Weight Loss Nutrition (Part 2): Exploring Eating Behavior

Remuda Ranch

In addition to the ‘when’ and ‘where,’ two other areas regarding your eating behavior must be explored. Take a look at the following questions:

1. How do I eat?

In a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere; on the run and in a rush; in a hand-to-mouth motion with no conscious thought given to taste, enjoyment or fullness?

2. Why do I eat?

Because I am genuinely hungry; or because I’m bored, angry, frustrated, tired, lonely or depressed?

Now that you’ve looked at the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of your eating behaviors, consider the following:

1. How—Eating on the run or while working may keep you from meeting your nutritional needs. What’s more, you may ingest too much or too little. Therefore, try to take a break, relax your mind, nourish your body, then return to the daily grind.

2. Why—Understanding why you eat is critical. You should be eating for nourishment and enjoyment, but not one or the other. Nourishing your body means selecting foods that meet your nutritional requirements and eating when hungry. Enjoyment means eating favorite foods as well as those falling a little lower on your list. When other reasons creep in, such as loneliness, depression or anger, over-eating often results leading to unwanted weight gain and exacerbation of the original negative feelings.

Instead of getting out the list of do’s and don’ts for eating, evaluate your eating behaviors. Start making changes in these areas first, and then we can take a look at what’s on your plate.

Need some help with the “hows” and “whys” of eating?  Join us at our next Lose It For Life Weekend.

Defining Your Inner Everest

‘Record the vision and inscribe it on tablets, that the one who reads it may run.’ (Habakkuk 2:2)

It takes God’s grace to walk, let alone run the mountain of life. I am grateful that every New Year is a fresh beginning. It is a time to reflect on the unique vision that I believe God wants each one of us to have for our life. If we fail to grasp a clear picture of our Everest-God’s highest and best for us-we are apt to settle into the inertia of mediocrity. The following thoughts may challenge you to start your journey into 2006 on a path that requires self-reflection and therefore courage. But if you’ll do your part, God can direct you out of a life of quiet desperation into a life of Divine inspiration. So let’s get climbing!

1. You will benefit if this year’s chapter of your adventure in life begins by answering the question ‘What is it that you are truly wanting or hoping for as a result of your faith?’ If your answer is not clear, you probably feel lost and aimless. Or you may have become ‘weary in well doing.’ It requires courage to really define what it is that you are wishing or longing for. Once you have identified what you most desire, you remove the mask of ‘not caring.’ The gap between what you want and ‘what is’ now is exposed. Honest self-assessment is always the first step to change.

2. When you pursue what you desire you may feel childlike and vulnerable. Have you ever noticed how children are not sophisticated in their unashamed pursuit of their desires? It is only when caregivers shame a child for having wants that ‘being wantless’ begins and the seeds of vision are denied the soil of the heart. Be willing to discover your childlike ability to dream so that you can reclaim the desires of your heart.

3. Many times defining our ‘highest goal’ requires that we face past disappointments. When hope has been deferred, our pain can deceive us into believing that life is easier when we don’t desire. The problem with pretending we don’t want more is that fooling ourselves requires that we deaden our souls. As the poet David Whyte writes, ‘Take the safe way, not the way of passion and creativity, . . . [But] we cannot neglect our inner fire without damaging ourselves in the process.’ Be willing to resolve past disappointments that may be clouding your ability to see clearly what you want here and now.

4. If you are confused about who you are, get help to discover who God intended you to be. Being intentional requires an inner compass to give your dreams direction. When your security comes from your identity in Jesus Christ, you will not be driven by seeking other people’s approval or ruled by their desires. If your vision offends others, remember that it is not your responsibility to live out their dreams or to make them comfortable. In fact, God may use your passion in pursuing your dreams to cause others discomfort with their status quo. Understand that you were created in the image of God. Then you are free to live the vision that He wants you to embrace.

5. Without desire, there is no hope and hopelessness is a synonym for meaninglessness and depression. As C. S. Lewis said: ‘We can only hope for what we desire.’ I believe that God wants us to be so enthusiastic about our vision that our lives inspire people to ask us about the source of our hope. As 1Peter 3:15 admonishes, be ready to give the reason for the hope that lies within us to everybody who asks. Inspired vision produces the fragrance of hope. And that is inviting.

