Posted in Blog, Encouragement/Motivation

Change Your Resolve

Today is January 7th, and we are already one full week into the new year!  Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet?  (Come on, I know you have.)  As we say “good-bye” to 2019, we all have different resolutions we set for ourselves. Actually, as we said “good-bye” to 2018, we probably set the same resolutions. And the year before that, and the year before that, and so on and so on. But what if, this year, we did something different?

There are many different things that we resolve to do in the upcoming year, and if you ask around, we all probably share the same plans. Most of us resolve to do things like lose some weight, read our bibles every day, start adding to our savings accounts, etc. Unfortunately, most of us usually aren’t able to follow through with these plans- at least, not as much as we’d like. We start off pretty well; after all, it’s a new year and a clean slate, so we feel motivated and excited to accomplish the goals we have, so far, been unable to accomplish. But what if we look at our goals from a different perspective?

Too many times, we unwittingly set ourselves up for failure. We either set expectations that are too high, or we set too many goals that are unattainable. First of all, we have to set smaller goals. We can’t go into the new year telling ourselves we plan to lose fifty pounds by summer. That may work for a small percentage of us, but I’ll bet that more often than not, summer comes for those people and they are lucky if they were able to lose twenty. They end up feeling disappointed because they haven’t met their goal, and instead of celebrating the twenty pounds they lost, they see themselves as failures.

If this sounds like you, I have good news!  You are NOT a failure!  The truth is, you simply set a goal that was just out of your reach for one reason or another.  Goals, like anything else, should be set in baby steps.  But let’s go one step deeper, shall we? What if, instead of resolving to do something this year, we resolve, instead, to not do something?

Here’s what I mean:  What if, instead of resolving to read our bibles every day, we revolve to not go to bed until we’ve read our bibles?  When we wake up deciding that we have to make sure we read our bible at some point during our day, it leaves too many open windows for us to say, “I need to make sure I do that,” or, “I’ve got plenty of time yet.”  But before we know it, the day has gotten away from us, and by the time we climb into bed, we are too tired to concentrate on what we would be reading anyway.  Another day slips past, and we go to bed thinking, “I’ll start that tomorrow.”  Then, unfortunately, the same pattern just repeats.

But what if we change our resolve?  What if we resolve to not go to bed until we’ve read our Scriptures, and then we actually schedule it in our day?  You all know what time you like to get into bed, and you know how much time it takes you to do that.  So, if you shower in the evenings, shave, moisturize, or what have you, and you know it takes you one hour to do all of that, then start heading there at least half an hour earlier than you normally would.  Just like you know you must make time to moisturize before hitting the hay, you also must read your bible or do your devotions before turning in for the night.

On the flip-side, if mornings are your thing, maybe set your alarm for an earlier time.  This can be different for every individual.  For some, half an hour may be all you need.  For others who like to do a more in-depth study, maybe shoot for waking a full hour earlier.  Either way, make sure you incorporate enough time for prayer, too!

I’m talking to myself, too, by the way!  I’m not saying I have found the perfect answer, and I guarantee that each one of us probably does things differently, and that’s okay.  Find a routine that works for you, but put the resolve behind your plan.  Make the commitment.

Maybe you’ve resolved to lose some weight this year.  (I’m sure most of us are included in this one!)  What if, instead of resolving to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain deadline, we resolve to not eat after seven pm?  Or we resolve to not drink so many sugary beverages or designer coffees and start drinking more water in their place?  Do you see the pattern?

Have you resolved to start saving money this year?  Instead of trying to put money into a savings account each week, reconcile it in your mind that you aren’t going to stop at the coffee shop every day on your way to work.  If you tend to eat out on the weekends, resolve to skip the restaurant scene on the first and third weekends of every month.  At the end of the month, when you add up how much you’ve saved by making those few simple changes, you can then deposit that amount.  Making one large monthly deposit instead of four smaller, weekly deposits might help you put into perspective exactly how much extra you had been spending without even realizing it.

