Practicing Simple Health

If you’ve ever had excess weight to lose, and have started looking for help in this area, you know that there are more than enough gurus out there, willing to tell you how you should do it. A lot of it tends to be very conflicting, too. Do you go low carb, or low protein? Should you eat three meals a day, or six smaller ones? Paleo? Keto? Intermittent Fasting? It’ll make your head spin!

 

practicing simple healthBack in 2005, I found a method called “mindful eating” (also known as “intuitive eating”). And, in putting its principles into practice, I easily dropped twenty-five pounds in just six months. It is the only thing that has worked for me, thus far.

Prior to this, I’d tried other methods, only to give each one up after anywhere from two days to three weeks. I tried Bob Green’s ‘Make the Connection‘ diet, Weight Watchers, First Place for Health, following diabetic exchanges (even though I’m not Diabetic), and others. Nothing worked … until I found intuitive eating.

That’s the thing, though — and I believe it more and more, with each passing day: You have to find what works FOR YOU.

We are all different, with different tastes and preferences, and circumstances that are unique to each of our lives. So it makes sense, then, that no one method or plan is going to fit every single person … at least not in the same way.

After gaining back the weight I’d lost in 2005, and spending the next twelve years frustrated by my inability to repeat that previous success, I realized that I was very tired of chasing the “quick fix” (which doesn’t exist, anyway!). I was tired of trying various other methods, or attempting to add “rules” to the intuitive eating method in order to get it to work for me (again).

I determined to let go of all of the extras, get back to basics, and start practicing what I call “simple health”.

Simple Health, to me, means doing what I know works for me, using the resources I’ve already found and loved, and not making things any more complicated than they need to be.

I know, for example, from my years of trying various things, that I love:

• eating according to the mindful eating method

• walking on my treadmill -or- going to the gym -or- using my Walk Away the Pounds DVDs
(all of which are my preferred methods for exercise)

• having one or two good friends that check in on me, from time to time, to keep me accountable to my goals

• weighing myself only once a week, first thing in the morning

Now, these are just the basics of what works for me… there are other things I take into consideration (like the fact that our bodies –especially as we age– are always changing, and so we need to adapt our methods to go with those changes). I believe we always need to be learning, so I might test out several other things, in addition to these basic, simple practices that I already know work for me. Yet, if I do nothing else, I will –at the bare minimum– maintain my health through these simple things. They are my non-negotiables.

Intuitive Eating encourages us to eat and drink the food and beverages our body enjoys. Mind you, as I’ve been accustomed to eating processed and sugary foods 98% of the time, choosing those things is obviously not the most beneficial way for me to feed my body. As such, I have to use some common sense, and work to train myself to enjoy the healthier options.

Where this becomes problematic for most dieters (and I, too, fall prey to it) is turning this into some kind of hard-and-fast “rule”. For example: “I cannot have any processed or sugary foods ever again!” That is a recipe ((grins)) for disaster!

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Instead, I can choose to start by substituting a meal or two per week — swapping out the processed foods for homemade or real-food options. Then, I can add in one new “from scratch” recipe every week (or even, every other week), to slowly train my tastebuds, and adjust to my new “normal”. At the same time, I can also just not buy a lot of the sugary snacks any more. Much as I’m allowed to have them, I can tell myself that I am choosing not to, because my bigger desire — the longer-term one — is to get my body healthy {see 1 Corinthians 6:12}.

This is also where it helps to really know why I want to be healthy.

My own “why” is so that I can enjoy life to the fullest, and still be capable of fulfilling my God-given purpose, even into my senior years. I don’t want to end up with any obesity-related health issues, like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, dementia, etc. I don’t want poor health to slow me down, or age me prematurely! Instead, I want to enjoy all of the years God chooses to bless me with!

So, I’m choosing to practice simple health in 2018 and beyond. And, you’re invited to join me, if you wish! {Start with a 30-minute Kickstart Session!} I have a free Facebook community, too, where I offer ongoing support & accountability.

Let’s not let the devil continue to steal our futures by keeping us weighed down (literally!). Let’s take back our health & enjoy life to the fullest!

Looking Ahead to…2017

Every year, between September and December, I start thinking about the year to come, and all that I would like to accomplish (just like everyone else on the planet, I’m sure).

I used to start making my list of New Years’ Resolutions — which basically consisted of the same things I’d had on my list the previous year (and probably the year before that, too), but hadn’t managed to follow through with. A few years back, however, I gave up on making “resolutions” for the new year.

Looking Ahead ... to 2017 | Life, Unleashed

Instead, I took up the practice of choosing a single word to guide me throughout the year; a focus-word… something I feel God wants me to base the coming year’s decisions around.

In past years, I’ve had these as my “one word”:

  • 2014 – “FREE
  • 2015 – “CHOOSE
  • 2016 – “GREATER

For 2017, my word is “BECOME“… as in, who am I working towards becoming?

I read a quote, recently — more of a question, really — that said something to the effect of this:

If you could choose ONE word to sum up how you want to feel for the rest of your life, what would it be?

(That’s heavy, I know!) Personally, I believe that feelings are fickle and they’ll change. But, if I had to choose one word to describe who I wanted to become, or how I’d like to live out the rest of my life, then I would choose the word, “STRONG“.

For far too much of my life, I’ve been playing the “victim” — blaming everything and everyone around me for how my life has turned out, thus far.

What I am finally coming to realize, however, is that the only one who can change the direction of my life {other than God, of course}, is me. I am solely responsible for how my life turns out; God gave me free will. And, He also gave me the responsibility of being a good steward of the time, energy, and resources He’s blessed me with.

