I love intermittent fasting. It works well with my body and my lifestyle. Ever since pregnancies, breakfast has certainly lost its appeal so giving it up was simple except for about a fifteen minute period about mid-morning. The first day I did intermittent fasting and the bout of hunger hit me about 10am and I panicked. I almost gave in. After all I was hungry and I was uncomfortable. I was also full of fear. What if the hunger got worse? What if I grew faint or lethargic? But, I was determined to at least try out the fast so I drank some more black coffee and distracted myself with chores. The hunger passed and I eventually began to realize that the hunger signal was a normal occurrence. Mid morning my body would suggest we eat but if I didn’t then life just went on. Pretty simple. I now have no panicking emotions or fear when the hunger rolls on by.
So, the other day I was half-way through my 20-minute run and my whole body started to complain. I felt tired and weak. Frustrated, I kept running while thinking about the situation. I had increased my speed and I knew that my body was protesting but that I was perfectly capable of continuing. Then, a single thought flooded my soul with peace, “It is supposed to be this way.”
That single thought calmed everything in my mind down. I had no more thoughts about injuring myself or getting too tired. It even calmed down my body. I finished the run with strength and the revelation that when we refuse to accept what is normal, our brain fights against it, filling us with panic and fear. So, let me talk about three areas where we gain power when we realize that what we are going through is normal.
Temptation is Normal: In 1 Peter 5, we are reminded that our “enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking for someone to devour.” The Devil is playing the long game, biding his time for the right moment and situation to pounce. And he always does. Someone gives us a plate of brownies the same day that the kids have severed our last nerve. Or your spouse asks you if you just want to go ahead and order pizza the same evening that you feel you can’t catch up at home or at work. The moment we feel the discomfort of urges and cravings we are so prone to buckle if we rebel with the thought that this shouldn’t be so hard. But, if you combine your history of giving in to food temptations and the event of your current situation, we can take a deep breath and say, “This is normal. The devil is tempting me because he knows where I’m weakest. So, I’ll drink a big glass of water and cling to Jesus for strength.” There is nothing wrong with you that you are tempted. It is supposed to be this way. You have pitted yourself against the enemy by accepting God’s gift of salvation and fighting for health.
Resistance to changing habits is normal: I’m sorry, but it doesn’t feel easy when you are having to break in new ground. The old ways will always feel better at first. And, it WILL be easier if you look at the short-term. I remember the first time I turned down a mid-afternoon desert after my daughter and I baked a batch of cupcakes. I had already decided not to have any, but turning down the treat felt WRONG and desperately difficult. I could almost hear the whiny toddler in my head protesting against the change “But we ALWAYS have cupcakes. They taste so good. They’re right there. No one will even know or care if you have one.” Yep, I nearly felt inhuman that first time. Now turning down a treat is a well worn path. There is no confusion or anger, instead I know exactly what I’m doing.
Some discomfort when we start exercising or eating less is normal. It drives me nuts that so many fad diets and exercise programs advertise a zero-pain process. I believe it is this false advertising that makes so many people feel like a failure before they even really get started, believing that the struggle is outside their capability because it isn’t supposed to be this way. They drop out believing that it is all too much. But what if we could simply accept that it is supposed to be this way. We don’t get anywhere significant in our lives by only doing things that are easy. Those that reach goals know that they will have to get uncomfortable in order to reach that goal. I have never reached a level of fitness without some sweating and soreness, nor have I made progress in eating always feeling full.
I hope today’s episode is encouraging to you. You are doing great things. And, before I sign off, I just want to add that our discomfort is an invitation to draw closer than ever to God. I have learned so much about Him when I bring cravings to Him along with my need for strength and perseverance. Learning that His strength will sustain me whenever I feel my own failing, gives me confidence, hope, and peace.
by Lora Armendariz
You Can Do It!
Do you want to fall out of love with a destructive habit? The first 42 episodes of this podcast are a resource for anyone who wants encouragement and information as they take a six week break from a habit in order to fall out of love with it.