Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Changes are Finally Here!

Hello Fabulous Friends!

I'm proud to announce the brand new web site for Doing Life with the Traceys. You can find it at www.doinglifewiththetraceys.org or by going to the 91.5 WCIC site at www.wcicfm.org, clicking "on the air" and then choosing Doing Life with the Traceys in the drop-down menu. 

With the unveiling of the new site, we are combining both the Doing Life with Traceys blog on blogger and this blog into the brand new blog on the new site. So, you will no longer see updates on this blog.

I'll be chatting with you about my journey toward healthy and FABULOUS on the new blog as well as family life, show stuff like articles and interesting links, and other fun things. I really hope you'll join us on the new site so we can keep this discussion going. And, you'll find out about blog-only giveaways and other cool features!

OK, have a great rest of the summer, whatever's left of it now that the kiddos are back in school. And, I'll see you at www.doinglifewiththetraceys.org!


Friday, July 29, 2011

Changes are coming!!!!!!

Hey, my FABULOUS friends...

I'm so excited to say that change is on the way! I know the posts have been rather infrequent lately, but some big things are in the works. Please stay tuned for more updates and have a FABULOUS weekend! :)


Friday, July 15, 2011

41 and make-up free actually CAN be FABULOUS! Well, at least, PASSABLE?!?!

Spent the night at my mom's last night so I could fill in on the morning show and someone would be there for Alyssa since Jeremy's out of town. Wasn't really prepared. I brought everything Alyssa needed but not everything I needed. Borrowed a pair of jeans and a shirt from my mom. Used an extra new toothbrush my mom had on hand. Used my mom's hair dryer and products and fished into a bag of disposable razors. Don't you just love "Mom's House"? It's like your own private CVS!

But, I didn't have make-up. So, I went without. I thought, "Wow, this saves so much time. And, I look fine, I don't need no stinkin' society-imposed make-up!" That was at 5:10...in poor lighting. Fast forward to around 7 and I walk by a mirror and almost jump with fright! OK, it wasn't that bad, but it was a little shocking.

I kept telling myself, "Be free. You don't HAVE to wear make-up...let it GO!" But my shiny nose and suddenly way more obvious freckles begged to differ. I was tempted to follow my friend Catherine's example. She usually co-hosts the morning show and has resorted to using a Sharpie for eye liner!  I'm not condoning that practice and I'm not going to actually DO it, but I can understand a little more of the WHY behind the action. When you scare yourself multiple times in one morning, you tend to get a little desperate or, um, creative! 

The ever encouraging Katie Post told me she couldn't tell I wasn't wearing make-up. I really appreciated that. At 41, I'll take it. BUT...I also appreciated the offer to share some eye color and mascara. Now, before you warn me of the dangers of sharing eye products, I KNOW! But, darn it if my pride didn't win out over the principles of personal hygiene.

So, instead of make-up free, I'm going with make-up light. A little eye shadow, mascara, and some lip gloss from my purse used as cheek color. The only thing really missing is foundation and some powder. Oh, and eye liner. Still, no biggie, right? But, if you happen to see me today and I do scare you a little, just try not to show it! And, have a FABULOUS weekend!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Made to Crave Monday ~ Chapter 19

How appropriate that Lysa TerKeurst says, "I'll admit, I'm a little sad this book is coming to an end. I have enjoyed walking with your through this journey." I feel the same way as we're finishing our study of Made to Crave. It has been a joy and pleasure to share the ups and downs with you. Thank you for taking part in this book study with me. And, congratulations for making it to the end.

I rarely make it to the end. I always have a great idea and great enthusiasm but find my determination starts to wane about 1/3 of the way through a project or process. But, this time, I did it. WE did it. We stuck through 19 chapters of teaching on how to take food out of God's place in our lives. We should pat ourselves on the back!

Well, before we get too carried away with the self-accolades, we should tackle the last set of questions for reflection...oh, and I also love Lysa's encouragement about where to go from here: "But while the book is ending, living out its message is just beginning." Are you ready? Let's keep moving forward together!

Discussion Questions for Ch 19 - Made to Crave

1. Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, Lysa experiences a victory she attributes more to mental and spiritual changes than to physical changes. what factors have made the biggest difference in the victories you've experienced with food? Is it food planning? Spiritual disciplines like prayer and dining on the truth of god's Word? Changing your go-to scripts? What things are key to your ongoing success?
Jill's answer: Funny thing, just this morning as I was struggling through my workout in a VERY humid gym, I caught a glimpse of Kate Middleton. The thing that struck me was how stick-thin she is. I even commented to my training partner, Katie Post. But, then I followed it up with, "That's OK! I'm not SUPPOSED to look like her. She's taller, probably more athletic, and a whole lot younger than I am. Yes, I could have a few less bumps and lumps body-wise, but I'm not supposed to look like that, my body is just different!"
I do feel my self-talk is a lot more positive these days. Instead of starting a run and thinking to myself, "You can't do this! Just give it up!" I shout out to Jesus for help, sometime out loud even! :) So, yes, my go-to scripts have come a long way from the negative to the positive. This is a victory for me!

2. God's promise in Psalm 107:17-20 is that He hears our distress and He heals us with His Word. In what ways would you say God has heard your distress about your struggles with food? What role has Scripture played in helping you to experience God's healing?
Jill's answer: I feel guilty that I had half of a regular sized cinnamon roll this morning right before answering these questions. What was I thinking? But, I'm not perfect, I'm a human being, and I'm going to splurge every now and then.

However, for the most part God has really helped me crave the foods that fuel my body instead of the sugary and fatty foods. Yes, I still slip up from time to time (this morning, cinnamon roll), but I don't trash talk myself and degrade myself for hours afterward. I realize that treats are OK as long as I'm mostly eating whole grains, lean meats, fruits & veggies. He has helped me to enjoy these foods and not feel as deprived as I have in the past when attempting to eat healthy. I've realized that changing to healthy habits doesn't mean being hungry all the time. And, when I feel the temptation to splurge too much, I can ask God for help or simply remove myself (or the food) from the situation. God is GOOD!

3. "To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" ~ Revelation 2:7. This verse indicates that it's not only possible to overcome our struggles but that there is a reward for those who do -- and it involves eating! How might this promise encourage you as you continue on your healthy eating adventure?
Jill's answer: I have always said that I can't wait to get to Heaven where I can eat all the chocolate and pasta I want without ever gaining an ounce. I never realized there was a scripture to back up this fantasy. Ha ha! Just kidding. I wonder if this verse is more about our eyes being opened and receiving the promise of eternal life than it is about eating food. But, I can see the encouragement that there is a reward for standing strong in Jesus until the very end. Not just in my food choices but, and more importantly, in my life choices. Food seems to have a lot to do with this, but it is not everything that factors in to me overcoming. I need to stand strong for Jesus even when that is tough, even in talking with family members who loathe all things Christian. I need to stand strong over the coming years as an example of a godly woman for my daughter, especially when she starts to feel the pressure to give in to what "everybody else" is doing. Being disciplined with food is just one area of growth and maturity on this journey to FABULOUS - becoming the woman God wants me to be!

Thanks for being a part of this discussion. Let me know your thoughts on this final chapter of Made to Crave!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Little Things That Aren't So Little

Jeremy and I are celebrating the little things in life that can make us so happy today on Doing Life with the Traceys. Please join us after 3pm on 91.5 WCIC or at http://www.wcicfm.org/. Or, you can leave a post here with a little thing that means a lot to you.

Isn't it funny how a little thing to someone else can be a BIG thing for us? For example, a little thing that's not so little to me is the progress I'm making in this training for the 10K in September. I ran a 5K today in 38 minutes - my fastest time ever by almost 2 minutes. I know it's still about a 12:22 pace, most folks can go WAY faster, but my pace in the Jingle Bell run back in December was 12:48 or so. Little thing? NOT. TO. ME. :)

Thank you, Jesus, for the little wins along the way as I travel this long road with You!

What little thing is makin' you happy on your journey to healthy right now? Let me know so I can cheer you on!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oh-Oh, We're Half Way There!

I ran three miles this morning! That's half the distance (basically) for the big 10K in September. This is good. I'm actually beginning to believe I can do this! Of course, I could never do it on my own. But, with Jesus helping me and the support of the ever-encouraging Katie Post, I think I'm in good shape (metaphorically speaking, of course). It's still discouraging to see the body lumps and bumps in the mirror, but I'm beginning to feel some kind of a shift here. And, oh how good does it feel!

How are your summer goals coming? Let's celebrate. Or, if you need prayer to get back on track, we can do that, too. We are in this TOGETHER!!! 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Made to Crave Monday - Chapter 18

Hello, my FABULOUS friend! I just wanted to say, "You are beautiful and God loves you!" Don't know why but I thought you might need that precious reminder today.

