Saturday, September 12, 2015

How To Create Real Change in the World

I’ve been thinking about all the rhetoric that has been out there lately, especially with it being the political season.  I hear a lot of people saying things like “It’s scary to be a (pick your people group) in the world today.” 

I have read a news story of these things happening throughout the month. Here’s what it’s scary to be…

It’s scary to be a black person at the hand of a racist cop
It’s scary to be an honorable cop at the hand of a violent person who is angry at the police
It’s scary to be a white person at the hand of a racist black person
It’s scary to be a woman at the hand of male rapist
It’s scary to be an honorable man at the hand of a vengeful feminist
It’s scary to be a Christian at the hand of someone who hates you just because you are a Christian.
It’s scary to be a homosexual at the hand of someone who is a bigot (Let’s remember that definition of bigotry is someone who does not tolerate you even though they may disagree with you. Just disagreement does not equal bigotry.)
It’s scary to be a refugee in a world where people would rather spend time on social media talking about their faith, than sending you shoes, food, and welcoming you into their home.

Let’s remember that there are bad eggs and people who make bad choices all over the world. Unfortunately, those people are the ones that get the most press. Not all cops are racist, not all Christians are bigots (and if they are, they are doing it wrong), not all men are sexual abusers. Let’s stop lumping everyone into one category and asking how we can be a part of world change instead.  Here are some ideas about how to start.

1.      We need to not be any of these negative extremes. We need to not be a bigot, a racist, a vengeful feminist (this is someone who desires to emasculate men), we need to not hate someone just because of their faith.
2.      We need to love the people in our lives well. Spend 30 minutes less time on social media a day and use that time to spend quality with a loved one, write a letter telling someone that you care about them, write your spouse a love letter, or catch up on the phone with an old friend.
3.      We can’t change the whole world today, but we can change one life today. You can invite that elderly neighbor over for dinner, send shoes to the Syrian refugees, sponsor a child, cook dinner for someone, or simply write someone an encouragement note.
4.      Be open to how you can help. Every day. I’ve started spending the morning praying for opportunities to be a servant each and every day. The Lord has met me there.
5.      Don’t make comments on social media articles. Sometimes I will find myself reading the negative comments on social media articles for 30 minutes and wondering where the time went. None of the comments change anyone’s mind. Most of the time the comments are just adding to the hatred that people already have.

If you really want to solve the problem, start with not being the problem. It’s easy to get caught up in “being right” that we forget what really matters. I am just as guilty at this as anyone else. Let’s make a pledge to change that today.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How Going Completely Dairy Free is Changing My Life

For those of you who have been following my journey for a while, you know that it has taken me four years to get to this spot. I lost 100lbs, gained back 10-20 while I was marathon training and have been lingering around this spot without much movement for almost two years now.

It didn't take me much time to learn what is wrong with my body, but it does seem to take me a lot of time before I will make changes. For instance, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease 11 years ago. Unfortunately, I really liked cinnamon rolls, pasta, and pizza so I didn't actually get off gluten officially until about five years ago.

That was the first step of my journey into understanding and listening to my body. Through the years, I've learned a few other things. One of them is that my body doesn't really care for dairy products. That might actually put it lightly. After doing significant research, it seems that my body is "highly allergic" to dairy products. Whenever I would eat dairy, I would stop breathing and need to take Benadryl, my ears would clog up so that I couldn't hear, and the scale would go up 15 lbs overnight (not an exaggeration). This 15 lb weight gain wasn't because I binged on dairy products. This happened once with a piece of cheese or a little of the creamer from the store. It felt like I was on an uphill battle that I would never win.

Once I understood that I couldn't really handle dairy, I gave it up in my daily life "sort of." I didn't drink milk or eat cheese. I gave up my daily yogurt habit. But I would still sneak it in with little things like some milk chocolate or "just one slice" of gluten free pizza. Every time I ate it, I would have vicious reactions. It took a couple of years, but I finally made the choice to give it up for good. No gluten free pizza (unless cheese free), no sneaky milk chocolate (sad), and no non-dairy creamer (since this still has milk proteins in it unless it says dairy free).

