Battling For Freedom

It was raining. A dismal, grey day in February. It made me want to curl up on the couch and ignore my priorities. I had things to do, but the Dark Side (how I refer to the devil & his minions, lately) was fighting hard to keep me down.

I’m sure you have had days like these, yourself.

And, as my newly acquired accountability partner, Anna, likes to say, the struggle is real.

Battling For Freedom | Life, Unleashed

I am thanking God for Anna, though! I’d complained to her about how I was feeling, and I tried to make excuses for why I wasn’t going to get things done. But she wouldn’t let me succumb to the Dark Side — she told me that I needed to “do it anyway” (just GO!), and that I’d feel better afterward.

I kept arguing with the Dark Side, in my mind. I was still making justifications, even after talking to Anna. But, I’ve been here before. I have fought this battle countless times, in the past year, especially, as I have been building the habit of going to the gym on a regular basis. And, each time I’ve made myself “do it anyway”, I have felt better afterward…and I’ve been able to do a little victory dance, as I’ve dealt one more blow to the enemy!

So in the end, yes, I did go to the gym, and I did get my errands run. Score: Jenn – 1, Dark Side – 0 … for the win!

For Freedom | Life, Unleashed

John 10:10 tells us about the Dark Side. It says that the enemy (the “thief”) “comes to kill, to steal, and to destroy“. He is out to KILL our dreams, to STEAL our freedom, and to DESTROY our future! And, he does it one poisonous thought at a time.

That is why we’re instructed (in 2 Corinthians 10:5) to “TAKE EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE”, and make our thoughts submit to Jesus’ ways. The battle truly does begin in our minds!

It is not easy, by any means. But then, that’s why it’s called a “battle”, right? We have to fight back against the Dark Side! Our default setting is to do what is easiest, and what feels comfortable in the moment. We’re suckers for pleasure. But that is exactly what the enemy wants — to get us comfortable so that we will forget that we’re in a war.

My goal is to level up my life, and to take back the years that the enemy has already stolen from me. And, if I have to do that one thought at a time, so be it! Like with getting myself to the gym … some days, I really have to fight my thoughts HARD! But, I usually end up telling myself that I can just do 20 minutes of cardio (on the treadmill). By the time I’m there and warming up, though, I always decide that I “may as well” do the rest of my workout. So, I win. It’s always that FIRST step that’s the hardest. And, like I read in someone else’s post, the other day, that first step is actually… SURRENDER. I know — it sounds counter-intuitive, right? Surrendering –not to the Dark Side, but to God’s will for my life– is how I win, because Jesus already fought the battle and won the victory for us! So all we have to do is CHOOSE to surrender to Him. By choosing to go against the Dark Side, by choosing to take our thoughts captive, and by choosing to fight for the abundant life and foregoing the “easy” path, we are choosing to accept Jesus’ victory, and to stand with Him against the enemy! So yes, surrender to God is how we win against the Dark Side.

This is war, friends. But we’re already victors! So, stand strong, and show the Dark Side that you won’t be falling for its schemes!

 


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Outcomes

There’s a quote I’ve seen, online, that says, “What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it’s supposed to be.” {source unknown}. And, oh goodness, if that ain’t the truth — am I right?

Outcomes... Aren't Mine to Control | Life, Unleashed

So, so often, I want to control how things will turn out in my life. I pray with the expectation that I will get what I think I need. Yet, God has other plans.

When I try to determine the outcomes I think should happen, I only end up frustrated, disappointed, and miserable in the end — because, yeah… I’m not God.

In thinking that I have any control, I am –in essence– trying to play “god”, thinking that I know what’s best for me & my life. How naive.

Thankfully, God is merciful and patient. He allows me to experience these situations (and their resulting frustrations) to gently correct me and remind me that He is the one in control, while also showing me that I can trust His plans for my life. He only has my best interests at heart.

And funny enough, it’s those times where I relax and hand over the reigns to my Lord — trusting Him wholeheartedly — where He tends to ‘show off’ by giving me something that is far, far better than I could have chosen for myself.

Though I seem to need continuous reminders about all of this, God is faithful.

 

God is in charge | Life, Unleashed

True Nourishment

I recently shared my own take on what true nourishment looks like. Today, I’d like to follow up, and expand on each point, a bit.

True Nourishment | Life, Unleashed

TRUE NOURISHMENT…

TAKES SOME TIME

This is two-fold. First, you aren’t likely to completely change your habits overnight. If you’re used to eating processed foods and sweets, and rarely eat healthy, you aren’t going to be a consistent healthy eater from today, forward. However, you CAN start to practice eating better and making healthier choices.

Second, studies show that it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you’ve eaten just enough to be satisfied (not stuffed). So, it’s important to eat slowly, and watch for the “cues” your body will send you.

PAYS ATTENTION

In addition to eating slowly, you need to pay attention to what your body is telling you. We have built-in sensors (the hormones, Ghrelin & Leptin) that tell us when we are physiologically hungry, and when we’ve eaten just enough to refuel ourselves.

Unfortunately, most of us have lost the art of paying attention, so we aren’t familiar with these feelings, or “cues”.

However, if you choose to pay attention, you will begin to recognize your body’s unique signals, and can then respond accordingly.

Fun Fact: Did you know that most people will “sigh”, or pause, during a meal, when they have reached their “satisfied” point? If you stop eating at this point, you will find that you’re no longer over-stuffing yourself!

REMEMBERS ITS SOURCE

It is important for us, especially as Christians, to remember that everything we have has been given to us by God — He is our Source.

