Fat Fridays: New Esther versus Old Esther

Yesterday was a really rough day. Like, envision a bloody battle with swords and shields and everyone is wounded and bleeding. That was my day with food. 

Yesterday I hit that place where I just didn’t care anymore. I didn’t care about my diet. I didn’t care about eating healthy. I didn’t care. I’m too tired. Too stressed. I found myself hunting the house for sugar. I just needed something sweet. Anything. There was some cereal and I grabbed several handfuls of frosted flakes and stuffed them in my mouth. I just didn’t care. One of the kids had a leftover ham and cheese sandwich they didn’t want. I ate it. Cause the thought of fixing myself a salad or cooking up vegetables just sounded horrible. And there’s nothing wrong with a sandwich right? Except, it wasn’t even really that great of a sandwich. Something I would usually deem not worth wasting my calories on. But I just didn’t care. 

I had to drop my teenagers off at youth group and then I needed to go Walmart to get some things for my kids. And I started thinking about what I could buy as a special treat at Walmart since I would be out by myself. That is, after all, my old pattern. Go out by myself, get something yummy to eat as a treat. I thought about all the things I haven’t eaten in a long time. Chocolate cake. Debbie cakes. Donuts. Ice cream. A big bag of Chips. Which one should I get? And at the same time there was this sinking feeling going on. I’m doing it again. I’m falling off the wagon. I’m blowing my diet. I’m returning to all my bad habits. And I felt kind of hopeless. Like, I’m never going to win this battle. I will always be overweight. 

I was in the car, still driving, and I had the thought, What are you hoping that food is going to do for you? (Which seems to be a theme this week. I mentioned in a previous blog about asking the question, What am I looking for? when I turn to mindless distractions.) And this is a good question. Why am I wanting to eat all this food and what am I hoping to accomplish? And I had to remind myself that eating food was NOT going to make me feel better about my life. In fact, I was going to feel a LOT worse if I turned to food. But, if I made good choices, I would feel better about myself. This is the place where you imagine two warriors hammering away at each other with their swords. Old Esther verses New Esther. Flesh verses Spirit. 

I sat in the parking lot. Staring at the store. Ok. Make a plan. I will buy some blueberries and some carrots and hummus. And then I will stay away from the food section. 

Walmart is a dangerous place when you are trying to resist temptation. I felt like a nun at a nudist colony. AVERT THE EYES! Dont look there! No! Don’t look over there either! Keep walking! Get away from the food!! 

I needed to get some things for an upcoming car trip and I contemplated getting my kids some yummy snacks, but quickly decided against it. Nope. Can’t do it. If I buy that stuff, I will eat it too. So I bought them some gummy snacks (which they love, and I think are disgusting) and determined that on THIS trip, they will be eating fruits and vegetables right alongside me. 

I finally got out of the store, got in my car, slammed the door, and did some deep breathing for a minute. I made it. I did it. I didn’t binge, splurge, over-do or anything. I bought some healthy food and walked out. Whoosh. 

And I do feel better about myself today. A lot better than if I had just given in. But man, that was hard. And just a quick note. I think what has put me in a bad place was my two weeks when I went low-carb. My personal dysfunction with food cannot handle diets where entire food groups are eliminated. It stirs up a lot of unhealthy emotions like feeling deprived which then makes me want to binge. So, moving forward, I’m going to continue my LowER carb diet where I just try to eat grains in small portions and with moderation. 

New Esther won the battle this time. But I anticipate a lot more skirmishes in the future. 

Penance or Grace?

This past week I’ve been thinking about penance and grace. The dictionary gives the following definition for penance:

pen·ance

noun

  1. 1.
    voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.

I have been on a journey this year to lose weight. At the beginning of my journey I was losing two pounds a week. Yay! It felt like I was making good progress. Then the weight loss slowed down to one pound a week. And that just feels agonizingly slow. Every week I am working out six days a week, I am keeping a record of everything I eat, keeping my calories at the right amount, always choosing the healthier options, checking in with a personal trainer daily…it’s a lot of work just to see the scale move one pound. 

And I had this thought. This is my penance for being overweight. My punishment for gluttony and sloth. My just dues for allowing myself to get to this place of needing to lose so much weight.

And that thought felt very comfortable. Yes. I am facing the consequences of bad choices, and I’m just going to have to work really really hard to get myself back to a good weight. It’s all my fault and this is my punishment. 

So, I kept hold of this idea for a couple days and then, all of sudden, out of nowhere, this thought popped into my head. What if, instead of punishment, this is grace? 

