Time for a Spiritual Checkup

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…

I have struggled with weight issues since I was a little girl. Part of my struggle is rooted in “fluffy” genes lovingly passed down to me through several generations of “fluffy” relatives. The remainder of my struggle is firmly rooted in the fact that I hate exercise, take medications that cause weight gain, enjoy eating, and sometimes use food as an emotional outlet and reward.

I was a young adult and living on my own before I realized that part of the creation process included green things called vegetables. The motto in our family was, “If it ain’t fried, it ain’t right.” Gravy was a condiment and potatoes a staple at every meal. No bread? How can you have a meal without bread? And dessert was a necessity. Get the picture?

Over the years, I have tried just about every diet I could find. I could always lose weight. I just could not keep it off. The day came when I threw in the towel.

My name is Mary, and I am a Carboholic.

I was done. I was burned out on diets and quick fixes. I didn’t want to be a certain size. I just wanted to feel good and to be as healthy as I could possibly be at this point in my life.

I went to a highly-recommended Christian nutritionist who asked me to complete a packet of 500 questions (not kidding), did an EKG, ran more blood tests than I have ever had run in my life, and introduced me to the coolest machine that measures fat and muscle in the body. After all the tests were in, Dr. Tague smiled at me and calmly said, “Mary, you are a malnourished woman.”

My mouth literally fell open in shock. At the time, I was at least 50 pounds overweight and ate pretty much everything in sight whenever I felt the slightest twinge of hunger. How could I possibly be malnourished?

The doctor went on to explain that I was indeed eating … but I was eating all the wrong things … at all the wrong times. In fact, I was dangerously low in several key vitamins and minerals. He handed me a small paper cup filled with a mixture of those vitamins and minerals to take before leaving his office and said, “If you were my patient in the hospital, I would not release you until some of these levels came up.” Now he had my undivided attention.

God often works the same way.

I spend more time working on ministry checklists than I spend in God’s Word.

Prayer is more often a drive-through event than the sit-down-at-His-feet experience it should be.

I give God the leftovers of my day when I should purposefully plan my time with Him.

Rather than investing time in relationships, I follow friends on Facebook or text them to ease my guilt.

I choose what is easiest and more convenient in ministry instead of choosing the best part of ministry, which is often messy and inconvenient.

I often allow the hedges of protection to go untended, resulting in a lack of boundaries and margins in my life.

I allow myself to become a malnourished Christian.

God then lovingly but unquestionably gets my attention in several ways – a crisis that knocks every prop but Him out from under me, or an illness that rips every choice out of my hands and really makes me stop. I can then get the spiritual nourishment that really feeds my soul. Nourishment like sustaining time in the Word of God … significant, life-giving time in prayer … nurturing time with encouraging friends … opportunities to give myself away in service.

After following the carefully laid out plan of my nutritionist for two years, I have lost 65 pounds, but that is not the best or most important news. I feel better than I have felt in many years! My blood work, EKGs, and BMI (body mass index) are all perfect. And the doctor has now pronounced me a well-nourished woman.

I want to be a well-nourished Christian. I am taking the next year to get my spiritual ducks in a row. I am seeking God on what I should and should not do. I am setting boundaries and asking my husband and accountability group to hold my feet to the fire in keeping those boundaries firmly in place. I am practicing saying “no.” I am bringing order to any areas of chaos. I am resting beside the still waters. And I know He will restore my soul just as He has restored my body in so many ways.

How about you? Are you a malnourished Christian? Today is the day to take a step toward spiritual health!

Have a blessed day!

How to STOP Sabotaging Your Diet

Christmas is over and if you are like me…. you have eaten so much over the last few days (okay so maybe it has been the last few weeks).  Now there are leftovers to deal with and the last push to enjoy all those treats before we hit the New Year’s resolutions.  Doesn’t everyone’s resolution include eating healthy or hitting the gym?  Yes, I squirreled.

I have been struggling for several months to maintain my goal weight or even stay within the 2 pound range given by Weight Watchers when I stumbled on this article.  Now I have been told these misconceptions many times, reading them again always is a good reminder…

“Skipping breakfast is harmless and a smart way to cut calories.”

