on medium/medium-high.

Rinse and dry fish fillet.  Sprinkle liberally with Cajun spice (or chili powder), garlic powder, onion powder, and pepper.  Pan fry the fillet,  approximately two minutes per side.  When done, place on a paper towel to drain.  Add salt sparingly at this time.  (I even put a paper towel on top to get any excess oil off.)

In a bowl, mix the cucumber, tomatoes, scallion (and other veggies) with the yogurt.  Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste.

Flake the fillet and divide it between the two tortillas.  Top with the garden salsa mixture and the lettuce.

At this point, I fold my “taco” like a “burrito” so all the filling stays inside.

Nutritional Information

245 calories ( for 2)

14.5 g. fat

>1 mg. cholesterol

15.5 net carbs

38.4 g. protein

Compare that to the information I culled from the Beef ‘s website for their Fish Tacos:

1040 calories (for 2)

68 g. fat

55 mg. cholestero

l 87 g.  net carbs

33 g. protein

If you’re unfamiliar with “net carbs,” let me explain:  to find the net carbohydrates of a food, you subtract the fiber grams from the total carbohydrates.  That is your net carbohydrates.  Because your body eliminates most fibrous foods, those carbohydrates can be subtracted from the total carbohydrate count.  The more fiber a food has, the less your blood glucose (blood sugar) will increase.  Eating lots of carbohydrates causes our blood glucose to rise, sometimes by a huge amount at one time.  Large spikes in blood sugar cause us to have cravings that can get out of control.

I don’t eat a lot of grain carbohydrates, period.  But when I do eat them (and I refuse to avoid them all the time), I look for low-carb options that have a low-sugar and high fiber content.  There are a lot of factors that go into net carbohydrates and if you want to learn more, see the related article below.) This is such a filling meal.  In fact, I usually share this with my daughter (who, by the way, is not much of a fish-eater).  I pair it with a side salad and a piece of low-sugar fruit, such as a cup of blueberries.

shr

Related Article:What Are Net Carbs?

Music Monday: Carry the Light

I have always loved my first name.  “Sandra” means “helper” and I’ve always thought that I was good at that — helping people.  It’s one of the reasons I became a public school teacher.  It is also what Jesus calls us to be — helpers.  One of the first lessons I learned as a child was that God loves helpers.  He calls us to serve others and we mostly do that by helping them.

My middle name, not so much.  My middle name is “Eileen.”  I have disliked it most of my life.  If people found out what it was, I got teased incessantly with the old (and not-s0-nice) joke, “Sandra I-Lean-Over-And-You-Kiss-My-Butt.”  I happily dropped the use of my middle name when I got married and used my maiden name instead.  Now only those really close to me know my middle name (and, of course, the whole blogging universe) and only one person still teases me with that awful joke from my childhood (Yes, Kelly Rosser, I’m talking about you!)

  Image Source:  www.bing.com

Just this year, I have embraced my middle name again.  You see, “Eileen” means “light.”  The Bible says many things about light.  Here are the two verses I love the most:

Later Jesus talked to the people again, saying, “I am the Light of the Light of the world.  The person that follows me will never live in darkness but will have the Light that gives life. ( John 8:12 NCV)

You are the light that gives light to the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  And people don’t put a light under a bowl.  They put it on a lampstand so the light shines for all the people in the house.  In the same way, you should be light for other people.  Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in heaven.   ( Matthew 5:14-16 NCV)

 That’s the other part of what Jesus calls us to be:  His light to a world of darkness.  Last week at Bible school, I got to interact with children of all ages and their parents.  I was able to fellowship with my fellow church members who taught along beside me and we had scads of fun.

But the question I faced this morning was this:  what are you doing, Sandra Eileen Hall Rosser, to bring My light to this world of darkness? 

There are many children who attended Bible school last week that do not attend our church regularly.  When we had our commencement ceremony Sunday morning, a great many of them were not present.  These are children and adults that I know are not in a regular church anywhere.  I know because I made it a point to ask.

What am I going to do about it?  I’m going to make contact with them.  I’m going to invite them to the programs I know they will enjoy.  I will start with the children and pray that the parents follow along.  (Many times we will do for our children what we wouldn’t normally do for ourselves.)  And I’ve decided to keep asking, checking, and inviting until they avoid my calls altogether, tell me never to call again, or decide to show up and give God’s house a chance.

