The Story I Never Thought I Would Write

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I thought that eating disorders were for movie stars.

Or actresses.

Or ice skaters.

Or superficial white girls.

I knew that I had a problem, I just wasn’t quite sure how to give what I was feeling a voice. In the winter of 2016, I became one of the girls I never thought I would be.

I enjoyed food quite a bit as a child. No food was off limits, & I grew up enjoying most foods in moderation, freely eating snacks and desserts as I desired to. I was an intuitive eater. I ate when I was hungry, stopped when I was full, and food’s purpose in my life was to give me energy and enjoyment. There were no thoughts about how the food I ate was going to affect my physical appearance, & there was no reason to change anything about my diet. I was young, happy, & healthy.

I first became interested in dieting when I was diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome in high school. After a few years of irregular and unexplainable stomach discomfort, I was relieved to receive a diagnosis that I thought would be easy to treat. I was told to eat an adequate amount of fruits and vegetables, drink water, and manage my stress. I took this advice to heart, and tried to eat as healthy as possible at every meal in order to relieve my stomach pain. I desperately just wanted someone to tell me what to eat and to give me a perfect diet plan, as if there is such a thing. I tried every diet in the book: gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, vegan, cleansing, and everything in between. These diets only exacerbated my IBS symptoms. My doctors and I didn’t realize that my stomach pain was directly related to my anxiety, & I ended up fearing and avoiding many foods that didn’t actually cause me to become ill. I ended up losing over 20% of my original body weight due to food restriction that was rooted in anxiety, perfectionism, depression, and obsessive compulsive tendencies. This was the beginning of my disordered eating. There isn’t a clear line when a person crosses over from disordered eating to an eating disorder, however I do know that I crossed that line at some point during my junior year of college. Many professionals within the ED community refer to this transition as the “perfect storm”, the point in a person’s life where all of his or her biological, psychological, and social factors come together to trigger an eating disorder. In addition to adhering to a very restrictive diet, I was also working early morning shifts at NHC Cookeville and worked out consistently throughout the week. Anxiety, depression, and addiction run in my family, in addition to stress-related GI disorders.

I lost interest in the things that mattered most to me, & as a result I began to fixate on the only thing that I could seem to control: my physical appearance. I became obsessed with counting calories, weighing myself, and working out. Although I wasn’t intentionally trying to lose weight, I told myself that if my physical health was declining that I might as well have been “skinny” while it was happening. I didn’t think there would ever be a point to where I was too skinny.

Skinny is celebrated.

Skinny is loved.

Skinny is healthy.

Skinny is good.

My genetic gun was loaded, & the trigger was pulled when my body could no longer handle the anxiety, chronic stress, & lack of nourishment. This was my perfect storm.

Anorexia took a hold on my life like nothing ever had before. Although eating disorders are psychological disorders at the root, malnourishment & medical complications are often consequences of eating disorders because of the nutritional component (or lack there of).

I didn’t have a menstrual cycle for almost 2 years.

My resting heart rate was set in the low 40s.

I began to experience insomnia at nights & lost the ability to sleep in peace.

I was unable to concentrate, feel, love, laugh, and function in daily life.

I wanted to eat but it was so painful, both physically and emotionally.

I started having mini-panic attacks before I had to eat & often experienced stomach pain when eating because my stomach wasn’t used to having a normal amount of food in it.

I knew that I wasn’t obese or even overweight, I didn’t think that a low body weight would affect me the way it did. I believed the lie that I would be happier and more loved if I weight a certain amount and looked a certain way. The diet industry doesn’t tell you that we all have a biological set point, the natural weight that our body prefers to be at when it is healthy, without restricting food or exercising. The actual range has little to no importance. Everyone is different, & that’s okay. When you are outside of this range, your body starts to send you signs that something is wrong.  Although I did lose weight & met criteria for anorexia, I can’t stress enough  that eating disorders have absolutely nothing to do with weight or size. They are psychological disorders with a food/nutritional component. Despite losing some weight, at my worst place in recovery I was still within a healthy BMI range for my height. BMI doesn’t take into account bioindividuality. It doesn’t know the difference between muscle and fat, & it’s not always a predictor of good health, as in my case. My BMI was healthy, but my body was slowly wasting away. I was outside of my set point weight & my body was desperately trying to tell me that something needed to change.

I barely made it through school that semester.

As I previously mentioned, I knew that I had a problem but I didn’t know how to give it a voice it… I thought I had an eating disorder but I wanted others to understand; I wanted them to know that I wasn’t looking for attention and that I wasn’t acting the way that I was on purpose. I didn’t understand what was wrong with me, and because I couldn’t understand, I didn’t think that anyone else would. I wanted help but I wanted it to be simple and easy. I didn’t want others to see my weakness. I didn’t want to be the latest topic of conversation. I didn’t want people to approach me about my weight or diet or exercise; doing that would force me to face my problems head on and not hide behind my eating disorder. I didn’t realize how complex and multi-layered that my eating disorder really was. After having a few emotional breakdowns each week, it didn’t take me too long to call my mom and tell her that I thought I had an eating disorder.

By the time I sought help, I was about 5 pounds & a couple emotional breakdowns away from being sent to an inpatient facility. The average individual takes 1-2 to 10 years to recover fully from their eating disorder… there really isn’t a “normal” recovery rate; everyone is different. Recovery is a very long, painful, & challenging process.

Recovery for me was often filled with emotional breakdowns, sleepless nights, stomach aches, anxiety, and loneliness. The weight restoration process was very difficult. It seemed like my stomach was always hurting, either from not eating enough that day, eating too much at one meal, binge-eating, or simply because my GI system was adjusting to all of the new changes that I was making. I often found myself caught in restriction/binge-eating cycles. I was forced to confront my anxiety and depression head on rather than by using eating disorder behaviors to numb myself to what I was feeling. A good majority of my friends had no idea what to say to me or how to help, so I ended up spending a lot of time alone or with my family. My friends would say, “you don’t look like you have an eating disorder” or they would talk about their diets or their need to lose weight even after I confided in them.

Recovery isn’t for the faint of heart.  There were many days when I thought I was fully recovered and many days when I thought I would never recover. Despite these things, recovery has also been one of the most beautiful journeys to walk through. There is freedom that comes with discovering who you are apart from your eating disorder. When you start to heal, you begin to appreciate life with humility and gratitude. I have learned healthy ways to cope with my emotions rather than acting in a way that hurts my body. It has been a hard journey, but it’s worth it…recovery always is.

Right now I am in a, much better place due to Jesus, my awesome recovery team, my husband, close family, & friends. They have been my rock this past year or so and I can’t thank them enough for what they have done for me. It’s not being too dramatic to say that they have all saved my life.

I really was going to wait to share this part of my story. I really didn’t think I would start to dive into this piece of my brokenness until I was “a little less broken”, until I was fully recovered. The Lord has laid it on my heart to share the darkest moments in my life in order that his light may shine through me. I could easily have waited until I had many years of recovery under my belt, but I don’t think God wanted me to wait. Anorexia has the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. Around half of these are due to physiological complications, & the other half are due to suicide…I can’t imagine suffering from an eating disorder and NOT knowing Jesus. The suicide rate really doesn’t surprise me because I know what it’s like to wake up and not want to live because life is too hard.

I couldn’t wait to share this part of my story because I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to speak life, hope, truth, & and healing into other people’s lives. The Lord has & will continue to deliver me from so much & I know that he can & will do that for anyone who surrenders their life to him.

