All of my life I have struggled with my weight, even as a pre-teen and teenager I can remember being on diets and trying to eat better so that I could lose weight. I always felt that I could do better, but I just could not find a way to lose weight and stick to it. For years, I did one diet after another trying to lose the weight, but rarely lost much of anything. I realized that I was an emotional eater and after years of allowing my emotions to rule my weight, I had to get serious because I had hit a critical point in my life. I decided not to diet but to make some necessary changes in my life. One of the first things I did was to eliminate sodas, juices, and fruit drinks from my daily life. I did continue drinking coffee, but I stopped using Splenda and switched to Sugar in the Raw. I also removed milk/cream. While those changes may seem simple, what I realized is that the sodas, juices, and drinks were adding unnecessary calories to my diet. I also took a serious look at all that I had heard about Splenda and finally decided that it was not best for my body anymore, but I also knew that white sugar in my coffee was not good for me either because I realized long ago that white sugar gave me a jolt and then soon after I crashed and I felt like I was exhausted even after drinking a large coffee.
The one thing I did not do was limit myself like most diets call for you to do. I did not stop eating foods that I wanted, I simply ate less of them because I realized that one of my challenges with every diet was that I really liked food, and removing foods I liked (i.e. ice cream and chocolate) only served to be more of an issue because I would always end up overeating on cheat days or extending my cheat days to weeks which inevitably blew my diet. So, I decided to make simple changes like having one less slice of pizza or one less scoop of ice cream. I decided to eat more vegetables and incorporate more vegetables in my cooking. I also decided to stop eating out as much. I also had long since stopped using regular salt and switched to lite salt so that I would not retain water with excess sodium. After a while, I started seeing the results and now I have lost over 50 pounds.
This way of life may not work for everyone and I say way of life because I no longer diet, I have changed how I eat. I still eat out, I still eat pizza, I still eat ice cream and chocolate and I still have the occasional Swedish Fish binge, but now I try to compensate for what I eat by walking or eating less of something else. For some, this will not work because they are unable to control how/what they eat and I understand that. For a long time, I felt I needed food because it was my comfort and it was also how I expressed love through cooking for others, but I needed to change or else.
One of the other things that has helped me tremendously is the ability to listen to my body. I heard a weight-loss guru say that your body will always tell you when you are full and when I heard it I did not believe it. But the minute I began to address some of the emotions I had with eating (remember I told you I was an emotional eater), I could hear my body tell me when it was full. I could feel that my stomach had tightened after eating just a little bit and add some water to that and I was good. I no longer needed to keep eating because there was food on my plate, which meant I had to become dead to cleaning my plate because there were kids starving in Africa mindset developed from when I was a kid (you know you heard that one too). Over time I put less on the plate and I learned what was enough and what was too much for me. I still have a long way to go to my goal, but I am thankful for the changes I can see in myself, in my health and in my well-being.
There are so many other tips I could give, but the point of this post is let you know that no matter where you are in your journey – whether it’s weight loss,weight gain, getting healthy or something else entirely – you have to start somewhere and plow through. You will not always do it right, there will be mistakes, missteps, and bad days, but when you find the sweet spot, don’t stop. Over time, when you look back, the success you have gained will overshadow the mistakes and you will see just how much you have changed.
In the picture below, you will see how my weight loss journey has unfolded in photos of my face. It is actually pretty amazing and had someone not encouraged me I probably would not have done it, but now I have and I am glad that I did. Feel free to do something similar and share it below.
No, it is such a powerful 2 letter word; some of us struggle with using it, while others have no problem saying it. For me, it was a word that I struggled using, not because I did not understand it and not because I was unaware of its meaning, but simply because I was afraid to say it. When you get right down to it, I was afraid to use the word “No.” I was afraid of what people might think when they asked me to do something and my response was no. I was afraid of what people might say if I said I did not want to do something and truth be told, there are times where I still struggle to use this word. I realize that it really takes courage to say no and actually mean it.