After all, it’s my name.  It’s my legacy.  And even though your name may not be “Eileen,” it’s your legacy as well.

What about you?  What will you do to “carry the light?”

shr

Carry the Light (Various Christian Artists)

The Skinny Behind Getting Healthy

So it is, another Thursday that I’m posting for Weight Loss Wednesday.  I have been involved in Vacation Bible School at my church this week and for the past two nights, I have fallen asleep where I’ve landed (the couch) after returning from my filled-filled, Spirit-filled evenings.  For those of you unfamiliar with VBS, it is an excursion of music, crafts, games, Bible study, and fellowship similar to camp but within the confines of three-hours, sometimes at night (like ours), sometimes during the day, but always in the summer.

So, I’ve shared with you my weight loss story and some tips for getting healthy and fit that worked for me.  What I realized on this journey was that it’s a lot more than losing the pounds and inches — it’s about getting healthy and living a life that pleases my God by keeping my temple (my body) in a holy, praise-worthy condition.

Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected. (Philippians 4:8 NCV)

I found some information about what happens to our bodies when we start eating healthy (i.e. on a Low GI diet) and moving our bodies.  It was pretty eye-opening for me and I hope  it intrigues you as well.

Focus on your weight and your health will definitely improve because your weight and your health aren’t two separate issues.  Being over-weight is a symptom of an unhealthy lifestyle.  There are tons of research studies that show how your body changes when you begin eating healthy foods and being more active.  Here are some of the results that have been listed:

Upon Waking:  Get up, stretch, and give thanks to God for another day.  Ask Him to be with you as you make your choices for eating and activities.  Find some time to read the Bible and pray.  Remember, seven days without prayer makes one weak!  (Okay, okay…so this is not in any health-related study that I know of, but it’s a part of my lifestyle, so I figured I’d throw this in here for good measure. )

After 15 minutes:  The first morning after you eat a healthy breakfast, your brain feels satisfied and the body begins using the calories immediately because your body chemistry is most active in the morning.  (Thus the break the fast of breakfast.)  Eliminating processed, pre-packaged foods that have little nutritional value and are full of sugars and carbohydrates energizes your body and makes you think more clearly, even after just one healthy meal.

After 3 hours:  Your HDL (Dr. Mike Moreno calls it our “happy” cholesterol) increases and starts filtering our LDL (Again, Moreno calls this the “lousy” cholesterol) from our blood.  Moreno says to “think of the LDLs as the delivery trucks, depositing cholesterol in blood vessels, and HDLs as garbage trucks, taking them back to the liver where they’re broken down.”

After 12 hours:  Now your body is turning into a fat-burning machine, using all the energy (read: sugar) you’ve stored in your fat cells because you have eliminated sugar from your diet.  When you’re pumping your body full of sugar, your body can do nothing but process the sugar, leaving no time for it to burn it for energy.  It turns into fat and we all know what happens to the fat.

After 16 hours:  You’ll probably be getting your first restful night of sleep right about now.  Your body is not overloaded with sugar that keeps you awake and restless.

After 24 hours:  You just may find that you’re down a pound or two.  Yes, it may be water weight, but water weight is still weight.  Don’t dismiss the fact that you’ve lost a little on the scale.

After 3 days:  Now your body has gotten the message — it’s beginning to burn fat on a regular basis and senses that it’s losing weight.  All your blood-related numbers have already started moving in the right direction.

After 1 week:  Your LDL numbers may be down and antioxidant levels in your blood may be higher.  (Antioxidants fight disease.)  You may have lost as many as five pounds by now.

After 2 weeks:  If you’ve had issues with high blood pressure that are related to health, your BP is probably down a bit.  You’ll probably be noticing that your bowels are moving more regularly and the scale may say that you’ve lost as much as ten pounds.

After 1 month:  At this point, LDL levels may have fallen as much as 30%.  If your on statins, this is a similar result to taking medicine to control the LDL levels.

After 6 weeks:  By this time you could be down as much as two sizes in your clothes and people are beginning to notice that you’re losing weight — even as much as twenty pounds.  Your cholesterol levels and triglyceride levels will have improved.

After 3 months:  Your blood work will show a significant improvement, if not completely normalized.

