Are you trying, I mean really doing your best to get healthy, and yet you have this nagging feeling and some nasty thoughts that it won’t work because it never has? Well, today we’re going to dig into the science behind this learned belief and then we’re going to harness truth in the Bible that gives us power to keep going.
Did you know that there was this really awful study done on dogs that demonstrated how we learn to be unsuccessful. I read about this study in a book called “Grit” by Angela Duckworth which I highly recommend and I’ll leave an amazon link in the show notes. Okay, this study was awful. It was done in 1964 but we learned a lot about learned behavior from it. In this study they got some dogs and put them in a box. Each dog received shocks to their back paws but one group could stop the shocks by pushing their noses against a panel. The other group could do nothing to stop the shocks. The next day they got the same group of dogs and put them in the box again but this time there was a barrier just low enough that they could leap out if they wanted. All of the dogs who had control over their shocks the day before immediately got out. But, two thirds of the dogs who couldn’t stop the shocks just laid down and whimpered. Isn’t that awful. Angel Duckworth wrote this, “The seminal experiment proved for the first time that it isn’t suffering that leads you to hopelessness. It’s suffering you think you can’t control.”
This was me, my dears. And it might be you, too. I believed my suffering due to my cravings around food that didn’t serve me was an endless pain that I would just have to endure. I had stopped trying to fix it and instead just tried to keep it at bay through an all-or-nothing approach to eating my trigger foods.
So, if you are working on your health and you feel that nagging disbelief or hear those nasty thoughts that it is impossible, I want you first to understand that you are normal. God lovingly designed our brains to look for patterns and establish beliefs in order for us to adapt to our environments, be more efficient, and do things that keep us safe. In fact, the part of your brain designed to avoid stress, might totally freak out when we fight for change because the pattern in the past is that you did super hard things and it didn’t work. In fact, you might have found that the moment you decided to make some healthy changes, your brain gave you so much pushback. That’s okay. In fact, take a moment to lovingly thank your brain for trying to take care of you and then tell it that you are okay.
However, there is a more insidious aspect to the disbelief. The Devil loves getting you to that point that you believe it isn’t possible anymore. You can become like those poor dogs in the study, losing all your will power and energy to try something new or different, no matter what evidence there is that maybe this time it might be different.
However, God’s power and strength is endless, and it is in YOU. Yes, you, my dear sister. You are not defeated. You are alive and breathing and fighting for the health and energy you know you can have.
There is a verse in the Bible that everytime I read it, it is like thousands of years never happened and the prophet Isaiah is dutifully penning these words through God’s Spirit just for me.
He wrote, “See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19, NIV
That is what God’s says to me. Every. Single. Day. He is continually growing me, changing my heart, mind, body, and spirit. That is the truth that gives me hope.
Today, my love, I want to encourage you to embrace that truth. God is doing a new thing in you. It is springing up. Growing. Making it’s way through what seemed dead and dried up.
Okay, so how do you put this into something practical that you can work on today to fuel your healthy changes. I have a couple of approaches that work well. First, I want you to either take some time to journal what is going on in your head about weight loss, and talk over what your fears and beliefs are. Or, you can talk about your fears and beliefs with a friend, pastor, or coach. Then you can do one of these two options. A. Find a quote or verse that reminds you of the God-truth that fills you with hope and courage. Put that truth everywhere. On post-it notes around your house, the wallpaper of your phone, and on the dashboard of your car. Everytime the nagging feelings or nasty thoughts of disbelief come up, verbally call out that truth in Jesus’ name. Option B. Write a love note to your brain, thank it for doing what it was designed to do to keep you safe, and then state how what you're doing is creating safety, health, and a hopeful future. Remind your brain that you are not alone and that the powerful and loving presence of our Holy God walks along side you. Each time you begin to feel despair or defeat rise its head, re-read this letter.
Honestly, both options can be done. We don’t need our brains to sabotage our efforts and we don’t need to give an opening to the enemy to fuel anything that might lead us to giving up. I pray that what we talked about you today will help you in this battle.
What you are doing is new. You are listening to your body and targeting the reasons behind emotional eating. The work you are doing is permanent, sweet sister. Please reach out to me if I can help you in anyway. This is the work that God has led me to, for YOU.
Talk to you next week, goodbye for now!
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.