Self-Care

Have you ever paused a moment, and realized that even though you know what you need to do, you’re not doing it?

I’m rather annoyed with myself, because that’s exactly where I am right now.

I have willingly accepted taking on much more stress and responsibility.  Because I’m removing it from someone else’s shoulders, temporarily.  Because they need the break.  They deserve the break.

So, I figure for 3 months, I can handle some extra responsibility.

Except, I made a fatal flaw.

I failed to mentally and emotionally prepare to handle all of this additional stress.  And I allowed the stress to overwhelm me.

How incredibly easy does this happen to all of us?  We allow the external forces in our lives take over, and we, quite literally, lose our dadgum minds.  We don’t allow the stress to be managed in a healthy and appropriate way, and we get sick (which I did) and grumpy (that definitely happened).

And then, inevitably, we end up wallowing in self-pity.

Ok, maybe I wasn’t so much wallowing in self-pity so much as I let the grumpiness seep through every aspect of my life.  I let that take over, and I just had a bad attitude about, well, lots of things.  I had a bad attitude at God.  God, why am I going through this? God, why do I feel like this? God, why aren’t things just working out how they are supposed to? God, why don’t people just do the things they’re supposed to do?

Basically, the long list of questions I was asking God, and having a bad attitude toward was really my own fault.  Because…I didn’t do the thing I knew I was supposed to do.

SAID that I had all of my trust in God.

But what I really meant is that God is totally in charge, but I’m still going to worry about it, and tell God how I want Him to handle my problem.

Ok, so now that I know all of that, and I have realized all of that…I can move forward.

First, I can now channel some of the stress that I am feeling into a more positive way.

Second, I can change my attitude.

I got smacked in the face the other day while reading my Bible.  The words took a running jump off the page and smacked me in the face.  This thing made me realize that I was screwing up in a major way.

I stopped praising and thanking God for the things in my life.

I was still talking to God…about everything.  But my attitude toward Him while we were talking just stunk.  I had a great deal of stinkin’ thinkin’ going on.  And I was whining and complaining to God about all of the things in my life.  And while I said I was grateful and thankful…my attitude clearly showed that I was not.

Now, though I am not 100% cured of my negative Nancy-ness…I’m getting there.  Though the stress and the worry are still there, the burden upon my shoulders is much less.

I have even started thinking that I am grateful for the stress.  Because God has placed me in a position to be able to help.  This thing right now, it’s a blessing.

I know, without a doubt, I will one day look back and say I’m glad I did this.  I’m glad I got to spend the time doing this.

I.  Am.  Grateful.

How Much Is Too Much?

Day 16.  Of 42.

One question has been crossing my mind lately, and it is:

Has my addiction just changed?

Let me explain.  If you remember from the original post about this journey of getting closer to God, while getting rid of my scale…the goal here is to not let a number on a scale determine my self-worth.  I need to take care of my body, but I really need to take care of my soul.  But yet, I wonder if I have just traded one number for another that I am allowing to identify myself.  Also, have I gone off the deep end, and am I exercising too much?

I don’t have the answers to those questions.  At least not yet.

I am in a recurring weekly competition, through Fitbit, with some friends.  Who has the most steps throughout the work week? Well, the last few weeks, I have been blowing away the competition.  And all I have been doing is taking a walk with Cheese the dog a few evenings a week. And I have made a greater effort to actually reach my daily step goal every day (on days that I don’t go for a walk).  

But then, after the first week, I noticed that there were a few moments where I legitimately thought I was going to pass out.  But that one, I figured out. Turns out, I had increased my activity level…but I hadn’t increased my caloric intake. So…no wonder I thought I was going to pass out.  So that’s a easy fix. For someone that loves food…just eat more food! Woohoo!!

But the nagging question still resides in the back of my brain…how much is too much?  

