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Saturday, September 20, 2014

north


I don't know about you, but when I think about great ethnic cuisine, Iceland doesn't immediately come to mind. However, the country as a whole fascinates me, so when I saw North, a new cookbook by Gunnar Karl Gislason and Jody Eddy, I very much wanted to read it. And I was blown away.

I love this cookbook for so many reasons. For starters, it is huge...a heavy, beautiful hardcover with a thick, glossy dust jacket. For another thing, it is far more than just a cookbook...it is a book that celebrates the landscape, the people and the traditions of Iceland. It includes stunning photography and a series of interviews with craftsmen and farmers who supply local, traditional foods, as well as travel tips, should you ever want to visit the country.

And then there are the recipes. If you are in the Weston A. Price traditional foods camp, you will love them. Fresh, homemade butter. Fish Roe. Kale. Homemade stock. Liver. To be perfectly honest, many of the recipes are far too involved for me to try (Buttermilk espuma, pickled and charred cucumbers and hay-smoked rye bread powder, for instance!), but some of them, like skyr, blueberries and cream, might actually find their way onto our table. If you don't know what skyr is (I didn't!), it's a thick, homemade cheese with a texture similar to Greek yogurt.

You can order North here.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for this review.

Friday, September 19, 2014

when i fail...and a few resources

This is my final post on a serious topic this week, one that has been an issue in my life and in the lives of countless other women that I know. My struggles with food and eating disorders have controlled me for years, and it is only in the last few months that I believe I have finally been able to begin to break free. I share my story in the hopes that it will help others who have travelled the same path.

Here you can read part one, part two, part three, part four and part five.

There are days when I fall back into old thought patterns and old behaviors. There are days that I turn to food for comfort. There are days that I have consumed half of the leftovers in the house before I come up for air and remember that I have just broken every guideline that I have set for myself. There are days that I feel insecure and I really couldn't care less about wholeness and victory and treating my body kindly and I just want to eat. Everything. There are days when ice cream wins over journaling.

So what do I do when I fail?

In the old days, I would stand in front of the mirror and rail on myself. "What is the matter with you? How could you be so weak? You will never win this battle. You're destined to be a slave to food forever." Then I would curl up in a fetal position in bed and fall asleep to the drumming of self-hatred in my soul. I would wake up the next morning and make myself pay. No sugar. No wheat. No dairy. Raw vegetables only. Maybe a disgusting greenish-brown juice. I would dress in frumpy clothes that matched my feeling of value (or lack thereof).

When one of my children fails, my goal is to gently point out where they have gone wrong and then to restore them. That's what I do with myself now. I acknowledge my fall, I trace my behavior back to the source and recognize where I fell prey to one of those ugly lies that rears its head now and then. I counter the lie with truth from God's Word.

Then I move on with kindness. Wear something that makes me feel pretty. Fix a cup of peppermint tea. Read a good book for a few minutes. Go on a walk outside with my family. Take a hot bath.

The next morning, I fix myself a nutritious breakfast, something that I especially love to eat (like oatmeal with banana, tahini and dark chocolate. It's my favorite weird flavor combination.) I put yesterday behind me, and I move on.

*****************************************************************************


I have stumbled upon a few resources in my frantic, late-night searches for answers that have helped me tremendously and I list them here, not in any particular order, in the hopes that they will help others as well. These aren't affiliate links...I simply share them because I believe in them.

I am very hesitant to recommend some of these resources because they come from a decidedly non-Christian standpoint and I don't want anyone to think that I endorse the authors' views on other things. Unfortunately, I have found very few practical, helpful resources that deal with the issue from a Biblical perspective. So if you check these out, please, please do so with caution and discernment.

How to Break Free From Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth

Why Weight? A Guide to Ending Compulsive Eating by Geneen Roth

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything by Geneen Roth

 Geneen's books do include a certain amount of her blend of Far Eastern religion and New Age, so I do not agree with her view of God and spirituality. Neither do I endorse her political/lifestyle/morality views, which are obviously far to the left of where I stand. You will occasionally find profanity in what she writes. But if you can get past that, her research and experience with food issues on a broader level are very helpful.

