Thursday, July 30, 2015

Surviving South Beach Phase One

Normally I am not a fan of elimination diets.  Diets where you have to completely give up something forever, or at least until you reach your goal weight.  This is not realistic because we live in America.  And unless the people you spend time with regularly are completely committed to eating the same way you will be around the foods you're asked to elimitate indefinitely.  This isn't to say self-control isn't important.  It is. I'll talk about that another time, though.  

My point of the above is to explain WHY I chose the South Beach diet over all the other diets offered on the marketplace.  South Beach asks you to give up ALL fruits, starches, and carbs for two weeks.  I can do a lot of things for only two weeks.  At the end of the two weeks, introducing fruit back into your diet is encouraged, along with limited whole grains that you choose as you work your way into Phase Two.  Phase Two lasts long enough to achieve your goal weight.

After Phase Two, you move into Phase Three, or the lifestyle maintenance phase.   Essentially you're committing to eliminate the majority of unhealthy foods for the long term and replace them with healthy grains after you've curbed your sugar addiction and once you lose enough weight you remember to eat more moderately in the carbs and starches department to avoid regaining that weight in the future.

It's doable because it's teaching you how to make a lifestyle change instead of being a diet that stops once you get to your goal.  Phase Three lasts as long as you live or you can put yourself into phases one/two if you gain a bit, say after the holidays or a long vacation.

My breakfast for 14 days

I planned my meals very carefully for the two weeks I did Phase One and I followed the rules almost completely.  I did not switch out condiments that contain sugars, such as ketchup or ranch, because that can get spendy and switching from buying inexpensive carbs to more chicken and fresh veggies is already a bit on the expensive side.

A delicious dinner, with a side of salad!

One way I kept my meal plans simple was repetition.  I ate the same meal for breakfast, lunch, and  snacks for fourteen days.  Dinner time I varied the menu.  This made life much easier.

Secondly, I had an accountability partner.  She knew I was doing it and I didn't want to fail.  We talked regularly about what each one of us was doing to eat healthy.

Finally, I kept reminding myself it was for just two weeks.  After two weeks, I would have accomplished the hardest part.

I met a couple of challenges while going through this plan.  The little things are just how picky I am and an allergy to fish (which would've been a filling, yet low-fat protein to eat).

The bigger challenges had me thinking a bit more creatively.  In my area, the average high in June is 73, but the western states have been in the middle of a major drought for a few years and June seems to love ninety+ days this year.  Today, the last day of June, topped at 97 degrees.  Cooking the South Beach meals I'd planned involved days where I turned on the oven for dinner.  I switched a couple of meals around and utilized the grill a few nights to make it work.

Steak and a side salad...who says eating out is unhealthy?

The other big challenge was people being nice.  My in-laws, in a generous mood, offered to take us out for dinner at the beginning of my second week to avoid the heat.  I could've gone off plan and indulged in a free meal.  But I didn't.  (Which actually may have ended up costing my in-laws more!)

Instead, I ordered a 7 oz steak and a house salad without croutons.  Very delicious, very filling, and I stayed within my plan the entire time.  

While it wasn't always easy (like when my seven year old ate a delicious brownie when we went to help with our local soup kitchen) I accomplished it and moved into Phase Two with strength and conviction to keep going strong.

She sat next to me and made yummy noises while she ate!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

What's Your Mile?


A while back, I arrived at church for an evening Bible study class.  I was feeling worn out; I’d done my walk that day but I didn’t get up in time to walk before church so I donned my tennis shoes after church and did my mileage for that day.  It was a beautiful day, after 1 pm, so it was quite warm, which zaps me of my energy quickly.  Plus my bad ankle decided to get cranky with me that day.

I felt like I had something to moan and groan about with my lack of energy.  I was all ready to give my friends my pity speech in conversation when another friend arrived, barely able to move.  She had spent most of the day running about twenty miles up and down a mountain.  Why?  She was training for an ultra-marathon (30 miles), full of elevation gains.
I was impressed and shared that with her, commenting, “And I was feeling worn out from walking a mile today!”  She said something that struck me as super important, not just in exercising but in all areas:  

“Everyone’s mile looks different.”

