Posted in Blog, Faith & Religion

THE “Health & Wellness Coach”

Let me start by saying that when I call myself a “Health & Wellness” Coach, I am referring to not only physical health, but emotional and spiritual health as well– perhaps even moreso.  Not that physical health isn’t as important as the other two, but if we’re being honest here, it’s not really possible to achieve the physical health on a permanent basis, if the emotional and spiritual health are not addressed first.  Okay, well, maybe you can strive for all three simultaneously, because that is exactly what God is helping me do every single day.

For me, these three things go hand-in-hand, and I simply cannot have one without the other two.  I stated above that you cannot truly achieve optimal physical health without the emotional and spiritual health, but it really works both ways.  If your physical health isn’t up to par, it can ultimately affect your emotional and spiritual health.

Okay, now I’m talking in circles, and I’ve probably just confused you.  Let me try to show you what I mean.  If you aren’t spiritually healthy, chances are you are not going to put “taking care of your temple” at the top of your priority list.  If you are facing other battles in your life, and you are spiritually unsteady because of what you’re going through, your physical health may seem less important to you as you traverse through your current trials and tribulations.  It could even just be a case of simply not caring.  If your spiritual health isn’t in the right place, you may not even give your physical health a second thought.  Perhaps you didn’t even know that physical health was important to God, and this is a completely new concept to you.

Faith and religion aside, maybe you’re just not as emotionally healthy as you would like to be.  You might be facing demons from your past or a current crisis that you can’t see past at the moment.  The bottom line is if you’re not emotionally healthy, you probably aren’t able to make a commitment to your physical health even if you wanted to. 

All of that might make perfect sense to the average human being, but what about the flipside of that coin?  How can being physically unhealthy affect your spiritual and emotional health?  Well, for one thing, when I’m not taking care of myself physically, those negative self-talk tapes start replaying in my head.  They tell me I’m a failure, I’m destined to be this way, and I’m unattractive and unworthy of love.  It directly affects my emotional health when I start believing those lies again that God worked so hard to squelch.  When I start telling myself those things, it’s very easy for me to fall back into a depressed or hopeless state, because I begin to believe that nothing will ever change.

In addition, my spiritual health suffers, because I feel convicted by the Holy Spirit.  (Conviction is not to be confused with condemnation, by the way.)  The Holy Spirit gently and lovingly reminds me that I’m not treating my body the way God has asked me to, and I end up feeling badly about not taking good care of my temple.  I feel I am not honoring God with what I eat and drink.  1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (NLT) I am not glorifying God if I am over-stuffing myself at mealtimes or overindulging in sweets instead of treating myself to them in moderation.    

But because I view my addiction to food as great sin, I have spent years taking the Holy Spirit’s gentle conviction and turning it into self-condemnation.  Not only have I battled a faulty belief system that told me I loved food more than I loved God, but I also believed I was such a horrible sinner that nothing could make me acceptable and pleasing to God.  If this sounds like you, my friend, let me assure you that nothing could be further from the truth!

Did you know that when Jesus bought us with the price He paid on Calvary, He made us righteous in God’s sight?  Righteous, by definition, means morally right and virtuous.  In Ephesians 1:4, we are told, “Even before He made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.” (NLT) Did you catch that?  “Without fault.”  Blameless.  When God looks upon us, He sees perfection.  I can’t even wrap my brain around that!

As long as I’ve been at this, I still have trouble seeing myself the way that God sees me, so believe me, I get it.  But one of the things that helps me besides reading God’s truth repeatedly, is worshiping Him in song.  When I first became a Christian in 1996, I thought I’d never listen to Christian Contemporary music.  I believed it to be slow and “boring.”  Can I admit to you now that I never even tried it when I made that assessment?  I might have turned to a Christian radio station one time and they happened to play something “slow,” so I judged it immediately.

But then I tried it a second time… and a third.  This was in the days of Twila Paris, Jars of Clay, and Point of Grace, and one of the very first songs I remember absolutely loving was a Twila Paris song called “Not Afraid Anymore.”  For one thing, it wasn’t slow at all.  In fact, I remember belting it out while dancing around my kitchen as if unto the Lord.  (What I was afraid of at the time, I didn’t know, but nonetheless, the song made me unafraid and downright joyful!)

From that point on, I listened to as much Christian Contemporary music as I could.  I discovered it wasn’t slow and boring at all, but in fact, was a great way to connect to God when I couldn’t be spending quiet, alone time with Him in prayer.  I was new to Christianity, and while the bible seemed intimidating to me at first, worship music gave me a fresh, new way to get to know God.  Much of it has God’s Word right in the lyrics, so committing lyrics to memory came in very handy!

