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Healthy Temple Manifesto

 

I lost a significant amount of weight only one other time in my life. In my first couple of years at Queen’s University I put on the “freshman 15”, only in my case it was the “freshman 40”. I knew things were out of control that summer and so I came home with the idea that I would get my life back on track.

 

To make a fairly long story short, I realized that my relationship with food (and indulgence, in general) was proportionally linked to the state of my soul. I knew that the only way to change was to admit that it was foremost a spiritual problem. And then I had to repent: totally turn from my wayward path and move in a new direction. I basically had to confess and agree with God that what I was doing was sinful and choose what was right by relying totally on Him. That was so hard.

 

I feel like this time may be harder because I cannot plead ignorance. I do know better and have lost touch with that dependence on God to deliver me from this bondage. And I am a slave to it. I know that this analogy sounds extreme, but overeating is an addiction and I know I am not the only one that struggles. The proof is in the pudding (or in my case, the muffin top)!

 

I think part of the reason so many are enslaved by their destructive habits is simply because they do not take God’s view and call it what it is: sin. We are so afraid of offending people or making them feel uncomfortable that we, in essence, enable them to continue down dangerous paths. To speak about gluttony from the pulpit is unheard of and certainly taboo at all the potluck events! Even though verses like 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 remind us that our bodies are temples for the Holy Spirit and that we ought to honour God with them, we rarely hear a sermon about how overeating is not God-honouring.

 

 

James 5:16 exhorts believers to confess their sins to each other and to pray for each other to bring about healing. This is part of the reason I am blogging. I want to confess what I see to be a problem so that I can be accountable to do something about it. I want to be healed from this affliction but I actually find the church to be rather counter productive in supporting healthy living. I hope this will change because people need guidance to deal with the heart of their issues with food. I know, I do.

 

One Christian author makes me think that things are looking up for the church. Lysa TerKeurst wrote an excellent book called Made to Crave (www.madetocrave.org) and it addresses so many of these issues from a Christian perspective. I highly recommend the content to anyone who is open to being convicted about idolatry (in any form but especially food) and ready to be shaken out of his/her complacency (though, I must admit, the writing style was a little too…well, let’s just say it wasn’t for me). I commend her for actually speaking truth to a mostly unreceptive audience. This problem is an epidemic in North American culture and there are few people who stand up for the spiritual side of things because it is unpopular. You can sell as many diet and exercise programs that you want but don’t bring God into it. I mean, who wants to be told that they actually love potato chips or chocolate more than God? It’s embarrassing and judgemental and rather intrusive.

 

The main idea in TerKeurst’s book is that we are attempting to satisfy our craving for spiritual significance with things that will never satisfy. We are looking to food instead of God for our joy, our comfort, our fulfillment, our peace. That is the missing piece in all of our weight loss strategies: until we acknowledge that it is a spiritual problem, we cannot actually overcome our temptations. We will continue in this vicious cycle of weight gain and weight loss with no real freedom. (Yo-yo, anyone?)

 

So, with the idea that I want true freedom and not just the next quick fix, I have composed a manifesto: a series of statements that I want to shape my actions as it relates to a healthy body. And these are things that need to change permanently. It is a lifestyle overhaul not a “diet” that I am after.

I will share it with you in its current (somewhat seminal) form:

 

  1. I will rely on God each moment to deliver me and to satisfy my spiritual hunger.
  2. I will solicit support and accountability.
  3. I will examine the motivation behind my cravings and address them with truly satisfying solutions.
  4. I will eat only when I am hungry.
  5. I will eat slowly and savour each bite.
  6. I will eat less and I will stop when I am full.
  7. I will drink lots of water.
  8. I will not waste calories on things that I do not really want/need to eat or drink.
  9. I will listen to my body and feed it the healthy food that it craves.
  10. I will give in to helpful distractions when I am tempted, to displace the craving (like blogging, chewing gum, sipping tea, walking, calling a sponsor etc.).
  11. I will plan ahead and anticipate potential concerns for overindulgence (read: parties, buffets, etc.).
  12. I will keep it simple and not give in to the latest dieting trends.
  13. I will keep healthy options in my home at all times and minimize unhealthy snacking.
  14. I will make regular sleep at consistent times a priority.
  15. I will exercise at least three times a week in some form.
  16. I will look for ways to add activity to social interactions.
  17. I will try to choose activity over passivity whenever possible, even if it is simply taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  18. I will help others on their journey by being transparent about my own.
  19. I will read the Scriptures and other edifying and encouraging books.
  20. I will pray.

