Freedom for Life

I absolutely love it when I understand a Biblical concept! I know that sounds a little strange, not like the usual, ‘I love pizza’ or ‘I love that dress,’ but it is true! Too many times I have heard people say they, ‘don’t get that religious stuff’ or ‘Bible study is boring.’ If they only knew the freedom that comes from understanding God’s Word!

I have taught Bible study for over 10 years and throughout that time women have come to me and said that God’s word is just what they needed in their life and they would be lost without it. That is music to my ears and I am sure it is music to God’s as well! He gave us His word to help us. It is ‘living and active. Sharper than any double edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart’ (Hebrews 4:12).

So many of us turn to what the world offers for our life through magazines or books that may not be all bad, however, the Word offers us truth and hope in all areas of our life.

One of my favorite Bible studies is from Beth Moore called, ‘Breaking Free: Making Liberty in Life a Reality in Life.’ In the study Beth talks about the benefits of your relationship with God. They are

1. To know God and believe Him

2. To glorify God

3. To find satisfaction in God.

4. To experience God’s peace.

5. To enjoy God’s presence.

She goes on to say, ‘One of the most important truths I hope we’ve learned is that any benefit missing in our individual lives for any length of time is an indicator of a stronghold, an area of defeat. We are never more beautiful portrayals of mortals who know and believe God than when others can look at our lives, hear our testimonies, and say, ‘It is true.’ Beloved, that’s what it means to be living proof! If you bask in knowing God and dare to believe Him, someone close by has seen truth through your witness whether or not you are aware of the effectiveness of your testimony’.

‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is FREEDOM!” (2 Cor. 3:17)

What a life! Wouldn’t it be great if you could experience that freedom? To not be enslaved to the chains of this earth? Take a step towards freedom today. If you don’t know Christ as your personal Savior, choose to today! It is a great way to live and you will be an example of the hope that God offers!

Need some help finding the freedom offered through God’s word? Join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Faith and Fat (part 2)

Steve Arterburn

Connection is the key to a lifetime of freedom from obesity. This is most difficult due to the benefits of isolation. Some want to maintain it for fear of rejection. Their shame in their appearance and not being able to succeed produces feelings of intense inferiority. Many also enjoy the benefits of invisibility. They are not looked at or addressed as real humans so they can fade into the background with no risk of getting hurt or being known.

The second essential for long term success is breaking through a common barrier that does not seem to make much sense for those in such desperate shape. I make a challenge to them that they all have something in common, a bond among all who cannot stop overeating. Each one feels he or she is the exception to the rule, and believes that I will not deliver on my assertion. But I do.

That commonality is a ‘stubborn resistance’ to do anything but what they have already done. When I say it out loud and explain how they resist giving up their old ways, refusing to work through old problems and staying away from quick fixes that never fix, they all nod in reluctant agreement. It is this stubborn resistance that keeps them on the same path, creating greater frustration and weight every year.

The anecdote to this stubborn resistance is a humble willingness. They must humble themselves, come off the pedestal of weight loss expert and into the role of willing learner and courageous explorer of new things in uncharted territory. Showing up at Lose it For Life or in a counselor’s office is not a sign of willingness. It may merely be another attempt to prove that no one can help and weight loss is a lost cause. So I ask them to enter the process of willingness-willingness to listen, willingness to work on new areas, and willingness to connect.

The third essential for overeaters is to give up their fluctuating levels of effort to help and cure themselves. They have worked hard enough at severe diets, extreme exercise, and at trying to redeem themselves with greater efforts to win God’s favor and earn His forgiveness. Even those who are incapacitated due to their weight need to be told that they do not have the ability themselves to fix their own problem. They must come to believe that while they can’t save themselves, God can if they will let Him, even without trying to earn His favor.

And finally, they need to surrender their lives and will to God, seeking His presence, power and wisdom everyday.

Most will not do it unless they change their perception of God. Unless they come to believe in a God who loves them, rather than an angry and vindictive God, there is little chance for surrender. The concept of grace must be accepted deep within. They must see that they have been given unmerited favor that needs no work to earn. It is the understanding of grace that leads so many to finally give up and surrender. Once surrendered, they can go to work on the deeper issues of inner longings, deep-seeded appetites, and their empty souls. This new work becomes the core of their connections with others and the beginning of the healing process.

Without these three concepts being addressed and resolved, there is little hope for the overeater. They are doomed to wait on God’s miraculous touch or continue to discover the limits of self-effort, for it is not in effort that the solution comes. It is in clearing the roadblocks to the heart and soul of the underlying issues. Janel Puff, a therapist in Indianapolis and co-author of the Lose it for Life Devotional, wisely condensed the proper perspective on obesity and how to recover from it. She said, ‘The problem is physical, the cause is emotional, but the cure is spiritual.’