The first time Cheese and I went for a 5 miles walk, he lost the energy to pull me after about 3 miles.  Our last 5 mile walk was absolutely his fault. I had had one of those days at school that was just busy.  And I ended up walking. A lot. In fact, I had 12,000 steps in by the time I walked in my back door after school.  In case you were wondering, 12,000 steps is approximately 6 miles. And that’s just walking up and down the halls at school.  But then, I knew I needed to take Cheese for a walk. Part of my goal is taking him for regular walks is he needs the exercise.  He’s full of energy, and this has proven to be an excellent way to burn off the excess energy he has. So, I get home from school, already half done for the day.  But we hadn’t taken a walk the night before, and he needed to just go. So we walk. My goal was 3 miles. We get to the turning point if we are going to go 3 miles, or extend for another mile…and he’s still full of energy.  So I agree to go the extra mile. Literally.

The problem was…nearing the time that his energy level normally starts to wane, he is still raring to go.  So…we ended up walking 5 miles. And he could have kept going, like the Energizer Bunny.

I was pooped.  

So, again, I’m asking…how much is too much?  After months of inactivity, is this simply just a return of activity to my life, and the change appears drastic?  Is this the marathon runner in me, in it for the distance, because what’s the point of a 5k?  

So let me get to the point of why this question keeps nagging at me.  There was one summer I was at home from college.  I had had mono during the semester before. But I was also going dealing with some pretty serious anorexia and bulimia that summer.  It was the first summer that I ever weighed less than 200 pounds.

That summer was awful.  

In addition to the eating disorders, I would walk and work out.  Relentlessly.

I would walk for miles a day.  And then I would come home, and work out.  And I wouldn’t eat. Or if I did, I would throw it up.  

I was crazy.

Ok, technically, I still probably am.  

Because, who wants to be normal?  Normal is boring.

But the past fear has made me pause.  Because no matter how far in the rear view mirror that summer is, I remember it.  But maybe, just maybe, that summer is sitting there as a reminder of how not to do things.  

So here’s where I’m landing:

I’m not going off the deep end.  Because the activity level feels good for me.  And it feels really good for Cheese. The goal being for him to exercise enough so he stops acting like a lunatic.

But it has also brought about opportunities that I might not have had otherwise.  On Sunday, I met one of my neighbors, and had a lovely conversation. I have lived in my house for 7 years.  And she has lived there the entire time I have been living there. And this is the first conversation we have ever had.  I knew who she was. She knew who I was. But it took 7 years for us to actually talk to one another. That wouldn’t have happened if Cheese and I hadn’t been out walking.  

Also, it led me to not feel guilty when I went out with a group of teachers Friday after school.  I hadn’t planned it. But I also didn’t condemn myself for taking in way too many calories. I let myself just enjoy the time.  It fed my soul.

I still have not weighed myself.  And I’m not going to lie and tell you that I’m not curious.  Because I am.

But I can also tell a change in my body.  My legs are more muscular (even after only a few weeks).  I’m sleeping better. But oh…I haven’t gotten to the best part yet.

I have been spending time talking to God.  I spend time while I’m walking talking to God.  Because how magnificent of a landscape does God paint?  And I sing while I’m walking. Worship, while I’m walking is so amazing.  And, of course, reading my Bible.

Ok, I have a confession to make.

I have never read the entire Bible.  

I had never read the entire book of Acts before last week.  And I’m now in Romans. Whew, Romans is going to take me awhile.  

Because every single word that Paul writes is said with so much conviction that it blows me away!  

So here’s the true measurement.  

I feel closer to God.  

So whether I’m walking 20 extra miles a week, or indulging in chocolate chip cookies…the thing that really matters is I’m succeeding in feeling God working in my life more and more every day.  

Be Gone, Evil Thing!!

Disclaimer: I am not now, nor have I ever been, a practicing Catholic.  I was raised in a small town, with a large Catholic population. And I have been to a couple of Catholic weddings in my life.  That is the extent of my relationship to the Catholic Church.

Banish: to compel to depart; send, drive, or put away.

