What Are You Afraid Of?

Things that go bump in the night, an overbearing boss, or anxiety filled days–all of these and more affect the way we think and act. Sometimes we are frozen in our fears and don’t realize it. Fear is something we live with unknowingly, yet it can be a motivator in our relationships, work, and our life with Christ.

Fear and anxiety can lock us into beliefs that support our fears and anxiety. Codependent relationships, dead end jobs, and destructive habits all participate in the cycle of fear and anxiety. Are you recognizing fear and anxiety that is present in your life? What can you do?

Here are 7 ways to begin addressing the fear and anxiety in your life:

1. Eat well balanced, nutritious meals. Eliminate harmful substances.

2. Learn mind body techniques to help relax and reduce stress response.

3. Get enough sleep, rest, and relaxation.

4. Develop a relationship with God. Practice prayer and Christian meditation.

5. Exercise regularly. At least 30-45 minutes of exercise a day.

6. Counteract negative self talk and mistaken beliefs with positive reality and God’s Word.

7. Connect with other people in meaningful relationships, sharing life, love, laughter and serving one another.

Begin addressing your fear today by asking God to help you! Surrender your fear and anxiety to him, begin one of the steps above, and do not let fear or anxiety take one more day of your life!

Need some help? Join us at our next Healing is a Choice Workshop.

Move It and Lose It!

You’ve heard the saying, ‘Move it or Lose it!’ We’d like to alter it a bit to, ‘Move it and lose it.’ That’s right. The more you move it, the more you’ll lose it- or at least keep from going in the opposite direction! Even though exercise will not turn you into Twiggy (for those of you too young remember, she was a very skinny model from the 1960’s), it is responsible for keeping most of us from gaining weight.

Members of the National Weight Control Registry report that exercise plays a role in keeping their weight off as well. Most reported exercising about an hour a day.

Okay, so an hour a day sounds like torture to some of you. Not to worry! We are convinced that there is at least one activity you can really enjoy. There isn’t a requirement to exercise for sixty minutes straight either. So take a deep breath and relax! Exercise can work for you!

To begin, let’s look at the RISE formula and apply it to exercise.

Reduce: your negativity and lackadaisical attitude toward exercise.

Increase: your physical activity, water consumption, commitment to exercise, and accountability.

Substitute: the right attitude ‘ a cheerful one ‘ if need be, and also the right workout apparel for the wrong workout clothes.
Eliminate: all excuses for not exercising!

Exercising isn’t optional in weight loss!¬†There are so many benefits when it comes to exercise.

Here are six of the best reasons:

1. Exercise helps reduce hidden belly fat, lowering the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and some types of cancer.

2. Exercise prevents muscle form wasting and helps to lose fat.

3. Exercise helps the brain deal with stress more effectively.

4. Moderate cardiovascular exercise such as thirty minutes of brisk walking a few times a week can improve your memory.

5. Exercise helps to manage hunger. Research shows that exercising increases control over hunger and food intake. In fact, the physically fit person is often not hungry until several hours after exercise.

6. Exercise improves your immune system.

We can’t stress this point enough: When it comes to making exercise a habit, attitude is more than half the battle! Whatever reasons you have used for avoiding exercise in the past- it’s unpleasant, too painful, inconvenient, frustrating, or too time consuming ‘ the reality is that exercise is necessary if you are serious about being healthy. Regardless of your past experiences, regular physical activity is essential for weight control and developing a healthy lifestyle.

Substitute a New Behavior for Eating

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

Pain is not optional, but misery is. You can’t always control pain, but you can do something about misery. If you are looking for a quick fix to emotional pain, you’re reading the wrong book (Lose It For Life)! Healing is often progressive because it requires changes in your character and actions. The way you cope with emotional pain must change if you decide to no longer eat your way through it.

Keeping a record of what you do when you become emotionally upset is a good way to watch your progress, perhaps in a journal. The journey to finding new alternatives to eating might look like this:

Event: Received an upsetting phone call from my ex

Emotion: Very Hurt
Reaction: Went to the refrigerator and opened the door to eat

Now, think of a new way to cope with that feeling. What could you substitute for eating?

New Reaction: Call a friend and let her pray with me

Here’s another example:

Event: Heard someone gossip about me at church

Emotion: Anger
Reaction: Stopped for fries at a fast food restaurant

New Reaction: Gently confront the person who did the gossiping

To help yourself choose alternatives to eating, make a list of twenty behaviors you can substitute for eating the next time an intense emotion triggers that desire. Your list should include things you can do while driving, being at home, work, or on the go. Post the list on your refrigerator and make a copy to take with you. Every time you are tempted to eat because you feel an unpleasant emotion, pull out your list and choose a new thing to do. Feel free to borrow ideas from this list:

  • Take a short walk and cool down
  • Listen to calming music
  • Take three deep breaths
  • Distract yourself with something in the room or car
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Call a friend
  • Count to 20
  • Take a short nap
  • Pray and ask God to help you
  • Turn up the radio and get lost in the music
  • Stand up and do some stretches
  • Go to the bathroom, even if its only to splash water on your face
  • Play with your dog
  • Play with your child
  • Watch a funny movie
  • Go somewhere quiet and practice deep muscle relaxation
  • Clean something
  • Run up and downstairs to release tension
  • Work on a crossword puzzle
  • Play a Video game or read a book

Maybe you’ve been hurt by a cruel divorce, an abusive father, a betraying friend, or an insulting boss. Whatever the cause of your hurt, it’s time to stop using food as an emotional crutch and let the pain surface. When you do, you might experience intense feelings of anger or fear, but there will not be healing until you face those feelings.