Can You Stay For Dinner?  This is actually a food blog, but the author, Andie Mitchell, lost over a hundred pounds,  fought emotional eating and won, and she tells her story in many of her posts. Her blog was my first clue that my experience was more common than I realized, that I wasn't crazy. She does focus a lot on weight loss, which I try not to do, but there's some good stuff there on the "whys" of turning to food for comfort. She has gone on to write a memoir, due to be published next year, and she has also done a TED talk where she addresses  some of her issues. Again, please don't come away with the idea that I endorse her views on life in general...but when it comes to food, she has a lot of insight.

Intuitive Eating I have not actually read this book, but it looks to be along the lines of everything else that I have read, and it has been endorsed by some people that I have read and liked.


I do want to say, in closing, that I don't believe all structured eating plans to be bad. There are people who have benefited hugely from eating  Paleo , or Vegan, or juicing, or going on the Trim Healthy Mama diet. I have gained valuable nutritional information from every diet that I have researched and tried, and I still implement aspects of them into the way that we eat. However, for people who are wired like me (not everyone is), food and dieting quickly become an obsession and get out of control, and I now believe that we must scale back in order to achieve balance.

This is the end of my series, but not the end of my story. To everyone who is in the trenches with me, let me say this: There is hope. There is always hope. Freedom is possible.

 If I can do it, then anyone can.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

embracing emotion

While I normally try to keep things light and cheerful here on this blog, I am tackling a more serious topic this week, one that has been an issue in my life and in the lives of countless other women that I know. My issues with food and eating disorders have controlled me for years, and it is only in the last few months that I believe I have finally been able to begin to break free. I share my story in the hopes that it will help others who have travelled the same path. I would be remiss if I don't mention that many of the concepts that I have learned have been through the work of Geneen Roth, a leading expert on eating disorders. While I don't endorse her views on spirituality, her insights on issues pertaining to emotional/compulsive eating have been invaluable to me on this journey.

Read part 1 here.

Read part 2 here.

Read part 3 here.

Read part 4 here.



It's a valid concern: If I binge eat to numb my emotions, to avoid feeling pain or anger or boredom or inadequacy...then if I stop bingeing, I have to feel those emotions. And I don't think I am strong enough to bear them.

Emotions, feelings--they are what make us fully alive. As a teen, I read Lois Lowry's book The Giver, in which a world had been crafted that was void of emotion. No love, no grief, no joy, no struggle...just dead, smooth, expressionless existence. It's a scary place.

True life, true freedom comes, not when we run from and numb our feelings but when we lean into them, when we embrace them, when we accept them as the glorious, terrible, incredible colors of our world.

Is it hard? One word: yes. Is it worth it? One word: yes.

When we start to experience sorrow or pain or frustration, our instinct for self-preservation causes us to immediately turn the other way. I am working to train myself to turn into the emotion rather than to turn away from it. To look it square in the eye, to let it wash over me, to immerse myself in it. And you know what? Often, it's not as bad as I initially thought it would be. I don't go crazy, often I find myself saying, "This is what I was so afraid of? I can handle this!"

There are big things, of course. Great loss. Great trauma. Terminal illness. Things that are every bit as bad as we would expect them to be, or worse. And in those cases, I believe that we often need a coping mechanism. But food is not a good one to choose. Food doesn't take away the pain, it adds another pain on top of what is already there. Surrounding ourselves with people who love us, journaling, walking in the woods, sitting in quiet meditation, music, a creative outlet--these are things that will help us to embrace and work through the reality of our situation, rather than causing us more grief. This summer, I lost someone who was very dear to me. There were times that I turned to food for comfort. But there were other times when I spent an hour in my garden, tending my plants while I cried and prayed and remembered. I never failed to feel better afterwards.

I have never felt better after a binge.

The flip side of embracing and working through negative emotions is that we are able to fully experience positive emotion. Great joy. Great love. An exuberant, unbounded zest for life that we never thought would be possible. A confidence in ourselves. A confidence in God. Without pain, without brokenness, there could not be joy. There could not be wholeness. To grieve deeply means that we have loved deeply.

At the end of my life, I want to know that I have lived, not that I have spent my years in escape. I want to know that I have sucked the marrow out of life, that I have felt everything that could be felt, that I have embraced all of it--the good, the bad and the ugly--with my whole heart.