It’s easier to plan on not doing a few small things than it is to plan out this big achievement you hope to accomplish before the next year sneaks up on you again.  The wording somehow makes all the difference and will be what eventually affects your overall outcome.  Making easy, smaller changes is going to be the key to what makes this year different than all the others.  Taking those “baby steps” is ultimately what is going to bring you the success you’re seeking. Are you trying to write a book? Resolve to not let your day come to an end unless you’ve written at least ten paragraphs.

In my own personal experience this year, I’ve resolved to not just go about everyday life always letting my husband be the first one to say, “I love you.”  It had occurred to me out of the blue one day that, although Greg knows I love him by my words and actions, I was very rarely the one to say those three little words first.  He tells me on a daily basis that he loves me, and of course I assure him that I love him, too!  But it randomly occurred to me that he would truly love and appreciate it if I were the one to say it first once in a while!

Have you ever seen the movie Fireproof with Kirk Cameron?  (If not, you definitely should!)  To make a long story short, the protagonist’s daily acts of random kindness toward his wife ultimately made him fall in love with her again. He and his wife had grown apart and were on the verge of divorce. Had he set out to fall in love with her again, that would have been an unattainable goal. However, he vowed to do one nice thing for her each day for forty days, and in the end, his love for her was reborn through his smaller, everyday actions.

Well for me, it hasn’t been very long that I’ve been practicing this new behavior of saying ‘I love you’ first, but I can already see the changes it has brought about.  My husband holds his head a little higher, smiles a little more, and has a spring in his step!  His positive moods have indirectly affected me in a positive way, and now we are both going through our days almost giddy!

For all intents and purposes, I could have easily resolved to try to make my husband feel more special this year, and then racked my brain trying to figure out what to do differently to accomplish that goal.  But by committing to not let Greg always be the first one to say, “I love you,” I’ve accomplished the goal in an easier way with much less pressure.  Being the first one to say it is not only harmless, but it is enjoyable!

What are some other things you can resolve not to do this year?  How about you don’t make a disgusted face when you see your reflection in the mirror?  What if you stop saying things to yourself that you would never even dream of saying to anyone else?  Think about what you could accomplish if you resolved to stop saying, “I can’t!”

What New Year’s Resolutions can you make that will positively affect your family?  What would it look like if you were to stop screen-time by 7:30 pm and play a board game together before bed?  What would conversations sound like if you stopped asking yes or no questions and started asking open-ended questions instead?  Imagine what it would be like in your home if you put your foot down and said, “I resolve to NOT use my cell phone at family meal times anymore!”  (GASP!)

There are so many different directions you can take this new way of thinking when it comes to making strides towards the things you hope to achieve.  The most important thing I can tell you is to not get discouraged and give up too soon.  If you slip-up or miss a day, don’t beat yourself up about it!  Just start fresh the next day with a little more determination and a lot more grace.

Rachel Hollis, among others, is famous for her motivational podcasts, books, and other tools.  If it would help you to keep better track of your progress, definitely invest in a goal-setting journal or planner.  You will be able find the perfect fit for you by checking out thehollisco.com, passionplanner.com, or even Amazon.

If you don’t want to spend the extra money on anything fancy, just get a simple notebook from your local department store or grocery store, and make your own.  Create check lists, a space for gratitude, and even draw several circles or check boxes to keep track of water intake, for example.  Making your own goal-setting journal might be better for you anyway, because you can tailor it to your exact needs and desires.

Maybe you’re having trouble thinking of a New Year’s Resolution this year.  If this is you, check out my Time Management post and/or click on the Freebies tab to print out the Victories Chart.  Pick something off of that list to focus on implementing this year if it’s not something you’re already doing.

As I type this post, it is currently snowing where I live, and I am resolving to no longer be afraid of snowstorms!  Although driving in the snow is one of the things I dislike the most about Winter, I am choosing to not be fearful of it.  I have been driving for over twenty years, and I know I’ll be okay.  Besides that, I am in the palm of God’s hand!

God will get me safely to my next destination just like He gets me through anything else.  And you are in the palm of His hand, as well, which means He will get you through anything, too… even your New Year’s Resolutions!

If you’d like to share, I would love to hear some of your goals for 2020.  What are some ways you can accomplish those goals by resolving to not do something?  Comment below, and Happy New Year!

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!