Back then, I was a “baby Christian” trying to learn who I was, who God was, how to follow in Christ’s footsteps, and how to cope with things from having a bad day to dealing with a crippling self-image.  I was battling depression, anxiety, and food addiction for as long as I could remember, and then I came across a song by Susan Ashton.

This one song…. It spoke to me in a way I could never forget.  I knew it had to be written just for me, and it’s been an anthem of mine ever since.  It’s called “Body and Soul,” and the lyrics still pierce my heart today as much as they did when I heard it for the first time so long ago.

Too young to know any Christian Contemporary records from the 90’s?  No worries!  I got you!  Take a deep breath, sit back, and take it in… the lyrics are as follows:

“Once I was lost; hurting inside; dangling over the edge.  But the history of pain barely remains.  Once I was blind, but could it be that the excess of light is shading the weary past with the shadows it casts?  And as sin gives way to atoning blood, and a debt is paid with the riches of love, there’s a hope that I see.  There’s a freedom in me!  “There’s a comfort in death and in life knowing that I belong to the Savior who’s making me whole… body and soul.

 Now I can feel a sense of resolve, choosing a new point of view; going against the grain; breaking the chain!  And the shackles fall on the road to peace, and I lose them all as I find my release.

And hope eternal springs in me.  And freedom seems to willingly carry me through a world of fears I’ve stored inside of me; Lord, abide in me.

And as sin gives way to atoning blood, and a debt is paid with the riches of love, there’s a hope that I see.  There’s a freedom in me.  There’s a comfort in death and in life knowing that I belong to the Savior who’s making me whole… body and soul.

Wow.  Just wow.  As a brand new Christian, this song was not only the epitome of what Christ did for me, but it addressed the freedom that was my birthright.  It told me that when I died to sin and found new life in Christ, He was breaking the bondage that my painful past had been keeping me in for all those years.  Even back then, He was letting me know that He was going to be there for me, helping me through what seemed was going to be an insurmountable giant.

That was over twenty years ago, and I still don’t have all the answers.  I’m not a supermodel now, and I still love brownies just as much as the next person.  But you know what?  I’m a much better version of myself than I was twenty years ago, and maybe not as great as I’ll be ten years from now.  God is constantly working in us and through us, helping us to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be, one day at a time.

In Philippians 1:6, Paul assures us, “I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (NLT) Read it again; understand what it is saying.  “until it is finally finished on the day when Christ returns.”  Hello!  That means we will always be a work in progress until Jesus comes back to take us with Him!  In no uncertain terms, that means stop beating yourself up for not being perfect!  Even though you’re not perfect in your own eyes, you are perfect in His eyes.  And aren’t God’s eyes the only ones that really matter?

Look at the lyrics of the song again.  It says, “the Savior who is making me whole.”  Not, “the Savior who made me whole.”  Do you see the difference?  So you’re not always 100% emotionally healthy?  So you’re not always 100% spiritually healthy?  So you’re still battling a physical stronghold in your life like I am?  So what.  As long as you are striving every day to do better, be better… that’s all that matters.  Are you going to fail sometimes?  Of course. But that does not make you a failure. If you’re doing your best, that is what God sees.  He sees your heart. 

On the rare occasion when one or more of my girls came home with a low “B” on their report cards, or, Heaven forbid, a “C” in, perhaps, their least favorite class, they would beat themselves up.  I would always ask, “Did you do your best?”  When they replied with unwavering certainty that they had, I told them that’s all that mattered to me.  

God is the same way with us.  But unlike us Moms who might make a mistake once in a while because we are imperfect humans, God will never make a mistake in His care for us. God is always there… helping, holding, inspiring, guiding, strengthening… you get the idea.  His timing is always perfect, and He always knows just the right thing to say. There is nothing too big for Him to handle, and there is nothing too small for Him to care about.

What is most important to you right now- today?  You don’t have to overwhelm yourself with striving to reach too many goals at once.  Just remember that God is our ultimate health & wellness coach!  To hear the “Body and Soul” song for yourself, click here. Soak it in; take time to reflect on Who God is, and what He can offer you. Let Him help you reach the goals that you can’t reach in your own strength.  Be it physical or otherwise, that’s His job, and He loves doing it.  How can He help you start becoming wholly healthy?  He’s always listening, and He is the only One who will never let you down.

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!