"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.
Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God." Psalm 146
Yesterday, I waited for stomach hunger. It was minimal stomach hunger, but it was still stomach hunger! I had a small growl and my stomach felt empty. I ate a salad, hummus, carrots and pita chips. A few hours later, I had an apple. Everything was great...but then..."think about it"... "weigh the choices" ... give in to the same lie that I always fall into..."just one cookie." Yup! I ate one tantalizing cookie which led to another. Then, I stayed at work to help with leadership team duties, and I was faced with bowls of candy, platters of cookies and pizza! After fasting, waiting for stomach hunger and choosing a healthy lunch and snack, I ate 2 cookies, banana bread, 2 pieces of pizza, 1 chicken wing and 16 ounces of Pepsi! When in the hell am I going to learn?!?!
This is why I am writing this blog! I am determined to change my mindset. Yet, every single moment of every single day is a ridiculous struggle! Some people may think I am crazy! So many people, including my husband, say, "Just do it!" Just decide to only put healthy foods into your mouth, and then do it! I wonder if this is what people addicted to drugs and alcohol go through? The pull towards a particular substance, despite the negative consequences, is so intense and so habitual it's absurd! It makes absolutely no sense, yet it's pervasive! My heart goes out to anyone fighting a battle with addiction, especially when addicted to MAD - the modern american diet!
Today, my only objective related to my food addiction journey is to NOT EAT Christmas cookies, donuts, breads, pastries or chocolate candies! Lord help me!
"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
Yesterday, I listened to the Holy Spirit and fasted from solid foods. It was not too difficult, and I was able to pray through the cravings. This morning, I realize that I did not experience stomach hunger one time! I experienced cravings. I had head hunger, aka "emotional hunger". There was a little voice inside my head that expressed itself every time I got stressed or upset. The same little voice screamed "I want to eat you" every time I walked by the cookie and fudge tray. I tamed that little voice by saying, "God first", and was able to wait patiently for the annoying cacophony to go away.
Today, before getting out of bed, I asked God what He wants me to focus on today. He said, "I'm not done". I believe He is leading me to wait until I experience stomach hunger before eating solid foods. When my stomach is empty and my blood sugar level drops, my stomach muscles will begin to contract and a hormone called ghrelin will send a signal to my brain telling me it's time to eat.
Today, my goal is to pay attention to the difference between "head hunger" and "stomach hunger". I will wait on stomach hunger before eating, and I will continue to pray through the cravings.
Over the last few days, I have been regressing and falling into the same abyss, the same cycle and the same habits that have kept in me food bondage for years! I make good progress, and then (BOOM), merry-go-round I go. Each time, the circle gets a little wider and the ride lasts a little longer, but nonetheless, there I am, back on the crazy cycle.
I went 21 days of making positive, strong and healthy food choices. This week, however, has been a slow fade. In looking back at my blog posts, it appears my decline started with "BUSY-NESS". I haven't had time a lot of time to pray, write and process information, which, in food life, means I haven't taken the time to rest, digest and eliminate. I am so glad that Christmas vacation is coming. I need the break from my busy-ness bondage.
"If the Devil can't make you bad, he will make you busy," comment made by Pastor Justin years ago that I will never forget. In our marriage group, a friend told me that BUSY means being under satan's yoke. Take In, Take In, Take In. Over-stimulate the mind. Indulge. Go, Go, Go. It's all wonderful in the moment, but the long-term consequences are devastating. My intentions are so good. I set a plan but then I fall into temptation because I don't follow through with the plan.
In my devotional time this morning, I ask that the Holy Spirit lead me and show me what HE wants me to know. I opened to Proverbs 3: Trusting in the Lord. "My child, never forget the things I have taught you. Store my commands in your heart. If you do this, you will live many years, and your life will be satisfying. Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation. Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and do not lean on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones."
"Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones." Oh the Lord is so good. There it is! Don't be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. THEN...
I started the blog is with "If the devil can't make you bad he will make you busy" and "being under satan's yoke". When I am so busy that I don't have time for God, I am putting myself out there as a target for the enemy. While information is good, if the bulk of it does not come from the Lord, in the form of scripture and Spirit, then I am not taking in the purest, essential nutritional elements for my soul.
