using boundary breaking to our advantage

About three weeks ago I felt like the Lord was telling me to alter my boundary lines. I’ll talk more about that change another day, but this alteration brought up some deeply rooted lies I hadn’t dealt with yet on my WW points boundary.

With the points, I could eat pretty much anything I wanted as long as I had the points to do so. Sometimes that would mean extra exercise just so I could have a high point item. I started to get good at playing the points game so I could still do some recreational or emotional eating (albeit, less than before).

Well, my new boundaries don’t afford me that luxury. At first, I was feeling pretty good about the boundary change because I physically felt better, but then I suddenly felt worse, stress increased, and I was left suffering without the option of self-medicating with certain foods.

At first, I didn’t realize this was going on. I justified eating outside my boundaries because I had a headache and knew certain foods would help it subside. This triggered “failure” feelings. Then I started to think about foods I wouldn’t even eat on WW because the points just weren’t worth it to me (orange tofu). This triggered feelings of deprivation (which is really “discontentment”).

One evening with broken boundaries turned into three evenings with broken boundaries. I would make it all day and then cave in the evening all over again. A little “I’ll start tomorrow” eating crept in.

I thought, “Good heavens! This looks way too much like my old pattern of behavior.” It scared me to think I might return to that life if I didn’t put a stop to it right then. So, when I woke the fourth morning, I lay in bed and talked to God about what was going on. He pointed out two lies which seemed to be at the root of the deviation.

LIE: If I have a headache, I must need to eat something.

This lie was the actual trigger which set everything off. I had been dealing with an incessant headache for days and I was tired of it. When I ate a cupcake that first evening and it disappeared, I ended up eating three more to keep it at bay. It seemed to “confirm” the lie.

I distinctly remember complaining of headaches as a child and being told, “Oh, you must be hungry”. Now, it’s highly likely I was hungry then, but over the years it morphed into, “have headache, must eat”.

In reality, that morning prayer with God revealed to me the headache was due to a lack of restful sleep and eating too much too often. I asked God what I should do and felt like He told me to drink water but to wait to eat.

Well, this triggered another lie.

LIE: I need more food, and frequently, to fuel my day.

This lie plays on my fear of being without food. I have a genuine fear of being hungry and not being able to eat. So, I panicked when I had gone half the day without eating and only drinking water.

Instead of going to God about it, I ate two oranges. The headache returned. Essentially, God had told me to fast that day, but I was too scared of going without food. I would go several hours without eating, but then I would eat something because my mind kept telling me I needed to eat despite not feeling hungry.

I was actually surprised at the fears and beliefs being dredged up by a simple change in my boundaries. More time in prayer made me realize I don’t need nearly as much food (even the nutritious stuff) as I thought I did. In fact, I was overworking my digestive system and not giving my body a chance to rest and heal.

All things together for good…freedom-chain01

You may be wondering what could possibly be an advantage to breaking my boundaries. I mean, I gained weight during those three days. I felt bloated, agitated, and miserable. On the surface it looks like a total failure because it derailed my weightloss goals. How can this be helpful?

Well, God tells us He works all things together for good to them that love Him. I do believe the passage is largely talking about circumstances outside of our control, but I can’t ignore that He says, “ALL things”. I believe this means He can use our mistakes to His and our advantage. What the world may see as a failure, God sees as an opportunity to teach us, refine us, and transform us if we go to Him for help.

In the past, I would have viewed three days of breaking my boundaries as a total loss. In fact, it probably wouldn’t have just been three days. Thankfully, the truth says they aren’t a “set-back” in my journey. Now I see them as a “set-up” for future success because God shined a light on more lies to be extracted. So, no matter how badly we mess up with our boundaries, there is always something to be learned. We don’t have to remain in a place of defeat. We can allow God to make us stronger instead.