I dreamed the other night that I was running. It wasn't the painful, vanity-induced exercise that I have experience in my adult years, but the full-on, effortless flight of childhood. I grew up in the high mountain desert of southeastern Arizona, and I would run and run and run for the sheer joy of it, for the wind in my hair. I felt winged. This was partly because I was in better physical shape than I am now (!), but I believe that the main difference in then and now is that then, I wasn't weighed down with the emotional baggage that I carry with me now. A child embraces emotion. She cries hard, she laughs hard, she feels deeply, she lets things go. When I woke up from my dream, I felt such disappointment that I still lay in bed, heavy and tired.

I want wings again. And I believe that they are within my grasp.






Wednesday, September 17, 2014

mindful

While I normally try to keep things light and cheerful here on this blog, I am tackling a more serious topic this week, one that has been an issue in my life and in the lives of countless other women that I know. My issues with food and eating disorders have controlled me for years, and it is only in the last few months that I believe I have finally been able to begin to break free. I share my story in the hopes that it will help others who have travelled the same path. I would be remiss if I don't mention that many of the concepts that I have learned have been through the work of Geneen Roth, a leading expert on eating disorders. While I don't endorse her views on spirituality, her insights on issues pertaining to emotional/compulsive eating have been invaluable to me on this journey.

Read part 1 here.

Read part 2 here.

Read part 3 here.

Overcoming emotional eating doesn't happen overnight.

The steps that got me to this point took place over a matter of years, and re-training my heart, mind and body to new thought and behavior patterns requires effort and discipline. Some days it feels like two steps forward, three steps back, but I can look back now and see progress. It began with recognizing and accepting truth. Next I had to decide to treat myself kindly. The third step, at least for me, is to live mindfully. Intentionally. With awareness. To take myself off of cruise control and to think about what I do.

The thing about binge eating, or even emotional eating that doesn't go as far as a binge, is that you have to mentally "check out" to some degree. On the really bad days, it's not uncommon for a person to consume ten thousand calories in sugar and junk food and then to wake up, almost as if in a they were in a trance, and say "what in the world did I just do?" Haven't we all, in moments of stress, grabbed a bag of chips or nuts or crackers and taken our anxiety out in the crunching, without ever really tasting the food?

My days now are filled with questions. Sometimes I ask them out loud.

"Am I hungry?" If the answer is yes, then I eat. If the answer is no, then I ask myself, "Why do I want to eat when I am not hungry? The answer to this one varies. I'm bored. I'm tired. I'm worried about _________ (get specific). The baby won't stop crying and the kids won't stop asking questions and I feel like I'm going to lose my mind. I'm scared. I'm questioning myself. I'm angry.

Then I ask myself, "Is there something besides food that would help me deal with this emotion?"

Many times, just digging to the root of my desire to eat is enough to make me not want to eat any more. If it isn't, If I still feel that I simply must eat something, I may still let myself have food. But I am doing it as the result of a conscious choice, not because a stressed-out robot has taken control of my body.

I'm learning to pay attention to fullness as well, and training myself to usually stop when I reach a point of feeling satiated. This takes practice! So many times, I finish a meal or a snack and feel overly full and I say, "Rats, I forgot all about noticing my full cues!" But I remember to notice more and more often.

I am trying to eat sitting down, off of a plate, and without distraction. This means that I try not to eat out of boxes or bags, I try not to eat while I am fixing a meal or cleaning up afterwards, I try to not eat in front of the TV, computer, or with a book or magazine. I try to just focus on the food in front of me, on the meal that we are enjoying. Again, I don't do this perfectly. Old habits die hard, and I often forget until I have already grabbed some crackers out of a box or eaten leftovers off of the kids' plates.

I eat in front of people. It's amazing how hard this was at first...I was so used to hiding, to sneaking, to the guilt associated with food. Raise your hand if you have ever hidden in the bathroom with a piece of cake. And then quickly shoved the dirty plate in the dishwasher, wiped your mouth and practiced your nonchalant expression before your husband walked into the house. Yep, been there!

I can eat anything that I want, any time that I want it. But I must think about it before I do.

