Posted in Blog, Encouragement/Motivation, Health & Wellness

8 Daily Affirmations to Help You Ditch the Scale

Okay, okay, don’t freak out.  I won’t make you actually ditch the scale.  But hopefully by the end of this post, at the very least, you’ll have learned not to rely on it so much… and definitely not to let it completely alter the course of your day!

In my post, Toxic, I briefly touched on the fact that we can have a toxic relationship with our scale.  How many times have you stepped on that thing, only to have it leave you feeling frustrated, depressed, and downright angry?  It can ruin your whole day when it doesn’t read what you thought it would, and potentially, your whole meal plan for the rest of the week if that “why bother?” mentality creeps up on you.  I know this, because I’ve been there!

Shortly after writing my post, Getting Back on the Wagon, I had made up my mind that it was beneficial for me, at least in the beginning, to follow a meal plan.  This isn’t because I wanted to live by man-made rules, but following a plan that’s already laid out for me does help me to have structure.  Food freedom or not, following the meal plan that I had found to be so successful in the past was a good way for me to start getting my act together.  I decided I would still only eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m satisfied, and not eat after 7:00 pm, but my food choices, for now, would follow the meal plan with which I had previously found tremendous success.

In the past, I’ve been known to lose up to five pounds in just my first day with this carb-cycling meal plan, and after two days of nothing but protein and vegetables, I was excited to check that scale on Wednesday.  I am ashamed to admit that it’s even what got me out of bed that morning!  Imagine my shock and disappointment when I discovered I’d only lost two pounds!

I know that two pounds in two days is nothing to sneeze at, but for me, it was a lot less than I had been used to seeing since starting this program four years ago.  Never mind that the protein I chose for dinner Monday night was higher in sodium than my usual choices, and never mind that I haven’t been sleeping well lately, and never mind that I am now 47 years old and my body is changing!  When you’re in your forties, a four-year difference is a much bigger deal than when you’re in your twenties!

In a moment of desperation, I texted one of my dearest (and most health-conscious) friends who always tells me I can reach out to her at any time, but I never do because I know she’s always so busy.  I went as far as listing every single thing that went into my mouth over the previous two days like I had done in the days when I kept (shudder) food journals!  I told her I didn’t know what was wrong, and I begged for her words of wisdom that I knew would surely encourage and enlighten me.

She began saying things like, “What worked for you before may not work the same way now,” and, “Our bodies don’t need that much protein; that’s for younger women and body-builders,” and, “Dairy is not our friend.”  I immediately regretted eating three ounces of hard cheese with my lunch on Tuesday.

She went on to recommend a diet lifestyle book that catered to the hormonal changes of older women approaching (or in full swing of) menopause.  Because I value my friend’s wisdom and opinion so highly, I immediately purchased the book with no hesitation.  I was excited because there was a package deal going on, and I was able to get the cookbook with it.  I anxiously and hurriedly ripped open my package when it arrived two days later, and I began skimming through it immediately.  Then I saw words I’d never even heard of before like jicama and kohlrabi and kimchi.  If you all know what these things are, kudos to you!  But for me, I had a revelation that the numbers on the scale that day not only made me frustrated and depressed, but they made me impulsive, too.

I knew my dear hubby was not going to want to spend the money required to eat all organic and cage-free, and although I can certainly use most of the recipes in the cookbook, I had ultimately decided that making healthier choices and listening to my body’s hunger and fullness signals was still the best plan for me.  I had been praying for material to use for my next blog post, and God delivered!

I now want to share with you eight daily affirmations that will help you avoid the repercussions of a disagreeable scale, and focus more on how God, not the numbers, dictate your success on this journey.  Don’t worry!  I won’t make you look into a mirror and say, “I love you!”

Before I begin my list, I do want to briefly touch on the benefits of daily affirmations.  I was in a program once that taught you, through a series of inspiring video lessons, how to reprogram your mindset.  While most of us, myself included, believe the lies of the enemy, this program taught its audience how to dispel those lies and create new truths.  In a nutshell, if you looked in the mirror and called yourself a failure, you would always fail.  On the contrary, if you looked in the mirror and said you are a healthy eater, you will eat healthier.  One of my favorites is, “Healthy is who I am, not what I do.”  See how that works?  You must say it with conviction, though!  You have to believe what you are saying, or fake it until you make it!

The premise of the program was this: what you focus on, you believe, and what you believe, you become.  One of my life verses comes from Romans, and it reads, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2 (NIV) I could spend the next several paragraphs picking apart this gem for you, but for the purpose of this particular post, let’s focus on the “be transformed by the renewing of your mind” part.

I’d like to share with you some of my favorite daily affirmations on which to focus, and when you do, you will (hopefully) no longer want to smash your scale with a sledgehammer!  Not only will you stop letting the scale control you, but my hope is that you will be able to start walking in renewed confidence and hope!

Here we go!

#1 “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  (Psalms 139:14) Okay, I know this is cliché, but it is one of the most well-known Scripture verses for good reason.  It’s true!!  Your body is a living, breathing miracle.  The design of our minds and bodies is so intricate, that only God could have created it.  Maybe you don’t like your flabby arms, but think of the love that oozes from them when you are embracing your spouse, children, friends, and family.  We have eyes to see, ears to hear, and honestly, even if someone is lacking in one of the five senses, God designed us so that our other four are heightened.  The female body can bring a new life into the world, and the mind is more sophisticated than a computer.  Regardless of your size or shape, remember that your body is a gift and a miracle!

