It is normal, especially in the beginning of your weight loss journey, to feel like you are on shaky foundations. You have all these things you want to change and do. You want to drink more water, move more, eat more veggies, stop eating ice cream every night, order a small instead of a large and the list goes on and on and on.
Well, my love, take a deep breath. Today we are going to talk about cornerstone habits and how they can be the key to making this process a whole lot easier.
If you are like me, you are starting to stare the school year in the face. When this podcast releases I’ll be one week away from doing my teacher in-service and only a couple weeks away from welcoming students back into the school. This is the perfect time of the year to re-examine my routines and habits and make some thoughtful choices about what is important to me in the upcoming months of the school year.
If you talk to any fit and healthy person about their habits, they have dozens of things they do to protect good choices and cultivate a healthy body. Some of those habits they still have to put effort into and others they can do without thinking. It is first of all super normal for you to feel the pressure to do all those things that they do right away, but it is also a fast-track to burn out. We can’t completely change our lives, taste buds, and brains overnight. However, I want to offer to you that you can begin a solid and permanent lifestyle change by working on cornerstone habits.
I like to call cornerstone habits the things we do every day that set us up for success. It also becomes the bare minimum we can still do even when life gets crazy or feels chaotic. These are important investments of time and energy into your life as you establish these habits. Later they become things that you can build onto. For example, if you set the cornerstone habit of beginning your day reciting a verse, then when you finish reciting your verse that can become the cue for doing your next healthy habits such as weighing yourself or filling up your water bottle.
To give you an idea of what a cornerstone habit is, how it affects your life and weight loss journey, and offer some ideas of where you might want to get started, I’m going to give you my five favorite cornerstone habits that myself and many women I work with have adopted. I’ll go over each one and why it can provide the foundation you need for continued healthy choices over long periods of time.
1. Water--Doing something everyday that helps you get in the amount of water your body needs becomes a cornerstone habit. I like to pound two cups of water before I pour my first mug of coffee and fill up my 64 oz water bottle while I get breakfast ready. This sets me up for water-drinking success. I found through trial and error that using a smaller water bottle that I would have to refill multiple times just didn’t work for me. I would forget how much I drank or find myself in a situation where I couldn’t refill it. I have got this current habit of dreaming water down so well now that there was literally only two school days last year that I left the house without it.
The reason this is important for ongoing health is that every cell in your body needs water. Not having water will seriously stress your body out and make you have epic cravings as your body cries out for some help. So, setting yourself up for water success by some sort of cornerstone habit will help you if you're losing weight or maintaining.
2. Sleep--I go to sleep in time to get 8 hours almost every night. My exceptions are special family gatherings and date nights. I don’t compromise on this one. I’ve learned from experience that not getting enough sleep affects everything for me. When I’m sleep-deprived I am moody, have low energy, crave sweets, and am less likely to want to exercise. I love it that in the Jewish calendar the day begins and sunset, making the night the beginning of the 24 hour period. This makes complete sense because what you do in the evening will totally affect how your daylight hours go.
There are many tips and hacks to making sure you get enough sleep. Turning this into a cornerstone habit might mean you set alarms on your phone and start your going-to-bed process early enough to be turning off all lights and screens in time to get 8 hours of sleep. For me, I get into PJs right after I put the girls to bed and then read for about thirty minutes. By then my body and brain have begun shutting down so I head to the bathroom, brush my teeth, wash my face and crawl into bed. Weirdly enough, I like to do my habit tracker right before falling asleep. It feels like closing down the day for me and settles my brain. Consider what you could start doing today to protect your sleep.
3. Bible Study--Spending time in God’s word and with God in prayer has been a game changer for how I approach life. I do it first thing in the morning, having gotten up early enough to have my coffee alone. Depending on how much time I have, I might spend 15 to 30 minutes doing this. I also feel refreshed and ready having put on the armor of God before facing the day. Bible study is also my cue for setting my big three for the day, recording my weight, and making a food plan.
I can’t encourage the women I work with enough to start spending regular time with God. The world is set up to make us lose. We come up against so many trials and temptations and should never expect our own self-control and will-power to sufficiently safe-guard us into good choices. The power of God not only helps us on this journey but builds our faith as we turn to Him.
4. Movement--Now, I firmly believe that exercise is not necessary to weight loss. In fact, if exercise makes you eat more either due to excessive hunger or mind drama, then you will need to do some work on what your body needs as you add movement into your routine. That being said, movement gives us energy, mental clarity, and a healthier body. Being in the routine of moving your body everyday, come rain or shine, even if it is a dance party or a 15 minute walk helps you have more emotional stability and endurance.
I have built the habit of doing some sort of movement everyday in the early evening or late afternoon. Sometimes it is walking up and down my house or some strength training on my yoga mat, but that is all. It is super simple and because of that, I feel I’m able to keep it going no matter where I am or what we are doing.