Well, we are up to chapter 18 in Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst and I have to say things are beginning to take root in me that have been choked out by the rocks and weeds of unhealthy ideas and habits in the past. I hope you're feeling the same way. This week we're revisiting a verse in the Bible that has been a go-to phrase for me during this journey toward healthy. I think it's good to revisit these words and the idea that there are some foods that simply are not the best for me to include in my general lifestyle and diet. That's not a super exciting idea, but I am starting to see the benefits of making some foods a red light for the good of myself and my family.

I'd love to hear what God is doing in your heart through this week's chapter. After reading my answers to the following questions, please take a moment to comment with your thoughts. We're in this struggle together, so let's encourage each other every change we get!

Discussion Questions for Chapter 18

1. "'Everything is permissible for me' - but not everything is beneficial. 'Everything is permissible for me' - but I will not be mastered by anything" (1 Cor 6:12). When it comes to healthy eating, what are the things that are permissible for you but not beneficial? Is there anything permissible that might nevertheless have the potential to master you? How do you feel about the idea that you may have to avoid some foods forever?
Jill's answer: As far as eating just for the sake of eating and nothing else, I don't think I could say anything should be off limits forever. Do I need to take them out of the place of God in my life and return them to their rightful spot? Yes, absolutely. But, I have seen in the past the downfalls of writing off an entire food group FOREVER. Especially if it's a GOOD food as long as it's eaten in moderation. Chemicals, poisons, and a lot of processed stuff, yes, I can see a need to say goodbye for the long run. But, a sweet treat made with pure, whole ingredients, I can see partaking in moderation and a whole lot less often. HOWEVER...I do have an issue with the pain that comes with fibromyalgia. Now that I've been allowing sugar back into my diet, I have noticed a significant increase in that pain. So, yes, sugar is permissible, but I can say it is absolutely NOT beneficial for me. It not only causes my belly to grow, but eating it too often and in too high doses can lead to an excruciating pain flare-up all over my body! I'm considering eliminating white sugar from my diet permanently. I realize there will always be those special occasions when a cupcake or cookie would be OK. But, I know the damage it does when I become too lenient. So, yes, white sugar may be one of those foods that I have to say, for the most part, simply cannot be a regular part of my lifestyle.

2. "I can" is a powerful little statement for a girl feeling deprived. In what ways might you incorporate these two very small but mighty words into your healthy eating journey?
Jill's answer: With Jesus' help, I CAN make the right choices each and every day that will not only fuel my body, but help it operate to its fullest capacity with the least amount of pain possible!

3. Think of an old-fashioned  balance scale, the kind with a pan on either side that counterbalances one weight against the other. Imagine placing in one pan all the things you need to give up and in the other pan all the things you've gained and will continue to gain. Which side holds the most weight and significance for you?
Jill's answer: Oh, definitely the pan with the things already gained and yet to be gained by a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating. Being able to get out of bed in the morning with a lot less pain. Being able to lift my five-year-old daughter for a hug and kiss. Being able to make it past 8:30pm without feeling desperately exhausted. All of this and more is a gain that can make me completely forget about the sacrifices. (If only the rest of the world would forget to tempt me as well.)

4. "We like to identify our shortcomings, form them into a club, and mentally beat the tar out of ourselves". In what ways have you identified with and punished yourself for your shortcomings? Instead of punishing yourself, can you imagine giving these things to Jesus and asking Him to chisel them away? How might the truh of His compassion help you to break free from your shortcomings in ways that self-condemnation cannot?
Jill's answer: Every time I discover a shortcoming in myself, I become determined to whip myself into shape and totally eliminate the weakness. However, like most people who try to do things in their strength, once it gets hard I give up. I talk myself into accepting that imperfect part of me and to stop beating myself up for being human. This has happened time and time and time again in my 41 years on this planet. However, in those rare situations when I've decided to ask Jesus to work in me and through me, INSTEAD of trying to make the change happen on my own, I've seen a true transformation take place. That is what I need in this struggle with food and weight. Instead of beating myself up and then deciding to just not care so much and accept myself as I am...I need to go FIRST to my God and Savior and simply ask Him to mold and shape my desires and habit into ones that please Him instead of me. I have seen this in many areas of my life, and need to trust that it will be the same with food. Why is this the one area that I continually believe will change if I just have enough determination? Why do I continually go back to relying on what I can do to make things different? Why don't I go to the One who has proven that He can and will give me the strength to break free from the prison of old habits and into the freedom of a healthy lifestyle? It's SO simple, and yet I make it so hard. Self-condemnation and self-deceit have to hit the road. It's time for a new Jill to take shape through the careful and gentle chiseling of my Creator!

Have you decided to give up some foods for good simply because they aren't beneficial for you? How's that going? Please join in the discussion with a comment!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Body HURTS!

Note to self: Do not take 6 DAYS OFF from running and then try to increase your distance by 1/2 a mile!

Two and half miles today in about 33 minutes. Happy I did it. Happy it's over. Happy Katie Post was talking to me the whole time. Happy I was able to inwardly shout out for help to Jesus during the whole run!

Now, I need to remember...CONSISTENCY IS THE KEY!

Countdown to the 10K ~ 12 weeks from this Saturday!!!!


Monday, June 20, 2011

Made To Crave Monday - Chapter 17

Good morning, my friends! We are so close to the end of our Made to Crave journey. Thank you for being a part of this with me. I don't know about you, but I often struggle with follow through. So, to see that we only have two chapters left after today is amazing to me. We've been having this discussion for more than 17 WEEKS. Amazing! I usually give up when things get tough or emotionally messy. Maybe you deal with that tendency as well. Well, way to go US for sticking with it and continiuing to encourage each other as we travel along! This week will be no different. Here. We. Go.

Discusion Questions for Chapter 17

1. If you had been in the room with the three pastors Lysa describes at the beginning of the chapter, how would you have answered the question, "Is discipline really sustainable?"
Jill's answer: I think I would have had a similar answer to Lysa's. No, of course not, discipline is absolutely NOT sustainable because we are weak, imperfect beings. In our own strength, biblical discipline cannot take place long term. BUT, with God, YES! With the help of our Maker and Savior, we can find a lifestyle of discipline and obedience that can be sustained for a lifetime. Only by keeping our trust and hope in and our eyes on Him!
And, OH, how I need to renew my focus on Jesus in this area. My daily discipline is so poor it's laughable at times. Except, the impact is has on me...and my FAMILY...is not funny at all. My choices impact my husband and my daughter just as much, if not more, than they impact me. It's time to grow up and take repsonsibility for myself and my choices! Jesus HELP me, here!

2. Lysa points out the crucial connection between holiness - being set aside for a noble use - and daily disciplines with food. How do you understand the relationship between your food choices and your ability to "put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph 4:24)?
Jill's answer: When we cross that line of faith, we are new creations. Our slavery to sin is over. Gluttony is sin. It's that simple. I don't like being so blunt with myself, but it's SO true. Eating more than I need to eat, to the point of gluttony...is SIN! Yuck, I hate the S word. It takes what I like to thing of as a mere struggle to ugly disobedience and even indifference to God. If I'm truly going to "put on the new self", I'm going to allow God to rescue me from slavery to my impulses, desires, and tastebuds! I'm going to allow Him to recreate me from the inside out!

3. "The very next choice we make isn't really about the food...It's about whether or not we're positioning ourselves to live the kind of God-honoring lives in which, by God's strength, sustained discipline is possible". Does this idea encourage or frighten you? Why?
Jill's answer: A little bit of both. It's encouraging to know that it all centers on ONE CHOICE at a time. But, it's frightening to think that every little choice can take me either closer to or further away from living a God-honoring life in which sustained discipline is possible with Jesus' help. It really helps me to see the weight of my everyday decisions rather than just viewing them as little meaningless actions! And, I realize how I need to lean on His strength for every little choice that I make.

4. Is Lysa's "Unsettle Me" prayer one you feel you are ready to pray for yourself? What fears would you have about praying this prayer? What excites you about the possibilities of this prayer for your life?
Jill's answer: I have been praying versions of this prayer when it comes to seeing the needs around me and how I can help meet them in Jesus' love. I've been praying this type of prayer when it comes to being the kind of mother and wife I truly want to be and that my family needs. But, when it comes to food, I haven't been praying anything like this at all. I've just been asking God for an overarching 'strength' and then trying to muscle through. I have failed so many times. So, yes, I want to be completely unsettled in this area. Food has such a hold on me, as does a sedentary lifestyle. I want to be unsettled to the point where unhealthy choices and inactivity just no longer satisfy!

