renewing the mind: renewal stops

We’ve kind of defined renewing the mind, and we’ve talked about daily renewing our minds through Truth Journaling. We are going to get to “Renewal Stops” in this post, but I feel like God is taking us in another direction first…

Seek His Plan For You

There are so many great ideas for building a mind renewal practice that fits how God wants to restore and transform your thinking. Be sure to check in with Him.

When I was listening to the audio file on this topic, it would have been really easy to become overwhelmed with all of the great ideas. I took notes during the first couple of webinars, but then realized God isn’t calling me to “do it all”. He wants to tailor daily renewing my mind for my particular needs. Even though I’m listing the tools He’s using in my life, that doesn’t mean He’ll choose the same ones for you. So, seek His will on the matter. Trust me, it will work so much better if you do.

The Dailiness of It

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. ~ Proverbs 8:21 (NIV)

Why do I keep saying “daily”? Because I believe one of the pivotal keys is to make this a daily spiritual habit. It must be a priority to us. In the beginning we must make a conscious decision to do it. As our taste for the Lord grows and matures, we will crave Him and the time we get to spend renewing our minds. You may even ask Him to give you that desire.

I spent years (many many days) trying to make a conscious effort to change my eating habits. So much energy and thought and time was poured into what, when, and how much I should eat… not to mention all the tracking and reading and researching, exercising… and the obsessing about it, oh Lord, the hours of obsession. Well, I’ve decided to trade all of that for one simple practice, renewing my mind daily. And you know what, this practice takes a fraction of the time and energy all of those other things consumed. Which means I’m actually “free to live”. Gasp! You mean there is life outside of dieting, before and after photos, tracking food, mental beatings, and calorie burn? Yes, life more abundant and free!

You may be wondering then, “if this is to be my focus, when do I work on my weight?” You don’t, God does. When your mind begins to change, your actions will change as well. And to show you just a snippet of what is possible with God, He gave me an example to share.

Oh Glorious Bean of Coffee

Coffee entered my life when I was in tech school at Keesler AFB many moons ago. I had never been a coffee drinker until I discovered that one cup of the dark magic would keep me awake for hours during early morning classes. Some in my class might have called me hyper, but hey, I wasn’t snoozing. It was a miracle because our instructor’s droning had the opposite effect with almost equal power. Although I hated the taste, I was hooked immediately.I think I had avoided it until then because my PopPop would always say, “It’ll put hair on your chest”, and well, that’s the last thing a girl wants.coffee

A few years later I would discover that I simply could not drink full-caf coffee if I expected to be a functional human being. It was a full-blown addiction and missing my dosage by even 15 minutes would bring on such horrible withdrawal symptoms. Friends, it ain’t purty. So, I went cold turkey (quite miserable three days), and then switched to decaf. I even had to cut out caffeinated sodas (I rarely drink any soda these days).

I realized I could easily stick to one cup of decaf a day, 99% of the time, with little to no symptoms; so, I thought it was a good compromise. By this point, I had developed a taste for it.

If you’ve been following me through my “no more dieting” journey, you know that I now try to listen to my body and what it is saying to me about the foods and beverages I consume. Recently, I’ve begun to feel that having a daily cup of decaf wasn’t sitting great with me. I can’t explain it, just kind of “ick”. I tried to force myself to eliminate it a few weeks ago, but found that I seemed to want it even more. I even ended up having a, very unusual, three-cup-day. The tactic the secular books give you of noting how it makes you feel and reminding yourself of that when you think you want it… well, that wasn’t working. I would still make myself a cup every morning.

Since I’ve begun to practice renewing my mind in the mornings (typically before breakfast), I think I’ve had coffee twice in the past 10 days. That’s an 80% decrease in my coffee consumption just from a morning practice of renewing my mind with God. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about whether I was drinking coffee or not till I sat down to write this post and God decided to show me a way that this practice is already benefitting my physical body. That means I am naturally drinking less coffee. Say what? Just imagine, if renewing my mind affects my coffee consumption, doesn’t it stand to reason it will affect other eating/drinking habits as well?