Helping people work on the physical aspects of the problem will only add to their frustration and despair. Unresolved spiritual issues of the heart will keep them locked into their old patterns and dependencies. Of course, the same goes for the drug addict and the alcoholic.

Faith and Fat (part 1)

Steve Arterburn

With the development of each new diet craze comes a new opportunity to help about 95% or more of those who fail. The more popular the diet that appears to work for everyone else, the greater the despair for those who try it, but are unsuccessful yet again.

Radical changes in food consumption alone can rarely be maintained for a lifetime, so it is only a matter of time before most people revert back to their old ways, rewarding themselves for a temporary life of deprivation with an overabundance of food.

Unless the moderately overweight or morbidly obese person experiences a radical shift in mind and heart, it is very unlikely, not impossible, but unlikely, that any diet will lead to permanent weight loss. Even with gastric by-pass surgery, there will be relapse and repeated failure unless the heart changes along with the anatomy alterations.

The comparison between overeaters and alcoholics and addicts is helpful in understanding the fallacy of expecting a new diet to produce lasting results.

The overeater and the addict have quite a bit in common:

1. Both use a substance to alter mood and medicate emotional pain.

2. Both develop a high tolerance, requiring more and more of the substance, in a futile attempt to experience previously attained or imagined levels of temporary comfort and relief.

3. Both eventually experience despair rather than relief or comfort from the substance of choice.

4. Both continue destructive behavior in the midst of adverse consequences.

5. Both experience withdrawal, craving relief throughout attempts to go without the substance of choice.

6. Both will die early if there is not a change in behavior.

7. Both have family members and friends who either perpetuate the problem, enable the problem, or sabotage attempts to change.

It is remarkable to most overeaters how their behavior, reactions, and emotional states mirror that of a drug addict or alcoholic.

Given the resemblance of both problems, it is not surprising that most overeaters fail at their attempts to change. They read books and implement plans to alter the way they consume their substance of choice in an effort to fix the problem. Can you imagine suggesting to an alcoholic a book on addiction that went to great lengths to tell an alcoholic how to drink differently? Who would recommend to an alcoholic a book that gives recipes of mixed drinks that contained less alcohol or a list of preferred alcoholic beers and wines?

Yet this is the home remedy that overeaters choose most frequently. Often times, therapists recommend this method and frustratingly monitor the temporary success, then the impending failure if the overeater stays in counseling that long. An overeater in counseling presents a unique opportunity to help in ways that no other experience has.

The wise therapist can confront the roadblocks to recovery and encourage the work required to get to the deeper issue: ‘Why do you eat so much?’ It is sometimes difficult and uncomfortable to bring up the issue but it is enabling to ignore it.

I remember sitting face to face with a woman who weighed approximately 350 pounds and came to me to discuss her cocaine addicted husband. It would have been easy for me to go through the steps of intervention that would result in treatment for her spouse, but I had to confront the visible problem in front of me. She was incensed that I would even want to discuss her weight rather than focus on how to help her husband. She predictably related that her weight gain was a direct response to her husband’s addiction. When I finally met with her husband, his exact words to me were, ‘My wife got fat so I got high.’

Both husband and wife would have to do three things if each was to overcome their dependencies on destructive amounts of a substance. It is the same three things for any overeater who has come my way.

At the Lose it for Life Institute, I have watched hundreds of morbidly obese clients roll through the doors in doublewide wheelchairs with oxygen tubes in their noses after paying for two round trip tickets because they could not fit into one seat. Not everyone is in that bad of shape, but whatever the condition, I confront at least one of three major issues keeping people fat in the midst of their most dire circumstances and consequences. After a few introductory remarks, I tell them they all have wasted their time and money coming to the Institute unless they break through their desire to isolate, practice connecting, and go home and connect with others who have the same problem. Connection is the key to a lifetime of freedom from obesity.

To be continued next week…

Join us at our next Lose It For Life Weekend.

Sowing and Reaping: Accountability

Excerpted from Life Recovery Bible by Steve Arterburn and Dave Stoop

While in recovery, we learn to accept responsibility for our actions, even when we are powerless over our addiction. We come to realize that all our actions yield consequences. Some of us may have deceived our self into thinking we can escape the consequence of the bad choices we have made. But with time, it becomes clear that God has made accountability a necessary element of healthy living.

‘You will always reap what you sow! Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful desires will harvest the consequences of decay and death. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.’ Galatians 6:7-8

The law of sowing and reaping can also work to our benefit. God spoke through the prophet Hosea, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of my love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’ Hosea 10:12

God says we always reap what we have sown. Even after we have been forgiven, we must deal with the consequences of our actions. It may take time to finish harvesting the negative consequences of our past sins, but this need not discourage us. Making a list of those we have harmed is one step toward planting good seeds. In time we will see a good crop begin to grow.

