Happy Friday! I'm so glad you stopped by. I'm continuing with Honoring the Vessel today: a series in which we get to know people who have made breakthrough in health and how they did it. If you didn't catch Part 1, you can read it here.
Meet my dear friend, Beth. She's a wife, student, auntie, and full-time administrative assistant. Beth was raised in Virginia and went to college in Tennessee. When she and her husband were married nearly four years ago, Beth had already begun her health journey. She had dealt with the common struggle of losing childhood weigh in adolescence and was feeling good! Once she married though, she gained about 45 pounds and got to a place where she was no longer feeling healthy in her body.
Beth struggled with joint pain and self-esteem issues as a result of her weight gain, but probably the biggest disappointment she faced was looking at someone in the mirror who didn't look like "her". Feeling miserable and fed up, she made attempts at weight loss, but it was difficult. It wasn't until she began connecting the dots between the nutrients she was eating, the stress levels in her life, and the lifestyle choices that didn't match up with her intentions for good health that she began to see change.
Last year, Beth became very committed to eliminating refined sugar from her diet. Getting rid of this simple ingredient that was a unique kind of poison to her body made a night-and-day difference to her joint pain and energy levels. Ignited with momentum because of this change, she began to set more advanced goals for herself and opened herself up to a modified elimination diet. Some mystery symptoms, like stomach pain and mood swings were leading to a gluten suspicion and Beth took herself off of gluten for a time. Before she knew it, she realized that she was intolerant of it! No wonder she had been feeling so miserable for so long!
It wasn't until Beth had the courage to change some of the diet habits that are harder to break that she began losing weight successfully. Once Beth was freed up from negative symptoms like joint pain, digestive issues, and fatigue that were being caused in part by sugar and gluten, she actually had energy to follow through on goals like getting more exercise and eating more vegetables.
Beth recognizes the importance of a steady health goal and is still working her way to an optimum place. She is able to do this confidently now because she has some really powerful tools under her belt! I admire Beth's faithfulness to herself and her God in this journey as she continually recognizes that she is a whole being who needs to be healthy spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. She is hard-working, kind, strong, and incredibly creative and these character qualities will continue to serve her well in her health journey.
Cheers to you, Beth! Congratulations on the breakthroughs you've already made in health and here's to continued success! Thanks for letting us be encouraged by your story.
Today is Part One in a series I’m entitling-Honoring the Vessel. I’ll be interviewing individuals over the course of 2016 who have taken back control of their health, but I wanted to start the series just before the New Year with a timely, high-impact story.
Meet Eric. In 2011, Eric weighed over 100 pounds more than he does today. He was tired of being lonely, knew this weight might affect job opportunities, and felt embarrassed to talk to family about his health problem. He didn’t like looking at himself in the mirror and had a hard time finding clothes in his size. He kept telling himself, “One day I’ll make a change,” but it wasn’t until he saw his grandfather one Christmas that he decided *One Day* needed to be soon. As he explains it, something just clicked for him.
Eric’s *One Day* was December 26, 2011. He knew he would be waking up and making changes. Eric began eating less, eliminating all beverages but water, and logging miles on the treadmill. He took on the incredibly brave learn-as-you-go approach and taught himself loads of information about how many calories his body needed, why sugar was hurting him, and increasing the difficulty of exercise as his body began to change. He lost a staggering amount of weight within the first month, proving to himself that he was determined to make this change a lasting one.
Of course Eric couldn’t have walked this journey alone. He recalls the consistent support of a knowledgeable friend who reminded him that for every small sacrifice or difficult task he was performing for his health, Eric was adding years onto his life. Eric also had the support of his family members, who began to make healthy changes at the same time as him. The process was far from easy, however.
I asked Eric about the biggest obstacles he had to overcome. He told me about how he would mindlessly begin driving to the same fast food restaurants to get the food he had craved and eaten for so many years. This was a serious habit that took conscious effort to break. He also had to make the all-important realization that weight loss (or achieving any health goal, for that matter) requires time management. He was not used to scheduling workouts into his routine. Possibly the most important discovery he made on this journey, though, was that his body is unique. There is no “normal” diet and when he gets into the mindset of eating like a “normal” person, consuming what our culture deems a “normal diet”, he will not be able to maintain weight, but will rather gain.
Eric is a changed man without a doubt. Thriving with exciting opportunities and relationships, he really seems to know greater freedom than he did when he struggled with obesity. I was so pleased to see that Eric is now in a place of getting to work toward more advanced health goals. This led me to my last question for him: “What’s next for you in health?”, to which Eric answered that he plans to better manage his nutrients and portion control in the coming year, as well as strengthening his body with more cardio in his workout routine. It was encouraging to see someone who has tasted good health own up to the fact that it takes constant effort to maintain it.