Definition of grace (Entry 1 of 2)

1a: unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification

What if I have simply not been in a place, mentally or spirtually, to be able to fully learn how to take care of my body the way I need to? And finally I am in that place. And God is teaching me how to care for myself. And it’s a long process. A long process of breaking off bad habits and establishing good ones. A long process of learning how to gage how much food is “enough” and how much is just gluttony. A long process of learning how to enjoy movement, exercise. A long process of changing my lifestyle so that it embraces health. What if that one pound a week is a symbol of grace. Proof that God does not simply leave me wallowing in my sin, but has opened a way for me to change. 

Last night I attended a Celebration of Life service for a man who had recently died of Covid. I was not personally friends with him, but I am friends with his wife and one of his daughters. As people shared stories of his life and personality and character, a picture was painted of a wonderful father and husband and friend. But what really stood out to me was the observation, by more than one person, that this man was who he was because he was a follower of Jesus. It was Jesus’ grace in his life that enabled him to be this wonderful father, husband, friend. And I think about this as I think about penance and grace. 

God’s grace in my life enables me to become the best version of myself. It’s not about punishment any more. Jesus already took that punishment on the cross and then declared that It was Finished. Yes, we face the consequences of our sins, but it is not in a spirit of punishment and condemnation. It is a spirit of Grace. Here, my daughter. The way you are choosing is not bringing you life, try doing it my way instead. Let me restore you, strengthen you. Walk with me and I will turn your ashes into beauty. 

Penance or grace? I choose grace. Or rather, grace chose me. 

Fat Fridays: Growth Mindset

This week has been a challenge on the dieting front. My son’s birthday was Monday and he requested Elidio’s pizza (local, family owned, amazing pizza) and Dunkin Donuts. I had to drive to Dunkin Donuts in the morning, which was when I had time, get two dozen assorted donuts and then have them sit in my house all day until after supper, and then supervise handing out two donuts per person. At supper I had eaten a big salad and decided I was going to allow myself to eat one piece of pizza. But then ended up eating a little more. And then I started handing out donuts, and by the time everyone had picked what they wanted, there was this little plain, unfrosted, baked donut. And so I ate it. And then there was one more glazed donut. And I ate that. And then I was really full. 

And felt very guilty. 

Uggh. 

I stuck to my plan though and recorded everything I ate and sent it to my trainer. And then we talked about it the next day. 

Whenever I mess up, my instant default thought pattern is, I’ve blown it, all is ruined now, despair, despair, despair. 

So, it was a little unnerving to have the trainer say stuff like, “Taking a break and eating pizza every once in a while is fine. How can you plan to have a treat in the future without over-doing it?” Like, she wanted me to actually just move on with life and try and learn for the next time…What kind of adulting is this??? 

It happened again today when I reported that last night, when meeting someone at a Mexican Restaurant, I ate more chips and salsa than I had originally planned on doing. Her attitude was, Ok, what strategies can we think of that will help you next time you are in the same situation? 

And I’m sitting over here telling my “failure and despair” voice to be quiet, cause I’m trying to hear this good advice someone is giving me. 

It occurred to me today that what my trainer is trying to do is inspire a Growth Mindset in me. 

I found this article that gave some good examples of what a growth mindset is. 

The example that stood out to me was:

Fixed Mindset: Failure is the limit of my abilities.

Growth Mindset: Failure is just an opportunity to grow.

I definitely struggle with this. I fail at something and instantly feel like it’s GAME OVER. Which is especially unhelpful when you are on a weight loss journey. Yes, I’ve messed up. That doesn’t mean that I just throw the diet out the window and go back to my unhealthy ways. Instead, I can study my failure, figure out what went wrong, and make strategies for how to do better. 

The next family birthday (which is actually this Saturday), I plan on cooking myself a special treat (I’m thinking baked green plantain with just a touch of spray olive oil and salt and maybe some grilled chicken) and then I am going to have canned peaches while everyone else eats cake. (I happen to think canned peaches are a treat.) Next time I end up at a Mexican Restaurant, I’m just going to ask the waitress/waiter to not bring out chips or, better yet, I’m going to avoid Mexican Restaurants until my self-control is stronger. 

So, hurray for my trainer and all the new things she is teaching me!

Fat Fridays: Week 26 You are Beautiful

Hey Everyone. Hope you all are well. I am doing fairly well. I have not stuck to much of a diet, but I have made some good choices. Stop eating when you’re not hungry. Choose the healthier option. Don’t have junk lying around your house to tempt you.

What has been on my mind this week is body image.

When I first started this diet I had this secret desire. I wished that I could just like myself and the way I looked no matter what weight I was. I wished that liking my appearance didn’t have to be dependent on how much weight I had lost.

There is a pervading attitude in our culture that you must weigh a certain amount before you can even be considered to be attractive. Or at least, that’s the idea the magazines sell. But, actually, if I’m honest, my issues with body image started way before I started putting on weight. I remember as an eleven year old pinching the extra skin on my stomach and thinking to myself, I’m so fat. I remember as a skinny little teen thinking I was so much bigger than all the other girls. I remember before my wedding, silently lamenting that my stomach wasn’t as flat as it should be.

