Sunday, July 6, 2014

Journeying to Health

It's amazing to think what can happen in just one year . . .

From July 6, 2013 to July 6, 2014, I've lost approximately 45 pounds, and have gone from a size 20 (straddling a 22) to a size 14. And I've learned so much about myself and other people during the journey, and it's amazing to see what can happen when someone simply makes the decision to change their life.

May 2013
May 2014

May 2013

May 2014
My decision came around last June. I was feeling bloated and had gained some extra pounds that month before. I knew that God called me to more when it came to my physical health.

In March, I had spoken to some friends/family who went on The Virgin Diet. They looked amazing and talked about how they felt even better. I decided to start it after Independence Day.

Virgin Diet basics:
Cycle 1 - For 21 days, remove foods associated with inflammation and food intolerances in these categories: dairy, gluten/wheat, eggs, soy, peanuts, sugar/added sweeteners, and corn. During this time, you substitute up to two meals with a protein shake.
Cycle 2 - There is a four-week reintroduction period in which eggs, dairy, soy, and wheat are reintroduced one-by-one for four days, and then those foods are taken out to see if there is an intolerance to them.
Cycle 3 - This is the way you eat afterwards - mostly keeping corn, sugar, and peanuts out of your diet. Also, if you had an inflammatory response to eggs, dairy, soy, or wheat/gluten during the reintroduction, you keep those out as well.

During the reintroduction, I found that eggs were responsible for the bad dreams that I was having. Each day I reintroduced them was followed by a nightmare. (Thankfully, my body has done a lot of healing and I can eat them now with no problems.) I found that gluten/wheat makes me feel bloated and hurts my knee. It's mostly out of my diet at this point, but when I decide to indulge, without fail, I will be walking with a limp later that day. Dairy made me a little phlegmy, and soy, well...I can't think of one reason that anybody needs soy.

During the first 21 days of The Virgin Diet, I lost 18 lbs, and felt so much better about my life. The book goes into a lot of detail about why your body doesn't need certain things and can be found here on Amazon.

Thanks, JJ! You jump-started my journey to health.

There are things I've learned on the road to health. Some of them are below.
* Calorie counting doesn't work. Apparently it only works long term for approximately 5% of the population total. Calories matter, but the source of them is more important than the quantity of them. Jonathan Bailor just wrote a book called The Calorie Myth. He also has a podcast called The Smarter Science of Slim. You'll learn a lot from him and he is EXCITED to teach.
* Wheat/gluten is associated with so much disease, it's not really worth it for me to have it in my diet. There's a book by William Davis called Wheat Belly that discusses the matter further. But all I need is my knee hurting post-gluten/wheat encounter to know that I don't need it. Zoodles trump wheat noodles and I don't mind the post-meal brain fog. That was BRUTAL. I don't think most people need it because of its health consequences. #butthatsnoneofmybusiness
Our Combat-a-Thon in April
* Group exercise is a great motivator. When you're not in class, people will miss you. They will care how you're doing, and they will call you out when you don't come. This isn't as scary as it sounds. It's great to go to a class where people care and want to see your best. I personally love BodyCombat. It helps me get a lot of aggression out.
* Taste buds regenerate approximately every two weeks. People think the things I eat or drink are weird, but I've developed a taste for them, so they're delicious to me. And my health is important enough for me to let them change.
* I don't need to call myself Paleo or Gluten free, or Low carb, or any of those things. I don't need to explain myself to anybody or put myself in a group. I am who I am. I eat certain things and I choose not to eat others because I feel better when I don't. Boom, bam! Sean Croxton has a motto called JERF. Just Eat Real Food. It's so simple, it might just work.
* My body is capable of much more than I think it is. It's an amazing thing what we are capable of!
* There are a lot of food myths that have been perpetuated by the government. It's actually pretty sad. I'm no conspiracy theorist (or am I?), but learning about the history of food development through the book Eat the Yolks was pretty impactful. Ignorance isn't bliss. Liz has a podcast with Diane Sanfillipo called Balanced Bites.
* It's impossible to know what your body is going to look like when you're losing weight. But it's been helpful for me to have a game plan. For me, every two sizes I drop, I buy new pants. Otherwise, fat loss would get really expensive! Thrift and consignment stores are super crucial at this stage as well. That way you don't feel so bad when you're buying a lot of new clothes or are between sizes and want something new.
* Weight loss isn't calories, it's hormones. Insulin, leptin, cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, etc. Sara Gottfried is a Harvard trained doctor who is an expert in these things. She wrote The Hormone Cure, and has a podcast that is good stuff.
* It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change. And it changes the way I live in so many ways. When people talk about things like they're temporary, it can bother me. Why would I want to gain all my weight back? That's madness! It's also totally inappropriate to tell people to stop losing weight because they'll 'lose their curves'. It shows people that you don't care about their health and only care about them losing your perception of beauty. Not cool.