5. "One wise choice can lead to two, can lead to three, can lead to a thousand, can lead to the sweet place of utter dependence on God and lastng discipline". Do you esteem your small, daily food choices or do you tend to feel they don't really matter all that much? How might your life be different if you could achieve utter dependence on God and lasting discipline? What benefits would you most enjoy experiencing?
Jill's answer: I think my daily, small choices are allowed to slip by unnoticed for the most part. If I were to achieve utter dependence on God and lasting dscipline, I would enjoy the freedom that comes from letting go of an attachment to food and grasping onto an active lifestyle focused on Jesus. I want to be able to make those healthy choices even when it seems like a small decision. Even when I feel like I've been giving up so much, just a little indulgence won't hurt. I want to remain obedient and God-honoring in the small choices as well as the big decisions. I can only imagine the freedoms this kind of daily obedience would bring. More than smaller size and liking what I see in the mirror. I can imagine more peace and contentment as well! Right now I'm experiencing brokenness. With God helping me to have a daily discipline, I can see that my life would become whole!

OK, this is getting pretty tough, huh? No more excuses. No more blaming hormones, genetices, or even the lack of training I experienced in this area growing up. It's time to get real about dying to myself when it comes to my total addiction to FOOD! God is my refuge and my strength, not food. It's time to live a life that reflects this Truth!

How about you? Where are you in this whole process? Please share your journey with a comment, even if you haven't read the book. I'd love to hear from YOU!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Some good news and some bad news

The Good, The Bad, and the Rest...
Morning! I thought I'd give a brief update on how things are going for me on this journey to healthy. I'd love to hear yours as well!

Good news - I'm making better choices over all.
Bad news - I could have chosen fresh fruit at the radio station this morning but I chose half a cinnamon crunch bagel WITH cream cheese instead.
Good news - I didn't eat the other half as well!

Bad news - YES - as you can see I'm no longer adhering completely to my food elimination plan
Good news - BUT, I have eliminated most processed foods and sugar AND soda...for good! Yes, I know the cinnamon crunch bagel has lots of sugar...but things like this have become a more infrequent indulgence.

Good news - I'm holding strong at 11 pounds lost
Bad news - I haven't lost any more weight
Good news - I haven't gained the weight back!

Good news - I can run at least two miles w/o stopping and at a pretty decent pace for an overweight just-about-to-turn-41-year-old
Bad news - still a long way to go to be ready for that 10K (6.22 miles) in September
Good news - the always encouraging Katie Post will be running with me tomorrow!
GOD news - with Jesus, I can DO this!

That's kind of it in a nutshell for me these days. Oh, and I joined a new Bible Study for Made to Crave at my friend Rigan's house. SWEET! It's some extra encouragement I really need right now!

TAG, YOU'RE IT! What's the good and bad news in your journey toward healthy? Let's share with each other and pray each other through!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Made To Crave Monday - Chapter 16

Oh, the diet trap(s). I think I've visited them all. The lemonade diet, the Atkins Diet, the Paleo Diet, the Daniel Fast (not for fasting but for the sake of losing weight...big difference), Herbal Life shakes...you name it, I've most likely tried it. So, this chapter was a necessity for me! Can you relate? Well, let's jump in then!

Discussion questions for Chapter 16 of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst

1. Have you ever been lured in by the promises of an infomercial or fad diet? What was it about the diet that appealed to you most? Did it guarantee quick results? Promise you could eat whatever you wanted and still lose weight? What about it made you think, 'Maybe, just maybe this one is a sure thing'? How did you feel when it didn't deliver as promised or you gained back the weight you'd lost?
Jill's answer: Oh, yes, I've been lured in by the promises of an informercial or fad diet! Let me count the ways...ha ha! I think the ones that have appealed most to me are ones that I've seen friends have success on. Seeing their results made me certain it would work for me, too. Sometimes it did, sometimes it didn't. But, in the long run, when I've gone off the plan, I've always wound up gaining back the weight. This has made me realize that eating healthy and exercising simply have to be part of my life, not a short term diet or restriction (unless I'm fasting and growing closer to God).

2. Lysa describes her experiences of diets as sacrificing for a season and then regaining the weight when she gets tired of sacrificing. Instead, she says she is now "on a journey with Jesus to learn the fine art of self-discipline for the purpose of holiness". What do you think about this distinction between diets and a journey with Jesus? How might your decisions about food and healthy eating change if you could really see them as part of a spiritual journey rather than a diet? Is this an idea that feels possible for you or unrealistic? Why?
Jill's answer: I guess I like to think of my whole life as a journey with Jesus and learning self control and healthy habits are just one part of that journey. I do think changing my mindset to view my entire relationship with food as something to submit to Jesus on a daily basis just as I would any struggle in life is way bettter than choosing to follow a rigid eating plan for a specific amount of time without dealing with the issues behind my struggle with food and weight. In these cases I usually start splurging as soon as the specific time is up (or even before at times). So, a day by day, step by step journey is probably a much more realistic approach to eating for me. It's hard though, because I'm a very impulsive person and prone to deciding to start some new plan, diet, or fad at the drop of a hat. Self control is key in this area for me, I believe!

3. "God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Cor 10:13). This is a promise with which many of us who grew up in church are very familiar, maybe too familiar. Do you believe, and really believe way down deep, that this promise applies to you and your temptations with food? For Lysa God's "way out" is to plan in advance what she will eat. How hard is it for you to look for a way out when temptation catches you off guard?
Jill's answer: My head believes it, but I don't know if my heart truly does. Well, I guess it obviously doesn't or I wouldn't find myself typing these repsonses today at almost 45 pounds overweight!! Planning ahead is a really good tool and a perfect "way out" from temptation. My biggest struggle seems to be when the food is planned by someone else. Sometimes I see that as carte blanche to eat whatever I want. Sometimes a treat is OK, sometimes I go overboard. The goal here is to learn to make every bite count and enjoy treats on a much more infrequent basis. Then, looking for a way out when temptation catches me off guard is necessary, too. It can be hard, but it will be crucial if I'm going to make lifelong changes.

4. "Idolatry, in the case of food, means the consumption of ill-sized portions and unhealthy choices because we feel like we deserve it or need it to feel better". Do you agree with this definition? If so, what was the last time you committed idolatry with food? What prompted you to do so? If not, do you believe it is possible to make an idol out of food? why or why not?
Jill's answer: I'm not sure about that for a definition of idolatry. Maybe for gluttony? However, I do believe anything you put before God in your life IS an idol, so maybe in the case of food this definition could work. I have just committed this form of "idolatry" yesterday. I decided to "treat" myself, because I had been so diligent with my food elimination eating plan, with ice cream at Baskin Robbins with Alyssa (my five year old) and some friends. The only problem was that I not only gave myself "permission" to eat my scoop, but also at least half of Alyssa's scoop that she didn't finish! It seems that when I start down this path of flawed thinking it SO quickly snowballs into a full-fledged BINGE! Yikes. I need to be able to have a more balanced approach to all foods, including ice cream.

5. There are two elephants in the room when Lysa talks about feelings of deserving certain foods or needing a treat to get by:
~ Elephant 1: "It's my party and I'll eat cake if I want to. Don't tell me I have to give up all treats for all time."
~ Elephant 2: "I don't think this sounds like a spiritual journey. I think this sounds like a legalistic approach to eating."
With which elephant do you most resonate? Do you feel you can eat treats as you usually do and still make healthy choices? Do you resist the idea that your battle with food can become a liberating spiritual jouney? What past experiences inform your views?
Jill's answer: I definitely resonate with Elephant 1. "Deserving" a treat is such a way of thinking for me. I "deserve" it because I've been working so hard, because it's my birthday, because I haven't had one in a while, because it's Monday, whatever! Having a treat isn't a bad thing, it's the frequency that gets me into trouble and also failing to make healthy choices in other areas of eating and exercise. Learning to have balance when it comes to these choices is the goal because it is something I'll need to maintain for a lifetime, not just a few days, weeks, or months. So, yes, I strongly believe that my battle with food can become a liberating spiritual journey, just like any area of temptation can. Every day, every decision can take me closer to trusting God to help me overcome the grasp food has on my life!

What do you think? Please comment with your answers to this week's discussion questions so we can keep the conversation going!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

There's a first for everything...apparently!

I guess I really had thought that, since I started going gray at 18, somehow I was going to get out of the whole wrinkle thing. WRONG! Over the weekend, guess what I found? Yep, the first wrinkle. It's kind of significant in a woman's life, don't you think? That first wrinkle. I even toyed around with the idea of naming it in order to give a proper amount of ceremony to this momentous occasion. But, I couldn't come up with a name that quite captured everything I feel about this new find. So, if you have ideas, I'd love to hear them!

In the meantime, I found this short video with ideas on how to not age yourself by making common make-up mistakes. Maybe you'll find it as helpful as I did. It's amazing how a simple change in application technique can make such a HUGE difference. Check it out...

Happy aging, my FABULOUS friend.