I knew that but I wasn’t looking at it that way.  I was looking at what others were doing, what others had to offer.  People who seemed like they had more to offer than me tended to make me feel envious.  People who offered less than me often brought out judgment.  But that wasn’t right.  Envy is a sin, right there in the Ten Commandments.  Judgment is God’s job, not mine.

I decided I needed to look at what my mile was.  My mile, an assignment from God, was not what my friend’s mile looked like.  (I didn’t want it to be; running 30 miles of hills does not sound like fun!)  I needed to turn to God and ask Him what my mile looked like.

I figured out that I was doing my mile.  I was doing it but I was looking at everyone else’s instead of looking at what I was accomplishing.  God doesn’t want me to focus on other people’s miles unless He’s asking me to help with their mile.  He wants me to focus on doing the best I can do at the mile He’s given me.  

I may not be running 30 miles in a day.  But if I’m focused on giving 100% to the mile He’s asked me to walk, then I’m right where I’m supposed to be no matter how difficult it might look to others.

What is your mile?  Are you giving it 100%?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Need For Accountability: Part Two

Yesterday, I talked about the three times I've been successful with weight loss and exercise through accountability.  Today I'm going to share what I'm doing to be accountable to others to improve my success once again along with a mindset change necessary to succeed.

God laid it on my heart to take hold of the next opportunity I had to commit to a 5K run with a friend.  A week later, I was at a barbecue with some church friends and two of my friends mentioned a 5K in September.  I agreed to run the 5K with them.  Now I’m committed.  I’m a lot less likely to sleep in each morning because I know come September I’m going to need to be able to run a 5K.  I committed to them and I know they expect a follow through.  I don’t like to disappoint when I’ve committed to something.

In April a friend and I began the Made to Crave bible study with Lysa TerKeurst.  We’ve missed a week here or there, but on Wednesday we will have completed the entire DVD and both the book and workbook.  As we went through it I felt convicted that I needed to do some major overhaul to my diet (here I’m using the word diet simply to mean the food I generally eat).  I didn’t need to make small changes for the short term.  Rather, I needed to make BIG changes to my lifestyle for the long term.

(By the way, most fat people know all there is to know about healthy eating, exercise, and all the fad diets.  We’ve tried most of them with little results!)

I wanted the changes I made to be something I could maintain for the long term.  This was going to be a blueprint for my regular eating habits.  Most importantly, I had to make sure God was in control and not me.

The plan I picked (with God’s guidance) was South Beach, because it would work with my body’s medical issue (people with PCOS do not do well with higher levels of carbs, especially simple carbs) and would be something that can be sustained for the long term.  (Like on my birthday, when I am DEFINITELY eating CAKE!)

For the past week, I have had no starch based foods.  No breads or grains of any kind, no fruits, no potatoes, no corn, no sweets.  I’ve eaten meats, eggs, nuts, beans, cheese, and veggies.  I’ve also been accountable to my friend who’s doing the bible study with me and knows about my eating plan along with my husband, who is doing the first two weeks with me.

I’ve made it through seven days.  I’ve made it through a function with delicious looking brownies for dessert.  I’ve made it through a few days with a pulled back muscle.  I’ve made it through National Donut Day.  I made it through a barbecue with my in-laws and even made a dessert I was choosing not to eat.  But I couldn’t have done it on my own.

Chicken, tomatoes, parmesan, baked in the oven...Yum!

I needed accountability.  Accountability in my exercise.  Accountability in my eating.  But most importantly, I needed to have my heart focused on God and not on the world when I traveled this journey.  I believe I will be successful this time both because I’m being transparent and because I’m focusing on God.

Lysa TerKeurst sums up best what I’m doing in Chapter 16 of Made to Crave, “So I’m not on a diet.  I’m on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness.” (p 158).

For the purpose of holiness…that’s why we need accountability.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Need for Accountability: Part One

I have been overweight for decades.  Two decades to be exact.  Considering I’m turning 31 next month, I don’t really remember what it’s like to be at a healthy weight, since I haven’t been at a healthy weight since I was eight.

Half of the weight is a medical issue (polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS) and the other half is the Standard American Diet (SAD) along with a lack of regular exercise for the last ten years.  I’ve tried to lose weight and build healthy habits since I was eleven with no success.

There have been times I’ve managed to flat line on weight gain or lose 20-30 pounds.  I spent two years on the swim team in high school where I gained no weight (although I didn’t lose any either, thanks to PCOS!).