After 6 months:  Your energy level will be unrecognizable from before you started this journey.  Your risks for developing Type II diabetes is reduced significantly or if you have Type II diabetes, you may be able to control your insulin with diet alone.  Your body has detoxed now and your cravings are under control.  More than likely you’ve reached your goal.  If not, just keep following your healthy regimen until you get there.  Your hardest days are pretty much over by now, but don’t get discouraged if you have a bad day every now and then.

A good, healthy diet (what you eat, not deprivation of food or fad diets) can do all these things.  I have been chastised recently for using the cliché “lifestyle change,” but if it’s not a change in the style of your life, what is it?  A friend of mine (shout out to Jodie at http://www.jodiebailey.com) says her buzz word for this year is intentional.  She wants her actions to be intentional, meaning that she’s putting thought and preparation into her actions BEFORE SHE ACTS!  So, lifestyle change may be cliché, but it’s still true.

Now, go back and read the Bible verse in Philippians.  It’s all about intent.  Healthy living is about intent — to be intentional in our eating choices so that we take care of the bodies God gave us on purpose.  We only get one, so what we do with it (and to it) are important.

Have a blessed week and by all means, be intentional where your diet is concerned.

shr

Source:  The 17-Day Diet by Dr. Mike Moreno (see references for chapter one for more information on the studies from which the above information is taken)

Weight Loss Wisdom 1

I struggled fiercely with a title for what I want to share with you.  In fact, I stepped away from the computer and lay on the bed for a few minutes to stretch out my back and think.  I thought so hard that I feel asleep!  And I awoke this morning, still with nothing.  As I made coffee, I thought about a verse I had recently read in Proverbs:

But wisdom will help you be good and do what is right. (Proverbs 2:20 NCV)

Isn’t that what losing weight is about — doing what is right for our bodies?  So I chose the above title, not because I am wise and all knowing, but because God has helped me find wisdom in searching the internet, reading books and magazines, and asking questions to people I trust to know what’s good for me (three cheers for Dr. Meredith).

Today’s tidbits of wisdom are maybe not the first things I tried in respect to diet (as in what I eat, not a fad diet) and exercise, but they are certainly bits of knowledge that brought me some results.  That was the number one question I’ve been asked since last Wednesday’s post — How did you get started?  (Thank you for the all emails – lbtk1@aol.com – and Facebook message questions!  I promise I will get to them all.)

Here are ten bits of advice or knowledge to get you started or keep you going:

1.  Don’t drink your calories.  If you are hooked on regular soda, fruit juice, or sweet iced tea, you are probably drinking 2,500 calories a day that do not come from a sustainable food supply for your body.  SUGAR is your big culprit here.  While switching to diet soda or some other drinks that are sweetened with artificial sweeteners is much better than the full sugar kind, I fully recommend water as your drink of choice.  (Sometimes when you think you’re hungry, you’re simply thirsty.)  Try a full glass of ice-cold water before each meal to start with or drink water with your meal.  If you just can’t stand the taste of water, add fresh lemon, lime, or orange juice or fruit slices to your water.

2.  Sweeteners that are natural cause less sugar cravings than artificial sweeteners.  Stevia, Truvia, or sweeteners made from monk fruit, like Nectresse, are three that are made from plants.  The biggest complaint I had when I started was that it took more of these sweeteners to make my beverages sweet.  However, the longer I used them (and I love Stevia in the raw), the less I needed because my body was detoxing from that sugar taste.  I was shocked to hear that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has downgraded Splenda’s “safety of use” level from “acceptable” to “use with caution” based on a recent study from Italy. (Please see the related articles links at the end of the post for more information on this.)

3.  A diet based on the low glycemic index will help if your body doesn’t deal well with carbohydrates.  Carbs are simply not my friends.  The American Diabetes Association has a great website (www.diabetes.org) has a wealth of knowledge and recipes.  I found that if I eat like a diabetic, I lose weight.  My sugar cravings are less.  The one thing that I love about eating “sugar free” (for the most part — I’m not saying I never have sugar because I treat myself occasionally) is that it seems to have attacked that awful belly fat that I had in my “apple-shaped” body.

