Monday, January 31, 2011

Little By Little...

And bit by bit, we are made over into His image. It doesn't happen overnight, even though as impatient humans we would like it to be that way. Sometimes it happens in bigger doses than others, and sometimes we have major breakthroughs that hit us immediately. But at other times, it doesn't seem like much is going on. These are the times when more is happening than we even know...but God knows.
Today is one of those days when I have to remind myself of this. I got on the scale this morning to find a whopping loss of .2 pounds. That's right, there is a decimal point before that 2. There are weeks I lose 2 or 3 pounds, or even at least a pound or something close to it. This was not one of those weeks. Now, I also remind myself that my "monthly gift" is here, and that gift always weighs a little bit more than I think it's going to. I think about the great week I had in terms of getting more done, having more energy and squeezing in extra exercise. I had one splurge when I had dinner with my old high school friends...I ate a healthy dinner, but treated myself to dessert. We had such a wonderful time together and I am thankful that we were all able to spend an evening catching up...that in itself is completely priceless. The rest of the week I ate pretty healthy, so that was the only splurge.
Still...I am also grateful that I lost SOMETHING this week! The scale still moved in the direction I want it to go. Waiting on God's timing means that He is in control...and he is strengthening me in body, mind, and spirit even when it doesn't show on the scale. Sometimes when he sculpts me into His image, he takes away big chunks and smooths over whole sections at a time. Then there are times like now, when He chips away a little here and there, fine-tuning certain aspects of me that need that the attention to detail that only He can give. He wants me to be just right, and He knows what it takes to get me there.
So I move on to another week and more chances to be braver, stronger, and healthier. No matter what, I know God has my back. He has a lot in store for me and I can't wait to see what's next!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Gratitude Is Everything!

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "Attitude is everything". I want to add my own...GRATITUDE is everything.
Gratitude is truly a part of our attitudes, and can help us live better lives. Appreciating what we have makes us happier, and the happier we are the more we will find to be grateful for. It's one of those Catch-22's, but in a good way. This is once cycle that is NOT vicious...and one I actually want to stay in!
My dad got his test results back yesterday. They showed that the growth was cancer, but just superficial. It was non-invasive and they got it all, so he doesn't need any other treatments other than to be checked again in 3 months and regularly after that. Dad told me that he prayed a lot, thanking God for giving him a warning symptom so early on that it was caught before it got any worse. He considers this a wake-up call from Him to take better care of himself. I am also grateful to God for the results. While it would have been nice to hear that it wasn't cancer, for it being cancer this was the best possible scenario and makes me appreciate my dad even more. God works in mysterious ways and for that I praise Him.
I'm also learning ways to relieve stress by being grateful. Sometimes my internet provider runs really slow, and I used to just stew in front of the computer waiting for it to do what it was supposed to. This only stressed me out more. Now I get up and walk away from the computer when this happens...I run up and down the stairs a few times or do some other exercises. I say a prayer of thanks to God for giving me the chance (and reminder) to get up and move instead of just sitting there and letting my muscles get stiff. When I'm having a rough day, more often than not I stop and think about any good things that happened that day to calm myself down. I'm human and still have my moments, but I'm getting so much better at remembering to be thankful for what I have.
I hope you will join me in developing an Attitude of Gratitude. It glorifies God and makes us happier as well. What a wonderful gift to use in this world! Even on the worst of days, there is always something to be grateful give thanks!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Guess What I Found...And Guess What I Lost?

I KNEW I had ordered this before! I've been talking to a couple of friends about Yoga Booty Ballet, and was thinking about purchasing it from them. I put it off until after the holidays, because money is tight...and I could have sworn that I already had it somewhere in my house.
And I do! I decided to brave the "storage" room in the basement...the one where all of the holiday decorations are kept and sometimes things get put when we need to clean up quickly. As it turns out, Yoga Booty Ballet is one of those things that I put in this safe place. It was so "safe" that it was protected from me as well. I went through some boxes and there it was. Now I can start using it, and I'm motivated to clean out the storage room. Who knows what else I've kept "safe" in there!
And as for what I lost: Today was scale day, and I now weigh 213.6. I lost 1.4 pounds this week by turning to God and exercising to relieve stress instead of reaching for the sugar. My body feels a lot better as well. I thank Him everyday for the courage and strength He gives me as I navigate my life journey and work on being healthier in every way.
I am also praising Him for something else...if you've seen my post about Joanne you'll be happy to know she is doing much better now. She still has a long way to go, but she is breathing on her own now and starting to move more. She's made remarkable progress so far, and all glory goes to God. He is working miracles through her and I can't wait to see what other miracles He has in store for His sons and daughters!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Praying For Joanne

