"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
It shouldn't surprise me that I'm on Day 40 of this "You're an Overcomer" blog! Yet, I regularly stand amazed at how perfect God's timing is! Forty days...the coincidence is surreal. When God destroyed the earth with water, it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Moses spent 40 days in the desert after killing an Egyptian. Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the desert, and there were 40 days between Jesus's resurrection and ascension. I could go on and on about how often the number 40 is used in the Bible to denote a time of trial, judgment and rejuvenation. And, here I am, on the eve of a new year, writing a blog about overcoming an addiction! Once again, reminded about how perfect God's timing is!
2017 - In Review...free write. I close my eyes as I prepare to write. Shifting my thoughts from present to past and trying to embody how I felt on the eve of 2016. I remember now. I had a choice. A choice to be swallowed whole by the hurts of the past or a choice to step forward in faith, despite the pain. I could dig my heels into the quicksand that engulfed me, or I could raise my eyes to the only truth I have ever known. In choosing God's way over my own, I gained miraculous shoes, fitted with the gospel of peace, that elevated me above the pit of despair. It was the best choice I ever made in my life. While 2016 was a year of pain and misery, 2017 was a year of rebirth and renewal. Tonight, on the eve of 2107, I lay quietly by my husband. Feeling his breath on my skin reminds me of how blessed I am to have him in my life. True repentance. Full forgiveness. This is what love is. Love is loving despite the failures. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." This is what I learned in 2017. I learned how to love, and how to be loved.
"If you have found honey, eat only enough for you, lest you have your fill of it and vomit it." Proverbs 25:16
Two days ago in my blog titled Gluttony I discussed the importance of eating small amounts of food, at a slow pace. Today, I want to focus on this goal.
Our bodies are not meant to handle large amounts of food at one time. When we fill the stomach beyond capacity, it is not able to handle the job correctly. Overfilling means overflowing. That is a great concept when it comes to love, but it certainly does not help with digestion! When highly acidic stomach acids are pushed into the esophagus we experience acid reflux and heartburn, and when excess, unprepared and undigested chyme (mix of food, acids & fluids) flows into the duodenum of the small intestine, it can burn the walls of the small intestine. In addition, when the chyme PH is off, it creates all other processes of digestion to be off.
Since I am not an expert on this subject, I want to reference an article I read that does a great job explaining what goes wrong when we take in too much food (link can be found at the bottom of this blog).
Honestly, after reading the Divine Health From the Inside Out blog, I am almost positive I have Leaky Gut Syndrome. I experience chronic inflammation and am constantly bloated, even when I eat well and exercise for a few days. In her blog, she recommended a book called Gut and Psychology Syndrome, stating it would help with knowing how to combat a Leaky Gut. I just ordered it and hope to learn some positive practices.
The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. John 4:19
Yesterday, I went back and reviewed my blog posts from Day 21 to Day 37. I discovered that the main skill I employed was the mindfulness skill of NOTICING. This is so encouraging because I've been so sick and tired, literally, that I felt like I was failing on overcoming food addiction. I've made small gains like maintaining the daily blog, which is actually a personal journal. I also spent a day fasting and learning to pray through food cravings. I spent time thinking about the discomfort zones, and understanding the power of superposition. I've met with my soul sisters and asked them if they would join me in a new book study using Dr. Caroline Leaf's book, Think and Eat Yourself Smart. I have not lost any weight, and I still fall short, but I'm not done because God is not done with me! I am committed to the transformational change that I know is coming. In the meantime, I am learning to be patient and kind to myself as I make this journey.
Over the last 17 days, I have done a fantastic job of NOTICING my thoughts, feelings and physical condition. Noticing is a foundational skill in Conscious Discipline, and in mindfulness. It's a journey from judging to observing, and awareness is a better predictor of change than consequences. First of all, we can't change what we are not aware of. Noticing builds consciousness, and it is simply describing what you see/feel or experience. The more noticing we do, the stronger the frontal lobe becomes and the better thinkers we become, which means better choices. Noticing also builds a sense of safety because there is no judgment implied.
As I begin to wrap up the second round of 21 days, I should probably re-familiarize myself, and my readers, with Caroline Leaf's 21 Day Brain Detox program. I have included a quick video of Dr. Leaf explaining how to come overcome toxic thinking. In other videos, she shows physical evidence of how our thoughts are formed, and weakened. It takes at least 21 days to begin to change the brain, but it takes an additional two rounds of 21 days to stabilize and habitualize the new thought.