 

52

 

 

 

 

 

I cried last night. (Actually, this entry was composed a couple of weeks ago now but you get the idea.)

 

Yes, that’s right.  For those of you who know me, this is a rare occasion.  I’d like to say it was because of some precious moment with my children or some alarmingly tragic event but, alas, it was not.

 

It was more about coming to terms with truth.  While sitting at my dining room table, the window reflected back a reality that brought me to tears. I walked upstairs and weighed myself after this visual revelation and discovered the naked (sorry for the visual) truth: 207 pounds.

 

Not okay.

 

It seems so trite to say that I am that shallow but perhaps I am.  I am in mourning for a lost person – the one hiding under the extra 52 pounds.   I don’t look like myself anymore and I know why:  I have neglected and indulged in indecent proportions and I am reaping what I have sown.  Perhaps it is tragic, after all.

 

The last time I cried was when my 9-year-old daughter, Gwyneth, crossed the finish line for her 5K run in the top thirty of her 1000 girl heat.  I was overwhelmed with pride.  Now, I am overwhelmed with shame.  I couldn’t have run that distance with her and I want to be able to next year at this time.

 

 

In the past, I have found that truth is like that: a bit of a slap in the face.  It’s a wake up call to reality and you can’t pretend it away. That number is the truth and it is staring me in the face:  207.

 

And, as if the reflection and the scale were not enough, the facts were made abundantly clear when I started my afternoon shopping for clothes.  Ugh.  I hate shopping, even at the best of times (and sizes).  I’d rather live inside my head – in thoughts, and music and creative ideas – but, alas, God saw fit for me to live in this body and it must be clothed.

 

Brace yourselves: I specifically went to shop for active wear and bathing suits!  Talk about an exercise in discouragement.  I mean, couldn’t I just have another baby?  That seems far less painful! (Just kidding kids, it is far more painful, don’t be fooled.)

 

However, this issue isn’t about baby fat, though I would like to justify my overeating and blame my four little monkeys for it.  It isn’t about stress, though 10 months of full-time teaching, taking care of 4 kids and a complete home renovation is enough to put anyone over the edge. It isn’t about other health concerns, either.  All my excuses and justifications don’t amount to anything substantial other than a higher dress size.

 

Simply put, it is about disobedience:  I know what I ought to do but I do not do it.

 

There is no magic formula to weight loss or health, despite millions of articles and books and programs that want you to believe otherwise.  This is all there is to it:  eat less, move more.  The trick is to actually eat less and move more.  That is what I must do.

 

Here’s the bottom line:  I have a self-discipline problem.  I do need to figure out how to live in this body after all.  And I need to do it in a way that honours God to maintain any spiritual integrity.

 

So, I am giving myself a specific goal:  52 pounds in 52 weeks.  And you, my dear readers (Jason, Loreli, Mom), are going to keep me accountable.

 

This is the long view.  The next year is about getting my body back.  With no additional parties destined to inhabit it ever again, it is time to feel okay in my own skin.

 

New Year’s Resolutions

Taking a new step, uttering a new word is what people fear the most.

~ Fyodor Dostoyevski ~

I am treating July 1st as the start of my New Year.

As a teacher, this seems like the perfect time to actually pause and reflect on the blessings of the year and to ponder what needs to change. The rest of the year is too crazy-paced for such musings (perhaps I should resolve to slow down)!

So, I am making resolutions.  The first one is to blog (check).  The second is to address the self-discipline thing that seems to be plaguing my life, specifically in the areas of physical and financial health.  And maybe flossing.  I’ll keep you posted.

Freedom List

As a measure of financial integrity, I am trying to get my spending under control this summer.

Most of my money is spent without thinking which, of course, is a significant problem.

I have come to see my spending as a series of trade offs:  where can I save so that I can have money to spend on the things that really matter?  An example of this would be my recent conversion to the cult of price matchers.  I now see that it is worth checking for the best price in flyers (though it is time consuming and it does require organization and shopping without kids) because the money I save buys me a babysitter for date night!

