RYM 12 Week Challenge Ends

I can’t believe we’ve already come to the end of this challengeLast week we worked on treasure hunting again. It has been a really exciting 12 weeks. I’ve done many challenges over the years but I think this may have been my favorite. When I first felt like God was calling me to do this, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect. What I gleaned from the last 12 weeks has been incredible. God has shown me such wonderful and very cool things through my time with Him and the willingness to step out in faith.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to complete these 84 days and to do with with such a fantastic group of women at the Taste For Truth Support Group has been beyond amazing. What a blessing!

If you missed out on the last challenge. There is a new one starting on March 31st at the Taste For Truth Support Group. Join us!

Also, for the final wrap-up video of the challenge: 12 Week Renewing the Mind – Week 12 Wrap-up

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Final Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes 7 days, + God glorifying music 5 days, kept my food boundaries 7 days, and exercised 5 days for at least 15 minutes.
Released 0.6 lbs the twelfth week :)*
Challenge Total: -10 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
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RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 7

We’re half-way through this challenge and no doubt, those who are pressing through are experiencing change that only comes through the power of the Holy Spirit. Last week we addressed taking inventory of outside influences which may be counteracting our renewing of the mind efforts. This week, we will be focused on the physical parts of us again with an emphasis on exercise.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (ESV)

 Your Body, A Temple

I know it seems crazy to be doing a weight-loss challenge where exercise isn’t even introduced until week 7. That’s ok, I’ve been called much worse than crazy. This doesn’t mean I haven’t exercised for the past six weeks, quite the contrary, but this week we’re going to renew our minds about it so we can think God’s thoughts on the matter.

For years I only saw exercise in terms of how it affected my weight or made me look. I treated my body like a temple alright, but I focused on the “temple of Jules” and not the “temple of the Holy Spirit”. Exercise was about making me look good, allowing me to eat whatever I wanted, or trying to regain a figure I had lost.

Exercise, fitness, workout stats, flat abs, toned arms… they were an idol in my life. I bowed to them like I bowed to food. I spent years believing lies and living in utter fear of being overweight. As so often is the case, life happened and I could no longer practice my “exercise religion”. Eventually, “that thing which I feared came upon me” (Job 3:25) and I found myself classified as “obese”.

I tried for a while to get back what I had lost, but I was still trying in my own strength and still worshipping all the wrong things. It would be many years and countless injuries later that I would discover a much healthier way to view exercise.

Most would agree physical exercise is important for the health and wellbeing of our bodies. Even the Proverbs 31 woman understood the need to be physically strong so she could endure the day ahead. (Proverbs 31:17). Exercise helps all of our bodily processes function better. It also improves our mood and lowers blood sugar. When our bodies are strong, we are less prone to injury. And yet, none of these have anything to do with fitting into a size two dress or looking great in a swimsuit.

There is a vast difference in focus when we use exercise to aid our vanity as opposed to doing it to honor and glorify the Lord. One feeds our flesh and one feeds our spirit. We are to be good stewards of what He has given us to care for. Unfortunately, so many of us end up worshipping the temple (or berating it) rather than worshipping the One Who made it.

Which leads me to the focus of this week. Yes, we are going to exercise, but we are going to ask God to keep it in proper perspective. One way to do this is to thank God after every workout for the ability to accomplish the task. I often thank God for my legs and joints after a run because I know, from my days on the injured list, that without these things, I couldn’t run.

You see, it is all about perspective. Are we grateful for the ability to move our bodies and offer our workouts to God as a form of praise? Or, are we bitterly lacing up our shoes because we ate a box of donuts the day before, and now we must pay the price? Perhaps we live in a third category of feeling guilty for not exercising. I spent years in the latter two categories and can tell you they are not the best way.

“I Can’t Want To”

When my oldest daughter was three, she would often say, “I can’t want to” when asked to do anything she was less than thrilled about. Maybe that’s how you feel about exercise. You think you “can’t want to”, but is that the truth? Doesn’t the Bible say we can do all things through Christ? (Philippians 4:13)

Sure, exercise is difficult, but a funny thing happens once you build the habit of exercising regularly for the right reasons. After a little bit, you actually want to do it. You begin to notice you feel better physically and mentally, and when you add praising God, the “want to” comes even faster.

Each day you set aside the old negative mindsets around exercise and you work-out with God, it gets easier. Now, obviously, you need to choose something that is somewhat enjoyable to you, or at a minimum something which interests you. I’ve done various forms of exercise over the years and, while figure skating and taekwondo rank pretty high on my list, I much prefer to be outside in God’s creation. This is one reason I enjoy running, walking, and hiking the most.

