Since November I have lost 15 pounds. For about the past 10 years, but particularly since we moved from Chicago, I've been steadily gaining weight. Nothing crazy, just a slow gain. I've run a few marathons in that time period and tried several diets. I could prevent quickly gaining, but still felt the weight as it settled in for the long haul. When I discussed this with people I got a few different responses the most common being the following: 1.) You look fine! Don't worry about it. 2.) Do you want to buy this product or join this group to help you?
My answer to #1 was that although I appreciate the compliment, I want to feel comfortable in my own body and I currently didn't. I had started to reach the point where when out with Logan and he would say, "I'll race you to ____." I would say, "No, no running for me." Declining a spontaneous race is normal when I'm not dressed for a sprint or when I'm carrying a load, but that wasn't why I was beginning to regularly answer, "No." It was that I didn't have the energy. My body wasn't able to keep up and I just wanted to do nothing. That's when I knew things had to change. I'm not interested in crazy weight loss, but I want to feel good. I want to feel strong again. I know aging takes a toll, but I'm not giving up yet.
My answer to #2 was that I'm very skeptical about promises made by any company or diet. I am also a total loner when it comes to fitness and don't really enjoy working out with other people. My workout methods are effective, but somewhat inexpiable. The best way I can put it is that when people come with suggestions I have a Ron-Swansonish-I-know-what-I'm-about attitude. I know what I'm capable of and push myself to do that. Twice, only twice, in my life have I felt the aggressive "PUSH IT" that I hear from trainers. It is no coincidence that I've also had to seek emergency medial help twice. Twice. (Both are pretty good stories, but those are for another day.) Another issue with diets or plans is that I am a ridiculously picky eater. I don't like fish or seafood along with a plurality of other foods. I love many fruits and vegetables, but often they are the ones left off the list of particular diets. Travel also makes eating a particular diet very difficult. Munching while driving keeps me awake and focused and eating healthy while at restaurants can be quite challenging. Finding time to squeeze in fitness further complicates staying healthy on the road.
Anyway, all that to say, I needed something that I discovered on my own, that was flexible, and that worked with my health issues. (They are ridiculous and may or may not be discussed at a later time. ) So how did I finally loose weight? Well, the answer starts the same way most of my answers for life's problems start - I read a book. The book was In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan. He lays out a case for the health benefits of actual food which he describes as either plants grown by the sun or meat raised on natural diets. This part of the book was interesting, but not necessarily life altering. What got me was his discussion of intentional eating. He stated that when asked to describe chocolate cake in one word, Americans most often used the word guilt while the French most often used the word celebration. He argued that there is nothing wrong with enjoying cake or treats in reasonable amounts while surrounded by family in friends, but that there is something very wrong with consuming cake when alone and depressed. He also discusses the importance of eating at a table and focusing on what is being consumed rather than scarfing something down in a rush. He admits that this may not always be possible, but it should be a priority.
The concept of intentional eating - considering where my food was coming from, where I am consuming it, why I'm consuming it, and who I am consuming it with - was revolutionary. I became okay with saying no to sweets when I was really looking to satisfy an emotional craving. I didn't have to say no to anything, but rather in moderation can enjoy a variety of delicious foods without eating the toxic "low whatever-the-current-trends-say-to-avoid" food products.
Every now and then I gain a bit (this morning after a fun weekend I am up slightly), but when that happens, I don't berate myself or fall into a cycle of self-loathing and punishment. I just go back to healthy eating and enjoyable exercise. I've also read The Omnivore's Dilemma also by Pollan which discusses how we solve the oldest question, "What should we eat?"
Eating is both an individual and a communal pursuit. How we eat is something that each individual must consider and answer for. It is also something that we do with others as we prepare food together and make decisions where to shop. If you think that intentional eating as a goal sounds over dramatic then look at 1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore you eat or drink or whatsoever you do, do all to the glory of God." As I reexamined this verse I realized I needed to live it out and in the words of Robert Frost "that has made all the difference."
This post was suggested by Logan. I'm always talking about Friends Group, but have yet to write about this amazing group of people so here it goes.
