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.
In this episode you are going to get an up-close and personal look at my weight loss journey and how I’ve reached a point of weight maintenance. I think that over the twenty-ish year that I dieted I probably reached my happy goal weight at least a dozen times. It was like an end zone or finish line. I’d see the number on the scale, wink at myself in the mirror, and lay down all the good habits and processes that carried me to my goal. This had to stop. When I reached my goal weight back in 2020 I learned some fascinating things about what it meant to stay at that happy weight as part of a life-long process.
Losing the weight permanently took me through four stages: recognizing my real problem, dieting the way I wanted to live, finding my weight range, and re-evaluating my protocol.
Recognizing the real problem. We were deep into the pandemic when I realized I had a big problem. I had been going through a cycle of binging and restricting since I was a teenager. Whenever life got stressful I turned to food for comfort and when I saw the weight creeping up higher than I was comfortable with, I would engage with some sort of ultra-restrictive dieting until I felt things were under control again. But, the pandemic just wasn’t ending and my stress eating had pushed me over a number and beyond. I was scared. This time I couldn’t get a handle on myself. That is when I discovered life coaching around emotional eating. It saved me. Namely I learned how to self-coach, identifying thoughts and habits that were driving me to emotionally eat. The problem was much more my emotions than the food itself combined with some food addiction to refined sugars and processed grains. My first step was taking care of myself emotionally and taking a huge break from sweets. Today I still use the tools I learned when I see those old habits emerging or have cravings for things that don’t serve me. I now know that I want to turn to God, friends, and self-care instead of cookies. This is important because if I had never worked on this real problem, there was no diet in the world that could help me.
Dieting the way I want to live. Next, I had to start thinking long-term. Instead of dieting like crazy, reaching my goal, and then going back to eating normally, I instead adopted the mentality of only doing things that felt good and that I could do for the rest of my life. Yes, this meant that my weight loss was much slower than it ever had been before. However, I also learned to listen to my body’s hunger signals, have portion control, and eat foods that didn’t cause inflammation or discomfort. I figured out how to love eating in healthy ways. I took pieces of various programs and diets I had explored in the past and created my own protocol that works for my body and my life. This is important. My life and body are unique and so is yours. It is unreasonable to expect it to fit perfectly into someone else’s designed protocol.
Weight range. As I neared my weight goal, I realized that there really wasn’t a finish line, instead there was a zone. Our bodies, especially women’s body’s, have a weight that fluctuates a lot. TO have a single number that I needed to hang on to to feel successful was not only unreasonable but also toxic. It would mean that most days I was either above or below my goal and constantly “failing”. Thankfully, much of the health community has adopted the healthy belief that we should have a weight range in maintenance that accounts for things such as hormonal changes and inflammation. My weight range is 125 to 135. If I go outside of this range or see definite trends that alarm me, then I know I need to re-evaluate my eating, sleeping, hydration, mental health, and exercise.
Re-evaluating. Someone asked me if I am tired of always having to keep my weight on my mind. I’m not. Mostly I am thankful that I have a way of noticing when I’m not taking better care of this vessel God entrusted me to. I know that emotional eating will most likely always be a vice the enemy offers to me when things get hard, but it is also my red flag, alerting me that I’m not being loving, kind, and patient with myself nor that I’m leaning on God’s strength. When I see weight creeping up I re-evaluate what I’m doing. This is especially important as my body begins to go through peri-menopause and I realize that it will continue to be important as my body continues to change in the decades to come.
I know that many women are so focused on getting to that number on the scale that this might not feel applicable to your life, but I want to encourage you that you can do many things now that will make your weight loss permanent. You can learn to work on the real problems that drive you to overeat, you can learn to eat in a way you enjoy that fits your lifestyle, you can begin to notice fluctuations on the scale so that you can later figure out a weight range, and lastly you can become a pro at re-evaluating your progress and protocols.
Lastly, if you are weight maintenance, I want to encourage you because this can feel really lonely. No one will tell you that you they are proud of you or that you are doing such a good job. Where you are at now is something that you can only share with God, yourself, and hopefully a friend or spouse who truly understands. I see you, dear one. Let your fight to stay healthy in this world riddled with unhealthy offers draw you closer to our amazing Savior.
