when it’s time to change

When I typed that title, the Brady Bunch kids singing a song by the same name came to mind. In a strange 70’s way, the song touches on the transformation we’re undergoing as we renew our mind. Things sometimes get worse, like Peter’s cracking voice, before they get better. And yet, sometimes we must change our boundaries in order to grow.

boundary-line-webRecently, I felt like the Lord was telling me it was time to change my boundaries. As most of you know, I’ve been following the WW points plan since March. I truly believe WW was a good fit for me at the time because of where I was in this journey to living in victory. However, the more I renewed my mind, the convinced I became that it was time to move on.

Trust me, I know how difficult it is to decide on a set of boundaries. So, if you’re having difficulty, Barb Raveling has a wonderful post that might help titled: 13 Questions That Will Help You Choose a Weight Loss Plan

But what about when you feel like it’s time to change your boundaries?

For most people, we’ll think we need to have a different set of boundaries simply because the ones we have are difficult. Or maybe we have a friend who is having success on another plan. It’s very enticing to think the grass is greener somewhere else.

These are not reasons to change our boundaries. In those cases, we need to renew our mind about them and gain a different perspective.

However, there are legitimate reasons it might be time to consider a different set of boundaries. These are just a few:

  • You’re consistently following your boundaries but aren’t releasing weight.
  • You’re consistently following your boundaries but you don’t feel well physically.
  • Your lifestyle has changed and your boundary lines are no longer a good fit.
  • God is prompting you to change them to bring you to a deeper relationship with Him (make sure it is God, His motives will not be the world’s motives).

Not Releasing Weight

If you’ve honestly been consistently renewing your mind and following your boundaries for at least a month, but have not released weight (or have gained), it might be time to consider trying something else.

I say at “least a month” because expecting quick results is part of what has landed us in the diet rat race in the first place. Sometimes our weight loss is delayed a bit because we are actually weighed down by a lot of lies and once those begin to change, our bodies let go.

Sometimes our weight loss is delayed because we’re telling ourselves we’re keeping our boundaries when we really aren’t. It might be that your boundary lines just aren’t clear enough for you to recognize you’re breaking them. Get honest with yourself.

The point is, we don’t want to be switching boundaries every couple of weeks. It’s tempting to keep changing them in search of the “perfect” set of boundaries. Well, let me just tell you, there is no such thing. Every set of boundaries will have it’s pluses and minuses and none will be “perfect”.

If you’re frustrated because keeping your boundaries isn’t as easy as you had hoped, that’s not a good reason to switch either. Keeping boundaries is hard and requires work, determination, and a whole lot of renewing our minds to the mind of Christ. Once you’re keeping them consistently for at least a month, reevaluate things.

If you are releasing weight and you just want it gone faster, that’s not necessarily the best reason to change boundaries either (unless directed to do so by a doctor). Instead, you’ll probably need to start working on your discontentment or greed issues. I Deserve a Donut  (book or app) has some great questions and verses in the “discontentment” and “greed” sections to help you renew your mind in this area.

For me, I was still releasing weight on WW (although it had slowed down), so I wasn’t really motivated by this to change boundaries.

Not Feeling Well Physically

If you’ve been consistently following your boundaries for at least a month and you don’t feel well physically, there could be any number of things going on. My first recommendation is to check with your doctor. Tell them what you’re doing and see what they have to say. Tests might reveal a root cause that has nothing to do with your boundaries.

Lack of sleep, overeating, under eating, food allergies, wrong food combinations for your body…etc could be at play as well. If you’re following a plan where you have eliminated addictive foods, you might feel horrible for the first few weeks because you’re going through withdrawals. You could also be nutrient deficient. Check into these possibilities and tweak your boundaries as necessary.

This was one of the major reasons I felt prompted to change my boundaries. Even while following the WW plan, I began to have chest pain again just over a month ago. I haven’t had chest pain in years. I stopped sleeping well. I felt really agitated and I had general pain all the time in my joints. I had started popping Ibuprofen regularly just to function, but when the chest pain started, it freaked me out. Sure, I was still releasing weight, but what fun is it to be smaller and feel terrible physically? I had a thought growing in the back of my mind over a couple of months that I needed to up the nutritional value of what I was eating.

It’s true, I could have done this while still on WW, but there was more at play.

Lifestyle Change

This could encompass a multitude of scenarios. Some examples that come to mind are:

  • One of your children is diagnosed with a life-threatening allergy and those foods must be eliminated from your life.
  • You end up traveling across country with your truck driving husband and no longer have access to your kitchen (yes, thinking about you Barb R).
  • You move to another country with a different eating culture.
  • Your husband is laid off and you have to cancel your WW membership.
  • A diagnosis requires dietary changes.
  • You’re training for a marathon and require a different nutrition plan to fuel your workouts.