Our church, Five Points Community Church in Auburn Hills, hosts a Wednesday night special needs ministry called Friends Group. The group has been around for decades, but I have only been attending Friends for the past two years. From what I understand many of the friends started attending as children and continue to come as adults.
I asked to be a part of the group to push myself outside my current comfort zone and to connect with others at church. Before joining I would walk by and hear them singing, "This Little Light of Mine," "Jesus Loves Me," and "The B-I-B-L-E." I love singing those songs with the children's church! They were also always clapping and cheering too. It seemed the group was always having so much fun and I wanted in.
As soon as I got there I noticed a few things. These friends LOVE Jesus. If we don't talk about Him right away they might get upset. These friends say, "I love you," freely and with absolute honesty to each other unless someone is upsetting them. Then they will say, "STOP! I don't like that." They are all a bit different, but aren't we all? They don't care how different you are you will be embraced. Never met you? That's okay. They will still greet you and maybe even invite you to their birthday party. I can't help but wish more people were so inclusive. They can sing "Amazing Grace" like nobody's business. Seriously, they belt it out and while they are singing, I can't help but tear up at their sincerity. They ask questions when they don't know the answer to something and don't feel embarrassed. A favorite memory was seeing a man with special needs standing outside the bathrooms looking a bit frantic. When he saw me he asked, "What do I do? I know I'm not a woman, but I'm not sure if I'm a man. I'm a boy. Where do I go?" I assured him him was safe to use the men's restroom and he went in.
Since first joining the group, I've had the privilege of leading singing and teaching the lesson a few times. The lessons are simple, but it reminds me that we have a simple faith. Yes, one can spend their entire life studying scripture and learning about God, but it comes down to believing, trusting, and following God. I'm constantly challenged by their pure love for Christ and the excitement they bring to learning. And their prayer requests! Each night we ask the friends what they want to pray about and many list not only family and friends, but first responders, soldiers, government officials, and others. Because they have to depend upon others to care for them, they don't struggle with the concept that they must depend upon God. They need help and know it.
So often our culture celebrates those with differences but sometimes this group of the most amazing people ever gets looked over because they are different in a different way. Disabled. Sometimes those differences are scary or leave us feeling uncomfortable. Individuals with special needs are unique and wonderfully made. I believe that God is good and that He is in control. How I treat those with special needs around me is a reflection of that. Do your actions toward those around you reflect your beliefs about God?
If your church has a special needs ministry I would encourage you to get involved however you can. Start by praying for the group and greeting them with a friendly greeting. Listen to them and minister in any way that you can to their care givers. If your church doesn't have a special needs group, maybe you should ask why and look for needs around you. If you live in Southeast Michigan you can help by supporting Dutton Farms where my friend, Kevin (pictured below) works. Tonight he was sporting two medals he earned at the Special Olympics. Dutton Farms is an organization committed to helping adults with disabilities by advocating on their behalf, educating individuals and helping them find their strengths, and helping them find meaningful employment. They are hosting an open house June 20, 2019. Come out and show your support! They sell handmade soaps, candles, bug spray, and much more.
So these are my friends. If you don't have friends who love you and love Jesus like this you should definitely get some!
The video below tells a little more about Dutton Farm and at the end features an interview with one of my favorite friends, Jimmy. He loves his job, but more importantly he loves the opportunity to contribute to society and earn wages in return.
29 years ago I had a pit in my stomach as I dreaded my approaching birthday. Okay, maybe I wouldn't say I was dreading my 11th birthday, but I was upset. Why? Well, when I turned 10 someone - I don't know who - commented that this was the last year I could show how old I was with my hands. I was taken aback. Maybe it was my introverted self who loved the ability to communicate my age (common conversation fodder for adults) without having to speak. Whatever the reason, I found this number "11" just so uncool.
Tomorrow I face another uncool number. I know it's just a number, but I don't like saying because it sounds like the number of a person who has their life together. The number of a person who has a career and is progressing toward some end goal. I, on the other hand, am someone who is still trying to figure out what to do. I don't have all the answers yet. Maybe answers aren't what aging gives you. But when I stop and consider my life I think maybe I've found a few of those elusive answers.
"A jack of all trades is a master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one."