When the girls were little, I so wanted to become a runner. My sister and a couple friends were avid runners and they described how good they felt and how they loved the freedom the activity came with. However, I was so unsure of myself. I had so many questions and worries. Would I be able to consistently train? What if I did things wrong and hurt myself? What if I did things wrong and wasn’t ready to run a race? Would running be worth the investment of time? Finally, I signed up for a 10K and simply jumped in.
It was one of the absolute best things that I did that year.
It was the same year that Micaela developed epilepsy, Adela began preschool, we started farming, and my husband started a new job that required a long commute. There was a lot going on in our lives, but the hours spent running and training were pivotal for my mental and physical health. The investment of time was worth every minute.
What about your health goals? I work with women all the time who would like to lose weight, become more active, or handle their stress and anxiety better. However, we all have lives and women these days have so many responsibilities it makes our heads spin. The very idea of adding another complication to life feels completely ridiculous.
So, I want you to consider three reasons why you should work on your health goals now and three reasons why it might be better to wait.
Three Reasons Why You Should:
Three Reasons Why You Shouldn’t:
I look back on my life, and am so thankful to have went for the changes that have shaped me into the person I am today.
Let me throw confetti in the air and blow a horn and sing a song. You made it to do 42. And, honestly, that means for 42 days you were working on change. Guess what, it wasn’t until my third attempt to break my sugar habit that I was actually able to do it.
Okay, my dear, let's do this. Let's sit down and use the K.I.S.S. method that I learned from Michael Hyatt, to talk about what next steps are for you. To do this, I am going to honestly evaluate how I did as I worked to stop eating when I wasn’t hungry. Before we get started, I want to tell you that I have been successful 30 out of 40 days so far of this journey. That is 75% of the time. K.I.S.S. stands for what do you want to Keep, Improve, Start, and Stop.
Keep: What I want to keep is the journaling at the end of the day. I started doing this in order to do the journal prompts from the challenge at a time when I was most tempted. This means I am doing 2 to 5 minutes of journaling twice a day now (morning and late afternoon during my witching hour).
Improve: I still have trouble leaving food behind on my plate. I’ve gotten better at portion size, but I would like to be able to simply say I’ve had enough and I don’t need to eat it. I sometimes do this, but about half the time I did not follow through with my goal because I just had to finish those last few bites.
Start: I would like to start sharing more of my journey with the community. It was fun the few times I did, but I think it would be powerful to share more consistently on social media and/or with an accountability partner.
Stop: I am going to stop pushing through instead of stopping whenever I need a break. The other times I over ate was when I was so emotionally, mentally, or physically exhausted that I ate even when my body didn’t need the food. I was either too tired to pause and consider my hunger levels or I was eating out of the need for comfort.
Okay, my dear, it is your turn. I am ridiculously proud of your journey. I pray for your freedom as it is said in Galatians 5:1, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Grab that coffee or ice tea, your journal or computer and answer your journal prompt.
Journal Prompt: Look back on your journey. What would you like to Keep, Improve, Start or Stop.
Congratulations on all your learning and growing. I am so proud of you.
To date I’ve worked with many ladies with big goals about their life and health. The ones who make progress are the ones who are willing to do two things: try and learn. That's it. It isn’t that complicated and it doesn’t involve perfection. Just try and learn.
Perhaps this challenge you didn't complete 100%. We are one day away from the finish line and you feel both frustrated and thankful. That is so normal. Honestly, sweetheart, I would love to meet the person who did this 100% on their first time (or even their second). However, you were here and you worked hard. This journey isn’t over if you aren’t done.
You get to decide. Are you done trying? Or, are you ready to keep learning? Guys, I’m still learning. I can do things now around food and alcohol that I thought were completely impossible, but I still feel like I have more growth to do in my health and habits. Every single follower of Christ will always feel this because until God calls us home, He is delighting in pruning and growing us. John 15:2, ESV, always makes me smile: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” You see, every single thing that God asks me to take away or improve, He is doing so that I might bear more of the fruits of the spirit here on Earth.