Check out God’s word in Hosea 10:1-12 and Zechariah 9.

Join us at our next Lose It For Life Weekend.
For information regarding help for drug or alcohol dependency see New Life Ministries Lakeview Health Systems.

The Stress Factor

Excerpted from Lose It for Life by Steve Arterburn & Linda Mintle

You’d have to be living on another planet not to know that stress affects your body in negative ways. One of those negative ways relates to weight gain. While an immediate response to stress may be a loss of appetite, repeated and chronic stress can cause the opposite effect, here’s why.

When you encounter stress, cortisol, along with other hormones, is released. Following a stressful event, the other hormones return to normal levels, but cortisol can remain elevated for a longer time period. Because this hormone provides energy for the body, it can stimulate appetite and result in weight gain that tends to be concentrated in the midsection or abdominal area.

According to Pamela M. Peeke, M.D., MPH, a former senior scientist at the NIMH, and an associate clinical professor of medicine at the University Of Maryland School Of Medicine in Baltimore, three factors affect central fat in women. They are poor lifestyle, declining levels of the hormone estrogen, and chronic stress. The amount of cortisol experienced with stress seems to vary from person to person. If you are someone who reacts to stress with increased appetite, you may be experiencing elevated cortisol levels.

Whether or not your urge to eat is driven by hormones, you can still interrupt the cycle, break the stress, and stop weight gain. Since stress is something we all experience, we all need to learn effective ways to manage or reduce it. Lifestyle changes recommended in this program can help you with stress.

Begin to evaluate what you are doing that may add stress to your life. Are there habits and practices you could change today that would make you feel better? The answer is probably yes. Think about your response to stress in terms of self care. How will you take care of yourself in order to battle the negative effects of stress?

1. Do you have effective ways of relaxing?

2. Do you regularly exercise?

3. How sensibly do you eat?

4. How well do you manage your time?

5. Are you getting enough sleep?

There is more information on these areas of managing your stress in the book Lose It for Life. If you recognize that stress is affecting your life, start today with one small change to reduce stress in your life!

Need some help overcoming the stress and weight gain in your life? Join us at our next Lose it For Life weekend.

The Difference Between Surrender and Control

Excerpted from Lose It For Life by Steve Arterburn and Linda Mintle

Surrender Control
God is the Master of the Universe. I can master all things.
God’s perspective is higher than mine. What I feel is all that is important.
My circumstances are part of God’s eternal perspective. If God is God, my circumstances must be changed now.
I must allow God’s plans to open up before me. My plans are all that matter. I demand immediate results.
I accept life knowing that all things work together for my good. I blame God when life doesn’t go the way I think it should.

A Poem About Overeating

I overate for happiness – and became unhappy.

I overate for joy – and became miserable.

I overate to be outgoing – and became self-centered.

I overate to be sociable – and became argumentative and lonely.

I overate for friendship – and made enemies.

I overate to soften sorrow – and awakened without rest.

I overate for strength – and felt weak.

I overate for relaxation – and became more tense.

I overate for assurance – and became doubtful.

I overate for warmth – and lost my cool.

I overate to feel Heavenly – and found Hell.

I overate to forget – and became haunted by my excess fat.

I overate for freedom – and became a slave to food.

I overate for power – and became powerless.

I overate to erase problems – and saw them multiply. 

I overate to cope with life – and invited an earlier death.

I overate because I had the RIGHT – and everything turned out wrong.

So I made it a rule, I don’t eat unless I’m truly hungry!

For more truth about overeating join us at our next Lose It For Life Weekend.

So how does this surrender thing work?

Christine E. Buckingham

“So, how does this surrender thing work?” some of you have asked me during our on-line LIFL web chats. “Isn’t that the same thing as just giving up?” No, that’s not what it means at all. Surrender is accepting the reality that if we are to change, then we have to surrender to the One who is able to change us. Surrender means surrendering to reality—accepting the truth that the choices we make have consequences. We cannot suspend the laws of the universe just because we don’t like them. If you consume more calories than your body requires, you will gain weight no matter how unfair it seems.

If you are familiar with Twelve Step programs, this will sound like Step One: Admitting that we are powerless. Powerless is how you feel when you have vowed not to approach the fast food drive through window, yet you find yourself once again shouting an order out the window. Worse yet, when the voice on the speaker asks if you want a combo, you say yes, and then, you super-size it. Now, not only do you feel the big bloat coming on, but you’re beating yourself up with how bad you are. And trying to get rid of that feeling of being bad is what fuels emotional eating.