It has changed my life. I finally feel like my brain and the scale are moving again. My workouts are awesome, I don't feel bloated all the time, my ears have actually been clear and my crazy sugar cravings have leveled themselves out. If you are concerned about any intolerance or allergy, I would definitely go without it for a while and see if that helps. Finally being honest about my allergy and removing dairy from my diet, makes me feel like I have a brand new body.

Friday, June 5, 2015

When You Finally Admit You Are Broken

I have a secret.

I DO NOT have it all together. I mean, my close friends and family know this (they are probably nodding their heads emphatically right now.) But I think about the image I portray on social media and it makes me think that some people only know me as the person I portray. That person is

1. Always on top of it with exercise
2. Always on top of it with eating right
3. Hilarious
4. Always having a good time
5. Loving life

While I don't think we should air our dirty laundry on social media, I thought I should share some truths with you.

1. I still struggle with binge eating. It's less regular than it used to be, but I have to resist it every single week.
2. I wish I was born skinny. No, I don't wish I was born "healthy or strong or muscular" I wish I was born skinny, like Stana Katic (Castle) skinny. No matter how many hours I work out or how long I count calories, I will never look like that. So, while it's taken me a while to accept that I want to be the best version of my own body, I still secretly harbor a desire to be "skinny." Although, not enough to become unhealthy about it.
3. I get sad and lonely a lot, even though I love my husband and my friends. Some days, I just get sad and can't figure out why.
4. I just started a new It Works! business (see top of page) and I'm scared to death. I have had a business before and it's hard. While I love the products and did my research on the business thoroughly, my fear of failure gets to me sometimes.
5. I have A LOT of anxiety. I get anxious over silly things, real things, made up things. I am an anxious person.
6. I get bored easily, with jobs, with life, with books, with television, and with exercise. Nine weeks into our exercise program, I already am completely bored with the exercises. Sometimes I think something is wrong with me.
7. I feel like a failure as a Christian a lot. Even though I know that the Lord loves me because of my brokenness, I still feel like I could be reading my Bible more, loving more, and serving more.
8. I have a problem with verbal vomit. I say what I am thinking, offend a lot of people who won't tell me they're offended and tend to find out when it's too late. I'm working on it.

All of this honesty to say one thing, I have learned that by admitting my brokenness to myself, the Lord is able to work in me and change things. For a while I was walking around from the health and fitness perspective saying "I've got this" well after my eating disorder had come back full force. Because I couldn't admit my brokenness to myself or anyone else, nothing could change. Brokenness allows for healing and healing allows for growth and change. Let yourself be vulnerable, and see how your brokenness can turn into your greatest strength.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Stop Whining...Start Being

I wasn't going to write a post today but something won't leave my thoughts. Seeing a million Facebook posts about feminists wanting more, wanting to surpass men in all of these areas has made me passionate about something.

Stop whining about not having and getting...and start doing and being.

For those of you who know me, know that I am absolutely in love with the television show "Castle" and absolutely hate most other shows on television shows today. Why do I love this show? Because it has developed a story of people with strong character, strong morals and strong relationships.

It made me think...what makes Kate Beckett different than the other heroines that we see on television today?

The difference is that she is a strong female who shows her strength because of who she is. She doesn't need to strive to be more or "better" than her male colleagues or her husband. She just has a strong work ethic and strong moral code. In that, she allows her husband to shine rather than feel threatened by him. She can be "proud to be his wife" and do great things BECAUSE she is his wife, not in spite of it.

This is what I hope women would start doing more of. Rather than always being in competition with EVERYONE around us, lets just be us. Let's be the best version of ourselves and in that, allow other people to shine. Let's be PROUD of our husbands, and in that encourage them to be their best selves. Let's be proud to be a friend, a daughter, a mother, a woman of faith, an employee,or a business owner and work to help others make their dreams come true.

I want to hear people stop talking about how we are treated unfairly and start BEING people that actually change lives. Let's develop our character, our kindness, our work ethic, our relationships, and our joy. Let's become women of character of whom people ask us to come along side them and make change, rather than telling others what we are owed.