Psalm 119:33-40

gaining in a “biggest loser” world

To most people who want to lose weight, “gain” is a dirty word. The last thing you want to hear or see is that you gained weight. In fact, dieters often live for those “loser moments” each week. All seems right with the world when that little hunk of metal says, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”

But what happens when the scale doesn’t budge, or worse, we gain a pound (or two, or ten)?

scales-make-you-cry

You know exactly what happens. We fall apart. It doesn’t matter what kind of week we’ve had, it is now an utter disappointment. We’re annoyed. We’re frustrated. We’re a failure and we think, “What’s the point”?

Which, actually, if you think about it, is exactly what we should be asking ourselves. What is the point of bowing to a hunk of metal each week, praying it will deem us worthy to spend another week striving for the opportunity to please it again seven days from now?

Many of us have heard it said that when you lose something, there is always the chance you’ll find it again. Did you just feel a bit nauseous? Are you picturing all the times you’ve played “lost and found” with extra weight? Yeah, me too. And yet, we keep saying, “I’ve got to lose this weight.”

Can you think of any other area of your life where you are so set on “losing” something?  If given the choice to lose or gain love, family, friends, knowledge, wisdom, money, a job or self-esteem (and the list could go on) what would be your choice?

Exactly.

Obviously none of us wants to gain extra weight, but perhaps you would agree our “loser mentality” is what has gotten us to where we are in the first place.

We lost control of certain areas of our lives, and we’ve paid for it with expanding waistlines, deteriorating health, and captivity.

Wait, what? Did she say, ‘Captivity’?

That’s exactly right. We become slaves to our habits, the scale, and diet plans. The Bible says that Christ came to set the captives free, but how many believers do you know who feel “free” as they fight the battle of the bulge? Instead, don’t they feel like losers, but not in a good way?

I was in this camp for decades. I lived in the pit, even put up curtains and spent time sweeping the dirt floor. I believed if I could just lose the weight, then I would be free and could live free. If I didn’t lose the weight, I felt I deserved that pit.

I thought I had a weight problem, an addiction, a justifiable struggle, a lack of willpower; when what I actually had was a “lie” problem.

“Being overweight is the worst thing that can happen to me.”

“All fat people are lazy and unattractive.”

“I don’t deserve to eat because I should be punished for allowing myself to become overweight.”

“The only way to get in shape is to work out to extremes.”

“I can’t control anything else in my life, but I can control food.”

“Having a ‘fat barrier’ will insulate me from being hurt by others because no one will want to hang around a fat girl.”

“I’m too ugly or too fat to go to that function… or be photographed.”

“If I’m not miserable, I must not be working hard enough to lose the weight.”

“Life sucks, but food is always there to comfort me.”

“People will reject me, but food will always be there for me.”

“Food numbs the pain and makes me forget my troubles.”

“I must follow my diet perfectly or I won’t deserve to lose weight this week.”

“I ate that cookie so I’ll gain five pounds on Friday.”

“I can’t stick to this diet for more than a few days, so I must need to try something else.”

This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the number of lies I had running rampant through my mind. I wanted to be a “loser” so badly, I lost sight of all I had to gain as a child of God.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times on this blog, God has been bringing me to a place of Truth for a while. He’s planted seeds that have grown, and then in June of 2015, I decided I was sick of striving to be a “biggest loser”. I decided I needed to become a “Truth gainer“. It was time to allow God’s Truth to set me free from my pit dweller mentality.

“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” ~ Romans 12:2 (NKJV)

I started with a concept called “renewing the mind” based on Romans 12:2. I agreed that I had spent far too long being “conformed to this world” and I wanted my weight transformed.

Well, I made a commitment to build a daily habit of renewing my mind to the mind of Christ. You can read about that in my series called Renewing the Mind=Transformation.

I don’t know what I thought would happen. I guess I thought the weight would just fall off and that’s how I would be transformed. Sure, I wanted my thoughts to change, but that scale was really important to me. Six months in and I had “lost” and “found” the same few pounds several times. Ugh.

Did I want to quit? You bet.

