Istood in the kitchen. Shirt pulled slightly up and tucked under my chin. Waistband pulled slightly down. I opened the junk drawer and found it. The tape measure. The tape measure and I had not spoken for years. The scale and I had the same relationship. We were estranged. Honestly, I’m not sure what made me pull it out that day. I mean, I hadn’t exercised in eons. So it wasn’t like I was needing to see how many inches I had lost because of the amazing number of crunches I’d been doing. Maybe I just felt like torturing myself that day. Who knows? But for whatever reason, I took a deep breath, sucked it all in and wrapped that 60 inches of tape around my midsection to find my number.
I think I died a little inside that day.
Depending on where your mouse lands when you google “what’s a healthy waist measurement”, this number should be anywhere between 31.5 and 35 inches if you’re a woman. Around 40 inches if you’re a man. I’m tall and I’ve always carried more weight in my belly. In other words, I’ve never been a “Twiggy” but in my younger, healthier days, my waistline was at least in the high range of being a-ok. So I figured in spite of all the weight I’d gained over the years , I was probably at least in the healthy man range.
I wasn’t. Not even close.
Deeming the tape measure defective, I threw it in the nearest trash can as quickly as I could. There was no reason to keep such negativity in my life after all !! Ugh!! But the number on the white tape had already left it’s mark on me. I cried out in despair and defeat, “HOW CAN THAT BE?”
I added it to my Click List order. (side note…..if you live near a Kroger and they offer Click List, DO IT!! You’ll never walk into another grocery store again if you can help it!) It’s completely possible if I had to find the tape measure on the shelf myself ,I may have just skipped over it. Because really? Where the heck are tape measures in a grocery store?? But I figured the nice Kroger employee doing my shopping for me would know where it lived and not die with frustration searching the store for it. I got my groceries home and started emptying out the bags. I was way more excited to see that blasted tape measure than I was my bag of whole wheat pasta! I finally found it. My new tape measure was pink.
I stood there in my kitchen and held this girly pink thing. As excited as I was by my $2.25 purchase, I was equally intimidated by it. The first time I wrapped this indicator of my girth around my parts was several months into my weight loss journey. I was in the first week of a new workout program and it felt like a good time for a reality check. But I admit it was still scary. I had thoughts of the last time I had measured my mid section running through my mind and I simply wasn’t sure I wanted to know this number again. By this point in time, I’d lost over 50 lbs. I knew in the rational part of my brain that my measurements would be smaller. My number on the scale was less and my clothes had a new lower number. But the irrational part of me was still screaming “IT’S ALL A FLUKE!!!”
I put on my brave face and wrapped my new pink tape measure around my waist. I closed my eyes and prayed, “Lord this is just a number. It’s not an indicator of my worth or my ability. No matter the number this tape measure lands on, I will praise You.”
I opened my eyes. Placed my finger on the spot that would be my number for the day and I looked. It was still larger than “Dr. Google” deemed healthy but by golly. It was less than it was that day a few years ago. A FOOT LESS! A foot!!!
I continued with my daily workouts. I continued putting the right food in my mouth. I continued praising God for all He’s done for me the past 9 months. And 50 days later, I measured again.
And once again, I exclaimed, “How can that be?”
But this time it was an exclamation filled with joy not despair or defeat. It was an exclamation filled with gratitude not shame. It was an exclamation that caused me to pause and thank the One who changed me.
“For this I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to Your Name.”…2 Samuel 22:50
If you just love being on a diet, raise your hand…
As I sit here waiting for nobody to raise their hands, let me finish my fat free cottage cheese and mandarin oranges! I have serious love for this stuff! I’d almost take it instead of ice cream…almost! Seriously! I’m fighting the urge to go grab another bowl of curdly cheesy orange love. Cottage cheese was once the food of my dieting nightmares. Now I crave it like it was ice cream! Oh my word!! Who am I??
Truth is, if someone caught me eating cottage cheese they’d probably ask me if I was on a diet. Oh how I hate that word! Honestly, when someone talks about “going on a diet”, I just wanna cringe! I. HATE. DIETS !!! I’ve been on dozens of them throughout my life. And in spite of the fact that many of these diets helped me lose weight, not one of them was successful. Every single time I’ve gone on a diet, I’ve ended up overweight again. Every single time was just progressively worse than the time before.
I think I’ve found a “sweet spot” though that will keep me from ever having to “diet” again. I’ve pinpointed five things I’m doing that I’m certain will keep me from boomeranging back to where I was in this before picture. And because I like to share , I’ve written these things down for any of my “dieting” friends who may need a boost.