I feel the Lord is leading me to fast. I don't know much about fasting except that the Lord wants me to meditate on His word, and not on food. Therefore, today I will fast from all solid food. Just thinking about it makes me a little uneasy but I know I have to trust in the Lord with all of my heart. I know this is the right thing to do.
Yesterday, I was mindfully aware of the food I ate and the daily decisions I made. Some decisions were good, such as going to the gym despite not feeling like it, and choosing a salad when my son and I went to Zaxby's for lunch. Some decisions were bad like eating a peanut butter sandwich when I got hungry mid-day, and eating a small piece of cake when I went to another Christmas party last night. I wish I had more self-control to choose healthy every single time. I know that eventually I will step into my "perfect you" but for now I will keep plugging along - striving to finish the race well.
This morning I am tired, again. I am tired of thinking and striving and pushing and pulling. I just want to rest and feel like it's okay to be me. I opened my bible this morning, I landed on Isaiah 35 - Hope for Restoration. What a beautiful time to receive this message. Isaiah 35:3-4 says "With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands, and encourage those who have weak knees. Say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong and do not fear" for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you." Oh Lord, I needed to read and receive this message this morning. When I get discouraged, I need to turn to your word and remember that you have already defeated all things negative in this world. I know that your kingdom is not of this world, and that my time here is temporary. Yet, while I am here I want to offer my life as a living sacrifice to you. This morning, I hand over all forms of selfish ambition, jealousy, and discontentment. In the name of Jesus, I release busy-ness, all forms of bondage and addiction. Take away everything that interferes with my relationship with you. Help me to walk in peace, joy and love. Help me to slow down and breath. It is only when I am in your presence that I am reminded of how lovely my life is. This morning I will be quiet. I will rest in your word. I am always amazed Lord by the words of your prophet, Isaiah. It's incredible that 600 years before Christ, Isaiah spoke of the coming of your son, and our savior, in Isaiah 53 - The Suffering Servant. Reading these passages in Isaiah are like fertilizer to my soul. Thank you so much for leaving us both your Word, and your Holy Spirit. I can't imagine how difficult and unfulfilling my life would be without you. Thank you for letting me wallow in your presence this morning. I surrender all to you.
"Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness." Psalm 26:2-3
Yesterday, I started the day inspired and strong. I prepared all the meals that I mentioned in yesterday's blog - foods high in tryptophan. I ate two boiled eggs for breakfast and chased it with 16 ounces of ice water. As lunch time approached, I was tied up with meetings and, in response to hunger, I grabbed two chocolate candies that were sitting in the candy bowl on my table. When the meeting was done, I went straight to the break room to make my spinach salad. I was proud of myself for making the time to eat my salad and not continuing to eat junk. Unfortunately, at 3:15 pm, I was enticed by the beautiful display of goodies at the Secret Santa party. I loaded my plate with pasta salad, quiche and spinach-artichoke dip. As I sat there eating, my eyes were drawn to the alluring chocolates and pastries, and my mouth began to water. Thoughts like, "whatever, you don't always get this chance" and "you've already messed up this week, eat today and start tomorrow" streamed through my mind. I chose to give in to the temptation and filled another plate, but this time with mouth-watering desserts. After eating three bite-sized gourmet chocolate pastries, a numbing feeling pumped through my body. My muscles relaxed and I got sleepy. By 6:30 pm, I had a stomach-ache and went to bed.