Just let the feelings come, and ask God to help you understand exactly why you feel as you do. Don’t try to edit your thoughts. Whatever comes in to your mind, grab that thought. Most likely it is a lie that was implanted at the time of the emotional pain when you first experienced those feelings. Try to identify the lie, and once you find it, ask Jesus to speak His truth to you. Wait and listen for His voice, whether it comes in the form of a whisper of His Spirit or a visual picture He may give you. Wait on Him and expect Him to bring truth. His truth brings release from that lie.

If you continue to take every hurt and pain to Christ, lay them at His feet, and refuse to believe the lies, the food handcuffs will drop off you like they have for others. Come out of the eating closet. Exchange it for the prayer closet ‘ a place filled with peace and rest.

Join us at our next Lose It For Life weekend.

Self Talk: Words of Faith

David Stoop

Words, said either in the privacy of the mind or spoken aloud, are powerful. Written across the pages of history are phrases uttered at crucial moments that turned the course of world events. At the beginning of World War II, Winston Churchill told the British people that even thought all of Europe might fall, ‘We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end—we shall fight on the seas and oceans—we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.’ And the free world rallied to the task.

Look back through the pages of the Old Testament. David as a young man, affirms his faith to King Saul and then to the giant Goliath. He tells the king, ‘The LORD who delivered me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine’ (1 Sam. 17:37). Then, as David goes out to meet the giant, Goliath curses him. And David responds with powerful words; ‘I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand’ (vv.45-46). And history records the results.

Now that is not to say that the words in and of themselves are miracle workers. They are the reflections of what is in the heart and mind of David. And they release within David’s life the power of God. They are an extension of his Self-Talk during the years prior to that event. They are an expression of his faith.

Words Release Faith

Most of us think of faith as being trust in some positive benevolent deity. But faith is a process of life. No one is faithless. It is not a question of whether we possess faith or not. It is rather a question of where we place our faith. And our Faith is a process that works in releasing life-changing power in either a positive or negative direction.

For example, have you ever noticed how much more tired you feel after yawning and saying, ‘I’m so tired?’ You feel more tired because your Self-Talk has just released power in the direction of tiredness.

In the same way, recent studies have shown that people who begin to talk about the possibility of divorce often find themselves proceeding inevitably in the direction of divorce. Later they comment on how they felt trapped by their words. Things were not that bad, but talking about divorce gave power to that possibility.

All these examples illustrate the importance of our Self-Talk. We all talk to ourselves, sometimes out loud, but most of the time in the privacy of our minds. The result is always the same–the things we say determine the way we live our lives.

What are you in the habit of saying? What kinds of expressions would your family or friends recognize as being typical of you? You may have simply passed off some of these remarks as not being serious or even as jokes. But what you say and think is a very important indicator of where you are placing your faith.

Take some time now to make a list of the kinds of Self-Talk you usually make. What kinds of things do you say out loud? What kinds of statements do you make about yourself in your thoughts? For example, do you say or think things like:

“I can’t do this job; its too hard.”
“I’m always late. Guess I’ll be late for my wedding, even.”
“I’m so shy, I couldn’t talk to him.”
“I can’t lose weight. Nothing I do will help”

Write down some of the statements you make.

Now make another list, writing sown some of the statements you want to begin to make about yourself. For example you could change the above statements to read;

“I don’t like this job, but step by step I can do it.”
“I’ve had a habit of being late, but I can change my schedule and be on time.”
“I can lose weight, and I will find how I need to do it for me.”

For more help and encouragement, join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Revisit your Motivation

Steve Arterburn and Dr. Linda Mintle

We’ll say it again: Your motivation for losing weight should not be to please someone else. If you are doing this because your physician or spouse is upset with you, this is a set-up for potential failure. Decide if you are ready to lose weight for your own personal reasons. How important is it to you to live a life undefined by your weight and driven by food and eating? How important is it to you that you lead a healthy life?

If you are motivated to work on all parts of you life, spiritual, physical, emotional, and interpersonal, you will do well. You must take ownership of your goal to lose weight and keep it off. No one else can do it for you, but with God’s help, you can be successful.

It is also helpful to ask the question, ‘Why do I want to lose weight now?’ Since you have probably dieted in the past and been overweight for months or even years, why are you ready now? Hopefully you are ready to surrender this problem to God and accept the reality of your situation, including taking responsibility for your part of the problem.

Finally, are you experiencing significant stress in right now? If so, this may not be the time to try and lose weight. Instead, you may want to concentrate on making lifestyle changes rather than focusing on weight loss. Significant life stress greatly disrupts a person’s ability to lose weight for life. If this resonates with you, discover and make any lifestyle changes possible without overtaxing yourself. When you circumstances have stabilized, consider adding a goal of weight loss.

Loseitforlife.com has many resources to help you with your process to ‘weightlessness!’

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.