The Start Experiment: Days Thirteen through Fifteen

All in all, I’m doing “okay” with my goals. Bible reading has been the easiest to keep! I gained a pound back this weekend, but that’s to be expected given the circumstances (see below).

I’m quickly finding out that it will be harder to be strictly “clean” eaters in real life, so I’m learning to figure out the best possible options when it comes to meals. Every other weekend,  when we’re at Milton Hershey, I will face this…I don’t always have complete control of the menu and what we are preparing for the kids, so, like this weekend, I can’t eat completely “clean” or even healthy food unless I bring it from home. That isn’t to say that the homes aren’t normally stocked with healthy options! MHS is big on being healthy. But, many times we’re forced to improvise with what we can find in the house during the summer, and that typically means processed foods. It’s all good, though, because that’s life and that’s how our culture operates, and I need to learn to work with what I am given.

One of the girls in our home this weekend wanted to bake something so I tried it afterward…truly, I immediately could feel the sugar running through my body and did NOT like the feeling. So, even though I caved and ate sugar, I learned a valuable lesson from it. I believe that these moments will help me in the long run as I strive to completely eliminate refined sugar from my diet because I am learning to recognize how sugar feels and to remember that I don’t like that feeling.

I wrote a separate blog post about what I read in my Bible reading today…what an encouragement that was to just “Start” a new life and not look back…not let fear tell me that I’m going to miss out on so much or that life will be worse without sugar/processed foods. I know that God wants what is best for me and I am going to choose His best over anything else.

The Start Experiment: Choosing Destruction Over God’s Perfect Plan

In my “One Year Bible” the Old Testament passage today was from 2 Chronicles 25. It has been fascinating reading about all of the past kings of Israel and Judah and how they followed (or didn’t follow) God’s leading. In today’s passage, the king was following God but encountered fear when presented with a message from the Lord that required significant sacrifice.

For context, at this time, the nation of Israel was not following the Lord but the nation of Judah was. King Amaziah of Judah was building up his army so that he would be prepared when battle arose (which it often did). He surveyed his available troops and found that he didn’t have quite as many as he wanted to have; so, he hired men from Israel to join his troops and paid them 7,500 pounds of silver in exchange. That’s quite an investment.

After this, the Lord sent a messenger to King Amaziah to warn him to not bring in troops from Israel and said that if he added those troops he would surely fail in battle, no matter how well he fought. Essentially, the Lord said to not have anything to do with Israel because He knew what was best in the long run for King Amaziah and Judah.

v.8 If you let them go with your troops into battle, you will be defeated by the enemy no matter how well you fight. God will overthrow you, for he has the power to help you or to trip you up.

This brings us to the verse that struck me this morning:

v.9 Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?”

The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!” 

Let’s sum this up. Amaziah hears from the Lord that if he continues with his plan he will be destroyed by the Lord Himself. His first thought is about the money that he invested and what he will lose if he follows what the Lord is telling him to do, not on the fact that the Lord is saving his life and the lives of his troops from certain destruction! God knew the hearts of the people of Israel and knew that it would be worse for them to infiltrate the army of Judah and spread their influence than to just destroy them all. So he has two choices: be destroyed and waste your investment, or be saved and waste your investment.

From our perspective this seems so ridiculous. We look at Amaziah and think, “What a moron! Be grateful!” But, if we think about this in simpler terms, we realize that we all do this. We convince ourselves that we “need” whatever our temptation may be and we don’t want to give it up because the sacrifice seems to be too great.

For King Amaziah, it was manpower and money. For me, it is sugar. I love ice cream. I love chocolate. I have a sweet tooth that is genetic. When faced with facts like a family history of diabetes, being overweight, knowledge that the longer I wait to reform my lifestyle the harder it will be, it seems like it should be as simple as deciding not to drink alcohol was (due to family history of alcoholism)…but it isn’t.

If I take the verses above and put them into my context, here’s how they would read:

If you keep allowing sugar and unhealthy eating be part of your life, you will be defeated by your desires no matter how well you fight. 