I had never worked at weight loss for so long and not gotten the results I wanted. I was frustrated. There were days I absolutely refused to keep my “renewing of the mind” appointments with God because I was angry He wasn’t keeping His end of the deal.

“If You’re not going to show up to this party, why should I?” I thought.

Of course, clinging to my “must be a biggest loser” attitude earned me a longer stay at this phase of the process. God would allow me to be humbled and I’d plant my rear back on the little loveseat in my room where I had my appointments with God.

God gently reminded me through Barb Raveling‘s book, I Deserve a Donut, that I had been living in a pit of lies for far longer than I had been renewing my mind with His Truth. He told me to be patient.

Yes, God could have had the weight melt off like butter on a pancake fresh off the griddle, but He didn’t. He opted for the long route because He knew I needed to learn a few things:

  • Patience
  • Trust
  • Contentment

Patience

Nothing, and I do mean nothing works at rooting out “biggest loser” mentality like being forced to be patient. I’m still a work in progress, but He’s brought me a long way already.

Trust

Having spent years putting my trust in everything but God where my weight/food/body image issues were concerned, I absolutely had to learn to place my trust in God. Did I trust Him with everything or didn’t I? Did I believe He was who He said He was? Did I believe He could do what He said He could do? Did I believe I was who He said I was? I had to face these questions with the truth that my actions did not match up with what I said I believed. Ouch.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.”

~Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)

I still don’t do this trust thing perfectly, and doubt I will this side of heaven, but I actively do my best to trust Him and then ask Him to help my unbelief when I fail.

Contentment

This one was the turning point. I had already noticed some changes in my thought life and behaviors not related to weight loss, but after six months of no tangible scale results, I had to make a decision. Either I learned to be content despite living in a body with at least seventy extra pounds, or I was going to be miserable until the good Lord took me home.

I had to decide if I believed God was worthy of my praise, honor, devotion, and trust even if I never released another pound. If I spent the rest of my days obese despite spending every day walking with Him, abiding in Him, and renewing my mind, would I still love God? Would I still call Him faithful? Or would I eventually walk away if I didn’t get what I wanted?

Yikes. He offered no guarantee of physical change, but asked me to lay down my “biggest loser” attitude and follow Him no matter what.

When I let go and decided to be content, big girl jeans and all, transformation took on a whole new look. I started noticing my thoughts about weight/food/body image changing. My actions followed. It would be about three more months before God answered the question I’d been asking over and over: “What food boundaries would be best for me right now?

Why did He wait? Because I wasn’t ready. I needed to learn how to gain patience, trust, and contentment first. Otherwise, I would likely worship the boundaries like I worshipped the scale and every plan I’d ever done. I would put my trust in them instead of in the Lord, begging them to deem me a “good and faithful servant”.

Yes, the weight is releasing and to date God has removed just shy of forty pounds of lies from my body. That visual only represents a fraction of what I’ve gained in Christ since making that commitment to build a simple daily renewing of the mind habit.

His peace alone would be worth walking with God in this way the rest of my days.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 4:6-7

 

 

one gal’s boundary is another gal’s prison

Wouldn’t it be great if God wrote a weight loss book? I’d totally be willing to spend a few weeks on a mountain with Him while He inscribed it into stone tablets. Although I’m sure there are others more worthy than myself for such an honorable task, I wonder, would it be high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat…

…actually, I think man came up with what is considered high or low in those categories, not God.

Speaking of mankind, have you walked down the “diet” or “weight loss” aisle in a bookstore? If you want to be overwhelmed and more confused, just take a gander through those rows of books. So much conflicting information in one place, yet the colorful covers are attention grabbing. The bylines and credentials are convincing. And the claims, well, they are enough to make you believe you’ve finally found the answer to your waistline woes.

We take on a different set of boundaries (or add more rules to our existing set) and maybe we even make it a few weeks. The dailiness of it all sets in and we announce, “this is just another diet” or “this is too hard”.