#2 “I am a fighter, and I do not give up.”  This affirmation will do you some good no matter what battle you are facing from day to day.  We are warriors in God’s army!  I could list several verses of Scripture that tell us we are warriors, and we must persevere, etc.  But this is what I want to share with you in this moment: “For the LORD your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!” -Deuteronomy 20:4 (NLT) The Lord is with us in every battle.  Why would we ever give up when we know God is fighting with us and for us?  To stop fighting would imply we don’t think God is capable of doing what He says He can do.  Why surrender when God has already won the victory for us? And that brings me to the next affirmation…

#3 “I have overcome by the Blood of The Lamb.”  (Revelation 12:11) My Pastor is a big fan of saying, “I read the back of the book, and we win!”  I love that concept, because the truth is that we already have the victory through Jesus.  The enemy tries to make us doubt this all the time, because he wants to keep us under his thumb.  He wants to be in control, and he absolutely does not want to see us succeed- in anything!  But we need to remember God’s truth and walk in it!  If God says we’ve won, then we’ve won!  If God says we have victory in Jesus, we do!  The reason I love this affirmation is because it keeps me motivated and encouraged.  If I believe I have overcome, I will be an overcomer!  The key word here is “believe.”  Another one of my Pastor’s little nuggets is that if you believe some of the Bible, you have to believe all of it. Start believing you have overcome by the Blood of The Lamb, and you will- even if it’s just one step at a time!

#4 “I am healthy in body, mind, and spirit.”  Jeremiah 33:6 (NIV) reads, “’Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.” Girls, this is God speaking!  He promises to bring healing to us, and not only healing, but abundant peace and security.  Abundant peace sure would make us healthy in mind and spirit!  If we can embrace this truth-stand on this promise-we can begin to heal from the inside out.  Belief is half the battle, my friends.  If we tell ourselves we are healthy, we will begin to believe we are healthy, and like I said in the beginning of this post, what we believe, we become.

#5 “This is between me and God, not between me and the scale.”  Can I get an Amen?  From the time I started this blog, I have made it known that this is just as much a spiritual battle for me as it is a physical one.  If you are anything like me, you have beaten yourself up for believing that you loved food more than you loved God, and for those of us who put our focus more on food than on the Creator, the scale becomes our God.  (FYI, that’s a form of idolatry!) We allow the scale to measure our physical success instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to measure our spiritual success.

I could get into a whole discussion about the logistics of weight fluctuation, but that’s not what this post is about.  Let me end this paragraph with this: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 (NLT) For all intents and purposes, ladies, the scale is another tool the enemy will surely use against us, because he will not waste any opportunity to crush our spirits!

#6 “My body is a temple, and I honor God when I take care of it.”  1 Corinthians 6:19-20 tells us this very thing.  It reads, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” (NIV) I don’t think it can be made any clearer to us.  But just in case you missed it, jump over to 1 Corinthians 10:31 where it reads, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (NIV) Friends, listen… I’m preaching to the choir here.  If I followed my own advice, I would be able to do this faithfully every day, if for no other reason than just because our Lord asks us to!  I get that some days are easier than others, but God’s grace is sufficient, and His forgiveness is unconditional and unending.  He also wants to be your strength when you are weak, so tell Him you need His help!

This doesn’t mean you can never have dessert again.  As I said in my Food Freedom post, all foods are a gift from our Creator.  If we ask God to bless that brownie and give Him glory for the marvelous creation that it is, that honors Him.  However, if we indulge in the whole pan of brownies, that does not honor Him, and it definitely isn’t taking care of our temples.  Does that make sense?

#7 “Every good decision is a victory.”  Although our victories may sometimes seem small in comparison to the big battle, each one counts.  (Even two pounds in two days!) Each time you make a healthy choice over an unhealthy one, that is a victory.  Each time you wait for hunger instead of obeying the clock, that is a victory.  Each time you pick yourself back up and start again instead of waiting for Monday, that is a victory!  I know I’ve used this verse in other posts, but it bears repeating.  “…and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…” Hebrews 12:1b-2a (NIV) In addition, 2 Timothy 4:7 reads, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (NIV) Girls, I may not be a size two when I get to Heaven, but like Paul, I want to be able to say, “I have fought the good fight!”

#8 “The enemy has no power over me!” Forgive me, but I must take a moment to give a throwback to the 80’s cult classic movie The Labyrinth. Did you ever see this David Bowie film from back in the day?  If you are anything like me, you are covered in goose pimples at the end, when Sarah faces her enemy and finally rattles off the line that, until then, she had trouble remembering.  The most important thing to note here is that she remembered that crucial line at the time it mattered the most!  How often do we, like Sarah, forget that the enemy has no power over us?  He only has the power that we give him!

John 10:10 tells us, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (NIV) In case you didn’t already know this, the enemy of our souls shows no mercy.  He comes to steal our joy, kill our confidence, and destroy our hope… among other things.  And as sure as he shows no mercy, he will indeed kick you when you are down.  When the scale doesn’t give you the numbers you’re looking for, he will take that disappointment and frustration and proceed to rub salt in the wound.  He will start whispering those little lies into your ear.  He will push play on the negative tapes that repeat themselves in your head when you feel as though you failed yet again.  Don’t let him do this to you, Beloved!  It is only a scale, and they are only numbers that fuel his fire!

There is a lot to glean from The Labyrinth when you think about how Jareth and his goblin army stop at nothing to deter Sarah from reaching her end goal.  They confuse her, distract her, try to make her doubt herself… does this sound familiar? Tell yourself every day (and tell the devil and all his little minions) that he has no power over you, and then watch him disappear just like Jareth, The Goblin King, did!

