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

2020 Vision

We interrupt this regularly scheduled program for…

Covid-19 is much more than a special news report, and if you’re anything like me, it has interrupted much more than a television program or two. It has interrupted our work schedules, our family gatherings, our shopping trips, our activities, our school system…. it has pretty much interrupted our entire lives.

While these are unprecedented times for all of us, we are all handling the unknown in different ways. During the stay at home mandates, some were staying cooped up in their homes because they were living in fear. Others were staying home and making the most of a bad situation. Still, there are some that continued to go to work every day, my husband and 22-year-old daughter included, but they had to do so following a whole new set of rules and procedures, such as wearing protective masks. As we all proceed with the re-entry process, those of us who are just now starting back to work are following suit.

I admire those who are making the most of a bad situation. I know those who, while spending the last two or three months cooped up at home, were doing their long-avoided spring cleaning, remodeling projects, and even starting new health and wellness routines. Me- not so much. Unfortunately, I was more in the former category. Not that I was living in fear, because we weren’t given a spirit of fear according to 2 Timothy 1:7, however, I will admit that depression had reared its ugly head since all of this began.

Because of my asthma (which, if my Pastor heard me say that, would tell me not to claim it), my husband and children put me under house arrest. Although I am more susceptible to bronchitis and upper respiratory infections, I can’t say for sure that automatically makes me more susceptible to contracting the Coronavirus. However, I do know that if I were to contract the virus, it would be harder for me to fight it off due to my compromised lungs. That being said, I had been holed up for over two months, and it did not serve me well.

Being out of my routine has certainly had its effects on my overall well-being. My sleep schedule had been off, I’d been consistently living off of carbs and sugar for some reason, and regretfully, I wasn’t even writing consistently. (As I’m sure you all have noticed!)  I found it impossible to write something positive for my blog, when I was feeling anything but positive.  In fact, I was beginning to feel lethargic, unmotivated, and irritable, and because I had bitten all of my fingernails to the quick, I felt ugly and less feminine, too.  My clothes were getting tighter, and all my aches and pains were back with a vengeance.

Being away from my family took an even bigger toll on my emotional health, though.  We were taking the advice of our Pastoral leadership and obeying the mandate put out by the authorities, so I was unable to go see my parents, and I definitely couldn’t go see my elderly grandparents because of their compromised health.  With my grandmother in the early stages of dementia, she was having trouble understanding the severity of the situation. She was agitated and emotional, because her family couldn’t come to see her.

I was also missing my oldest daughter terribly.  I had gotten used to seeing Brittany every day when I became a receptionist at the daycare where she works, and now I hadn’t seen her for weeks.  Married for going on four years, Brittany now has her own home in which she was cooped up.  The constant news coverage had caused her to have three anxiety attacks in just as many weeks, and I was growing increasingly worried about her.

By the time Easter Sunday arrived, it had been almost four weeks since I’d seen her, and the day was a difficult one for all of us.  It would be the first year our whole family wouldn’t be able to spend the holiday together, which was a hard pill to swallow for my Italian grandmother who believes her life’s purpose is to cook for and serve her family.  As we saw people posting pictures of their holiday festivities on social media, Brittany was at home crying because, in all her 25 years, it was the first Easter she wasn’t able to spend with her parents and siblings.

This new reality was becoming a great source of stress and heartache for me, and I wasn’t handling it well.  I have a good friend who is constantly sending me uplifting messages, and she was trying her hardest to not only keep me encouraged and motivated, but to also hold me accountable for taking care of my health. But for all of her efforts, it just wasn’t working. I knew it all came down to my state of mind, and frankly, it was a good thing she knew that, too, or she might’ve thought I was avoiding her.