What's your favorite tip for looking younger without spending a lot of time or money?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Made to Crave Mondays - Chapter 15

Ah, the boundary issue!
I don't know about you but I've always been a HUGE fan of boundaries except when it comes to actually putting them in place and living within them. Whether it's unhealthy relationships with people or with food, it doesn't matter. I can see that it is so healthy to have them, but when it comes down to it, I've always struggled with the implementing of boundaries. A lot of growth and strength is needed here. Can you relate? Author Lysa TerKeurst takes us there in this week's chapter of Made to Crave. Let's talk about it...

Discussion Questions for Ch 15

1. Congratulations! You've been chosen to participate in the latest reality TV show. How much would your eating change if you knew that dozens of tiny hidden cameras were strategically placed throughout your life, recording everything you ate and broadcasting it live on a local cable channel? 
Jill's answer: I think my eating would change a LOT - at least until I got used to having the cameras on 24/7! :)

2. As Lysa was modifying her eating, she had to flee some temptations because her brokenness could not handle certain freedoms. What areas of brokenness in your life aren't yet capable of handling freedoms? How do you typically respond to temptations in these areas?
Jill's answer: Definitely the area of eating as well! I've been trying to give myself some freedoms for special occasions/holidays lately and I have gone COMPLETELY and TOTALLY overboard! I can't believe how easy it's been to go from my elimination eating plan to giving myself "just one" treat to throwing it all aside. The past couple weeks have been horrific and a telltale sign that I am still broken in this area and not ready for certain freedoms.

3. When it comes to boundaries with food, it's important to focus on what we can have rather than what we can't have. When you think of what you can have right now, for what three to five foods are you most grateful? How might focusing on these foods keep you from dwelling on the foods you can't have right now?
Jill's answer: I am extremely thankful for Lara bars, walnuts, salads, mini coconut ice cream fudge bars sweetened with agave, and sweet potatoes! If I can focus on these foods and the other foods I can have right now, it will really help me avoid dwelling on the the foods I can't have. When I start dwelling on those foods, I start giving myself "permission" to have just one bite here, just one handful there, just one binge...oh no! It really goes downhill quickly!

4. Lysa describes 7 healthy boundaries that are helping her on her eating adventure. For each of the boundaries listed below place a number from 1 to 10 to indicate whether the boundary feels more like a punishing restriction or a hedge of safety for you. (1 meaning all the way to the boundary feeling like a punishing restriction and 10 meaning all the way to the boundary feeling like a hedge of safety.)

God has given me power over my food choices. I hold the power - not the food. So, if I'm not supposed to eat it, I won't put it in my mouth. 7

I was made for more than being stuck in a vicious cycle of defeat. I am not made to be a victim of my poor choices. I was made to be a victorious child of God. 10

When I am struggling and considering a compromise, I will have to choose to either remove the temptation or remove myself from the situation. 5

When I'm invited to a party or another special occasion rolls around, I can find ways to celebrate that don't involve blowing my healthy eating plan. 3

Struggling with my weight isn't God's mean curse for me. Being overweight is an outside indication that internal changes are needed for my body to function properly and for me to feel well. 9

I have these boundaries in place not for restriction but to define the parameters of my freedom. My brokenness can't handle more freedom than this right now. And I'm good with that. 7

Take a moment to review your responses. What do they reveal about how you view boundaries? Which boundary feels most like a restriction? Is this something you've struggled with before? What boundary feels most like safety? How might you lean into this boundary to give you strength and confidence with the boundaries that might be harder for you to keep?
Jill's answer:  It looks like I like the idea of boundaries and the freedoms they actually bring a whole lot more than actually putting the boundaries in place and living within them. I loved the thought about being a victorious child of God and realizing that being overweight is simply an outward indication that I need to make changes to feel and look better. And, apparently, I realize that healthy boundaries actually provide freedom rather than inhibit it. However, the thought of actually removing myself or a temptation when things get tough is a different story. That feels really hard. Also, finding ways to celebrate that don't involve food feels so unfair. Everyone else gets to have cake at a birthday party or wedding. Why can't I? It feels almost imprisoning in many ways. But, I think this is where my thinking needs to change in order for true freedom to be found in my relationship with food. If I don't make these changes in my thinking and in my actions, I believe I will never win this battle with weight and food issues. Much prayer and determination is needed here!

What are your thoughts? Please jump in and take this conversation to the next level. Maybe we can learn the freedom of boundaries together!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day Monday

Freedom is NEVER free!
Hello, friends! I hope you're having a wonderful day off with your family and remembering our fallen heroes and she-roes! Made to Crave Monday will return next week on June 6. Thanks for being a part of this discussion and for making my life more FABULOUS! I'll close with a tweet from my friend Connie P. Shoemaker who said:

Thanks to the families that have an empty seat at their tables so I am free to say grace at mine.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Made to Crave Mondays - Chapter 14

Whoa! Where has this Monday gone? What a difference having a little girl at home all day makes, huh? Guess it's still Monday though, so I still have time to sneak in this week's questions for reflection from chapter 14 of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.

First of all, WOW! Lysa really shares a part of her wounded past in this chapter and taps into something I'm sure we can all relate to, emotional emptiness. And, if you're like me, you can also relate to that void playing a part in those issues with food and weight.

So, without further ado...let's jump in!

Discussion Questions for Chapter 14

1. "Each time my heart felt a little empty, my stomach picked up on the cues and suggested I feed it instead." Do you feel a similar connection between feelings of emotional emptiness and physical hunger? Do you feel you are able to distinguish between physical hunger and emotionally triggered hunger, or does it all feel the same to you? 
Jill's answer: This has absolutely been a pattern for me in the past. Trying to feed my emotional emptiness with physical affection, attention, and, finally, with food. I thought once I had grown as a Christian woman and finally found the most awesome, godly man who became my husband that my desires to look to fill my emotional emptiness with any of these unhealthy things would change. But, not addressing the emotional emptiness meant it was still there demanding to be fed. Christian counseling and growing in many ways has been a huge help in this area. And, just becoming more aware of the times when I tend to feed my emotions instead of my body has been a great tool as well.

2. Lysa describes how she used the phrases of Philippians 4:8 to park her mind in a better spot about the painful relationship with her father. Using the phrases below and Lysa's example as a guide, invite God to give you a better place to park your mind about a painful experience from your own past.
Jill's answers: I'm thinking about my own father who left us a couple days before I started High School.
Whatever is true...Like Lysa's dad, my dad was broken. He was dealing with his own selfishness, lusts, and desires. These broken parts of his character blinded him to the pain he was creating for his three children. It does not excuse his actions to realize this truth. But, it does help me to realize that his leaving had nothing to do with me and everything to do with his own personal flaws and immaturity. I believe my father actually did and does love me. He just became extremely misguided by a series of poor choices and immoral behaviors.
Whatever is noble...When my dad left and refused to see us as important, it made me feel unworthy of love; unworthy of attention; unworthy of affection. But, this is what the King of Kings thinks and feels about me:  The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV) That puts things in a much more NOBLE perspective, don't you think?
Whatever is right...There's one precious memory of my father that I remember providing that feeling that all was right, if not in the world, at least in my family. It made me feel loved and cherished my dad even when other acts or words made me feel differently. I remember those rare days when Dad had wake-up duty. He would come and sit on the edge of my bed and gently rub my legs, feet, or back through the sheets and blankets. And then he would softly say something like, "It's Wednesday! Only two more days after today and then it's the weekend." I still remember the love and affection in his voice as he would whisper that it was time to get up and at 'em. It gives me a warm feeling to this day. One thing I know for sure is that God's love endures forever. That it is always right and it is always real. And, on these mornings so many years ago, my earthly father's love felt as if it was unfailing as well.
Whatever is lovely...On those mornings when Dad came to wake me for school, I felt loved and lovely. I felt a peace and calm that I seldom felt throughout my childhood. I remember wanting to hold on to those moments and not let them go. In fact, some mornings I would pretend to stay asleep a little longer, just so Dad would sit a little longer speaking gently and rubbing my back, helping me to have a lovely entrance into the waking world.
Whatever is admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy...I praise God for the fact that my daughter is growing up with a father who cherishes her and tells her so each and every day. A man who'll never leave her to wonder if she's worthy. A man who helps her learn more of God's love for her as he showers love, affection, and kisses on her sweet little face and life. And, I'm so thankful to see Alyssa form lovely memories not only with her dad, but with mine as well. We don't see my father very often but when we do there's no sign of the man who broke my heart time and time again over the first 20 or so years of my life. What IS there is the Daddy who came to wake me up on those precious early mornings that linger in the video of my mind. There's no yelling, criticizing, or overly zealous physical discipline. There's no screaming at my mom or my older brother. There's just a "Papa" who Alyssa adores and looks forward to spending time with at every opportunity. Especially when he's able to pull gold-dollar coins out of her ear, which is several times at pretty much each meeting. She'll grow up thinking of my dad as a kind, funny, and magical person who lights up when he sees her. And, you know what? I'm not going to do or say ANYTHING to change that impression. It is a part of who he is. It is a part of the "excellent" that God wove into his person from the very beginning. He's done a lot of growing over the years and he's still not perfect. But, I won't tell my daughter any differently. Let her continue to see God in yet another father-figure in her life (along with Jeremy, his dad, my step-dad, and her uncles) who loves her unconditionally. And, PRAISE GOD for that!!!