I woke up to a sore throat, throbbing headache, and stuffy nose. It took me a while to summon the energy to get out of bed, and now I'm moving at a snails pace. I've noticed that being tired, and needing self-care and mindfulness strategies has been a common theme of this second round of 21 days. This afternoon, I may spend some time reviewing the last 37 days so that I can note the highs and lows, and create a plan of how to move forward.
In Gwen Shamblin's book, The Tablet, she recommends we make a list of how we feel when we overeat, and how we feel when we don't. So, here is my list:
When I overeat I feel bloated, tired, depressed, no energy, can't bend over, uncomfortable in my own skin, disappointed, discouraged, jealous, guilty, ashamed, angry. I hurt. I can't fit into my clothes. I get frustrated. I don't want to go out and do anything.
When I don't overeat I have energy, and it's easy to move. I feel excited and determined and successful. I like fitting into my clothes and I'm not self-conscious. I feel good about who I am. I feel determined and want to do more.
It's really a no brainer! Overeating only causes pain and misery! Gwen shared that it takes about 20-30 minutes for our food to breakdown to hit the bloodstream. It's not until then that we feel satisfied and full. Today, my focus will be on eating small portions, slowly, waiting at least 30 minutes before taking an inventory on how full I feel. For instance, 20 minutes ago, I ate 2 slices of Ezekiel bread with peanut butter, a small glass of orange juice and a cup of coffee. I feel extremely full right now, almost too full. I probably should have had one slice of bread instead of two.
Like Toby Mac says, "I don't want to gain the whole world, but lose my soul." I don't want to gain a ton of weight and lose my soul. I don't want gluttony (overeating) to take away from the person you created me to be. How can I possibly be a vessel of your light when my light is buried beneath mounds of food?
"Don't get tired of helping others. You will be rewarded when the time is right, if you don't give up." Galatians 6:9
The blogs are beginning to take on a nature of their own. What started out as a blog on overcoming food addiction has evolved into a holistic, cathartic daily practice of releasing thoughts and feelings, and contemplating options. I often wonder if I should hold back from posting personal information. Many therapists choose not to blog because they do not want to open a state of vulnerability with potential clients. While I appreciate and respect their perspective, I value my need to "keep it real". I do not post anything that would jeopardize my professionalism, or my clients, family or friends confidentiality. That being said, today, I am exhausted because I went to help a friend and her young adult son work through an emotional crisis at 3 am. I fell right into coach/counselor mode and, over a three hour period, I was able to help them process months of difficult accumulated emotions and trauma. After they developed a plan for moving forward, I went to the bathroom. When I returned, they were embraced, crying and expressing their love for one another. My heart literally melted, and once again, God affirmed not only my profession, but my spiritual gifts.
Regarding my food addiction, I did submit to a small piece of chocolate cake today. Ugh! I noticed that my exhaustion has depleted energy, including "will power" energy. I'm sure I could reference a research study on how sleep deprivation inhibits positive decision-making, but I don't have the energy to even look. What I do know, however, is that being tired will not prevent me from helping others.
"As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me." Jeremiah 33:22
After 6 months of inquiry, reflection and collaboration, our sister circle wrapped up Dr. Caroline Leaf's Perfect You Book Study. We loved this book so much that we have decided to begin "Think and Eat Yourself Smart" in January. Dr. Caroline Leaf continues to offer such a fresh and intelligent perspective on how God designed us and how we should steward ourselves and our interactions with others. Every time I read her books, or listen to her videos, I am not only amazed at how well she has tapped into the Holy Spirit, but how eloquent she is at teaching the average person about very difficult scientific and spiritual concepts.
Today, by examining the Four Discomfort Zones described by Dr. Leaf in Chapter 8 of The Perfect You, we explored what happens in our spirit, soul and body when we move outside our Perfect You. Below, I'd like to share my notes related to this topic.
God provides an alarm system in our consciousness (Spirit) when we step out of the love zone and into the fear zone by prompting us to self-regulate our thoughts, feelings and choices. If our spirit is not in line with the Fruit of the Holy Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control), then we have to go into superposition by become aware of incoming information & upcoming information and deliberating a response. If we are in alignment with the fruit of the Spirit, then we know to move forward with the choice. If we are not in alignment, then we need to bring our thoughts into captivity and self-regulate.
The four discomfort zones are:
Zone 1: Just Aware. Spiritual taps on the shoulder reminding us to self-regulate by asking, “Am I operating in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control and faithfulness?” Being aware is HUGE because it is on the epigenetic level where genes are expressed. A memory is built when genetic expression happens, which occurs when we choose. Choosing makes physical thoughts come into being. Every thought has an emotional component attached to it, a “chemical signature”. If the thought is expressed, and the chemicals released, the electrical and quantum levels increase in energy, and Discomfort level 2 begins. The purpose of this zone is to protect and guard your mind by maintaining PEACE. If you allow toxic thought to express, you will get toxic outcomes.