At the same time, it’s helpful to also, occasionally, reflect on how our food got to our tables in the first place. We can choose to thank God for the people who worked to produce this food for us, from the farmers (or factory workers), all the way to the hands of the one(s) who helped to prepare the meal.

HONORS THE GIVER

Here, I am thinking not just about nourishing foods, but also our entertainment choices. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do”, it should all be for the glory of God. So, before you eat, or partake in an activity, think to yourself, “Does this please God? What might be a more God-honoring choice?

DOES NO HARM

Yep. I borrowed this phrase from the medical profession. But, it fits. Think about the food you eat regularly: Is it helping, or harming, your body? Is that can of soda beneficial to your health (really)? While no foods are inherently “good” or “bad”, some are obviously more beneficial than others. Some foods give us energy (eg. water, fruits, vegetables, legumes), while others leave us feeling sluggish (eg. refined sugars).

 “You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you.
You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.
// 1 Corinthians 10:23 //

KEEPS IT SIMPLE

Meals don’t have to be complicated, or include big productions in order to be considered healthy. You could have an Antipasto platter, and call it a meal. Or, you could steam some veggies and get a Rotisserie chicken, pre-cooked, from the grocer’s deli department … all in under 30 minutes!

The key is to do what feels right for you. Don’t make things more complicated than they need to be.

OFFERS GRACE

We are al human, which means none of us are going to do things “perfectly” all of the time. If you slip or stray from your good intentions, give yourself grace, forgive yourself, dust off the crumbs, and try again. You haven’t truly ‘failed’ unless you stop trying, and stop moving forward.

For, though I fall, I will rise again.
// Micah 7:8 //

INCREASES ENERGY

This goes along with two of the points above. Again, certain foods will benefit you more than others. If you pay attention, you’ll start to notice which choices give you energy, and which ones drain you. Obviously, plant-based foods will be a better energy source than, say, a cookie (not that there’s anything wrong with the occasional cookie, of course!)

IS ENOUGH TO SATISFY

Ever notice how, some days, you can eat and eat and eat, and never feel satisfied? My guess is that, on those days, you aren’t really asking your body what it truly needs, and then listening for the answer!

Sometimes it’s not even food, at all, that our bodies are calling for! It could be that we need a hug… or, some time to ourselves… or, maybe you’re just dehydrated, and need a drink of water.

Also included, here, is the fact that our stomachs are, in fact, designed to hold very little food (approximately the size of your closed fist). It doesn’t take much to hit that “satisfied” point — at least, physically. So, check your emotions, and see if something else may be eating you!

NEEDS NO EXTRAS

For those who have trained their tastebuds to no longer crave refined sugars, many fruits & vegetables taste great on their own, without the need for anything “extra” (eg. butter, fruit dip, salt, etc.).

True Nourishment also feels satisfied with a single serving, and doesn’t need to go back for seconds (or more!). 

The truly healthy choices will leave you feeling energized, satisfied, and vibrant (not sluggish, stuffed, or guilty).

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING YOU WOULD ADD TO THIS LIST? FEEL FREE TO COMMENT, BELOW!

What is Mindful Eating?

Maybe you have heard the term “Mindful Eating” (aka, Intuitive Eating, or the Hunger/Satiety method) before. Or, maybe you think you can guess what it is, just from the name. Either way, I would like to give you my version of it here, today.

What is Mindful Eating? | Life, Unleashed

First, though, three (3) things that mindful eating is NOT:

  • It is NOT some fancy diet
  • It is NOT anything mystical, New Age, or woo-woo
  • It is NOT another fad or trend

Mindful Eating is

  1. FREEDOM from the (confusing, conflicting, and ever-changing) diet industry.
  2. RE-LEARNING to trust your God-given internal systems that tell you when to eat, and when to stop eating.
  3. CHOOSING foods & drinks that you enjoy (rather than what you think you “should” be eating).
  4. BEING MINDFUL of what type of fuel you are choosing (eg. the best would be non-processed, or as close to natural as possible).
  5. SIMPLE — no need to count calories, avoid food groups, or feel deprived at restaurants.

IMHO, mindful eating is the best choice for eating, and for weight management. Why? Well, (1) it is how God designed our bodies to function (watch any toddler or baby — they are natural-born mindful eaters!), and (2) it works for anyone (including those with special conditions, like Diabetes, or food sensitivities, etc). You simply listen to your own body to determine when, what, and how much to eat.

After all, only YOU are the expert on you!

{Want to know more? Check out my eBook, “Mindfulness & Eating: The Journey to Health & Wellness“!}

HAVE YOU TRIED THE MINDFUL EATING METHOD? OR, DO YOU WANT TO, BUT STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

It’s All About Perspective

This is a story that I heard many years ago, and found online recently. It highlights the value of perspective … and the fact that mindset plays a big part in the choices we make!

It's All About Perspective | Life, Unleashed

{story source}

As my friend was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from the ropes they were tied to but for some reason, they did not. My friend saw a trainer nearby and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away.

“Well,” he said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size of rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” My friend was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we failed at it once before?

How many of us are being held back by old, outdated beliefs that no longer serve us? How many of us have avoided trying something new because of a limiting belief? Worse, how many of us are being held back by someone else’s limiting beliefs?

Life, Unleashed is dedicated to helping you see that –at any time– you can BREAK FREE! You are never without choices. Just like the elephants, God has given us great power … but, we have been “conditioned to believe” that we are limited in what we can do. Satan wants to keep us stuck. That’s how he “kills, steals, and destroys” our lives, and our futures. It’s time we WAKE UP and remember who we are.