4.  All carbs are not created equal.  Pasta, rice, noodles, and bread (even the wheat or whole-grain type) are used by your body much differently than carbs that come from fresh fruits and vegetables.  The bad carbs (as they’re referred to in diet jargon) still turn to sugar and it often are stored in the fat cells for future use.  Good carbs take longer to digest and therefore the body actually uses more energy to digest them, making you feel full longer.  I love fruit and truly believe fruit is one of the best natural treats your body can have, but I still try to eat my fruits before 3:00pm.  Fruits in the morning (in smoothies or by themselves) can boost your energy naturally and satisfy a sweet tooth.

5.  Eat fresh, whole foods often.  (Read this:  almost all fast food is a no-no — even salads!)  Processed food is full of carbs (read:  sugar) and ingredients that you cannot pronounce.  I have become a label-reader.  When I see the ingredients list on a label and see things that I don’t recognize or have to Google to find out what they are, I avoid the product.  A chicken breast is a chicken breast.  Fresh salad greens are salad greens.  An apple is an apple — nothing added.

When I do eat out, I go to the restaurant website and search the nutritional information.  When I arrive there, I already know what I’m going to have so I don’t make spur of the moment decisions that derail me.

6.  A ten-minute walk can boost your metabolism by 50%.  Don’t have time to workout?  Find just ten minutes a couple of times a day to walk and you will see a huge increase in your energy and at the scale.  This was the best news I came across in my initial weight loss journey.  I cannot walk more than about ten minutes at the time because of my back, hip, and knee.  The pain is too great.  Most days I can do ten minutes, though.  if you have an iPhone, there are apps (free and $.99 – $2.99 for purchase) that will count your steps as you go through-out your day.  Currently, I use the free version of Runtastic.  While we were shopping yesterday at the Tanger Outlets and Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, SC, I used the app to count my steps.  Experts say that walking 10,000 steps a day is as good an exercise as jogging or a workout at the gym.  I didn’t quite make it to 10,000 yesterday, but 6,407 steps wasn’t bad.

7.  Educate yourself.  Read, talk to others, ask questions, and take nothing at face value.  Dig, dig, dig for information.  Your doctor is a good place to start, but your doctor is busy with a lot of things.  Make a list of questions to ask and back up those questions with articles, books, websites and any other source of information your can.  Give them to your doctor and ask for his/her opinion.  The only silly question is the one you do not ask.

I have to give you one book to read because the information in it changed how I view my carb intake.  Choose More, Lose More for Life by Chris Powell, who is the trainer and star of ABC’s “Extreme Weight Loss.”  The first plateau I reached (at 185), I saw Chris on GMA and ordered the book.  I found out that I was “carb starving” myself.  I had no idea that there was such a thing as too little carbs!  Without some carbs, your metabolism goes into starvation mode and slows down to conserve energy.  It’s a great book and I “carb cycle” now to give myself the needed energy to burn my stored fat.  The great thing about carb cycling is that this book gives your four options, and I love options.  It’s a must-have for your nutritional library.

8.  Find some accountability partners.  These are people with which you can share your trials and triumphs.  I tell my accountability partners what the scale says each week.  I call them when I’m frustrated and want to ride to Diary Queen and have one of everything.  I love Kelly, but he’s my husband, not my accountability partner.  He loves me unconditionally and would tell me I looked great in a burlap sack.  Choose your accountability partners based on their ability to be honest with you.  You need someone to say, “Put down that Pop Tart and back away slowly.”

9.  Weigh once a week.  Your weight naturally fluctuates during the week depending on a great many things, such as salt intake, water intake, and for me, where I am in my carb cycle.  Truth be told, I weigh on Saturday morninging about 7:00am in my undies — sometimes stark naked if I think that will help!  I weight at the same time every week so that over a month’s time, I can see results.  If you change the factors (such as weighing one week in the morning and one week in the afternoon), your data will be off.  So choose a day, stick with that day, and mark your weight each week on a calendar.  (Then tell your accountability partner the results — even if you gain two pounds, two weeks in a row!)

10.  Remember this:  it took you a while to get in THIS shape and it will take you awhile to get INTO shape!  If you’re looking for a quick fix, there is none.  Fad diets offer you false hope.  Even if you have some success on a food-restricted diet, when you return to your old ways of eating (I always did because I could not stand the deprivation), the weight comes back and probably with more added on top.  If you stray from your healthy eating, get back to it soon.  One day does not a lifetime failure make!  It’s a day-by-day lifestyle.  Once you commit to it and start seeing results, you won’t go back.  It feels too good when you eat right.

