Creating New Habits
The hardest thing about change is not the change itself…it is letting go of what you are used to. The second hardest thing is creating new habits.
Let It GO, Let It Go…
You are completely welcome for that little ear worm. You will be thinking of Elsa the rest of the day. You have to let go of the old to embrace the new. There is not going to be a lot of room in my diet for water and protein, if I keep sucking down sweet tea and junk food. I never really considered junk food a major problem, but the last few days I realized despite my general ban on eating fast food…I still do not eat well. I make healthy meals, unless I am really late and pick up Chick-fil-A. I rarely eat at fast food restaurants (I don’t consider Chick-Fil-A fast food…especially in their lunch line). No I by-pass McDonald’s and pop into a gas station to use the potty, grab a water or Gatorade and some beef jerky or chips. (Yeah because those are super healthy choices.) I have probably eaten breakfast a total of 5 times in as many weeks. My food habits are terrible and I do not drink near enough water. WHY? Because I am evidentially too busy to drink in the course of my day.
My dietary hurdles are honestly not about the food, it is the habits surrounding the food. I like healthy foods. In fact I prefer a good home cooked, non-processed meal over going out most of the time. Tonight I took my first step toward dietary responsibility. I stopped eating when I was satisfied. I had half a steak, some potatoes and even a little broccoli left…but I stopped. It wasn’t hard to do, but I had to be mindful of myself.
Speaking of Being Mindful
Another bad habit is waking in the morning, shortly before the alarm sounds and trying to go back to sleep. Like 5 minutes would really make a difference. Today I tried something my friend and her family do everyday. Before I ever sat up, I said good morning to the Lord. I thanked Him for giving me this day I was about to start. I concluded with speaking in my prayer language. It was less than 2 or 3 minutes, the time I am normally trying to will myself to either sleep a little longer or rise from my slumber. It was the first time I tried this and honestly it felt clunky and a little awkward in the first moment…then it just wasn’t.
When my feet hit the floor I was ready to do my bible study and start pushing water into my body. After my bible study and prayer…I worked out. Did you read that…I WORKED OUT. No husband pushing me to the gym or toward the treadmill. I popped in a DVD I have had for years and started my day dancing…or some semblance of dancing. I did not make it through the whole video, but today is only the first day. I went about 20 minutes. Personally, I am proud I made it that long.
I want to lose weight for a lot of reasons. I do want to buy clothes and it not be a traumatic experience requiring therapy. I want to be stronger and have more energy. I want to stop cringing every time I see a photo of myself. I want to be healthy and strong enough to actually do some of the things on my bucket list. Beyond all those selfish desires with weight loss it has occurred to me that I have been a bad steward of what God gave me. No one was forcing me to sit on the couch and eat Oreos. No one told me to sit around and have inactive, activities. I did this to myself. I spent many, many years not cultivating my relationship with God and frankly…it shows. It shows heavily in all the wrong places. I feel an obligation to God to correct this. I feel an obligation to the young girls and adult women I lead to have a healthy relationship with both their image and the food on their plate. Perhaps this is where my love of cooking and writing will converge in some measure of ministry.
I Do Not Know
I don’t know and that is ok. We have heard stories in the bible where God gave instruction and people just followed it. No arguments, no contesting the direction…no saying “and then”. I am discovering that part of faith is getting step one and trusting in just that. Let me be real for a minute. This is a struggle for me. God will make a way. Then I immediately ask “how”. This is obviously because I have much better control over things than our all-powerful heavenly Father. He should consult with me…right? The answer is a resounding, NO. I can plan an event. I can create a budget. I can plan trips and any number of things. I cannot plan how healing will reveal itself. I cannot foresee or plan the blessing that comes from obedience. Neither can you.
Quick flashback. The children of Israel questioned God. The promised land was in sight, the scouts confirmed that the joint was off the hook. A land flowing with milk and honey. They questioned. They disobeyed. They doubted. Lack of faith and obedience left them playing in the sand for a generation. (And these people SAW the Red Sea part. I mean really, how do you lack faith after seeing that?)
I have experienced miracles. No seas or even puddles parting but that was not a miracle I needed. The Israelites needed that miracle. The miracles I have experienced are small in comparison to the works in the great Bible stories, but they were huge for me. So I challenge you (and myself), where is God leading you? What instruction has he given you that you have not followed because you do not see the rest of the plan? Has your seeking answers turned into doubting God? Can you not know the next step and just fall into the arms of your heavenly Father trusting he will catch you…ALWAYS?
Be Gentle in Your Judgement of Self
I am my own worst critic. I often feel like a blubbering idiot when I talk to the girls in our church youth group. I feel like I am doing it all wrong, that I am too much of a dork. (FYI, I love my dorkiness – its a gift.) No one, not even these teenage girls make me feel that way. In fact my fellow leaders and these beautiful young people encourage me. I feel loved by them. Whatever doubts and insecurities I deal with are my issues. Things rarely go as planned when working with young people. Correction, things rarely go as planned when working with people in general. If I don’t hit the goals (real or imagined) I start to over analyze and stress. I want what I present to you to be as close to perfect as I can make it.
So here is my nugget of wisdom. Be gentle with yourself. People criticize easily and struggle with compliments. We did an affirmation circle in our small group last night that proved this point. As the young women affirmed, praised and recognized one another we had some awkward moments. People struggling with what to say. People hearing affirmations and not knowing how to respond. We have reached a point where it is easier to believe something negative we hear about ourselves than to embrace genuine compliments. That makes me sad. Trust the people you love and respect when they give you a compliment. Be gracious and thankful that they care enough about you to recognize the gifts you display.
If you have not read or watched “The Help” you should. The maid tells this little girl, ” you is smart, you is kind, you is important”. It is an affirmation that the character is desperately trying to instill in this little girl. I did things like this before I ever read “The Help”. It probably came from Good Housekeeping or some other magazine talking about positive affirmations. I would look myself in the mirror and tell myself “You are smart and you can survive this”. You can tell just in that affirmation where my focus was. All my confidence was in the fact I was intelligent. All my focus was on surviving. I still like to consider myself a smart girl, but I have value beyond a paper I can write, a program I can develop or a book I can write. My focus is still shifting from survive to thrive. It is a good change, but that means I need to leave survival mode in the dust.
Recognize The Journey
I saw it last night in the face of few of the girls in our small group. Shame. I had asked if they did their November reading plan and several had made efforts but only a few raised their hand to say they completed the reading plan. When I was a probation officer I made a huge deal over small victories. Sometimes a small victory to me and a client looked like a small failure to others. For example, someone who had been repeatedly convicted of drug and property crimes, in and out of jail and on probation longer than some officers survived the career…got a DWLR (Driving while license revoked). He was working, drug free and had no new criminal offenses in a few years. He drove his girlfriend’s car to work so he would not be late and he went through a check-point. Let me tell you, the fact he stopped for a check-point was a big win. He was really upset about the new charge but knew he was wrong. Fortunately, the judge in his case agreed with me. This man had done some terrible things for even worse reasons. There was evidence of making changes and one mistake should not undo everything positive that he had achieved.
In that same spirit, I asked the girls if they had ever done a reading plan, even attempted one. The same girls that did not complete this one had never attempted a reading plan. I reminded them that the days they did read were wins. It was a step in the right direction. I believe in recognizing the small wins. Some people have lives that are a series of small to medium wins. Never anything that is going to make the news or make them famous, but they are wins in that individual’s life. Recognize the little wins and the losses as part of the journey. Learn from the mistakes and press on.
Happy December 1st…it is almost CHRISTmas.