Keep going, my dear.
Today, your journal prompt is: What have you tried? What have you learned? What will you be doing when this challenge ends?
I am now very thankful for my testimony about alcohol. However, a few years ago all I felt was frustration and shame about my drinking habits. I kept waiting for the day that the desire to drink would just leave me. The best advice I got was from a kind pastor named Joel Horn who told me that some habits haven’t been around long and they are like turning a little row boat around. A couple maneuvers with your oars and you're headed back in the right direction. Other habits are so ingrained that it is like turning around The Queen Mary, a massive ship that requires three full days to get headed back in the right direction. My dears, for me, my drinking was ingrained from childhood and it took years to get headed back in the right direction. But, I did, and it helped so much to know my why and to also embrace that I was making room for better things.
For me, alcohol and sweets have often taken the place of the comfort I could find in my relationship with God. I chose those things over the peace that He would take care of me, the joy that He has great plans for me, and the rest He provides when I stop striving on my own. With every cup I turned down and every dessert I declined, I grasped on tighter to my faith.
It helps so much to know what you are creating a void for.
I don’t think I could have done this without knowing that I was creating a void to be filled with my faith. I firmly believed that if I could stop turning to food and alcohol to solve my problems, then God would show me how lovingly He cares for me.
I was right.
What are you purposefully creating a void for? When you lay down a habit, you will find that there is a void. Perhaps you are not spending as much money, or time, or energy on that old habit. What will you do with those resources now?
1 Timothy 6:6-7, NIV, says, But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
What are you gaining on this journey?
Journal prompt: What resources do you have more of now that your habit is less prevalent in your life (time, money, energy)? What do you feel God leading you toward to fill this void with?
When I got COVID in the fall of 2020, I totally lost my sense of taste and smell. I was still early in my journey of sustainable weight loss and freedom around food. However, my reaction to this situation was completely hilarious. Most people I know said they stopped really caring about their food. I, on the other hand, gained weight. I was so desperate to taste something that for several days I ate everything, constantly. I was determined to get some sort of response from my taste and smell. It didn’t happen and eventually I gave up. It was literally almost six weeks before things started to come back to me.
It occurred to me this year as I was coaching ladies, that we should be truly squeezing the experience out of everything we do. Honestly, this is how we find ourselves joyful and content instead of desperate and determined to feel something. I can’t tell you how many evenings I have ended with a dessert in front of the TV because my dinner was eaten while I fed babies, cleaned messes, and tried to keep everyone in line. I would hardly taste my food. I’m still in that phase with Micaela, but now I slow down. I enjoy the conversation at the table and watching Micaela get better at eating. Instead of hurrying things up, I sit back and allow it all to take longer. I eat my food and think about the flavors. I laugh and talk instead of worrying about the chores that follow the dinner. When I leave the table, I am satisfied. No more pleasure is needed.
What part of your life do you need to slow down and enjoy? Your food? Your relationships? Your work? What do you need to slow down and really experience so that you don’t desperately run to an unhealthy habit to give you the pleasure you crave?
I have a theory that all of our life is made to fill our soul when we walk it out in the trust of our God. It is only when we run from thing to thing full of worry or bitterness, that we feel empty.
I love what Hebrews 13:5, NIV, says about contentment. It feeds my soul:
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
Journal Prompt: What part of your life are you rushing through instead of slowing down and enjoying? How does this affect how you show up in your growth and habit change? In what way do you need to trust God so that you can slow down more?
Last winter break, I surprisingly stayed in my maintenance range the whole time. It blew my mind. I am pretty certain that for the first time as an adult I had not packed on several pounds worth of holiday food and treats. It was amazing. However, I can tell you right now, that I set myself up for success for the 2022 holiday season. How? I got curious.
Curiosity is powerful. Curiosity is telling yourself that you don’t have all the answers but you are willing to learn. Curiosity is what takes a great deal of shame out of failures and instead allows us to approach it with a willingness to learn. Curiosity will also allow you to squeeze powerful lessons out of successes instead of simply celebrating and moving on.