Lesa asked the man of God, “But what about all that I am going to miss out on? I will be giving up so much!”

The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!” 

In the moment, when presented with ice cream on a hot day, or chocolate everywhere I go in Hershey, it is so hard to remember the greater gift that lies ahead if I will just submit to a healthy lifestyle: weight loss and self-confidence, a longer life (in theory) because of my body being healthier, being a better example to our future children about what is really important in life, and most importantly, honoring God with the body He has given to me and keeping it holy and set-apart… Instead, all I can think about is what I am giving up in the moment. When that is my focus, it is easy to cave into the justifications like “You only live once!” or “Just this once, it won’t happen again” and eat that ice cream instead of exercising self-control.

Giving up refined sugar is hard. It is everywhere. But that can’t be an excuse for me to give in to temptation. There ARE ways to avoid it, even though it feels like I’m making a huge sacrifice. Fear tries to tell me that this is just too uncomfortable, that it isn’t worth it, that I can wait until tomorrow to start this…but the Voice of Truth says that the God I serve is greater than any of these things that my brain (and the world) tells me are desirable and worthy of my attention.

The New Testament passage today was from Romans 12, and this passage fit perfectly with the one above:

v.2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s Will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Bottom line: Don’t be afraid to give up something that will cause destruction in the end just because of what you have invested in it, or because of how uncomfortable it will be in the moment to let it go. God is greater than anything you are struggling with and He can give us FAR better things in exchange if we will just follow Him! 

 

The Start Experiment: Days Nine through Twelve

Well, blogging every day is proving to be more challenging than I thought 🙂

We’re halfway through The Start Experiment and I’m pretty happy with my progress.

To review, my “risks” were as follows:

  • I will choose to eat “clean” and strive to make great food choices.
  • I will do a minimum of 24 minutes of exercise each day.
  • I will choose to become more self-disciplined about reading the Bible, journaling, and praying by doing these things every day for 24 days.
  • I will blog every day for 24 days about my progress, including a before picture (ugh).

I have been doing very well with eating and exercising, though I haven’t been legalistic or strict about it. I am choosing to celebrate victories rather than dwell on failures. I’m also okay with making the best possible food choices given my available options, because that’s reality. For instance, while we were in Canada I had to really work to make good food choices since I wasn’t at home. It taught me that I’m not always going to be able to eat “clean” food 100% of the time; rather, I need to learn to make the best possible choices no matter what, while offering grace to myself when I fall short.

With the exception of blogging everyday, I’ve been pretty consistent with everything else. There’s definitely room for improvement, though!

I’ve lost 4.5lbs in 12 days, and it has come off pretty effortlessly so far. Amazing what eating “real food” and exercising can do! 🙂

Each day is showing me that I can be self-disciplined and that it’s not as hard as fear tells me that it is. 🙂 One day at a time.

The Start Experiment: Days Four through Eight

Well, when I committed to blog every day about my progress I forgot that I would be traveling right in the middle of this project and we don’t own a laptop. So, I’m going to summarize our trip in this post.

B & L on the "Maid of the Mist", Niagara Falls, ON, Canada

On the “Maid of the Mist” – Niagara Falls, Canada

Overall, I didn’t do terribly. We walked a TON while in Canada so that was the exercise component (though we also spent two days in the car with little exercise). I made mostly good choices while dining (it was hard to find totally clean meals, but I did the best that I could) but did have a little sugar while there, too.

I weighed in this morning at 2 lbs less than on Day 1, so I think I did reasonably well.

I read my Bible three of the five days, prayed each day, and journaled a few times. Definitely need improvement there.

At first I was slightly frustrated that this trip fell during this 24 day experiment, but then I realized that since we love to travel, this was actually perfect. I was so much more aware of the fact that preparation will be even MORE important while traveling in the future in order to maintain this new lifestyle. And, throughout the trip, I continued to think of ways to continue this project while not completely derailing our plans. I also offered grace to myself on the days that we were driving because exercise would have been really difficult to squeeze in given our time constraints.