Let's change the world because of WHO we are, not because of WHAT we want.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

What is currently keeping me emotionally and physically healthy and why I still believe in the Whole 30

I wanted to write this post as a response to several posts that I was seeing that were bashing the Whole 30's post on food freedom. I would say I had a mixed response when I did my Whole 30. Physically, I felt amazing. My acid reflux went away, my blood sugar stabilized, my mood, hormones, etc all became regular. Weight fell off of me without me having to do much. I felt like my body was full of inflammation before and then, all of a sudden it wasn't.

Until you feel like you are choking all day, every is probably difficult to understand the freedom you feel when you can breathe again. But the Whole 30 gave me that.

Soon after I finished, however, my eating disorder also came back. I soon was trying to have "Whole 30 days" and "Non-Whole 30 days" (binge) days. Because I felt restricted all the time, when I did give myself permission..I would binge eat. This hadn't been a problem since I got help for my eating disorder several years ago.

All of a sudden, I was in the midst of the stress of planning a wedding, planning a move to Florida, and no capability of actually being able to manage any eating disorder.

Two months ago, it got so bad that I decided to get help. I started working with an excellent eating disorder dietician who helped me immensely. We worked on intuitive eating and listening to my body. I felt like I had the freedom to make decisions based on what I was hungry for rather than a list of "Yes" and "No" foods. I ate chocolate daily and even had some dairy products. Because I was eating at the exact amount my body was asking for, I didn't gain or lose weight.

Unfortunately, almost from day 1, I also started having the choking feeling again. I started having what I have deemed "acid headaches," feeling like my acid reflux had gotten so bad it had gone into the brain. I mentioned this to the dietician and I had to start writing down my symptoms and where they came from.

Two months later, where do we find ourselves? Right back at the Whole 30.

You see, I ate gluten for seven years after getting diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I didn't completely give it up until about four years ago. This did some serious damage to my digestive system. Soon after, dairy became an intolerance. What I have now found out is that soy has also followed suit.

I sit here after having done all of this permissive eating work, grateful for the Whole 30. This is a plan that I can follow without having acid reflux, or choking problems, or headaches. This is a plan that happens to have tons of blogs and cookbooks dedicated to it so that I can find recipes anywhere. This is also a plan where I get to eat delicious clean meats, eggs, vegetables, all different colors of fruits, and both regular and sweet potatoes.

Was my eating disorder the Whole 30's fault? I don't think so. I think it's that I hadn't fully put coping mechanisms in place to handle large amounts of stress. So food and binging seemed like the most viable option.

Now I feel like I am in a good place. Because of the work completed with the Dietician, I know that when something is truly worth it (which most things aren't), I may have something off the Whole 30 plan.

Also for those of you who don't have food intolerance's or allergies, more power to you. I think it's great if you can figure out a wonderful balance to try all the foods that are out there. I think if Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig or Veganism (Just don't be a mean Vegan:) is working for you, then you should do that.

But I am not able to enjoy all the foods. I have severe physical, mental, and emotionally difficulties because of some of the foods I put into my body.  Because of that, I am grateful for a program that allows me to be my best self and also enjoy many different kinds of foods.

That is what food freedom means to me.

These are what I'm using for snacks these days. Tastes excellent and no digestion disruption!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Encourage One Person

It's incredible the amount of impact that one step, completed over time can have on a person. I lost 100lbs by walking, I've known others that have started lifting three times a week, every week and have completely changed their bodies. The Whole 30 healed my gut. Writing a chapter a day can lead to a book deal. I've known others that have put an hour a day into a successful business and eventually became successful.

You see life change isn't about changing everything at once, it's about changing one thing.

So how do our hearts get changed? How do we become people of love, encouragement and substance over time? What does the Lord tell us to do?

Hebrews 12:11 says "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."

Discipline is painful, but in the end it produces a harvest. Little changes, over time produce a harvest. 

