Tuesday, January 11, 2011

To Lose Weight You Gotta Lose the Excuses

Roughly around five years ago, I was in the shape of my life.  I looked great, but more importantly, I felt great.  Few things could tire me out, and I had the lowest body fat percentage from as far back as I can remember.  I knew that I was healthy even without looking at a scale.  I was eating right and had a very active lifestyle.  I had even signed up to take courses to become certified as a group exercise instructor through the encouragement of one of my own instructors at the YMCA.  This was right before I got married, and most of you know the rest of the story up until now.  About 3 1/2 months after we got married, I peed on a stick and two lines popped up, and three days after our first anniversary, our first child was born.  I nursed her and thought that I'd magically lose all of my baby weight and then some, but that didn't happen needless to say.  Right around her first birthday, we found out we were pregnant again, and I actually did lose quite a bit of weight after Carter was born and found myself within 5 pounds of my pre-pregnancy weight.  When Carter was 8 months old, we learned that we were expecting Numero Tres who is now 4 1/2 months old. 

If there is an excuse, I've thought about it and could actually make it sound legit.  Examples:
  • Cooking nutritiously isn't cheap, especially when you're on a single income.  
  • What do I do with my kids while I'm working out?
  • I'm not that big for having had three kids in three years.
  • And the list could go on and on...
 Here are some ways that the Lord has helped re-shape my thinking regarding some of my most frequently used excuses...

My kids won't like nutritious food.
WRONG!  We've made major changes regarding our eating habits over the past weeks, and the kids have LOVED it.  All the Christmas candy and goodies that were leftover have been thrown out.  They haven't asked where they went.  I've missed them more than the kids have.  :)  Instead, we've been enjoying homemade smoothies in the afternoons when we're craving something sweet.  Grace even helps me throw everything in the blender, and she loves pressing the "smoothie" button and watching it blend.  We've had plenty of fresh fruit on hand, and the kids are begging for it with every meal and snack...so much so that I've had to start HIDING it because we're having diaper issues...not kidding!  We've also had at least one serving of fresh vegetables (not frozen or canned) with every meal in the past week, and I didn't make enough!  There were no leftovers! 

What will I do with my kids while I'm working out?
This wasn't as easy to answer as some of the other questions.  I've tried a lot of different solutions.  Going at 5:00 a.m. worked most days, but occasionally Caleb would wake up and need to be fed, and Stephen couldn't really help him out.   We could each go separately at night to our local gym, but that would obviously occupy any amount of time that we would have together as a family in the evenings.  So we researched and visited gyms and checked out their childcare programs.  This was a huge step for me because I'm very spoiled and blessed with reliable childcare.  I have a large handful of "go-to" people who I depend on to watch my precious babies, and every single one of them is a family member or someone who might as well be a family member because we are close friends!  The Child Watch program at our local YMCA was impressive to say the least.  I was very comfortable with it, and observing dispelled most of my fears.  I've dropped off the kids there now three times, and it has been a wonderful experience.  In fact, the first two days I went back and checked on them and saw that they were having so much fun, so I went back and worked out more!  Carter cried when we dropped him off the first two days, but yesterday he went right in with no problems and started playing!

Cooking nutritiously isn't cheap.
Well, it's not.  Leaner meat is more expensive.  Fresher vegetables are more expensive.  But I can learn to exhibit portion control!  And I can make the meals as lean as possible by modifying ingredients.  I do try to add more vegetables than what the recipes calls for to add in more vitamin and minerals.

I'm not THAT fat.
I'm not gonna lie.  I get this a lot.  Actually, what I hear the most is, "Courtney, you look great for having just had three kids."  I know that people mean this as a compliment, so I try to take it as one, but honestly, I know what the scale says, and they don't.  I know what it could/should say but doesn't (yet).  I want to look great.  Period.  Without the added phrase, "for having just had three kids."  And not because I want compliments but because I need more discipline and I know that I can do better.  Stephen and I do not have health on our side when it comes to genetics.  We both have diabetes, heart disease, and cancer in our future if previous generations are any indication of what's to come.  (Wow!  That was really depressing to just type!)  I want to do what I can to live an abundant life without being an abundant size! :)

I can't afford participating in a weight loss program that costs money.
This one is true.  Our family had to choose...either a gym membership or membership to a weight loss program.   We chose a gym membership for a few reasons.  First of all, we are a family on a single income, and I can't justify preparing two different meals, one for Stephen and me and then a different one for the kids.  I also can't justify spending our limited income on meals delivered to our door that only I could eat.  I also don't have an overwhelming amount of free time to go and weigh in at a meeting and then sit and listen to a pep-talk, but just FYI, I've been involved in Weight Watchers, and I personally think it's the best program,other that First Place. :)  After I got to the end of my excuses, the bottom line was this: I knew exactly what I should be doing and exactly what I was doing wrong.  I think if we're all honest with ourselves, we could all admit that.  I have a lot of knowledge about living a healthy lifestyle and eating right.  That's what happens when one of your dearest friends is a registered dietitian.  Since I know (knowing and doing are two different issues though, right?) what to do regarding how we eat, we decided to spend the money on a gym membership so that all of us could reap the benefits.   We needed a more active lifestyle more than we needed to count our calories (although we are doing that somewhat as well).  Although I didn't want to get involved in one of those programs, I seriously needed the accountability (weighing in regularly for someone other than myself) that most of those types of programs offer.