I've been inspired by the past year, as well.
* Joe DeSena's work with Spartan Up has inspired me to do something to push my body and see where it can take me. I first heard of him on a Robb Wolf podcast. Because of this, I convinced Stephanie to sign up
for a Mud Run with me. Thankfully, she wasn't very hard to convince! I don't run, and I'm only slightly outdoorsy, but we're going to do it! I'm pretty excited.

We'll see what else will come, but a year can make a difference. Never discount any step in the direction to health, even if it's a baby step!

Friday, February 14, 2014

It Sneaked Up On Me . . .

It was unexpected.

Last night, I was catching up with my friend who is moving away to do amazing ministry work overseas and he, knowing that I just moved into a little house, asked me how it was. "Oh, Freddo, I love it! It's great! But," I responded, "it would be better if . . ." My voice trailed off and I paused. "No. Actually, I'm pretty happy with it as is!" We both laughed and the conversation continued.

And I realized that contentment had snuck up on me. It wasn't something I had fought or even looked for. It was just there.

There are plenty of serious or petty things I could have filled in that blank.


  • I had a husband to snuggle me every night.
  • I had a roommate to cook for me sometimes.
  • Someone volunteered to clean my house at LEAST once a week.
  • I had more friends to invite over all the time.
Hurts and Fears:
  • My latest relationship that just ended because he gave up and that still makes me sad.
  • It's difficult to find community; I wonder if the people who are part of mine really find value in me.
It wouldn't be difficult to think of more. In that moment, it didn't matter. I lost all of my excuses to be unhappy or bitter, and I was okay.

Today, I am grateful for the small moments that make me realize that life, while crazy and unexpected, is chock-full of grace and mercy.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Confession

I haven't written here in a long time, and when I have, it usually hasn't been about my struggles being single. Mostly because that was a bitterness held in my heart and something few needed to know. But here, now, I have a confession to make...

Marriage has been an idol for me.

The worst part about that? I didn't even realize it fully until Good Friday, 2013. Let me take that back; before Good Friday I knew that it used to be.  God did a lot of restructuring in my heart a few years ago that put me in a better place to receive love. I used to believe that if I didn't do everything perfectly, that nobody would want me around. I didn't even really like myself. In fact, it looked more like hatred. I thought I needed someone to love me and tell me that I was okay. My mind had set up a prison and I was my own prison guard. It was inconceivable that anyone could truly love me...

Thankful that God does break chains, through a series of events, He showed me how much I needed something to change. I was 24 and lived my life with fists clenched tightly. Things wouldn't go well if I wasn't in control, my pride whispered and shouted, so I took the weight of the world on my shoulders. And then everything started to go wrong. I was in graduate school full time. Things at work started to get crazy. There were cancer diagnoses and sickness and death. So much death. All things out of my control. Life started to swirl, and then I spiraled. I cried. I panicked. I cried some more. I was anxious. And then I realized that I couldn't do everything on my own...when I was contemplating taking my life, I knew it was time.

So I packed my pride up and went to counseling. (As a counselor, I acknowledge how awkward it can be to go in and tell somebody your problems.) My counselor wasn't specifically a Christian, I don't believe. He talked about God in a vague way, but His influence in my life couldn't be ignored. I was broken and built up in that small room. We laughed a lot and cried a lot. Sometimes just me and sometimes together. And God used that to break down my Superwoman complex. God used that time to speak truth in love through my counselor. And the work even between visits was amazing.