3. A mosaic is a work of art made up of hundreds or thousands of tiny, broken pieces of glass or ceramic tile. Lysa describes how God's making a mosaic of restoration and healing in her heart, gathering up her broken pieces and making them into something beautiful. Can you imagine God doing something like this in your heart? If God used the broken pieces of your life to make a beautiful image, what do you hope it would look like?
Jill's answer: If God is making a mosaic of restoration and healing of my broken past and forming it (and me) into something beautiful, then I hope it will look like a woman who understands that most people who lash out do so because of their own inner pain and wounded history. I hope it will look like a woman who loves others without strings attached. A woman who would rather serve another human being than find a cheap feeling (usually tied to food) for myself. A woman who fiercely follows God, absolutely cherishes her family, and truly believes she can make an impact on her world in Jesus' name!

So, how would you answer these questions? Please open yourself up to us as much as you feel comfortable doing so. Let us know how God is taking your broken pieces and making a beautiful piece of art out of your life!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The winner of Made to Crave and an Update!

Good Morning! First I want to thank my big girl and new preschool graduate, Alyssa, for helping me with the drawing for the free copy of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst!

And, the winner is...Katie Meskimen! Katie posted about the new thing she's going to try this summer. Here's what she said: I'm going to learn how to be a better blogger so I can get more followers and help other people. That's a great goal, Katie. You'll have to let us know how it goes. In the meantime, let me know your mailing address. Email it to me at jill@wcicfm.org. Congrats! And, thanks to everyone who posted about that New Thing you're going to learn or try. Let's do it...together!

Now for an UPDATE!! As of this morning, I'm down 10.4 pounds! Woo Hoo! I also completed my 10K training for the day and am ready to take on the world! Well, at least my little part of it. 

What's the good news on your end of things? Leave a comment with your UPDATE! Can't wait to hear from you.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Made to Crave Mondays - Chapter 13 and a free book!

Hello, my FABULOUS friend! I hope you've had a great weekend despite the cold and rain here in central Illinois. How awesome to see the sun shining this morning. It makes Monday a little easier.

I'm so glad you've joined me for Made to Crave Monday because I'm excited to not only dig in to the reflection questions for chapter 13 of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries, but also to tell you about a new venture in my life. AND to offer you a free copy of Made to Crave. If you don't already have the book, you will LOVE it. And, you'll be able to go back to the first Made to Crave Monday and follow along and add your insights. If you do already have the book, you'll have a copy to give to a girlfriend, a sister, or your mom so you'll have someone to go through the book with you and join you on this journey to good health. First I want to tell about my "new thing", THEN I'll tell you how you can win the book. Deal Camille?

New Thing

If you had a chance to read last Friday's blog post, then you'll remember me talking about how I want to have fun learning new things in life. And, this week I'm doing TWO new things. I'd mentioned yesterday that I was going to stick my toes into the huge pool that is couponing. I'm meeting with some friends Thursday to learn their shop-savvy ways. That's thing one (Yes, that is a shout out to Dr. Seuss!). Thing two...against my brain's better judgment, I have committed to running a 10K this fall in Morton. A...T E N...K! I began the long training process today that will (hopefully) prepare my body to run over SIX MILES! And, as you see, I'm in need of preparing my mind as well. So, prayers are appreciated.

How You Can WIN

OK, so here's how you can win your own free copy of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. Leave a comment on today's post and tell me something new you're going to learn...this week...this month...or over this summer. One commenter will win a free copy of Lysa's New York Times Bestseller!

Discussion Questions for Chapter 13

1. What are the unspoken truths about food at your church or in your circle of Christian friends? In terms of how they eat and relate to food, is your Christian community an asset or a liability to your healthy eating goals? 
Jill's answer: I'm glad I attend a church that doesn't condone gluttony. Every New Year we begin with a 21-day fast to encourage all of us to give up dependence on food or anything else that may be coming between us and Jesus. So, that's always a challenge and encouragement on this road to healthy. When my girlfriends get together it can be different. We love to eat and chat and eat and chat and eat some more. It's funny how you can throw all healthy guidelines out the window once the kids are in bed or safe with hubby/babysitter and just go to town on some nachos, cookies, brownies, or whatever. And my friends know how to make some yummy stuff. My friend Tasha follows the Pioneer Woman and is all about real, healthy ingredients. But man is it the stuff that diets die by. Cinammon rolls, fruit bars, brownies, homemade fudge sauce. Nothing artificial in Tasha's cooking. Nothing low fat, usually, either.
A. She doesn't need it.
B. Her philosophy about food is completely different (and much better) than mine.
C. She can have one portion-controlled serving and walk away. Me...not so much!
So, I actually had to hide her in my newsfeed on Facebook for a while because of all the yummy stuff she would post almost daily. She's always sharing a peek at the latest scrumptious concoction coming from her oven. So, now I'm challenged to actually have more face-to-face contact with this girlfriend which is turning out to be a little tough, but I'm determined to make it happen!

2. Gluttony of any kind - food, alcohol, drugs, sex - could be described as a desperate attempt to silence the cries of a hungry soul. Have you ever thought of overeating in this way, as an attempt to silence your hungry soul? How might this perspective help you gain new insights about your battles with food? 
Jill's answer: TOTALLY it comes from a desire to fill some void in my life. I absolutely know that I desire that full, satisfied feeling as if it might make everything else in life better. It doesn't. It just causes me to head back to Old Navy for another new pair of jeans because the last ones are actually painful to wear. Ugh! Praying, spending time reading the Bible, singing songs to Jesus, exercising and reading memory verses to myself from a note card...EVERY TIME these things help the cravings go away. If I could just remember the next time the cravings rear their ugly little heads!

3. If your soul is like a ravenous vacuum cleaner, what kinds of things has it sucked up over the years in its longing to be filled?
Jill's answer: Attention, food, recognition, physical affection, 100's of wasted hours in front of the TV, oh the list could go on and on. It's a really good thing I'm not much of a shopper because my family could be in serious financial trouble!

4. Lysa uses the Exodus story to demonstrate how God taught His people to depend on Him by giving them just what they needed each day. In what ways might this story be an encouragement to you? Are you in the habit of depending on God for what you need each day - to be your daily portion of companionship, provision, strength? What "manna" do you long for most from God?
Jill's answer: It might sound crazy but there have been times when I've wished for someone to control my portions for me much like God did in the story from Exodus. Sometimes I think if I had no access to food beside perfectly balanced and portioned meals that someone else provided and delivered to me...I'd have no problem, right? Well, now that I'm reminded of the Israelites and their grumbling and complaining and discontent, I realize I wouldn't last long in that "ideal" situation before I'd start whining a little myself. Like the Israelites, I can so easily become discontent with what I already have in so many areas of life. Often it involves achievement, acceptance, and significance. I mostly need to receive my daily "manna" of self-worth and value straight from God!

5. Have there been times in your life when you struggled because you didn't have what you needed? How might these experiences of deprivation impact your ability to trust that God can give you what you need each day to deal with food?
Jill's answer: When I was in high school my mom, younger brother, and I moved a lot. She was a newly single Mom of teenagers that she wanted to keep in their current school no matter what kind of sacrifice it meant for her. So, we would move into one place, live there six months or so, and have to move again because the rent was just too high and my Mom couldn't keep up. I had no money for new clothes or going out with my friends. So, I worked part-time jobs to be able to afford the things I wanted outside of food and shelter and MANY school activities that my Mom somehow was able to fund. Talk about a giving woman...that's my Mom! But, instead of trusting God to provide and being happy with a few pairs of pants and four or five tops, I wanted to fit in with my friends and went about making it happen myself. I often wonder what lessons I would have learned if I'd given some of that money to my Mom to help with her expenses. Or, simply saved for college and beyond? But, no, I was a teenager whose mind was on important matters like social status in a small city high school. And, I think I still struggle with trusting God to provide. Now I simply turn to food instead of trendy clothes. (Can't wear those right now anyway!)