We run into a friend and she looks great. She’s obviously lost weight and while our first thought might be one of jealousy (come on, we’re being honest here), our second thought is probably, “Maybe I should do what she’s doing”.

Our latest weightloss “bible” gets pushed aside for a new one (or we keep adding rules) and we’re off and running again. That is, until we start looking for greener pastures or catch an interview with Dr. Oz on some breakthrough “power food” grown in a remote region of the Amazon Rainforest. This cycle could go on for the rest of our lives. Flitting from one plan to the next and never actually breaking free of anything.

Have you ever considered why there might be a myriad of weight loss plans out there? Sure, part of it is about money. Weight loss books and tools are highly marketable. It is also true that some of it is just “snake oil”.

one_size_headline

But maybe, it has something to do with weight loss not being a “one size fits all” sort of deal. There is a thought that no one knows us better than ourselves, but I beg to differ. God knows us better. He knows exactly what those of us with food/weight/body issues need. He also knows that what works for me might be a stumbling block to you (and vice versa).

This is why it is so important to go to God when choosing our boundaries. I wrote awhile back about taking a list of needs to the Lord and how He led me to the right boundary for me in this time in my life. Even though I know God has me at Weight Watchers right now, that doesn’t mean I’m never tempted to consider another set of boundaries.

When I see someone having quick success on the scale or hear someone bash tracking points, it’s tempting to think, “Maybe my boundaries aren’t ideal”. Worse is if I think that person thinks my boundaries are somehow “less godly” because they are based on a manmade plan.

Let’s get something straight. Food boundaries themselves are not gospel. They do not make us holy. They do not make us righteous. They do not transform us. They are a tool. As a gal in the Taste For Truth Support Group put it, “they are a means, not an end”.

God led me to Weight Watchers because He knows the ins and outs of every fiber of my being. He knows my background and the influences in my life. He also knows the season of life I’m in. Who better to decide?

I can have confidence in knowing I’m walking in the way He’s leading me, and at the same time recognize that what is freeing to me (yes, I think tracking points is freeing), might feel like a prison to someone else. Likewise, there are things God has led me away from because they negatively affect me (trigger my old disordered eating patterns), but these might be some of the very things He knows will speak to someone else.

Of course, there are things which are unhealthy. God is never going to lead us to a plan which will harm your physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual well being. So, if that’s happening, it’s not God’s plan for us.

Besides, as Barb Raveling often says, we aren’t transformed by the perfect keeping of our boundaries, we are transformed by the renewing of our minds. It’s really easy to make it all about our boundaries, but that’s just exchanging one idol (food) for another (boundaries).

Keeping my eyes on Him is the only way to see clearly and experience freedom while living with food boundaries.

 

 

 

why “now” is the perfect time

We’ve all played this little game. New Year’s resolutions are inspired by it. We’re waiting for the perfect time to start following our boundaries…

The beginning of the year… the beginning of the month… on Monday… after the Holiday… after vacation… after our company leaves… after I get over this cold… after the kitchen remodel… after things settle down…

…and we keep putting off living within our boundaries until the perfect time.

I have a little secret…clocks-1098080_640

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE PERFECT TIME.

It’s true. We’ve fooled ourselves into believing life will slow down or stop long enough for us to successfully address our food issues without distractions. That will never happen.

Why? Because life doesn’t work that way… For that matter, humans don’t work that way. We will always find a “reason” why “right now” isn’t the best time to follow our boundaries. This lie is so destructive because it is so simple we hardly question its motives.

What’s more, if we refused to believe the lie of an ideal time waiting on the horizon, we might discover that following our boundaries in the midst of utter chaos actually makes us stronger.

Say what??

That’s right. Think about it. Growth usually happens during times of great stress. What if we decided to make a commitment to renew our minds even though everything in our lives screams, “YOU DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT!”

What if we lived within our boundaries during the most chaotic time of the day, or week, or month, or year? What if we made ourselves renew our minds about said boundaries when we are most tempted to break them.