 

If you are reading this today & feel like you have an unhealthy relationship with food, I encourage you to seek help. I am a strong believer in early intervention, and I truly believe if I had sought help from a treatment team during my early stages of disordered eating that I wouldn’t have made the transition into a clinically diagnosable eating disorder. Do not listen to the lie in your head that you aren’t sick enough to get help, or that you would be overreacting to seek help. Individuals of all weights, genders, ages, races, nationalities, and socioeconomic statuses suffer from eating disorders. Unfortunately, many individuals don’t seek help until they are at rock bottom, which is a much harder place to start recovery in.

If you are reading this today & you are currently going through the recovery process, my message is to not lose heart. I know what it is like to be in your position. I know how easy it is to feel trapped, enslaved, and often without hope. Although I am technically recovered from anorexia, I am still actively & intentionally working to develop a healthy relationship with food and my body. I still have to fight against my eating disorder every day. Don’t believe the lie that you won’t recover. A countless number of people have gone before you and I & recovered in a way that they are able to live their lives in peace. Recovery isn’t impossible, it’s just one of those things in life that takes a lot of patience, diligence, and perseverance to overcome. If I can do it, you can do it too.

Food Adventures

For people with eating disorders, situations surrounding food, restaurants, and eating with other people can cause a lot of distress.

Early on in my recovery I used to hear a lot of eating disorder chatter in my head around mealtimes. My eating disorder (ED) would encourage me to restrict my food intake & say things such as:

“You better not have much for dinner….you had ice cream as your afternoon snack; you should be ashamed of yourself. You cannot afford the extra calories.”

“Skip dinner & workout instead…that’s what your body really needs. You don’t need food.”

“I can’t believe you chose an item on the menu that is over 600 calories…who do you think you are?”

“You better not clean your plate….your friends will think you are a pig.”

“In order to eat out, you must look up all of your food options and the nutritional value of them so that you can identify a meal that is safe. You cannot afford any extra fat in your diet.”

“If you even consider getting a roll, no butter.”

“After that binge last night you don’t deserve to eat today.”

“You must workout if you are going out to eat…if there isn’t a way to workout, order a salad, light on the dressing.”

“Your friends and family can go hours without eating and you are starving a couple of hours after each meal…why can’t you just learn how to eat?”

ED doesn’t only use food restriction as a tactic. He also encouraged me to over-eat, eat when I wasn’t hungry, or binge-eat when I was tired, anxious, or bored. It’s all or nothing with ED. This “counter” ED would say things such as:

“You already had one cookie today you ruined the meal plan…might as well eat the whole box.”

“Binge. It doesn’t matter how hungry you are…..binge to numb yourself…binge because you want to…binge just to binge.”

“You don’t need one dessert…you need about 10 desserts. Treat yourself.”

“If you really want to recover you will just eat chocolate, sweets, and fast food each day. That’ll help you out a lot even if it makes your body feel bad.”

“You need chocolate or you won’t be able to make it through the night.”

“It doesn’t matter what your body might be trying to tell you…you need seconds, thirds, & even forths! Eat up while you can!”

“You can only have birthday cake once a year….on your birthday. Make sure you get the biggest piece you can cut so that you can make up for all of the other days that you cannot afford the extra calories.”

As you can imagine, restaurants, sleepovers, traveling, unplanned meals, changed plans, and new environments can be particularly triggering for people in recovery.

In my own recovery process, exposing myself to new or uncomfortable food situations was one of the most helpful strategies that I developed.

For example, even if it was the last thing I wanted to do, I would say “yes” to a dinner invitation from one of my friends. Then, I would go to the restaurant and do my best to order a meal that followed my meal plan + was something that I actually wanted to eat. I would try to ignore the calories on the side & listen to when my body was hungry & when my body was full.

Afterwards, I would reflect on the experience: How was the meal? Did I eat enough? Did I eat too much? Did I honor my hunger? Did I listen to my body? Did I enjoy conversation with the person I was with? Did I choose my order based off of my taste preferences and meal plan or off of the calories? Was the meal enjoyable? One of the hardest (but more important) things that I learned to do was to observe my actions without judging them. For example, if I overate at a restaurant, it was naturally for me to automatically judge my own actions:

“I’m so stupid why can’t I just listen to my body and eat like everyone else?”

“I cannot believe I ate that dish. I am going to get fat.”

“I’m not going to recover because I can’t even go to a restaurant without having anxiety and obsessing over the food I am getting.”

“I should be ashamed of myself for my eating disorder.”

“I have no self-control.”

“I honored my hunger too much. I should feel guilty.”

None of these thoughts are from my healthy self. They are from ED. In therapy, I have learned to step back and look at situations in an objective view, & then identify parts of the situation that could look a little different the next time:

“It was hard for me to read my hunger and fullness cues today, but that’s okay. I know it’s going to take some time. I did the best I could. Maybe next time I will eat my food a little slower and be intentional about not restricting food earlier in the day.”

“I ordered the pasta dish that I wanted. Pasta doesn’t make me fat. Pasta doesn’t make anyone fat. Pasta is pasta. Even if I ordered pasta the next time I went out, it still wouldn’t make me fat. My body needs food.”

“I have an eating disorder. It isn’t unusual for people with eating disorders to have anxiety around meal times. The restrictive and deprived brain starts obsessing over food when it doesn’t receive enough of it. When I keep properly nourishing my body I will stop obsessing over food.”

“My eating disorder isn’t my fault.”

“My body is in a starvation state….it is sending signals to my brain to get food & get it now…what seems like a lack of self-control is really my body protecting me.”

“There is no such thing as honoring my hunger too much. Honoring my hunger is good. The next time I go out to eat I want to honor my hunger again. ”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had meals that were painful, awkward, uncomfortable, frustrating, and even upsetting. It’s all apart of the process. Exposing myself to situations where I felt uncomfortable enabled me to go through the growing pain that lead to transformation. The painful practice was necessary to move into intuitive, mindful, & even enjoyable eating.

Although I hear less ED chatter in my head each day, I still do have moments where ED tries to challenge what I have learned in recovery.

The resort that my Husband and I stayed in on our honeymoon was all-inclusive resort.

As much food as we wanted, however we wanted it, whenever we wanted it.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, snacks, ice-cream, and room service were available from 6:00 AM until 2:00 AM each day.

A year ago, this situation would have been an absolute nightmare for me: too many decisions, too much food, too many calories, too many choices, too overwhelming.

As I walked into the all you can eat buffet, I took a deep breath and reminded myself that this experience was just another opportunity to practice good recovery skills. 

There were some times when I didn’t eat enough & had to go back and get a snack.

There some were times when I ate a little too much.

There were many times where I honored my hunger and ate until I was full and satisfied.

There were times when I ordered dessert & other times when I didn’t.

There were times that I ate 3 meals a day, & others when I ate 5.

There were times when I ate breakfast at 6:30 AM and others when I ate it at 9:00 AM.

It was a planned, yet spontaneous food adventure, & I loved every minute of it. Every bite I took was a step away from ED and another step towards full recovery. With another successful exposure therapy session under my belt, I am only stronger than I was before the trip. At this time last year I wouldn’t have eaten most of the food served at the resort. Here are some of the foods that my husband and I enjoyed on the trip, the food that ED convinced me to deny myself of for so long:

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If you’re in recovery for an eating disorder or disordered eating patterns, embrace new food adventures, show yourself grace, practice, practice, practice, & try to have some fun while you’re doing it.