This morning, part of me feels discouraged and tired. The other part of me feels driven and determined. I know that I have to make a choice about which feeling I am going to feed. Yesterday, the temptation I feel into started long before the Secret Santa party. It started when I nonchalantly and mindlessly grabbed for and ate the two chocolate candies at 10:45 am. The taste triggered the desire for more. In addition, I didn't think that action of eating the two chocolates was a big deal. I downplayed the action and outcome in my mind. The truth, however, is that when I minimize the small wrong actions, I increase the likelihood of greater, more damaging wrong behaviors. Isn't this the anatomy of temptation? James 1:14-15 tells us that "each person is tempted when they are dragged away be their own fleshly desires. Then after the desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is fully-grown, gives birth to death." We see this process in adultery, pornography and all forms of addiction. We have a fleshly desire. When we choose to feed that desire by having the affair, watching porn, or grossly engaging in addictive behavior, we are now walking in sin (often blindly, in the dark), and then we experience the destruction of our sin (bondage, divorce, death, homelessness, loss of relationships, prison, etc...).
Therefore, my goal today is to be mindful. I want to be fully aware of every moment. I will not pass judgement. I want to be aware of both the good and bad thoughts. The good and bad feelings. I want to mindfully consider each action, before I take the action. I want to open my mind and heart to the leading of the Holy Spirit and humbly request that He guide me along the way.
Yes, my soul finds rest in God; my hope comes from him." Psalm 62:5
My body must be going through some type of change. Whatever it is, I don't like it! Yesterday, I ate a chocolate bar. The day before, I ate a handful of chocolate chips with a spoon of peanut butter. Yesterday, I chose not to work out. Instead, I took my son out to eat and I had lasagna and bread. This morning, I woke up at 2:30 am. It is now 3:20 am and I am up writing. Basically, I'm craving carbs, I have insomnia and I lack the desire to work out. I also feel emotionally unsettled. Both my brain and body are inflamed. They tingle. My ears are ringing. It's an uncomfortable awareness. That's the bad news.
The good news is that I don't have to stay stuck in this negative physical state. Over the last three weeks, I have learned to listen to my body. Doing this blog forces me to stop and think about how I am thinking, feeling and choosing. Oh my Lord, Dr. Caroline Leaf is so right! Being in my "Perfectly You" zone allows me to operate at my best. I may not always be making the best choices in the moment, but I am certainly learning how to process information so that I make better choices more often. Like Momma Joyce says, "I may not be where I want to be, but I'm certainly better off than I used to be."
My body is telling me that I am off balance right now. Something is off, and I have a feeling it's my serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, which is a chemical signal between nerve cells, found throughout the brain and body. Serotonin is made from the amino acid, Tryptophan. If Trypotphan levels are low, then Serotonin levels will be low. Both of these substances help regulate digestion, sleep, skin and bone health, and mood.
My goal today is to boost my serotonin levels by eating tryptophan-rich foods like eggs, cheese, turkey and nuts. Other foods/drinks that boost serotonin levels include green tea and yogurt. Natural sunlight is also a booster. While there are other foods & activities that can help, I have decided to focus on these because they are readily available to me. So, here is my plan for today:
Plan of Action
AM Lifelong Vitality Pack, Probiotic, Thermogenic
Breakfast: Green Tea, boiled egg, apple & cheese
Lunch: Water & Spinach Salad (red onion, mandarin oranges and almond slices) & Thermogenic
PM Snack: Green Tea & Christmas Party at work - I will choose right!
Dinner: Water & Something light
PM Snack: Yogurt & Fruit
Try to Take a walk when I get home to get fresh air and sunlight
"It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep." Psalm 127:2
Yesterday, I missed writing my blog. I had been coming down with a cold, and my mind and body were exhausted. I felt like my head was going to explode. I needed rest. In weighing whether I should make myself get up and write at 4 am, or sleep another 1.5 hours, the following song came into my head, "How He Loves Me" by David Crowder Band. I decided that I would listen to God and show myself mercy and grace. I would love myself the way He loves me. I would not allow perfectionistic expectations and obligation to dictate my current circumstance. I chose to rest. The extra sleep gave me the energy I needed to start and finish the day with increased energy and substance. This morning, I'd like to do a quick 7-minute meditation & reflection on the lyrics of "How He Loves Me" by the David Crowder Band. Again, in choosing a mindfulness exercise, I am giving myself the gift of self-care.