Have you ever stopped, and realized that God has been working in your life, and answering your prayers, and you didn’t even realize it?

That happened to me.  This morning.

There are a lot of different pieces involved in this realization happening.  So I am going to attempt to be concise with the summary.  Yes, I said attempt.

I have always struggled with my weight.  I grew up the fat kid. And I was miserable.  And then I ended up the obese woman (weighing in at nearly 300 pounds).  And was even more miserable. And over the years, I ran the gamut of every single eating disorder possible.  

Every.  Single. One.

And (yikes) 13 years ago, I decided to do something about it.  I joined Weight Watchers, and lost a bunch of weight. And then I started running.  And then I turned into a marathon runner. All good things.

But over the years, no matter what, I have been obsessed with my weight.  I will say that when I was training for marathons, the number mattered a little less, because you know what, I could run 26.2 miles.  

But the number still mattered.

And a little over a year ago, I was uncomfortable.  I had been through a tough year, and I had gained weight.  Granted, I hadn’t crested 200 pounds, but I was getting close.  So I once again joined Weight Watchers, and I lost some weight.

I’m not getting paid to say this.  I think Weight Watchers is amazing.  Going to the meetings, which do, in fact, feel like an AA meeting, only for food, are wonderful.  The community is so supportive. It’s fantastic. Even though I’m not currently a member, I still think it’s amazing.  

Anyway…moving on.

A few months ago, I got sick.  In the grand scheme of things, what ended up being the cause of my illness isn’t horrific.  There are many, many, MANY things worse than what I went through. What I’m still recovering from.  The point is, I was sick. And I felt like a zombie ALL THE TIME.  And what happens when you’re sick, and you feel like a zombie? You often lose weight.

I lost weight.  

I wasn’t sad about it.  Because, I’m obsessed with the number on the scale.  

A month ago, I finally got a diagnosis.  And I got medicine. And a couple of weeks ago, I woke up one morning, and I DIDN’T feel like a zombie.  

One, unfortunate, side effect of the medicine is it can affect your stomach, mildly.  But honestly, I don’t care.

EXCEPT…it made the number on the scale go up.

For several days, I struggled.  Because there is a balance. I feel like a normal human being, but the number on the scale is going up.  And, being my own worst critic, I felt my self-worth being lowered, and lowered, and lowered. Because of the number on the scale.

So, I banished my scale.

Me.  The girl who has weighed herself every morning for years.  

I banished my scale.

Because, at the same time, other things were going on in my life.  

I made the conscious decision to make a greater effort to actually spend dedicated time reading my Bible.  And at the same time, I have been praying for God’s guidance on what I should do with my life. And let’s be real honest, I prayed for God to help me get my eating under control.  

You know, one of those prayers where I focus more on what I want than what God really wants me to do.

Guilty.  As. Charged.

One of the other things that I have consciously been praying for on Sunday morning’s before I go to church, is that God helps me hear the message He wants me to hear that day.  And since I started praying for that on Sunday morning’s my listening skills have improved during the sermon at church.

I’m going to say that 99.99% of the time, that the message I take away from the sermon isn’t what the pastor intends for the purpose of that sermon to be.

But it is ALWAYS the message that I need to hear.

That happened yesterday.

The sermon series that we are currently in is focusing on 1 Timothy.  Yesterday specifically talked about the end of Chapter 3, and Chapter 4.  One verse stood out to me. It also helped that the pastor made a joke about this particular verse.

“Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly.  For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”  1 Timothy 4:7-8

Train yourself to be godly.

Physical training is of some value.

Godliness has value for all things.

Ok, so the joke the pastor made yesterday was about how since it’s RIGHT THERE IN THE BIBLE, that physical training isn’t everything…go ahead and eat the donut.

Except, I personally think donuts are disgusting.  And if (when) I fall to the sin of gluttony, it’s not going to be a donut.  Mexican food. Brownies. Yes. Donuts, no.