6. Big ambitions require desperate praying. It is humbling to recognize that what you have dared to dream requires an all-sufficient and daring God to accomplish. ‘Strong desires make strong prayers . . . The neglect of prayer is the fearful token of dead spiritual desires . . . There can be no true praying without desire.’ (E. M. Bounds: Man of Prayer) Never limit God. When you partner with Him, you have access to His boundless resources and abilities. ‘The land you are . . . to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys . . .the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.’ (Deuteronomy 11:11-12)

My prayer for each of you is that God gives you the courage to dream. May He heal you of all obstacles that would hinder you from pursuing His highest and best. I pray that you no longer settle for small plans derived from false humility. And finally, that you would entrust yourself and your vision to a God Who, by the action of His power that is at work within you is able to carry out His purpose and do super-abundantly, far over and above all that you dare ask or think, beyond your highest thoughts, hopes, or dreams. (Eph. 3:20) May Jesus be glorified through you in 2006 and beyond.

Do you desire the hope and purpose of which this article speaks but feel like you need some help? Join us at our next New Life Weekend.

Be of Good Cheer!

Becky Brown

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Season’s Greetings! Feliz Navidad! It is a festive time of year and you better not pout! The holiday season is the frenzied time beginning with Thanksgiving–the time when we completely throw our food plan out the window as we check our list while grabbing a bite at the food court.

Is this really what the season is all about? Of course not, so how about focusing on the Reason for the Season!

When we read the portion of the Bible that tells about Jesus’ birth, we tend to read it with familiarity. Many of us recited it by memory for a childhood program, (I still remember nearly fainting about midway through!); we know what the manger scene looks like, and we have found out that the Wise Men really didn’t arrive for about 2 years. If you never examine the history of the birth of Jesus, you may miss the miracle of it all!

In Luke 1:5 the verse begins ‘In the time of Herod king of Judea,’ it is setting the scene for the miracle of Christ. In these times, Herod was building cities and rebuilt the temple with no detail spared. However, his treatment of the citizens was oppressive and harsh. His loyalty was mainly to himself. When he heard the news of the ‘King of the Jews’ being born, he presented a false admiration (Luke 2:8) only so he could then kill him. (Luke 2:13) And he could have, if not for the intervention of the angel of the Lord.

It is a miracle that Jesus was born of a virgin, survived the king’s attempts to kill him, and it is no small feat that God became Man! We may be frustrated by the lines at the mall or dread the evening at your mother-in-laws.  We may be stressing over the credit cards being so close to their limit that a happy new year is totally unrealistic!

Refuse to be diffused to the miracle of Christ coming to the earth! Make a choice today to draw closer to those you love, love those that are close to you, and celebrate the season of miracles!

“And Mary said, ‘My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”’ (Luke 1:46-47) Let us remember these words as we go through this time of the year. Merry Christmas!

Weight Loss Nutrition (Part 1)

Remuda Ranch

When wanting to ‘get healthier’ you may start by examining your own eating habits, then obtain the latest diet on the market. Though what you eat is certainly important, four additional questions must be considered. The first two are as follows:

1. When do I eat?

Does my eating have structure, meaning? Do I eat three meals daily or is it hit or miss? Do I consume snacks, or do I automatically grab for food the minute I enter the break room, hungry or not?

2. Where do I eat?

At the kitchen table, in my car, at my desk at work, in front of the living room TV?

Now that you’ve evaluated the when and the where of your eating habits, consider the following:

1. When—The goal is to eat when hungry, then quit when full. The reality is that hunger and fullness fluctuates as does food and time availability. Therefore, strive to eat three balanced meals a day with snacks as needed. This will keep your body running efficiently, maintain alertness, and keep your metabolism burning. Skipping meals and snacks can lower your metabolism, causing your body to burn fewer calories ‘ exactly what you don’t want to occur.

2. Where—This plays a critical role in the type and amount of food consumed. Eating throughout your living and work spaces promotes ‘grazing’ behavior. Setting eating boundaries, such as the kitchen or breakroon, can promote enjoyment and remove interruptions.

Next time, we will discuss the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of eating.

Join us at our next Lose It For Life Weekend.

Thoughts for the Holidays

Deborah Tyrell

‘I dread the holiday time of year’ is a statement shared with sadness from many of my clients that trust me enough to be completely honest with their feelings and thoughts. Even though most of us long for the warm feelings evoked by images portrayed on greeting cards of ‘roasted chestnuts and open fires’ shared with loved ones, for many people this happy and loving picture is far from their reality. Instead, they feel overwhelmed by the prospect of obligatory gift buying, feigned merriment at parties they would rather not be at, frantic eating, and nostalgia from memories of times past with people who for various reasons are no longer part of their holidays. If you can relate to a vague sense of bewilderment elicited by this time of year, the following thoughts may help.