Now, let’s be clear I am not a pushover, but there are some people whose connection to my life, make it easier to say yes and very hard to say no. However, what I am realizing is that there are times when I must say no. Here’s one example: very often I find myself taking on tasks that I shouldn’t or accepting assignments I shouldn’t because someone has asked me to do it and in doing saying yes, I have created a situation where I am overloaded and overbooked. As I analyze these situations, I am realize that it is not always that I want to say no and can’t, for me, sometimes it’s actually that I have caught their vision and I’ve already envisioned myself completing the task with great vigor, stamina and excellence. The problem I have is that the minute I see their vision and see how I can make it happen, it is usually in the conversation and I say “Yes” without reconciling all of the other things on my to-do list! Since I now recognize that this is a problem for me, I take a moment to think past the glitz I see at completion and think to the massive to-do list I have in my Evernote, then I answer in the way that is best for me. This frees me to say no and it also allows the other person the opportunity to find someone who has the time.
But there are still some instances where I can actually need courage to say no and it is in those times that I have to reconcile within myself what is best for me. I used to think that it was selfish to put me first, but I am growing to understand that it isn’t selfishness at all it is prudent. When you go on any commercial flight, one of the safety items the flight attendant tells the passengers about is about the oxygen mask. The flight attendant does their demonstration and one of the things they tell you is to put your mask on first and then help the elderly and small children. Why do you think that is? It is because you have to ensure that you have enough oxygen first, so you don’t pass out trying to help your loved ones who cannot help themselves. When I apply that same principle to my life, I realize that I have to be OK with taking care of myself first and then caring for others, because if I don’t I may not be able to take care of people the way I would like to. This does not mean that I am selfish, but it does mean that at times I must say no. I am not sure about you, but sometimes it is so hard for me to say that little word, but the more I train myself to think of me first (and all of the things that I have to do), it gets a little easier. I admit that I am not perfect at it and there are times when I know I should decline but I accept anyway. I am still a work-in-progress and I am so much better than I used to be in this area, so I am thankful for steps in the right direction.
Let me encourage you, if you are challenged with saying no, remember what you’ve read here and do not let anyone discourage you when your courage to say no fails. This is not a science, and there will be times when we say “yes” even though we should really say “no.” Guess what? We all come short, but going forward make sure that you put your oxygen mask on first (take care of you first) and then take care of those around you.
I had a dream, well really a vision, and there were lots of people in line at a store waiting to receive something. The line of people went through the store and outside onto the street. The person who was providing the item, made a statement that I thought was powerful, basically she said, “act like this is you up here because soon it will be and you will want those behind you to treat you with patience and courtesy so do it for those in front of you.” I woke up not long after having the vision and knew that I needed to write this post.
One of the things about being thankful or living a thankful life is that you must have patience. I can fully admit to you that this is an area where God is still working on me, but one of the things that I try to do is to put myself in someone else’s shoes. I used to be someone who was very angry – a lot and in fact, it didn’t take a whole lot to push my buttons. I would cuss you out and not think twice about it and because I come from three generations of folks who could cuss you out, I knew just how to do it without hesitation. Now, if you have never experienced this side of me, please count it a blessing as those who have probably are not going to read this, but if they do, I ask for forgiveness because God has changed me for the better. Moving on, as I matured, things happened and I began to see the world differently. I began to wonder if I was missing something and indeed, I was. One of the things I began to learn to do is to put myself in the position of others, especially when my patience is not high. (Let me just pause here and let you know that even as I am writing this to you, this is a work in progress for me. I don’t have this perfected and the moment I think I do, God throws me a curve ball and I realize I’ve still got more growing to do. Listen to me if you are not learning, growing and evolving, check your pulse because you are probably dead. We should always be learning, growing, maturing, and evolving in our thinking – always!)