Remember that while God does ask us to take care of our temples so we can fulfill our purpose in the way He designed, this human life is really just a blip on the radar.  It does not mean you have to reach your goal weight before you can start serving Him, and it doesn’t mean He is disappointed with you.  He loves us so unconditionally that our human minds can scarcely understand it.  He looks at the heart, Beloved, not the pants size!

If you have enjoyed these daily affirmations and think they would be a good asset for you on your journey, you will find a free printable on my Freebies page that you can print out and laminate at your leisure.  It’s postcard size for convenience, so you can keep them tucked into your bible and recite them every day when you sit down for devotions and prayer. Or, if you prefer, go ahead and tape them to your mirror.  Say them every morning while you’re gazing at your beautiful reflection!  Whatever works for you is how I want you to do it!

God bless, Warrior Princess!

Posted in Blog, Encouragement/Motivation, Faith & Religion, Health & Wellness

Getting Back on the Wagon

As I slowly work my way out of the pit I had gotten myself into during the Covid crisis, which you can read about here, I find that my life has become a series of change. Being cooped up for two months without being able to see my oldest daughter or elderly grandparents spun me right into a depression.  (The fact that I spent my days in pajamas, because I didn’t have to go anywhere, didn’t help.)  When I returned to work and realized that most of my pants no longer fit comfortably, I had a come-to-Jesus meeting and realized I had to get back on the wagon, and fast!

Before now, I always thought I would leave all of my journals to my three daughters.  I imagined that having something so personal, and in my own handwriting, might become something they would cherish someday.  I’ve been keeping journals for longer than I can remember.  From the beginning stages of my marriage when I first learned of my horrifying childhood experiences, to my battle with food addiction, to the long and painful medical journey we took with our oldest daughter, to my battle with food addiction, to our financial stresses, to my battle with food addiction, to the devastating venture with our middle daughter when she suffered a traumatic event at college, to my battle with food addiction…  you see where I’m going with this right?

I have since decided that I am not leaving all of my journals to my girls, after all.  I am going to be throwing most of them into the burn barrel, because they all contain the same thing.  “I did it again, Lord.”  “What is wrong with me, Lord?”  “Maybe this time will be different, Lord!”  Well, my current journal entries are no different.  I fell off the wagon yet again.  I gained back all of the weight I’d lost since I began my healthy lifestyle journey four years ago, and I am completely and utterly back at Square One.

I’d like to blame the whole thing on Covid-19, because I fully admit that I completely let myself go during the time I was cooped up in the house, but if I’m being totally honest, I had started to gain weight back long before that.  I have begged the Lord to reveal to me the reason behind this ongoing struggle, and I thought I had found my answer.  But, if it has anything to do with past childhood traumas like I thought it did, I am out of luck, because I’ve made peace with all of that, and nothing has changed…. until now.

This one little thing happened to me recently….  I found out that I’m going to be a grandmother!  And a grandmother of twin boys no less!  My goodness, I’ll have to get in shape just so I can chase them all over the place.  My dream has come true; my WHY is quickly becoming a current reality.

My “why” is the reason I want to have a successful business—so I can quit my day job and enjoy spending as much time as I can with my grandchildren.  My “why” is the reason I want to be more lean and fit—so I can get on the floor to play with my grandchildren and not have any trouble getting back up.  My “why” is the reason I want to live a long and healthy life—so I can watch my grandchildren grow up and have children of their own.

I decided with this new, exciting future just six short months away, I needed to take a new and exciting approach to getting back on the wagon and staying healthy permanently!  In the past, my bible studies have been about trying to reveal some deep dark secret that may have been the cause of my food addiction.  Most of my bible studies have been about trying to drudge up the past, because I always thought I would find answers there.  But the answers aren’t in my past; they are in God’s Word.  It’s time to leave the past where it belongs and try a new method of bondage breaking—learning how to love God more than I love food.

Understand that I am not saying if you have skeletons in your closet you have yet to awaken, you should just leave them buried there because it’s easier than facing them.  On the contrary, if there is something in those deep, dark corners of your mind preventing you from becoming the best version of yourself that you can be, I encourage you to face it.  I have spent over twenty years cleaning out the cobwebs and opening the windows to let in some light.  I am 100% on board with facing your past when it’s necessary to do so, but I am also a believer that there is no benefit in beating a dead horse.

There comes a time in your life when it’s evident that your focus should lie with the future, not the past, and this is that time for me.  (Finally!)  Honestly, because of my history with repeatedly falling off the wagon and getting back on again, learning to love God more than I love food is not a completely new concept to me.  I have been chasing the “food freedom” dream since the late nineties, but nowadays it’s called “Intuitive Eating.”  It’s high time to make that dream come true, too!  If I can just learn to obey my body’s hunger and fullness cues, and finally learn how to let the Holy Spirit guide my decisions instead of letting my own fleshly desires do it, I can make it happen.

Galatians 5:16 states, “So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives.  Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.” (NLT) I don’t know about you, but my sinful nature isn’t happy with one brownie; it wants four brownies!  I am certainly not implying that eating brownies is a sin; of course it isn’t, or there wouldn’t be a pan of brownies at almost every church function you ever attend.  Actually, brownies are a good gift from God.  He created cocoa beans, and He gave wisdom and creativity to the first person who ever decided to pound them down and mix sugar cane into them.  Over-indulgence is the sin.  I’ve talked about this in another post, so if you’d like to dissect this concept a little further when you’re finished here, visit Food Freedom for another good read.