This list could go on for a while. Even if your life changes significantly enough to warrant a boundary change, we still need to keep in mind that life is going to throw us challenges no matter what our boundaries are. This is where renewing our minds comes into play.

If you experience a lifestyle change, try to keep your original set of boundaries for a couple of weeks just to make sure they aren’t still a fit. Yes, it will be challenging. If after a couple of weeks it’s clear they aren’t working with your new life, change them.

For me, this played a very small role in the boundary change, but it did influence it. We recently decided to dramatically alter our spending habits because of some financial goals we had set. In doing so, we cancelled some memberships (WW and the gym) and we tightened up our grocery budget. This is the other “renewing the mind project” I’m doing right now. I was already considering the dietary change before we decided to tighten the budget, but it definitely made it easier to take the leap. It wasn’t enough for me though. I was still afraid I was changing them for the wrong reasons. I was also afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep stricter boundaries (cause I didn’t want to). I didn’t actually change them till God prompted me to do so.

God is Prompting the Change

This one can often be confused with our own feelings and emotions if we aren’t consistently renewing our minds in the process. If you are seeking God on the matter, He won’t be vague.

Even if He is the one prompting the change, you may feel scared and even have some doubts, but God will give you peace if it is His will.

For me, it began with a thought of, “Beloved, are you willing to give up certain foods for Me?”

Yikes. I didn’t like where this was going.

He challenged my mantra of “everything in moderation”. I said, “But everything is permissible.” To which He replied, “Aye, but not everything is beneficial.”

I was primed for this message with how terrible I felt physically. Then the husband and I started working on our financial project and I asked myself what I was willing to give up to meet our goals.

I remembered a plan I had done a while back, so I got out the book (one of the few “diet” books I’ve kept) and read it again. Convinced I was supposed to change my boundaries, I stepped away from WW and switched to a “nutritarian” diet a few weeks ago. The chest pain went away immediately and I have minimal general pain now (praise the Lord).

You see, when God prompts you to change your boundaries, the timing will always be spot on. He knew exactly what I needed and knew when I would be receptive to the change. I don’t know how long I’ll be “giving up” some of my favorite foods. I don’t even know that I’ll never return to WW, but you know what, it really doesn’t matter. Food is just food. It isn’t love. It isn’t peace. It isn’t joy. I’m going to take this thing one day at a time.

Transformed By the Renewing of the Mind

Even if we decide it is time to change our boundaries, there is one crucial thing we must keep in mind:

It is not our boundaries which transform us!

swordGOD transforms us through the renewing of our minds. I challenge you, even before you settle on your boundaries, pour your time and energy into renewing your mind about food, weight, and body image. Pour in His Truth at every opportunity. This is the only way I have a remote chance of keeping any set of boundaries long-term.

And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you]. ~ Romans 12:2 (AMP)

Advertisements

squishy bits and all

It’s been a really long time since I was “buff”, but there was a time when I had visible muscle definition. I have no idea if I’ll ever get a glimpse of that body again, but there are days when I look in the mirror and think, “where did all these squishy bits come from?”

Of course, one might wonder, how on earth can you ignore the elephant in the room when that elephant is yourself? For years, I couldn’t see past the obesity. I hated even walking by a mirror let alone standing in front of one. I was totally aware of every jiggle, every pinch in my clothing, and every stare. Now, though, the squishy bits actually catch me by surprise at times.

This isn’t because I’m ignoring the extra weight, but rather because most days I am able to view it through God’s eyes and not man’s.

…For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. ~ 1 Samuel 16:7b (NKJV)

However, if I let my “fat eyes” run wild, I’ll find myself in a full blown pity party on the brink of a dive into a bag of something sure to blow my boundaries right off the map. When I notice I’m focusing on my physical imperfections, I have learned that it is time for a perspective check, and lately, that has meant dealing with discontentment. I don’t even have to feel discontent about my body for it to trigger thoughts of food.

Before I began this journey of intentionally renewing my mind to the mind of Christ, I probably would have said I was a content person… or at least mostly content. I certainly didn’t think it was a stronghold or anything. Ha! Lies can be so blinding.

When God removed the binging from my repertoire of coping mechanisms, I was faced with a very ugly reality. I was one of the most discontent people I knew. Sure, it was lying there under the surface, squashed down by bad habits, but it was there, like a cancer, robbing me of really living.

Discontentment usually comes around when I’m believing a lie or making something more important than it should be… or both. This is one of the reasons I really love Barb Raveling‘s book, I Deserve a Donut: And other lies that make you eat. I can turn to the page of questions which addresses discontentment and get a much needed reality check.