Now, of course, I look back at photos of myself and gasp at how tiny and skinny I was. How cute I was. What a perfectly normal, nice-looking person I was. And of course I then latch on to that past young me as the unattainable thing I wish I could have. If only I could have my twenty year old body back. There is a meme that sums it up perfectly:

fatmeme

Yep.

But, realizing that I wasn’t fat as a teen still doesn’t solve the underlying problem. Not liking the way I look.

So, I actually went through some pretty devastating soul searching in the past couple years as I dealt with some of my issues, and the way that I see myself. I had a lot of long talks with God. A lot of journaling. A lot of talks with my husband. I talked it all out, until I finally got some clarity. Understood why I thought the way I did. And slowly, some of those raw areas started healing.  But, I still had a habit of just not liking the way I looked. And I kind of latched onto the idea that when I lost all my extra weight, then I would be happy with my looks. But secretly, I wished that I could like myself no matter what the scale said.

Well, I have been noticing this week that a shift seems to have taken place, probably over a long period of time, and I’m just now noticing it. I look in the mirror and I smile at myself. I turn this way and that, pat my hair and think, you look nice. I realized that I’ve been taking little selfies of myself occasionally and sending them to my husband, just because I feel happy with my looks and I know it will make him smile to get my picture in his messages. I put on a dress and think, wow, that looks really nice.

Today, I was standing in front of a mirror, pleased with what I saw, and it struck me how momentous this was. I like Esther. I think Esther looks pretty. Miracle of miracles. Even now, I get a bit teary-eyed thinking about how far I have come in this area. I feel like this deserves some kind of public proclamation. So here it is.

For all of you reading these blogs because you also are on a weight loss journey, I pray that you too can learn how to look in a mirror and like what you see. You are beautiful, just the way you are.

 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 25 Failure

Hey Everyone. Here we are, a new week. I have pondered whether I should even be writing a weight loss “weekly” when there doesn’t seem to be any weight loss happening. I set goals and then the goals get thrown out the window. I feel a bit like a fake at this point. Of course, in one sense, I’m holding true to the purpose of this post, which is to blog about my journey to weight loss. A big part of my journey is failure.

I think when I started this post, I imagined myself sailing along, posting pictures of myself as I lost inches. Writing glowing reports about how disciplined I was, and look how I great I am to finally conquer this weight problem. Everyone can read along and enjoy the show. And it is inspiring to read how people overcome all obstacles and manage to get healthy again. I want to be that person. And I’m not. I seem to be stuck in my same old pattern. I diet. I exercise. Life gets stressful. I stop.

While it might not be enjoyable to read all the ways that I’m messing up, I will say that writing this weekly post is still keeping me accountable. I have not sunk to the very bottom, mostly because I don’t want to have to write about it. And I keep focused on my diet/health/weightlossattempts at least once a week as I write this post.

This past week I did not go grain-free as promised. But I did eat a lot less grain. I did make some better choices. This week I was also dealing with some heavy stress as our situation with the homeless family we are helping escalated. Some hard choices had to be made. But God was merciful and my husband had enough grace and wisdom to come up with a Plan that should get them into housing and a relatively stable life if they stick to the plan. Dealing with this level of crisis is tough on me. This week has been about trying to be purposeful about not letting other people’s drama harmfully affect my own mental health. I have been carving out a private space for myself. Making a routine that involves quiet, devotions, music, doing hobbies I enjoy, and of course, caring for my family. I have been trying to make smart choices for food, but haven’t yet achieved the “super disciplined” level I was at several weeks ago.

I did have something happen this week that was at first annoying and then I realized it was a blessing in disguise. I’m signed up with this health-food-shake-supplements-etc company. I buy shakes from them every once in a while. They have this annoying system where you are automatically signed up for “autoship”. They automatically charge your bank and ship you products unless you sign in and change it. I’m presuming there is a way to change this, but I haven’t figured it out yet. I had been simply logging in once a month and changing the dates so at to postpone the order. Well, I forgot this month. This week I received not only a box of shakes, but a bottle of Cleanse which had been on my wishlist. Yikes. My bank account could not really afford that. I was complaining to my husband about it and he surprised me by saying, “It’s good! Drink your shakes!” Oh. Ok. Well… that makes sense. So, this morning I drank my Cleanse stuff and had a shake for breakfast. A much healthier breakfast than I’ve had in a while. Hurray for mistakes.

So, I feel like I’m a bit of a disappointment because I am not being Superwoman with this weight loss thing. But, I’m going to keep on persevering.

I’ll see you all next week.