To love less

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

[Luke 14:26 ESV]

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This verse has made me feel uncomfortable since the day I first read it.

I have been a christian for around 10 years (whoop whoop, praise Jesus), however, there are still many parts of God’s word that I wrestle with.

Luke 14:26 is one of them.

HATE my family?

My parents?

My sister?

My dog?

Myself?

Every time I come across this verse I quickly dismiss it and move on to something different. I don’t like to confront the idea that God may be asking me to do something that doesn’t make sense to me.  

Last week I finished packing up all of my things & moved out of my house completely for the first time in my life.

I couldn’t hold back the tears rolling down my cheeks and the anxiety that took my breath away.

I was shaking, trembling, and honestly heartbroken.

Life as I knew it for 21 years was about to the flipped upside down and I wasn’t ready.

I love my family more than anything in this world, & in many ways my parents home is my safe haven. My sister is my joy. My sweet puppy is my peace.

I was excited to move in with my husband; I was excited to decorate the apartment; I was excited to start figuring this whole “adult” thing out.

But I was also at a loss.

The time went by too fast and it felt like I was losing such an important part of my life.

Saying “see you later” just didn’t quite have the same ring to it.

I knew I would see my family later, but when? A few days from then? A week? A month? Longer?

I didn’t know how to process all of the change, so I did the only thing that I know to do in these types of situations: I opened God’s word and asked him to speak.

I was looking for a “feel-good” verse, something that would bring me comfort, reassurance, and relief.

I eagerly opened up my bible, the word that has nourished my soul with love, joy, comfort, encouragement, and peace. I was ready for what God had to say to me. I wanted to hear his voice. I needed some insight into this situation.

I put on my pajamas, brushed my teeth, turned on my side table lamp, & began reading the first verse that I had found that related to “family” in my bible index:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

[Luke 14:26 ESV]

Why did Jesus direct me back to the same verse that I have wrestled with for so long? Out of all of the verses in the bible, why did he lead me to this? This wasn’t making me feel better…if anything, it made me feel worse. 

So I started processing:

I know that God loves everyone.

I know that God is a God of relationship and fellowship.

I know that God loves me.

I know that God loves my family.

I know that the bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

I know that God’s word tells us that love covers a multitude of sins (I don’t see anything about hate in there). 

I know that we are called to bear with one another in love.

My own understanding wasn’t enough. I decided to dig a little deeper & do some research.

In the original greek, the word used for hate in this passage is miseō. Strong’s concordance has a few different definitions for this word: 

  1. To hate  
  2. To detest 
  3. By extension, to love less

A lightbulb turned on in my head:

In this verse, Jesus isn’t commanding us to spew words of hatred towards the people that we love (or ourselves). He wants to emphasize that we need to love him more than we love anyone or anything else. To hate means to love less. “If anyone comes to me and does not LOVE LESS his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

Why? 

As Tim Keller simply states in his book, Counterfeit Gods, “Human make terrible Gods.” As much as I love my family, there have been many, many times when I have hurt them or have been hurt by them. As much as I love myself, there have been many times when I have chosen what has hurt me rather than what would have kept me safe. We are all fallen and imperfect. If I place all of my trust into my family (or myself), I will be crushed when they disappoint me (or when I disappoint myself). To believe that humans were created to satisfy us more than Jesus is to believe the lie that God isn’t who he says he is.

When I choose to run to Jesus before anything else, it actually enables me to better love my family, because God’s spirit will produce in my joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, & peace.  

God isn’t asking us to hate our families, but he is making it clear that I cannot be his disciple if I don’t love them less than him.

I’ve been very lucky to grow up with a family that loves Jesus and reflects his glory on a daily basis. I am confident that God uses them to encourage me and love me in tangible ways…but if given the choice, the deepest parts in my heart would always choose Jesus first, even when it’s hard. 

Why? 

It is only God who can produce inexpressible joy in our hearts. It is only God who can flood us with peace that surpasses all understanding. It is only God who can heal my deepest wounds and redeem my life from hell and the grave. 

My family and I weren’t made to do that.

I cannot be his disciple if I let my family determine every decision that I make and action I take. 

I cannot be his disciple if I rely on my family to be my Holy Spirit. 

I cannot be his disciple if I rely on my family for salvation. 

I cannot be his disciple if I don’t love him more. 

I cannot mature in my relationship with Jesus by always staying in my comfort zone. 

No one can. 

 

I don’t always put God before my family… it’s a very difficult thing for me to do. 

I seek first their opinions. 

I crave their love. 

I desire their approval. 

I want them to satisfy me in ways that only God can. 

I want to be comfortable with them. 

Family is such a beautiful blessing from God. He created it the ultimate family model in the father, son, and holy spirit. God created families and desires to be glorified in them on earth and in heaven. It’s such a sweet gift to be able to walk in a family that encourages, prays, uplifts, and gives life.

But when I place my family on a pedestal, I elevate them into a place that only God can rightfully reign, and I begin to become bitter and angry when my family doesn’t do what I think that they are supposed to. I have to guard myself against this temptation.

Loving Jesus more than I love my family produces freedom that can only be found in the union with christ.

For me, loving Jesus more is being okay with moving out and going out into the community and working, because that means that I will have more opportunities to share the gospel and bring God glory. I have to be okay with going where Jesus wants me to go, no matter where my family is. 

For others, that may mean removing yourself from a toxic situation, speaking out about your faith, or providing your child with the resources to head oversees to share the gospel. It also may mean risking your life, status, or position in your family all for the sake of Christ. 

For everyone, loving Jesus more & the world less means: understanding who Jesus really is: the savior the world, king of kings, prince, of peace, fountain of life, living water, good shepherd, lover of our souls, ultimate sacrifice, high priest, intercessor, and our only redeemer. 

Our God is not a withholder of good; he knows what we need, when we need, & why we need it more than anyone else on this earth, even ourselves. 

Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, & even when it doesn’t quite make sense:

Love less so that you can love more. 

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Anorexia, Alcohol, and Addiction

I am not a big fan of alcohol- never have been, & probably never will be.   

With the way that my brain is wired, I think it would be hard for me to drink alcohol regularly and not form some sort of dependency. 

Alcoholism and addiction both run in my family, so I have been extra cautious to guard myself against anything that would put me down that path.

I’ve seen it put strain on relationships, ruin careers, and destroy bodies, minds, and souls. 

I don’t think alcohol is evil or from the devil, I just know that it has no place in my life.

I never want to be in a situation where I am not “alert & sober-minded”.¹ I never my consumption of alcohol to take away from my testimony of the grace & power of Jesus. I don’t want to others with an alcohol addiction/dependency to stumble & fall. I’ve had a few sips of wine with my family here & there, but nothing more. I don’t have a desire to “build up a tolerance”, & I never want to be in a situation where I am not in control of my mind or body & how I effect other people. 

These are my personal convictions, based-off of my temperament, family history, personal weaknesses, & God’s truth. 

This week I am on my honeymoon at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico. 

Free room service.

Free aroma therapy. 

Free food. 

Free drinks. 

The drinking age in Mexico is 18, so drinking is approached pretty casually here. I have gotten some soft smiles & weird looks when I have ordered the virgin strawberry daiquiri with a banana mixed in…a.k.a. a strawberry banana slushy, but I’m okay with that. It really has become my go-to the past few days. 