By the time I’m finished journaling through the questions and the verses, my perspective has changed. Discontentment says I’m unloveable if I’m overweight, but God loves me, “squishy bits and all”. Because of this, I am able to worry less about the extra weight and focus on what really does matter, like loving God and others well.

should boundaries take a holiday?

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and I’m betting most of us have numerous traditions centered around, or least accompanied by, food. I know we do.

I’ve done the extremes when it comes to Holiday eating. I’ve had years where any semblance of self-control flew out the window the moment the smell of pumpkin pie wafted in my direction. I’ve also had years where I stuck to some restrictive diet where I would stare longingly at the food before me.

In the first example, my boundaries were too loose (or, nonexistent). And in the second, they were too strict. Both scenarios have consequences. One leaves me with regrets, bloating, extra weight, and misery. The other leaves me feeling deprived and like I missed out, opening the door for “back-lash” eating.

Fortunately, I don’t have to live in the land of extremes with my boundaries. If I’ve chosen long-term boundaries, they should be able to accommodate some Holiday deliciousness without the ugly side effects of eating with wild abandon or the deprivation of “being good”.

I can also choose to alter my boundaries slightly if need be for the season. This might mean I must be willing to accept that I might not release any weight or might even gain a bit. If I’ve made the decision ahead of time, aware of potential consequences, I’ll still be in a better place than if I throw my boundaries completely out the window or try to adhere to unrealistic ones.

Barb Raveling has some great questions posted to prepare us in advance for those little whispers tempting us to give in to “Last Supper Eating”. Renewing our minds before we’re in the situation will help tremendously. Then, when the whispers come, we can confidently say, “No, I can live within my boundaries and be satisfied because…”

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” ~ Psalm 16:6

 

 

not tomorrow, NOW

As you already know, I’ve jumped into a challenge centered around proving that renewing the mind works. Not an easy task to say the least.

I wanted to share that today marks six days of living within my food boundaries since the start of the challenge.

Imagine with me for a second what you might feel like to realize you have lived (dare I say “thrived”) within your food boundaries for SIX full days.

No doubt, this isn’t something that comes easy for those of us living in this “you shouldn’t have to deny yourself” society. We’re adults for crying out loud. We have rights, gosh darn it!

Well, yes we do, and many of us have indulged ourselves right out of our britches. Then we try in our own strength to “get back on track” or “be good” only to be faced with another “donut”*. We rationalize and we bargain with ourselves and then we hear that little whisper… such a seemingly harmless thought… but it grows and grows until we give it full birth:

“I’ll start tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow I’ll follow my boundaries.”

It seems harmless, even noble at times, to believe the lie. The problem with following this train of thought is it actually makes us feel good about overeating today because of how great we’ll be tomorrow. It feeds “last chance” eating, which, as we know, makes us feel all the more deprived when we attempt to follow our boundaries the next day. Most of the time though, we hear that little voice again by about 4PM whispering:

“It’s been a hard day. You’ve made it this far. You can start over tomorrow.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of “starting over”. So, for the first five days of this challenge I used the “I’ll start tomorrow eating” questions and verses (from I Deserve a Donut) as part of my daily renewing the mind practice. I made myself write the questions and answers every morning for the last five days. I wrote the verses in my journal and prayed about them.

I did reword the questions slightly to apply to following my boundaries for another day rather than the wording that suggests I’m “starting today”.

One of the questions is about what I’ll need to accept in order to follow my boundaries. I like this question because it makes me really weigh the lie that “life should be easy” against the truth that “life is often hard”.

You see, I have decided to accept the simple truth that my food boundaries are there for my benefit and protection. Therefore, breaking my boundaries is actually a punishment, not a reward.

This shift in perspective is monumental.

Of course, when I stepped on the scale this morning, and was sorely disappointed, I’m sure you can imagine the flood of negative, destructive thinking.

In this situation I have a few choices. One of them is to throw a tantrum, adopt a “what’s the point” attitude, and dance around outside my boundaries in the name of “bad scale eating”. Another option would be to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ by renewing my mind.

Admittedly, I did a combination of the two. First, I pitched a mini “it’s not fair” tantrum, but it didn’t involve food. Then, before I ate breakfast, I sat down with my Bible, my donut book, and my journal. I went through the “Bad Scale Eating” questions (writing them) and verses. I felt much better after this.

Knowing this is the weekend and I will have greater temptations to tiptoe outside my boundaries (or even run with reckless abandon), I decided to do the “Holiday/Vacation Eating” questions and verses too. I changed them slightly to better go with weekend eating, but the general theme stayed the same. Again, I wrote them.

I don’t want to wait until tomorrow to stay within my boundaries because I know that every day I do my part is one more victorious day God can use to bring about transformation. I also know I am not responsible for that transformation, He is.