My freshman year of college I went to the gym three days a week with a friend and we lifted weights and did the elliptical for two hours on those days.  I lost about twenty pounds by the end of the term and an additional ten over the summer.  No freshman fifteen here!

About five years ago, I put $450 down on a personal trainer and worked out five days a week the entire summer.  Between that and the stomach flu, by the end of October that year I had lost 35 pounds.  Then I began working on my master’s research with a kindergarten class full of special needs kids and a toddler at home.  Can we say takeout, anyone?

The rest of the last twenty years have been dozens of fits and starts with different diet and exercise plans, none of which lasted a full two weeks.  What was different about those three times in my life where I was able to be successful?  I had accountability.

I’ve found that accountability is important in a variety of areas in life, whether you are accountable to a spouse, a boss, your church, a family member, a friend.  Accountability is important to maintain integrity and also for follow-through.  What I’ve learned is I’m more likely to give up if I’m not accountable to anyone.

Five months ago, I started walking.  I didn’t mention to anyone that I started walking at first but then I’d walked more than two weeks straight and realized I was making progress.  So I started posting on Facebook and blogging about it. Now my friends and family will ask me regularly how my walking is going.  When I get up in the morning my husband asks me if I’m going for a walk.

But during crazy seasons of life, that’s not quite enough.  It’s too easy to give in to my bed when I was up late the night before accomplishing something.  After two months of near-daily walking and seventy miles, I hit some major roadblocks and I let them trip me up.  I missed out on most of March after a major flu bug caused a second miscarriage.  At the end of March, I got back on the wagon and remained consistent for about three weeks when a nasty cold derailed me once again.  I knew I needed more accountability than the occasional post on Facebook.

Come back tomorrow when I share what I did to add accountability to my exercise and eating habits!

Friday, June 5, 2015

To Faith on Your Due Date

My Sweet Little Girl,

Today is the day you were supposed to arrive in the world, the day we were planning for your big debut.  Today is the day I’d planned to hold you and nurse you and look into your eyes as you looked at me.  Today is the day we hoped to start learning about your personality.

But instead it’s just another day.

When I began dreaming about this day, eight long months ago, I pictured a nursery full of woodland creatures.  I pictured light and joy and happiness and excited anticipation.  I pictured a beautiful baby in my arms as family and friends came to admire our new arrival.

I thought when I woke up today, I’d be ready to go to the hospital or maybe already at the hospital or maybe even home from the hospital by now (Your sister was three weeks old on her due date!).

May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.  ~Numbers 6:24-26

Instead I woke up to a day with a sore back.  I woke up to my fifth day on the South Beach eating plan.  I woke up to a Facebook newsfeed full of donuts I’m choosing not to eat right now.  But most of all I woke up to a day without you.

I’m trying to be thankful.  I’m trying to cling to God, who knows the end from the beginning.  Most days I’m successful.  

Today is not one of those days.

Today, I cried.  But you already know that.  You’re looking down on me from Heaven, with Reese, as you see the throne of glory in person.  I didn’t cry for you.  I cried for me, for all the hopes and dreams I lost when I lost you.  You didn’t lose hopes and dreams.  You gained everything by entering God’s Kingdom.  So I’m sad for me.  But I rejoice with the angels and the Lord Jesus that you and Reese have made it home.

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.  ~Genesis 50:20

I miss you every day, Faith Leanne, but today I miss you even more.  Reese is very missed, too, but today is your day.  Today is the day I hoped to meet you.  I’ll have to wait quite a bit because God’s not done with me here on Earth, but someday He’ll call me home and I’ll be with you.

Happy Due Date Day, sweet little girl.  I’m thankful for the months I carried you.  I’m thankful for the days I held your tiny body in my arms.  I’m thankful God is writing an amazing testimony with your life.  I’m thankful you’re safe in Heaven.  And I’m thankful for YOU!



Thursday, May 28, 2015

I Have Babies in Heaven and Peace in my Heart

When I walk I usually listen to a podcast on my phone.  I particularly enjoy listening to Kris Vallotton from Bethel.  His messages have depth and humor.  A few weeks ago I was walking and listening to a message on Esther.  He had concluded his message and was finishing up with prayer.