If you follow me on Twitter, you've probably seen my many posts and retweets about Joanne. I knew nothing at all about Joanne before last week, when another Twitter friend retweeted about Joanne's situtation. Being that she has the same last name as friends of ours, I was immeditaely drawn to click on the link and find out what was going on.
Joanne Heim is a 38 year old wife and mother, beautiful both inside and out. She lives in Colorado, and on January 11th she suffered a stroke while on her treadmill. She's been in the hospital ever since...the doctors induced a coma to relieve the swelling in her brain. They are slowly weaning her off of that so they can see how she does and what the next step is. The latest update is that not much has changed and they are adjusting her medications again...she may or may not have to be led back into a coma. Her family and friends have an extremely strong faith, but this is all very stressful and frightening for them and they could use your prayers.
Joanne is also a Christian writer, penning her blog "The Simple Wife" and a couple of books that are on Amazon. If you go to the top right of my blog page and click the "Praying for Joanne" button, it will take you to her blog, where her husband and sister are currently posting updates. Go back a little further and read Joanne's own thoughts; you will be moved and inspired. Also on her page are links to her books and other ways you can help her family through this difficult time.
May I also add here...I have a couple of friends dealing with a cancer diagnosis who could also use your prayers. My dad is doing very well, but he's still waiting for the results to come back from the lab so please pray for him as well. God is very pleased when we lift each other up in prayer!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

It's Not JUST About The Food

This is something I've known for a long time, but has been hitting home with me so much more lately. I guess you could say that things are starting to click in my brain. I've been reading some books lately that drive the point, or any other addiction, is just the attempt to fill a void in our lives.
I recently finished reading "Reshaping It All" by Candace Cameron Bure and Darlene Schacht and it really had an impact on me. Something in our lives is missing and we are not fulfilled, so we turn to food or other addictions such as shopping, gambling, alcohol, etc. to fill that empty space. But the only way to fill that giant hole in our lives is God. He is the only One who can make us whole, and we need to turn to Him in everything we do.
I've been praying a lot more now, asking God to help me overcome the sugar and food addiction that has gripped me for such a long time. He is slowly revealing important lessons, and last night one of them popped out at me. Many times I used to promise myself a "treat" if I completed a large task or met my writing deadline. I would have something sweet as a reward for a job well done. Well...what kind of a "reward" is that? I'm actually punishing my body for a job well done by putting stuff into it that makes me feel sluggish later and gain weight. I need to let God determine my reward, and if I want to celebrate accomplishments in a healthy way I should listen to uplifting music or have fruit and yogurt to fuel my body rather than poison it.
If you are interested in learning more about "Reshaping It All" my book review is posted here. I love that God is revealing this important information to me, so I can share it with you. As we walk with God, may we become even stronger in Him.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Perseverance and Prayer Pay Off!!!