Maybe you think you’re too out of shape to exercise. Well, then it’s time for a trip to the doctor. If your doctor clears you for moderate activity, there are many things you can do. You don’t have to just sit on the sidelines, but you also don’t have to run hurdles in the one hundred yard dash. Pick some form of movement and get started. The most important part of whatever exercise program you choose is to do it to the glory of God.

“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” ~ Psalm 119:36 (ESV)

Week 7 – We’re going to add 15 minutes of exercise at least three days a week as we continue to actively renew our minds by keeping the daily 20 minute appointment with God beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Don’t forget to get that background music going and to renew your mind any time you are tempted to or actually do break your boundaries. Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 20 minutes a day, + God glorifying music, & kept my food boundaries.
I’m up 1.6 the sixth week :)*
Challenge Total: 4 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
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RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 5

We’re a third of the way through this challenge as we begin week five. Last week we went on a treasure hunt. This week, we’re engaging in praising the Lord.

 “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!” ~ Psalm 150 (ESV)

Worthy of Praise 

It is my prayer that we are beginning to see how great and awesome God is. I hope we are recognizing that He is indeed worthy of our praise.

Recently, I heard of a man who had a problem with God “commanding” us to worship Him. In fact, he was so against it, he refused to worship unless he “wanted to”. He didn’t want a “god” who demanded praise.

You see, he viewed God as though He were a human tyrant demanding to be worshipped for the purpose of benefiting Himself. I must say, I would be leary of a “god” like that too.

Thankfully, the One True God is self-less and sacrificial. He is for His children, not against them. Contrary to what some believe, God doesn’t tell us to worship Him alone for His benefit. It is for ours. God knows the pitfalls we’ll encounter when we value anything above Him and He wants us to avoid that pain. Many of us can attest to living in those pits. I know I have scars and extra pounds which testify to bowing at the wrong alter. You probably do too.

This is precisely why He sent His Son to die in our place on the cross. He wants us near. He longs for a relationship with us, not to complete Him, but to complete us as His dearly loved Creation.

Let’s consider for a moment His Son, Jesus Christ. We’ve all heard the catch phrase, “What Would Jesus Do.” Most Christians would say He is a good example of how we should live in this world. Well, what did He do when presented with the opportunity to worship something other than God?

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.’” Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him. ~ Matthew 4:8-11 (ESV)

In a sermon titled, You Shall Worship the Lord Your God, John Piper paints a beautiful picture of us (as a peasant) playing outside the castle with the Prince (Jesus). Then, we’re invited to enter the castle to meet His Father. Jesus immediately kneels and brings His face to the ground before The King. He bows, not out of fear of wrath, but out of a deep love and devotion and respect. I highly doubt any one of us would still be standing there thinking, “You want me to bow to You? I don’t think so.”

Jesus would bow because He has a full understanding of who God is and what He can do. He understands how great the Father’s love is for us. We would bow initially because we’re following the Son’s lead. Then, as we begin to get even a tiny inkling of the magnitude of God, we will find that praise and worship are a natural, gladly given, response.

“Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, mighty in battle! Lift up your heads, O gates! And lift them up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory! Selah” ~ Psalm 24:8-10 (ESV)

So, beginning this week we’re going to increase our time to 20 minutes beginning with praise and worship. By now, we have been praying scripture prayers on overcoming idolatry, unbelief, and pride, all of which attest to the awesomeness of God. We have also listed out many reasons God deserves our praise and worship through our week of “treasure hunting”. You can begin there with your time of praise and worship, but feel free to add on. You may also choose to sing.

”Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, But to Your name give glory, Because of Your mercy, Because of Your truth.”

~ Psalm 115:1 (NKJV)

Week 5 – We’re going to add to our daily habit of renewing our minds by increasing it to 20 minutes per day beginning with praise/worship, confession of sins, and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 20 minutes with any method you wish. Also, keep that second appointment during the day that is about five minutes long. During this time, renew your mind specifically about your boundaries (what tempts you to want to break them, why you need boundaries…etc). Be sure to take full advantage of Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling.

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download this week’s PDF.

