Friday, October 21, 2011

Empathy in Extreme

Many of you may have read about the recently publicized personal trainer named Drew who is on a journey of taking six months to eat an unrestricted diet in order to gain weight and experience the emotional and physical cravings of being overweight and addicted to sugary and fatty foods. He started in May 2011 and after six months, will then utilize his food and fitness plan to lose the weight during the following six months. Haven't heard about it yet? You can check it out at his website

In my own journey of weight loss with its ups and downs, physically, emotionally and spiritually, the reason I share my ideas is to give hope in the area of weight loss. Why can I do this? Because I've been there. Drew is taking the courageous step to walk in the shoes of those of us who struggle with food addiction, at least for a little while. I find it interesting to note, however, that in his description he says he is "addicted" to fitness. Is this yet another area of addiction, which needs to be put in its proper place? Such a tough balance.

I can't wait until we can simply feast in heaven and not worry about our physical bodies along with all its addictions, both positive and negative. Being free of the bondage of addiction is the ultimate desire, but in the meantime, we all need a way to learn to manage them. Through it all, I stand by my motto: God is there---always.

I am fascinated and inspired by Drew's example of empathy to the extreme levels. How about you?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Be Still and Know that I am God

I know that The Oprah Winfrey Show has finished its final season on the air, however, I recently discovered Oprah herself is continuing her appearances on television with a new level of meaning. She is hosting a series called "Lifeclass" with the premise that she discusses various aspects of having a better life.

In a recent episode, she talked about one of my favorite (and most challenging!) topics: believing in yourself. She spoke of an inner voice to which we need to listen in order to get a sense of our personal purpose in this world. She quoted one of my favorite verses in the psalms "Be still and know that I am God." This stillness, she suggests, is defined as obtaining the sense of inner quiet so that we can get in touch with ourselves.

What I love about the verse is that I see it as having four meanings, depending on the focus word. For starters, the common focus on the word "STILL" in "Be STILL and know that I am God" suggests a calmness created so that we can quiet ourselves enough to be able to sense a presence of God in our lives. It's oh so important, and is probably the one blessed thing we can choose to do for ourselves for a more focused life. But the verse has more intonations: with a focus on the word "KNOW", I am reminded that while I am working at the discipline of being calm, I can KNOW that my Creator is God, and am strengthened in my faith as a result. The next focus is on the word "I". Boy this one straightens me out like a schoolgirl when I realize I am once again trying to take control of things only God can do. "Be still and know that I am God" reminds me that God is God; it's a simple fact. I am reassured when I can depend on Him and Him alone. And the final focus on the word "God" reads like this: "Be still and know that I am GOD." I can hear the music playing; harps and trumpets and drums, all in harmonious sound, humbling me to my core when I recognize I am talking about the Big Guy here. Do I hear an "Amen?"

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Putting My Face On

I love makeup and I love scripture.

My kids and I have a daily practice of “putting on our armor” as suggested in the book of Ephesians to help us prepare for our day. We put on our “belt of truth” while practicing to clip on our belt buckles, and the “breastplate of righteousness” while patting our chests, and tie up the shoes on our “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.” We then strap on our “helmets of salvation” and the “shield of faith” (left arm bent upwards in a protective gesture) and thank God for the “sword of the spirit, which is the Word of God.” I sensed a mother’s calling to instill tangible ways to apply biblical principles for my children to see the connection between God’s way of working in our world and our need to be safe and protected each day.

Personally, I enjoy makeup as my way to prepare for my day, both physically, mentally and spiritually. When I wash my face with special cleansers and apply the moisturizing lotions, it’s my version of buckling up my belt of truth. Without cosmetics, the truth of how my skin looks is evident! I’ll properly apply foundation and concealer to cover up my flaws and appear “righteous” like that breastplate I’m wearing, and give me that sense of peace I need from the gospel. Next, a smooth stroke of the brush, and I apply blush to my cheeks giving me a look of being more alive because of my helmet of salvation. My eyeshadow, eyeliner and mascara give me that extra touch of color which can radiate from the faith I carry in my precious shield, and the lipstick enhances my mouth which is ready to speak the treasured Word of God, which is the sword of the spirit.