What we do when we are stressed or worn out by life becomes a deeply ingrained behavior and often shapes our beliefs moving forward. So far, we’ve practiced living outside our boundaries (or in defeat) because we believe the lie of an ideal time in the future when following our boundaries will be “easier”.

However, if we chose to turn to God in those moments… if we chose to stick to our boundaries when we can come up with every excuse in the book not to…

…we would quickly realize that now is the perfect time.

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. ~ Psalm 118:24 (KJV)

boundaries: want vs need

Ever since I heard about “intuitive eating” and “hunger/fullness”, I have wanted to be one of those people. Oh I have wanted it so badly.

Yes, I learned some valuable things during that period of time (like that I can have any food in the house and resist the urge to scarf it all down). I also learned how to let go of “diet mentality” and to stop condemning myself when/if I overeat. I discovered that I’m a pickier eater than I thought I was. Apparently I do have some physical cues that are mostly reliable (like foods my body doesn’t react well to and I can now recognize true physical hunger). And, I learned to put the scale in its proper place.

Unfortunately, I also gained about 30 lbs or so when I removed all food boundaries and gave myself permission to eat whatever/whenever. Granted, I did eventually stop gaining weight, but then my weight just fluctuated about 5 lbs up and down.

Why? Because my hunger/fullness cues are still a mess from years of ignoring them or confusing them with emotional cues.

And yet, I kept trying to rely on my messed up hunger cues because I wanted hunger/fullness as my boundary. I begged (and I do mean BEGGED) God to fix me so I could know when I’ve had enough to eat. If I even considered other boundaries, I would feel like I was “giving up” on my dream of being an intuitive eater.

Failure felt like a daily occurrence as one meal I would undereat and the next I would overeat. Most of the time I wouldn’t realize I had under or over eaten until I was ravenously digging through the pantry or hurting from too much. It seemed like the boundary line of “fullness/satisfied” was illusive at best and subjective at worst. For me anyway. Add a little chaos to life and the lines were blurred beyond recognition.

And that’s when I decided to list out my “needs” in regard to boundaries. I came to the conclusion that I need a boundary line which:

  • doesn’t move based on my feelings or emotions or whatever
  • is clear enough to warn me when I’m approaching the perimeter so I can adequately recognize and address the temptation to cross the line
  • breaking the boundary involves a conscious decision on my part to do so
  • allows me to eat with the rest of my family
  • has some room for real-life events involving food
  • is less likely to trigger “diet mentality” or my old “starve/binge” behaviors
  • still requires me to turn to God for help with keeping the boundary (renewing the mind, truth journaling, taking lies captive…etc)
  • makes what I gain (health, weightloss, peace of mind) worth any sacrifice involved
  • results in the opportunity to release excess weight when lived within

woman-praying

I needed clarity. I took this list before the Lord. He added the word, “accountability” and I pictured myself stepping on a scale at a meeting… yep, you know what meeting I’m talking about.

Fear gripped me and then pride reared it’s ugly head. No way would I step back into another Weight Watchers meeting. No. No. No.

“But God, I’ve renounced WW! I’ve sworn I will never go back! I have many blog posts here on that very declaration!” (didn’t our Mommas tell us to never say never?)

The truth was, as much as I hated tracking my food all those years ago, this boundary really did fit my list. Although I did not want to admit it, I needed more structure.

And then I rebuttled with, “what if I can’t lose weight on the new plan… or worse, what if they change the plan on me again?”

To which God reminded me, change is inevitable in life but if I keep my eyes on Him Who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, I will be just fine. He reminded me I am not transformed by choosing the perfect boundaries, but by the renewing of the mind.

He reminded me my personal history shows I can lose weight within any set of boundaries I actually keep, but it will be fleeting unless I replace the lies with His Truth.

He told me to humble myself and walk back into that old meeting room… the meeting where I had reached “goal” and made “lifetime”… and now would return with many (but thankfully not all) of those “lost pounds” having found their way back onto my body.

