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Healthy Beverages!

21 Jan

Healthy Beverages!

I have just passed the one year mark after my 100 pound weight loss. That means that I have sustained the loss for a year. Actually, I lost ten pounds more.

In a recent online discussion of healthy beverages, I asserted that I have learned to drink only coffee (usually black) and water. My motto is to drink no calories, with the very occasional latte an exception to that. Not bad for a woman who used to singlehandedly keep Starbucks in business by picking up two venti lattes at a time . . . with full fat milk. I would do that 3-4 times a week, too. Imagine the calories. Imagine the cost.

Eating healthier ultimately turns out to be eating cheaper, too. Even when I buy K-cups for my Keurig and go through up to eight of them a day.

My husband has recently tried to introduce flavored waters into our repertoire. I say no, and here is why. I am not trying to be a spoilsport or an ascetic (people who gave things up just for the sake of living with minimal comforts in their lives). I just find that . . . I get thirsty after drinking flavored water. I am not sure what the sucralose (sugar substitute) does but it leaves my tongue hanging out for water, just as sodas used to do when consumed at picnics on hot days in my youth.

It is clear that high fructose corn syrup was a highly addictive substance for me (there is mounting evidence that it is for most of the human race). I am thrilled to be free of it. I am also pretty sure that if I had a Coke tonight, I would be craving another one tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day . . .

Water, water, water. Whether bottled or from the tap, whatever your philosophy, whatever your pleasure, water is good for you and good for me.

What happens to people when they don’t get enough water? We don’t have to go to Third World nations in need of wells being drilled to see the answer to that.

Look no further than West Virginia last week when a chemical used in washing coal was inadvertently released into much of the state’s water system, resulting in a white, fizzy substance pouring forth from faucets in the capital, Charleston, and elsewhere.

Look to the areas that went through the polar vortex two weeks ago and had frozen and sometimes burst water pipes.

When there is a water emergency, suddenly we are sizing up bottled water supplies in stores and rushing trucks in with more. A lack of water is a serious thing.

On a much more minor scale, I have recently noted that my occasional dizziness (inner ear related) gets worse when I am dehydrated. For instance, when I go to choir practice on Sunday afternoon and stay at church for four hours after forgetting to bring a bottle of water. I don’t usually drink from drinking fountains (at least not during flu season) so I have to remind myself to find a glass in the church kitchen and fill it with water. Or I will find myself suffering from a spinning room by the next morning.

It makes perfect sense. If there are bits of calcium or something getting caught in my inner ear channels, water will move them along. Passages in the body need to stay hydrated in order to get things to where they need to be (usually outside the body).

So . . . in conclusion, I hope to convince many to drink more water and to consume fewer other beverages (except plain coffee and tea). I think it is an easy step to take to better health.

Leaving Weight Watcher Points on the Table on Thanksgiving Day!

29 Nov

Yesterday my husband and I tried an experiment on Thanksgiving Day.  Since we are both in Weight Watchers, me as a lifetime member (for almost a year now) and him as a 20-pounds-lighter version of himself, we decided to try to do a Thanksgiving meal centered on low points fruits and veggies, with turkey available, but not the central actor in the drama!

Our son is away at college and Noel, my husband, just had eye surgery so we were home with just the two of us.  We agreed that this meal, minus dinner rolls and pie, was just what we wanted.

I began our day with a serving of real Irish oatmeal, cooked in 1% milk.

I then started cooking up a storm.  I began with a recipe a friend of mine, Ruth Brown Peters, had shared on our local Weight Watchers website.  There are several ways to do this, but the idea is to make a zero point dessert by cooking apples in the crockpot all day with water, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.  I think I threw some ginger in there eventually, too.

Oooooo-la-la!  That dish tasted exquisite by the time it was done.  The cloves seemed to have absorbed into the apples so they tasted as though every slice had a clove inside! They tasted like a solid version of apple cider.  They tasted like a crustless apple pie. They were one of the best desserts I have ever had and . . . they were zero points.

As I cooked our boneless turkey with just olive oil and thyme, I put in sweet potatoes to roast, with the skins on (we eat them that way).