In those four months, the things I believed about God and others changed. I walked away from counseling with a confidence in myself that was true, because it came from an understanding of who God said I am. And those things are unchanging because of God's unchanging love and grace. I never have to doubt my beauty or that I am wonderfully made anymore. Praise be to God!

But what does all of that have to do with marriage being an idol? Hmm, I digress (my family is good at that)...

Because on Good Friday, 2013, I was praying in church and God said something like this: you see marriage as an idol. You think it will save you. But I already did that.

As tears started streaming down my face, I was confused. I knew that I had made marriage an idol for years, and I'm grateful for married people who were straight with me about the joys and struggles, or I'd probably think it would fix me still.

Those thoughts always came in a very subtle way.

Because even though I believed the good things that God said about me, I also believed something much less apparent to me.

I believed that eventually a man was going to come along to validate my worth. To validate means to prove the accuracy of something.

Think about that.

Who could PROVE the accuracy of what God says to be true?

God is truth and His word is true.

Another lesson I've been learning is how wonderful it is to have my value as a woman being affirmed. To affirm means to uphold as true or to support.

God confirmed the importance of knowing the difference between the two. Do you recognize the difference? It makes all the difference in the world. Your value is God-given. No father, mother, sister, brother, boyfriend, friend, or anyone can GIVE you worth...those people can only help you discover the truth.

It wasn't until I understood this truth that I was able to make healthier choices for myself - letting go of a man I had strong feelings for when he verbalized that he just wasn't that into me...deciding that a person who called themselves my "friend", but possessed no loyalty to me no longer deserved the ability to speak into my life...and learning to stand in what I knew to be true contrary to my circumstances. These aren't just one time decisions, unfortunately, and there is a constant flow of tears, sweat, and need for snuggles when I have to decide again to believe God.

Choosing to say goodbye to people whose actions and words tell me a story contradictory to the words God has sang over me in His goodness is not for the weak. It's for those who are made strong by His strength and put on His strength like a winter coat in five degree weather.

It's the reason Jesus didn't have to give in when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness. He knew what was true about Him because He was familiar with the source of His identity - The Lord. Jesus had nothing to prove when Satan asked him to save Himself from the temptations set before Him.

And we don't have anything to prove either. Nothing. Ever. We don't have to prove that we are smart enough, beautiful enough, love able, weigh the right amount, or anything. You and I are uniquely made in the image of God - handcrafted with a deep beauty - graven on the palms of God - dearly loved - strong in our weaknesses - here for a purpose . . .

One of the greatest honors that you have on this earth is to reflect the glory of God in the short amount of days that you will be here. If you're anything like me, you will go through a process to truly understand that the people and things in your life that don't scream to the world, "You have many wonderful works left in this world to do. And I can't wait to see how God uses you," or "I am grateful that God has put you in my life because I would not be who I am without you," don't need a place of prominence in your life. If they don't agree with God...

You can love them. Pray for them. Point them to Jesus. But you can't look to them for your value. And don't believe the way (through words or deeds) they attempt to devalue who you are.

The beginning of the lesson came at the beginning of the year, but God used the last half of the year to teach me understanding. I can walk in love, victory, and peace because I know the character of God, which was, and is, and will always be. If I got a husband tomorrow, it wouldn't make me any more valuable than I am right now. My worth would not be more priceless, nor my life more precious.

God is good at removing idols from our lives and hearts, but when He gives us the chance to destroy it before He grabs onto it, it's wise to take it.

Your idol might not be marriage or the man on a white horse in shining armor coming to rescue you, but whatever is there can (and should) be put in its proper place by a right picture of who God is and what He says about you.

No person or circumstances can steal your identity in Him.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

As I was in church today, I just needed to get my thoughts out and here's what came out. I really do pray that everybody had a wonderful Christmas Day! I am grateful for Jesus coming and for the hope we have in Him. Merry, merry Christmas!!

Blood red.
Pierced heart.
Blood stained wood.
Running down His brow.
Made complete.
His sacrifice.
New righteousness.
Blood red.
Cleansing red stains turned white.
Made alive.
True love.
No fear.
Complete love."