In order to guide some healthy curiosity, I used the thought model developed by Brook Castillo. The thought model shows that our circumstances create our thoughts, our thoughts create our emotions, our emotions guide our actions, and our actions create our results.
During the Holidays my circumstances were that there were many treats and opportunities to eat food that was not part of my personal protocol. My thoughts were that this wasn’t a problem and I could plan to eat them or I could simply enjoy making memories (the food wasn’t important). This made me feel happy and content no matter what I was or was not eating. The action I ended up taking was planning for the treats I ate and then eating on plan. The result was that my body weight stayed within the 120-130lb range that I like.
Now, this is the same approach we take when we are struggling. We ask ourselves, what are the circumstances (the raw facts), what are our thoughts, what emotions do they cause, what actions do we take out of those emotions, and what are the results of those actions.
It is that information that guides our journey. Some thoughts empower growth and health, others take us off the path we want. We have to be willing to learn and change if we want to find success.
Proverbs 12:1, NLT, says,
To learn, you must love discipline;
it is stupid to hate correction.
Journal prompt: Pick the last time you had an obvious failure or success. Work through the thought model: What were the circumstances? What did you think about them? What did those thoughts make you feel? What actions did those emotions guide? What were the results of your actions? What will you do next time this circumstance is repeated?
I recently read a mind-blowing, heart stopping book by Jeanne Stevens called What’s Here Now. The book talks deeply about how we need to live more fully in the present. The chapter on how we treat our bodies made me tear-up. She explained that our bodies hold the power to bring us back to the present and that “Now is always where God is. The present is God’s zip code.” Woah! Okay, do a little experiment right now. I want you to stop and truly notice for 30 seconds what your body is feeling from the top of your head to the tip of your toes. Now, as you do that, you have brought yourself back to the present. Your body only feels in the here and now and you can only engage with it in the present.
A leader in women’s ministry named Chris Paulson, told me a few years ago that God’s love is like an umbrella, ready to shelter us at any given moment. However, when we deconstruct the past or worry about the future, we move out of the shelter of that umbrella. When we take a moment to ground ourselves back into our body, we find no lies there. If we are tired, we are tired. If our stomach is flopping with excitement, then we are excited. Our body holds the key to bringing us back to where God is.
Jeanne Stevens also writes this amazing thank you note to her body. This was the part that made me cry. God gifted us with our bodies, but we proceed to ignore and abuse them.
Today, I want you to do two things. First, I want you to practice sitting and noticing your body. When you do this, I hope that you notice that worry eases and peace seeps back in. Next, I want you to take some time to be grateful for how your body has shown up for you. This will help motivate you to keep moving forward on physical habit changes, and it will help you ease stress and anxiety.
Journal Prompt: In one minute, what physical sensations do you feel in your body? As you dial in to the present, do you notice an ease in stress and anxiety? How are you grateful for your body?
On the last day of school, I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to eat a treat and stay up late. After all, the Armendariz family had made it through an entire school year of me being back to work as a teacher, Jovani in vet school, and the girls rocking their elementary grades. We crossed the finish line and I was so grateful and thankful that we were all still intact.
However, I have begun to really question strong emotional cravings to eat and drink. I’ve noticed, that if there is a strong emotional connection to eating or drinking something then I am highly likely to fall into a binge. So, I stepped back and asked myself, what I really needed.
The answer was two things: I wanted a break and I wanted to commemorate our success as a family.
We often associate our unhealthy habits with only negative emotions, but I know from experience that positive emotions will drive us to dive in as well. I recently heard another life coach, Katrina Ubell, explain this using a snow globe analogy. She said that our world is like a snow globe and many things will shake things up. Our brain likes to quiet things down, masking or muting those feelings. Our brain is uncomfortable with extreme happiness or excitement and will use the numbing experience of a dopamine hit to take the edge off. Crazy, right? So, it is completely common and expected for our brain to offer us food or alcohol to numb that excited feeling of celebrating.