I cooked our fresh green beans in garlic and the minimal amount of olive oil necessary to stir fry them.

I steamed a cauliflower to mix into our mashed potatoes, which were red-skinned potatoes that I boiled, mostly with the jackets still on them.  After mashing and mixing the cauliflower and potatoes, I added thyme, some chives, 1% milk, and olive oil in place of butter. They were delicious this way.

I made a cornbread stuffing with real cornmeal–I didn’t have a few ingredients that my recipe required, so I improvised a bit this time.  I will try the allrecipes.com recipe again at a later date and do it right!!!  What I made was pretty good, though.  

I finished by mixing up a salad with nuts and light raspberry vinaigrette dressing.  I also made up a fruit salad of all of our leftover fresh fruit and a can of pineapple in its own juices.

I ended up spending 21 Weight Watcher points on my Thanksgiving meal, which was spread out over both the noon and the evening meal timeframes. Our oatmeal had been 7 points. I get 34 Weight Watcher points for my lifetime daily allowance, so I actually ate a packet of processed Slim Fast snack food we had lying around just so I could get three additional points. Even then, I left three points on the table for the day, as well as the four exercise points we picked up with our afternoon walk. It can be done. We actually aren’t supposed to leave Weight Watcher points on the table and I seldom do it, but we proved it can be done on Thanksgiving!!! Delicious!

P.S. At our Saturday weigh-in this week, I had lost two pounds and my husband had lost more than three. That is not something I seek, as a lifetime member, and, in fact, there has not been a week in the past year when I have lost two pounds. But that does make our point that Thanksgiving can be deliciously centered on fruits and veggies and people can lose weight as they feast on low calorie goodies. Just in case anyone wants to know!!! Easter, anyone?

Cheesecake Day!

29 Nov

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This delicious cheesecake is sold at the bakery across from Carnegie Hall in New York City; it is Carnegie Deli cheesecake. The only place to buy it locally (fresh, never frozen) is at Route 58 Deli in Virginia Beach, our most famous Jewish deli.

I went there for a piece of this cheesecake once a month while losing my weight in 2012. I now go once every three weeks. It is my reward for staying on plan. I usually eat it in place of lunch, as it is immense.

And, yes, I count the points in my Weight Watchers tracker.

Today was fun as yesterday was not only Thanksgiving but the first day of Chanukah . . . It felt festive to be in a Jewish deli today!

I will follow this with a post on how my husband and I ate fruits and veggies for Thanksgiving yesterday and left Weight Watcher points on the table at day’s end . . .

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Thanksgiving and Losing My Job!

28 Nov

Thanksgiving and Losing My Job!

Is Thanksgiving a sacrament? Is it still a sacrament when it falls on November 28 and you know that, on November 30, you will be losing your job?

Set out with me on this journey, as I have just undertaken it, never having done it before!

The contract I worked on for the Navy was rebid and, after much rather suspicious interplay between six or seven bidders, a new company got the contract, then promptly rehired mostly the members of a rival team we have worked with over the past four or five months. Our military commands merged over the summer, so they suddenly had duplicates for almost every civilian position on our contract. I can’t say I blame the new person in charge (from the rival company) for keeping his own people and letting us go . . . tribalism usually trumps just about everything else.

The reason I can say that and not grow bitter is not because the behavior of these companies was ethical. It certainly doesn’t pass the “smell test,” although I have nothing tangible to prove that it crossed any lines. Since the contract was subsequently contested, we will see whether the government comes up with anything tangible to prove unethical behavior. This is far beyond my paygrade at the moment!

No, the reason I can say that I am able to move on is because I serve a great God who has never let me down yet. He knew this was going to turn out this way and He let it. Since I am only 55 and at the peak of my health, ever, I know He still has some things for me to accomplish in this life. So it is up to me to find that next “something.” I am encouraged . . .

Meanwhile, I am seeing sacraments everywhere. I looked up the definition of “sacrament” and also read why denominations like Baptists (my own) do not use that word about ceremonies that occur in a church setting. Episcopalians have “sacraments” at church; we have “ordinances.”