6. "For He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things" ~ Psalm 107:9 How do you respond to this promise? If you could ask God for one good thing that would help you to feel a deep and soul-filling satisfaction, what would it be?
Jill's answer: I LOVE THAT! This is going to be my mantra for the next week or so. He satisfies the thirsty. He fills the hungry with good things! That is so speaking my language. I guess what I would ask God for is to find peace and contentment in Him and Him alone. It's so easy to find it in food, in being a Mommy, in doing a good job at work, in so many things! True satisfaction only comes when I find everything first in God. It's a daily battle. No, it's a minute-ly battle! But, it's so worth it to draw closer to the One who created me to crave in the first place!

OK, you're up! Please add your thoughts to this discussion. And, don't forget to tell me that new thing you're going to learn or try this week, this month, or this summer! You could win your own copy of Made to Crave by Lysa TerKeurst. I'll post the winner on Wednesday. Thanks, FABULOUS friends!

Friday, May 13, 2011

FABULOUS loves to laugh and learn!

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.” Albert Einstein 

The other night we asked our daughter what was the worst part of her day and she surprised us by saying, "School. It's so BORING!" Jeremy and I both turned and said in unison, "REALLY?" I was pretty sure our mischievous five-year-old was being, well, mischievous, but I had to be sure. "Really, Alyssa? It's boring to play with your friends and learn new things?" Her little nose crinkled and her eyes sparkled. "I'm just kidding," she squealed. "I love school. It's so much fun! What do you think?" Jeremy and I sighed with relief and laughed at our girl's attempt at a joke. And, somewhere in the back of my mind I made a mental note that another thing kids do better than adults is they have fun learning!

In fact, the reason kids love to learn is because for them learning is usually fun. And that's when I had the AHA moment. The reason I get all these good ideas to learn something new and then fail is because I fail to make it fun (or I just don't have the skill set...but MOST times it's the lack of fun).

Today I'm taking a break from the weight loss journey to remember another very important aspect of becoming FABULOUS. We've covered Fiercely following God, Absolutely cherishing our families, Believing we can make an impact on the world (and making it), and Understanding that healthy habits are crucial (that's the biggie we've been spending so much time on lately)! And, it's easy to stop there. Those can seem to be the majors, the areas that really need covered. But, the FABULOUS woman also Loves to laugh and learn.

There's always a time for just kicking back and having a good time with your spouse or on a night out with the girls. Nobody's learning a new skill or honing a talent, everybody's just having fun. We need times like that! But, I think we already see the need for some good old honest FUN. So, I want to focus on the fact that learning can be a lot of fun, too. Taking a painting class with a friend, dancing lessons with your hubby/boyfriend, or sitting in a room full of other ladies trying to learn to knit can be a source of laughter, sweet chaos, and extreme hilarity. All while you're stimulating your brain and beginning to grasp a new ability. And it's so good for us both now AND later!

Learning something new can help us have a feeling of accomplishment that, especially if we have kids in the house, might be missing in our daily lives. It also encourages our kids to continue finding the joy in learning. And the pros continue as we age. According to About.com, a web site devoted to senior living, continuing to learn as we get older provides all kinds of benefits including keeping our minds sharp, improving memory, saving money as we learn to do things on our own, and providing a new interest that we can share with family and friends.

Oh, I almost forgot one of my favorite things to learn about while having fun with friends...the Bible! Being part of a weekly study group keeps me on track with reading my Bible and praying. And, we have so much fun talking about what we covered that week that sometimes we forget it's a study group. We also have those moments when we get really vulnerable and open up some secret part of ourselves to each other. But, I don't think those would happen if the fun times hadn't bonded us in the first place.

I think I'm going to learn something new next week. Some friends have invited me to a get together on couponing and boy do I have a lot to learn there! Saving money for my family will be a huge benefit from this new skill but I think there will be some laughs along the way as well.

What new thing will you learn this next week? A new language? Yoga? A memory verse? Tell me about it. And have a FABULOUS weekend!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Goal For Today

I'm going to drink 8-10 8oz glasses of water today and see if it makes a difference when it comes to the terrible cravings I've had the last several days.

What are you doing to take a bite out of temptation today?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Having a Tough Time

OK, I'm really struggling this week, not gonna lie! (Why is that a thing we say these days? Why would I lie to you in the first place? Anywho...) This is a TOUGH week. The funny thing is, it's not because of stress really. I think it's more of a hormonal thing. No, I KNOW it's a hormonal thing. I wonder if Eve had never tasted that apple (or pomegranate, whatever it was)...would we still have the pain and mood swings and sudden weight gain because of water retention? Hmmm...well, no sense dwelling on what can't be changed. I just have to get through tomorrow without having a MAJOR binge. I feel like I'm holding on by a thread, here. Ever feel that way? If you're a woman, of course you have! So, WHEN you feel this way...what do you do? Do you give in and splurge a little...do you drown your cravings with water...exercise more even though you feel like you can't move? I need some inspiration. Maybe someone else does as well. Whatcha got? (And, thanks!)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Made to Crave Mondays - Chapter 12

The Curse of the Skinny Jeans!
Hello FABULOUS friend! It's time for another Made to Crave Monday. If you're just joining us, this is the day when we discuss the next chapter in the New York Times Bestseller, Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries. It's not a diet how-to book. It's all about taking food out of God's place in our lives and craving Him instead of food (or whatever you might currently be craving instead of God).

As we get ready to discuss Chapter 12, I have to say I think this chapter was perfectly placed time-wise for the journey we've been on together. It comes at that point when many of us are starting to see a little success in our quest for fitness and maybe we're even starting to dream of the day when we'll actually reach our goal weight. Of course the temptation is to see that day as THE DAY when all our troubles will be gone. The Day when all our past temptations, struggles, and frustrations will magically disappear because we can finally fit into our skinny jeans! Honestly, I've been guilty of putting way too much emphasis on what life will be like when I reach my goal.

Don't get me wrong, I will definitely celebrate BIG TIME when the scale finally says the number I've been working toward for so long. But, I don't want to make the mistake of seeing that as the reason for this journey, because it's not. Yes, I want to be smaller. Yes, I want to wear smaller sizes. But, mostly, I want to reshape my life into one of healthy habits and activity. And, I want to reshape my heart to focus on God instead of all the foods I used to cram in my mouth without evening thinking. Basically, all the foods that got me in this mess in the first place. So, in light of all this, I see Chapter 12 coming in at just the right time for me.  Maybe you feel that way as well. Let's find out as we dig into the questions. And, remember, even if you haven't read the chapter, I'm sure you will identify with what we cover here, so please don't forget to add your thoughts to this conversation!

Discussion Questions for Chapter 12

1. What fantasies do you have about what life would be like if you were at your ideal weight? Do you imagine everything in your life would somehow be better - your relationships would improve, your confidence would soar, your problems would fall away, you'd be respected, admired, obeyed? Why do you think your weight has so much power to influence your outlook on life? Jill's answer: I imagine waking up and easily finding a cute little sundress to wear. In fact, my closet would be filled with cute clothes that I don't have to worry about how I'll look in them. I'll be thin, so EVERYTHING will look good on me! Then I imagine walking downstairs into a spotless living room and kitchen, whipping up a super healthy breakfast for the family, and having time to sit down and enjoy a leisurely meal before heading off for school and work. Of course the work day will fly by full of progress, productivity, and fun - absolutely no headaches. Then, the family will enjoy yet another healthy and yummy meal that I've prepared and spend some time going for a walk, reading together, or playing a board game before my daughter goes off happily to her bed and Jeremy and I have time to - well, you know, do husband/wife stuff, which of course I'll be so much more ready for each and every evening without a care or insecurity about myself and my figure. Basically, I'm tempted to believe that when I'm thin absolutely everything will be easier, better, and more thoroughly enjoyed! This is all going to come true, right? OK- OK, I hear your guffaws and belly laughs. I don't know why I'm even tempted to believe this fantasy that when I'm thin everything in life will be easy. I know a lot of thin people with a lot of problems. But, somehow, I delude myself into believing I'll somehow be different.