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Yesterday was different.

 I decided to order a drink. 

A real drink.

I drink with (gasp) alcohol in it. 

 

I pressed my lips against a chilled glass & began to drink the alcohol that I have become so bitter towards.

The drink was fruity, chilled, & not too strong. 

I could have gone about my day with or without it & could have been completely at peace. 

The alcohol didn’t do anything to me, however, I know that for many people, alcohol is so much more than alcohol.  

For the woman struggling with depression, it is comfort. 

For the hard-working business man, it is relief & relaxation. 

For the one whose heart feels empty, it is love. 

For the discontent, it is satisfaction. 

For the weary, it is a break from reality. 

For the anxious, it is peace.

Yesterday, I came to the realization that alcohol isn’t the problem. Truly. I hate to admit that because I have spent so many years building up resentment towards what I would refer to as “liquid poison.” The first miracle Jesus performed was turning water into wine. Alcohol isn’t bad in itself. I know that. I don’t hate alcohol…

What I do hate is Satan himself & his tactics surrounding the things of this world.

His biggest desire is for us to crave anything & everything more than we do God.

What I truly hate, is how easy it is to fall into sin & exchange the truth & glory of God for a lie.²

Some substances are more addicting by nature.

Some are more socially acceptable than others.

Some had be easily hidden, while others cannot be missed.

Whether it be alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, sex, gambling, screen-time, porn, or anything else, addiction does two things:

  1. Addiction impairs our relationships with God & other people.   
  2. Addiction holds us bondage to the thing that we cannot seem to live without.  

There is no freedom in addiction.  

My experience with anorexia has given me a small glimpse into the life of an addict. 

My eating disorder was my “drug of choice”, if you will. 

My eating disorder was my comfort, relaxation, peace, love, & satisfaction, however it was also a major source of anxiety, depression, low-self esteem, & overall discontentment. 

The eating disorder promised me that it would do for me what I couldn’t do for myself, & as I mentioned above, it did work for a temporary amount of time. 

Excessive exercise gave me a way to clear my mind and relieve stress. 

Skipping meals was a good way to ease my anxiety. 

Eating only clean, organic food gave me a false sense of control. 

Binging was an easy way to numb myself to a wide variety of emotions: sadness, stress, boredom, anxiety, & everything in between. 

My eating disorder crippled me because I depended on it each day to survive. 

It isolated me from my friends & family.

It distanced me from God.

It held me captive in a cycle that I couldn’t seem to break.

I became very irritable & emotionally distraught if I couldn’t workout one day for some reason. 

I became anxious & concerned if I didn’t know that would be offered on the menu at a local restaurant. 

I became overly emotional & sensitive if I was’t able to use my disordered eating patterns or exercise to cope. 

My body literally started going through withdrawal symptoms if I couldn’t exercise or establish my usual daily routine.

My concentration flew out the window.

My body began to reject normal amounts of food & sent early signals to my brain when I had eaten the amount it was used to. 

My digestive system was completely out of wack & it was very painful to work back up to eating a normal amount of food. 

 

This was my addiction.

Although I do not fully support the belief of a food addiction (because we all need food to survive), I do believe that people can become addicted to behaviors surrounding dieting, food, & mealtime. I have experienced the consequences and neurological changes associated with chronic dieting, and I can see how some people make the connection between eating disorders & addiction. 

Furthermore, nearly 50% of individuals who are diagnosed with eating disorders also struggle with drug or alcohol abuse. 

I can’t say I know what it feels like to be addicted to alcohol, cigarettes, or heroine. I haven’t had to walk that journey. What I can say, is that I am thankful that God used my recovery to grow my heart in compassion and understanding for those who also need help. 

Addictions don’t make sense, & neither do eating disorders.

The person with the addiction (or an eating disorder, as in my case), is doing the best that he or she knows to do in the situation that they are in. They don’t know how to cope with their emotions in a healthy way, & the only thing that seems to get them through the day is their addiction, which perpetuates the illness. The illness then begins to act in place of the person’s true identity, & begins to take over every aspect of life. 

 

Addicts know what they need to do to get better, but the idea of taking the first few steps is absolutely terrifying.  

For example, I knew that logically skipping breakfast, going on a long run, & snacking on a chewy granola bar wasn’t going to cut it when it came to my health. I knew that it was bad for me, but I didn’t know what else to do.

I believed the lie that God wasn’t good enough to help me sort everything out, so instead of waiting on him, I put matters into my own hands. 

The alcoholic knows that heading out to the bar after a recent relapse isn’t the right thing to do, yet is it the only way that they are able to process the emotions of guilt and shame.

One thing to note is that addiction takes over the soul of a person.

People choose to engage in the addicting behavior, but most don’t go into it thinking that they will actually become addicted. By the time they realize it, it is often too late.

In recovery I have learned that there is healing power in choosing to hate the addiction rather than the addict. 

I am confident that my friends and family are able to look back and identify situations in which my eating disorder had taken over my heart, mind, & soul. 

Refusing to add butter to my baked potato? Working out twice a day? Waiting too long to eat between meals? Demanding what I wanted for dinner, how it needed to be cooked, & at what time we ate? Refusing to attend social events?

My eating disorder, my addiction.

Adding butter to my waffles to add flavor? Workout out when I feel like it, not when I feel like I have to? Eating 3 meals a day + snacks? Asking others what they want for dinner & when they would like to eat? 

My “healthy-self”, as some in the eating disorder community would say. 

In a spiritual sense, I would compare my eating disorder to a life dictated by the flesh, & a life dictated by the spirit of truth.

 

Treatment, rehab, & recovery are so often plagued with relapse & slip-ups before full sobriety because it takes a while for a healthy coping mechanism to feel better than an addictive behavior.

I wouldn’t recommend doing it alone, but I would recommend seeking help. 

Choosing to separate from an addiction is one of the most painful things in this world, but it is one of the strongest, bravest & most selfless things that a person can to. 

Whether you or a loved one struggles with an eating disorder, alcoholism, drug abuse, or any other sort of addiction, there is hope. 

Why?

God doesn’t like it when his children get ripped off or settle for anything less than the joy that salvation produces. He is a wise, discerning, powerful God who works perfect in our weaknesses. He refused to let me stay in a place of bondage & slavery…he wouldn’t allow. He warned me & tried to deter me from choices he knew would lead to my destruction, but it wasn’t until I hit rock bottom that my heart was softened to his Holy Spirit.

I couldn’t change without him.

I couldn’t make it through recovery without him. 

I couldn’t set myself free from prison.

I couldn’t do any of it.

But God could, & he can do it for you too. 

His power is perfect despite our sin. 

His power is perfect despite our addictions.

His power is perfect to set us free. 

God is too good of a father to allow us to follow a path of destruction…

So he convicts.

He corrects.

He warns. 

He challenges our thoughts. 

He speaks through his word. 

He questions our movies. 

He pursues out hearts. 

He chases after us. 

He buys us back. 

There is no power greater than the power purchased on the cross during the crucifixion of Jesus. 

No lifestyle.

No mistake. 

No addiction. 

Nothing. 

This is the hope that I cling to when I choose Jesus each day, because I know that he is the only one who will keep fighting for me when I don’t have the strength to. 

Anorexia has no power compared to the cross.

Alcoholism has no power compared to the cross.  

Addiction has no power compared to the cross. 

Fight from victory not for victory. 