Good luck as you launch your new lifestyle.  I am still at it every day on my way to my goal weight of 150.  Even after I reach my goal, I will still be at it every day because I love the way I feel.  Let me know if I can help.

shr

Related Articles:

How Safe is Splenda? (Fox News)

Splenda May Not Be Splendid After All (Yahoo! News)

The Truth About Sugar Substitutes (Family Doctor)

The Sweetness of Stevia

 

A Sodom and Gomorrah Kinda Thing

Wasn’t it a glorious Fourth of July?  I spent all day thanking God for my blessings, especially the freedoms that I enjoy because I live in the United States of America.  I am so thankful that men and women love our country enough to lay down their lives to maintain the freedom we have.

The following days were spent packing for vacation and actually getting to our destination — Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  So, when I took my Bible and stepped out onto our little balcony (which is poolside this year, and I really like that), I wasn’t expecting what God brought to my mind.  While expecting to start the book of Acts (this has been a goal of mine for two weeks now, but I’ve been sidetracked every single day by other scriptures), what my heart heard was “Isaiah.”

So I turned to Isaiah, chapter one and got no farther than verse two before I knew why God had sent me to this book.

Heaven and earth, listen,
    because the Lord is speaking:
“I raised my children and helped them grow up,
    but they have turned against me.”  (Isaiah 1:2 NCV)

As I read the rest of the chapter, I realized that Isaiah was speaking God’s truth to the nation of Israel; how they had walked away from their relationship with Him and what the consequences were going to be if they did not repent and ask forgiveness.

The heart-stopping scripture I came upon in verse ten:

Jerusalem, your rulers are like those of Sodom,
    and your people are like those of Gomorrah.
Hear the word of the Lord;
    listen to the teaching of our God!

The same little voice that whispered “Isaiah” to my heart now whispered, “Everywhere you see ‘Jerusalem’ or ‘Israel’ in this chapter, substitute ‘America.'” (I invite you to do this if you want to see the vision I had this morning!)

Knowing that your country is steadily declining is one thing.  Reading about it in the scripture is another.  When I think the absolute worst punishment God ever gave (other than the crucifixion of our Savior), I always think of Sodom and Gomorrah.  One minute, two cities stood teeming with life (albeit, sinful degradation, it was still life); the next, total demolition.  That, dear friends, is where our country is headed unless we quickly and completely turn about.

I sat, without moving, as people started filling the pool area at eight-thirty.  I thought of the music I had enjoyed on our drive to the beach yesterday and I knew what I would share for Music Monday today.  Listen to the lyrics.  Pray them for yourself.  Pray them for our leaders.  Pray them for our country.

God said:

Then if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, if they will pray and seek me and stop their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven. I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NCV)

Believe Him and pray.

Lay Me Down (Chris Tomlin)

shr

Weight Loss Wednesday: The Best Kind of Freedom

IMG

   Me:  2008  (unhappy, unwilling, unmotivated, just “un” period)

The fact that I’m sharing this photo (courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles) is a sure sign that I do, indeed, have a the best kind of freedom.  For the longest time, I cringed when I had to show my identification to anyone.  I felt like a prisoner, chained by my excess weight.  You know that look you get when they’re checking the picture and looking at you to make sure you’re who you say you are?  I would always drop my head and vow to do something about my life, which was out of control in every single aspect — physically, mentally, emotionally, and especially spiritually,

At this particular time, I wasn’t weighing myself.  When I did, the number on the scale made me physically ill.  Then I would take out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and make all the hurt go away.  (I freely admit that ice cream is my food drug of choice.)

In the fall of 2008, I started watching “The Biggest Loser.”  I would cheer for the contestants while snacking on anything sweet I had available.  Sweets are my addictions.  If I never ate another nut, bag of popcorn, chip, or pretzel, I’d not shed a tear.  But sweets — now that’s a different story.  On my worst days, I could eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.  (If you think I am exaggerating, I will let you talk to my husband.  He’s watched me do it too many times to count.)