2. Movies and popcorn, parties and cake, ballgames and hot dogs, meetings and coffee, TV and chips. What activities do you enjoy in part or primarily because of the food attached to them? Which activities might lose all attraction for you if food weren't part of the experience? Jill's answer: Back in college I spent a summer traveling to different camps working as a counselor and a representative for my school. We would work with the kids and then at the end of the week give a presentation on why we think the students would like our college and encourage them to sign up to get more information in the mail. It was a fun summer and also a time to observe the behavior of a lot of the kids we worked with. One week I worked with a jr. high girl who on the heavy side, but such a sweet, joyful girl. However, one thing she did stuck out to me as a little unhealthy. One morning I observed her going through the day's schedule, talking to herself about what was coming up. And, she counted how many hours she had to wait from breakfast to canteen time when she would be able to buy a snack (usually a candy bar) and drink. Then she'd figure out how much time from canteen to lunch, to afternoon snack, to dinner, and then to the final time she'd be allowed to buy something from the canteen before bed time. Then she would assure herself that she only had about 2 hours between each opportunity to eat. Then she smiled and seemed ready for the day. I remember thinking, how sad that this girl who was barely a teenager was judging how fun her day would be by how long she'd have to wait between meals. She wasn't excited about hiking trails, swimming, making a cool craft, or even learning how to ride in a canoe. For her the highlights of the day were completely wrapped up in the food she'd be able to enjoy throughout it. But, you know what, this is exactly how I can view my days at times, if I'm honest with myself. I can completely associate different activities with food. And, sometimes, find myself even more excited about the food than the activity. Yes, I'm trying to change that in my life. Trying to watch a movie without eating (gasp). Trying to enjoy a party without cake or ice cream, even if others are indulging. Trying to look forward to DOING things instead what I'll be eating before, during, or after doing them. But, it's hard. I'm realizing that it takes a total reprogramming of the brain (and the stomach). That's why these words from the Bible have been so helpful t me in this process: Don't be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to him. ~ Romans 12:2 (CEV)

3. "We are taught to remain in God's love so that we won't tie our happy to anything but God". To what other things besides God have you tried to tie your happy? What was the result? Do you think it's possible for you to feel full of joy even if you're not where you want to be with your weight? Why or why not? Jill's answer: I've tried to tie my happy to success at work, being a good Mommy, yummy foods, and getting lost in a TV show, movie, or novel. The result is these things don't always come through. Sometimes I don't succeed at work. Sometimes I'm not a good Mommy. Food fills for only a short while, then I'm hungry again. And, TV shows, movies, and novels all have an ending. They don't last forever. And, most times, they're a waste of time. I think the only way to be full of joy even if things aren't going my way, even if I never reach my goal weight, is to find my joy in Jesus. He is the only joy that never disappoints, never fades away, and never changes due to my performance. He is the same today, yesterday, and forever. And, the hope He offers for heaven a prize worth striving for above everything else!

4. "Incomplete people are complicated and sensitive and messy in their reactions". Who are the incomplete people in your life? Are these people triggers that make you want to eat? Are there ways in which you might be an incomplete person in someone else's life? For others as well as yourself, are you able to look beyond the incompleteness to the hurt that may be behind the messy reactions? What do you see? Jill's answer: I definitely have incomplete people in my life. I am an incomplete person. It's not necessarily incomplete people that make me want to eat. It's more likely to be a stressful day, period. Whether it's caused by my situation, workload, cramps, my child being sick, a concern over finances, or all of these things, incomplete people may add to the stress but they alone don't cause me to eat. At almost 41, I believe I'm finally at a place where I do try to look past a messy or even hurtful reaction or comment by an incomplete person and try to at least remind myself that their lashing out has more to do with them than me. That they are coming from a broken place; a place in need of healing. Of course, I'm not always able to remember this FIRST in the middle of a conflict or right after a hurtful scenario, but I do try to get there instead of lashing back or working hard to prove why I was right! Usually what I see when I'm able to look at the person rather than their actions or words is a broken heart, a disillusioned soul, and someone who's grasping for some sense of control in a life that feels completely out of their hands! And, boy have I been there!!

5. Compassion for incomplete people - including ourselves - translates into acts of kindness. When you think of the incomplete people in your life, especially those who may be eating triggers, how might a compassionate act of kindness change how you feel about that person? How might it changes how you feel about yourself and your own incompleteness? Jill's answer: It's kind of like those times you feel God putting an act of kindness on your heart that you know doesn't make sense. He tells you to go buy a cheeseburger for that guy holding a sign in the middle of the road who looks and acts like a meth-addict. And, you also give him some money or something else of value. Your brain tells you he's only here because of his own choices. He's going to waste that money on drugs or alcohol. He's not even going to eat that cheeseburger. Other people are going to think what you're doing is stupid. But, when you give it to him and you look into his eyes, even for a brief nano-second, and see the pain behind them, you realize...it's enough to have simply been obedient to the urge God placed on your heart. You've just said that the person is more important than his actions. You're giving to him even though he may squander the gift. You're giving to him despite the wrong choices he's made. You're giving to him even though he might not say thank-you. You're giving to him because he matters. And, you realize, I am the same as this man. Maybe you can't see my addictions (except for the fat that has resulted because of one of them), but I also have a weak spirit when it comes to wanting to make changes but finding it too hard to do so. And, how many times has God given me priceless gifts that I've either ignored or used irresponsibly? And, yet, He still gives! How many wrong choices have I made that must break His heart over and over again? And still, I am more important to Him than those choices. I'm more important to Him than the gifts I've misused. I'm more important to Him than my many weaknesses. He did not and does not give to me because I've earned it, deserve it, or will even use His gifts in the way they were meant to be used. He gives to me because I matter to Him. And, if I can apply this thought process when I'm led to give to a total stranger...can't I do the same with the people in my daily life who sometimes make it difficult? I can give them the gift of forgiveness even though they might not ask for it. I can give them the gift of understanding even though they might throw it away. I can give them the gift of grace even though they might misuse it or fail to thank me. Because I've been given these gifts time after time after time by the One who knows me better than I know myself. The One who knows my incompleteness and longs to make me complete. Because He gives to me, I can give to others. And, I have to remember a verse that has to do with more than money or material wealth, but with all of God's gifts: Much will be required of everyone who has been given much.~ Luke 12:48 (NIRV) or, as it's phrased in The Message: Great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!

Excuse me, friends, but I feel the need to stop and pray right here. Please join me if you'd like: 

Thank you, Dear Jesus, for the countless gifts you have given me. I don't deserve them. I haven't earned them. I so often misuse or neglect them because of fear, insecurity, ignorance, or apathy. Please help me to receive each and every gift from You freely and gratefully. Please help me to use each gift You give me in a way that will help me serve You and make a difference in someone else's life. And, please help me to give to others as freely as all of Your gifts have been given to me! AMEN!!!!

Woo-hoo! I feel more like I've just completed a Bible study than a chapter about learning to give up food cravings. But, I guess it's all intertwined, right? I hope you have receive a lot of insight after this chapter and taking time to read through the discussion questions above. Now, it's up to you. Keep the discussion and the encouragement going. Tell me what you've been tempted to believe will happen when you reach your goal. And, tell me about how you handle those incomplete people in your life. Can't wait to read your comments!

LOVE, Jill

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Oh, yeah, I hear ya!

Saw this tweet from my friend, Olivia Ward, who's a contestant this season on the Biggest Loser: Somedays I just want to eat the house down. Today is one of those days!

Even after losing more than 100 pounds, Olivia's still dealing with temptation. So, I'm realizing that (A) It never gets easy and (B) This is gonna be a lifelong thing and (C) I need to call out for help from my friends when I'm feeling this way!  What do Olivia's words bring to mind for you? And, I'm curious, what would you say to someone who said this to you face to face?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wrapping up a Wednesday

As of today I'm down 8.6 pounds. Not bad for six weeks, I guess. It seems slow but it's more than a pound a week. I have to remember I'm not a contestant on the Biggest Loser. I'm making changes that fit my lifestyle and the weight is coming off. Slowly. And, the number I need to lose is going down, too. So, that's another way to encourage myself. Only 46.2 pounds to go now, compared to the original 60 I thought I had to lose. That makes it seem like a lot, doesn't it?

Isn't it funny how we can keep ourselves psyched up even when things are inching along? You're making progress...just not at neck-break speed. And, that's OK. But you have to keep yourself energized and remind yourself not to give up. What do you do to stay motivated even when things aren't snowballing? Share your tricks, I need to learn from you!

In the meantime, I hope you have a FABULOUS sleep.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finding out more about me...

Took a personality test today and it's really no surprise to find out that I'm outgoing, a talker, and not very organized. Maybe you've heard of the DISC personality profile? Well, apparently, I'm a high I (Active/People Oriented, known as Sanguine) followed closely by a next higher D (Active/Task-Oriented, known as Choleric). My combination of I and D puts me in the category of Inspirational Doer. And, I believe this is very accurate. I've taken this particular profile at a few different key times in my life, and the results have been very nearly exactly the same each time.

Here's the short paragraph that describes the typical behavioral blend of people like me: They love large groups. They are impressive and can easily influence people to do things. (I guess that doesn't include influencing a five year old to clean her room!) They need a lot of recognition. They exaggerate and often talk too much. They jump into things without thinking them through....They are motivated by exciting opportunities to do difficult things (like running a 5-K when you've never run in your LIFE!). If not careful, they will do things to please the crowd and get themselves into trouble in the process. They make inspiring leaders and determined individuals. A Biblical example of this type of personality is Peter. Hmm...this pretty much hits the nail on the head. I can totally see me being the one to jump out of the boat to go after Jesus and then realizing, "wait a minute, these waves are PRETTY HIGH!"