5. Food Log/Plan--Lastly, writing down a plan for what you are going to eat and logging what you put in your mouth is awesome. This takes me about two minutes in the morning and two minutes or less in the afternoon. It helps me make choices when I’m not stressed or hungry. Then, by having a log of what I do eat, I can monitor eating patterns that don’t serve me or food choices that might be affecting my body negatively.
Also, this last cornerstone habit helps many women with self-accountability. They begin to see that you can follow through with daily promises and show up for themselves. This is a confidence game-changer.
Alright, there you have it, a low-down of what cornerstone habits might look like and how to put them in place. Before we sign off today, I just want to encourage you not to feel like you need to have all your cornerstone habits in place right away, or that they have to be the habits I listed today. Instead, pick one habit at a time to establish, one that gives you that firm foundation you are looking for that will set you up for success throughout your day.
And, wherever you are in your journey, I want to encourage you to take that quiz and get some direction on what healthy changes you can make in your Christ-centered weight loss journey today. If you’re not sure where to get started, I’ve got you covered. With your quiz results you’ll receive a detailed action plan and a list of podcast episodes that I created specifically on the area you are needing to concentrate on. We’re quickly coming up on episode number 100 which blows my mind, so this is my way of helping you find what you need without having to sift through all my episodes from before.
You’ve got this, my love! Talk to you next week! Goodbye for now.
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 now you might be totally sold on the concept that taking better care of yourself mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically will help you lose weight and keep it off. But then, right when you could be/should be doing that very thing, a nasty little thought pops into your mind, completely derailing you, throwing you off course, and taking away your enthusiasm to cultivate your health. Ugh! Well, girlfriend, you are not alone. I’m going to give you a peek into my mind today and give you some weapons to clean up the talk in your head so that you are giving yourself the thoughts that are going to fuel your change.
This happened to me just the other day. I really needed to sit down and use the massage chair. I had been folding multiple loads of laundry. You know how that feels, right? In between my shoulder blades the muscles had gotten so tight they were painful. It was a pain I had been pushing through for hours, had taken Tylenol, and kept saying I would sit down and rest as soon as I finished the last load. Then the last load finished right as I needed to start dinner.
I needed fifteen minutes but in my brain all I heard was, “Oh, no, you have to start dinner preparations. It’s a casserole and if you don’t get it put together within the next fifteen minutes and put it in the oven then dinner will be late. You can’t stop now. You have to do dinner.
I almost felt like crying, because dinner prep starts the ball rolling on all my other evening chores like dishes, tidying the house, and Micaela’s cares. And, what if dinner is late because I’m being all lazy in the chair? That is just wrong.
A few years ago I would have shoved my hand into the candy bowl and then forced myself to keep going. But, not this day, this day I closed my eyes and prayed out the feeling of fear and frustration that filled my heart. Then I sat myself down in that chair with my eyes closed for fifteen minutes. Dinner was fifteen minutes late. Nobody noticed and I hadn’t spent the rest of the evening in pain while gorging myself with candy that I actually don’t even like.
We all have multiple thoughts that will bounce through our head whenever we need to take care of ourselves. I really want to talk to you about them because it can be scary at first to invest time in yourself and the enemy takes complete advantage of that fear and does his best to keep us from health and peace. I’m going to break down some of these common, nasty little thoughts, that keep us from taking care of ourselves.
“This is not fun.”
In one hand we have putting on our workout clothes and sweating out our frustrations and in the other hand we have a loaded double fudge sundae to soothe our frustrations. Which one sounds like the most fun? A very tired and toddler-like part of your brain can easily throw a mini tantrum at this point, insisting that going for a jog is not fun and you need fun! So, fight back with some truth. Exercising will make everything else more fun. We’ll have a body that is healthier and has more energy and a mind that is more clear and ready to handle the stressors of life. That ice cream sundae will be fun for about five minutes, end of story, and I’ll need something else or something more to help me with my frustrations right away.
“My family is going to resent me.”
Laying down for a nap means that I won’t be mopping the floor, paying the bills, or sitting down for a game of UNO. They’ll resent me doing something when our family and home needs me to do so much. My family will be frustrated and angry that I’m not on-duty. That is what I hear in my head, but then I give myself a reality-check. Literally everyone in our family gets to take time for themselves. The girls play with their toys and animals and chat with friends the bulk of the day. My husband takes breaks and meets up with others to hang out. It’s NORMAL, girlfriend. You’re the only abnormal one if you think taking a nap means you aren’t living up to everyone else’s expectations. And, if they do for some reason get upset, then expectations need to be adjusted so that you and everyone else recognizes that you are a human being, not an appliance.
“I’m so selfish”
Exactly how is it selfish to make sure that you, the one that shows up emotionally and physically for so many people in your life invest whatever it takes to help you have a body, brain, and heart that is ready to smile and serve with love. Ask your kids, spouse, or coworkers which version they want showing up: the overworked frazzled version who can work an extra thirty minutes because they didn’t exercise or shower today or the clean, composed, version who meditated on scripture and took a bubble bath last night. Yeah, not to be snarky, but I would pick the version that is actually pleasant to be around. Right now it is summer and my family gets me 24/7 and it is worth investing in the version that everyone enjoys including me.