Oh, I forgot to mention…even though I banished my scale, I did weigh myself yesterday morning.  I nearly cried when I saw the number. But I weighed myself.

I haven’t even gained all of the weight back that I lost being sick.  And I almost cried. Because I gained weight.

Because I tied my self worth to a number on the scale.

So during the sermon yesterday, seeing the words Paul wrote in 1 Timothy about the qualities of what a leader should have, I made a decision.

The fact that we are currently less than a week into Lent is purely coincidental.  But having several Catholics in my circle of people, it has been a topic of discussion lately.  In addition, my BFF, also a non-Catholic, has decided over the past few years, to participate in giving something up for Lent, more as a test of her willpower.

So that got me thinking.  Which, obviously, can be dangerous at times.

I have never participated in Lent, or giving something up during Lent.  

And my own personal religion focuses more on your relationship with God rather than rituals just for the sake of rituals.

But I understand the concept of Lent, and believe that when done appropriately, it’s a cool thing.

So, the concept here is that you give something up to replicate the suffering that Jesus went through for 40 days in the desert.  

But what if we looked at it this way…

Giving something up for God.

So that’s what I’m doing.  I’m semi-permanently banishing my scale.  I’m going to focus more on my relationship with God than I do my relationship with my scale.  Because God is the one that provides me with the self-worth and self-confidence. A number on the scale, that’s not telling you (or me) all of the wonderful things that God has gifted me with.

I spent some time yesterday trying to lay out the “rules” during this scale banishment.  Do I just focus on eating healthy food and exercising? Do I still count calories? Do I just forget about weighing myself, and let the chips fall where they may?

Well, knowing myself like I do, I knew a few guidelines still needed to apply.  Because if I go out there unrestricted, I’m going to forget about any of the physical training.  It’s going to be chips and salsa all day. Only to be interrupted by brownies and cookies.

That isn’t going to accomplish the goal.

Over the past 24 hours, I have refined some of the guidelines that I am going into this with.  I am still going to allow myself to track calories. But only as a way to keep myself in check so I don’t go all full gluttony.  But I’m also not going to beat myself up for indulging in some Mexican food.  But I’m not going to weigh myself. I’m sure over the next few weeks, some of those guidelines may (will) change. But I’m flexible like that.  And right now, I’m thinking if I can hold off until Easter (I mean, it is that time of year), I will allow myself to weigh in again. But my hope is that by then, I won’t care enough to do it.

A very sad thought went through my brain yesterday on my way to church.  I was horrified at the thought of what would happen if someone invited me to go to lunch after church?  And of course, that was going to blow my getting back on track. And then I was going to get down on myself because I blew my calorie budget for the day.  Do you have any idea how far I would have to walk to work off all of that food? And I’m NEVER going to lose weight if that happens!!

Did you just read that?  How depressing is that? I was putting myself down, over going out to eat.  After church. With friends.

So I made a command decision to knock that off.  

Yes, I want to put healthy things in my body.  But I NEED to do healthy things for my soul.

You know how sometimes God just puts words in front of you sometimes, and you read through it.  And then you read it again. And it just hits you so deep in your soul that you know the only way those particular words could have been put in front of you at that exact moment was God.  It’s a God thing.  That happened this morning. Do you know Lysa TerKeurst? Have you read the things she writes? I haven’t met her. But her honesty, and willingness to share about her own messy life, and remaining one of God’s girls just hits my soul on a regular basis.  This morning, I read a prayer she wrote.

“Dear Lord, help me to see myself the way You see me.  Remove the lies that defeat me more often than I want to acknowledge.  You have set me free. Help me live like I truly believe that. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

Lysa, thank you for writing the thing that I needed to read today.  

Because God created me.  God created me exactly how I am.  And God loves me. For exactly who I am.  

Not one person, not one single person, doesn’t need to hear that.  Understand it.

God.  Loves.  Me.

And that’s the most important thing.