I think God likes makeup too!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Spinning on the Exercise Wheel

I was headed out bright and early for a 5:45 (yes, in the morning!) spin class when I saw a note left by my precious daughter the night before: “Have fun, mommy!” In case you haven’t tried spinning yet, it is simply a form of working out on an exercise bike with a twist: the instructor guides you with his/her suggestions as you adjust the intensity and speed of your bike riding during the workout to follow the pace of the blaring music to move you along. Is it fun? I choke when I try to use the word “fun” and “exercise” in the same sentence. I could not honestly say “Ok!” to my daughter’s suggestion, but I made a mental note to try.

Quick history: I am a successful weight loss story, having lost over 100 pounds for a full-body and life transformation. My anchor: prayer. Seriously. You can learn more about that in my talks and upcoming book, but for now, I want to discuss exercise specifically. You thought I’d say my anchor on this weight loss journey would be exercise, didn’t you? It’s not. I exercise only because I have to exercise. Sometimes, I have fun with it, maybe, but I don’t mind missing out on fun because I fully believe in the health requirements related to the discipline of exercise. As for my workout routine, I am a serious at-home exerciser. The less time I use traveling to a gym, or planning to get together with someone else, or any other form of coordination equates to more time to do the exercise itself and get it over with. Nice attitude, huh? Nice or not, this attitude keeps me going, and I get the chance to experience better health as a result.

With all that said, you realize by now that the spin classes are a stretch for me. Every once in a while, I have a crazy notion to kick up my exercise challenge to see what else I can do. And so I tried spinning for the first time last year…and I blogged about it too…you can refer to it on this blog (check it out here). Today's spin class, however, was just another crazy notion and I decided on a fluke to take up my friend’s suggestion to try out her class.

Kudos to Kris, my friend and spin instructor, who took me on a journey like never before. It was her suggestions that kept me going for the full hour at that insane time in the morning, when she said things like: “This mountain is yours: you can take it!”, or “Don’t let the bike control you; you control the bike!” and, my favorite, “Recovery makes you strong!” (yes, I was looking forward to the end of the workout, also known as “recovery”!)

The bottom line, I finished the class---intense and all. The intensity was apparent with the dripping sweat I wore as my trophy for a job well done. Even more rewarding was the smile I wore when I realized that some parts of this particular workout were fun after all. Taking the time to challenge my mind, body and spirit in a way that required such focus that I forgot about all my troubles: not only is it fun, but a gift.

There are other ways to boost up your intensity, and particularly if you are an at-home exerciser like I am, you might want to go all-out with the famous P90X system. No, I haven’t tried it…yet…but my courage might increase enough to say it’s worth a shot. I like the fact that the products seem to deliver what they promise: an intense workout that gives intense results. I appreciate that they tell me it’s intense; they tell me it will take time; they tell me it will require consistency for some period of time. There’s also an Insanity workout program; don’t you just love the name of that one? It’s great that these systems include food suggestions to go along with the programs. If you’re ready to check it out, here are the links:
For the P90X, click here!
For the Insanity workout, click here!

As for me, I’m taking things one day at a time; one exercise at a time. You may be more courageous than I. Go for it! For now, I’m headed to the showers.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Hallway of Hope

I mentioned in my recent post that we are faced with a new "normal" in our family: my husband has cancer. It's a slow-growing, rare form of cancer with no real cure, however there is a chemo cocktail in clinical trial form which promises to manage, and possibly even minimize some of the tumors in his body.

Daunting, I know. However, after tons of research, multiple consultations with doctors and cancer center department specialists, we are cautiously optimistic. We don't have many choices, actually. And so we need to be confident with our decision. Or do we?

My confidence comes from my faith. Confidence is not from the medical decision itself; it's in the fact that I know God is there, all the time, no matter what. I have been focused on a phrase in Phillipians 4 about God's peace. It's God's peace, which is so great I cannot understand it, that guards my heart and mind. Not my peace. Heck, I cannot create a sense of peace about any of these issues. Instead, I simply hold on to hope with a new start each day.