Zone 2: Adrenaline-Pumping, Heart Pounding
Chemicals are carried into the Amydala, your library of emotional perceptions. Stress response is signaled. Rush of alertness & awareness, increased heart rate, breathing, muscle tension. More blood and oxygen to brain improve thinking and memory retrieval. Purpose of this zone is to prepare you to think and make a good choice…if your perception is a good one.
During periods of stress, research shows that one of the best things to do is act like Jesus and care for others. Compassion is the key feature of being wired for love, while self-centeredness is tied to the fear mindset.
Zone 3: Attitude
Long term memories intertwined with emotions that are alive. They are the roots of all your words and actions and swirl around in your nonconscious mind, gaining momentum and energy, until they become part of your conscious. It’s so important to tune into the spiritual (fruit of the spirit), mind (superposition), and body (physical reactions). Even if it feels like a natural response, if it is not grounded in the love and will of God (fruit of the spirit), then it is not in the Perfect You. This is when we “renew the mind” where thoughts become amenable to change because they are physically weakened. We MUST deal with the activated negative attitude or negative desire, such as a sugar craving, or it will submerge back into the nonconscious mind even stronger than before and become part of your belief system.
Zone 4: About to Choose
This is the accumulation of the other 3 zones. A mindful awareness of your spirit, mind and body experiences. The resting “mind-wandering” self-referential and theory of mind network of the brain, called the default mode network is switched ON during this stage. When we choose to ask the Holy Spirit to help us focus, we calm down, let go and step and back. We can NOT rely on the amygdala, emotional perceptual library, to accurately reflect truth. Emotions can be quite dangerous. Instead, we need to mindfully and intentionally remind ourselves that God has given us everything we need. We bring the pre-frontal cortex (thinking) into balance with the amygdala (feeling) by tapping into the Holy Spirit (choosing) and THEN we make a choice. When we reason out situations by standing outside of them, we are able to combat fear. Acknowledging our feelings is paramount also because if suppress an emotion, it will explode somewhere else. This is because the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is disrupted. We have to process all of it so no negative thought or emotion lingers.
Today is Christmas, yet it feels like any other morning. It's 8:15 am and the boys are still sleeping. I remember when they would spring from their sheets at 5 am, excited to see what Santa left under the tree. We would put on Christmas music, light seasonal candles and the fragrant smell of apples and cinnamon permeated the house. The memories are beautiful and bring a peace to my soul. Wait! What am I talking about? I'm reminiscing about Christmas past, when Christmas is right in front of me! Just because they sleep later does not mean I have miss the joys of Christmas! Oh my Lord - what was I thinking?!?!
This is what I love about journaling. It gives me time to process my thoughts and feelings each morning, and to line them up with the Spirit of God. Left to my own devices, I would falling into a tailspin of sorrow and depression! Thank you Jesus for reminding me what today is all about - it's the day of your birth! BIRTH...not death! Today, help me to renew and refresh my mind, body and spirit. I choose to begin my blog again - in the right mindset! Here goes...
Today is CHRISTmas! I am so excited! My family and I not only have the opportunity to celebrate the BIRTH of our Savior, Jesus Christ, but we get to celebrate the birth of my husband! Rob was born on December 25, 1964, and YOU Lord, have honored him, by allowing him to share your son's birthday. I am so excited to spend time with my family, celebrating all that you have done in our lives. I am so excited that you allow me to have a profession I love so that I can give back to you and the community. I was able to earn money and able to purchase presents for my family. I am able to give to the church, which is really giving to you. I am so glad we have a home to share this day in. I am so glad my family is together, safe, healthy and whole. Thank you Lord providing a light in the darkness and for giving us your son so that we can enter your kingdom! I will honor you today and will maintain a peace and joy in my whole being!
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
Anyone who knows me knows that my mind wanders, often. My husband says, "You're love boating again," referring to the 1970's hit sitcom, The Love Boat, that features multiple story-lines in each episode. It drives him crazy when I bounce from one idea to the next. It seems my blog is taking on the same characteristic. I've jumped from stages of change to accountability measures, and from referencing secular articles to spirit-filled books. The common thread among them all is my journey to health, and my freedom from food addiction.
This morning I want to focus on Gwen Shamblin's WeighDown weight loss approach. She states, "the typical weight-loss program suggests losing weight through diet (large volumes of low-calorie foods) and exercise. We suggest that if you lost the passion for food, the result will be that you eat less food and therefore lose weight permanently. The typical diet approach tries to fix the body or the food, but not the passion. Our approach fixes the heart first, and the body follows."