I arrived in the parking lot early the day of the next available meeting… nervous. I prayed for the Lord to renew my mind about it because I did not want to be there. I did not want to be vulnerable. I did not want to step on that scale. I did not want to track what I eat. I wanted to hide.

He told me to trust Him.

I hoped no one would remember me after all these years… but of course they did. And you know what? They embraced me.

Yes, I’m currently using the WW points system for my boundary. Yes, I’m attending the meetings. But this time is very different. This time, the points are just a boundary line. The meetings are just accountability. I’m not placing my hopes in a man-made system.

My hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Any transformation I experience comes about because He brings it to fruition. I need to keep this in the forefront of my mind lest I start to rely on my own strength or the boundaries themselves. So, I plan to renew my mind prior to and following every meeting/weigh in regarding this specifically.

I can still practice listening to my body’s cues and who knows, maybe eventually God will transform me into an intuitive eater. For now, I will trust that He has me where I need to be.

I have been hesitant to do a post on this topic because I didn’t want to inadvertently influence anyone to question their own boundaries. However, recently I was asked what my boundaries are. After explaining why I switched, I decided that perhaps a post on this might be warranted.

I still stand by my previous post where I state:

My food boundaries are my food boundaries. Your food boundaries are your food boundaries. The one thing we may share is the need for those boundaries.

If you are clinging to a set of boundaries simply because they are the boundaries you “want”, then perhaps you need to reevaluate things. If, however, God has clearly told you what boundaries you “need”, stop searching for the perfect set and start renewing your mind about the ones you already have.

greener grass, right where you stand

I’m really enjoying the Taste For Truth class. God is working some pretty cool stuff and it is my prayer He will continue to do so. During one of our recent posts, a gal mentioned she needs to stop looking for the next thing to fix her food issues and stick with the boundaries God has already laid on her heart.

We are often tempted to believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence… or, in this case, within someone else’s set of boundaries.

800px-Cattle_eating_grass_through_barbed_wire_fence

What we end up creating for ourselves is an uncomfortable situation. Either the boundaries will be too strict for us, or they will be too loose. Either way, they are a fit for that other person, but are wrong in our case.

When God gives me a set of boundaries, He does so with my best interest at heart. After reading the group member’s post, I heard The Lord is my Shephard during a walk and I realized, we’re missing the fact that our pastures are quite green when we walk within our boundaries.

Psalm 23

The Lord the Shepherd of His People

A Psalm of David.

23 The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.

This hardly sounds like a place we should like to leave. And yet, when the boundaries seem difficult to keep (walking through the “valley of the shadow of chocolate” for example), we peer longingly over the fence and think, “Wow, her boundaries are working so well for her… maybe I’ve got the wrong boundaries.”

So, we squeeze under and try to live within a boundary God designed with someone else in mind. Soon, we are frustrated and looking over the fence yet again.

News Flash: Boundaries are not easy. If I struggle in this area, there is no set of boundaries which will allow me to live with reckless abandon when it comes to food. Boundaries require me to make sacrifices in order to keep them, but those sacrifices are always for my own good… if I’ve allowed God to choose them.

Yes, there will be correction (His rod), but there will also be guidance (His staff). With the right attitude, these boundaries actually become comforting.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is greener grass… but it’s right where we’re already standing when we walk with the Lord.

same boundaries, different view

I cannot recount the number of times I’ve stamped my foot (figuratively and literally) over the notion that I must have boundaries when it comes to food.

If I choose to look at my boundaries like they are unfair, unfun, or temporary, I probably won’t keep them very long. In fact, I’ll resent them.

In order to thrive within my boundaries, I must change the way I view them.

That begins by admitting I need them in the first place.

The Thorn

The first sign we need a boundary is the evidence of a “thorn in the flesh“. And no, I’m not talking about your kids driving you crazy or that co-worker hell-bent on making your life miserable. Although, God may certainly use them to work on your areas of weakness (and mine).