Now, am I saying you shouldn’t drink coffee? Good heavens, no. Please don’t take away from this that I think drinking coffee is a sin. I’m simply saying I observed how it makes me feel physically, and I think cutting back on it is a good idea… for me.

Now, let’s move on to the actual topic of this post.

Renewal Stopsrest stop

I guess you could consider this to be a form of “maintenance” during the day. I’ve started my day with time in the Word, prayer, and writing in my Truth Journal. Now, to maintain that focus throughout the day, I have some other tools in my arsenal:

Breaking Free Day by Day: A Year of Walking In Liberty – I love this little book because it takes the message of Beth Moore’s Breaking Free, and breaks it down into short daily devotionals. I keep a copy of this in the master bathroom by the toilet. Ok, so maybe you don’t want to talk about the bathroom, but we all spend time there. It’s generally quiet (especially now that my kids are older), and it only takes a minute or two to read one of the little pages. I love to multi-task, and I think this is a far better use of that time than surfing the net on my phone.

I Deserve a Donutdonut It was originally designed for crisis moments when you want to eat outside your boundaries (more on this later), but I also use it for daily maintenance. I have both the book and the android app. The book usually stays with my other resources on my desk, but the app goes with me anywhere I take my phone. If I’m using the downstairs bathroom, I’ll pull up the app (ok, so maybe I’m in the bathroom more than you are, but I doubt it). Or, if I ride along in the car with the husband on an errand, sometimes I’ll stay in the car and read through the app. To pick a category, I generally ask myself what I struggled with last, or the most. I might even randomly pick a category. I’ll click through to those questions and scriptures and answer/read them. Keep in mind, I’m not actually struggling in these moments I’m describing. I’m just using this time to solidify in my mind the truth about such struggles. I’m practicing what I want to think before I need to think it. I’m thinking about getting Barb’s book, The Renewing of the Mind Project as well.

Music – I love music. God speaks to me through songs in such a way that it goes directly to my inmost being. Lyrics become a part of me, and so I have to be careful what music I listen to. I especially love songs about transformation, perspectives, redemption, freedom, gracepraise, praise, praise, and praise. Oh, did I mention, praise? Ha ha. Sorry, there are just too many to list out here. Sometimes, I’ll even picture God singing them to me… like the Tenth Avenue North song I mentioned the other day. Technology is terrific in this Third Day @ Red Rocksarena. I can listen on my phone, my ipod, online, in my car… I can pump music into my head while I work, while I play, while I walk… Of course, sometimes He prevents my ipod from working. That usually means “we need to talk”.

Dancing – It would not be entirely unusual for you to catch my girls and I dancing around the living room to the aforementioned artists (+ many many more) . No, I won’t be posting videos of that 🙂

Have your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too – Ok, so this is a secular book on hunger directed eating, but I have used it as part of renewing my mind. I will mainly read the chapter about why diets don’t work. I like her chapter on this better than Intuitive Eating’s because it’s simpler and more like having a conversation with a good friend. I’ve read this chapter over and over and over again… why? Because I want to be certain that my “intellectual” brain doesn’t ever try to fall for the diet lie again… and thus lead the rest of me back to the kool aid. Having facts regarding the truth about dieting in my head is very helpful to me. I don’t read it as often as I did a couple of months ago, but I know it’s there if I want a refresher. I think the reason I haven’t needed it as much, or the Intuitive Eating book for that matter, is because I do not believe diets are the answer any longer. I believe God is. Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the help I’ve gleaned from this book.

Ok, so those are some of my renewal stops. They help keep my thoughts from going where they shouldn’t by simply being proactive about the practice of renewing my mind. Still, sometimes those old thoughts creep back in. They are getting quieter, but we do need tools for those crisis moments when the enemy bombards our minds (and lives) with lies.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the “Crisis Plan” and tools I’m using in those situations.

thin within: day one

thinwithinFor those just joining the program, I’m going through Judy Halliday’s, Thin Within. The first post in this series is here. Now, let’s get on with Day One…

Day One

I previewed today’s lesson last night. One reason was because “preview what you’ll go over tomorrow” is one of the “ingredients” in the “recipe for straight A’s” that the kids learn at our DoJang. The second reason is because I tend to be impatient and this is a compromise that keeps me from reading through the entire book in a day. I preview the lesson the night before, then study it in the morning, then I get to preview the next day that night. Remember, preview doesn’t mean “do the exercises”, it means read over it to see where you’re going the next day.