Not only must I think about hunger and fullness and about my reason for eating, but I also must think about what I eat, and decide whether or not it is really what I want, the kindest way to treat my body. I might think that I really want a piece of cake, but I know that when I eat it, I will instantly get a headache and feel sluggish and sleepy. So I pass. Another time, we might be celebrating a birthday and I know that having a piece of cake will not only taste good but make me feel happy and part of the celebration. So I try to make my decision based on what is the very best thing for me at that moment. One morning, I might crave something solid and comforting like oatmeal or toast. Another day, when I really stop and ask myself what I am wanting/needing, it might be something cool and light, like fruit. If I am really craving a chocolate brownie with icing and sprinkles for breakfast, I am allowed to eat it--as long as I think about what I am doing, as long as I don't simply react and scarf, as long as I believe it to be the kindest thing for my body.

I have found that if I crave the brownie but make myself eat eggs instead, I end up eating eggs and toast and fruit and leftover macaroni and cheese and banana bread and cereal and peanut butter off of a spoon...and then I end up eating the brownie anyway, because that's what I've wanted all along!

Sugar isn't the greatest thing from a nutritional standpoint and in general, I would say that it's best to limit it. But stress and rigidity is also unhealthy, and  there are times when I believe that socially, emotionally or experientially, the healthiest thing is to go ahead and have the dessert!

When I first gave myself permission to eat anything, I felt a little giddy, and I have probably gone overboard in trying things that I haven't been able to eat without guilt in years. I had a donut at church the other day. Me. A donut, people! And I didn't even hide in Stephen's office to do it! Overall though, I find that as time goes on and the "forbidden fruit" factor is gone, I don't want nearly as much junk food as I did at first. As I learn to care for myself, I realize that I want to eat in a way that makes me feel good.

I'm still figuring all of this out. But every day of eating with awareness is one more step toward food freedom.

Monday, September 15, 2014

kindness

While I normally try to keep things light and cheerful here on this blog, I am tackling a more serious topic this week, one that has been an issue in my life and in the lives of countless other women that I know. My issues with food and eating disorders have controlled me for most of my life, and it is only in the last few months that I believe I have finally been able to begin to break free. I share my story in the hopes that it will help others who have travelled the same path. I would be remiss if I don't mention that many of the concepts that I have learned have been through the work of Geneen Roth, a leading expert on eating disorders. While I don't endorse her views on spirituality, her insights on issues pertaining to emotional/compulsive eating have been invaluable to me on this journey.

 
Meet Amy. Amy is twelve years old, not a little girl but not yet woman, at that awkward and difficult stage when she doesn't quite feel as if her body belongs to her and she questions her place and her purpose in the world. One day recently, she climbed off of the school bus with tears rolling down her cheeks, shoulders heaving with silent sobs. She had been the brunt of a cruel joke at school and had been subjected to criticism by fellow students. Seated at the kitchen table, she poured the story out to her mom. How she had been called fat. And ugly. And clumsy.

Amy's mom stared at her daughter for a moment. Then she said slowly, "Well, what if they're right?"

Amy looked up, startled.

"After all, have you looked in the mirror lately?" Her mom asked. "You aren't exactly Barbie. Those extra desserts you've enjoyed have found their way to your middle. What were you thinking to eat that chocolate cake last night anyway? You know that it probably has a thousand calories in just one slice."

"But it was your birthday cake, and we were having a party--" Amy began.

"But YOU should have had more self-control," her mom countered. "How do you expect to lose weight eating like that? And how do you expect the other kids to like you if you don't lose weight? That's probably why you were turned down for the role that you wanted in the school play. No one wants to watch an actor who looks like you. Besides, you can't act. You look like a hippo up there on stage, lumbering around.

By now, Amy couldn't even respond. She stared at her hands while a suffocating physical pain stabbed its way through her chest.

"You'll never change what you look like," her mom said matter-of-factly. "You might as well accept the fact that you're a fat, worthless loser who will probably end up scrubbing floors at McDonalds. But here--" she reached for a Tupperware container from the top of the refrigerator. "I made chocolate chip cookies today. Eat one. Eat three. Eat the whole batch. At least while you're eating, you won't think about what happened at school today or how ugly you are or how you have no talent or how no man will ever want to marry you or how you will end up huge and alone and miserable. And when you have eaten them all, your stomach will hurt too much for you to think at all. That's the way that you deal with situations like this."