How He Loves Me Lyrics
He is jealous for me - Loves like a hurricane - I am a tree - Bending beneath
The weight of his wind and mercy - When all of a sudden I am unaware of these
afflictions eclipsed by glory - And I realize how beautiful you are - And how great your affections are for me - Oh how he loves us so - Oh how he loves us - How he loves us so - Yea He loves us - Oh how - We are his portion - And he is our prize - Drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes - If His grace is an ocean we're all sinking - So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss - And my heart burns violently inside of my chest - I don't have time to maintain these regrets - When I think about the way He loves us - Oh how he loves us so - Oh how he loves us!
Thank you Lord for helping me to know who I am in Christ. Through Christ, I am able to come before you and accept the gifts you have for me. My perfection is found only in your perfection. I surrender and want to know you Lord. Your peace surpasses all understanding. In stillness, I find you. Help me to let go of all tasks and expectations that prevent me from being with you. I long to stay connected to the vine, at all times, in sickness and in health. I am a tree bending beneath the wind of your mercy. Thank you for looking in my direction and paying attention to me. My identity is in you. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for guiding me. Thank you for knowing me. Thank you for knitting me. Thank you for loving me. I feel like it is time to stop, but I can not. Every ounce of my being wants to praise and worship you. When I close my eyes and accept your love, all I can do is revel in your glory. The feeling you impose is greater than any joy I have experienced in my human life. Nothing compares to the promise I have in you. Oh Lord, how the praise and worship songs are flooding my mind. My Jesus, my Savior, there is nothing in this world that compares to you. My comfort, my shepherd, tower of refuge and strength, let every breath, all that I am, never cease to worship you. Shout to the Lord all the earth let us sing. Power and majesty praise to the King. Mountains bow down and the seas will roar at the sound of your name. I sing for joy at the work of your hands. Forever I love you, forever I stand. Nothing compares to the promise I have in you. Thank you Lord for your power and energy this morning.
"Acknowledge and take to heart this day that the Lord is God in heaven above and on the earth below. There is no other." Deuteronomy 4:39
Life is a little busy right now and I feel like I don't have enough hours in the day to do all the things I want to do. Yesterday I completed a 7 minute free write, which freed freed me up to do a "blog check in", which keeps me on task, and not be late to work. Today, it's 6:25 am, and I will need to do the same!
Even as I sit here, I am trying to analyze everything in my head to figure out what I want to right about! That kind of defeats the purpose of the free write. So, instead I am going to dump my thoughts so that I can get focused on my goal of overcoming food addiction. Here they are...
Last night I attended a community event that was created as a response to the rash of teen suicides happening in our county. We had reps from various sectors, and it was very inspiring. The decision was to focus on spreading kindness and make a difference. That is why we were all there. Everyone in that room already has that mission. Now, how do we move forward. I suppose I am doing my part at school when I greet kids with a smile and give them a hug and tell them how happy I am to see them. I show kindness with my colleagues by making them coffee and listening to them. I show kindness to my family by making sure they have healthy food to eat and crock pot dinners made when I can't be home at night. I'm always looking for the "big change" but I suppose the big change is the accumulation of small positive changes we each make every day.
Shifted thought - I ate ice cream last night and this morning I feel congested and full. I'm guessing the combination of dairy and sugar has created this feeling. I don't like it, so I will be staying away from ice cream tonight.
Thought Shift - I'm going to see Dr. Caroline Leaf in Longwood tonight. I can't wait to see her again. I am so thankful that she has reached out to the world to spread her research and knowledge. If every person listened to her, that would certainly result in a positive mindset shift.
Thought Shift - I don't feel good. I think I'm coming down with a cold. I have a sore throat, ears hurt, eyes are watery...whine - whine - whine. There is no time to be sick!
It is now 6:32 am. It's been 7 minutes. My brain is still full, but it feels good to download some of the thoughts that are filling my mind. It reminds me of eating. It's great to take good food in, but there has to be time for digesting and excreting. Being fed is wonderful, just like taking in lots of new ideas is wonderful. But if there is not time to process (digest) and create (make something wonderful out of healthy thoughts and get rid of toxins ones), then our thoughts, just like our food, can weigh us down.
