Thursday, January 15, 2015

Staying Thin: 2 Goals I've Learned to Never Set for Myself...Maybe You Shouldn't Either

For you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 
1 Corinthians 6:20

I've tried starving myself.  I've tried laxatives.  I've tried throwing up.  I've tried the soup diets.  I've tried the crazy, intense aerobic exercises.  I've tried the T-Factor.  I've tried Slim Fast.  I've tried The Zone.  I've tried diet pills.  I've tried the no carb, low carb, no fat, low fat.  I've tried just about every way possible to stay thin.  Sadly, it all started as a teenager, and for years, what I ate, what I drank, and how much I worked out was always on my mind.  I'm sure many of you can relate.

My junior year in high school is when it all started...

What I learned about myself during those 10 years was:
*I like food too much to starve myself.
*I'm not sure why people use laxatives to lose was gross and painful and you never knew when you were going to "blow"! 
*I hate to throw up. 
*I really don't enjoy intense exercising.
*And I can't stand thinking about food and working out all the time. 

The more I focused my mind on those things, the more distracted I became from other, more important, things in my life.  Obsessing over my weight and food and working out became a very dark area for me.  I found myself feeling constantly discouraged, distracted, and dissatisfied with my "performance" every day.  

So, I threw out my scale and asked the Lord to help me! 

He showed me that when I focused on what I was doing or not doing...eating or not eating, I became less focused on Him and what He was trying to do.  He was right...of course!  I needed the bigger picture.

I thought that focusing on food and exercise were so good for me (and when those things are balanced in our lives, they are!)  But the enemy was using those "good" things to distract me from those God things!  

I became more focused on my meal plans than on God's plans. 
I became more focused on my exercise gear than on putting on God's protective gear. 

I had to change.  I had to shift my focus.  I had to find balance. 

So, here are 2 goals I've decided to never set for myself again!

I want to lose weight. 

No.  I can't do it.  I can't set that as a goal.  I can't make that be my focus.  I'm not sure why I'm like that, but I am.  Maybe you are too?  All I know is that the second I set "losing weight" as a goal, I end up eating more...doing less...and all my thoughts are on food.  Once I quit setting that as a goal and started focusing on other things (especially things that God wanted me to do with my life), my weight began to level out and was easier to maintain. 

I will exercise _____times a week.

Oh, I hate this one.  I can't do this one either.  You know what...I take that's not that I can't do's that I don't want to.  I hate exercising!  Man-it feels so good to say that out loud!!!  I know people who run every day or do aerobics or really push themselves with rigorous exercise routines.  I used to be jealous of them and think "Wow, I wish I could do that."  But now I think "Good for them".  I've realized that having a work-out routine works really well for some people, but it's just not for me.  And it's ok for me to admit it.  It's been so freeing!  It's not a passion of mine, and I don't enjoy it in the least bit. 

So you might be thinking, "That's great! So, you're telling us that you stay thin without watching what you eat and without exercising.  I now hate you!"   

No, I assure you.  I am not one of those lucky people who is just naturally thin.  I do have to work at it, but I can't obsess over it.  I can't let it consume me. 

What do I do then?

*I've learned to love myself no matter what.  Admittedly, I do still struggle with this sometimes--especially after gaining 45 pounds with my 3rd pregnancy.  But I have to love who I am and who God created me to be no matter what size I am...even if I can't fit in my "skinny jeans."

*I have to keep it simple:  I make healthy choices and stay active.  Period.

Once I let this obsession go, loved myself, and just lived my life healthy and active...I felt free.  And, my weight??  Well, I couldn't tell you since I don't own a scale, but as long as my clothes fit ok, I'm not going to worry about it! 

Maybe your struggle is the same...maybe it's different.  Either way, I know that you've probably struggled in some way with your weight, body image, self-esteem, exercising, or food (over-eating/under-eating)---especially if you're a woman.  We all seem to struggle at some point...maybe you're struggling right now. 

I want you to love yourself.  I want you to find balance in your thoughts of food.  I want you to find something to keep you active that works for you!  I want you to find freedom from thinking about food and exercise all the time like I did! 

If you can relate to my story, then maybe you should throw out your scale too, and never set losing weight and exercising as your goals either...focus on God...and see what happens...

Do you feel that you obsess over food or exercise?  Do you feel that those things are distractions in your life?  Do you need to find balance in your thoughts?

Father, I invite You into our thoughts.  Show us if the enemy is using food or exercise as a way to distract us from You.  Lord, bring balance into this area of our lives.  Help us to be healthy and whole and free.  Give us joy in eating and exercising, and help us to be in the best shape for You!  Help our bodies to be ready for what You are calling us to do with them.  Keep our focus on Your plans for our lives.  Lord, shine your healing light into our pursuit of weight loss and exercise.  Help us to pursue You and glorify You in all that we do!  In Jesus' name.  Amen.

How has your weight been a distraction in your life?