That does not mean that Baptists don’t acknowledge the existence of sacraments. We just define them as things God does, while ordinances are things man does.

See the fine point of difference? And see why I can say my life is full of sacraments right now? God has done so much for me. God is doing so much for me. Often in the stillness, often in the silence, but I know His love and it surrounds me, always.

One sacrament is the very great blessing of being able to turn to cooking. In our land of abundance, even the very poorest can afford low cost raw ingredients to turn into wonderful, nutritious meals.

It is a blessing to live in the midst of abundance, to be able to afford that abundance, and to be able to turn that abundance into feasts.

This week alone I have built three feasts from scratch, two prior to Thanksgiving. Some people call that “clean eating” (the absence of prepackaged foods). I call it a sacrament and a delight.

It is warmth. It is creativity. It is beauty, visually, and in the tastes that emanate from my cooking.

I love it. And, in a world that may seem a bit out of control right now, that centers me.

Bless the Lord!

Enjoy the recipe for cornbread dressing, above. I changed it so much (because I had vastly different ingredients) that I will have to try it another time to see what it is really like!

Perspective (there really are at least two views of every event)

15 Oct

“DEAR ABBY: I am almost 30, and when we have family get-togethers several times a year, it seems like they make a point to leave me out of pictures. My mom and sister lost quite a bit of weight recently, and my brothers and cousin are attractive people. It seems like they’re trying to keep the “fat one” out of the photo, and it hurts my feelings.

Recently, a cousin came into town and made copies of two excellent pictures of my mom and sister and posted them online. Again, I was not included. What should I do? I am depressive anyway, and these obvious oversights are upsetting me. — LEFT OUT IN TENNESSEE

DEAR LEFT OUT: Talk with your mother and sister to confirm if what you suspect is happening is true. It’s possible your mother and sister are so proud of their weight loss they want to show it off. (There are ways to pose family members in photographs so their weight isn’t apparent.) As to the visiting cousin, there may be such a marked change in their appearance that he/she thought it was worth posting on the Internet.

A problem with depression is that quietly brooding solves nothing, and it often causes people to overeat. Because your depression is chronic, please consider discussing it with your health care provider because interventions are available.”

Amazing letter, this!

I would never, in a million years, have thought that I should look around when someone is taking my picture to document my weight loss to see who is not in the picture.  

It is easy, from my side of things, to think that this letter writer is just oversensitive.  

But we all feel left out of events sometimes . . . often for the strangest reasons.

Probably there are no answers that fit every person or every situation.

But we can be compassionate with each other, even when the other is unreasonable, or seems to be.

Christlikeness goes a long way toward helping us grow in community!

 

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

1 Oct

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month!

And October is the month that many of us celebrate surviving breast cancer. I am now officially a five and a half year survivor, having been diagnosed in early April of 2008.

So many fears back then! So many victories now!

I remember lying awake the night before my surgery (a lumpectomy, so not even as painful or extensive a surgery as those many of my friends have endured) and thinking that I would never feel happy, or whole, or painfree again. Yet I still slept pretty well that night because I still knew God had hold of my situation.

And how marvelously He has brought it all back around.

He allowed me to survive. He didn’t have to do that. He would have still been a good God if He didn’t choose for me to have that ending.

He allowed me to get a good Navy contractor job the following year, after I retired from the Navy reserves.

He allowed for me to not only lose the forty pounds I gained during and after chemotherapy, but He allowed me to lose 70 more so that my health is actually much better now than it was in the years right before I got cancer.

He allowed me to start this blog, a true labour of love and a lifetime dream. I could never have imagined when I dreamt of being a writer as a child that someday I could put my thoughts out, worldwide, with a few clicks of a keyboard!

He allowed us to find Shepherds College, a wonderful special needs school, where our beloved son is now getting his education in horticulture.

And He allowed Noel and me to rediscover why we married each other almost 25 years ago.

Our trip back from Wisconsin was a dream! We spent three nights more in Racine after we left our son on his campus nearby, visiting Chicago by train during the day. We then drove to Philadelphia and spent three days there.