References:

  1. 1 Peter 5:8-9
  2. Romans 1:25

Resources:

  1. National Eating Disorder Association
  2. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  3. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

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How I know He is the One

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Josh and I have been dating for almost 6 years; it’s crazy how fast time goes by when you’re having fun!

We’ve navigated both high school and college together.

We used our weights class as a study hall and pretended to “do abs” the entire 55 minute class period (we put the “student” in student-athletes).

We somehow managed to get A’s in AP calculus & AP psychology (I’ll let you guess who was better at which).

We convinced our college professors to move our tests when we wanted a long weekend (true story).

We’ve celebrated more holidays together than I can count (from Christmas to St.Patrick’s day….?)

We’ve laughed until we had tears streaming down our face.

We’ve road tripped 14 hours to NYC, 9 to KC, and 7 to PCB.

We’ve had some long-distance summers, & others spent together.

We have gone on so many fun dates, from picnics at the park to fancy dinners in downtown Nashville.

We’ve laughed, cried, danced, adventured, made memories, and grown together in so many different ways these past 6 years.

Let me tell you a little bit about Josh, & how I knew he was the one:

Josh shows me love each day even when I don’t deserve it.

He always pays for my meals (even when I accidentally order the most expensive item on the menu…oops 🙂

He gives good gifts & it generous with his time.

He often gives up his own plans for mine.

He always knows how to put a smile on my face.

He makes me feel funny and he laughs at my jokes (most of the time).

He has gone to therapy with me to support me in recovery.

He is sweet to my friends.

He holds me when I cry.

He drags me out of the house when I need a pick-me-up.

He challenges my thoughts when they are irrational (hard to believe, I know).

He let me buy more than 5 throw pillows for our apartment (a big compromise on his part).

He has the most balanced, healthy relationship with exercise, & encourages me to follow him in that.

He encourages me to eat dessert when I want it, & to save it for later when I am full & satisfied.

He only makes positive comments about my body & appearance.

He takes my mood swings like a champ.

He comes and watches me speak every chance that he gets.

He shows love to Maddie even when it means getting her hair all over his black shorts.

He is very intelligent & good with money (thank you Jesus that I don’t have to construct our budget or do our taxes).

He loves spending time with family.

He respects me & doesn’t hesitate to tell me how proud he is of me.

He supports my career & is willing to work while I do my dietetic internship.

All of these things are great, but they weren’t the deciding factor in determining if he was “the one”.

Jesus was the deciding factor.

I knew that a relationship that wasn’t built on the rock-solid foundation of the gospel wasn’t going to work for me.

I’m not sure how it works for anyone.

With the divorce rates in the United States ranging from 40-50% (even within the Christian community), I wasn’t going to take my chances with just anyone.¹

I wasn’t just looking for a guy who went to church, attended a bible study, or lived a moral life.

I needed someone who shared my love for Jesus.

I needed someone who was born-again, & believed in the daily work of the Holy Spirit.

I needed someone who would fight his sin like a true man, while also encouraging me to do the same.

I needed someone who would hold my hand during worship.

I needed someone who would be to me who Jesus is for the church.

I needed someone who would receive the grace, mercy, and forgiveness and God, because Lord knows I need that same grace, mercy, & forgiveness every day.

I needed someone who would prepare for the return of Jesus with me.

I needed a good “kingdom-building” partner.

I needed a man who was after God’s own heart.

Josh is that person for me.

What makes loving him so easy is his humility, willingness to turn from his sin, and recognition that his purpose in life is to know God & make him known. He understands that it is only by growing in intimacy with God that he can grow in intimacy with me. He loves Jesus, he fears the Lord, he believes in the power of God’s word, & he has been born again, a new creation through the blood of Jesus.

It isn’t because of the nice dates, fun times, or even memories made. It isn’t because of the cute pictures & holidays spend together. It isn’t his good looks or his charm. It isn’t even his personality. As wonderful as some of those things are, they wouldn’t have held us together these past 6 years.

It’s because of Jesus.

Nothing more, nothing less. The saving blood of Jesus unites us together in a relationship that can only become more intimate through the covenant of marriage.

REFERENCES:

  1. http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

 

Wedding Week.

All of our plans from the last 13 months are coming together this week.

Thank you notes are being written at full force.

My bags are packed for the honeymoon.

My dress was taken to David’s Bridal for a last minute button repair (yikes!)

Rainy weather prep has been taken care of.

The marriage license has been signed.

We are both more ready now than ever before (how could you not be after dating 6 years?!)

In 4 days, I will be marrying the man of my dreams; the one who has loved me through the darkest season that either of us have walked through; the one who makes life less complicated & reminds me to make time for work AND play; the one who holds me and prays for me when human words are not enough to comfort.

In 4 days, we will make a covenant before God (how cool is that?!), promising to love each other deeply, in sickness & in health, for better or for worse, & to build a life around the gospel that glorifies Jesus in everything we do. What a beautiful blessing that could only come from Jesus.

Life couldn’t be any better, but this week hasn’t been a walk in the park. “Wedding bliss” has been a far cry from my reality.

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I lost my retainer & had to pay $300 dollars out-of-pocket (for a new piece of plastic).

My anxiety has been ramped up & I haven’t been able to sleep very well (let’s be real, when do I ever sleep well?)

My stomach has been in knots & I have had sharp pains on and off each day, often without explanation.

I went to the doctors office to get a physical done & I about threw the scale across the room when she told me my weight (dramatic? maybe so.)

My eating disorder has attempted to resurface this week, so I’ve been having to fight the lies with truth & fight to practice good recovery.

I haven’t spent much time recently with Josh because we are both super busy between the wedding & work.

Feelings of depression have flooded my heart.

Oh…….and my dog, my sweet Maddie May, has a cancerous tumor in her right eye, & she tore her ACL.

What a week, & it’s only Wednesday.

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I know that none of these things are a coincidence. See, the devil doesn’t like it when two people who love God commit to marriage. He knows all too well that a cord of 3 strands cannot easily be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). He prowls around like a lion & devours me every chance he can get (1 Peter 5:8).  He wants to steal, kill, & destroy not only me, but everyone who inhabits this earth (John 10:10). He is bitter towards God & tries to reap havoc on everything that he can.

Do I think it’s a coincidence that my eating disorder urges are strong, my anxiety is high, & my dog’s illness was revealed to me this week?

No.

Josh & I are both Christians & we are both committed to marriage…the devil has already lost those battles, but that persistent, pesky fallen angel doesn’t give up easily. He tries to do everything in his power to deceive, distance, & disrupt our relationships with God. He does everything in his power to render the Christian as powerless, ineffective, and unfruitful.

When responding to his attacks, we have a few options:

  1. We can run to the things of this world to distract ourselves from what we are feeling & relief our pain temporarily.
  2. We can try to run & isolate ourselves.
  3. We can become bitter towards God.
  4. We can turn to Jesus and fight back.

I ran through my options:

I could revert back to my ED behaviors to numb myself to what I am feeling…..maybe skip a meal, go on a long run, or binge on cereal until I am sick to my stomach.

I could just sit in my room with my door closed until the day of the wedding…life is too much sometimes. It would be easier just to not do this week or talk to anyone.

I could just get pissed at God & distance myself from him because I don’t feel his presence in these situations. “WHY would all of this happen on what is supposed to be the best week of my life?! Does he not know what is coming up in just a few short days? Does he care?”