Monday, January 5, 2015

Don't Set Any Goals Until You Do One Thing

"I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:14
Goals...goals...goals...that seems to be the only thing on everyone's mind as we move into this new year.  Everyone asks--"What are your goals?"  "What are your new year's resolutions?"  "What do you want to accomplish this year?"  Everywhere you look, there is some urgent and somewhat inspiring news report, article, or blog about goals and how to accomplish your goals (I know, because I just wrote something about goal-setting for my weekly encouragement-sign up here).  Goals are EVERYWHERE! 
Now, normally, I love the whole goal-setting focus at the beginning of each year, but at this time last year, I hated it all!  Don't get me wrong, I love goals.  I love setting-goals and even more, I love checking the goals off of my list once I've accomplished them. 
I'm kind of a goal-setting freak. 
In fact, I even have a goal book that I started in 2003 where each year, I write down things I want to accomplish in my lifetime.  So it's really more of a bucket list type book, but still, it's for my goals.  Some goals aren't valid anymore.  Some goals are just never going to happen in this lifetime.  But it's been fun, and having this book has helped me accomplish some really unique and exciting things in my life. 
Each year I look forward to going through the book and highlighting any goals that I have accomplished (although that hasn't happened much after having kids). 
This is what I wrote on the cover
This is the very first page of my first goals set.

But my crazy goal-setting doesn't stop there.  Since becoming a mom, each year, I have the kids set goals for themselves even though they are only 6 and 3 (I don't have the one year old set goals yet...but he will next year).  And each year, my husband and I set goals--house goals, financial goals, and personal goals. 
I believe in goal-setting.  I do.  I know that setting goals helps you accomplish more than when you don't set goals...
at least that's what I thought...
This will be shocking to those who know me, but 2014 was the first year since I can remember that I didn't set any goals for myself!!!!  Not a one!  Nada!  Zilch!  Zip!  Zero!  Nothing! 
Here are my personal goals for 2014...completely blank!
Here are Ben's (6), Abby's (3) and our Family's Goals for 2014
I broke every goal-setting "rule" there was!  To begin with, I didn't set any...oops!  Therefore, I didn't write any down...bad! Therefore, I didn't put them up where I can see them everyday like I usually could I?  Then I didn't tell anyone about I didn't have any!
Why?  Well...last year was a blur.  I had a third child.  The winter (here in Illinois) was the worst one ever!  I had major Post Partum depression that came as severe anxiety about getting out of the house.  I was overcoming the loss of a ministry that I had loved so dearly.  I was in a deep hole.  I felt I had no purpose.  I was completely lost.  I went through a long, dark period of what I call hibernation. 
I had no goals.  I hated goals.  I didn't even want to set any goals. 
But do you know what I did do? 
I prayed. 
"God, show me my purpose.  Show me what You want me to do."
I surrendered. 
"God, I'm Yours.  My life is Yours.  Show me how to use it." 
I had dear friends and family pray for me. 
"God, use their words to bring life back into my life.  Help me to believe what they are praying.  Help me to believe that You love me, that You have plans for my life and still want to use me to bless others."
And what did God He always does?
He shined His Light into my darkness...into my life! 
And without one goal set in 2014, in the midst of this crazy year, I accomplished more than I ever have in one year.  I started a new ministry for moms, got certified as a Christian Life Coach for Women, and wrote a book.  Three things that I never saw coming.  Three things that I would have never written down as goals for myself in 2014.  Three things that God did through me that truly surprised me.  I'm not bragging on myself here.  I'm bragging on God.  Sometimes God's goals for us are bigger than our own!
Honestly, I'm shocked.  How could this be?
I, the crazy goal-setter, didn't set one goal for myself this year and yet look at what was achieved.  
Look at what God did through me?  Look at what my obedience to Him accomplished?  Look at what happens when you focus and pray and listen to God!!!

I had no goals, but I had God! 

It was puzzling and yet promising.  It made me laugh, and admittedly kind of cry a little, as I always thought that goal-setting was the "key to success"..."how to get things done"..."how to achieve your dreams"..."how to reach new heights"...well, you get the point. 
I still believe in goal-setting though.  I do believe that having goals can definitely help you move forward in life, but I did learn one very important lesson...
No goal matters unless it's a God-goal! 

Goals or not...God is going to work through you.  Even when you have no goals for yourself, God has goals for you, but you must be obedient to follow His goals.  You must be patient to wait on His timing.  So, now, I urge you--Don't set any goals for yourself until you do one thing...
Ask God what His goals are for you this year! 
And then just wait...listen...and follow Him!  When you do those things...I can't wait to see what God does through you!  Are you ready to be surprised?
Father, I thank you for accomplishing Your goals through my life this year.  Even though I didn't set one goal for myself, You had goals set for me...You have goals set for all of us.  Give us wisdom to listen to You, follow You, trust You, and believe in You.  As we set goals for this year, help us to stay focused on Your calling.  Help us to do those things that line up with Your purpose for our lives.  Please bless our paths in 2015 and shine Your light into all of our goals.  In Jesus' name.  Amen.
WHAT ARE YOUR GOD-GOALS?  Please comment below.
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