“The Jones’s” don’t have it all or have it all together any more than you do. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has a weakness… a thorn. So, there is no point in yelling, “it’s not fair! Suzie Q. Jones doesn’t have to follow food boundaries!” While it may be true that “Suzie” doesn’t struggle with food, I guarantee you she struggles with something. So, trading places with her wouldn’t give you a thorn-free life.

A thorn is something God allows us to struggle with to teach us to rely on His strength and not our own. You may even think your side is riddled with thorns. Yeah, we can have more than one.

Anyway, It’s that thing (or things) we swear we’ll never be able to get over or give up. Maybe you’ve resolved, “this is just who I am, I can’t help it.”

This, my friends, is a lie. If you are a child of God, you are not a weak, defeated being. Yes, you may choose to live like one, but that is not who you are in Christ.

I have begged God many times to take my food related issues from me. They have tormented me for years. The Bible tells us that Paul asked God to take his “thorn” three times, but God said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

He leaves these thorns. Why? Because His power is revealed through our dependance on Him to live in victory with the thorn still protruding from our flesh. At some point, like Paul, we need to stop asking God to take away the thorn and start asking Him to help us glorify Him despite it.

Living in victory with a constant thorn in the flesh usually means we need boundaries to keep our flesh in check.

Ok, so, I admit I might need some food boundaries, but I could still be miserable (grumble, grumble) if I don’t change how I view them.

The Benefit

The major benefit of food boundaries is their uncanny knack for revealing when we’re relying on food to help us with our problems instead of turning to God. Boundaries say, “that’s far enough, take it up with God.”

Also, boundaries aren’t easy to keep, so we must rely on God’s strength and not our own to be consistent. We do this by renewing our mind and as a result, He transforms our thoughts about the boundaries.

Another benefit to food boundaries is more obvious. We will release weight if we aren’t stuffing our faces every time we’re sad, mad, frustrated, worried, happy, vacationing, bored, tempted, procrastinating… and this list could go on for a while.

Overeating (or undereating) harms us. When we misuse food, we hurt our bodies because excess weight does all kinds of damage. Likewise, starving ourselves deteriorates our physical being.

When we misuse food, we feel guilty and ashamed that we “did it again”. This hurts our mental stability and invites more lies into our minds.

But worst of all, misusing food results from using food to “solve” our problems instead of turning to God for help. This hurts our relationship with the Lord and stifles the very thing we need most to live victoriously… the power of the Holy Spirit.

So, breaking our boundaries is not a reward. It is a self-induced punishment. Boundaries are beneficial.

The Protection

I love the verse “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit, is like a city broken down, without walls” (Proverbs 25:28 NKJV).

Simply put, I rely on God to help me keep my boundaries and He uses those boundaries to protect me from the attacks of the enemy.

When the enemy tries to tell me I’m not working hard enough, I can say with confidence, “NO, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I have kept my boundaries today! I’m doing my part.”

Or maybe he tries the approach of, “You’ve got to do something about all that flab.” He makes it sound so urgent, like I can do something radical in the next five minutes to remove it all. Which of course is a lie. Unfortunately, this lie can trigger my old “starve yourself skinny” reaction if I’m not protected.

In these moments, keeping my boundaries gives me the guts to say, “I AM doing something about it! I’m renewing my mind and God is giving me the strength to live within my boundaries. I am confident He will bring about the results in His time. He is able to do exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ask or imagine! Don’t you dare call me flabby again, I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”

Our boundaries also protect us from “morning after regret”. Keeping them allows me to start the day with victory oozing out of every pore instead of whatever I overate the night before. Major win!

The Confidence

When I go through an entire day and manage to keep my boundaries, there is a confidence that grows. God knows this, but so does the enemy.

God wants that confidence to build my faith in Him, but the enemy wants to twist it into the lie of self-reliance.

We must renew our minds daily because we don’t want to release all the weight only to return to relying on our own strength during the process. We want to keep our eyes on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith“.