Picture on the left was a year ago. The snazzy dressing room selfie was a few weeks ago . I hate dressing room selfies by the way. But I couldn’t help myself because I was a bit stunned at the “smaller than I’ve been in 16 years” size jeans I was comfortable wearing. I waited until I was back in my car before I allowed the tears of joy to begin dripping from my eyes.
(Side note…I’m not a weight loss expert even though I did work as a Weight Watchers leader many years ago. I’m not even a nutrition specialist. I’m just someone who’s walked this road a time or two and learned a few things along the way. )
1. Find your proper motivation…
Honestly, if your motivation is to lose some weight and get to a certain number, that’s not enough! I’ve been there done that. When all I wanted was to be several pounds under 200, this motivation alone failed me in the end. Because once I got to that elusive number, I celebrated the “end of the road”. And you know what happened? I got lazy again. I got a bit cocky thinking I no longer needed to do all the things I had been doing that got me to this point. I had arrived and now I could relax. That worked for me for a while. But Picture One up there is the proof of my failure in making a number my motivation.
That “getting to xxx-pounds” can be a good start, but a better lifelong motivator needs to go deeper than that. EVERY DAY I want to feel amazing. EVERY DAY I want to be able to get up and move and groove and enjoy life with my family and friends and not ache because of sugar induced inflammation. I want to be able get up off the floor without needing help. I want to be able to cross my legs and bend over to tie my shoes. I want good numbers at EVERY yearly physical as a result of my good health choices. These goals motivate me more to a lifetime of good choices than simply reaching that number well under 200!
2.Give yourself a fair chance to create new habits…
How many times have you started a “diet” and given up within a couple weeks? I’ve done this too many times to count. When I think about why I gave up so many times it usually boils down to a huge lack of patience with myself. Those first few days of exercising were hard and I didn’t like getting sweaty or being out of breath and really? Who has time for such things? Then it was hard to drink enough water or to cook more and eat out less or to simply keep track of what I put in my mouth all day long. Those times I gave up too soon were also the times I didn’t give myself enough time to break my old bad habits and create new healthy ones.
The “researchers” ….whoever they are…say it takes 21 days to bust out of a bad habit and create a new one. But I say be patient even beyond 21 days. That new habit may be created but in my own experience it’s gonna take a bit longer to make sure it sticks..to get to the point where drinking water and exercising and picking up an apple instead of a brownie is just second nature. Once all the good habits become second nature, your chances of ever having to be on a diet again diminish greatly!
3.Believe you can do this…
From the day I had a “weight loss expert” tell me losing weight was just harder for women in their 50’s, I stopped believing I was even able. I filled my head with all the lies of “I can’t”. And I was totally right. As long as I believed I was unable to lose weight, I was doomed to a life of being overweight. I could start with a decent attitude but the second I allowed doubt to slip in , it was all over. Such a vicious , ugly cycle that lead to a “diet mentality”. Yuck!!
If you want to stop that vicious cycle, you MUST get the words “I can’t” out of your vocab!! You CAN eat vegetables. You CAN skip dessert. You CAN exercise every day. You CAN do every single thing it takes to get healthy. You CAN do all the hard things AND live to tell about them! Believe all these “I can” statements. Write them on sticky notes and put them where you can see them . Fill your sweet head with the truth that you can do this . BELIEVE IT! It’s true after all! This simple change in believing in yourself will be a big part of stopping the diet yo yo.
4.Be willing to do things differently…
Are you a creature of habit like I am? I can certainly get set in my ways. And I was pretty darn set on ice cream every night after dinner… and don’t you dare offer me the no sugar added variety! Yuck! Three cups of coffee every morning with enough Extra Extra creamer to make my black coffee the color of my favorite white sandy beach. Resting every day during the kids nap time…do not make me get up off the couch for anything please! I had some pretty solid, not very healthy habits. For so long,the thought of changing any of my routines made me cringe. But the day came when I knew I had to.
And seven months into this new journey of healthy disciplines, I’ve come to realize I still need to be open to doing things differently every so often. Why? Because my weight loss stalls from time to time. This happens mostly when I get in a rut of eating the same foods, doing the same workouts and basically fall into a bit of boredom with all the things. When I start to feel even a smidge of the ho-hum, I’m far more likely to fall into that “diet mentality”. I’m far more likely to skip the workout, eat bigger portions, run for the full sugar ice cream! Left unchecked,this leads to finding a seat on a roller coaster you will get very few thrills from!!
5.Don’t put time limits on your goals…
“I must lose 50 lbs by Christmas”
“Losing ten pounds a month is necessary for me to be successful.”