So I couldn't even use that as an excuse anymore!  Our church is hosting a "Biggest Loser" competition (which happens to be one of my favorite TV shows) for the next 90 days.  We paid $10 to enter, and at the last weigh-in, the person who has lost the largest percentage of their body weight gets the money.  There are no "meetings" other than just showing up to weigh-in each week, and you can use whatever type of eating plan you want or whatever works best for you.  I want this to become a lifestyle for us beyond the next 90 days even if we (Stephen is participating too) don't win the money. I've been to a few group exercise classes in the past week and quickly realized that I MISS it! Seriously! The YMCA is maybe 10 minutes from our house, and I have to leave at least 45 minutes before class begins because I have to check the kids into childcare, and the crazy women who attend the same class as me are psycho vultures and territorial about their equipment (which really belongs to the YMCA) and their "spot" in the room. But so far, it has been completely worth it.

I'm thankful that God brought to mind a counterattack for every excuse that I could mention.

What about you?  What are your excuses? 

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Permission to Begin Again

So it's January 2nd, and I already broke my "New Year's Resolution" or whatever you wanna call it. 

Part of my goal for 2011 involves not just my time and words but also the "meditations of my heart." And Satan knows that that's my weak spot...my Achilles...an easy area for him to establish a foothold in my life and my new year.

So this morning I woke up on guard against the enemy because I was already anxious about a personal fear that I regularly struggle with, and I knew it was very likely to happen.  Throughout the entire morning I prayed and prayed that God would prevent my potential concern from actually happening, but that's not how the morning played out.  Now, my fear coming to fruition coupled with my tendency to think of all scenarios as LIFE OR DEATH was not a good mix, and I sat on the back pew this morning and bawled.  If you know me, you know that I love to sing, especially about my Savior, and not one word came out of my mouth during the awesome time of worship this morning because I couldn't utter anything because I was upset, defeated, and so disappointed in myself.  I sat and wondered how I had already let myself and Him down after only two days into this new year.  I sat and wondered how on earth I was going to survive another year and become more like Him when something relatively petty had discouraged me to the point of not even being able to focus and offer the Lord a praise offering. 

So I sat down and pulled out my Bible and knew exactly where I needed to open it. 

"Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. " Lamentations 3:22-23

When I was in Weight Watchers my senior year in high school, one night the facilitator gave us each a small piece of paper during the meeting after we'd already weighed in.  On the piece of paper, it simply said, "Begin Again." The leader explained that the piece of paper was to be a simple reminder to us that we always had permission to "begin again" whenever we had messed up in our weight loss efforts.  Now, please know that I'm not encouraging you to seek out your local Weight Watchers meeting for theological wisdom because, quite frankly, I think it's all gotten a little "New Age-ish" for me and my personal convictions regarding the renewing of your mind, but the little slip of paper said a lot more to me than just "Begin Again."

Regarding weight loss, I am very guilty of an "all or nothing" mentality.  For example, on Sunday morning if I fall into temptation and eat a 300 calorie donut, rather than just getting back on track and making wise choices for the remainder of the day and maybe doing a few extra minutes of cardio or something to make up for the extra calories, I'll just fall into the slippery slope of "well, I've already blown it, so I might as well blow it big!" And I'll make poor choices at lunch, eat an unhealthy snack, and then eat something good and greasy and for dinner.  So 300 extra, useless calories turns into probably more than 1,000 useless calories.  Great logic, huh? This example happens to me ALL THE TIME, especially regarding food, and I'm daily praying that God will change my heart and mind to honor Him through my food choices this year.  In my head I always think, "Well, I've already blown if for today (even though it may have only been 9:30 a.m.), I guess I'll just start over tomorrow."  Then I'll continue to make dumb choices for the remainder of the day.

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" Romans 6:1

(By the way, there is a point to all this, and maybe I'll get to it if you're still reading...)

Such a dangerous mentality mine is, ESPECIALLY regarding our walk in obedience with the Lord.  We are not "unredeemable."  I wish I would have truly known that during my four years in college.  I felt like I truly was unredeemable, and so I continued to sink further and further into sin, and one led to another to another, because I felt like I couldn't start over, anew and afresh.  I certainly didn't think I could "begin again."

Just because I allowed my mind and heart to fall into a trap of sin this morning, my goal for 2011 is not ruined or void or unattainable. 

I'm thankful that our God allows us to "begin again." And I'm pretty certain that I don't even have to wait until in the morning or 2012 for that matter. 

P.S. I'll certainly need to cash in my "Begin Again" card on January 6th because I plan on eating a piece of Red Velvet Cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory on or around my birthday.  And I don't plan on sharing.  And if someone would like to share my plans with my hubby, that would be great because I'm fairly certain he has no plans of ever reading this blog.  So thanks in advance for passing along this little tidbit of info to him. :)