And, you know what I realized today? GOD MADE ME THIS WAY! Just like He made me to crave Him (thank you Lysa TerKeurst), He designed me to have this particular personality. Actually, this is kind of freeing because in becoming FABULOUS, I need to be more and more comfortable with who I am. Many times in my life I've falsely believed that to improve myself I should change who I am. I should be more quiet. Not so outspoken and opinionated. Not so chatty. But, you know what? That talkative, outgoing nature is part of who I'm supposed to be. I'm in radio, right? So, at least I'm using that natural tendency to not only put food on the table, but also to hopefully reach out to others with love and encouragement. Of course there are moments when I need to be better at reigning it in. But, who I am is not bad. It's God-designed!

Knowing more about my personality type is also helpful because I can recognize the areas in which I need to grow or at least be very careful. I do need a lot of recognition.  It's hard to admit this to myself but it's true. I ache for accolades. When I was younger I acted out in pretty embarrassing ways to get recognition. Either I became determined to be the best, or I compromised my values, or I acted catty or hateful toward the ones who were receiving recognition instead of me. Today? I probably tend to turn to food when I'm feeling unrecognized or insignificant. But, it's so good to know that this could be a potential trigger for me. I can be aware, alert, and watchful. And, yes, I do tend to talk too much, and jump into things without thinking.

Another beneficial takeaway is the part about being excited and motivated by the opportunity to do hard things. That confirms to me that challenging myself to do things like run a 5-K actually works for me. It's part of how I get excited and motivated. And, that keeps me working out when doing it just to get in shape never does.  So, I'm doing something right by entering these different races and giving myself difficult goals like going three months w/o sugar, dairy, gluten, or grains!

So many people have told me the way THEY lost weight, the way I SHOULD be doing it, or just pointed out what's wrong with my current approach. They've had the best intentions, I know. But, I realize now that they believe their way is the best way because it's what worked best for them and their personality types. I can't even begin to explain how much pressure that takes off of me to try and explain why what I'm doing works for me. It's my personality type! There, plain and simple. Don't get me wrong, I love to hear what's worked for other people. But, now I can be freer to hear those ideas, celebrate with my friend, and then decide if something they're doing would work for me considering what I know motivates me and my personality type.

Hmm...maybe there's something to this. Can't ya just see me writing a book about getting fit based on your personality type? Ha ha! "Understanding Yourself Thin" - look for it to hit bookshelves in the spring of 2012. Wait, maybe there really IS something to this?! Uh oh...there I go being all impulsive again. Jumping in without thinking it over first. But, it could be a great idea, right? ;)

Anywho...if you have a chance to do the DISC personality or another trusted type of personality test, you never know. Maybe it could help you make greater strides in your journey toward healthy and FABULOUS!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Made to Crave Mondays - Chapter 11

Stinkin', Rotten, Horrible, No Good Day!
Oh, yeah, I've totally felt this way before. And, when I do, it is SO easy to look to food for a little relief. I deserve it when things have been extraordinarily tough, don't I? Come on. A few egg rolls, a little rice, maybe a Crab Rangoon or two, and everything is so much better! Just this once won't hurt, right? This is actually some of the dialogue that courses through my brain after an especially hard day or week. It's ironic that I think a reward is something that's not good for my body and will most likely only make me feel worse than I already do. But, apparently, addiction causes you to come up with some strange reasoning. And, really, I think that's what I'm dealing with. When things get hard, I actually CRAVE something greasy or salty or full of fat. It kind of reminds me of all the smokers in my family. When the going gets tough, the tough get smoking. Their bodies long for it and it calms them down. Makes it all better. Isn't that exactly what I do at times with food? Hmmm...maybe I've been WAY too quick to judge in past years. Well, that's a story for another blog post. Maybe right now we should just jump into this week's questions for reflection from our friend, Lysa TerKeurst, and her New York Times Best-Selling book, Made to Crave! Even if you haven't read the chapter, I'm sure you'll be able to relate and will have so much to add to this discussion. So, here we go...

Discussion Questions for Chapter 11

1. Recall a recent stressful experience that tempted you to overeat or make poor food choices. What specific feelings did the experience elicit? Whether you resisted or gave into temptation, how were your emotions impacted as a result? Jill's answer: Whenever Alyssa is sick I get those cravings BIG TIME. I don't know why for sure. But, the worry, the anxiety, the fatigue, it all equals bad-food-binge in my book. Sometimes I resist the temptations, telling myself the way to best help Alyssa is by taking care of myself so I can better take care of her. But, other times, after she's sleeping I pile some big glob of yummy junk on a plate and go to town. Wow, it doesn't sound so appealing now that I put it that way. Maybe THAT'S something I can remember the next time Alyssa's running a fever or throwing up.

2. When you experience problems or difficult seasons in life, are you more likely to put on a mask and pretend everything is okay or to take off your mask and ask for help? How has this tendency impacted your ability to resist food temptations at such times? Jill's answer: I don't think I put on a mask, I just go into pure survival mode until that moment when I can crash. At those times I simply want to veg in front of the TV eating an entire bag of popcorn by myself washed down with a big soda and some chocolates or ice cream, just in case the popcorn didn't fill all the empty spaces inside of me. What I need to do at these times is turn off the TV, talk with God, tell my hubby or my accountability partner what's going on, and ask for some help and encouragement. Because what I've been doing isn't working. I never feel better after this kind of episode. So, why do I repeat the same actions over and over, expecting a different result? Isn't that the definition of insanity? Just sayin'!

3. Discovering how to pray without words helped Lysa to feel like she was connecting with God, something she hadn't felt in a long time. Have you ever prayed this way, simply spending time with God in silence and allowing the Holy Spirit to intercede on your behalf? Does this idea intrigue you or scare you? Jill's answer: OK, I'm going WAAAAAAYYY back for this one. I remember once during college that I did something very similar to this. It had been an extremely rough semester. I was struggling to keep up in classes. I had been sick a lot. My finances were a mess. Relationships at home and school were all screwy. It was just a very rough period for my young self. So, one morning in chapel during the worship time, I was sitting all alone and feeling hopeless. I don't even remember what song was being sung by one of the music majors on the stage, but somehow it hit a chord deep within my soul. I closed my eyes and bowed my head to pray. I wanted to cry out to God. I wanted to lay it all at His feet. I went to open my mouth to whisper a silent prayer to Him and nothing came out. All I could do was cry. And, the longer the song went on, the harder I cried. I just sat there silently weeping. I had no awareness of anything around me. I don't know if any of my classmates even noticed. But, I felt a deep connection with God and a profound sense of peace after that experience. I still had a lot on my plate but I knew I was going to put my head down and make it through that semester with His help. There have definitely been times since then that I have just been silent with God. When my friend Tara was suffering her final days battling breast cancer. When Jeremy and I had a miscarriage. When we cried out to God for my family members who don't know Him. When those planes took so many innocent lives on September 11, 2001. But, this time in college was the first time I'd experienced this and it sticks out so vividly in my mind.

4. Lysa demonstrates how she replaces old lies about food with new truths about God's love. In the course of a regular day, what old lies about food make it difficult for you to resist temptation? Do hard times makes these lies harder to resist? Drawing on what the Bible teaches about God's love, what new truths might you use to replace your old lies? Jill's answer: I tend to listen to the lie that food will make me feel better. That I deserve to eat whatever unhealthy thing I'm craving because I've been through something miserable. I remember believing these lies as a younger woman about going to far physically on a date or drinking too much alcohol or following the crowd and experimenting with other options. For a few moments, the good feeling was there for me. Then, the guilt would flood in as well. It is no different today with food. Maybe it's more acceptable in Christian circles, but it's still a lie. And, it's still SIN! Food does not fulfill. God fulfills me. And, He is always there. I can rest on the fact that He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. And, that His love endures forever!

5. "See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut" ~ Revelation 3:8  If God were to speak these words directly to you about your struggles with food, what do you hope you would see and experience on the other side of the door? Jill's answer: Joy, peace, true and unconditional love, power, strength, help. JESUS!

OK, I know we all have those stinkin', rotten, horrible, no good days. (I think I'll move to Australia. Remember that book from childhood?) Some of us have more than our share. Maybe that's you. Maybe you don't know how you're going to make it through today, let alone this week or this month! But, turning to food is not going to help any of us. In fact, our drug of choice can be just as deadly as a needle, a pill, or a cigarette. We need to stop the insanity. Yes, I remember that lady in the 80's who coined that phrase and got everybody on board with her weight loss method. But, it's not about that. The insanity is believing we can find fulfillment in anything or anyone but God. Not even being thin can bring about true peace and contentment. So, let's pray for God to fill us up this week, even in those really difficult moments. Pray for me and I'll pray for you. Agreed? Let me know with a comment! I. LOVE. YOU.