I can’t count on both hands the number of times I’ve put limits on myself. Some were realistic. Most were not. A few of my self made limits were met. And when they weren’t? Well, cue the wah-wah music. Utter defeat. Failure. Feelings of worthlessness and weakness set in. And most of the time, those unmet timed goals lead to gigantic steps in the wrong direction.
Being healthy, eating right and losing weight isn’t a sprint with a big old fancy finish line at the end. Treat it as such and B A M!! You’ve arrived. You’ve achieved your goal. You’re done. And now you don’t have to worry about that stinking old “diet” anymore. Surely we all know what happens next.
As long as you have a heart that’s beating and breath in your lungs, that journey to your healthiest self isn’t over. There are no time limits to your healthy goals. Eating right and exercising isn’t a punishment we must endure as penance for being overweight. It’s a reward for a life well lived.
Set goals for yourself. Goals are good. But time restraints on a plan to lose weight could backfire. Make it a LIFETIME goal to do all the right things, to eat well and move more. If that’s your lifetime goal, the weight will come off and stay off.
And you’ll never have to go on another “diet”again. Ever.
I’ll end with a prayer for you from my favorite encouraging book…the Bible.
“Dear Friends, I pray that you may enjoy GOOD HEALTH and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. Lord help these friends show discipline in their bodies and keep them under control. Whatever they eat or drink, whatever they do, may they do it all for the glory of God.”
Several weeks ago , I stopped and had lunch at the wonderful “Christian chicken” restaurant my son works for. It’s always fun to sorta sneak in there amongst the crowd of famished travelers, shoppers and parents entertaining their preschoolers and just watch my youngest do his thing. I had a hard time being sneaky that day though. He saw me as soon as I graced the side door entrance with my presence.
Now for my fellow WW friends, the Lord’s chicken palace is a great place to get a super low point meal. The grilled chicken nuggets have ZERO POINTS! That means GIVE ME ALL THE GRILLED CHICKEN PIECES…..PLEASE! They really are yummy! Plop them on top of your side salad and tada! You’ve got yourself a nice and healthy fast food meal for 3 measly points. Now isn’t it odd that the salad has more points than the chicken? Darn you cheese !!!
Speaking of c h e e s e, you may have heard about this new Mac and Cheese that God Himself created and gave to CFA. My son came home with a bowl of this deliciousness one afternoon after he got off work. Because he’s smart, he added a spicy chicken filet and some bacon pieces into it. I sat across my very own kitchen table from him and was in some sort of trance as I beheld his holy creation. I couldn’t move. Mainly because I was afraid Six Months Ago Me would take over and demand every bite of my kid’s food. I sat there and prayed (of course I did!), came to my senses and calmly asked if I could have one small bite of his Mac and Cheese Delight. He glared at me for a second, probably going over in his mind if he wanted to be a good son and fully support my weight loss goals OR be a good son and hand over a single bite of his food before I bit off one of his arms. There was a thin line there! I got the bite. I don’t know if this was a win or not because that one bite was so dadgum amazing it left me wanting to steal food from a baby. Hmmmm…..I behaved. But hey? Is it stealing food from a baby when said “baby” is a 6 ft 4 grown man?
Anyway, back to my original story before I got distracted by the Mac and Cheese of Jesus. On this particular day I was feeling mighty and strong in my resolve to eat well and make good choices. I got my grilled chicken nuggets and my well-done fries (I needed Points SOMEWHERE in this lunch) and topped it off with a refreshing diet lemonade. My sweet son came over and gave me the excellent news that his boss wanted to give me a gift….a peach milkshake!
Oh! My! Word!
A P E A C H M I L K S H A K E!! I’m certain this is what I’ll ask for on my death bed and I’m pretty sure that my mansion in heaven will have a milkshake machine that only makes peach shakes…oh and banana pudding!
I smiled at my precious son , my heart full of such love for this man-child of mine who had the power to bring me the gift of sweet , creamy, Georgia-peachy joy! Then he looked at me , shrugged his shoulders and said, “I told her you were on a diet and probably wouldn’t want it, though. She’s pretty insistent. What do you think?”
Oh the dilemma!!!! So I pulled out my WW app and like every great weight watching person diligently seeking their best and most well self, I looked up the Point value of a large peach shake. Because I COULD just have it and count the points and go about my day. But my jaw dropped flat to the ground because it became pretty evident that the “powers that be” did not clue in to the fact that all dreamy ice creamy treats at the Christian chicken place should NOT count as a a full day of Points plus some! Oh my gracious sakes alive!