Starting Point

I refuse to step on the scale, so I’m only going by how my clothes fit. Since I’ve gained weight during my journey through the “valley of doritos and donuts” (Josie Spinardi), I am currently in the largest jeans I own… and today they were snug. They bugged me all day in fact. I definitely felt bloated.

Why am I not giving sizes? Because I don’t want anyone “comparing”. I would hate for someone to think “well, she’s bigger than me, so I can’t relate” OR “well, she’s smaller than me, so how can she understand”. We’ve all read the books where someone is like “oh I was so huge” and they were 50 pounds lighter than you… and you want to throw the book across the room… ok, maybe all of us haven’t had that experience, but I have.

Anyway, I really, really pray I don’t grow out of these jeans, but I like how the author stresses that God loves us no matter what size we are. He doesn’t love us more if we’re a certain size and He doesn’t love us more if we eat certain foods. He just loves us… period.

But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do  ~ 1 Corinthians 8:8 (NIV)

Testimonials

I thought I would be put off by having testimonials peppered throughout the book, but I’m really not bothered by them at all. I kind of see them as little lights of encouragement that others have walked this path and experienced freedom.

Less Food?

You will begin to need less food as you realize much of your eating has been triggered by something that food really can’t satisfy. ~ Thin Within (pg. 5)

Ok, I’ll admit it, this was the first thing that made me go…. OH NO IT’S A DIET. But then, I had a little talk with myself. Maybe I do need less food, how should I know. I rarely paid attention to my hunger cues for 28 years, and one thing I have discovered since last Fall is that I’m not physically hungry as often as I thought I was. So, ok, I can get on board with the thought that maybe my body doesn’t need as much food as my mind says it does.

I think I’m so afraid of restriction… like paranoid… that I overreact when it’s suggested that I need less food. See, what I mean about my diet rebel?

And then the author stresses that we need to make sure we don’t turn what we learn over the next 30 days “into a set of laws that you must keep to be ‘good’ or to please God.” So, when I read that I said, “whew… ok, God, I need to you teach me how to know I’ve had enough, and help me not to even think about it being less or more… just ‘enough’.”

The Dieting Merry-Go-Round

I have never heard the following verse used to debunk the “dieting merry-go-round” before, but I will probably use it that way now (smile):

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. ~ Colossians 2:20-23 (NIV)

Um, sounds a lot like dieting to me, but I really never thought of it like that. Wow. I’m not saying the Colossians were dieting and that’s what they were being admonished for, but clearly they were putting more emphasis on man-made rules than on the worship and following of Christ. Boy can I relate to bowing at the altar of diets! How about that part that says, having “an appearance of wisdom”? Kind of eye opening. At least I thought so.

God made these bodies. He didn’t hand Adam and Eve a manual telling them exactly when, what, and how much to eat. No, He knew He had given His Creation internal cues to tell them when they were hungry and when they were full. We’re the ones who have messed that all up with our man-made rules.

I thought the exercise of thinking about your last meal was interesting. I liked the idea of observing my behavior from a third-party perspective.

Keys to Conscious Eating

Now, I’m not going to detail out the 8 keys. I’m sure you will be able to deduce what they are through this 30 day series, but I really do encourage you to just get a copy of the book if you don’t have one.

Most of this section wasn’t “new” to me per say, but there were some things I was able to take away that I think will be helpful as I journey on.

When in doubt, leave it out! ~ Thin Within (p. 8)

Super simple. If you aren’t sure if you’re hungry, don’t eat. If it all possible, wait till you are certain. The second thing that jumped out at me was when the author addressed eating what your body enjoys, not because it was a new concept, just because I like the way she worded it. I think recovering dieters really struggle with this one because we’re so used to being legalistic about our food. She backs up the thoughts below with two verses: Mark 7:18-19 & Romans 14:17.