At the end of the season, I decided to make a change.  January 1, 2009 (I know.  It’s so cliché to start a diet on New Year’s Day, but that’s what I did), I stepped on the scale and was shocked to see the number that stared back at me in big, bold, black print: 225.8 pounds.  Nearly 226 pounds on my 5’6″ frame.

I went to the freezer, took all the remaining ice cream out and put it in a trash bag.  I went through the pantry (I had a shelf dedicated just to me), and threw away Oreos, chewy granola bars, and scads of other delectable, but destructive, items.  I immediately put the bag in the outside trash bin and headed to the grocery store.  There I loaded up on lots of produce (fruits and veggies that I really did already love, but had abandoned for Hagen Das), lean meats, chicken, fish (which I had avoided at all costs up till then).

My next assignments were to scour the internet for low-fat recipes and get myself moving.  (Most regular readers know that I have degenerative disk disease and nerve damage from a back injury in 1988.  It was my finest excuse for not exercising for twenty years, despite the fact that physical therapists had told me that walking and strength training — especially strengthening my core muscles so that no more disks become herniated in my back — would alleviate some of the daily, chronic pain I lived with.)

Long story short, I lost twenty-five pounds in 2009.  I felt really good about my lifestyle change because DIEts always DIE because they are based on deprivation and unrealistic expectations.  It’s a lifestyle change that has to be permanent.  I was also in a great place with God, my family, and friends.

In 2010, my greatest supporter and the love of my life — my husband, Kelly — became ill.  He was constantly at the doctor and they offered every diagnosis under the sun for almost eleven months.  I did not actively decide to abandon my lifestyle change, but I wasn’t as dedicated as I was the entire year of 2009.  I actually was able to maintain my weight (198 at this time) for 2010.

On December 1, 2010, Kelly was diagnosed with AML (acute myeloid leukemia) and we spent the next thirty-three days at UNC Cancer Hospital.  (See the post about this journey in the related articles below).  I walked everywhere at the hospital.  I lost another six pounds in 2010.

I give all praise and glory to God, for Kelly went into remission after the first chemo treatment, and has been in remission ever since.  We experienced four hard months of follow-up chemo treatments that were very hard on Kelly’s body.  I returned to my comfort eating habits.  (I should have bought shares in Ben & Jerry’s — no joke) and I gained eight pounds by the end of the year — now, I saw 204 staring at me from my enemy, “The Scale.”

For two years, I roller-coastered — anybody ever do that?  (I hear all the “amens!”  Thanks for being honest.)  I even posted a picture with a post I wrote about my “intentions” for getting back into my healthy lifestyle.   I did lose a little weight, but my heart wasn’t in it.

In October 2012, I went for my first visit to my new family doctor.  My blood work was horrible — pre-diabetic signs, high cholesterol, blood pressure through the roof.  And on “The Scale” that day before Dr. Meredith, Nurse Michele, me, and God, there it was staring back at me — 209 pounds.

The first thing we addressed was the blood pressure issue and the fact that I hadn’t had a pap smear in ten years. (I hear the gasps. I’m gasping with you.  Seeing it in print is sobering!) I know it was a horrible decision and I make no excuses.  My lesson — it’s worse to not have a pap smear and worry that something is wrong than to go to the doctor and get a little lecture — Dr. Meredith was kind, but firm.  She said there were other things we’d address at my next visit in four months.

That very afternoon, I watched an episode of Dr. Oz which dealt with body shapes.  I quickly identified myself as an “apple.”  His next words hit me hard — women with apple-shaped bodies (that means you carry most of your weight in your belly) and are over-weight have triple the chance of developing heart problems.  I thought of my Granny Mae, who died of congestive heart failure in 2001.  I thought of my blood pressure reading from the doctor that same morning — 160/100.  I thought of my husband, my kids, my precious granddaughter, and my friends — and I got on my knees beside my bed and prayed to God for forgiveness for not being a good steward of my temple.

You should know that your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit who is in you. You have received the Holy Spirit from God. So you do not belong to yourselves,because you were bought by God for a price. So honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, NCV)
Image   Me: 209 pounds in October 2012

Even through Thanksgiving and Christmas, I lost five pounds.  On January 1, 2013, “The Scale” read 204 pounds.  Four years later and I’m looking at the same weight as I was on January 1, 2009.  This time, I knelt beside the scale and promised God that I would NEVER, EVER, EVER see that number on the scale again!