So, overall, I did okay. But I learned valuable lessons and that is what matters the most. 🙂

The Start Experiment: Day Three

Biggest accomplishment of the day: signing up (and paying in full) at our local community center for a year-long membership to their pools/gyms/classes. SO excited. We’ve wanted to do this for a long time and God provided the money last pay period. We went tonight and tried to swim laps. Well, we did swim laps, but not continuously. 🙂 I did 4 total (I think it’s a 25 yard pool, so I swam 200 yards), but would have to stop for several minutes at the end of the pool each time. Brennan swam more laps than me but had to stop as well, so that made me feel better 😉

I now have no good excuse for not working out. We’ve paid for this membership, it’s air-conditioned, and there are plenty of options in terms of workout activities. I’m committing to go during the day, and probably also in the morning, early, with Brennan. I know my arms are going to be sore in the morning, but that’s okay. It’s worth it.

I spent time this afternoon reading 1 Peter, which focuses a lot on holy living and being set-apart. Of course, part of being set-apart is having self-control and he mentioned that a couple of times.

That’s the whole point of this for me: to honor God with ALL of my life. It’s not about what the scale says–though that’s a bonus. It’s about making choices that honor God, even in the smallest areas.

I met each of the small goals that I have set (clean eating, exercise, time with God, blogging) today. I’m also blogging MUCH earlier so that I can go to bed at a decent time! Today’s challenge was not emotionally eating when I found out that I broke one of my camera lenses–one that I use the most. Sigh…

We leave for Canada tomorrow night so things might be tricky in terms of blogging, but perhaps we can go to a Starbucks with wi-fi so that I can blog! If not, I’ll at least blog in my journal and type the posts when we return 🙂

The Start Experiment: Day Two

Today was a success! I accomplished all of my goals for the day, plus some that I added in the moment.

I still need to work on being more prepared and eating a more filling meal in the morning so that I’m not super hungry by 10am.

I also need to work on going to bed earlier (note the time of this post!) so that I can get up earlier without it being painful. 🙂

Today’s verse was Hebrews 12:11 —

I’m going to write these daily verses on index cards so that I can carry them in my purse. This will give me easily accessible truth with which to combat the “voices” that try to bring me down (or when ice cream is calling my name).

I spent a lot of time today cleaning/finally decorating/organizing my house–something I’ve been known to procrastinate about. I worked up quite a sweat doing it, which was an added bonus! I need to Start focusing and stop procrastinating on the little things in life, like cleaning the hardwood floors. 🙂

I will be starting to read a book on Spiritual Disciplines that our church leadership team is going through together (funny timing, isn’t it? 🙂 ) and that will only help me in this process, I believe.

This is exciting. Discipline is NOT fun, but I know that the fruit that will be produced from my disciplined life will far exceed anything I will be “giving up” long-term. 🙂

 

The Start Experiment: Day One

Overall, a successful day.

It started with serious temptation in the form of donuts, but I overcame the temptation and did not even touch them.

I learned a lesson today, thankfully early on in this journey, that I always need to be prepared and have healthy snacks with me when I will be away from home for a long time. Hunger can easily turn into weakness and makes me more susceptible to temptation.

I established my reading/journaling spot in our home on our brand new couch and am really excited to spend time with God there each day.

I am going to focus on one verse each day (in addition to other reading), a verse that deals with self-discipline. I chose 2 Timothy 1:7 today:

Fear is alive and well already, trying to bring me down. I’ve started transcribing  the “voices” in my head that keep trying to make me fail. The ones I’ve identified so far are these:

You can’t do this; you’ve failed before.”

People see you as overweight and that’s all they see.”

Life is too short to eat healthy foods! Give in and enjoy life!”

I am working on truths to combat these voices whenever they enter my mind so that I can “punch fear in the face” (as Jon Acuff says so fondly). And today I was successful. Fear has no place in my life. God has given me everything I need to combat this fear/doubt because I have Him with me!

I met all of my goals today and feel excited about tomorrow.