Too often, we get caught up in thinking we are “good” or “bad” based on how we eat. Food cannot cleanse the heart no matter how little fat or how much fiber it contains. ~ Thin Within (p. 9)

Taking Action

This is where the author asks us to throw out all of our diet related paraphernalia. I am a HUGE proponent of this. Since I’ve already done this step, I was able to breeze through that part, but I do remember how difficult it was to get rid of those things. It feels a bit like stepping off a cliff, but that’s where we have to trust in the God who made us.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt… Again you will take up your tambourines and go out to dance with the joyful. ~ Jeremiah 31:3-4 (NIV)

Thin Within Observations and Corrections Chart

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T=”Table” & Circled K=”Standing in Kitchen”

I LOVE charts. I do. It’s “a blessing and a curse” (Monk). So, when I saw that we were going to get a daily chart to record our progress with the 8 keys, I thought that was a brilliant idea. Now, my Day 1 chart isn’t that pretty. I am still trying to work out the best way for me to mark up this chart so that, at a glance, I can see what areas are progressing nicely and what areas need more help. So, when you look at the chart, it may be a bit confusing.

I think tomorrow I’ll draw lines between each of my “eating occasions” as the author suggests. I did try to color code them but ended up adding the dashes where I didn’t have check marks because it was looking a little weird to me. Oh, and the last row of pink was “dinner” that I forgot to add in the 4th spot and had to put it at the end. See, told you it is a mess.

“Standing in the kitchen” (circled K) occurred after dinner (which wasn’t what I wanted). I was in the kitchen and remembered that the 15 year old had made mashed potatoes for the 12 year old (whose mouth was hurting after the orthodontist today). Without thinking, I picked up the serving spoon and had two bites of the potatoes (which I did enjoy) before realizing I was standing and eating. I thought about putting some potatoes on a plate and going to the table but I checked in with my stomach. I wasn’t hungry so I put down the spoon and left the area.

Later, I was really, really hungry, but I was already in bed reading. I got up, went all the way downstairs and sat at the table (alone) with a small cupcake (on a plate) and a fork. I enjoyed every bite of that cupcake. It was gone at just shy of full, so I cleaned up and went back upstairs.

Now, I am choosing to focus primarily on the positive when I make these observations. I don’t want to get into the habit of beating myself up for not doing this “perfectly” (which wouldn’t be a far leap for me). I fully expect to observe some behaviors I don’t wish to keep (like standing to eat), but then I have the opportunity to make a choice to continue in that behavior or stop it.

Key #6 was the one I performed the best today with six out of six possible checks. Key #7 was in last place with four out of six possible checks. Earning those check marks took some serious concentration today. I had to be very deliberate, to the point that I had to remind myself to relax and breathe. It is so funny that I was motivated by little check marks.

I would also like to point out that I had already begun to work on hunger/fullness recognition before beginning this 30 day study. So, if it seems like I’m “rocking it”, that’s probably because I’ve already been attempting to practice some of these principles. So, if your chart is more of a mess than mine, don’t lose heart. Keep pressing forward and asking God for help.

Well, that was my day 1 🙂

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. ~ Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

the fullness side

I’ve got “hunger” down. I think. I mean, in this bizarre journey, can I ever be certain that I’ve mastered any part of it? Especially when I seem to be hanging out at the same increased size. Still, I think I know how to recognize physical hunger now. I get a growling that feels almost like a burning between my solar plexus and my belly button. If I ignore this, I will have a headache. Thirst is different, and is located in my throat/mouth.

Waiting for that physical hunger can sometimes be tricky because other stuff creeps into the equation at times. I keep having to remind myself that I don’t have to just eat because food is there… or because everyone else is eating… or because I’m bored… or tired… or emotional… or procrastinating. Checking in to see if I’m physically hungry is really important. There may be other physical needs that haven’t been met, but I don’t want to eat unless I’m actually needing food.

So, I wait for physical hunger (most of the time). I say “most of the time” because I don’t want that to become a “rule”. The diet rebel in me will kick back at feels-like-a-diet rules.

What I’m working on figuring out now, is what fullness/satisfaction feels like when it comes to food. Josie Spinardi talks about rating taste, and I am trying to tap into that. At first, I was eating past full without realizing it. I think I was rather afraid of being hungry later so I was “eating for the hunger to come”. The problem with doing this is that your body doesn’t work like that. If you eat when you aren’t hungry, it stores it for later alright, but as fat – eeekkk! I don’t need any more of that.