The good news about getting back on the wagon for the eight hundred ninety-fifth time is knowing that I am not alone.  In fact, one of the most spiritual leaders to have ever walked the earth experienced this yo-yo cycle long before falling off the wagon became a coined phrase.  Consider this passage in Romans that was written by Paul, a villain-turned-hero who went on to write most of the New Testament after his own life-changing come-to-Jesus meeting!

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it.  Instead, I do what I hate.  But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good.  So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.  And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  I want to do what is right, but I can’t.  I want to do what is good, but I don’t.  I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.  But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.

I have discovered this principle of life—that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.  I love God’s law with all my heart.  But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind.  This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me.  Oh, what a miserable person I am!  Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?  Thank God!  The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.  So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature, I am a slave to sin.”  Romans 7:15-25 (NLT)

Wow!  How powerful is it to know that someone like Paul shared the same struggles that we do?  Let’s dissect this passage for a minute.  Paul states he really doesn’t understand himself, because he wants to do what is right but does instead what he hates.  How many times have we dealt with self-condemnation– beating ourselves up because, as much as we hate giving into our craving for Doritos or Double Stuff Oreos at one in the morning, we do it anyway, knowing full well that we will regret it as soon as we’ve done it?

Paul states that he agrees the law is good and that he loves God’s law with all his heart.  Me, too!  How many of us can express our undying love and devotion to our Lord and His Word one minute, then question that love and devotion when we make bad choices which prove opposite of what that Word tells us?

Paul states that it is sin living within him that makes him do the things which he knows are wrong.  Now, I’m not about to tell you that you’re possessed by the devil, but let it be known that every one of us has fallen short of the glory of God.  Not one of us is righteous by our own merit.  When Paul talks about the sin within him, he’s referring to the sinful nature—the fleshly desires.  That’s why Jesus came to earth and died on a cross for us—so we could be reconciled unto God and be blameless in His sight.  (See Colossians 1:22)

Furthermore, there is a real, true blue enemy of our souls who will stop at nothing to kill, steal, and destroy.  (See John 10:10) How many of us can admit that we’ve experienced the “devil on the my shoulder” scenario? Don’t tell me I’m the only one who has an angel on one shoulder telling me to eat the Chicken Ceasar Salad I brought for lunch and a devil on the other telling me to order a Cheese Steak on homemade Italian Bread with a side of fried cauliflower? Well, cauliflower is a vegetable after all, right?

Finally, I told you earlier in this post that my past no longer holds any answers for me, but that the answers I need are found within God’s Word.  Well lo and behold, Paul agrees with me!  He states in verse 25 that the answers are in Jesus Christ our Lord!

I love the book of Romans; it is perhaps my favorite book of the New Testament.  This letter that Paul writes to the Romans is chock-full of the Lord’s promises of redemption and restoration.  This is the book I refer to the most when I remind myself that I am valued. (Romans 5:8) This is the book I refer to the most when I remind myself that I am an heiress. (Romans 8:17) This is the book I refer to the most when I remind myself that my battle with food addiction is not just physical. (Romans 12:2)

But as much as I love Romans, and even though it is typically my go-to for times such as these, let me remind you that Jesus is central from Genesis to Revelation.  The answers are in there, if we know where to look.  God’s Word is true, and I have made it my mission to share that truth with other women like me who have been fighting the enemy of our souls for far too long.

Stay with me, and we will continue to traverse this journey together.  In the meantime, remember that even Paul fell off the wagon when dealing with his own personal struggles and temptations.  Remember that this is now, and might always be, an ongoing process.  There will be good days, and there will be bad days, and that’s okay.  Rather than focus on the destination, focus on the journey– one day at a time. Although my whole story will be sprinkled throughout this website and throughout my blog posts, I encourage you to read my About Me page if you haven’t already done so. It will not only give you some insight into where I’ve been, but it will give you some more insight into where I’m going, and I would love it if you would come along for the ride!

Before you know it, the good days will outweigh the bad, the numbers on the scale will be nothing but just numbers, and you won’t have to hold your breath to pull on your favorite pair of jeans.  These are all great achievements worth celebrating, and each one begins with baby steps!  If you are looking for some more faith-filled help along the way, there are lots of Christian resources available to help you jump on the Intuitive Eating/Food Freedom wagon.  Check out my Shop/Resources page for links to some of my favorites, and feel free to share some of your own favorites below.

Posted in Alicia & Goliath, Blog, Faith & Religion, Health & Wellness

Food Freedom

“Lemon Blueberry scones are not from the devil.  They are of the Father- a way to reflect the image of God in our creative use of the ingredients He has given us.”  Wow, I had never heard it put quite like that before, but in her book, Full- Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction, Asheritah CiuCiu uncovered another lie that, disguised as a sense of strength, I had been using in place of God’s truth. 

I could play fill-in-the-blank with that statement.  Be it blueberry scones, chocolate cake, or peanut butter pie, I was one who often tried to “fight the urge” by reciting that these things were from devil.  No wonder it seldom worked; it’s not true!  A big one for me is bagels.  I love bagels.  Lots and lots of cream cheese on top of a toasty “everything” bagel that’s crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  Yum!  Add a mocha latte to that order, and I’m in Heaven.  You have no idea how often the notion crosses my mind, my mouth watering like Oliver Twist’s, and I tell myself for a good minute or two, “Bagels are from the devil!”

I’ve been able to resist the temptation on occasion, but did that make me stop wanting it or thinking about it?  Nope!  In fact, I often went back days later and got my “usual” anyway.  (Have you ever noticed that the more you tell yourself you can’t have something, the more you want it?)  Good!  I’m not the only one!