All my love to you! Talk to you next week! Bye for now.
My day begins with quiet. I get up early enough that I can enjoy Bible study, journaling, and praying without feeling rushed. I love this time of the day, but often it is the only time that I feel any peace. That peace begins to dissolve the moment I write my to do list. As if I’m only resting with God until that first productive step forward into my day, and then it is all on me. I’ve got to get it all done and get it all done right. The things I prioritize first is work followed by caring for our home. Connection with my girls and husband are next, and, I come last…or not at all. Do you know what fuels this unhealthy pattern: fear.
My personal weight loss journey taught me so much. I couldn’t myself in last place and become healthy.
As my family’s needs have changed in different seasons, I am susceptible to having my priorities out of whack and I’m in the long process of putting things back in healthy order. But, fear makes me feel like if I don’t put work first then I won’t have enough time and I will be a failure. Next, the home with it’s laundry, dishes, and dusty floor directly reflect how well I assume my housekeeping responsibilities. My husband and children need some love and eye-contact, but they usually only get it if something needs dramatic attention or if I miraculously finish my list. It feels so difficult to prioritize a run or a nap when I have loved ones I’ve been neglecting too.
A couple weeks ago I was confessing all this to God, asking that He miraculously reorder my heart and head so that I have no confusion or shame about how I manage my time when He showed me something that helped me understand and draw another step closer to healing.
In the wilderness, after God saved the Isrealites and brought them out of Egypt, they were worried about their food situation. So God rained down manna on them. Manna was like a kind of flake that could be gathered and used to bake bread. The rule was that they were to gather enough for their family only for that day unless it was the day before Sabbath and then they were to gather a double portion so that they could rest on that day. That manna was to be used to sustain themselves and families. It was not to be hoarded or sold to others.
What if we treated time this way? Trusting God to sustain us and give us what we need? What if we trusted Him enough to use that time for ourselves and our loved ones instead of frantically using it in pursuits that rob our peace and never feel like enough.
Like I said, I’m working on this. As I thought about this episode, I thought about the dozens of women I’ve coached that struggle with this, too. I realized that our life and health, AND that of our families, would improve incredibly if we could trust our time to God in the following areas:
That’s it, just six areas that if we trusted Him we would see great improvements in our health. Exercise gives me energy and clarity. Preparing good food boosts the health of myself and my family. Weekly and daily meal planning is something I often prioritize but I would love to include my older daughter in the process which would take longer but help her develop so many concepts around diet and managing a home. Connecting with others from the loved ones in my home to those that are only a phone call away helps me feel human and seen and it gets my head out of my own world and worries. Lastly, I try to bully through so many things instead of taking a moment to talk to God about it or remember what His word said, feeling like every moment is precious and slipping away. And rest is critical for our healthy emotionally, mentally, and physically.
Where do you feel yourself struggling and not spending a resource in a way that is loving and kind to yourself and your family? Is it time like me or is it money? Space? Friendship? What do you hold back from trusting God with?
I want to say that as we figure these out we are not only mentally healthy, but we also cultivate habits that help us maintain physical, emotional, and spiritual health. You, my dear, are complex and one hurting area affects the whole body. I’m so proud of you for taking on the challenge to keep changing and moving forward while abiding in our Heavenly Father.
All my love to you! I’ll talk to you next week.
When I was in my early twenties my husband and I honeymooned at an all inclusive resort. It was magical and I neither weighed myself before or after. Forever after I would compare every other adventure to those ten days we spent together. We did whatever we wanted, ate and drank whatever we wanted, and did it all whenever we wanted. But, the reality is that I am not in my twenties anymore. I’m 37 with two little girls and a body that is going through perimenopause (super fun). My vision for this vacation is being able to chase the girls down the beach and laugh with my husband. I want to comfortably walk through Sea World and dive and swim my way through a water park. I want to wake up each morning rested and enjoy a body that is fueled not floored by the meals I eat. I want to be engaged, not uncomfortable for the seven days we spend together.