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 15 minutes a day & kept my food boundaries.
I’m down 0.2 the fourth week :)*
Challenge Total: 4.8 lbs
*for more commentary on this weigh in, join the TFTSG.
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RYM 12 Week Challenge: Week 3

We are already beginning week three of our “Renewing the Mind Intensive” Challenge. I want to encourage you to continue renewing your mind each day. The mirror exercise mentioned last week is difficult for some in the beginning, so press on, it will get easier.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. ~ Psalm 16:6-8 (NIV)

Choosing Food Boundaries

This week we are going to focus on our “body” and set some food boundaries. This is the place where I will probably lose some people. You’re thinking, “Wait, I thought this was a Bible study about weight loss, not a diet program!” Let me reassure you, this is NOT a diet program. I am not asking you to diet, I am asking you to consider setting some boundary lines which will benefit your body.

You guys know how much I love Barb Raveling’s books and website. She has a wonderful gift of being able to zero in on a lie like a heat seeking missile. Often in her books she talks about how we have boundaries in most areas of our lives, but seem to think it’s ridiculous to have boundaries in regard to food. Oops, guilty.

Let that sink in… how many areas of your life do you have boundaries? Certain words pop into my mind like: budgets, fidelity, manners, property lines, schedules, laws, oven mitts…etc. Yes, living within boundaries is something we already do and is absolutely good for us. However, but we don’t always feel this way when it comes to food. This is why it is so important to renew our minds about our boundaries. We must see them in the light of the truth.

The truth is, eating anything and everything we want, whenever and in whatever quantity we want, doesn’t feel great? Well, maybe temporarily, but go with me for a moment to the “morning after”. Think about all those times you’ve woken to that food hangover filled with regret. The bloating, the guilt, the frustration… etc., none of it is pleasant.

Give me a second… I’m really feeling this one… nope, not pleasant at all.

Boundaries benefit us because they prompt us to stop and assess the situation before we end up dishonoring God and our bodies. Choosing boundaries can be somewhat difficult because we often fear they will take the “fun” out of life. Come on people, is it really fun? Be honest.

Fortunately, our boundary lines can and will fall in pleasant places if we choose wisely and then renew our minds to stave off our fleshly desires to dance around outside them with reckless abandon.

One of my favorite resources for renewing my mind about my boundaries is Barb Raveling’s little book, I Deserve a Donut . If you’re joining me in this challenge, it is time to set some food boundaries (if you haven’t already). If you aren’t sure what boundaries to set, turn to the “Appendix: Boundaries” section of I Deserve a Donut. Barb has a list of questions and some other information about “Lifelong boundaries”. Or you can check out these links:

Choosing Your Boundaries…

Now it’s time to make some decisions. We’re going to choose a set of healthful food boundaries today, or at least by the end of week 3 (next Friday).

In deciding on my own boundaries, I’ve come up with some criteria that has helped me:

  • Simple – too many rules increases my risk of breaking them and can feel overwhelming to keep.
  • Clear – I know exactly where the lines are – no guessing. Saying, “Eat less sugar” is really vague and could be subject to interpretation… “Well, I ate less sugar today than yesterday” or “I ate less sugar than at lunch” or “I ate less sugar than my husband.” Where is the line? How do I know if I’ve avoided sugar enough to honestly say I’ve lived within my boundary line? I don’t. When my boundaries are unclear, they leave a gaping door for the enemy to convince me I’ve blown them when I haven’t… or I’ve kept them when I haven’t.
  • Good Fit – my boundaries are loose enough to allow for real life but tight enough to still support my goals (maintenance, weight loss, overcoming food worship, health). That line should say, “This is far enough, take it up with God.”
  • Yours – don’t choose a set of boundaries simply because someone else is doing it. We’ve all fallen for it. A friend shares how she’s dropped a ridiculous amount of weight doing such and such… so naturally, we think the diet must be the answer. This is not a “one size fits all” type of thing. Sometimes we have to swim against the current, and that’s ok. If I “own” my boundaries I’ll be less likely to be swayed by every mention of every diet out there.

 Start by writing out what you need from a set of boundaries and then find some plans that meet those requirements. Next, write your boundaries on a separate sheet of paper. Make sure they meet the list above.

On the same piece of paper, list all the reasons you love these boundaries. That’s right, I want you to love your boundaries… not the same way you love God or your family of course. That would be silly.

Now you’re ready to begin living and moving and “being” within these boundary lines.

Week 3 – we’re going to continue building the habit to renew our minds for at least 15 minutes per day beginning with confession of sins and the “who I am in Christ” mirror exercise. Finish up your 15 minutes with any method you wish focusing on renewing your mind about your body (boundaries). I’m going to suggest the chapter on “Overcoming Pride” from Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word: Breaking Free From Spiritual Strongholds and the “Lies that Make You Eat” section of I Deserve a Donut by Barb Raveling (particularly the “I’ll Start Tomorrow” questions/verses).