"Prove me, O Lord, and try me; test my heart and my mind." Psalm 26:2
I only have a few minutes this morning to write. Dr. Leaf states that we need about 7 minutes per day to think deeply about whatever it is we want to learn and habitualize. It is now 5:05 am. I will give myself 7 minutes to "free write". I am not going to write about anything in particular, or analyze something that I have studied. Rather, I am just going to write about what comes to mind.
On Saturday morning, I attended a workshop at the library conducted by a local therapist. She was teaching teenagers how to write about their feelings. The thing that struck me the most about her teachings was the concept of vulnerability. She stated that if an author is not willing to be vulnerable, then the reader will not be able to connect. This topic of vulnerability also came up in a counseling session with one of my client's yesterday. She initially saw her vulnerability as a bad character trait, and that it put her at risk of being taken advantage. It was interesting to explore the positive aspects of vulnerability with her because, in the end, she decided that vulnerability is what made her human. Vulnerability opened her heart and mind to others, and allowed them inside.
It is now 5:10 am. Funny how fast time goes when we are writing freely, without constraints. Two things I realized this morning: Vulnerability opens us up to possibility, and time is the most important commodity a person has. It is Monday, and my primary goal is to stay focused on my goal of overcoming food addiction despite demands related to time, and the risk of being vulnerable. The clock just ticked to 5:13 am. I'm out!
"Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things." Philippians 4:8
YES! I made it to Day 21 of focusing on overcoming my food addiction to MAD, the Modern American Diet, which is saturated with sugar! According to Dr. Leaf, renowned Cognitive Neuroscientist, it takes 21 days to build a permanent memory. The minute we go beyond 24 hours of focusing on something, whether it is good or bad, healthy or unhealthy, we activate a group of proteins that deposit information into dendrites and begin to build long-term thoughts, aka "memories". If we do not have a good understanding of new information, or we don't pay attention to the information, then the dendrites will not firmly attach to the neuron. After 24-48 hours, little vacuum-cleaners called glial cells remove the branches and place them into "inaccessible memory", which means we forget the information. However, when we set our minds (attitude based in love), and when we pay attention and think deeply about the information, we build healthy, everlasting thoughts. As thoughts become grounded, they also become automatic. Automatic thoughts create automatic behaviors. If I automatically think I will choose healthy food, then I will automatically choose healthy food thereby building healthy behaviors around food. Yes, it's incredible! Thoughts are not imaginary things. They are real substances in our physical brain! Healthy thoughts build healthy brains by sending healthy and balanced electrochemical messages, while toxic thoughts build unhealthy brains by sending unhealthy and unbalanced electrochemical messages. This concept is the scientific baseline in neuroplasticity. Scientists used to believe that brains could not change, and that people had to learn to adapt to their biological prison. However, as Dr. Leaf says, "science dies one funeral at a time" as we explore and learn more about ourselves, our earth, our universe and our creator. Today, we know that the brain is able to build new physiological connections. According to Brainline, a website about Brain Injury and PTSD, "from the time the brain begins to develop in utero until the day we die, the connections among the cells in our brains reorganize in response to our changing needs. This dynamic process allows us to learn from and adapt to different experiences."
According to Dr. Leaf, geneticists have found that there are genes that create what is known as free will. These genes are located in the corpus callosum which lies beneath the cerebral cortex and connects the right and left sides of the brain. The corpus callosum acts like a light switch allowing the two sides of the brain to work together. It intellectualizes and thinks about information from two perspectives (detail to big picture and big picture to detail). When we acquire information and think about it deeply, we have the ability to make good choices. When we use all aspects of our being (spirit, soul and body) to offer input and help us process information, we make even better choices.
Dr. Leaf also suggests it takes three cycles of 21 days, 63 days, to create automatic thoughts and habits. Today, I want to celebrate making it through my first cycle! I am already feeling better emotionally and physically. I refuse to focus on the few negative set-backs I've had, and I choose to focus on the more positive choices I've made along the way. A failure is a learning opportunity and success is the equivalent of learning from and overcoming past failures.