Remember what I said last week about not folding like a cheap lawn chair in 2011? Well, I kept my promise and took my own advice. My dad had to have surgery on Friday morning because a small growth appeared on his bladder and it needed to be removed and tested. Even though I was scared and nervous for him, I kept to my healthy plans and prayed constantly. I refused to collapse in a heap, because that's not what God made me for. He made me to overcome challenges and learn from them.
The surgery went very well...the growth was extremely small and just on the surface, so the doctor didn't have to dig any further; he got it all out. My dad didn't even need a catheter after the procedure, because it was so easy for the doctor to get out and didn't interfere with bathroom issues. My dad was in the recovery room in half an hour. We are still waiting on the lab results, but the doctor said even if it is something bad they got it so early that he may not need anything further, other than being checked regularly to make sure everything is still OK. I praise God that my dad saw blood in his urine...the doctor said that most people don't have any symptoms until the problem is much bigger. That blood, while scary, most likely saved my dad's life. Now it's a waiting game, but I trust God for it all to work out. I also want to thank all of my wonderful friends for all of the prayers and good thoughts. You are all such a blessing to me and I am forever grateful to have you in my life.
Since today is Monday, it was time for the scale once again. Prayer and resolve paid off once again, as I now weigh 215.0, losing one pound for the week. This is the kind of situation where I normally would have gained weight from sitting and worrying, but since I gave my worries to God and used His strength to stay on track I saw good results. A one pound loss is quite a victory this week...and I plan on many more victories to come!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Repeat After Me: I Will NOT...

I've been wanting to post a current picture of myself for the start of my 2011 leg of the journey. Now I have one. This photo shows four of the five Bitter Chicks who write the Browns blog Bitter Orange and Brown. Kris moved to DC, so she was not able to join us. From left to right are Paige, Alanna, Kristen, and myself. Since this was taken at our Bitter Chocolate party on January 2nd to celebrate the last game of the season, this is the perfect shot for my "Before" picture.
I have certainly already gotten my butt in gear so far this year, but there are still challenges. A couple of new challenges have presented themselves within the last few days, plus there are still the ones that were already there. I know 2011 is going to be a better year, and while I was thinking about it yesterday I suddenly found myself blurting out, "I will NOT fold like a cheap lawn chair in 2011!"
You see, those really cheap lawn chairs are made with crappy materials, so the minute you put any pressure on them they close up and collapse. No matter what the weight is of the person or item that is put upon the chair, it can't handle it. There is no strength there.
I am much stronger than that. God doesn't make anything crappy, so I know He created me to be a sturdy and well made "lawn chair" that can withstand any pressure that is placed upon it. He holds me steady as I turn to Him. As God's daughter, I have Him to help me not only survive but thrive. The same goes for you. Repeat after me... "I will NOT fold like a cheap lawn chair in 2011!"

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

(Not So) Sweet Poison

I've made quite a few discoveries in the last couple of days. On Monday I told you how my cousin felt better after cutting all of the artificial sweeteners out of his diet. I've cut back but not cut them out completely, so I wanted to delve further into this subject to see what I could find.
I certainly found a lot...and none of it was good. I wound up turning all of the information I found into an article, which was published yesterday as Negative Effects of Artificial Sweeteners. I'm getting plenty of responses from friends who have had the same experience, and I'm glad to spread the information so more people can be educated in this area.
As for my personal experience...I immediately had a bad reaction to Splenda a few years ago, with cramps and severe diarrhea every time I consumed something containing it. I stopped using anything with Splenda in it. Back then I worked at a bank, and one of my co-workers was regularly eating an energy bar everyday on her break. She kept wondering why about half an hour after eating it she had to immediately run to the bathroom with the same problems I had. I asked her if there was Splenda in the bar...she read the label and found that it did. I told her about what happened to me, and as soon as she stopped eating those energy bars she no longer had to run to the restroom. After a couple of weeks, she tried an experiment: She had one bar left and didn't want to waste it, so she finished it off at work. Lo and behold, in about 30 minutes she was in the bathroom. She never bought anything with Splenda after that, and neither have I.
My cousin and others have told me how much better they feel after cutting out not only Splenda, but Aspartame and Saccharin out of their diets. If you read my article, you will be shocked at some of the things that contain these substances, and the variety of illnesses and problems they can cause. Please join me in cutting these artificial sweeteners out of your diet...I'm willing to bet we all will feel so much better!

Monday, January 10, 2011

First Week of 2011...Success!