Two full months lapsed between the time of his diagnosis and his first day of treatment. Two months of waiting. With hope. Two months of planning. With hope. Two months of getting ready to get started in his fight with cancer. With hope.

My husband was examined; blood was drawn; papers were processed, and the first step of his actual treatment was prepared, which was in the form of a shot. He was escorted to the hallway where his medicine would be administered chair-side, in a special chair reserved for him. When I walked to the entrance of that hallway, I gasped. There were at least a dozen other patients sitting there, lining both sides of the hallway, receiving their medication, too. All shapes, sizes and ages of people. The unspoken common theme: we were all dealing with cancer. Funny how we all become the same, then. I now call that place the Hallway of Hope. And together we all continue to fight this thing called cancer. With hope.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Emotional Flood

"How do you handle an emotional flood?"

This question was posed by one of my favorite links--the Women of Faith website ( touched my heart. This year has been a year of tremendous emotional flooding, but I am here in the middle, still swimming, treadwater style, with energy to spare because of the fact that I can remember God is there to hold me up every time.

In January my husband went to the hospital--again--for stomach pain radiating to his back. Long story short: we have been dealing with the language of ulcers and stomach acids for a couple years and know when there's something amiss causing his level of pain requiring hospital intervention. That January hospital stay resulted in an ulcer diagnosis with follow-up treatment and medication. Things were quiet for a couple of months. The end of March then resulted in similar symptoms and back to the hospital he went. "Here we go again", I thought. After a week of testing, probing, poking, questioning, prodding and more testing, we were blindsided by the new result which was not an typical stomach ulcer this time---it was cancer.

Yikes, the 'c' word. This new reality resulted in a new level of puzzle-solving; the cancer diagnosis explained all the unexplainable issues and symptoms over the past several years. The cancer is a slow-growing type which was finally discovered and now it's time to tackle the thing.

Emotional flood? You betcha. In the middle of it all, I still have my faith, though. There's a song with the lyrics "On Christ the solid rock I stand; all other ground is sinking sand..." Those lyrics have reminded me, almost daily, that I have a place to stand in the middle of this treadwater status. A rock can appear under my flailing legs and help me to stay still and stay safe. What I also realize now is a new twist to the sinking sand metaphor (the second part of those lyrics). If I am on sinking sand, like I feel these days, only by staying still can I get help. If I flail and work and fight to get out, I will only sink deeper. Staying still, and being on that rock, makes the emotional flood or the sinking sand be minimized into a simple setting of my current life, not the definition of it.

I am grateful for Christ, my rock.

On that rock, and that rock alone, can I stand to move forward in the middle of crisis mode and continue with healthy eating, weight loss goals, and self-care. I am committed to continue on this Gain Faith, Lose Weight journey in a stronger way and refuse to give in to the 'oh well, it's not important' attitude about watching my own food issues in this emotional floodwater. Hey, it's the emotional eating that got me to being more than 100 pounds overweight, and it's the lack of emotional eating that will keep me healthy and fit. I need that rock of Christ to stand so that I can simply eat for sustenance and enjoyment, not emotional-stuffing. He comes through every time I stay still and look up.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Exercise is Easy---I think!

Walk...walk...walk; walk...walk...walk... Are you up and out of your chair yet? This is the mantra from my very favorite video exercise leader: Leslie Sansone! She has supplied more than 25 years of inspiration sprinkled with a heaping dose of encouragement in her walk-at-home workouts. Leslie's DVDs have been my primary fitness training tool for more than six years in my journey of losing over 100 pounds, and I still enjoy the benefit of getting my needed exercise without the pressure of a fitness gym or the need to run a marathon! Why are the walk-at-home workouts so great? Because I still sweat my way through an effective workout without worrying about injuries. You see, I know I need to work out but I want to be able to walk tomorrow. If I had a choice, I wouldn't use my time working out; I have many other hobby preferences: reading a book, visiting with friends, baking a yummy treat. But the workouts are necessary, and I needed to find something that works for this non-workout-fan who is a workout queen.