I could turn to Jesus & refuse to lie pray to the enemy’s schemes. I could fight back for joy, fight back for peace, & fight back for my soul. 

Number 4 isn’t necessarily the easy option. It doesn’t always feel good. It doesn’t always make sense. It’s hard.

But, even so, how could I not turn to the savior who has redeemed dead places in my life more than once; the one who loves me more than anyone else on this earth (even my fiancé); the one who has NEVER left me or forsaken me; the one who has already won the battle on the cross?

When I decided to turn to God rather than run away from him, he gently reminded me of the scripture that has been engrained in my mind since my late high school years, the scripture that reminds me of the power of Christ that lives in me, the scripture that has been the most helpful to me in fighting off lies from the enemy:

“Although we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war in the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the world, man-made), but mighty in God, for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down of arguments, & every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking every thought into captivity & placing it under the obedience of Christ”­ (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

Modern Day translation: You are not fighting your circumstances, the things that are seen. We are fighting off the lies that the enemy whispers to us in the midst of situations that may or may not already be difficult to walk through. He makes things up. He tries to pit man against man, woman against woman. He wants us to believe we are powerless. But, God the Father has granted to us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm to fight off these attacks. The power of the cross is great enough to break down sin patterns that have been engrained in our lives for years. The power of the cross speaks louder than any argument the enemy tries to engage in. The power of the cross tells us that there is nothing too big or too hard for God.

God knows that the enemy will attack us, but he doesn’t leave us to fight the battle alone.

He asks us to take our thoughts captive. He wants us to discern what is true & what is not through his word & the guidance of the holy spirit. He takes hold of the destructive thoughts when we surrender to him. The weapons that he has given us are the sword of the spirit (the word of God), the helmet of salvation (our secured victory & eternal destiny), the breastplate of righteousness (our position before God because of Jesus, our identity), feet fit with the gospel of peace (a foundation of peace & trust in the gospel), and the shield of faith (God himself, protecting us & guarding us from the fiery darts that the enemy uses in hopes to wound & discourage us). Our weapons are more powerful than the weapons of this world (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Satan wants me to turn back to my eating disorder because he knows it renders me as useless & crippled.

Satan tries to worry me because he knows my body doesn’t process anxiety well.

Satan encourages me to fixate on small details that don’t really matter in light of eternity.

And Satan tries to destroy me here on earth because he isn’t powerful enough to seduce my soul.

Friends, the battle has already been won, which is something we so easily forget.

So as I continue to prepare for the wedding on Saturday, I refuse to sit back & allow the devil to beat me down. I will sing songs of praise to Jesus, fight back with scripture, & pray by the spirit any chance I get.

I will crush satan’s head with every step I take towards my groom on that glorious Saturday afternoon. I will make a public declaration that he hasn’t (and will never) win battles against me. I will rejoice in the beauty of the gospel & the privilege of getting to do life with such an amazing man, one who is after God’s heart. I will live in the now rather than looking ahead and worrying about the future. I will not be shaken by circumstances or lies that are only meant to destroy me. Not from my own power, but from His. Saturday couldn’t come soon enough!

 

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Thoughts on the “Food Babe” Way of Life

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Vani Hari, otherwise known as the “Food Babe”, is a food activist, author, and blogger that dedicates her life to label reading, clean eating, & holding fast-food companies accountable for the chemicals that they use in their foods. She doesn’t have a degree in nutrition, exercise science, or health & wellness, but she has made a living by investigating the ingredients found in many fast-food restaurants and name-bran foods, such as Kraft and Chick-Fil-A. She challenges the integrity and validity of many fast-food restaurants and name-brand foods, such as Kraft.

Some people praise her values & claim to be her faithful followers (The Food Babe army), many medical professionals, scientists, and registered dietitians question the validity of her health philosophy, & the research to back it up. 

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I, like the Food Babe, am a health advocate. I myself have suffered through the consequences of buying into the diet-industry, food advertising agencies, & supplement distributors. I have walked through recovery from orthorexia and anorexia, something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. I purchased Hari’s book in order to educate myself on some of the nutrition information (or misinformation) that is circulating the web. After all, The Food Babe Way is a New York Time’s best-seller, so there is no question that it has influenced many people. I decided to publish this article because I want to protect my peeps, & I want to make sure they know what nutrition information is valid and backed up by science, & what is not. Here’s my take on the “Food Babe Way”:   

I truly believe that the Food Babe means no harm. Her intensions seem good and pure of heart. She found healing through a diet that helped her lose weight, re-energize her body, and get off medications. She calls out big businesses for using unnecessary food dyes, artificial flavors, and other additives, & she truly wants healthy options available to all people. I don’t blame her for what she does or the diet she consumes. If it works for her, it works for her.

I agree on some of her nutrition principles, & others, not so much. As someone who spent hours working on medical nutrition therapy (MNT) case studies, studying for Nutrition in Disease, observing nutrition appointments, and receiving MNT for my own eating disorder, I must point out some fatal flaws in the beliefs that she is preaching. We run into issues when the advice that she is giving to other people lacks scientific validity & evidence-based research, and insists that if you don’t eat her way, that you cannot have a balanced, healthy diet.

Things that I like about the “Food Babe Way”:

  • She advocates an “anti-diet” approach, criticizing diets such as the paleo diet, gluten-free, low-calorie, low-fat, & detox cleansing. Evidence does show that dieting almost always results in weight gain or disordered eating/eating disorders (see my post Destruction from Within: 4 Reasons why you should Stop Dieting TODAY for more information.)
  • She encourages her followers “the food babe army” to consume 6-8 servings of fruits + vegetables a day. This does align with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines.  
  • She explains easy ways to cut down on unnecessary sugar in the diet. The academy of nutrition and dietetics wrote a position paper on the subject (which you can find here!), providing us with the latest research related to sugar intake. The academy points out that not all sugar is threatening to health, but that too much of is can contribute to chronic diseases. “Consumers can safely enjoy a range of nutritive sweeteners and nonnutritive sweeteners (NNS) when consumed within an eating plan that is guided by current federal nutrition recommendations. A preference for sweet taste is innate and sweeteners can increase the pleasure of eating. [However], higher intake of added sugars is associated with higher energy intake and lower diet quality, which can increase the risk for obesity, prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. On average, adults in the United States consume 14.6% of energy from added sugars.” In essence, the general consensus among the professionals in the field of dietetics is that we don’t need to cut out sugar, we just need to consume a little less. 
  • She interviews restaurant chains & food manufacturers, taking a closer look at what we eat and why they use those ingredients. If the Food Babe wants to spend all of her time reading labels & picking apart food ingredients at local restaurant chains, that’s fine with me. She does her best to hold them accountable. There are probably many ways that restaurants can improve the health & quality of their food, so if she wants to help change that, I am good with it, but I also do know there is only so much we can control and change with all of that. Don’t be deceived, a meal from a Chipotle or Chick-Fil-A is better than no meal at all.   
  • She shares her recipes & meal plans for people who are working towards a healthier lifestyle. Some of the recipes in her book are helpful & taste good. I’m always up for new recipes and trying new foods. 

