Hello, my FABULOUS friend. And, thank you for joining me for this challenging discussion about the things we crave besides or ahead of God! The book we're discussing is Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst. Lysa is a friend of mine and the President of Proverbs 31 Ministries as well as the author of many books. She and her family have been featured on Oprah as one of her favorite stories of all time. But, most importantly for this discussion, Lysa's a fellow traveler on the path to good health. She talks pretty openly and honestly about her struggle with food and her words have been both encouraging and challenging for me so far. She claims this is not a "how to" book for losing weight. Instead it's a book about finding your "want to" in making changes for a healthy lifestyle.
Whether or not you have the book or have read chapter two, I would love for you to join this discussion. I know I can learn a lot from what you have to say!
Here we go...
1. Lysa describes her morning ritual with the scale and her failed efforts to eat healthier as a vicious cycle she felt powerless o stop. When it comes to your relationship with food, what repeated behaviors or events describe the cycle you experience and feel powerless to stop? Jill's answer: Well, how much time do we have here? :) I really could go on and on about the unhealthy cycles in my life regarding eating. But, the main one would be...I'm tired or sore from fibromyalgia pain...I don't work out. I feel depressed and guilty for not working out AND I'm in a hurry, so I grab something quick and unhealthy for breakfast. By lunch I'm starving and instead of eating a salad that just takes WAY too long to prepare I'll eat whatever's closest and easiest...which is also usually the item with the most preservatives, fat, and calories. At work I'm hungry due to poor choices the rest of the day and I search the break room for any community goodies - usually candy, cookies, or chips. I'm satisfied for a little while and then have to go back for just one more. Then at home I didn't take time to plan a healthy dinner so I whip up whatever I can as fast as I can. Or, worse, I'll feed Alyssa the healthiest quick foods I can find, get her off to bed, and then Jeremy and I will order something or one of us will go pick up Chinese and eat it while we watch TV. Then we feel bloated and gross and too tired and/or lazy to do anything else after eating but watch more TV. When we finally mosey on up, we're exhausted and collapse into bed, thus failing once again to make any plans for healthy eating or exercising (at least on my part) for the next day. The next day it starts all over again. AAAAAH. It's time to stop the madness!!! I feel like it's hopeless but I know I hold the choices to healthier life in my own hands. I just have to make the right choices ahead of time and put a plan into action!
2. What reasons motivate your desire to eat healthier? Are these reasons strong enough to help you resist unhealthy eating? (Lysa says, "I had to see the purpose of my struggle as something more than wearing smaller sizes and getting compliments from others. . . It had to be about something more than just me." Jill's answer: My reasons for eating healthier are to lose weight (I'm 50-60 lbs overweight), to be healthy in general, and to model healthy habits for my daughter. I also want to have more energy, less fibromyalgia pain, and to take care of the body God has given me. Unfortunately, I guess all of these very good reasons are not strong enough to help me resist unhealthy eating, because so far I have not done much resisting. It amazes me that I can have all of these extremely compelling reasons and STILL fail time after time. I guess, like Lysa says, it has to be about more than me. I have to find help from God and a true purpose in this from Him as well. Maybe then it will be less about beating myself up every time I lose another battle and more about leaning harder and harder on Him with every failure AND every success!
3. Can you recall specific situations in which you turned to food for these reasons? How do you imagine your experiences might have been different if you had relied on God, CRAVED God, instead of food?
Comfort - Jill's answer: Definitely! In the fall of 2004 I had just worked hard for a few years to lose weight and had gone down about 60 pounds. Then I got pregnant...and I lost that pregnancy. Jeremy and I both went through a time of grief and depression and I turned to food for comfort. I quickly saw 20 of those 60 lost pounds return...then it was 30...and then I got pregnant with Alyssa and all bets were off when it came to healthy eating. YIKES! If I had turned to God during this time, instead of food, I would have found greater (and maybe even a faster) healing and would have began my second pregnancy at a healthier place! Maybe I wouldn't have gained that additional 30 pounds or so after getting pregnant on top of the 20-30 between the miscarriage and conceiving Alyssa. Who knows? The point is...I would have found more peace in craving Jesus, than food!
Reward - Jill's answer: Jeremy and I are trying to get out of the habit of after a long week or a hard day, saying, "Let's just order something...we deserve it!" Yeah, right, we DESERVE clogged arteries and bigger bellies. Ha! Imagine if we would decide to spend a few moments in worship or prayer together rather than dialing the Hut or whatever poor food choice outlet pops into our brains at that moment? Jesus would fill us up and give a renewed spirit instead of hoping for food to do this when it cannot. Hmmm...
Joy - Jill's answer: Sure! Any birthday or anniversary celebration is all about the food, right? Maybe less cake and more thanking God for another year of life, marriage, whatever?