Lately, I am focusing on being an encouragement to others rather than a "Debbie Downer." Today, I decided to leave an encouragement note in my husband's lunch box. Hopefully, he will see that and feel a little more encouraged today. 

I would urge you to write an encouragement note to someone today, ask someone if you can pray for them, or call someone that you haven't talked with in a while. It's incredible what stepping outside of ourselves for ten minutes can do for our day. By making one heart change each day, hopefully it will produce a harvest of encouragers. You know what a harvest of encouragers can do?... Change the world.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Breathing Life

Hey everyone, sorry I have been MIA on here for a while. A few big life changes have happened.

1.       I got married
2.       My husband found out that he is being mobilized to Florida, so we are moving to Florida in a couple of months
3.       My eating disorder came back right after I completed my Whole 30 and I had to see someone again to get that back on track.

As you can see, that is a whole bunch of life changes all at once. But now that everything has slowed down a bit, I have started to think about who and what I want to be in life. I think it’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane of life: Wake up, workout (maybe), work, chores, dinner, TV, bed. We can spend so much time living for Saturdays, hoping for the day where we can sloth around in our pajamas…no one expecting much from us.

I’ve decided I want more.

A few years ago, a good friend of mine told me that she believed that one day I would be a voice to help many hurting women. This has stuck in my mind ever since she told me this.
Lately, I have started to wonder how I begin to live this purpose. You see, the one gift that I have always know that the Lord has given me is words. My words can either throw people a life raft or drown them. I don’t think we realize how much words matter.

Complaining can ruin someone’s entire day. On the flip side, words of encouragement can bring life to someone that doesn’t feel that they can take one more breath.
I’ve decided I want my words to matter. I want the words that I speak to bring life, encouragement, and the grace of Christ to each situation. I want my days to be filled with life giving conversations, encouragement notes, and truth.

I don’t want to live for the next sloth day. I want to live each day as if everyone that I come in contact with is on purpose. ..that the Lord has put that person on my path for a reason.
The reason I am telling you this is because I am going to start investing my time into this blog again. But it’s not going to be about what it was anymore. Rather than investing my time into talking about me, races I have run and things I have accomplished, I want my words to be pointing to something greater. I want to allow my words to bring life and freedom to others again so that they will in turn, choose life. 

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” Deuteronomy 30: 19

Monday, January 12, 2015

Freedom to Help: Denied

I've been thinking about this a lot lately. As someone who has gotten into a helping profession because I actually like to help people, I find the noose around my neck filled with paperwork and insurance regulations gets tighter and tighter. Sometimes I think "Maybe there is a better way to help?" But here's the thing...this is happening to everyone! Teacher's who love little kids don't get to teach them or mold them because they are constantly doing assessments, doctors can't actually heal the sick because they have to feed their families and "insurance companies have rules," therapists (myself), social workers, school counselors...everyone is bound by regulation, rules and lawsuits.

When did it become like this? And can it get better?

How do we help DESPITE all the regulation? How to we come back to our roots of loving and learning about others?

I don't have answers but I think I have started to think about it more. It starts with learning. I LOVE learning about how people tick. I love reading stories about people's lives and changes that have actually made a difference in people. But I don't always take the time to learn because I'm always seeing clients or doing paperwork or just..busy. I'm making a commitment to learn about real change in the future.

The next thing I have decided to do more of is truly seeing. I have started to realize that a lot of the regulation came from somewhere. Many times it came from other counselors, teachers, doctor's, etc. who just lost their way. I don't want to become a "regulator." I want to truly see the clients with whom I am working. I want to remember that for this hour, I have the ability to affect life change. I commit to not seeing them as a number, a progress note, a treatment plan, or a paycheck. I choose to see each person as a story, a life that has been shaped by hurt and tears, a lonely human who needs to know that someone truly cares about them and is committed to helping them work through their pain.

The conclusion I have come to thus far is that the only way to truly stop these helping professions from becoming worthless jobs of regulations only, is to stop ourselves from becoming the regulators. We must appreciate each person we are trying to help and maintain the human connection...even if we have to wade through piles of paperwork to do it.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burdens of another.”
Charles Dickens