All that being said, the woman I desire to become is STRONG — not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, as well. 2 Timothy 1:7 says that “God has not given us a spirit of fear & timidity, but {a spirit} of POWER, love, and self-discipline“. He calls us “MORE THAN conquerors“! And He says that we can “do ALL THINGS” through Jesus, whose strength we rely and lean on. God promises to fight our battles for us, if we’ll surrender them to Him. But, what does it take to be able to surrender? It takes STRENGTH… and courage, and willingness, and knowing God well enough to entrust the battle to Him, knowing that He isn’t going to let us down.

Become.2017 | Life, UnleashedSo, for 2017, I have been pondering which goals I’ll set for myself, in order to become that strong, confident woman that I know God is calling me (and has created me) to be.

However, I am also re-thinking the concept of goals, now, too, thanks to an article I read via James Clear’s website. In it, he talks about Goals vs. Systems. And his main point was this: It’s better to create systems that you use on a regular (or daily) basis, and focus on those, rather than just setting goals and looking to attain them. Why? Well, what happens once you reach your goal? You’ve completed what you set out to do, and now you have to set yet another goal. You’re always in pursuit… always chasing something. Once you hit your goal, you can also experience a sort of let-down… Sure, it’s great to have accomplished something — but, now what? Your systems, on the other hand, don’t stop just because you reach a certain point.

Take weight loss, for example. We all know, or have heard, that weight loss is not about hitting some goal, but that it’s all about making lifestyle changes that will help you lose the weight and maintain that loss. So you can think of “systems” as those lifestyle changes you’re putting into practice, day in and day out, in order to lose the excess weight, but also to maintain that loss and become healthier, overall. Make sense?

So, here is how this would look for me, taking my goals for 2017, and creating “systems” for each:

GOAL: Read at least 1 fiction book (for pleasure), and 1 nonfiction book (for study), each month.

SYSTEM: Shut off my computer by 8 p.m. every night, so that I can have 1-2 hours for reading, before bed.

GOAL: Be able to do 25 consecutive push-ups, and 25 consecutive pull-ups, and be able to do a 3-mile walk.

SYSTEM: Do strength-training exercises at the gym 2x/week, focusing on my “push” and “pull” muscles, as well as my core. And do once-a-week cardio for 45-60 minutes, to build up my endurance and be able to do that 3-mile walk.

GOAL: Release the excess weight, and reach my ideal size (I have about 60-65 lbs to get rid of).

SYSTEM: Practice mindfulness at every meal, listening for my hunger & satisfaction cues; be careful not to eat unless my stomach is empty and I need to refuel; use visual cues and reminders, if necessary.

GOAL: Reduce our processed-food intake, and eat more real, whole, and healthy foods.

SYSTEM: Plan out each week’s menu on the weekends (Saturdays), and grocery-shop accordingly; do meal-prep on Sunday afternoons to make it easier throughout the week to stick to my plan; and try 1-2 new, healthier recipes each week, to build up our repertoire.

{Note: I have other goals/systems for 2017, as well, but for the sake of time, I’m not sharing them all in this post}.

Basically, creating “systems” is just asking yourself what goals you hope to achieve (or who you would like to become), then figuring out what steps you can take — what you can practice on a daily basis — in order to take you toward those results.

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HAVE YOU EVER IMPLEMENTED SYSTEMS INTO YOUR REGULAR ROUTINES IN ORDER TO REACH NEW GOALS? DO YOU STILL SET NEW YEARS’ RESOLUTIONS? HAVE YOU CHOSEN ONE GUIDING WORD FOR YOUR YEAR AND, IF SO, WHAT IS IT?

Spiritual Disciplines? No, Thanks!

As a Christian, have you ever felt the pressure to take care of your “spiritual disciplines” (Bible reading, prayer, devotions, going to church, etc.)? Have you experienced guilt and shame because you haven’t kept up with these as well as you feel you should?

Spiritual Disciplines? No, Thanks! | Life, UnleashedWell, guess what? God doesn’t demand that you do these things in order to “be a good Christian”. He doesn’t love you any less when you can’t squeeze in the time for these practices. He isn’t disappointed in you!

“…the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.”
(Micah 6:8, NLT)

“Jesus replied, “‘You must
love the Lord your God with all your heart,
all your soul, and all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.
A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
(Matthew 22:37-39, NLT)

These are what God wants from us. Our greatest “mission” and purpose here on earth is to love God and others, to make God known, and to bring Him glory in all that we do. He craves a relationship with us.

While the spiritual disciplines of prayer and Bible reading aren’t required in order for you to be “righteous”, or a “good” Christian — or, even for God to love you — practicing these two things helps you to know God better. And, guess what? When you know God, it helps you to love God… and when you genuinely love God, you then want to spend time with Him through prayer, and you want to learn all you can about Him through His Word!

Trust me: I used to want to run in the opposite direction when my mom or grandma “preached at” me about this stuff! But over time, God has shown me more of Himself, and He’s taught me these things that I’m sharing with you, now. He showed me that it’s not about have to — that’s legalism. Instead, it’s about the Creator of the Universe reaching down from heaven and saying, “Hey, come talk with me! I’d love to hear from you.” It’s about His patience with us, and His love softening our hearts to the point where we desire to spend time with Him — because we start to understand what unconditional love truly is.

So, the next time you read or think about prayer, reading the Bible, or any of the other spiritual disciplines, try to look at them as God’s invitation to you to get to know Him better… see them as His way of teaching you how much you are valued and loved.