Things that I don’t like about the “Food Babe Way”:

  • She suggests eating ONLY foods that are organic, non-GMO, antibiotic-free, preservative-free, nitrate-free, artificial sweetener-free, clean, and 100% whole. This is a diet in it of itself. No more nature’s own whole grain bread for you, says the Food Babe, because the added sugar and chemicals will cause us to become fat and sick. Only sprouted-grain organic bread, or no bread at all. No granola bars. No deli meat. No creamer in your coffee. No granola. No cheese. Unless, of course, it meets the Food Babe standard of approval. 
  • In her book, she makes the claim that chemicals such as growth hormones in meat, antibiotics, refined and enriched flour, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, trans fats, carrageenan, MSG, dough conditioners can cause chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, and depression. 
  • She labels kraft mac & cheese as poison (come on, who does that?!)
  • She focuses on weight & “being fat” often, exhibiting negative self-talk & low self-esteem. 
  • She ignores the biological, social, psychological, and lifestyle aspects that contribute to each of the chronic diseases listed above.
  • She doesn’t address food insecurity.
  • Her diet isn’t attainable, substantial, or affordable enough for the majority of the U.S. population.
  • Her diet is not “one-size fits all”, which can be problematic for a number of reasons. 
  • Although she advocates for “anti-dieting”, her way of life is actually a diet in it of itself.  

The premise of the Food Babe’s philosophy is built on partial truth. Yes, fruits and vegetables are definitely a big part of a healthy diet. Cutting back sugar will (most of the time) improve our health. Maybe some restaurants & food manufacturers aren’t using the best possible ingredients in their foods. There are definitely ways that all of us could fine-tune our diets & eat a little healthier. She did lose weight and become healthier when she started eating more whole, real foods. 

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But…

She misses out on the most fundamental principle of proper nutrition, that the number one priority of nutrition intervention is adequate intake. 

What does this mean? 

Consuming an adequate intake of food means consuming enough food to keep us alive, alert, & active. It doesn’t allow us to just survive, but rather thrive on the energy and nourishment that enables us to pursue our passions and fulfill our purpose. Adequate intake is the number one priority for any person, regardless of how “healthy” that food may be. 

The Food Babe doesn’t advocate restricting calories or food intake. However, for individuals who lack the knowledge & resources to follow a diet as rigid as hers, inadequate intake is a very high possibility when food choices are limited and low in calories.

I refuse to tell a college athlete that they cannot drink protein shakes, gatorade, eat granola bars because the chemicals and added sugar in that food will kill them. 

I refuse to tell a child that they cannot have breakfast if they don’t eat a fresh egg on non-gmo, all natural, whole grain bread. 

I refuse to advocate against Monsanto because I know that it helps feel thousands of hungry men, women, and children each day.  

I refuse to tell my future clients that the foods that they are eating will cause anything, because evidence-based research tells us that illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, and depression are caused by multiple factors, including family history, environment, genetic info, social interactions, exercise routine, stress levels, & diet. Not just diet. Never just diet. 

I refuse to tell someone in eating disorder recovery that a chocolate milk shake is going to make them “fat and sick”

I refuse to tell a single mother of 4 that she needs to stop feeding her children non-organic food. 

I refuse to label any food as “good” or “bad”.

I refuse to tell my future clients that certain foods will make them fat. 

I refuse to tell my future clients to avoid all food that has added “chemicals”, because there really is no way to know how much is enough to be harmful. 

I refuse to let my future clients to be deceived.I refuse to promote or support a diet or lifestyle that advocates label reading, calorie counting, or the banishment of certain foods or food groups. 

I will help my clients find a diet that works for them, based on their lifestyle, preferences, & resources. (Most people do not have the financial resources, time, or desire to drink a green juice each day, buy only organic, avoid GMO’s, & only buy range-free, anti-biotic free, grass-fed meat, even if you do live in Williamson County.) 

I will present them with evidence-based nutrition information, & help them decide what they want to do with that information.

I will tell my future clients to buy fruits & vegetables, regardless of whether or not they are organic. 

I will help my clients make simple, realistic lifestyle changes.  

I will encourage them to eat more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, protein, & dairy, and less sugary snacks, drinks, & white bread, however, those foods will never be off limits. 

I will feed my children the ever so “poisonous” mac and cheese.

I will encourage cake on birthdays, ice-cream on a hot summer day, & girl scout cookies from the neighbor across the street. 

I will encourage a diet that is balanced, has variety, & is rich in vitamins and minerals. 

I will encourage intuitive and mindful eating. 

I will encourage daily activity + movement, doing the exercises feel the best for our minds and bodies.   

I will give my long-term care resident a “sugar packed” ensure shake to help them decrease their risk for malnourishment.  

I will make cookies with my children on Christmas Eve.

I will enjoy a date night with my husband at a restaurant that doesn’t tell me all of the ingredients that they use.

I will enjoy candy at the movies.

I will eat a cookie when I want to, & save it for another day when my body is full & satisfied.

I will eat the delicious meals that my dad makes on the weekends, even though I know he has a tendency to use more butter & salt than I usually eat. 

I will eat to live, not live to eat. 

 

What I won’t do, is put up with lies from the profit-seeking, deceiving, & corrupt diet industry. There is only so much we can control about the health & well-being of our bodies. Some individuals workout every day, eat-clean, meal prep, & only eat organic food, & die at a young age from a heart attack, car wreck, or stroke. Others drink soda & eat “junk food” each day & live to be 90 years old. 

I eat sugar. 

I eat kale.

I eat processed foods.

I eat organic foods.

I eat non-organic foods.

I eat GMO foods.

I eat non-GMO foods. 

I eat fruits & vegetables. 

I eat granola bars. 

I eat food that comes from my dad’s garden. 

I eat food that comes straight out of a package.

I eat at Whole Foods & Sprouts.

I eat at Olive Garden and O’charleys. 

I eat chips + carrots.

Sometimes I have dessert, other times I don’t. 

 

I run & I walk. 

I jog & I skip.

I jump rope & I dance. 

It’s all about balance

As with the “Food Babe Way”, my way isn’t going to look the same as yours, & that’s okay, because everyone is different. The purpose of this post wasn’t to attack the Food Babe by any means, but rather to point out that her way isn’t the only way. The Food Babe Way may be the best way for you or someone you know to begin adapting a healthy lifestyle; for many people, it isn’t, & that’s okay. 

Find a way that works with your lifestyle, preferences, health concerns, & resources! Just remember, balance, variety, enjoyment, nutrient-dense, & sustainable. Examine your diet & exercise routine, & take steps to work towards developing your own health philosophy & make it your own. 

 

Following Jesus Daily

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Y’all……following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

When I test and examine my heart with the scriptures, it becomes quite easy to identify the areas of weakness in my walk with Jesus:

Am I dying to myself when I choose to start my morning scrolling through my social media feed rather than opening my bible & spending time with the sovereign creator of the universe?

Am I presenting my body as a living sacrifice when I neglect rest & I am irritable because I haven’t eaten enough?

Am I walking by the spirit when I rationalize my sin & ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

Am I demonstrating compassion when I am easy to anger & quick to forgive?

Am I showing kindness with my words when I am sarcastic or rude?

Am I walking in humility when I spend 15 minutes trying to come up with the right caption & filter for my latest Instagram post (come on, we all do it)

Am I acting meek when I talk more than I listen?

Am I patient when I decide to take matters into my own hands?

Do I really approach God with fear and trembling when I scroll through social media in the AM rather than opening up my bible & asking God to speak? 

No. 

There are many, many days where I don’t feel like “being like Jesus”… & I often don’t believe that I even have it in me to live up to half of what he has called me to do.

The world is too dark.