A few of my colleagues (and friends) were excited about the challenge of a “summer of freedom” and we were (and are) sharing ideas about how to enjoy life on a very tight budget.

I guess we are all out to prove that the best things in life are, in fact, free.

This is my mission, should I choose to accept it:  find a way to have a fantastic quality of life for myself and my family without the hefty price tag.

I started this list in an attempt to respond to the question: what can I do without spending money or how can I do this without spending money?

The list is in no particular order and my compulsion to organize wants me to categorize everything for easy access but that will have to be a project for another day.

Here is my “freedom list” so far.

  1. Start your own blog 😉
  2. Visit www.freestuffcanadaguide.ca  for all kinds of free deals!
  3. Scavenge at “large item pick up” times.
  4. Watch TV online.  Visit www.jellytelly.com for excellent  (and free) kids programming or check your local networks for your favourite shows.
  5. Download free music, books, and podcasts for      entertainment.
  6. Organize a walking or book club.
  7. Backyard water play:  kiddie pool with tub toys, water      balloons, bubbles, sprinkler and the like.
  8. Learn origami or fold paper airplanes using YouTube      videos.
  9. Start a journal.
  10. Prepare for holidays (Christmas letter, organize wrapping, make lists etc.) in advance.
  11. Write some letters or emails or do some creative writing.
  12. Go coupon scavenging.
  13. Attend a free community class.
  14. Attend a church service or gathering.
  15. Try yoga, or Pilates, or Zumba  – borrow a DVD from a friend or attend a free community class.
  16. Exchange massages with your partner or foot rubs with your kids.
  17. Take a long bath.
  18. Volunteer somewhere in your neighbourhood.
  19. Build a cardboard castle from an old box.
  20. Star (or moon) gaze.
  21. Borrow books from the library or audio books from www.booksshouldbefree.com
  22. Go for a drive with a travel mug of coffee or tea from home.
  23. Listen to CDs that you haven’t heard in a while  – make mixed CDs for various artists, moods and occasions from your existing collection.
  24. Take in free local programming – like story times (Thursdays at 10:00 at Elmvale Public Library), movies (2:30 Tuesdays at Elmvale Public Library) or reading/craft programs (Lego mania Thursdays at 10:00 Elmvale Public Library).
  25. Have a movie marathon at home.  Invite some friends and potluck the junk food.  (This year:  the “Earnest” movies, Muppets and Mr. Bean are on the roster for a rainy day.)
  26. Pack some food and some toys and some sunscreen      and head to the beach.
  27. Keep a Rubbermaid bin in your vehicle with a ball, a Frisbee, and a few other items that could make stopping at a park for a play a simple thing.
  28. Free Samples?  Visit www.canadiancoupons.net/category/freebies/free-samples/?r=2ghot
  29. Colour, draw, paint or “craft” with supplies you already have.
  30. Revamp beaded jewellery by repurposing the beads into new items.
  31. If you have a Kindle or a Kobo reader, download      some of the classics for free!
  32. Bake.
  33. Surf YouTube for interesting videos or new music.
  34. Look for free iPhone apps  www.apple.com/ca/iphone/from-the-app-store/
  35. Have  a home spa day.
  36. Organize a “Santa Swap” – Several parents gather with their gently used items, for each item donated they get a token or a button to trade in for another item that would work for under the tree!
  37. Clean your vehicle.
  38. Take in free fireworks, music and art festivals.
  39. Swim at a neighbour’s pool.
  40. Plant a veggie garden and share/swap seeds with a neighbour.
  41. Have a bonfire in the backyard.
  42. Print colouring, craft and activity sheets from the internet for the kids. www.crayola.com/free-coloring-pages is only one of MANY sites that have great stuff for kids!
  43. If you are into paper crafting this website has some fabulous freebies and ideas: www.ellinee.com/blog/fabulous-freebies/
  44. Invite visitors for coffee and dessert or a potluck dinner party or BBQ.
  45. Review books and get them for free at www.booksneeze.com
  46. Host a garage sale and put that “found” money      towards an outing.
  47. Shop with gift cards (as long as you did not purchase them!)
  48. Visit  www.freecycle.org/group/CA for practical or fun stuff or to get rid of some clutter.
  49. Go out to eat on a “kids eat free” night.  Check out www.freestuffcanadaguide.ca/kids-eat-free-days-list-of-canadian  for options and links.
  50. Do your school supply shopping from home first as a scavenger hunt.  Make a list and see what items can be complied without spending a cent.
  51. Play board or card games.
  52. Host birthday/theme parties with items that you      already have in your house.  One example we have used is a Puppy Party – collect all books, stuffed animals, etc. with that theme to decorate. Have kids draw posters with puppies, create your own scavenger hunt with hand drawn paw print clues, draw paw prints on the cupcakes in multicoloured icing, print puppy pages      from the internet for a home made take home colouring book, watch Blue’s  Clues, Beethoven, or any number of dog-themed movies etc.
  53. Make homemade gifts, cards or “acts of service”      coupons.  Even re-gift gently used      or new items to willing recipients. (Consider a re-gift birthday party.)
  54. Send kids for sleepovers with grandparents!
  55. Gardening: many seeds and plants can be sprouted from a neighbour’s bounty without spending a cent.       Rearranging and transplanting (and, of course, weeding) are also free.
  56. Home organization, purging and cleaning are time consuming but very low cost with lovely results. My mottos: If you don’t know that it is useful or believe that it is beautiful – let it go! and Everything has a place and everything in its place.
  57. Be active: hike, walk, bicycle, swim, play soccer etc.  – very little apparatus needed (could also be borrowed, if not already owned).
  58. Explore nature in your area:  lots of parks, trails, forests etc. do not require a parking pass to visit.       www.ontarioparks.com/english/index.html
  59. Do a clothing/accessory swap with friends.
  60. Breathe deeply.

