"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" Hebrews 12:1
Yesterday, I had a win! I'm going to call it a positive mindset shift, PMS! Just thinking about this new acronym, PMS, makes me giggle inside! I'm 47 years old and the "great change" began about a year ago. Yes, I'm talking about peri-menopause. Initially, I was relieved to know that I would not have to have a period every single month. However, now I'm beginning to realize that no period also means low estrogen. Low estrogen symptoms include mood swings, less sleep, more forgetfulness, increased tiredness and increased weight gain that can be difficult to lose! UGH! It's a vicious cycle! It can be easy to allow your mind and body to get trapped into thinking there's no way out!
Thank you God for helping me to adopt a new mindset, PMS! I will walk forward knowing that I am never a victim! With a positive mindset shift, I can choose to step outside the vicious cycle and develop a plan of attack!
Yesterday, I experienced the PMS when I was eating lunch. Earlier that morning, I prepared a healthy meal to bring to work for lunch - tuna wrapped in lettuce, organic strawberries, hummus and organic blue chips. As I was eating my lunch, I remembered there was soda in the fridge. I took the soda out and had a sip. I noticed that the soda did not taste like "real food". I stopped myself, looked at my water, looked back at the soda and then threw the soda in the trash can. I felt amazing and empowered!
Okay, before I get too far off, I want to begin Chapter 1 in Dr. Leaf's book. Today, I will reflect on the first section of Chapter 1 called, "The Diversity of Diet."
Dr. Leaf shares that human beings have survived and thrived on a variety of diets. Food options are often dependent on where a person is from. For instance, Mediterraneans digest a lot of olive oil, Japanese eat a lot of vegetables, and the African Maasai tribe eats a lot of grass-fed beef and dairy. What food do Americans eat? What foods did I grow up on? Where did my mindset about food come from? This is what I will be reflecting on in the next paragraph.
I grew up in a poor home. My mother used food stamps to purchase our food. Our typical meal consisted of hot dogs and Kraft mac and cheese, hamburgers and french fries or grilled cheese sandwiches. Fruit and vegetables came in a can, and we mostly drank Kool-Aid. On special occasions, when we did have money, we would go out to eat at McDonald's or Burger King. Also, we seldom got desserts. I remember stealing Little Debbie fruit pies from the grocery stores just so that I could have a treat. I also remember that when my little brother and I did get a dessert, we would eat is so slowly just so we could hold it over each other. We would taunt each other with the tasty treat. Until I was 16 years old, this was the only way I knew how to eat.
When I turned 16, I started dating a boy who came from a financially wealthy family. They are the ones that introduced me to various foods. I learned that fresh vegetables tasted better than canned vegetables, and I was introduced to foods like crab, salmon, lobster, and artichokes. I also went to my first "fancy" restaurant where cloth napkins were used. In addition, my boyfriend took me to McDonald's on a regular basis. I used to think, "I want to rich someday so that I can go to McDonald's whenever I want." The meaning of food changed. Food became a form of financial status.
I was the first person in my family to go to college. Colleges have dining halls! A dining hall is like the Golden Corral! All you can eat! They used to have a saying called, "the freshmen 15", meaning that college freshmen often put on 15 pounds due to open access to food. Well, I gained the 15 pounds. When I went home at Christmas, I remember a friend making fun of me about my weight gain. He called me "Thunder Thighs", and that was all it took! During the Spring semester, I took it all off! I worked out almost every day and I ate less food. Unfortunately, looking back, I never changed what I was eating. I only changed how much I was eating. Either way, the weight came off!
Over the years, I was able to manage my weight through exercise. After gaining 65 pounds with each one of my 3 boys, I reached a weight of 215 lbs. I joined the gym and started taking group exercise classes. I was able to get myself down to 145 lbs. I loved group exercise so much that I became a certified fitness instructor, and a certified personal trainer. I taught a variety of classes including step aerobics, cardio kickboxing, body sculpt, yoga and pilates. When I turned 41, I moved across the country, and was not able to teach group exercise for a while. By the time I was 43, I had gained 20 pounds. My weight was 165 pounds. I decided to start teaching classes again, but they were sporadic. Currently, I teach one class a week. Thank God for this class because it keeps my foot in the door and helps me to remember how much I love group exercise. When I turned 46, I fell into a depression due to a major life event, and I stopped getting my periods. I don't know if it was the stress that stopped my cycle, or if it was my age. Either way, I did not have energy to work out, and I turned to food for comfort. I gained another 15 pounds bringing me to 180 pounds. By the grace of God, I was able to overcome the depression. However, my food addiction and lack of energy did not stop.
It have been emotionally and spiritually healthy for one year. I have so many things to be thankful for. My marriage is better. My children are safe and healthy. I have great friends and a wonderful church family. I have a full-time job as a School Counselor and am financially sound. My business is flourishing, and I am finishing my last two classes for mental health licensure. Unfortunately, by devoting time to all of these things, I have given up my time to exercise. By choosing to not change my diet and not exercise, I have gained another 10 pounds bringing my weight to 190 lbs! This is ridiculous and unacceptable!
I am realizing that if I am not physically healthy, then I won't have the energy or the mobility to "run the race that God has set before me" (Hebrews 12:1). It is time to change my thoughts and behavioral habits about food, and it is time to build in exercise. I am open and ready to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit and I welcome His presence. God, give me the strength and courage to move forth on this journey. In the name of Jesus, break this addiction that binds me. Help me to choose healthy foods. Enable me to carry out your will. Amen.