Many people have unrealistic expectations about the holidays that are promoted by the media showing extravagant presents underneath the tree being opened by families looking ecstatic about their perfect gifts. What cameras don’t capture are the worried faces of the people wondering how they are going to pay off the debt when they get their credit card bills in the mail.

It is important to remember what really matters. Do not confuse giving love with giving gifts. Although gifts can be an expression of your love, so are your time, your affection, your words of affirmation, and your willingness to forgive an offense. Decide on a budget and invite someone to hold you accountable for keeping it.

Next, you do not have to go to a party just because you were invited to it. Be a good steward of your time and energy. Even Jesus, the Son of God knew He had to retreat from the clamor of the crowds for quiet times with His Father to renew His strength. Pace yourself and find the balance between togetherness and separateness. Also, understand your personality to know if you are the type who is energized by a party or drained by the demands of interacting. Discover and do more activities that nourish rather than deplete your soul. When you take care of yourself you remind yourself that you are worth caring for.

Holidays do not need to be a time to binge on food. Learn how to celebrate Christ’s birthday in other ways. Although you can grant yourself the freedom to eat without guilt when you are hungry, savoring the tastes of your favorite holiday foods with pleasure, you can also make the day special by playing games with your friends, singing, attending church, praying together, or serving the less fortunate together. Remember that it’s creating and sharing positive memories together that are important. Do not confuse receiving love with eating food that you love. When you ‘numb yourself out’ by overeating, it’s difficult to feel the subtle but tender moments of being in the presence of those that you love and you may leave the encounter feeling physically stuffed but emotionally empty.

Finally, don’t let your fond memories of past holidays sabotage your enjoyment of the present by comparing then with now. Although you may realize that loss is inevitable because there will always be those moments of happiness and special meaning that can never be recreated because certain people are no longer part of your life, your sadness is no less genuine. Give yourself permission to grieve ‘what was’, but be careful not to warp the past into a time so perfect and flawless that it can never be achieved in the moment. Sometimes when we recall past favorite holiday seasons, we see our significant loved ones giving us what we have always dreamed of instead of what actually was. But we can only begin to accept our losses when we honestly evaluate the people we loved who are gone for who they were, both their good and their bad.

It helps to remember that all of us are part of broken humanity in need of God’s redemptive love, and sorrow is part of living even in the midst of the season to be jolly.

My prayer for those who struggle during this holiday season with loneliness or sorrow is that you will find God’s peace, comfort and hope in the midst of your pain. And that as you press into the presence of God, the power of the Most High will overshadow you and the Christ Child will be birthed in your heart revealing to the world His unfailing love and faithfulness.

The Process of Change

Deborah Tyrell

‘But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.’ (Gal. 5:22, The Message)

My clients often ask how change happens. Perhaps you too have wondered how you can move away from unhealthy traits and move towards the ‘fruits of the spirit’ referred to in the above scripture passage. I believe that change is a process that occurs in three stages. Hopefully the following will help by giving you more understanding of what to expect.

First, you must acknowledge what negative traits that you want to let go of. Recognize what self-defeating, relationship-defeating, and choice-limiting strategies you have used to cope with fear and pain. Some of the more common habits you may want to say good-bye to are: rage, blame, false guilt, overspending, overeating, a judgmental and critical attitude, emotional or physical affairs, chemical dependencies, approval seeking, and playing the ‘victim.’ As strange as it may seem, the first stage in the change process is an ending of something familiar. The pain of letting go may trigger overwhelming feelings. It helps to know this is normal and although tempting, is not a time to give up. Instead of quitting, this is the time to press into God through prayer, His Word, and His people for comfort and encouragement.

The second stage of change typically brings with it a period of confusion. This is a disconcerting season where you have said good-bye to the old, but the new is not yet familiar. On the surface, things may appear worse instead of better as others are also unaccustomed to your new ways which may have disrupted the status quo. I imagine that it feels similar to what a trapeze artist experiences when she or he lets go of one bar and has not yet grabbed the next. You may wonder what in the world you are doing here! During this time you may be tempted to go back to old dependencies for comfort, but doing so will ultimately end in destruction. Remind yourself of God’s grace through changes you have already survived. Your hope during this stage is dependent on your being rooted in Christ. He is faithful and you can anticipate that after the ‘shaking’, you will be left standing on a firm foundation found only in Jesus.

The third stage is a time to say ‘hello’ to the new things in your life. You welcome the sense of relief, peace, and energy that are becoming a consistent part of your experience. You begin to enjoy the spiritual enrichment that the fruits of the Holy Spirit bring to your innermost being. Although you still need to be intentional to make your new habits a regular part of your life, as time passes they become a part of you. And as a result of newfound fulfillment and satisfaction, you are motivated to keep cultivating life-enhancing choices.