I shared with you in my last post, Locked Doors, that I was currently working on a bible study called “The Missing Commandment: Love Yourself.”  What I didn’t mention was that I am simultaneously listening to this food freedom book on Audible, and it has been so worth every penny and every minute.  I bought this book in paperback years ago but never got around to reading it, and when I saw that there was an audible version, I was ecstatic!  I can listen to the book while I’m cooking dinner, getting ready for work, or folding laundry.  As I share this Love Yourself bible study journey with you, I would also like to enlighten you with some of the golden nuggets I am gleaning from Asheritah’s Full book, because they are just too good not to share.

In the latest chapter, I started to feel as though this book were written just for me.  The author reminded me that God declared all food clean.  (See Mark 7:19) Not only did He declare all food clean, but He enjoys providing it for us.  In Matthew 7:9 we read, “Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” (NIV) If we are made in God’s image, does that not imply that if we would never do that to our children, God certainly would never do that to us?  Food is a good gift from our Father in Heaven, and in fact, He created us with taste buds.

Here is a little Science lesson for you:  According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Taste receptor cells, with which incoming chemicals from food and other sources interact, occur on the tongue in groups of 50–150.  Each of these groups form a [one] taste bud, which is grouped together with other taste buds.”  It goes on to state that, “On average, the human tongue has 2,000-8,000 taste buds, implying that there are hundreds of thousands of taste receptor cells.”  I don’t know about you, but that blows my mind!  Not only does God count every hair on our head, but He gave us hundreds of thousands of little receptors on our tongue so we could taste the food He has provided for our nourishment.  If we weren’t supposed to enjoy our food, why would He have gone through all the trouble?

Now here is where this chapter really made me chuckle, and not in a ha-ha kind of way, either.  When the author started talking about “Information Overload,” I had to stop dead in my tracks and give the narrator my undivided attention.  How many of you can relate to allowing nutrition labels to dictate your food consumption?  When I changed to a healthy lifestyle almost four years ago and learned about eating as green and as natural as possible, I became obsessed with reading food labels.  I dreaded anything that contained high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, or anything in the “ose” family that indicated artificial sweeteners.  I avoided artificial anything like the plague.  I would google ingredients I never heard of or couldn’t pronounce, and sometimes I would quickly throw packages back on the shelf as if I had just discovered they had cooties.  In one book I read, it stated that when eating processed foods, sometimes the box that the food came in was better for us to eat than what was inside!

As if that weren’t bad enough, we had the FDA and other food & nutrition companies filling our heads with their latest discoveries which just seemed to cause more confusion.  For those of us who really tried to pay attention to this stuff, it could cause a state of sheer panic in some cases.  Remember the egg fiasco from years ago?  First, eggs were a good source of protein for you, then, uh-oh, too much cholesterol.  Then they were fine again, and on and on it went in circles.  Once upon a time, breakfast was the most important meal of the day; now intermittent fasting has taken the world by storm.  I can remember my kiddos learning about the food pyramid when they were in elementary school.  Back then, which really wasn’t all that long ago, rice, cereal, and grains were a good source of energy, and they took up the largest section of the pyramid.  Nowadays, carbs are considered a mortal enemy. 

We’ve heard of every “healthy plan” under the sun from Richard Simmons’ deal-a-meal to Atkins’ no-carb diet to South Beach and back again.  This “Information Overload” causes our heads to spin, and we need to stop the madness!  Even being healthy can lead to dangerous territory if we are using our minds to think about food more than we are using them to meditate on God’s Word.  Being preoccupied with food isn’t always about caving to cravings; it can also be about spending way too much time over-analyzing every little thing we plan to put in our mouths- and the things we didn’t plan.

I’m paraphrasing from Asheritah’s food book here, but consider this breakfast conundrum:  You’re standing in your kitchen staring at the pantry, then to the fridge, then back to the pantry again trying to decide what you’re going to have for breakfast.  Cereal?  Nope, too much sugar.  Eggs?  Nope, too much cholesterol.  Fruit smoothie?  Nope, not enough protein.  Bagel?  Nope, way too many carbs.  Do you see what I mean?  Before you know it, you’ve wasted ten minutes pondering your food choices, when you could’ve spent that ten minutes pondering a Psalm or two.  Overthinking your food is just as bad as overeating it! 

Unless we’re rabbits living on lettuce and carrots, we are bound to eat something that isn’t approved by someone’s standards, be it our own standards or those of the most popular nutrition guru at the time.  And actually, even our produce today has less nutrients than the produce our parents ate when they were our age.  (You can read an entire NBC news article about this subject at nbcnews.com.)

Let’s not forget the amount of chemicals and preservatives on the produce we buy that’s not labeled “organic.”  You know the white stuff on our pre-packaged baby carrots?  I was horrified when someone told me it was chlorine and can cause cancer.  Luckily, that myth was busted.  According to waterandhealth.org, ““The white film in question, sometimes referred to as “white blush” or “carrot blush,” is not chlorine, but a thin layer of dehydrated carrot.  The film develops when baby carrots are exposed to the atmosphere and the outer layer of carrot becomes dry.  Baby carrots, unlike their full-sized counterparts, do not have a protective skin that helps prevent drying.”  (Phew!) 

After further investigation, I learned that while these carrots are washed in a chlorine water solution to prevent contamination, they are rinsed before packaging and do not pose an immediate threat like the media would lead us to believe.  While knowledge is a wonderful thing, too much of it can cause more harm than good, at least where our food is concerned.  Have you ever heard of the saying, “too much of a good thing is still too much?”