The enemy is too deceptive.

My sin feels too good.

I am too weak.

The truth of the matter is, we don’t have enough in us to live like Jesus. We are absolutely nothing apart from him.

We can’t escape the corruption of the world.

We can’t out smart satan.

We can’t resist our sin.

We can’t, but God can.

His word tells us that where sin increases, grace abounds all the more.¹ He lavishes his grace upon us.² He became sin for us, so that we may become the righteousness of God, free from all guilt, shame, and penalty for our inability to save ourselves.³

Why did he do all of this despite the infinite number of ways we fail him each day?

Because he loves us. He loved us while we were still sinners, when we trampled on the gospel and rejected the good news. He still loves us, even when our sanctification process seems to be at stand still. His love heals, his love transforms, & it is only his love that can bring us joy while dying to ourselves.

Many times we know what we need to be doing in our heads but our hearts aren’t convinced. We are torn between the prompting of the Holy Spirit & our flesh. In that moment we must decide: Are we going to choose Jesus, or are we going to do what we want to do?

Are we going to spend time with Jesus or scroll through Facebook for 30 minutes?

Are we going to bite our tongues, or are we going to blurt out the first thing that comes to our minds?

Are we going to present God with our prayers and petitions, or are we going to create scenarios in our head & worry about things that may or may not happen?

Are we going to give into our sin, or are we going to justify it & minimize it?

Choosing Jesus won’t always feel like the best option; it may in fact be the most painful option. It often doesn’t feel good at first. The immediate satisfaction may not be there. The pain may still be present. It will be uncomfortable, unnatural, & maybe even a bit awkward. Depending on how long the sin has been rooted in our hearts, it could take a lot of time to heal from the consequences of our sin.

But every time we say “yes” to Jesus and “no” to ourselves we take a step towards freedom, satisfaction, wholeness, healing, & true joy.

Choosing Jesus is the best option. When we are willing, he is able to set us free from strongholds and sin patterns that have held us captive for years. He equips us. He fights for us. He faces the battle head on when it takes all of our energy to get out of bed. He does all of this for us because he loves us. He doesn’t want us to be ripped off. He doesn’t want us to believe the lies from the enemy. He isn’t waiting to cast us down & condemn us for our sin, he wants to save us from it. When we understand this love, we are free to obey God & love him back because we genuinely believe that he knows better than we do.

Jesus, because I love you, I will trust you.

Jesus, because I love you, I will abide in your word.

Jesus, because I love you, I will confess my sins, repent, & turn away from them.

Jesus, because I love you, I will do what you think is best for me.

Jesus, because I love you, I will pray by the spirit.

Jesus, because I love you, I will praise you even when it hurts.

Jesus, because I love you, I will forgive those who have hurt me.

Jesus, because I love you, I will take heart in the power of the cross.

Jesus, because I love you, I will walk by faith, not by sight.

Jesus, because I love you, I will test my feelings against your truth before I speak or act.

Jesus, because I love you, I will take up my cross daily, die to myself, & follow you.

Not because I feel obligated.

Not because I need to impress you.

Not because it will earn me more love.

Not to impress other people.

Not for my own glory, but for yours.

You have already taken up your cross for me, more so than I have (or ever will) do for you. It’s not just, it’s not fair, & it’s not deserved, yet you did it anyways, out of love, a love that always runs deeper than my sin.

REFERENCES:

  1. Romans 5:20
  2. Ephesians 1:8
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Prayer + Positive Vibes

 

sunflower-sun-summer-yellow

The “positive vibes” tagline began circulating throughout social media in 2016. The premise behind the “positive vibes” movement is that our lives (and the lives of others) will become better when we reflect positive energy in our lives and onto the people around us.¹ Negative energy is seen to be equated with lower quality of life, while higher energy is the ultimate way to achieve “the good life”.¹

By “sending” positive vibes to other people, we are transferring positive energy into their lives & situations in need of a positive touch.

“Started my morning off with a great cup of coffee; It’s going to be a good Monday! #PositiveVibes

“I would appreciate all prayers and positive vibes sent my way today!”

“I am sending you positive vibes we as speak, good feelings to you sister!”

If we can’t muster up the positive energy by our own strength, or somehow attain it from other people, we won’t ever reach the “good life”, whatever that may mean.

Biblical prayer, on the other hand, can be defined as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

The word “solemn” used here is an adjective meaning formal and dignified, earnest, genuine, firm, and with deepest sincerity. To be solemn is to approach God with awe & reverence + expectation that he will act in accordance to his good, pleasing, & perfect will.²

Prayer is based off of the premise that “we can’t” but that “God can”. It allows us to enter into a conversation with the creator of the universe. It grants us access to every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, weapons to guard our hearts and minds that are radically powerful.

I am struggling to say what I know to be true as nicely as possible….but then again the gospel is offensive. Here we go:

I take issue with the belief that prayer and positive vibes/positive thinking have the same power & influence in this world…I’m not saying that you can’t be a prayer warrior + positive thinker; I am saying that we alone cannot generate enough “positivity” or “good vibes” to save ourselves or other people. Only by abiding in Jesus can that joy be produced in us.³ 

Positive vibes encourage us to change the way we think by our own ability & strength, or that of other people. Prayer encourages us to come before the throne of God just as we are, & to present our requests to Him. It reaches into the realm of heaven & asks God to do something that isn’t possible for us to do. The results of prayer don’t depend on us, they depend on God. Prayer allows for anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, addiction, & doubt; it doesn’t only accept happiness & positivity. God doesn’t expect us to produce positive vibes in our hearts & minds. It is only through a relationship with Him that our hard, stony hearts can be replaced by a soft, responsive one. But even then, God actually warns us by saying that our hearts are deceitful & wicked, & cannot be trusted apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit & Jesus in us.

I am not mentally strong enough to put on a smile 24/7 & push through life generating my own positive energy.

I don’t trust my heart…it fails me on a daily basis; it leads me astray. It’s often irrational, driven by emotion, and is subject to pain, sadness, & brokenness on a daily basis.

My heart needs the truth and direction of the Holy Spirit, through the channel of prayer.

Do not be deceived: As catchy, feel-good, & #Hashtag worthy as the “positive vibes” tagline may be, they are absolutely nothing compared to the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Why settle for “positive vibes” when we have a direct communication channel with God? Why settle by placing our trust in some abstract, concept that resurfaced a couple of years ago instead of the word & truth that is a lamp to our feet & light on our path? Why put our trust in something man-made rather than God-ordained? Why take the risk?

Positive vibes don’t have the power to heal the sick & bring the dead back to life. They don’t heal cancer or brain tumors. They can’t comfort a mother who just lost a child to a miscarriage.

Positive vibes don’t have the ability to fix broken marriages, break addictions, or tear down strongholds.

Positive vibes cannot simply lift us out of anxiety & depression.

Only prayer can do these things. Only God can do these things.

What does the bible say about prayer? How does God’s power compare?

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

“In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:4)

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:114)

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Who are we trusting in today?” (Ephesians 6:18)

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) 

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” (Psalm 102:17)

“In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

May our eyes be opened to the power of prayer for the renewing of our minds, restoring of our souls, & provision of our greatest needs.

REFERENCES:

  1. Nicole Bethune. “Positive Mind, Positive Vibes, Positive Life.” Pitaiyo. N.p., 03 Dec. 2016. Web. 15 May 2017.
  2. Romans 12:2
  3. John 15:14