Do you want to shove a brick in Amy's mother's mouth?

Before you judge her too harshly, let me ask you a question. If it isn't ok for this fictional mom to treat her beautiful daughter this way, then what makes it ok for you and I to treat ourselves this way?

We would never allow our children to call someone stupid, or fat, or ugly. But we break our own rule on a regular basis when it comes to ourselves.

Why do we expect change to come when we attack and demean instead of build up?

This was a huge revelation to me: I treat myself with cruelty that I would never offer anyone else, and then I expect positive results to come out of that. I think that hatred will eventually produce happy change. I think that disgust and loathing will produce self-confidence and peace.

Change comes when we treat ourselves with respect and kindness. With dignity. When we recognize the value that God places on us. Kindness is a fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians. When we fail to extend it to ourselves as well as to those around us, we are walking in the flesh, not in the Spirit.

I'll tell you another crazy story about me. I have never let myself take naps. Even when I am exhausted, when I have been up all night with the baby, when I am about to fall over. When someone else is tired, I encourage them to nap (in the case of my toddlers, I  beg them to take one). But I won't grant that kindness to myself. In my mind, I don't deserve that luxury.

When we don't recognize our value, offering ourselves kindness feels selfish and egotistical. But in reality, it is a great gift that we can offer to those around us. It brings about wholeness and positive change in our life, which in turn makes us better wives, mothers, friends. Everyone that we know benefits.

It's a simple concept, really. When the voices in my head begin the negative self-talk, I am learning to stop and ask myself, "Is this kind?" If not, then I counter it with what is kind, with what I would say to anyone else in my situation. With truth.

And when I feel the need to binge, I stop and ask myself, "What is it that I am really needing here? A nap? A few minutes alone? A walk? A good book? A hug?" And when I figure out what it is that I need--I try to meet that need, just as I would meet the needs of anyone else.

Eating to cover up that need doesn't take it away. After I eat, it is still there, but now it has self-loathing and physical discomfort piled on top of it, and often I am too full and too numb to recognize it any longer.

Take every thought captive. Moment by moment. And watch yourself flourish under kindness, like a flower turned to the sun.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

why I have ditched diets

While I normally try to keep things light and cheerful here on this blog, I am tackling a more serious topic this week, one that has been an issue in my life and in the lives of countless other women that I know. My issues with food and eating disorders have controlled me for years, and it is only in the last few months that I believe I have finally been able to begin to break free. I share my story in the hopes that it will help others who have travelled the same path. I would be remiss if I don't mention that many of the concepts that I have learned have been through the work of Geneen Roth, a leading expert on eating disorders. While I don't endorse her views on spirituality, her insights on issues pertaining to emotional/compulsive eating have been invaluable to me on this journey.

Read Part One Here.


Food and I have always had a rocky relationship. A love/hate relationship. I have dieted since I was nine years old and a thoughtless comment that I had gotten chubby sent me into a spiral of negative behavior patterns. Somewhere along the way, I had the idea tattooed into my psyche that thin = valuable, likeable and happy. And since I want to be valuable, likeable and happy, I have spent the last 25 years trying to lose weight.

I went through an anorexic phase in my teen years. At 5' 7" tall, I weighed in at 91 pounds. I looked and felt sick but I snuck and hid in order to make it appear that I ate more than I did. I forced myself to run everywhere in order to burn calories, even when I was so weak that I could hardly move. It's only by the grace of God that I don't have some sort of permanent physical damage as a result of those years.

I have gone through multiple phases since then, some where I ate fairly normally, some where I once again starved myself, some where I occasionally ate compulsively to deal with stress, some where I binged regularly. With the advent of the internet, a whole new world of diets opened up to me. Now it was no longer a matter of calories in/calories out. It was about carbs and fats, glycemic index, macronutrients and superfoods. You name it, I have tried it. Low- carb high -fat, high-carb low-fat, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Trim Healthy Mama, raw foods, juicing, calorie counting, Weight Watchers points. Probably the only thing that I haven't tried is the HCG diet, and that is because hormones other than the ones that my body produces naturally scare me.