He stopped in the middle of his prayer with a Word from the Lord.  He said that he felt like there was someone either there or listening to it streaming who had lost two babies to miscarriage.  That this person was struggling when around infants and small children.  He wanted to tell that person Jesus was working on healing their heart and walking with them.

God was reminding me that He was right there.

When my heart is breaking and I feel like I can’t get through the day…


When I want to stay in bed all day every day…


When I want to kick and scream and be angry…


When I am losing my patience with others…


When I feel like everyone but me is having healthy, happy babies…

God…God is right there, every step of the way.

He’s there when I find reasons to smile and laugh.

He’s there when I get out of bed and go for a walk.

He’s there when I turn to Him in prayer.

He’s there when I keep my cool.

He’s there when I hold babies and play with the toddlers at church.  He’s there when I visit my nephew and He’s there in the beautiful daughter He gave me seven years ago.

Every day, He’s there, giving me strength, love, encouragement, and, most importantly, peace.

It’s been more than five months since Faith died.  I spent the first week in a sort of shock and somewhat numb.  Then, she was buried and the holidays were over.  It was time to start moving on.

But I didn’t know how.  I was living in a whole different world, in a world where I’d held my dead daughter in my arms without ever hearing her voice, seeing her smile, or letting go of her hand as she took her first steps.  In a world where I’d never watch her graduate from college, walk down the aisle in a white gown, or give birth to her own children.  All those dreams were gone and I was living in a world where I was a grieving mother.  I could’ve lost it.

But God.  I turned to Him.  I asked Him what I needed to do.  He directed my steps as I learned to navigate this new normal.  He held my hand as He showed me the greater purposes in letting my babies die.  He walked me through the loss of a second child less than three months after Faith, little Reese Day.

He never let me go.  He shared my burden.  He held me when I cried.  He replaced an unimaginable grief with peace that surpasses all understanding.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Birth Story I Didn't Want

My due date is in little over a week.  Six months ago, I was so excited for the end of May to arrive so I could meet my little bundle of joy.  In our fallen world, things don't always go as smoothly as we'd want.  This is the story of my second daughter's short four months on Earth.

In the last full week of September 2014, my daughter had a mild bug.  She recovered by the end of the week and went off to Grandma’s house for the weekend.  On Saturday September 27th, I felt really nauseous.  I was worn out from comforting a sick child and I was worried I’d contracted her bug.  Then I realized my breasts were quite tender.  On our way home from a dinner date, I pulled into Walgreen’s and bought a pregnancy test.

In the three years that we’d been trying to get pregnant I’d taken dozens of pregnancy tests.  I finally quit taking them and I hadn’t taken one since June.  But this time was different.  This time, I got a plus instead of a minus.  Three times.  I was pregnant.

I had typical first trimester fatigue and nausea.  I craved meat and potatoes all the time so I was just sure I was carrying a boy.  We spent a Saturday in October sharing the good news with our family and the next day with our church family.  We saw our baby on the ultrasound two different times.  The second time the baby was smiling and waving at us.  I was so happy!

At 2 am on Saturday, December 13th, I felt a small pop followed by a gush of water.  I knew instantly that my water had broken.  I was fifteen weeks pregnant and I knew it was too early for a baby to survive.

Waking my daughter and my husband, we drove the six blocks to the hospital.  Two ultrasounds in two hours and it was determined my water had broken but the baby was still resting comfortably in my womb, with a strong heartbeat.

After two nights at the hospital and a visit to a specialist, I was told babies survive water breaking this early 5% of the time.  The rest either deliver within two weeks or do not have developed enough lungs if they make it past 24 weeks.

I was sent home to wait.  What could I do to improve my baby’s chances, I wanted to know.  Nothing, I was told.  There’s nothing anyone can do at this point except pray.

Despite the prayers of close to a thousand people, on December 22nd, I felt something in my birth canal.  I knew instantly that I had touched a limb.  At the hospital, I sent my husband into the waiting room so our daughter would not have to watch me deliver the dead baby she had been so excited to meet.

I delivered in the emergency room with two small pushes and Faith Leanne was born, never taking a single breath. 

I was given my tiny baby girl, wrapped in a blanket with the smallest infant hat I’d ever seen.  Faith was 3 ounces and 7 inches long.  She was born at 3:50 pm.  She lives with Jesus in Heaven.

I miss her every day.