When we make a practice of renewing our minds in regard to our boundaries, we cannot help but grow in the confidence of God’s ability and promise to transform us.

In addition, when we consistently keep them, we are less likely to constantly ditch them for the next greatest and latest thing to come on the market promising results. We are confident we’re on the path God has for us, which motivates us to stay consistent.

These are some of the reasons I need boundaries. Sometimes just knowing why helps change my attitude about difficult things. And, if I allow God to change my perspective about needing boundaries, even better.

 

righting the focus of this blog

I did a post series back in June on “Renewing the Mind” and I believe that collection of posts is largely responsible for my silence here lately. I haven’t really had much I felt I could add to that message, so, aside from a few posts about exercise, I’ve been rather quiet…

…trying to decide what the purpose of this blog really is.

Followers have seen me promote one program after another and after four years of posts, I have come to realize the simplicity of what this blog was supposed to be about. It was actually in the title this whole time.


Brick by Brick: Tearing Down the Strongholds

…if our strongholds reside primarily in our minds, why do we try to “fix” ourselves with external solutions? Because that’s the world’s answer and we believe it. So if that’s not the answer, how do we really accomplish tearing down the strongholds?

swordIt’s simple, renewing your mind to the mind of Christ, because with each lie we take captive and make obedient to God’s Truth, a brick falls. This is the entire message of that series I did, so I won’t rehash it at this time (although I plan to write more about it).

Where this relates to releasing excess weight, I think Barb Raveling’s message is probably the simplest one yet. Her focus is primarily renewing your mind, but she doesn’t completely ignore the physical part of this thing. She addresses this with a little word called “boundaries”. Uh oh, sounds a little bit like the mantra of the “diet world”. But it isn’t.

If you struggle with making something an idol in your life, which I think by the looks of America’s waistline, most of us do… then it’s possible you need some boundaries in that area. Barb doesn’t tell us what boundaries to set, but readily admits that God may ask different people to set different food boundaries. Why different? Because eating isn’t a sin and because well, we aren’t all physically the same.

Plain and simple.

What those boundaries are could vary greatly from one individual to the next. And how do you find out what boundaries to select? Well, you ask God. He may, like the alcoholic or the allergic, tell you to completely avoid something. Or, He may tell you to follow a structured meal program. He may tell you to follow your hunger cues. She has some suggestions in the back of her books, but she doesn’t tell you what to choose. She even has a list of questions to ask yourself when trying to decide on what boundaries to follow.

But ultimately, that’s between you and God.

This brings me to a realization that has been a long time in the making. If my food boundaries can be so different from the ones God might want you to follow, does it really matter to anyone but me, which ones I go with? And yet, I’ve spent way too many words on “food” and what our boundaries “should” be.

It’s not about diets… or lack of diets… or any of that. In fact, I’ve come to see that there is one thing most diets, intuitive eating practices, nutrition recommendations, and allergen elimination lists have in common. They all set boundaries in place. Some of those boundaries are more strict than others, but they all involve boundaries.

I feel convicted that by constantly sharing with the blogosphere my “seemingly-ever-changing-over-the-past-four-years” boundaries, I am doing the very thing I did not set out to do with this blog. I’m making it ALL about the boundaries.

I will say that I feel a shift in focus has fully taken place. My food boundaries are my food boundaries. Your food boundaries are your food boundaries. The one thing we may share is the need for those boundaries.

If you need food boundaries, you probably already know it. What you may not know is how to stay within your boundaries. Sure, the world has their own version of this, but God is the originator of “think positive” or “change your thinking”.

He calls it “renewing your mind”.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” ~Romans 12:2

With food boundaries, you can renew your mind to the mind of Christ about:

  • The general keeping of your boundaries.
  • Emotions that make you want to break your boundaries.
  • Circumstances that make you want to break your boundaries.
  • or Lies that make you want to break your boundaries.

This, my friends, is the shift in focus. Renewing your mind with God’s truth… that’s where transformation happens.

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