See our Liberty Bell shot, with me in (almost) breast cancer pink?

I thank God for giving me a godly, loving husband who shares my interest in art and history. The last three cities we have explored (Milwaukee last year, now Chicago and Philly), we have started with the art museum and worked our way outward. It is how we used to explore Europe, back in the day!

Oh, we have such fun!

Thank You, Lord, for letting me be a survivor! Lord, You are so good!

Congratulations to all survivors everywhere, especially Marci, Kathy, Barbie, Jodi and Jody, and Brenda (both of you)!

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What is a Vapid Narcissist?

26 Sep

What is a Vapid Narcissist?

I have been dialoging with a precious friend who is doing this year what I did last year–losing 100 pounds.

She wrote something fascinating in her blog this week, something timely that gave me pause to think.

She has been focusing on the idolatrous affair our society can have with food. And, looking ahead to when she has finished her weight loss, she asks, “What next?”

She wisely does not want to switch from one idolatry to another, so she wants to avoid switching her worship from food to clothes or makeup or just the satisfaction of seeing a small body in the mirror.

She used the phrase “vapid narcissist” to describe what she most of all does not wish to become.

That phrase both startled me and pleased me. It was both expected and unexpected at the same time.

You see, when you grow up in certain sectors of our society, that is the first thing you think of when you think of having a small, visually lovely body: “How many ways can I misuse my newfound freedom from obesity?”

And, while I agree with John Calvin when he said that the human heart is an idol factory, I have come to the point where my greatest fear is no longer how I will misuse my thinness. My greatest fear is misrepresenting God’s grace in all of this. And I struggle with that constantly because there is so much I don’t know, both about God and about this world He has made and how His principles interact with it.

Lately I cling to the verse that says He has freely given us all things to enjoy. In fact, if He leaves something open in His Word and does not address it one way or the other, I have been consciously trying to not argue from silence. If He does not forbid someone from doing something, neither do I. I leave that as a matter for each man’s conscience. It is not as easy to do as it sounds.

For example, the enclosed link would sum up about everything I believe about narcissism (a secular term, thus a secular article).

I don’t believe anymore (as I did while I was being raised by one of the most frugal mothers on earth) that owning and wearing pretty clothes automatically indicates that someone is vain.

With God, it is so much more complicated than that, since God looks on the heart. Some of us can be totally given over to nice clothes (or nice makeup or nice jewelry) to the point we don’t even see Him or His work in our lives. Yet someone else can have just as many nice things to put on, yet without the slightest tint of idolatry.

Vapidness means emptiness. Narcissism means putting myself at the center of everything as though other human beings were mere things to operate for my convenience.

So what is it when a group of ladies, out with their husbands, converges on the ladies’ room for giggling conversations, while adjusting their lovely dresses over their trim figures? Is it empty and selfish when they emerge from that ladies’ room and bask in the appreciative looks of their own husbands?

Ya know, I don’t think it is.

If I am dressed up and fellowshipping with my similarly dressed up girlfriends, then enjoying the healthy appreciation of my husband’s eyes, that may very well be one way of seeing how God has richly given me all things to enjoy.

Narcissists separate themselves from others, feeling special. If I am giggling with my girlfriends, enjoying how lovely we all look, then that is not narcissism.

If I am flirting with the husband God has given me, that is not emptiness.

I only point this out because we can tend to act as though God is the big spoilsport in the sky. We can unconsciously kill every buzz life gives us, lest God see us having a good time and move in to squash us like a bug. Only, that would not be a loving God. That would be a monster.

Oh, yes, we certainly need to avoid becoming a vapid narcissist when we lose weight, or at any other time. But we need to make sure we define the term accurately, too.

For some of us who have been raised with values that tend toward Puritanism, those definitions can make all the difference.

Not to discredit the accomplishments of the Puritans, but no age was a golden age.

In every age, the idea is to walk closely with the Lord and feel His pleasure in our relationship with Him.

The Father really is as good as Jesus said He is!!!