I have lain in bed at night and sobbed out my self-loathing after consuming an entire batch of chocolate chip cookies in one sitting. I have tried to beat myself into submission on a treadmill in punishment for eating pizza and pop tarts until I wanted to be sick. I have thrown food away in order to avoid eating it, only to dig it out of the trash can and eat it later. I have hidden packaging so that Stephen wouldn't know how much I had eaten.

Yep, I'm giving up all of my secrets here.

I knew in my head that it wasn't really about the food, that it was only a symptom of the great emptiness inside me. But I couldn't stop obsessing over food long enough to examine the reasons for the emptiness. Every diet brought about initial results but ultimately failed. And each failure confirmed my belief that I was inherently flawed, that I was worthless, that I had no self-control, that I was a disgusting, despicable person who no one could really love if they knew me the way that I knew me. So I would binge to numb the pain of that knowledge. Until I reached what I considered to be rock-bottom and chose a new diet to try. To start tomorrow morning. Because this time, it would work. I would conquer my sugar cravings with sheer willpower and determination. I would be thin if it killed me.

This may sound like the behavior of a completely mad woman, but I have read enough now to know that it's actually a fairly common pattern. Not everyone is like me ("thank God", you are probably saying), not everyone is geared to abuse food in this way, but most of us have our "thing" that we use to numb ourselves, to escape reality, to bolt when we get even close to facing  life and who we think we are. Maybe it's the internet, or movies, or legal drugs, or illegal drugs, or alcohol, or activity and friends. We distract ourselves because we consider our current situation to be impossible to face, too painful to deal with, too much for us to bear. Whether our current situation is as big as the loss of a loved one or as small as a teething baby who won't stop crying, or the size of our thighs--we run to something to avoid feeling the emotions connected with the situation.

I have been crushed by the guilt of it. I have walked with the Lord for most of my life, I am a missionary's wife, a pastor's wife, I am the mom who everyone thinks has it all together. I have a husband that most women dream of and one beautiful baby after another. My life is great. I should be joyful, fulfilled and walking the abundant life that Scripture promises. I love God. I talk to others about victory and overcoming and  His power to conquer any obstacle. And all the while I have felt like I was dying inside and I haven't been able to understand why He wasn't coming through for me.

Tired Christian clich├ęs like "Find your freedom in Christ" have done nothing for me. What is that supposed to mean when I have gotten stressed out and just eaten the entire refrigerator, when I stand in front of the mirror and feel fat and ugly and hate what I see, when I feel so very inadequate in every area of my life?

I have spent years trying to figure out why I am the way that I am, blaming other people for my insecurities, analyzing childhood events to discover the root of my seemingly endless hunger, feeling angry, feeling hopeless, begging God to help me to change. I have spent late nights reading blogs and websites to try to understand binge eating disorder and to find the magic cure. It can be helpful to acknowledge when or why a behavior started, and some of this introspection and research has been necessary. But the truth of the matter is that I am no longer a chubby nine-year-old, and once I recognize that, I no longer have to dwell there.

Geneen Roth, in her groundbreaking work on eating disorders, refers to what she calls "the world on our plates". Basically, this is the idea that everything we believe--about life, about ourselves, about God, about emptiness and fullness and fulfillment, is reflected in the way that we eat. She contends that when we face reality rather than running from it, when we sift through our lifetime of misconceptions to get to the core of truth, and when we embrace that truth, then our plates will reflect our freedom. We will no longer be enslaved by food.

Change has come at long last as I have been willing to embrace truth. About me. About God.

I have realized that I am the way that I am, I have behaved the way that I have behaved, because I have based my life on lies that have burrowed their way so deeply into my heart that I haven't been able to distinguish them from the reality of what is and who I was created to be.

The lies are too multiple to name, but here are a few:

People like me better when I'm thin.

I will be happy when I am thin.

I have no self-control.

There are popular people and unpopular people and I am one of the unpopular ones. It's just the way that I am.

If I admit a weakness, people won't like me.

I have to be strong in order for God to love me.

I'm shy.

I'm insecure.

If I eat a Hershey bar, I am a bad person. If I eat carrots, I am a good person.

When I dig down, past the lies, and I discover the truth: that I am a creation of God and as such, I have infinite value; that I have strength and self-control; that I am not more likeable or less likeable than anyone else--I am just me; that it's ok to admit weakness; that my shyness and insecurity are actually only a reflection of my belief about my value; that there is no "good" food or "bad" food and consuming one or the other doesn't make me good or bad--then, suddenly, I no longer need to diet.