Ahh...the first weigh-in of the new year. It's always a mix of emotions...excitement, nerves, hope...all come into play as I step on the scale. Knowing that I did my best this week always helps, but of course I want to see progress in the form of a lower number.
Thankfully I saw the lower number that I wanted. I weigh 216.0, for a loss of 2.2 pounds this week. I'm very happy with that. I don't have several hours a day to work out, but I make sure that I exercise as much as possible. I had a very small slice of cake at my niece's birthday party on Saturday, but otherwise ate healthy foods. The only day I missed a workout was yesterday, dealing with the cat allergies from the weekend. My niece's cat, who hates almost everyone, decided to plop herself in my lap, lay down and nudge her head against me. It's funny how the kitties always snuggle up to the people who are allergic to them first! After some Benedryl and good old Vicks rubbed on my head, I'm feeling much better.
I have to add here...I did not take my 8zone on Saturday or Sunday. I started feeling really weird and shaky. My stomach was upset as well. The way I felt points to an allergy to an ingredient in one of the supplements, which has happened before with other products. Because 8 zone lists all of the ingredients on the website, I had checked to make sure nothing I was allergic to was in them before agreeing to start. So, there must be something in them that I didn't know would bother me. The supplements may still work for some of you, but for me they're not going to be an option.
I also learned something new this weekend. One of my cousins has been sick for over a month with an intestinal infection. He was not able to eat much for quite a while and dropped a lot of weight. (He was already thin so his weight loss was not a good thing.) When I saw him at the birthday party he looked MUCH better. He told me that he discovered that when he cut all of the artifical sweeteners out of his diet that he immediately began to feel better. When he tried them again he felt sick, so he is off of them now completely. I was listening to this as I sipped my diet soda...and could not finish drinking it. I switched to water, then had coffee with dessert. I've been cutting back on the diet drinks but still had one once in a while. Now I see that I need to totally cut them out, and other foods that have artificial sweeteners. I'm going to explore this subject more to see the connection, and I will keep you posted on my findings.
Even without the 8zone I'm on the right track for 2011...and there's no stopping me now. I thank God for the lessons He is teaching me along the way, and since he has my back I know I can accomplish anything!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Faith & Progress

I am now on Day 4 of 8zone...and so far so good! Every morning I take the Redzone that I mentioned on Monday, and in the early evening I take the Whitezone which helps with nutritional replenishment, revitalization, anti-aging, and immunity strength. Both of these formulas are already making me feel better, and I have more energy to complete my workouts. I take the Bluezone an hour before I go to bed...this assists with better sleep, muscle recovery, and antioxidant protection. I have definitely been sleeping better since I started on Monday, and I don't wake up feeling like I still need more sleep.
My faith is becoming stronger through this experience as well, along with many things that are happening in my life. I am attacking as God says, and I am starting to see the victories that are on their way. He is showing me smaller victories as I keep attacking toward a better life, both physically and mentally. I also truly trust in Him that more are on the way, as long as I keep working toward what He wants for me and the people in my life. The one thing He doesn't want me to do is give up...and I definitely won't. I am on the right path and it feels amazing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year...and Welcome to My 8zone Venture!

Happy New Year everyone! I told you I had exciting news for the new year, and now I can share it with you. I have been chosen to participate in something really cool with 8zone. This company was created by Olympic Gold Medalist Apolo Anton Ohno to assist in maximum performance and he is sharing it with all of us. Many people have already seen results in weight loss, increased energy, and strengthened immune systems. Since I qualify for help in all of those departments, 8zone is giving me the supplements below exchange, I am blogging about my 8zone experience for all of you. My 8zone representative, Will, is with me every step of the way to answer any questions I have and will be checking in with me often as I go.
Since I did enjoy my holiday weekend a little too much, I gained a couple of pounds. My official starting weight for 8zone is 218.2. There are three supplements to take throughout the day, and so far I have taken the Redzone at breakfast. Redzone is for focus, stable energy, strength, clarity, and weight loss. In the early evening I will take the Whitezone, and Bluezone is to be taken an hour before bedtime.
I started off with stretches this morning and am working more exercise into my day. 8zone still requires you to eat right and work out, which only makes is developed by an Olympian! The Browns press conference will be on TV in a few minutes (bye bye Eric Mangini) and I will be doing leg lifts, sit ups, etc. during the conference. This evening will be my treadmill workout with my new running shoes.
I will be keeping all of you posted on my 8zone experience and blogging even more than before. Here's to 2011...Zero Regrets!!!