I also felt very far away from the Lord, because I had even stopped spending time with Him every morning like I had grown so accustomed to when my normal routine was in full swing.  Now God?  Him I was definitely avoiding!  I was headed down a slippery slope.  I was already mad at myself for undoing all of the hard work I’d invested in my health, and I was getting worse as time marched on with no end of Covid-19 in sight.  I knew if I kept going the way I was going, I would be much worse off than I already was, and that wasn’t a pretty picture.  Yet for all my logical reasoning for why I should make a change, I remained unable to do so.

Not seeing Brittany for four weeks had soon turned into five weeks, and then six; it was the most time we’d ever spent apart from each other.  We tried to FaceTime regularly, but that was nowhere near the same as seeing her in person.  Depression engulfed me in waves, and the more depressed I felt about what was happening and what I had done to myself, the worse it got.

I stopped listening to Christian music, and I withdrew from God instead of running to Him.  I began to waste more time than I care to admit on mindless computer games and Netflix binges, because it took me away from my current reality.  Because I was feeling so unattractive and so disgusted with myself, I withdrew from my husband, too.  When it came to intimacy, I could take it or leave it, so I hadn’t been there for Greg in the way a wife would want to be there for her husband under normal circumstances.

Mondays were coming and going, and with each passing Sunday evening, I would resolve to make the new week better than the last, but to no avail.  It seems that the overall theme for 2020 is “Vision,” and most of us started the new year off with hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  But in the blink of an eye, all of that changed for me.  We were heading into June, and the way I saw it, half of the year was gone already.  Although I’m not trying to be the glass-half-empty type, I do bend towards being a realist.

A few days before the next “Fresh Start” Monday began looming over my head for the umpteenth time, the Lord was once again beginning to pierce my thoughts.  I had put Him on the back burner long enough, and with God’s gentle prodding, my heart and spirit were beginning to fight back.  I tried to avoid the impending battle instead of trying to embrace it.

But when Monday morning came, and I had to try on three different outfits for work before I found something that actually fit comfortably, I found myself at the proverbial rock bottom.  I looked at myself in the full-length mirror behind my door, but being all cried out from the years of repetitively being in this same predicament, all I could do was stare.

The usual feelings of regret and disgust ushered in, followed by defeat.  After I was finished getting ready for work, I collapsed in my kitchen chair and uttered, “Okay, God, You win.”  Instead of turning on my computer, I opened up my Bible app.  I would normally turn right to Psalms when I needed to be encouraged, but I couldn’t quite identify which emotion was weighing the most heavily on me.  I checked out my saved reading plans and clicked on one about God’s grace.  Although I wasn’t necessarily feeling it in my heart, I knew in my head that God’s grace was unconditional and unending.

About halfway through the devotion, a familiar sting in my nose signaled the sudden onslaught of tears.  There, right in the middle of my devotion, was the word that identified which emotion I had been feeling… guilt.  I realized I had withdrawn from God, not because I was angry with Him or living in fear, but because I felt like I had let Him down by not taking care of myself during this trial.  I felt that I had disappointed God yet again, because I allowed my circumstances and emotions to dictate my behaviors.  I was depressed, and so I became uncaring.

I didn’t care about what I ate, how I spent my time, or when I slept, and knowing I had “done it again” made me feel as though I had no right talking to God or spending time with Him.  I felt like the black sheep of God’s family, and rather than run into God’s arms, I chose to hide from Him instead.  I felt, dare I say, unworthy of His unconditional love.  The words of Matthew 17:17 must have been distorting what I know as truth.  In this verse, Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you? How long must I put up with you?” (NLT) The silent cries of my own heart were, “Oh, Lord!  How long will You put up with me?!”

The answer is, as long as it takes!  The answer is, forever and ever, Amen!  I understand that Jesus found Himself feeling frustrated sometimes; after all, we were created in His image, so I have no doubt that Jesus, at one time or another, felt every emotion that we humans ever feel.  But the good news is that, above all, our Lord is kind, loving, and forgiving!  And not just today, but every day, forever and always.