Yes! This is the approach I need to take. I have yo-yo dieted my whole life. Sometimes I found success, but I always put the weight back on. I don't want to be a slave to dieting, anymore than I want to be a slave to food addiction! I want to be free from any and all strongholds in my life. I know I have the power of self-control. I just want to learn how to tap into that power.
Gwen Shamblin likens the journey of weight loss to the book of Exodus. She states, "you are on an Exodus with the children of God away from the slavery of food, through the Desert of Testing, and to the Promised Land. The Promised Land is a place where you have a relationship with God more than a relationship with food." At the end of Chapter 1 in her book, The Tablet, Gwen offers 5 suggestions for developing a new daily routine. She encourages us to replace our old daily diet routine with this new daily routine. I am going to list her five suggestions and will take a moment to reflect and internalize each.
1. Praise and Prayer - I do this to some degree, however, I am not always worshiping in such a way that I internalize the experience. What do I mean? I mean that I read scripture and then write about it, but I don't always seek to find God and wait for him to come. It's kind of like a one-sided conversation. Have you ever had a friend sitting across from you, listening intently, and as you talk you begin to answer your own questions. You may carry the conversation, ingrained in the topic, and then before you know it, it's time to leave. You thank your friend for being a great listener, and you're grateful for their time. But, in a moment of reflection, you realize you did not take time to ask them their opinion. You never received their feedback.
This is how I sometimes approach the Lord. I seek his presence. I dump my thoughts, my worries and my needs on him. I talk and talk and talk, but I don't always take the time to listen or to acknowledge thankful I am that He is there for me.
This is an area that I can easily modify. I want to praise God by acknowledging how much I love and need Him in my life. I want Him to know that I am so grateful that He sits with me every morning and listens to my stories. I also want to take the time to listen to what He has to say. He is the source of wisdom and I need to take the time to wait for His response.
2. Hunger and Fullness: Gwen wants me to wait for stomach hunger, and she wants me to eat small amounts of food, slowly. For the most part, this is what every diet regime recommends. The difference, however, is waiting for stomach hunger. Most diets encourage you to eat first thing in the morning, and eat at specific times of day. Eating a healthy breakfast first thing in the morning is supposed to jump start your metabolism. Waiting until I feel stomach hunger is going to be a big challenge for me. It goes against everything I have been taught. But, isn't that the way of the Lord. His thoughts, and his ways, are different than my thoughts and my ways.
3. Less is more. Gwen says to stop eating when you are full and get the food out of sight. The goal is to not focus on food. It takes 20 minutes for the food to hit the bloodstream, which means it takes 20 minutes to feel full. She says that hot drinks can make us feel full so it may be helpful to drink hot herbal tea before going for seconds.
4 Pray when I am tempted to eat but not hungry. This is what I did when I fasted a few days ago. It was amazing how often I turned to God throughout the day. It actually felt good to know that I could go to him, and he would help me. Gwen states, "all other temptations to eat, including head hunger, mouth hunger, tv eating, car eating, social eating, lustful eating, escape eating, comfort eating, and mindless eating have to stop being excuses to eat! No more excuses!
5. Transfer it to God and be blessed. Just like Dr. Caroline Leaf says, "what you focus on will grow", Gwen states "If you redirect your focus, you will modify your desires forever!" She reminds us that food is an energy source, not an indulgence. When we eat the way that God designed us to eat, we will have more energy to carry out the plans he has for our lives.
"So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute." Luke 21:14-15
I never know quite where God is going to lead me when I write my blog. I wake up each morning, sometimes excited and ready to read and write, and other times tired and clueless. Sometimes I have little desire to write. I think of that saying, "when we say "yes" to one thing, we are saying "no" to something else." This morning, my mind and body are resistant to writing. I'm tired. My back hurts from running yesterday. My stomach and fingers are so swollen and throbbing. They feel like they are going to explode. My mind is turning over the million of things I could be doing, like the dishes in the sink, the laundry that needs to be folded, and the floor that needs to be swept and mopped. The last thing I feel like doing right now is writing this blog. Yet, I am compelled to finish what I started. Writing this blog first thing in the morning has become a habit for me. It has only been 32 days. Dr. Leaf stated it takes 63 days for a thought to become a habit. It goes to show that when we do something repeatedly over time it becomes a natural part of life. Also, it's funny that as I think about this, and the feeling of resistance, I am losing my desire to resist. I am actually becoming more interested and settling into the moment. By leaning into the resistance and becoming mindful of my present condition, I am developing a mindset of acceptance an inquiry. In the process of acknowledging my current thoughts and feelings, I am actually opening my mind to the possibility of positive change.