Theology of Food

24 Sep

This post is an invitation to those Christians who are with me on the lifelong journey to have a right relationship with food . . .

I have a lot of questions.  I have some ideas of what the answers might be but . . . I also don’t speak dogmatically where the Scriptures are silent.  I welcome your ideas.  

It is much harder to put food in a proper context in life because, unlike other things that can harm us, we can’t give up eating altogether.  We can give up drinking.  We can avoid tobacco and recreational drugs.  We can avoid extramarital sex (or even be single all life long and live without sex altogether).  But we all need to eat.  And we need to do that without harming ourselves or our testimony in the process.  

As a very good friend has recently written, contradicting our testimony by being a glutton is not helpful to anyone.

Yet, the balancing truth is that God has clearly let us know He has richly given us all things to enjoy!  Food is one of those things.  

There will be a Marriage Supper of the Lamb someday.  We enjoy fellowship over food.  So having a hate relationship with food doesn’t seem to be what we are after either.  

How do we love food without loving it too much?  Without making it an idol which blocks our view of our Saviour?

Again, God gave us the principle, but not the specifics.  

And the specifics may differ from person to person.  Sometimes Christian freedom is like that.

For example, now that I am at my Weight Watchers goal (for almost a year) I seem able to eat a lot of fruit without regaining any weight.  I know a handful of friends who can’t do that.  Is it sinful for them to eat vast quantities of fruit, but not for me to do the same thing?

On the other hand, I live without dessert, by and large, except for my once-a-month piece of Carnegie Deli cheesecake from a local deli that imports it.  

There are some gals who are naturally thin and could eat a slice of that cheesecake every day without gaining weight.  Is it sinful for me to eat cheesecake every day but not for them to do the same thing?

I suspect that much lies within the attitudes and intents of our hearts.  But in some cases, we may be governed by our body types, too.  My particular body would be fat if I ate a big piece of cheesecake every day.  And, back to my friend’s observation, I would have a hard time being credible while teaching on Christian discipline to young women if my own body were almost 300 pounds.  

Sometimes we just have to go with what we’ve got and trust that God gave us the right body!

See how many questions I have?  I would love to dialogue with anyone else who sees that there is a deeper theology in play here.  Counting Weight Watchers points works, but I always like to understand the underlying facets, too.  Especially as it relates to my relationship to the Lord and how to better glorify Him . . . 

Come with me on the journey?

Tara’s 70 Pound Loss, and Climbing . . .

21 Sep

http://www.tarabarthel.com/how-could-i-possibly-call-teenagers-to-stand-firm-against-their-sexual-temptations-while-continuing-to-overindulge-in-my-own-worldly-lusts/

Tara is on the same weight loss journey as me (for the rest of our lives. You will see that she realizes that, as I do also).

I could have stated every word she says here. I am in 1000% agreement with this precious sister in Christ.

Go, Tara, go!

Food Wars

8 Sep

I Corinthians 10:31, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

I am taking my cues on this post from Doug Wilson, who noticed this trend long before I did.

Have you noticed that, as the world is getting more demanding about everyone’s personal diet being served at communal gatherings, so is the church?

No longer is it okay for someone to make one vegetarian dish or one gluten free dish or one clean-eating dish for a family Thanksgiving.  No, now we all, Christians included, are asking our hosts to change their entire menu to conform to our personal tastes.  

That’s not even polite, let alone kind, in the way Christians are admonished to be kind.

If someone goes to the effort to make us a vegetarian dish, let’s be grateful.  If they don’t, let’s bring our own and go to the communal meal anyways.  

Communal meals were very important in Scripture.  So important that the Apostle Paul gave many, many instructions about them.  Mainly that we are to be kind to each other at such meals and to let the other person be first (in priority, etc.).  

We do that because we are grateful for Christ’s great love for us and realize that, as a result, we can easily give up a few of our supposed “rights.”

Special diets are fast overcoming this kindness we are admonished to show.  

Sometimes research turns up some new data (like high fructose corn syrup being highly addictive to the human organism, which it is) and we seize on that new research and use it as a tool to clobber our fellow Christians over the head figuratively.  