I’m going to offer you three different approaches to your food (and drinks) that often help me and women that I coach when they are going on vacation or doing something else short term that throws them out of their normal routines. I want you to consider each approach and whether or not it applies to you and your situation. Then pick something you think might support you. This is a trial and error process to be ready to learn and celebrate that new knowledge.
Stick to timing. Sticking to timing means that you eat the same meals at roughly the same time that you do at home even though it might be very different foods. For example, if you typically support yourself by not eating after dinner, then you could enjoy a meal at a restaurant but decline drinks and snacks after you push back your plate. Or, if you don’t normally eat breakfast and have no concern that your activity level or schedule might make skipping breakfast difficult, then you could continue that practice. I don’t typically eat breakfast so I won’t have it on the mornings that we are driving or that we don’t have an active morning planned. I also don’t plan on eating after dinner. I will sip on some water, tea, or decaf coffee instead of snacking or having other beverages after that last meal. I know that it helps me both sleep better and keeps me from eating things that don’t serve me. Now, this is a mind game. You have to embrace your healthy choices instead of mentally lamenting what you aren’t eating or else you are likely to either cave or feel left out.
Sticking to timing helps you maintain a healthy habit that you have already established. We don’t need to throw out all our habits just because we’re on vacation or spending a few days out of our normal routine. Plus, it will help you get back to normal when you get home again.
Avoid trigger foods. This approach is very important for some of my clients who are prone to binging or emotional eating. I have to do this as well. I know myself and while I love vacation, I can also become overwhelmed by the lack of time to be alone with my thoughts as an introvert. In the past I have often turned to chocolate, by the pound, to comfort my frazzled emotions. However, I’ve also noticed that if I stay away from my go-to foods for emotional eatings than I’m more likely to turn to healthier options for some TLC. What would be some trigger foods for you? For some women this might be actually food items like pasta dishes or fried chicken that once eaten they dive off the deep end for the rest of the trip. Be honest with yourself, if you can’t eat that food in portion sizes within the situation you are in, then avoiding that food altogether might be a wise choice. It might even be worth making a list of some of your trigger foods with a substitute that you know you would enjoy but be able to stay in control with. For example, on my list I have candy (all candy) that I am willing to substitute with whole apples, wine that I will substitute with a hard seltzer, and chips that I can substitute with fresh veggies. As a side note, I have recently noticed that after three years on this journey, I have victory over eating in restaurants. I almost always order either a dairy-free salad or a grilled meat with veggies. I have this quest to find the most yummy and enjoyable salad combinations on the planet and have become way more adventurous in what I will try from the menu. Gone is the girl that almost always ordered chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and gravy. Not that I don’t love that, but I’m excited about enjoying both the salad but also the light and satisfied feeling I have after the meal. So far my favorite salad to-date was a spinach, avocado, and bacon salad topped with pico de gallo from Leal’s in Clovis, NM on a field trip.
Portion Control. Portion control is another approach that works really well for many of the women I work with. Once they are in touch with their hunger signals and how different foods affect their bodies, eating away from home becomes so much easier. They know they can eat a broad array of foods at a portion that supports their bodies. How this works is they fill their plates and enjoy their food, when they start to feel satisfied they stop eating. Then, they don’t eat again until they are physically hungry. I love this. If you can eat to your hunger signals and are aware of how different food affects your body then you don’t need a perfect menu or situation to eat in a way that supports your body. I have to admit, this skill is hard one, especially if you grew up in a home where your parents required you to clean your plate. At home I have learned not to overfill my plate, but I still struggle with this in restaurants especially when I have no way to take home left-overs. So, be aware of yourself.
Okay, my dears, are you ready for vacation? I hope so. Go ahead and let me know what approach you would like to try the next time you're on vacation, visiting relatives, or hosting a multi-day family gathering. One thing that I have absolutely loved is teaching my girls how to approach their own eating in a way that is both healthy and enjoyable. As you make changes, you aren’t just making them for yourself, you’re making them for the people in your life, too. I’m so proud of you.
Keep up the great work. All my love to you, dear friends. Talk to you next week!
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.