The other issue was not realizing I had eaten enough because I haven’t paid attention to these signals since I was a kid. I’ve relied on someone else to tell me how much food to have (when, what, & how much). So now, trying to interpret my body’s language feels like learning chinese at times. It feels so foreign.

Recently, I started to error on the side of undereating at a meal. I waited for hunger and then I was really trying to listen for when that hunger feeling went away. Well, it started going away only a few bites into something, so I would stop eating. However, then I felt really hungry only an hour later. This can be frustrating to say the least. A gal on the forum said it was like when the gas light comes on in a vehicle and you put in only enough fuel to make the light go off… you won’t get very far before it comes back on again.

This is where I have to reassure myself that I am allowed to eat whenever I am hungry, and if that means eating every hour some days, so be it. The point is to keep from inflicting external rules on my eating habits and to keep from allowing guilt into the equation.

It is true that the taste begins to wane, so I’m going to keep looking out for that. I also don’t entirely trust myself in reading my stomach’s cues. However, I’m going to keep trying. I have to remember that it took a bit to figure out hunger, so now I’m going to be patient and learn the fullness side.

don’t it make my brown eyes blue

When I was a kid, I did not understand what Crystal Gayle meant when she sang, “don’t it make my brown eyes blue.” Of course, that’s the only part of the song I could remember, probably because I wanted blue eyes so bad. I would stare into the mirror and wish them to change. I know most girls have something they would love to change about themselves. I remember thinking, “What? What makes your brown eyes blue?” Yep, I wanted blue eyes… until I started thinking I was fat, and then I wanted to be skinny with blue eyes. I haven’t thought about wanting blue eyes for a while because I’m really ok with my brown ones. They are my favorite feature on my face in fact, but a recent meeting with a group of ladies brought that song back to mind. It wasn’t because I wanted blue eyes, it was because listening to them made my brown eyes blue.

I think I’ve reached a point where I simply cannot tolerate “diet talk”. During that meeting it was so overwhelming, I thought several times of excusing myself and not returning. I just sat and listened. What could I comment on? Nothing. I couldn’t join in with, “well, I’m doing diet such and such”. Why? Because I refuse to do a diet. Still, I was bombarded. There I sat, feeling quite fat and thinking, “gosh, I’m bigger than most of these ladies and they are dieting, maybe I should be to.” I couldn’t believe I was actually feeling guilty for not dieting. I also felt “left out” because I couldn’t do the diet talk routine. When a young lady said, “Of course I’m eating this cookie, I’m not worried about being good today,” my heart broke.

Being “good”. I used to say it too. I used to classify food as good and bad. If I was on my diet, I was “being good”. If I was off my diet, I was “being bad”. Thinking about it now it sounds absolutely ridiculous. Who made the diet industry the morality police anyway? Why on earth is it morally wrong to not follow some man-made version of “dietary 10 commandments”. Are we bowing at the altar of the diet god? I mean, we sang the praises of diets for years. We deemed ourselves “good” or “bad” based on how we followed their rules. We condemned ourselves when we “fell off the wagon” and ate a cookie (gasp). Our only redemption was to see the scale move down. That was our “little piece of heaven”. When we “failed” to be “good enough” and regained the weight, we flitted from one diet to another, looking for the one that would “save us” all over again. Yeah, dieting has become a religion in this country alright. I’m sorry to say I goose-stepped to their tune too.

I became so upset, that I have been in a funk for a few days now. I’ve grappled with the pull toward the diet life. The old voices that would berate me for not being thin enough, good enough, pretty enough, perfect enough… came back with a deafening roar. Just sitting in a room full of “restriction talk”, surrounded by celery sticks and carrots (because they didn’t want to “tempt” anyone), all I wanted to do was binge. I found myself “gasping for food” as Josie Spinardi calls it… even though I wasn’t actually the one restricting. So I did have a bit of a binge, but it was nothing like binges of the past. It was shorter, with far fewer bites, and I was able to identify what set it off and why… and stop it.

Progress? Yes, I think so.