I won’t use high fructose corn syrup.  I have had enough issues with food addictions (read:  sugar) that I know I need to watch out.  

However, is it my job to become a busybody, lecturing mothers who let their teens, or even their preschoolers, drink Coke?  

No, no, a million times, no.

Whatsoever they eat or drink needs to be to the glory of God.  Not everyone has issues with sugar, like I do, and even if they do, it is not up to me to come remove their sugar from their pantry.    

It doesn’t mean they are in active rebellion against God if they use high fructose corn syrup.  

I shouldn’t have to say that, but I can see I must.

Some Christians seize on every new piece of research that comes along and automatically act as if everyone has already heard about it and therefore is in sin if they don’t modify their diets accordingly.

That is not kind.  

Not everyone can afford expensive diets, even if they wanted to do them.  

Not everyone is equally literate, so not everyone can read the latest research and understand it.

Most of all, to imply that we are living in sin if we don’t immediately accommodate every new piece of scientific research on diet is to imply that it is getting harder and harder to serve the Lord.  

We know a whole lot more scientifically nowadays.  To some extent, that implies that God’s standards would change, to include us being responsible for not using products that would harm our bodies (tobacco, marijuana, etc.).  

To another extent, God did not change the sanctification process to make it a whole lot harder to live it out in 2013 than it was in 1913.  

Our attitude is to always be to glorify God by what we eat and drink.  

Simply that.  

We will always disagree about standards, but let’s be kind when we do.  

Let’s still have fellowship meals together, even when one family eats a traditional Southern (read:  fried) diet and another eats Paleo.  

Because our fellowship pleases the Lord, ya know?

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The Grace to Lose Almost 120 Pounds!

4 Sep

The Grace to Lose Almost 120 Pounds!

Two years ago at this time, I was caught! Trying to wriggle free from a life-dominating condition based in my own sin nature. Failing with every attempt.

I was around 100 pounds overweight.

When I had retired from the Navy in 2009, the Navy’s standard for my height was 179 pounds max. I had crept up to 210.

The Navy’s standard practice at the time was to measure the neck, waist, and hips of anyone who failed the weigh-in. That worked for me for a while. It did not work for me on my last physical readiness exam in early 2009. But since I was retiring in June, I didn’t worry too much . . .

In fact, since I had just finished a year of breast cancer treatments in 2008, including steroids during chemotherapy, my weight at retirement was 230 pounds. As a retiree, I didn’t have to worry about any further weigh-ins. But I did have to worry about something more important . . . my health after cancer.

I got a good civilian contractor job and I went along enjoying my renewed health after cancer for the next two and a half years. Unfortunately, I also spent the rest of 2009 and the next two years gaining more weight. I finished 2011 between 250 and 260 pounds, although my gynecologist has a documented weigh-in at 263, the heaviest I ever was.

If you had asked me, I would have told you that I was trying to lose weight. I tried several fad diets. I paid attention to what went through my mouth. I worked out sporadically. And, most importantly, I cried out to the Lord every morning to help me lose weight, to help me change.

Unfortunately, this is one of those areas where grace involves a partnership between God and man. If it had been possible to pray off those 100 pounds, I would have done it. I pleaded with God day to day. But I remained stuck.

Finally, I just knew what I had to do. I had lost weight with Weight Watchers before. Not 100 pounds, but a goodly amount. I would go back to Weight Watchers on New Year’s Day 2012 with the idea that I would lose at least 50 pounds and keep it off. I was aware that that meant I had to agree with Weight Watchers that my weight loss was not a diet, but a lifestyle change. For the rest of my life.

The rest is history. I lost 20 pounds in January of 2012, starting the diet with a rather extreme interpretation of how I would eat (I needed that. I truly believe if I had lost less than 20 pounds the first month, I would have quit). Every subsequent month, I lost ten pounds, till I saw my fifty pound loss hit at the end of April. I kept going.

By the end of 2012, I had lost 100 pounds, which had been my secret desire all along, even before I got started. I hadn’t even dared admit that to myself, let alone anyone else.