The enemy tries to tell me I’m not doing enough (especially after a disappointing weigh in), but when I’m doing my part to renew my mind, I know that’s a lie. God says:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” ~ Romans 12:2a (NIV)

The world says to trust in diets and supplements and exercise programs.

God says to trust Him.

The world says to have willpower.

God says to rely on His strength and not my own.

The world says to “think positive”.

God says to take my thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ.

Yeah, I think God’s way is better. So, I won’t worry about tomorrow, I’ll do what I can now.

*A “donut” in this post will refer to anything that tempts you to break your boundaries.

thin within: the diet rebel strikes

thinwithinI would love to say that I went through all 30 days without skipping one, but alas, that would not be real life. Today I didn’t do the lesson… I didn’t pay attention to my boundaries… Today I just didn’t care. I felt anxious off and on all day. I’m dealing with some emotions (my first born would be graduating in a few weeks if he were still with us)… and of course Mother’s Day is kind of a bittersweet time too. We’re down to one car right now because the old sedan just decided to quit on us… and the seventeen year old has his first shift at his new job tomorrow. The car shuffling is really inconvenient… not to mention the cost of fixing the broken one. I’m stressing a little over our end of semester co-op performances as well. And now I have to post that I just didn’t do the lesson. Totally trying not to feel like a failure at the moment.

I was planning to do the lesson. I even previewed it last night. Unfortunately, this morning I was also hit with the notion that some people might think I’m on another diet. I got some emails about dietary supplements too… seriously, could we just deal with one attack at a time? And, I seem to be still mulling over a conversation from the other day where a friend was doing a bit of diet talk. Rather than deal with this stuff the appropriate way (by applying truth), I let my “diet rebel” go on strike. I felt like I had to prove I wasn’t on a diet and my old behavior dictates I should throw all boundaries out the window. Of course, this doesn’t prove anything except that my mind is still going to a negative place.

I allowed anger over all the diet stuff. I ended up stamping my foot and declaring, “I am not on a diet. I am not focusing on weightloss”… at least I’m trying not to. Having boundaries doesn’t mean I’m on a diet. Diets are restrictive, harsh taskmasters. Godly boundaries are healthy, protective, and freeing. Of course, I should acknowledge that those who think Thin Within is “just another diet”, don’t get it. Let’s face it, if you’re a natural eater, you don’t understand the struggles of the unnatural eater, so any effort could be perceived as “diet mentality”. And, if you’re caught up in diet mentality, it is really difficult to relate to someone trying to break free from that cycle. Been there.

So, I allowed this to upset me and I ate for comfort on and off all day. I didn’t wait for hunger. I didn’t care when I stopped eating either. I just ignored it all.

Diets would tell me I need to “try harder”. The world would have me believe the answer is another diet (or to start over with an old one). The world’s diet mentality says I’m a failure. It says I’ll never lose the weight unless I “control” myself.

Well, the world is wrong people. Diets are not the answer… and waiting till you’re hungry to eat and stopping when you’ve had enough is NOT a diet. It is how natural intuitive eaters behave…. without trying! These people don’t restrict or count or care about the burn… they eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. If they don’t like the taste of something, they don’t eat it. If they do like the taste of something, they enjoy it, but naturally stop when their body tells them to. There is a HUGE difference between this and dieting.

Will natural eating bring weightloss to someone who is carrying some extra weight… yes. Does losing weight mean I’m on a diet… No. Maybe, just maybe, it means my mind is healing. Maybe it means I am placing food in it’s proper place. Maybe it means I am learning new ways to cope.

Now, for someone who has abused their body with restriction (dieting/excessive exercise), this is something we have to relearn. We do have to be deliberate at first to tune in to what our bodies are telling us.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. ~ Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

The difference is that we are listening to our internal cues and not external influences. We must lean on the Lord, not just for the strength to fight the mental battle… but to accept the grace that annihilates that voice of condemnation when we fall back into extreme behaviors (feast or famine). That grace allows us to stop the cycle. It allows us to recognize that being imperfect isn’t the end of the world.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. ~ Galatians 6:9 (NIV)

God meets me right where I am, whether it’s on the mountaintop… or in the valley. He’s there to reassure me of His love. He’s there with the gift of grace. He’s there to encourage me to keep pressing on toward the goal… but in His strength, not mine.

No, this is not a diet. It’s so much better. It’s freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. ~ Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

So, I opened my “I deserve a donut” app. Ok, can I just say how much I love the title and that colorful donut image? 🙂 Anyway, I opened the app and chose “Failure Eating”. Why? because I want to make sure I don’t fall for “eating cause I messed up” tomorrow. I want to honor my boundaries of waiting for hunger and stopping at “enough”. Not because I am a diet-aholic, but because “I am an eagle, not a chicken!” Time to soar, ladies.

…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. ~Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)