So here’s to you, Eric. Four years ago today, you took your health into your own hands and made changes that allowed you to embody the reality of health: that it’s about more than being the perfect body weight. It’s about feeling good in the body you were given and honoring that vessel. I give you my (virtual) standing ovation! May God bless you in 2016 with another satisfying year as you continue to encourage others who need to make this change by living such an exemplary life.
Many of my clients come to me for help with a weight loss goal. One question I get often is, "How much weight should I try to lose during my 6 month program?" This reminds me that there is an overarching question in our American society where over half of the population is overweight. How does one set a weight loss goal, period? This is a question worth exploring.
First you must determine if you are overweight. Most people know whether or not they fit into this category. However, some may think they are of normal weight when classifiably, their body is carrying around more weight than is healthy for their frame. Your doctor, health resources provided by your medical coverage, or a Health Coach are great people and places to consult with this question. If you've determined that you are indeed overweight, your next step is to calculate the total amount you need to lose to bring yourself back into the healthy range.
Once an amount is determined, it is important to set a time frame for yourself. For those who find themselves in the obese category, time is of the essence since even as a weight loss goal is slowly accomplished, the individual must continue to carry around the weight for some time. The longer an obese body functions with extra weight, the more health risks increase. With that in mind, if this describes you presently, you simply must consult (again) a doctor or Health Coach to help determine for yourself an acceptable time frame. Whether or not your goal is a big number like the example here, it is of utmost importance that you next set smaller goals for yourself, broken down into a number of months.
I'll provide a very simple "for instance" here: if an individual finds after meeting with his or her Health Coach that 50 pounds must be lost to get back into the healthy zone, a reasonable time frame for this goal (if no urgent health concerns or diseases exist that require weight loss sooner) would be a year. This accounts for about 5 pounds of weight loss per month with about 2 months of maintenance built into the goal. Over the course of a year, a lot can happen in one's life that would threaten to distract from the health goal. Giving oneself a year to lose 50 pounds (if that's how much there is to lose) is a great example of a reasonable, yet determined goal.
The most important thing to remember when determining your weight loss goal is that everyone has unique needs, obstacles, and tolerances around weight loss. Just as there is no one-size-fits-all diet, there is no single timeline for weight loss that will work for the masses. You must keep perspective in mind: that you are purposing to work on this goal for your health and quality of life, so that you may live the life you were intended to in fullness and without physical hinderances.
Are you working on a weight loss goal? What time frame did you set for yourself? What has been your biggest challenge in sticking to that time frame? Start a conversation here in the comments or reach out to me! I'd love to hear from you.
If you've read my bio, you know that I've experienced a weight loss journey of my own. There is something about early summer that inspires me to share this story because it was this time of year, three years ago, when things started to move for me.
While I've never been classifiably overweight, I do know what it feels like to be uncomfortable in my body and to crave my "natural weight". Through antidepressant medications, stress, and a loss of self-control in diet, I put on a little weight in college. I didn't like talking about it and I felt pretty self conscious that people would notice the difference. I knew it was time for a change when I graduated. I didn't exactly have a plan, but I knew I wanted to eat less junk, eat more from our garden at home, and move my body more regularly. By God's grace alone, those habits began taking hold and a year later, I looked back and realized that not only had I lost 20 pounds, I was feeling a great joy, energy, and focus in life like never before.
I took the "after" shot right before my missions trip to Europe. At that point in life, God had begun to tug on my heart that nutrition may be an area for me to work and/or minister in. When I came home from the trip, I felt a deep sense of calling to the field of nutrition, as I had gotten the chance to meet and speak with over 20 missionaries who all had a positive response to the idea of nutrition as missionary care. God eventually led me to IIN, where I'm getting my certification, and showed me that I should be doing nutrition both as ministry and vocation.
The reason I mention my calling to nutrition in this "before and after" story is because had it not been for the experience of loosing a certain number on the scale, health may have never "clicked" for me. Looking back on that transformative year, I realized that health is about more than just being slim; it's about tapping into a greater empowerment to live the life God means for his children to live, without the hinderance of physical disease. God allowed me to have a "before" so that I could learn the lessons I would eventually get to pass on to the people with whom I work about having an "after".
Now, I realize that if your health journey is looking a bit more...dare I say drastic, a 20 pound weight loss may not inspire you greatly. I want not to focus on the number when I tell my story because to be honest with you, I currently sit somewhere between my "before" and "after" and am realizing that for my age and pace of life, it's my natural weight. I tell my story not to encourage others to compare theirs, but rather in an attempt to give God glory for redeeming broken health in me and to inspire you, my appreciated reader, that he desires to do something important in your body as well.