Stress - Jill's answer: Food is my go-to stress reliever. Especially salty, greasy foods like fries. Funny, though, I never feel less stressed after eating this stuff! My friend Katie is working on memorizing scripture while she runs. She's training for a half marathon. I really want to take a cue from my young and wiser-than-her-years friend and find time to relieve my stress through physical exertion and the encouragement that comes from reading God's words to us in the Bible!
Sadness - Jill's answer: Sadness is not as big a motivator for unhealthy eating for me as some of the others on the list, but, hey, I'm an equal opportunity eater! Happiness - Jill's answer: When I'm happy I'm not as tempted to eat, but if it's offered, sure, I'll eat! Kind of pathetic, huh? With both happiness and sadness - finding ways to express through prayer, thanksgiving, worship, etc, would bring so much more fulfillment than food!
4. How do you respond to the idea of using your cravings as a prompt to pray? How has prayer helped or failed to help in your previous food battles? Jill's answer: I've been going back to the words in 1 Corinthians 10:23 a lot! I really liked that Lysa used that scripture to encourage herself when her cravings got really bad. This past week I have kept that at the forefront of my brain, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial!" Praying those words as a reminder and asking God to help me make the beneficial choices has been an extremely useful tool over the past several days. So, I think using my cravings as a prompt to pray is a great idea. It's not always what I want to do in those moments and it's still not what I always DO in those moments. But, we're taking baby steps, right? I guess I could say one way prayer has NOT helped me with my previous food battles is during those times I've been so bold as to ask for God to help me to not gain weight even though I've chosen to eat greasy burgers and fries and all kinds of sweets. I can remember sometimes even breathing a prayer to help make junk food somehow GOOD for me. Talk about insane, right?! I can only imagine God's reaction to those ridiculous prayers. "Um...NO!" :)
5. Brick by brick (or craving by craving), Lysa dismantled her tower of impossibility and used the same bricks to build a walkway of prayer, paving the path to victory. Brick by brick is an effective way to dismantle something but it also takes time and careful work. In your battles with food, are you more likely to choose a drastic, quick-fix approach or a moderate but longer-term approach? What thoughts or feelings emerge when you consider dismantling your own tower of impossibility one craving at a time? Jill's answer: Yeah, I've always tended to be the drastic, quick-fix approach kinda gal! I've told myself, I'm not going to eat anything but these five foods, or absolutely NO carbs whatsoever, or let's try the lemonade diet! I usually last about a day and half on these types of approaches. Then I feel so deprived that I binge for a couple of days and then feel totally down on myself which begins the whole unhealthy cycle all over again that I had outlined in the answer to question 1. A moderate but longer-term approach would be such a better way to go. But, it does take a lot more time, work, preparation, and effort. And, I see now, that it's going to take a lot more prayer. I need to tear down some unhealthy mindsets and habits and begin slowly building up the healthy ones while relying on God's strength instead of my own. It will take setting aside time to be strengthened by and to build my relationship with God. It will mean taking time to plan weekly menus, packing healthy snacks for the crisis moments, and making sure to be prepared in every situation. It will mean setting the alarm clock earlier every other day and getting myself to bed at a decent time so I can get up and out the door to move my body. In the past I've wanted all of these changes to happen all at once and over night. I'm realizing the reality now. Every change is a process that I will need to cover in prayer and take time to fight the battle that will rise within myself even as I try to make that change that will be good for me in the end! So, again, baby steps.
I do have to say I'm proud of myself tonight! When I was home at lunch, I put a healthy chicken meal in the crockpot and set the table for dinner. When Jeremy, Alyssa, and I got home, dinner was totally ready and it was good for us! I even chose the whole wheat tortillas for myself over the white flour option. That one was down to the wire. The white tortilla just looked so yummy. But then I remembered, "Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial!" Thank you, Jesus! Please help me continue to make good choices each step of the way and to see each craving as an opportunity to draw closer to You!!
So, there's chapter 2! I don't know about you, but this is some "in your face" stuff for me! The question that really got me was when Lysa asks, "Is it possible we love and rely on food more than we love and rely on God?" Ouch, I can really feel that one! What a challenge to take everything to God and ask Him to help me find strength, comfort, joy, reward, WHATEVER, in Him instead of in what I put into my mouth!
I can't wait to hear what you have to say about this chapter. Even if you haven't read it, I'm sure you have some insights to add regarding these discussion questions. Please comment away. You will be helped by putting some of your inner struggles into words. And, you'll help others as we go along this journey...this long uphill journey...together! I'm SO looking forward to hearing from you and hope you have a FABULOUS night! Jesus bless you, my friend!