I have a confession to make.  I have to tell you that the more I learned about what was in my food, the more neurotic I became.  It quickly became an obsessive habit that I’m now trying to break, because if I’m not careful, I will trade a life lived in bondage for a life lived in fear.  There is no sense in breaking one bad habit if you’re just going to replace it with another. 

Friends, food is not the enemy; overindulgence is where the problem lies.  When I say I want to live in freedom, I mean freedom in every way, shape, and form that I can get it.  Jesus died to give us a life of abundance, and I never want to take that for granted!  My prayer is no longer about asking for a miraculous deliverance.  I believe that God is still in the miracle business, and although it would be an amazing experience and testimony to be instantaneously delivered from this stronghold, I don’t think that would serve a purpose.  It is God’s will to heal me, yes, but even more so, I believe it is His will for me to learn how to unwrap the gift of freedom and then share my experiences and revelations with others like me.

I want to learn how to listen to (and obey!) my body’s signals that tell me when I’m truly hungry, not head-hungry, and when I’m truly satisfied- not so full that I can’t even move around comfortably.  Those naturally God-given limits are the only limits I want to have placed on my life.

That’s not to say I can’t set healthy boundaries for myself.  I don’t want to deprive myself, but I still want to honor God by making good choices for my temple.  I want to make conscious decisions about when I’m going to allow myself a little more liberty and when I’m not.  When I crave chocolate, for instance, I can split my candy bar into four smaller servings the way it was meant to be, and I can enjoy one of those servings more slowly so I can savor it.  If I concentrate on savoring that one portion more slowly instead of inhaling the whole candy bar in one go, I will have satisfied my craving AND limited my calories.  I can also decide to not partake just because it’s there, but to save it for a time when I’m really desiring it.  And even then, to make sure I enjoy it before a certain time in the evening so I’m not eating the candy too closely to bedtime.    

I have written out a daily prayer using the Sword of the Spirit, God’s Word, as my guide, and I want to share it with you should you decide you’d like to use this prayer for yourself at any time.  Don’t worry about trying to write it all down; it is my free gift to you to print out by accessing the PDF under my Freebies tab 😊.  You can post it up in your personal war room where you spend your quiet, concentrated time with God, or you can fold it up and tuck it safely within the pages of your Bible.  Either way, I pray it will become the daily prayer of your heart like it has become mine.

The prayer is as follows: (Quotation marks indicate Scripture verses.)

Lord God, how awesome and creative You are!  And how kind and loving You are to provide things that bring us pleasure!  You created us with taste buds, Father, and although we should eat to live and not live to eat, You wouldn’t have given us taste buds if we weren’t supposed to enjoy our food.

You created wheat for bread; help me to remember that bread itself is not the enemy, but also help me to remember that, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”  You created spices to make our food taste better, and You created wonderful things like cocoa beans and sugar cane.  Help me to remember, Lord, that eating something the diet world says I shouldn’t is not the sin- overindulgence is.  Help me to live by Your truth that says, “Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.”

You declared all food clean, Lord; food is a good gift!  Teach me to enjoy Your good gifts in moderation.  We were never meant to enjoy food more than we enjoy a rich, full relationship with You.  Please forgive me for the times I don’t put food in its proper place, and help me to crave more of You instead.

The food freedom I desire is not just about no longer being a slave to food addiction, Lord, but it’s also about no longer being a slave to the scale, to food prepping, or to nutrition labels.  The more I learn, the more neurotic I become. Protect me from “Information Overload,” so I don’t trade a life spent in bondage for a life spent in fear.

Father in Heaven, “release me from this prison that I may praise Your name!”  I don’t want anything to occupy my mind more than You.  Free me from being held captive to meal plans, because I want to live my life by Your grace and guidance, not by man-made food rules.  I want to take better care of my temple by naturally making healthier choices, listening to my body’s hunger and fullness cues, and setting healthy boundaries.  Help me to live the life of freedom that Christ died to give me!

Give me a greater hunger for Your Word and truth and a greater thirst for Your Living Water.  Awaken in me a desire for You like I’ve never known, Lord.  As I learn to get Your truth into my spirit, help me to remember that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that my value and worthiness are not defined by my size or weight.  Father God, heal me from the inside-out; reveal to me the root cause of this struggle, and help me to cut it off.   

Your Word promises, “He has sent Me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released, and prisoners will be freed.”  I receive that truth with a grateful and humble heart, Lord Jesus.  I claim that truth for my life because “I have overcome by the Blood of the Lamb and the word of my testimony!”  Thank you, Jesus, that because of Your sacrifice on Calvary, I can live a life in victory!

In Your Name I pray, Amen.

Friends, as I write this post, my prayer is that you can begin to view food as the gift that it is, and that you can begin to realize how food can be a reflection of the image of God by our creative use of the ingredients He has given us.  If you’d like your own copy of Asheritah’s book, you can find it here.  I promise it will be worth it!

If your mind is preoccupied more with food than with God and His Word, I pray that true food freedom will become a desire of your heart like it did mine.  No matter what your strongholds and struggles may be, I encourage you to delight yourself in Him!  And let me remind you, “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4 (NIV)  

Posted in Alicia & Goliath, Blog, Encouragement/Motivation, Faith & Religion, Health & Wellness

Stressful Stuff & a Cocoa Puff

You’re not the only one who thinks chocolate fixes everything! Need some encouragement and motivation when it comes to fighting the urge to cave into cravings? Read my newest blog post, published on my Alicia & Goliath page, and keep your chin up!