For “day by day” suggestions, join the Taste For Truth Support Group and download the PDF.

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Weekly Challenge Check-in:
Renewed my mind for at least 15 minutes every day last week.
I’m up 1 the second week 🙂

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keeping momentum when the “good feeling” dries up

Most of us are great at starting a weight loss journey. We pick a plan. We stock our fridge and pantry. We weigh/measure ourselves. Maybe we even take “before photos”. We can’t wait to get started. We’re going to transform our lives. This time will be different. This time we’ll keep it off. This time we won’t cave.

Unfortunately, the “good feeling” often dissipates like water in the desert. It lasts only about five days for two thirds of those who embark on a new journey. By 19 days it’s gone for almost everyone else. These sojourners wither up and quit. By the end of 4 weeks, there are but a few lone flowers hanging on for dear life.

So how do we make it past the honeymoon phase with our motivation still intact?

Willpower

Some of us will be able to white-knuckle it to our goal weight with sheer willpower. The drawback with willpower though is that our supply is limited. We wake in the morning with a supply of it, but the more we have to exercise it, the more we use. Once it’s gone… it’s usually gone for the rest of the day.

If all that is keeping you in the zone is willpower, you will eventually run out of it and cave. That’s one reason trying days will send us to the drive thru faster than you can say, “Good gollie, I’ve blown my boundaries.”

If you have a myriad of lies bouncing around in your head all day, you’ll run out even faster because every time a lie comes up, you must use a bit of willpower to ignore it or process it.

Willpower doesn’t work. Not in the dailiness of this journey anyway. It might get you through those first few days, but beyond that, you’re at the mercy of your limited supply.

Boundaries

Some of us will lean heavily on our boundaries. We’ll bow down to our boundaries and expect them to motivate us. We’ll put so much stock in our boundaries that it becomes a religion in and of itself.

We expect our boundaries to save us from ourselves. We expect them to keep us from giving in to our bad behaviors.

Unfortunately, all our boundaries have the power to do is say…. “Warning, you’re approaching the line… warning, you’ve crossed the line.” We are still free to live inside them or dance about outside with reckless abandon.

Boundaries are there to say, “that’s far enough”. Whether we listen or not is entirely up to us. They cannot save us. They cannot transform us.

Accountability

Obviously I’m a proponent of accountability if I facilitate an online support group and attend Weight Watcher meetings. Accountability can be a good thing.

However, some of us will lean heavily on others and while accountability is certainly a fantastic motivator, it has its drawbacks too. Like willpower and boundaries, we are the ones responsible for making it work. We have to take the time to be accountable to ourselves and others.

If we rely too much on others, we never learn to stand on our own two feet. We can become dependent on waiting for someone else to say, “I’m holding you accountable to keep your boundaries today.” If no one holds us accountable, we give up because we haven’t learned to hold ourselves accountable.

Even if we do get good at holding ourselves accountable, there’s still that little problem with having a limited supply of willpower. Yes, holding ourselves accountable can tap that resource dry.

Results

20160317_074833 (2)Some of us will rely heavily on results to keep us motivated. I’ll not deny it. It is most certainly motivating to see that scale move down. Unfortunately, it isn’t realistic to believe the scale will always move in the right direction. Our weight will fluctuate and often it it totally out of our control when it does.

So, basing our motivation on that scale is a bad idea. If I had used the scale as my sole motivator, I would have quit last week when it didn’t move despite living within my boundaries all week (and had barely moved down the week before). I had two weeks in a row of disappointing weigh ins and it had nothing to do with whether I kept my boundaries or not. I had kept them.

Good Things

Don’t get me wrong, all of these are good things to have in your toolbelt. Using your limited supply of willpower wisely is important. Having boundaries reminds us that eating what we want, when we want isn’t beneficial. Accountability can be an excellent tool when we keep it in proper perspective. And of course, it is certainly motivating to get results.

Yes, they are all good things, and can even carry you a good distance on this journey. The problem is, they don’t transform you from the inside out. Other than willpower, they are all external and willpower is limited.

Renewing the Mind

God tells us in Romans 12:2, “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.”

We are transformed by God through the renewing of our minds. When we take the lies captive and replace them with truth, God changes our beliefs. When our beliefs change, our actions follow.