“I shouldn’t have to do this to be healthy.”
In my opinion, this is the worst one of all. We think we shouldn’t have to try so hard to be healthy and happy. We remember other seasons when it was easier or we have friends that don’t need alone time or a nap. God says that it is in our weaknesses that He shows His strength. I have experienced more grace and love from my Heavenly Father when I honor my human needs than when I have tried to bully through because I shouldn’t need that TLC. If you had a disease or condition that needed medicine or therapy, you would take it, right? I think that there is a fear that by caring for ourselves we’ll become less resilient or lazy. But, I believe that when we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit, we’ll learn the times to work and the times to rest. I know that I need my quiet time in the morning to fill my soul before the day begins. I know I need water to function at my best physically. And, I know that when my body and soul needs rest, and God has provided the opportunity, then I can accept that blessing and trust HIM with my life.
So, here is a fun practice for you. Try writing down one thing you are going to do for yourself today when you have the opportunity. Maybe it is going for a walk outside or calling your best friend. THen, when the opportunity comes and you start to back out of your commitment, pay attention to your thoughts? Are they right, pure, loving, and in line with God’s truth? Ask God to show you what He thinks about your precious soul.
You are loved, my dear. The battlefield does happen in the brain. With God, you’ve got this. All my love. Until next week! Bye for now.
As I’ve mentioned before, I spent nearly two decades in a weight loss yo-yo, the rollercoaster of binge-restrict-binge-restrict. Round and around I went. I was sick of it, of course, but figured that I was just one of those women predestined to struggle with self-control around food. Then the pandemic hit and I needed HELP with a capital “H”. When calling out to God I felt a distinct nudge to stop trying to do this on my own power and instead open up to the possibility that healing could happen.
And, healing did happen. I discovered how to find that Freedom around Food that Dr. Ubell talked about. Today I want to break down both what that is and the basics to how to get there.
First, freedom around food means that you eat what physically supports your body and steer clear from things that don’t serve you. That means that you no longer are ruled by the limiting beliefs that you need what you crave in order to survive.
I used to be that woman that if I made a batch of cookies, I was physically ill by the time the last batch came out of the oven. I would eat so many gooey yummy cookies that I was nauseous and frustrated at my lack of control. The only way I could prevent the occasion was by refusing to have a single bite. Do you know what Freedom Around Food looks like? Just having one. Really. I can do that now. I can put a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, fresh out of the oven on my plate, eat it, and be done. I can pass up a cupcake, turn down a bowl of chips, and even shrug away a loaded waffle.
I want this for every woman out there that is struggling with the frustration and shame they have around their eating and drinking choices. I truly believe that our culture has gotten way too good at shoving highly palatable destructive culinary choices at us and made us feel trapped. God cares about your physical health and the mental head space that is being sabotaged as you try to fight yourself out of your unhealthy choices.
So, I’ll tell you how to get there.
First, you have to listen to your body again. It is that simple. Use the bathroom scale, see what foods cause you to put on weight easily and which one allow systematic inflammation to go down. Pay attention to your digestion. Arm yourself with knowledge about your unique body and how it functions. You can read a plethora of diet books and get information, too, but the best teacher is that beautiful body your soul is housed in. Honor it and start paying attention.
Second, start to work on what your heart and mind needs in order to stop turning to food for comfort. When I work with women we address this at two levels. The first is that we pay attention to our cravings and urges and learn to comfort ourselves with better self-care. I have them dig into their personalities and invest in refreshing their heart and soul. The second level is learning to handle life with less stress and heartache. We learn to have patience with ourselves and others, we learn to lean on God and rest in Him so that we aren’t running to a jar of peanut butter to fuel our depleted minds and hearts.
Third, we kick destructive habits to the curb and cultivate life-giving rhythms. Habits are the key. Once we learn what our bodies need and how to handle or prevent stress, then we develop habits that protect our choices, setting us up for a lifetime of success. Doing what serves us becomes what we do without having to really even think about it.
So, let’s recap, in order to have freedom around food you will want to start learning what foods your body likes by paying attention to mainly digestion and the scale. Next we learn to both handle and prevent stress, exploring practices that comfort and heal when we are hurting and guard our heart and mind. Lastly, we take all that information and develop habits, routines, and rhythms for living that give us ongoing health all the way around.
Yes, it isn’t a magic pill or an overnight process, but it is transforming. I had no idea that finding freedom around food would build my confidence and strengthen my precious connection to God with the help that I received from others.
Now, I want you to stay tuned, because in a couple weeks I’m releasing a new free resource that will help you with everything we’ve been talking about today.
You are brilliant, my love. I am so excited about the freedom that will be yours. Talk to you next week, good bye 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.