Talking with my friend and prayer warrior, Michele Bedsole (who is one of my accountability partners — and ACCOUNTABILITY is going to be a post for another day), we decided that our women’s Bible study would be “Made to Crave” by Lysa Terkhurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  There were three women who did the study (felt like that was the devil trying to discourage us, but we forged ahead anyway).  Ladies (and gentlemen as well — this book speaks to everyone), this book changed how I looked at why I overeat.  I realized that lack of will power was really a lack of faith.  I didn’t believe that God could change this body of mine and I’d forgotten to turn to Him when I felt overwhelmed.  I let the “comfort of food” be the god of my life.  This was an eye-opener to me.

In January, my daughter, my daughter-in-law-to-be, and decided to join Gold’s Gym.  The upfront fees were enormous and I just couldn’t afford to pay it.  (FINANCIAL STRESS — that’s also a subject for another post.)  As we started to walk out, God whispered, “negotiate.  Don’t take “no” for an answer.”  So, I poured my heart out to this woman who was taking our application.  She called her manager over and I poured my heart out to him.  I almost fell out of my chair when the deal they offered was only five dollars more a month than the monthly fee if I paid that huge membership fee up front.  Of course, I had to agree to a two-year contract instead of a month-to-month, but God and all the angels were cheering me on.

All winter, we went to the gym.  We “treadmilled” and “ellipticalled.”  We used the weight machines.  We danced in Zumba (I did what I could, stopped and watched others when I couldn’t do the moves because of pain, and joined in again when I could.)

At my four-month check-up with Dr. Meredith, I was down to 194 pounds — a fifteen pound loss since I’d seen her in October!  She looked at me and smiled.  “I guess we don’t have to discuss weight loss after all,” she said and gave me huge hug. (Then she told me I had to have a colonoscopy — there is always a balance, the good with the not-so-good.)

My June check-up was equally fantastic.  My blood pressure was down — 120/76.  My bad cholesterol was down (but my good cholesterol was down).  The pre-diabetics signs were gone.  And best of all, to me, I was down another fourteen pounds — 180 pounds and proud of it!

Today, I stepped on the scale, even though it’s not my day to weigh-in.  I usually weigh on Sundays and I thank God for whatever the number is on the scale.  In fact, Sundays are for praise and worship.  No requests to God from me on a Sunday.  (Thanks to Jodie Bailey, friend and talented author of Freefall, for that suggestion a couple of years ago in a Bible study she led.)  I wanted to report my actual weigh to you when I showed you my follow-up photo.  (If you compare it to the second photo in this post, you will notice that I couldn’t even pull the exercise shirt over my belly!)

Image

Me: 176 pounds on July 3, 2013

If I calculate from January 1, 2009 that’s a loss of 49.8 pounds.  Since October 2013, when I really and truly made the commitment to honor my body as a temple of God, it’s a 33 pound loss.  I know that it’s been me physically doing the work, but God has been my ultimate Trainer.  I don’t make it through a day without Him.  I give all the praise and glory to Him.

The Lord God has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free, and to tell the prisoners they are released. (Isaiah 61:1 NCV)

And THAT, dear readers, is the best kind of freedom — the freedom to be all that God wants me to be, to be faithful and fruitful, and to follow Him — wherever, whenever, whatever.  Don’t you want that kind of freedom?

shr

P.S.  If there are particular questions you have for me, you can leave them in the comment section or shoot me an email at lbtk1@aol.com.  I’ll be glad to answer anything.  I’m an open book.  And I want to say that every day since last October has not been a success.  However, I have not abandoned the lifestyle — I just made a fresh start the next day.  In fact, every day is really a fresh start for me.  Let every day be a fresh start for you.  You can do this too.  I’ll be your biggest cheerleader.  I’ll offer you suggestions that have worked for me and I’ll share what I’ve read and studied about how the body works and treats food.  I am not an expert.  I’m just a believer.

Photo Credits:  North Carolina DMV and Sandra Hall Rosser

Related Articles:

Faith it Forward:  A Chance to Say Thank You (lbtk.wordpress.com)

If You’re Weighting On Me (lbtk.wordpress.com)

How Can I Keep from Singing:  Beautiful (lbtk.wordpress.com)