Please be sure to add your best ideas in the comments section and we’ll keep the list going!

Sarah Unplugged

I have wanted to blog consistently for some time.  Many of my friends have encouraged me to do so but I have always argued that I do not have the time.  Now, I am making the time.  This is something that is important to me and I am determined to make it a priority.

This blog is about me sorting out my life and my thoughts, not about having it all figured out.  So please read with that in mind.  I’m attempting to answer the questions that plague me, to process day-to-day observations, to pay attention and to reflect on what I notice, and to chronicle ongoing struggles and successes.

Primarily, I am looking to be honest with myself.  I hope that my example might encourage others to evaluate their lives and to live authentically as well.  There will be no censorship or ear-tickling, I’m just putting my journey out there.  If that is of interest to you, please read on.  If not, I will not take your lack of readership personally (being a follower, often isn’t a good idea anyway).

These words are me.  Take me or leave me.  I’m not trying to impress or offend (so if I impress or offend you, it is purely coincidental).  I’m just trying to be real.

My life is demanding.  Lots of people want a piece of me: my husband, my four kids, my family, my friends, my students and the list goes on.  I need to blog for me as a way of clawing back a bit of myself amidst the demands of daily living.  I have learned that I need to practice self-care first in order to care for others and, for me, blogging is a way to do that.

I have always had the compulsion to put pen to paper, so to speak, and I have come to realize that is a necessary thing for my life.  I believe in the therapeutic and clarifying power of the written word and I have taught many classes and workshops that promote this belief.  Despite my own understanding of its importance, I have not practiced what I preach.  I want to change that.

I believe journaling (blogging) can be a type of spiritual discipline:  a way to record and remember your journey and to reflect on your personal growth. And since, the palest ink is stronger than the most miraculous memory (Chinese Proverb),  I will write my life as a way of remembering. (Lord knows if I can’t remember the names of my own children, I will need a little help!)

With that said, I will try desperately to write a blog and not a polished article.  Yes, Lori, I am taking your advice:  blogs are not meant to be fine-tuned.  In light of the conversational tone and my tendency to perseverate on the small details, I ask you to keep the English teacher jokes to yourself.  I can hardly type a Facebook status update without scrutinizing every word because of my professional life!  This is not an assignment that I am handing in for your review.  Please be forgiving and I will try to extend the same courtesy to myself.

The other day my husband texted: Just blog it.  It is good for the soul.  Ultimately, that sums up my purpose in starting down this path.  I will write because it is a spiritual need.

And, if my transparency and pondering can encourage or inspire one of you, I guess it is worth going public.