Here is a scenario of what I mean when I say put yourself in the position of someone else. Let’s say you are at the doctor’s office, your appointment was at 10 am, it’s now 10:30, and the nurse has yet to call you. There is an office full of patients and they were all there before you. You fidget with magazine after magazine, play a game or two on your phone, jump on social media and scroll through your timelines only to have it be 11:15 am when you finally get back to see your doctor. No one has come out to say anything to you (and they probably should have but let’s focus on you and me). The nurse takes you back and tells you that your doctor had a family emergency, his mother died this morning and they have been scrambling to put his patients with different physicians all morning. She says, unfortunately, the front desk had not been informed when you checked in because he received the call on his way into the office and you were his second appointment of the day. Since he is the best doctor they have, they had to call in a doctor to help see his patients and that is what took so long to get you back. Now, grant it, she surely could have come out to tell you that and let you make the choice to see another doctor; that is just excellent customer service, but she didn’t and now you know why. If you are still thinking she should have done it, you are missing my point. The point is this, your doctor has lost his mother, something he could not control at all and the office had to scramble for a scenario no one ever wants to talk about – the loss of a parent. What if that were you? What if that were you? I am asking the question a second time because I want you to pause and think about it. Reread the scenario if you need to but really think about it – what if that were you? You planned on being in the office and you get the call that your mother has transitioned. At that point, you are not thinking about how the office is going to handle your work. Your thought is about your mother and the loss you feel at the present moment. When you think about it like that it should make you rethink how patient or impatient you are. If it doesn’t, it should. I can be honest and tell you that in this scenario, I would have been climbing the walls myself, but I would have felt guilty the moment the nurse communicated to me what happened. I would have felt horrible about my level of impatience because I would now understand the wait (not that I would have liked it any less but I would understand it).
Here is another scenario for you to consider. Have you ever been stuck in traffic for miles? What is the first thing you think about? Is it what could be happening up ahead or is it how badly you need to get to your destination or is it a little of both? Factor in that you are low on gas, where do your thoughts go? Fast forward, and you get to the cause of the traffic jam – a 2 car crash with 1 fatality. How do you feel now about what you were thinking? If you are like most people, you were probably not really thinking of why traffic is snarled as much as you are thinking about what you need to be cooked, doing, etc. when you reach your destination, but what if you stopped thinking about you and started to be thankful that you avoided something and then begin to pray for whatever is going on ahead.
While the scenarios I provided were a bit exaggerated, we have all been caught sitting in the physician’s office longer than we planned. We’ve all been stuck in traffic and thought I need to get home now. I have as well, but I am learning to put myself in someone else’s shoes and while our society is a selfish one, we are designed to care about one another. This does not mean that you have people run all over you – no, that is not what I mean at all. It also does not mean you don’t get upset or have emotions, again not, what I am talking about. What I am saying is that there are scenarios where we get frustrated when we don’t necessarily have to; scenarios that take place in our lives that if we just took a moment to see how one might feel, we would change not only our attitude but also our perspective.
Perspective, that is the key word here; changing your perspective is key to really being thankful. Will you always get it right? No, you won’t. Do I always get it right? No, I don’t. But now I try to think about how someone else might feel when I hog the conversation; now instead of just talking to hear myself talk or vent to be venting, I let others speak their peace and I listen. Now, I try to think about what I am about to say before I say it and I think how will it make the other person feel. Do they really deserve the tone of voice I am giving? Or am I upset for something else and I am just taking it out on them because they simply asked me a question. The key for me is to never cause undue harm to anyone. I spent a lot of time regretting my bad behavior when it comes to dealing with people who are close to me, even in my thoughts. Listen, as much as we may think people deserve our bad behavior, they do not, even when they are acting a whole fool, we don’t have to go there with them; we have the right to walk away or take a breath and speak like civilized human beings. I know that this is a completely new concept for some of us, but it’s an idea that will revolutionize how you look at things. It does not mean I don’t have frustrations or issues, and it certainly does not mean I let people walk all over me, but I choose to not deal with people from a place of frustration and anger. I am beginning to see that it really isn’t all about me. So, the next time the cashier is taking so long be patient, you never know what’s happening ahead of you. The next time you are tempted to take your frustrations out on someone you love, stop to think about the damage you may cause, take a deep breath, speak if you need to or be silent if you don’t. What I am saying to you in all of this is that I want you to change your perspective. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary that we remember that just as you have emotions and feelings, others do too.
Liela Marie Fuller
Author, Mother, Friend, Believer in Jesus...Really Just Me.
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