We don’t have the equipment to get rid of these bad feelings. They are designed to take us to Jesus so that HE can take them away.

His method is always the same: he asks us to be honest with him about what we have done and admit our failure and our need for him.

The act of surrender is to look at ourselves in our moment of failure the way Jesus does. He sees us in our weakness and in our powerlessness and then he does the most amazing thing: He doesn’t avert his eyes, nor, does he withdraw his love. He loves us just as we are.

Let him love you in your failure. Don’t run from him. Run to him. Accept his love and let him give you a new star—this very moment.

You are not alone. Come join our weekly on line chats and share the joys and the agonies of this journey called life. God is cheering for you! And so are we!

Need some help surrendering? Join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Weight Loss Nutrition (Part 3)

Remuda Ranch

In previous articles, we discussed the when, where, how, and why of your eating habits. Now, let’s consider what you are eating by evaluating how often you eat certain foods. Take a look at the following questions, then tally your points accordingly. When you answer ALWAYS, give yourself 2 points; SOMETIMES, 1 point; NEVER, 0 points.

Do you consume at least:

– 2 servings of dairy daily?

– 2 servings of fruit daily?

– 2 servings of vegetables daily?

– 4 servings of grains or whole grain products?

– a serving of meat 4 times weekly?

Add up your total. If you drink more than 2 sodas per day (diet or regular), subtract 1 from your total score.

Where do you fit?

8-10: Doing well overall, keep it up

5-7: Okay, need some improvement

0-4: Wow—what are you eating? Immediate help is needed

Keep in mind this is a quick assessment of how you might be meeting your nutritional needs. Looking at your answers will tell you if you are getting enough calcium (dairy) for bone health, vitamins, and phytochemicals (fruits & veggies) for metabolic functions and disease prevention, fiber (fruits, veggies & grains) for bowel health, and protein, iron and zinc (meat) for healthy muscles, organs, and blood. If you scored a high number, but consume significantly more servings for certain items, you could be in trouble in a different direction. In future articles, we will explore the nutrients found in food, what foods should frequent your plate, and how to keep it full of enjoyment.

Join us at our next Lose it For Life Weekend.

Eat the Next Meal

Jennifer Cecil

Don Durham, PhD, and Clinical Director at Remuda Ranch Center for Eating Disorders frequently advised the residents at the clinic to ‘eat the next meal.’ His counsel was to women who had ‘acted out’ their eating disorder, by binging, purging, or restricting their intake of food. He appealed to the women, that they could recover from their slip quickly by getting back on their food plan as soon as possible. ‘Eating the next meal,’ means to eat the next snack or meal at the regularly scheduled time, no matter what you have previously eaten.

The tendency, after a binge, is to eliminate or restrict food intake at the next mealtime. That, in turn, sets you up to be ravenously hungry as blood sugar levels drop. You will be more likely to overeat, starting the cycle all over again.

‘Eating the next meal’ also prevents the sabotaging effects of ‘black and white’ thinking. Often times when we deviate from our food plan, we conclude that we are ‘off’ our diet. If we have failed to live up to our expectations, we surmise that we may as well continue binging because we are no longer ‘on’ our diet.

Our minds gravitate to only two states, success (being ‘on our diet’) or failure (being ‘off our diet’). When we go ‘off’ our diet, we lose momentum to adhere to our food plan. Sometimes we can go days, weeks, and even months before we are able to get back ‘on’ the diet. Needless to say, this can have disastrous effects on our weight and our health as we develop the ‘yo-yo syndrome’. When we finally get back ‘on’ the diet, we zealously and religiously adhere to the plan, until we slip up again. Because we are ‘on’ the diet again, we are convinced that we will be successful and that we will never deviate from it again, displaying ‘black and white thinking’ once again.

When we ‘eat the next meal’, we are taking life one meal at a time and therefore, not reinforcing the addictive ‘all or nothing’ mindset. We will avoid the swings in behavior, the fluctuation in weight, and the frustration of never making progress towards our health and fitness goals.

The next time that you deviate from your food plan, tell yourself the truth about what has just happened:

1. It is NATURAL to deviate at times from your plan. You are human and this is a chosen lifestyle, not merely a diet.

2. Deviating from your food plan is NO BIG DEAL. You will not gain weight or set yourself back with one slip.

3. You CAN get right back on your food plan. You do NOT need to continue binging! (—There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ).

4. You do not need to SABATOGE your success. You can continue moving forward towards your weight loss goals!

5. Remember, that the goal is PROGRESS, not PERFECTION!

You don’t have to go this alone.  Please join us at our next Lose It For Life weekend!