Posted in Blog, Faith & Religion, Health & Wellness

Toxic

As someone who has ridden the “Diet Roller Coaster” since she was fourteen years old, I’ve been through a plethora of fad diets.  You know the story… you’re motivated and on fire when you first start a new diet, and you even do really well for a week or two.  But when something gets in the way of that initial motivation, or when you’re faced with all kinds of sugary temptations at a family function or birthday party, you throw in the towel.  Ultimately, you end up gaining back the weight you lost and then some.  I assure you, friends, if I had a dime for every time I said “I’ll start fresh on Monday,” I would be rich by now.

As I’ve mentioned in my All About Me page, I am now a health and wellness coach.  Now, I may not have that title as a certified professional in the industry, but with what I do for my “side hustle” these days, that is exactly what I am.  If you would’ve told me three years ago that I would one day be a health and wellness coach, I would have died laughing.

But isn’t that just how God works?  I know someone who was mercilessly teased when he was a boy for a speech impediment, and today he is well-known motivational speaker and preacher.  In one of her books, Joyce Meyer tells us that she was lucky to pass English classes with D’s year after year, and now she teaches, preaches, studies the Word of God like nobody’s business, and has written more books than I can count.  Of course, let’s not forget God’s shining example, Paul.  (Read Acts for that miraculous story about Saul’s conversion.)

It’s taken me three years, but I finally embraced the reality that God turned this food addict into a health and wellness coach!  I not only help people stay motivated when they’ve decided to make healthy changes, but I educate them about what they put into their bodies and how it affects their health.  For example, I teach people how toxic it is for your body when you drink highly acidic beverages like coffee and soda, and eat processed foods and too much refined sugar.  There are also the “fun facts” I share such as, your body needs fat to burn fat, and, anything light or fat free is filled with chemicals and sugars.  There are many other golden nuggets like these that I share with my clients, and I love doing it.

What I do is not about taking miracle pills that offer a quick fix, and it’s not about slapping on band-aids that offer a temporary fix.  To truly be healthy- body, mind, and soul- I try to encourage people to change the mindset that got them unhealthy in the first place.  I also teach them about eating as clean and natural as possible- the way God always intended it!  In fact, with all the green juice, grapefruit essential oil, alkaline water, and liquid chlorophyll I drink in a day, I must be the least toxic person on the planet!

Since I jumped off of the diet roller coaster three years ago and instead boarded the new healthy lifestyle train, I’ve learned a lot about why fad diets don’t work.  I’ve changed my reading habits from romantic suspense fiction to non-fiction health and wellness books.  In Eat & Stay Thin by Joyce Meyer, she states, “When they [people who struggle with weight loss] are afraid that anything they put in their mouths carries the potential for ‘making them fat,’ they would much rather follow the list of rules and regulations in a diet than have liberty.”  That struck a chord with me, because that is my true heart’s desire- liberty!

Ever since I tried (and failed) the program that made the most sense to me years and years ago, The Weigh Down Diet by Gwen Shamblin, I have felt like a complete and utter failure.  What I loved about Gwen’s program was that it wasn’t based on what you were eating as much as it was based on listening to God and our body’s God-given cues.  Basically, you were taught to eat whatever you’re truly craving, but to only eat when you’re truly hungry.  You’re also supposed to… and this is where I struggled the most… stop when you’re pleasantly satisfied, not stuffed.  In today’s terms, you may hear it referred to as “intuitive eating.”  Honesty, I’ve been chasing that dream since it was first introduced to me over twenty years ago!

Like Joyce Meyer, Gwen talked about how society tries to “make the food behave” instead of making ourselves behave.  We think that if something is fat free, we can have double portions of it.  The truth is, when you take a look at the real reasons behind overeating, and there could be many, no amount of diet rules can help us overcome the surface problem.

I constantly tell people that my battle with food is more spiritual for me than it is physical.  And that’s because I’ve always looked at overeating as sinful.  I wasn’t taking care of my temple, and I felt I loved food more than I loved God.  I was ashamed, and I was definitely stuck in bondage.  When I wasn’t a slave to the food itself because I was on a diet, I was a slave to the diet’s rules, meal plans, and limitations.  Even to this day, I often feel like I’m a slave to the scale, because I let its numbers dictate my mood, my motivation, my self-worth, and even my sanity.  Dare I say… my relationship with the scale is toxic!  I have to remind myself every single day that this is about me and God, not about me and that scale.

For me, this journey is truly about finding the freedom that Christ died to give me.  There are days I honestly feel like I could burn out from stressing so much about food, and toxicity, and meal plans, and carbs, and sugar, and right and wrong.

In Mark 7, verses 18 and 19, we read, “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you?  Food doesn’t go into the heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.’ By saying this, He declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.” (NLT) Jesus has plainly told us that there IS NO right and wrong!

Let’s dig a little deeper, though.  We also learn in the New Testament where the real problem lies.  Consider this: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful.  All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12, NKJV)  Ahhh, there it is.  Most people today take the first part of this verse and run with it.  Jesus said you could have a 16-ounce steak, loaded baked potato, and a hot fudge sundae, true… but is that really helping you?

Now, I would never tell anyone that they can’t enjoy these things, so please don’t misunderstand me.  The key to good physical health and taking care of your temple is to adopt a healthy lifestyle where you make healthy choices approximately 80% percent of the time, and treat yourself 20% of the time- not the other way around.  And instead of over-indulging like in my scenario above, try having an 8-ounce steak, a baked sweet potato with butter and cinnamon, and if that satisfies you, skip the hot fudge sundae.  You could always go out for a small ice cream cone later that night or sometime the next day.