You can do what I did, ask yourself what you would like a celebration to give to you. I ended up going to bed early and then writing a commemorative blog first thing the next morning. Both those activities served to quiet my thoughts and emotions while still feeling like I was celebrating and taking care of myself well.
I still believe that some activities naturally fall into our cultural traditions for celebration. God even commanded that there be feasts and celebrations throughout the Jewish calendar. However, if something is causing you to fall into temptation, it is good to pause and find another way to celebrate. In Matthew 5:30, NIV, Jesus said, “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” If a celebration activity is causing you to stumble on the way to better health, perhaps you should consider a better way to celebrate.
Journal prompt: When you celebrate, what are you hoping to accomplish and how do you want to feel? Is it possible to do this in a way that doesn’t involve the habit you are trying to take a break from?
I love Dave Ramsey’s quote, “If you live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.” This is a deeply true statement. The mainstream culture of our country is all about the here and now. Put it on the credit card, eat all of it, and you only live once. However, this mentality is crippling our health emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially. It is also buying into the lie that if you don’t indulge now that your life won’t be good enough and it won’t be available to you later.
Proverbs 23:21, ESV, warns against that constant self-indulgent nature, “for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.” So, we might totally know all the things that are healthy and be committed to healthy changes, but inevitably a situation will present itself when we are more tempted than ever to take a break from our commitment because we are fearful of missing out.
Maybe it is wanting to make a spontaneous concert ticket purchase because we just found out all our friends are going. Maybe it is simply wanting to order the special at a restaurant that you rarely go to. You might be afraid of missing out on so many things. When this happens, I have two questions for you to ask yourself before you give in.
At the end of the day, you get to live with whatever decision you make. I have definitely been pleased with my decision to indulge in something that was off-plan for me. Often, this is because I know what is most important to me. For example, when I am needing to reconnect with my husband or daughters and it involves a food or drink that I hadn’t planned for, I will often say yes to that experience because I am not going to miss out on that opportunity to connect with them. However, a random food or drink at a party that I see does not rate breaking my promise to myself to eat foods that serve my body. I also stay open to other options, like eating less, eating to hunger levels, or still enjoying the experience without indulging.
Journal Prompt: What have you indulged in out of fear of missing out? If you said no, would you really be missing out on this opportunity forever? What are you missing out on by saying yes?
I decided last spring to start incorporating strength training into my workouts. For a long time I had primarily been doing aerobic workouts like jogging, but with increasing data on the importance of strength training, I decided to figure out a way that I could do it regularly. I ended up choosing a program that gave exercises to do with increased time over several weeks. The slow increase kept me from spending days in pain, but I would still have sore muscles each time the exercise’s duration increased. It turns out that this is exactly what most athletes look for. In fact, they want to work out just hard enough that they create micro-tears in their muscles. Then, they give their bodies a rest period to repair that muscle stronger than it was before.
This tear, rest, repair cycle can be utilized whenever we are undergoing habit change. Let me show you.
Tear: You push yourself to change your habit. You come across difficult circumstances and keep yourself on track.
Rest: You make sure that you create time periods where you can rest from will-power and self-control by keeping yourself away from temptation.
Repair: Evaluate how your tools and beliefs are serving you. Ask someone for advice. Tweak your systems as needed. The next time you are in a temptation situation, you will most likely find yourself even more ready than normal to handle it well.
The apostle Paul mentions this building of our character in Romans 5:3-5, NIV Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
My love, I pray that as you undergo this change that your perseverance will produce the character you are determined to see. If it was easy, everyone would do it. You are choosing to do what is right for you and what God has put on your heart to work on.
Journal Prompt: Have you noticed periods when you are feeling burnt out on your habit change? How do you provide rest for yourself, giving yourself protection from temptation? Are you taking the time to learn from your moments of difficulty? Are you seeking advice and implementing new tools to support your growth?
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.