The three stages of change are similar to what I observed growing up on a farm in Nebraska. In preparing the field for crops, my father first spent long hours preparing the ground. During the good-bye stage you must ask our Heavenly Father to prepare the soil of your heart. Only when the soil is prepared can the seeds be planted. During the hot dry summer, the young plants required tender care and weeds that threatened new life had to be pulled. Similarly during the middle stage, new ways of being need encouragement to grow while the roots of ‘weeds of the heart’ are removed. And without fail, fall was a season of harvest.

My prayer for each of you is that God gives you the grace to say good-bye to those things that limit you; that the roots of your being grow deep into the soil of His love; and that in due time you will reap an abundant harvest produced from abiding in Him. May you rejoice in God Who is faithful to complete the good work that He began in you through Jesus Christ.

Are you ready for change in your life? We’d like to help. Join us at our next New Life Weekend.

The Secret Weapon

Ginger Garrett and Steve Arterburn

How many times have you beaten yourself up for not having enough willpower? Willpower is all about forcing yourself to do the right thing. Willpower is white-knuckling it through the dessert buffet and pizza party (and then going home and wiping out the fridge in a fit of frustration). Willpower is a stiff-necked refusal to listen to what the body is saying, a determination to stick to the plan no matter what happens. That being said, here’s the secret weapon: Permanent weight loss takes willingness, not willpower.

Remember that old saying, ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way?’ They didn’t get it quite right when it comes to the weight loss question. You see, it should be: ‘Where there’s willingness, there’s weightlessness.’ In our context, weightlessness means that life is no longer defined by what we weigh. Weightlessness means you get up in the morning and your first two thoughts are not ‘I ate too much last night’ and ‘I’m too fat to wear anything cute.’ Weightlessness means when you walk into a room, you aren’t afraid people are judging you by your size, or laughing behind your back when you leave. It sounds pretty great, right?

Now on to defining what gets us there!

Willingness is having a soft, easy-to-mold spirit and heart that make you want to do the right thing. In the context of weight loss, to be willing means trying new measures and letting go of those which are more bad habits than anything else. It means surrendering control to God and adapting our plans to what He tells us. Most importantly, willingness means we’re ready to learn all the lessons God wants to teach us from this battle with the scale, the first of which is usually that we’re not to obsess over what the scale says!

The idea of surrendering doesn’t sound like the winning strategy in a battle, does it? But when it comes to the battle for weightlessness, surrendering our control to God is the first step. And really, how successful has it been to try and control your will power? Have you achieved the results you desire? ‘Nuff said!

Though surrender doesn’t come to us naturally, or happen automatically, we can make the decision to start surrendering right now!

Please pray with me:

Dear Lord, I surrender. Please show me who You are and what You desire for my life. Help me believe with my whole heart as this journey begins. I can trust You because Your way is so much better than mine. Help me realize whenever I am trying to control You, so that I can surrender and let You control my life. Fill me with Your love and give me what I need to choose Your way and not mine. In Jesus name, Amen.

Simple Acts of Moving Forward

Excerpted from “Simple Acts of Moving Forward” by Vinita Hampton Wright

Most of us work hard and we mean well. But we get stuck. And we get hung up, not on the big things or the months and years, but on the small things that make up our single days and hours.

You may have larger dreams for your life, but your most common struggles have to do with what you’re doing today, during this small collection of moments.

You’ve probably been forward-thinking enough to make plans, and you’re doing your best to make them happen. But even the best efforts don’t always satisfy you and, too often, you beat yourself up for that. Sometimes you feel that you will never get ahead or even get beyond the spot you’re in right now.

The only way to get unstuck is to take a step. It can be a big or little step, and you usually have a choice of directions. But it’s an action with purpose behind it, and no one else can do it for you.

Moment by moment you and I are making decisions and taking actions that help us move through time. Sometimes we move ahead in survival mode, ‘making it,’ but just barely, and not in a way that feels positive or successful. Occasionally, we slip backward or make choices that undo some of our progress. And sometimes we move in a way that is meaningful and gives us a feeling of forward motion.