Let’s examine the second part of this verse.  “I will not be brought under the power of any.”  Now this is where I’ve truly had my struggle.  I can remember many, many times crying out to the Lord asking, “Why does food have such power over me?”  The pull of food in my life was always so prevalent that I wondered what was wrong with me.  It wasn’t until much later that I realized I am not alone in this fight.

The reason I believed this problem to be a sin in my life is because, as an emotional eater, I should be turning to God and His Word for comfort, not a pan of brownies.  When I’m angry about something, I should be turning to God and His Word to calm me down, not taking my frustrations out on a bag of Doritos.  When I’m stressed out about various circumstances in my life, I should ask the Prince of Peace to help me trust in Him, not visit the nearest drive-through.  Above all, I wasn’t honoring God with my body and with what I was eating and drinking.

It’s actually strange to think about how something as simple as food can have such control over your actions.  When you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and then take an unplanned detour to the kitchen before returning to bed, you’re under the power of food.  When you stop for gas but just have to run into the convenience store for a candy bar, you’re under the power of food.  When you’ve had a wonderful dinner out and still order the chocolate lava cake despite being full, you’re under the power of food.  Do you see a pattern here?

I know what I’m talking about, because I’ve lived through every one of these scenarios more than once, and hated myself for it every time I did it.  I truly had a love-hate relationship with food.  But here’s a newsflash for you: food is not the enemy!  There is a true, blue enemy that “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV) He will not only take advantage of your weaknesses, but he will surely kick you while you’re down.  After you down that candy bar or that greasy burger from the drive-thru, you will, if you’re anything like me, proceed to beat yourself up for hours afterwards because you “did it again.”

The devil likes to tell us we are failures.  He loves to remind us how weak we are.  He takes absolute delight in making us feel miserable about ourselves by illuminating our flaws.  He knows us well, and he will gladly use the information to keep us as far from God and His truth as possible.  

But, here is one truth from Romans 3:23-24, NKJV, that you should keep in your heart every moment of every day… “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”  Woo-hoo!  Doesn’t that make you want to shout and dance?!  Listen, not one of us is worthy of receiving God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and there is nothing we can ever do to earn or deserve those good gifts, that’s all true.  But when the enemy takes that truth and twists it into something that makes you feel bad about yourself, that’s taking it way too far.  Christ came to reconcile us unto God, and through His sacrifice, we are holy, righteous, and redeemed!  Amen!

Listen, I’ve been fighting this giant for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been beating myself up for “being a failure” for even longer than that.  Can I be brutally honest with you about something?  You are a child of God!  That means that when you make nasty faces at your reflection, talk down to yourself, call yourself names, or any other thing you do to beat yourself up, you are BULLYING one of God’s daughters!  (How’s that for perspective, right?)  Wow!  A daughter of The King is the LAST person I would ever want to bully!

The bible frequently tells us how much power we have in the tongue.  We can use it to tear down or to build up.  Which one do you think glorifies God?  Proverbs 15:4 states, “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (NIV) Be soothing, my friends!  When I say I’m a health and wellness coach, I’m not just referring to physical health.  Your spiritual and emotional health & wellness are just as important, if not more so, because without those, you can’t have the other.

Do you know that when we are in Christ, we have a supernatural power within us to accomplish things we can’t do in our own strength?  Acts 1:8b reads, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (NKJV) 2 Timothy 1:7 reads, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV) There are many more where they came from, too.  The Bible is chock full of wonderful truths that we should be telling ourselves (and telling the enemy!) every single day!

To this day, I have a stack of index cards that each contain powerful truths I’ve used at one time or another during this battle.  They are attached to a book ring and kept in a little filing box so I can review them often!  The Bible says the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. (See Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12) The Word is our weapon against the attacks from the enemy, and we should be able to use it at any given moment.  But I use them to not only fight the enemy, but also to embrace the freedom that Christ died to give me.

I would like to share these Scripture verses with you, so if you would like your own printable copy of these flash cards, visit my Freebies page!  I color-coded them for easy sorting, too!  I have included 36 life-giving verses to start with, but I encourage you to begin adding your own as you study more of God’s Word and find the truths that specifically speak to you.  You can carry these little “flash cards” with you so you have them readily available, or you can use them as study guides to practice memorization.

I began this post by talking about body toxicity, and then I mentioned that my relationship with the scale is toxic.  For a very, very long time, my relationship with myself was toxic, too.  I can’t even begin to tell you how often God “hit me over the head” with His truth about my true identity, and that is why I am so passionate about sharing what I learned with other women like me.

What is your relationship like with you?  Do you have a toxic relationship with yourself like I did?  How do you treat your body?  Are you taking care of God’s temple by using food for fuel instead of for comfort?  What kinds of things are you telling yourself?  Are you using your tongue to crush or to soothe?  To hurt or to heal?

If you are a mother, you know how terribly painful it is when your children have trouble with peers in school.  It is a very sad and helpless feeling to watch your child suffer with such torment.  Imagine how much more painful it is for God to see one of His children suffer with that torment.  YOU are one of those children.  Don’t be a bully.

To find out more about Joyce Meyer’s book Eat & Stay Thin, or to learn more about Gwen Shamblin-Lara’s Weigh Down Diet, visit my Resources page.  If you have any Scripture verses that have encouraged you along the way, reminded you of who you are in Christ, or helped you ward off attacks from the enemy, I’d love for you to share them with us.  In fact, if this post related to you in any way, I would love for you to share your comments below.  Thanks, and God bless!