Okay...now I am ready. My mind is cleared of negative resistance and open to go where ever the Spirit guides me this morning. Yesterday, I worked with a client who also attends AA meetings. He has mentioned the 12 steps on several occasions, especially noting the 4th step. I told him I blog about food addiction, and he said that one could easily substitute the word "food or sugar" for the word "alcohol" in the 12 step program. This morning, I would like to spend a few minutes looking up and considering the 12 steps of Alcoholic Anonymous. As my client suggested, I will replace the word alcohol with the word food and consider how it applies.
Here are the 12 Steps, but I replaced the words related to "higher power" with the word "GOD".
Thank you Lord for loving me and saving me from my sin. Thank you for guiding people to the truth through the 12 step process, and through Dr. Leaf's teachings. Lord, I lift up anyone who is dealing with sinful desires, a.k.a "addictions", and ask that you help us to live free and fulfilling lives.
"O taste and see that the Lord is good; How blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!" Psalm 34:8
Yesterday was a good day! I managed to get through "almost" the whole day without giving into the temptation of eating Christmas cookies or Donut King donuts! Sprinkled sugar was literally everywhere, and it sent out subliminal "you want to eat me" messages all day long. But, I stood strong and said NO!
At 9 pm, however, in an act of true stomach hunger, I grabbed two cookies before leaving the office. I mindlessly stuffed them into my mouth, and then stopped to notice that they did not taste as good as they looked. As I went to grab for the third cookie I stopped myself and said, "do you really want to take in more calories on something that doesn't even taste good?" It was a good call, and enough to stop the behavior. This morning, however, I wonder how I would have handled that situation if the cookie actually tasted good. Would I have continued eating more? My hope is that I would not allow taste to control my desired goal of eating healthy! I want to take a moment to hone in to this issue of taste. What is taste?
Here is a summary of the article, "How and Why Your Taste Buds Change Over Time" by Edible Communities, June 30, 2016
Taste is the sensory experience of what happens when a substance enters your mouth. There are five categories of taste: sweet, salty, bitter, sour and savory. Most or our taste buds, receptors that communicate information from our mouth to our brain, are located on the tongue. Children are super sensitive to taste: to avoid potential toxins and to desire sugar. The natural sugars found in fruit draws a person towards a substance that is high in nutrients and energy. Our taste buds die off every two weeks, and get replaced with new taste buds.
Our taste preferences are shaped by what foods we are exposed to and how we associate with those early food experiences. When we taste new foods there is a window to time that occurs before the body learns to accept it. This is called the waiting period of acquisition. This waiting period is also influenced by the emotional acceptability (foods that make us feel good), situational acceptability (food experienced in a situation that feels enjoyable or safe), and physiological acceptability (no digestive upset or allergic reaction). If all these factors are good and acceptable, then we learn to appreciate and desire that substance.
Here is the most interesting thing I found in this article,
"Because what we eat on a regular basis shapes our taste preferences, we can find ourselves less likely to prefer plain vegetables or unseasoned salads. Why? The standard American diet is packed with processed foods, where sugar, salt, and oil abound. Excess consumption of these foods can alter the body’s preference, raising our threshold for tastiness. If we eat tons of salt, we need more salt the next time to approximate the same experience. We see this in kids, in particular. What brain would opt for kale when its most recent experience of Fruity-Cocoa-O’s was so (artificially) delicious? The brain will turn down the kale and elicit cravings for the more intense, pleasurable taste instead."
Oh my God! What is going on with our nation?!?! Why are we eating this way? This MADness has to stop! We have become robots to the Modern American food industry! What brain would opt for kale when it's most recent experience of SUGARY CHRISTMAS COOKIES was so artificially delicious? What brain would opt for baked chicken when it's most recent experience of McDonald's Big Mac Value Meal was so artificially delicious? What brain would opt for water when it's most recent experience of Pepsi was so artificially delicious?
The good news is that we can train our palate and develop an acquired taste for new and different foods. According to the Monell Chemical Senses Center, the biggest predictor of liking something is more about motivation than sensitivity to taste. Combining a new food with a familiar pleasant taste, or with situations that are in themselves enjoyable, reinforces the enjoyment factor. The writer states that we can develop a new taste for a particular food by repeating exposure to it. Also, when we start to learn which foods feel best in our bodies and which are unhealthy for us, we begin to base our food decisions on these qualifiers, rather than strictly on taste. As we shift away from high-sugar, high-salt foods of our younger years, our tastes will adapt to what’s most consistent. When the body isn’t flooded with fructose and artificial sweeteners, things like carrots and beets can start to taste extra sweet.