The words in my devotion that struck my heart were this: “Guilt is not part of God’s plan.  It drains the life out of us and separates us from reality.  Yet, we keep guilt around never looking to see how much it steals or controls.  God wants more for us!  He wants us to be free.”

The author, Markey Motsinger, goes on to say, “Guilt is a mental and emotional experience that occurs when a person thinks or realizes they have compromised their standards of conduct and accept responsibility.  When we don’t give these experiences over to God, they can quickly turn into shame.  Shame, in return, attacks our identity, causing us to feel unworthy or not good enough.  Guilt and shame take us away from the heart of God.”

Have truer words ever been spoken?  For someone who devotes an entire website to our identity in Christ, I sure do forget God’s truths much more often than I should!  How easy it is for me to allow self-condemnation to breed guilt, shame, and feelings of unworthiness!  Oh, Lord!  I am so weary from this ongoing battle! Can any of you relate to this hamster wheel experience?  Yet, in those moments when I was reading my devotion, I felt anything but condemnation.  I felt warmth, peace, and love.

As I allowed God’s grace and forgiveness to wash over me, I made the conscious decision to lick my self-inflicted wounds and get my act together.  I began planning out some healthy lunches for the work week.  Greg was stopping at the grocery store after work anyway, so I asked him to pick me up some no-sugar-added strawberry preserves.  Apparently, our local grocery store no longer carries the brand I wanted, and Greg arrived home that evening feeling frustrated and disappointed because he was unable to find what I desired.  I know his comment wasn’t meant to sound harsh, but I was hurt nonetheless when he said, “You didn’t care about sugar last week when you were eating ice cream!”

In the moment, I wanted to retaliate.  But before I spoke, I took time to reflect on the variables.  For one thing, I know the underlying issue was really that my dear hubby felt bad for not being able to deliver.  For another, I was fresh off the Self-Destruct Express, so I immediately took offense to his words.  My first instinct was to take it personally, as if Greg were insulting my inability to stop the vicious cycle.  But the Holy Spirit instantly made me realize it was my own frustrations that caused me to feel angry with Greg.  I’m the one who felt self-conscious about not being able to stop the cycle.

I calmly told him that if I were going to eat refined sugar, I would choose to have it in my ice cream, not in my fruit preserves!  And really, that’s all life really is, after all.  A series of daily choices.  Instead of choosing to be strong during a difficult time, I chose to succumb to my weaknesses, which started a domino effect of repercussions.  Given what’s happened, I have a new choice to make.  I can choose to not forgive myself and sink deeper into the pit of despair that I’ve created for myself, or I can choose to accept God’s grace and forgiveness, pull myself up by my bootstraps, and start again.

I talked to Greg later that evening and told him that I can understand why he gets frustrated with me sometimes.  I admitted that I have times of weakness, and people that don’t struggle with food addiction will probably never understand how difficult it is to not give into certain impulses.  Enjoying chips and soda while watching a favorite television program is something about which Greg will never have to give a second thought.  I explained that that’s not the case for me, and I tend to slip up now and again- especially on the weekends when things are much more relaxed at home.  But I also told him that one thing I know for sure is that I never give up!

Hebrews 12:1b-2a states, “And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith….” (NIV) This is the race that is marked out for me.  This is my cross to bear.  Although I get frustrated more times than I can count, I am grateful, too, because it could always be worse.  I have a great job, a great purpose in life, and a great family who faithfully gives me their unconditional love and support.  Although this race makes me weary, God gives me the strength and endurance I need to keep going.

What is the race marked out for you?  What choices will you make when the going gets tough?  Will you give into guilt and shame the next time you take two steps back instead of one step forward?  Or will you pull yourself and remember God’s promises?  I know I’ve shared this verse in other posts, but it is one of my favorite promises, and it is worth repeating: “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 1:6 (NIV) Don’t throw in the towel, my friend.  2020 still has a long way to go, so bring that vision into focus and carry on, because God is not done with you yet!