Consider some of these simple acts of moving forward to make the most of each moment and each day. Sometimes the most important step is the first one:

  • Take a walk
  • Tell someone your troubles
  • Take breathing lessons
  • Make a list
  • Jump ahead ten years
  • Think again
  • Write your story
  • Look to God
  • Say a prayer
  • Say no/yes
  • Build on hope

Growing Deeper with Your Accountability Partner

Bob Parkins

If you have ever watched a documentary on wild animals, you probably know the two primary defenses these animals employ to protect themselves from predators. The animals that form herds or communities are constantly protected by their numbers. When attacked by prey, these animals flee danger together. It is those that don’t remain with the herd that are usually killed, typically the young, old, or weak.

1 Peter 5:8 describes our enemy [the devil] as a ‘roaring lion, who walks around, seeking someone to devour.’ This passage is not just an effective word-picture of the realities of daily temptation, but an important warning to flee and stick together.

Sticking together is absolutely an essential part of addiction recovery. James 5:16 tells us that in order to be healed, we need to be transparent with one another through confession. God created us to be in community and relationship with not just him, but one another.

Notice in Genesis 2, after God created Man, he created Woman because ‘it is not good that man be alone.’ God did not design us to be completely isolated from other people. Even though Adam was in intimate communion with God, he still was not complete until God gave him a partner.

Those who struggle with addictive behaviors especially tend to have difficulty forming and maintaining accountable relationships. They resist accountability because it is contrary to the way they have become comfortable living; they live as rugged individualists, or Lone Rangers. Most addicts don’t want to be held accountable. They don’t want anyone to look over their shoulder and want to be the boss of their own recovery program.

But those who do not remain accountable to others in their recovery simply don’t recover. This is not, however, just an issue of control; addicts are also hiding. Allowing another person access to look over your shoulder can leave one feeling somewhat naked or exposed. After hiding behind their masks for so long they have convinced themselves that no one will truly accept them the way they are – they are afraid of intimacy.

Accountability relationships should be supportive and encouraging relationships, although many do not fully utilize the support available to them. It is not uncommon for men to tell me they relapsed, and while they thought of calling their accountability partner for support, they didn’t. Sometimes they were afraid they would bother him, felt ashamed, or simply didn’t want to stop.

I once asked a group of men how they feel when they receive a call for support from their accountability partner. They told me they actually feel important when they are asked for help. It not only helps the person calling, but strengthens the partner as well. They feel valued, and more tightly bonded together as ‘brothers in arms.’ The Bible describes this as ‘iron sharpening iron’(Prov. 27:17).

For those who have difficulty calling their accountability partner when they are feeling tempted, I encourage you to call sooner. There comes a point when you already have decided to act out, and if a call for support is going to be made, it is essential to call way before reaching this point. One of the best ways to train yourself to call your accountability partner for help is to practice. Call your accountability partner when you have a victory. It is much easier to reach out when you feel victorious, rather than shamed. When you call before you are in trouble, it strengthens your confidence, relationship, and may help you prevail over or avoid temptation altogether. You are putting your fears to the test when you call your accountability partner and challenging those old beliefs that you will not be accepted as imperfect. How do you feel when your accountability partner calls you for help? If you feel at all valued, encouraged, strengthened, bonded or closer to him, chances are this is how he feels getting a call from you.

Together with your accountability partner, you are much more likely to succeed in your recovery (Ecc. 4:9-10; Prov. 17:17). For animals in the wild, fleeing danger together is a matter of life or death, and so it is also with us.

Need help finding an accountability partner? See Every Man\’s Battle.
For Drug and Alcohol help, see New Life’s Recovery Place.

Delight in your Thanksgiving Holiday

Becky Brown

Perhaps the most defining aspect of the month of November is the Thanksgiving holiday. Though a day spent with family or friends, it is also a day where feasting is plentiful. A few suggestions come to mind.

Your traditional dinner probably offers a number of foods that are rarely seen throughout the year. Items such as candied yams or pumpkin pie are real favorites. So, enjoy them, just remember the importance of portion control. A little of this, a little of that, will satisfy your pallet.

What’s more, take only the foods you truly want; you are not obligated to fill your plate with foods you don’t really like.

And along those lines, try to keep in mind the difference between appetite and hunger. Whereas hunger is a true physiological state in which your body needs food, appetite is more external. It can be triggered by the fragrance of food, or the sight of it. Basically, it’s need vs. want.

Another positive step is, when the meal is over, put the food away. Not only is it wise to do so, in order to avoid spoilage, but it will keep everyone from picking at food that they really don’t want or need. Again, as an extension of appetite, we often consume food, simply because it is there.

Above all, delight in your Thanksgiving holiday. If clothes feel a touch snug at the conclusion of the day, don’t stress about it. It’s just one day and it is meant to be enjoyed.

Tour Israel with Steve Arterburn and New Life Ministries