Suddenly I was singing “let the devil know not today!” in my head and looking in my purse for the holy water to sprinkle all over this temptation! But my precious son was right….I did, in fact, no longer want the delectable treat I had so kindly been offered.
I sent him back to work, feeling strong and good about my decision to skip the shake. As I sat there proudly munching on my ZERO POINT chicken nuggets, she came to my table. TheFood Pusher. The really sweet and with great intentions Food Pusher. He was right, though…she was pretty insistent on gifting me that day. She offered me a small instead of a large…thank you but still no. Then I told her about my weight struggles and how far I’d come to overcome those obstacles. Our banter went back and forth for many minutes and it became clear to me our thoughts on getting healthy in our 50’s were a bit different. I also began feeling I needed to accept something from her so I asked for a lesser of the ice cream evils … a frosted DIET lemonade. That satisfied her need to gift me and I felt like I was still in control of my choices. For the record, I could have THREE small frosted diet lemonades for the same points value as that large peach milkshake! Jesus take the wheel!!!
Truth is, I should’ve passed on the ice cream treat altogether. I walked into lunch that day strong and with great resolve. I knew what I wanted to eat. I had my plan. But I let someone else’s plan for me break through and rule for a minute.
Friends, we will all have to face Food Pushers as we work towards our health and weight goals. It’s just inevitable unless you live under a rock or in a far off space station orbiting a distant planet all alone. People generally like to share food. It’s a means of entertaining. Of saying “Hey I like you…join me”. Sometimes we’re gonna feel weak and give in. We’ll believe the lie that we “deserve” this treat. We’ll believe the lie that one bite won’t set us back! Believe me….ONE BITE can absolutely wake up a sleeping sugar monster inside you and remind him he’s famished!!! We’ll believe for a minute depriving ourselves of the treat in question is bad and giving in to it is our due reward.
You know what you truly deserve, though? Not the brownie or the milkshake or the 61 point Texas sized nachos!!! Yes, they DO exist! You certainly don’t deserve the massive amount of guilt you’ll feel afterwards either! You deserve believing YOU ARE WORTH MORE!! More than the”here now , gone in a flash” satisfaction of a few guilt-ridden bites . You deserve to feel amazing about your decision to eat healthier and to take control of what you put inside your body…no matter what anybody says!! Stand firm in YOUR convictions. Don’t let them be swayed by someone who doesn’t believe in you like you do!!
Let me take a minute and speak to anyone reading this who may be an unknowing Food Pusher. Please stop it!!! It’s nothing personal when someone politely tells you no thank you when you offer them something to eat. I promise!! Speaking from experience, I normally always want whatever someone is offering me . If I could eat all those delicious brownies you made and take them home with me and eat them in the bathtub full of bubbles I would. But what I really need is simply your support of my decision to eat healthy and be healthier no matter what your own opinion is !!
Now I just wanna speak to the person in the mirror. Can we just stop a minute and admit that we are way too often our own worst enemy? We can self sabotage like it’s our job some days. What then? What if the food temptations around you are so strong you just know you’re gonna crumble?
Walk away! Go outside. Take a walk. Just go into another room!
Bring to mind or pull up an old “before” picture or a picture of yourself at your goal weight!
Eat something better! I always have fruit around to grab in hunger emergencies. If the temptations are in your own kitchen, throw them out! It’s OK! If you just can’t throw out food because of all the starving children in the world and all that, I get that! Give it to a neighbor or box up all the tempting delicacies and donate them to a local food bank.
Pray! I’m serious!! Lord give me strength is a great little “flair prayer” even if you have to repeat it a dozen times before you feel an ounce of strength.
Repeat encouraging phrases. Write them on note cards and keep them at your fingertips. Words like I am strong! I can do this! I am worth more! Being healthy will feel better than this will taste! Whatever works for you!!
One of my favorite things to remember when I feel weak is simply a verse from scripture. It’s this…
I remember I can eat that brownie. Or that bowl of cheese dip. Or that ice cream. It will always be available for me. I’m allowed to have it. It’s not taboo! However, it’s not necessarily beneficial for me. It’ll make me feel bad. I’ll probably feel a twinge of guilt. Really, nothing good will come from it! So I decide to not let any food be the boss of me…and trust me I know some pretty loud and bossy food!! I think about all the years food mastered me. When I lived to eat and eat some more! When food was a great source of entertainment for me! And it makes me mad…and sad…and determined to be the master of what I eat and drink and not the other way around!
So Food Pushers, I love you! But I’m gonna choose to love myself more!