I am no longer obsessed with being thin. I no longer have to stick to a rigid plan in order to feel in control. It is at once exhilarating and terrifying--exhilarating because it opens up a world of color and emotion and feelings that I have never allowed myself to experience before, terrifying because I don't yet fully trust myself. I am still afraid that if I give myself permission to eat anything I want, I will wake up with my head buried in a jar of nutella and my veins turned to solid sugar.

The truth is that when I am ok with being me, when I am secure in who I am and in Who God is,  my need for the nutella disappears.

For the first time in my life, I can go an entire day without thinking about the bag of chocolate chips in the freezer, without watching the clock for my next scheduled snack time, without fantasizing about meals for hours in advance. I can eat a meal with my family without denying myself bread or counting fat grams, or gagging down salad when I really want a piece of lasagna.

How will this affect my weight? I really have no idea. I might gain, I might lose, I might stay just where I am. But for the first time in my life, I'm not really worried about it.

Will I ever binge again? I know enough about myself and the nature of the beast to know that, realistically speaking, it will be an issue that I will always have to guard against. Any time I lose my focus and turn from truth, I will turn to food for comfort. So I don't know...but what I do know is that this journey is moment by moment by moment, and that the longer I walk in truth and freedom, the stronger I become.

I know this about God: that when we are willing to hand Him our weakness and our pain and our failures, He turns them to something good in our lives.

 I know that what has been my greatest struggle has become a doorway to my greatest victory.












Friday, September 12, 2014

the if only's

 
Fickle human creatures that we are, we so often fall into the trap of believing that something that we don't have will make us happy. A new house. A new car. A new location. Another baby. Losing weight. Cooler weather. Warmer weather. Ice cream. A relationship. More money. If we only had __________, then life would be good.

 
The fact of the matter is, that once we obtain that thing, whatever it is, we are still the same unhappy person. We are simply an unhappy person with a new car. Or a thinner body. Or a big bowl of ice cream. And when the car is in the garage and the ice cream is gone and we lay in bed by ourselves, we are left with the same longing for something that we don't have, something that perhaps we can't even define, an gnawing emptiness that doesn't go away.

 
I used to think that getting married would fix everything in my life. If I could only find Mr. Right, then all of my emotional, spiritual, mental and physical needs would be satisfied and I would be absolutely, perfectly happy.
 
I found Mr. Right, and he is wonderful--don't get me wrong. But I also found that he couldn't make me perfectly happy and that it was unfair of me to expect that of him. Talk about putting someone under pressure--"It's your responsibility to meet all of my needs, honey!"
 
I thought that if I had a baby, then I would be perfectly happy. And when my precious baby boy was born, I was frightened by the fact that he didn't fill that emptiness.

 
For so many years, I jumped from thing to thing to thing, expecting it to at long last do what no thing can do. And then I realized the incredible, blinding, liberating truth: that I have possessed everything that I need to fulfill me and make me happy all along.
 
It is being comfortable in my own skin.

 
Ultimately, of course, it comes from recognizing my value as a creation and a child of God. But on a more nitty-gritty level, I have had to recognize and sort through a number of misconceptions, I have had to dig down to the essence of who He made me to be--not who I believed that I had to be based on what someone has told me or expected of me. I have had to learn to recognize the enemy's voice that has lied--yes, LIED to me--about who I am. I believed for so many years that I was destined to be a wallflower, that I had always been a wallflower and that some people were just that way. I believed that I was shy and insecure, and I built my identity around that. I believed that I was awkward and couldn't carry on a good conversation. I believed that I didn't know how to be a good friend. I believed that I would rather be a loner. I believed that my value and my happiness were tied directly to my weight.
 
Lies, all of them.
 
This has been such a powerful process for me that I plan to blog more about it, both as a way to clarify things in my own mind and in the hopes that maybe it will help someone else who is struggling--because let's face it, as women, we all struggle with it to some degree.
 
What if today, you had no desire to be anywhere except where you are right now, doing what you are doing right now, if you felt completely present and fulfilled and yes, happy? I am learning that it can happen. By embracing the truth
 
Because the truth will set you free.