I became a Weight Watchers lifetime member at 169.

This year, I have fine-tuned things a bit and have settled in at between 145 and 150 as a pretty good permanent weight.

So, all told, almost 120 pounds from my highest weight.

I was stuck and the Lord provided me the grace to get free.

I say that because people become stuck in all sorts of life-dominating conditions. Alcoholism, drug addiction, unmedicated mental illness. They sometimes feel hopeless, as I felt with my weight. They may cry out to God every day, as I did.

God has the power to break these conditions, to set us free from life-dominating sin. We can’t just wish ourselves free. And we can’t do it without Him. His Word has the words of life, but without His Holy Spirit to apply them to us personally, we are sunk (all of us, even those without obvious life-dominating conditions).

I thank God He loves us enough to give us the grace to break free. To walk with Him. In love.

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Maintenance of my Weight Loss: Life in the Real World Seven Months Later

26 Jul

Maintenance of my Weight Loss:  Life in the Real World Seven Months Later

This photo is of me, having my piece of mile-high cheesecake that I have gotten every month since embarking on my weight loss of over a hundred pounds in January 2012.

I now eat the cheesecake approximately every three weeks. But it is about the only sweet I eat. So it is the best of both worlds, motivating me to stay away from sugary substances most of the time . . .

That is where the rubber hits the road. I am now on my eighth month of maintenance after my weight loss. Maintenance will last the rest of my life, because if I decide to leave maintenance, I will regain at least some of the weight I lost.

I know myself well enough to know that is the case.

But I also am overjoyed that I am able to do this with just as much enthusiasm now as when I started in January of 2012. It just feels good to do something that is healthy for me and that allows me to move so freely now, unencumbered by extra pounds.

Praise God!

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When Food Tastes Delicious . . .

22 Jul

When Food Tastes Delicious . . .

I have noticed something as I have embarked on my journey to maintain a lower, more healthy weight for the rest of my life.

We who live in the U.S. are in a food-rich country, so the idea of denying ourselves the pleasure of good food is not a common one.

But what about the idea of reserving some delicious foods as very occasional treats?

I can resonate with that. In fact, the way I enabled myself to not eat sweets at all initially during my Weight Watchers loss was to promise myself a piece of mile-high cheesecake from my favorite deli once a month. I still have that custom going on!!!

But there are other foods being added to my list of “very occasional treats.”

For one, I noticed at a recent cookout where we all brought our own meat that the 85% lean ground beef patties I had purchased at Food Lion were turned into the most delicious medium rare cheeseburgers ever by my Pastor’s skillful hand on the grill. I can still taste that burger, if I close my eyes. And I have to say it was among the five best burgers I have ever had.

I only eat burgers perhaps half a dozen times a year right now. Nothing wrong with them (if I count the Weight Watchers points). It is just that they have gone from being an everyday food, consumed two or three times a week, to being a huge treat.

I wonder whether my Pastor’s cheeseburger would have tasted quite so delectable if I were still in the habit of having burgers 2-3 times a week!

Last night, I had a piece of dark chocolate cake, celebrating my son’s departure for college. It was a big piece, very moist, with creamy frosting. Delicious.

I counted my 14 points and savored every mouthful. It seemed to be the best chocolate cake I have ever had.

Again, I wondered whether that was due to the fact that I have had cake about four times since the beginning of 2012. I assumed that was the case.

If I still ate cake at least once a week, even chowing down on lesser storebought cakes, I doubt that I would be able to appreciate the superior quality of the bakery version I had last night.

I think I may have the best of all possible worlds and I am extremely grateful for where I am in my new healthy lifestyle.

I live in a country with lots of food choices. I have enough money to afford the food I wish to eat. But I voluntarily have set aside certain things that I used to eat regularly, putting them into the category of occasional special treats. And that seems to be working out very well for me. My food, when I have it, tastes delicious. When I don’t have it, I never feel as though I am missing out on anything . . .

Does that make sense? Anyone else forming a similar conclusion with their lifestyle choices?

