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)