What we believe in our heart of hearts motivates us to either keep our boundaries or to ditch them. That is why it is more important to rely on truth than our feelings. Our feelings will be tossed about by life’s circumstances. God’s Truth doesn’t change.

When we begin to rely on God more and more for strength and trust Him to bring about transformation, a really cool thing happens. We begin to look to Him for the motivation we need to keep going. His strength is limitless (unlike our limited willpower).

When we focus on building a habit of renewing our minds to the mind of Christ, a peace washes over us. It’s a peace which surpasses all understanding. It’s a peace which will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.

Something We Need to Accept

Traveling this road to freedom from our food/weight/body image strongholds is usually not an overnight thing. It takes hours upon hours of removing the lies at the root of our old behaviors and pouring in copious amounts of God’s Truth.

It takes time and how long depends on the depth and magnitude of the lies. But there is hope! I’ve seen it in my own life. When I began building a practice of constantly renewing my mind last June (2015) I had to have faith that God would do what He said He would do. I didn’t see much fruit in the beginning.

Then, little by little, my attitude toward my weight and body began to change. It sparked new life into my motivation to keep going, so I poured in even more Truth. God revealed lie after lie and taught me how to recognize them. He applied His truth through the time spent in His Word and prayer.

My weight fluctuated a lot in those beginning months. Up, down, up, down, stay the same, up, down… and so on. I kept pouring in truth and then last September (2015) I went through Barb Raveling’s book, “Taste For Truth” for the first time (currently on my third trip through the book). She walked me through choosing boundaries and once God led me to the boundaries I need at this stage of my journey, all the truth I’d spent months pouring in began to turn the tide.

Chains broke… the captive looked up and saw the light… He lifted me out of the pit and although I’ve had slips here and there, God has never left me or forsaken me.

To date, since last June, I have released 25 pounds (most of which has been in the last few months). However, I have released far more in the way of lies and anxiety and fear during that time.

My motivation is intact because God is faithful. When my delight is in Him and not in food/weight/body image, my cup runneth over and I don’t have to fear the joy of the Lord drying up.

“Good Feelings” will come and go, but the Word of our Lord stands forever!

Psalm 121 (NKJV)

I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul.
The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and even forevermore.

ditch the scale

Actually, the title could be the entire blog post:

DITCH THE SCALE!

Do it. Right now. Stop weighing yourself. Has weighing yourself ever brought you long term satisfaction? NO. What do you hope to accomplish when you step on the scale? What do you really learn when you see that number? Is it uplifting? Does it make you feel good about yourself every time? Does it add quality to your life? Does it increase your libido? Does is add years to your time on earth? Does it help others? Does it benefit society? Does it enhance your worship of God? Does it make a difference in the world? Does it feed the starving? Does it clothe the homeless? Does it add to your financial security? Does is make your children smile? Does it create fond memories? Does it love you? Do you love it?

So much time spent measuring ourselves on the scale. So much wasted time. Let’s start living beyond the scale…. you know… life, that place where the really important stuff happens.

jeans, oh how I’ve missed you

jeans022013I’ve been doing this “raw thang” (811rv) for 60 days now… and to mark the milestone, I tried on a pair of jeans I haven’t been able to wear since before I stopped dieting 5 months ago. Right after I stopped dieting, I knew I gained a few pounds, but I could tell that I’d stopped gaining before I started doing raw.

Well, today I got the jeans on. No, I don’t consider them ready for public wearing yet, but soon! I took a photo of them laying on top of the jeans I’ve been wearing (left). The darker pair is “stretchy”, whereas the lighter, and smaller, pair really doesn’t give at all.

At my largest, the bigger pair was actually tight on me. That was back in January of 2009. Even though I grew back into them last year, they were never as tight as they were back in 2008/2009. Back then, I was painfully close to moving up another size (shudder). So, I know I didn’t regain all the weight I lost while on WW in 2009 (75 lbs).

The smaller pair of jeans pictured were purchased after losing 75 pounds. They were somewhat roomy on me then (would wear them when bloated and unable to wear the smaller ones lol). So, I know I will shrink even more than this.

Other articles of clothing that I’ve gotten into are my favorite PJ bottoms (wearing them in my birthday cake post), and my running tights/tops.

My hope is that those who have been skeptical of whether or not I’m losing weight… since I’m not weighing myself, will be convinced that my body is indeed changing. I really don’t know what I weigh, nor do I want to guess. For now, I’m just excited about the prospect of wearing my jeans again very soon.