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Hunger is Not an Emergency!

11 Jul

Hunger is Not an Emergency!

A friend at Weight Watchers came up with the above motto or borrowed it from somewhere.

I just love that. Reminds me that I can always wait another half hour before eating, even when I feel hunger pangs . . .

Yesterday I took my son to get his TB test checked before he had had his breakfast. After we had had his check, just before the doctor’s office opened at 9, I took him through the drive through at Chick-Fil-A next door. A typical young man of 21, he wanted a couple of chicken biscuits and an orange juice.

Time was, I would have joined him in something high fat and delicious.

As it was, I remembered that I had a packet of nuts and apple slices–one of those Nut-rition products that are pretty good!–in my desk at work, so I waited till I got there, then had a lower calorie snack.

That seems to be the key for me–waiting a bit longer to eat when I feel hungry and substituting something a bit lower cal for most of the foods that we Americans typically grab!

I will always be a foodie, but I am learning that I can eat a granola bar mid-morning and something with nuts mid-afternoon without blowing my daily Weight Watchers points.

Yes, I do believe I can do this for a lifetime!

My Weight Control Program is Superior to Your Weight Control Program!

1 Jul

I have been thinking about how people, even Christians, tend to spend most of their lives being simultaneously proud and deceived.

How we quote a few Bible verses, intended to bring someone else under conviction (never us!) and think that that establishes our bona fides as a spiritually mature person!

How we find a program that works for us, like I have found Weight Watchers, and then develop an “us vs. them” mentality that leads us to look down our noses at the South Beach Diet guys, while they look down their noses at us.

How we simplistically divide the whole world into two types of people, then spend an inordinate amount of energy defending the superiority of our group in comparison to the other artificial group we have constructed!

I know, off the top of my head, that I don’t have to go far on the Internet or in person to find someone who will defend the idea that:

1) all good Christian moms should breastfeed

2) all good Christian parents should homeschool

3) all good Christian parents should have their children in private Christian schools

4) all good Christian parents should have their children in public schools in order to witness to the non-Christians around them

5) Etc., etc., etc.

You see how it is.  People find a pet cause or conviction in life, which is great, but they then try to apply it to everyone else, which is not so great.

<lowers voice to a whisper> A really good cause will sell itself and gain followers without us having to guilt people into joining it.  If you are having trouble selling people on the advantage of joining your particular homeschooling group, you might look at the quality of what you have to offer (we always had a “wait list” for our homeschool support group and co-op, as Terri Walter and Jean Robbins, who started the groups, knew their pedagogical material well and knew how to lead other parents toward professionalism in their teaching!).  

What I am learning as I am now into my seventh month of maintaining my weight after a 110 pound weight loss last year is that:

1) I don’t know everything and a little humility goes a long way.

2) I am able to identify experts in any area (in this case, people who have also lost large amounts of weight and have kept it off for years).  Once I have identified these people, I need to listen to them.   

3) I can learn from anybody, but I need to find the areas where that person is an expert and listen intently in those areas. 

4) I have a huge tendency now that I don’t impulse eat anymore to go to the other extreme and be overly regimented about food and my food tracker (if that is possible, and I believe it is).  That can come across as very proud and self-satisfied to people who are struggling with weight issues.  I need to be aware of that.  Not that I can do much to change someone’s perception if they are determined to think I am a proud person, but a bit of self-awareness goes a long way in not creating problems from my end of things.

5) I would rather struggle with being overly regimented with my tracker than struggle with impulse eating and having 110 extra pounds on my frame.  I have always said this struggle, for me, was about getting healthy.  I am the healthiest I have ever been in my adult life right now.  That should give me lots more years to figure out how to not be so regimented with my tracker . . . <smile>

6) Everyone on the planet needs grace.  Even when they belong to “that other group of mothers who did not breastfeed” <giggle>.

Seriously, folks, we only have one chance to go through this life.  Let’s not make it so hard on the folks around us, okay?  God gives us lots of grace.  We can afford to give a bit of it away to someone whom we don’t personally find to be heroic!    

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