All this said, I find it amusing how God can use my skills to help others, even in places of weakness. Tomorrow, I will once again go to a local elementary school to demonstrate my "Exercise is Easy" program using Leslie's DVDs for the young children, in an attempt to share the fact that exercise is possible for anyone, even those who are not the sports starts. Y'know: kids just like me who grew up running around only when playing tag, and sitting around otherwise. Yup, I tried other things like rollerskating, but sports were never easy for me. Yup, I usually got picked last for the softball teams and I usually didn't mind because I preferred to skip playing softball anyway.

Childhood obesity is such a hot topic and the pressure is on for the food manufacturers and fast-food chains to modify their offerings. I hope to encourage the fact that exercise is easy and doesn't need to be done with the Biggest Loser drama, but instead, can be done moderately and regularly to provide a healthy result. I know, I know...this can be less interesting than those reality TV shows, but's life!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Messages from Moses

Every year for the past several years, I have been enjoying a bible-read-through plan for the year. I’ve changed versions to the Message Bible this year for a fresh new perspective. The Old Testament is particularly interesting since it now reads like an exciting novel, full of drama, crazy adventures and tons of life lessons.

Last week I finished chapter 6 in Exodus and started reading chapter 7. I’m in the story of Moses and how he had to get over his insecurities to follow God’s plans for him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. These plans included the fact that Moses was told by God to speak to the head honcho in Egypt, Pharaoh. God told Moses exactly what to do, when to do it, and what to say. Moses had some sort of speech impediment which caused him to stutter. God chose Moses to speak regardless of the stutter but did concede and allow Moses to get help from his brother Aaron. Here’s the text:

Exodus 6:30 – 7:1 (Msg)
“And Moses answered, ‘Look at me. I stutter. Why would Pharaoh listen to me?”
God told Moses, “Look at me. I’ll make you as a god to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to speak everything I command you, and your brother Aaron will tell it to Pharaoh….”

I learned a few lessons here:

1. Where’s my focus?
I was intrigued to notice that Moses began his answer with “LOOK AT ME…” and God began HIS answer saying…you got it…”Look at ME!” When we are about to do something big for God, it’s easy to get lost in our insecurities and fears, but those insecurities can only have power over us if we look at them. Instead of remembering his own stutter, Moses was instructed to look at God and God’s awesome power.
As I continue down this path of health and weight loss, I am often paralyzed with the belief that I am not able to do what I need to do for the rest of my life. And then these beautiful reminders of the focus on God bring me back to a sense of hope.

2. Where’s my help?
Even though God could certainly have decided to have Moses be the head spokesperson with or without his stutter, I love the fact that God still allowed Moses to get help from his brother Aaron.
I was humbled to remember that God knows all about me, and that includes the fact that I need help here on earth, too. And so I continue attending my Weight Watchers meetings; I continue my sweaty workouts too, whether I feel like it that day or not.

3. Who’s in charge?
Moses had a big assignment but God was still in charge of the outcome and the lessons learned along the way. Similarly, I have my own assignment to do what God planned for me, and if I have day-to-day struggles along the way, they are not to get in the way of the big picture. Who’s in charge? God! And for that I’m grateful.

And I thought bible reading might be boring! I look forward to more lessons along the way in these Old Testament stories---how about you?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years' Resolution to Lose Weight

Happy New Year!...?

A lifetime of associating January 1st with weight loss resolutions, and this one is no different. A favorite line of mine: "another new year; another new year's resolution to lose weight..."

Yes, I've lost over one hundred pounds. And yes, I've gained a few of them back. Yes, I say once again this year "another new year; another new year's resolution to lose weight." And yes, I continue to write my memoir "Gain Faith, Lose Weight" and yes, I still pray every single day for help with this weight loss thing and yes, I still go to Weight Watchers' meetings faithfully, and yes, I still work out five days a week.

God knows all that. And He still helps me! Today, I discovered a new book out by an already-favorite author of mine which is my own personal gift of help from God in moving ahead on these last few months of book-writing and losing those last ten or maybe twenty pounds. I will be participating in an online podcast by Lysa TerKeurst based on her book "Made to Crave." It'll start January 10th if you want to join me...check out

I still crave God and boy oh boy He always delivers...even more than dark chocolate.