I am definitely a breakfast skipper!  I am usually up early and always say “it’s too early to eat”  or “I’m not hungry.”  It is time to re-train my brain.    Studies show people who eat a smart breakfast daily are less likely to become obese. Your body functions more effectively when it’s well fueled, so you’ll actually burn more calories throughout the day if you feed it in the morning. Plus, you’re more likely to make poor food decisions if you let yourself get too hungry. So start your day with a light healthy breakfast.  Not hungry first thing in the a.m.?  Why not keep a piece of fruit and protein bar handy for a mid-morning meal.

“Eating gluten-free/vegan/insert-buzzword-here foods will help with weight loss.”

No hate mail, please.  I know there are some who need to eat gluten free or vegan for health reason.  I do gluten free to help manage MS symptoms BUT there are some who thing it will help with their weight loss. The simple fact is eating like this does not guarantee weight loss. They can be loaded with calories and fat. Gluten-free foods are sometimes just as carby as their gluten-containing counterparts, and vegan goods may be full of fatty calories. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with sticking to foods which work for your personal needs and lifestyle, but some choices are better than others. That’s why it’s so important to check the nutritional info before you order or buy. Pay special attention to calories, serving size, and servings per container!

“On workout days, I can let loose and indulge at meal time, and it’ll all balance out.”

Even if your spin class promises to burn 800 calories, don’t treat yourself to fettuccine Alfredo and cheesecake just yet. It’s common to overestimate the number of calories we’ve burned — everyone burns calories at a different rate — and you could unintentionally negate your hard work. Even if your estimates are spot on, do you really want to cancel them out entirely? If you’re aiming for weight loss, you still need to take in fewer calories than you burn. Either way, you’re better off just increasing your portion sizes to replenish yourself, not reaching for junk food or totally overdoing it. Check out these ideas for what to eat before and after a workout.

“As long as I stick to a clean diet of all-natural whole foods, I don’t need to worry about calories.”

If weight management is a priority for you, then yeah, you’re going to want to keep tabs on your calorie intake. YES, eating whole natural foods is good for you. But it’s completely possible to consume way more calories than you burn in a day by eating these foods. Plenty of natural foods are calorie dense — think avocados, nuts, grains — meaning a small portion has a large calorie count. Eat too much of those, and you could pack on the pounds.  Believe it or not, the same thing can happen with fruits which are packed full of natural sugar.  So eat the good stuff, but watch the portions.

“I’ll order a salad for dinner to save calories for dessert.”

No judgement call here – I’ve done this. Although, it may seem like a smart choice, restaurant salads often pack WAY more calories than you think. So if you’re blindly assuming the giant Cobb salad is a better option than a lean petite filet and a side of veggies, you might want to spend some time checking out the restaurant’s nutritional facts.  The salad dressing alone often contains hundreds of calories! And when it comes to dessert, treat yourself… but split one with your dining companions. Studies have found we enjoy the last bite the most anyway!

What is your best weight loss tip?  Share them with us as we get ready for the New Year…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Want to Reach Your Goal?

I know you are wondering WHY are we talking about reaching our goals when the year is almost over, right?  We set our New Year’s Resolutions and are closing in on the end of the year……….have you reached any of your goals or did you ditch them about three months into the year?  I actually do two sets of goals – yes, I am a glutton for punishment.  LOL.  The first ones are on New Years and they are usually more about me personally.  Then in June, I set my business goals because this is when the fiscal year for Thirty One starts.  It actually is a good time for me to reflect on my personal goals too and jumpstart them if it is needed – which it usually is.
Sometimes, reaching our goals isn’t just about knowing what steps to take. It is more about how we handle the discouragement, the fear and the stumbles on the way to our goal. I don’t know about you but when those bumps in the road come, I am usually ready to call it quits but there are times when I persevere.  What’s the difference in those times?  It is mostly about my willingness to face the obstacles and overcome them.  There must be something to it because research shows most successful people actually think differently on the path to success – and their mental toughness helps them to be resilient in the face of frustrations and obstacles.
Here are some ways to boost your chances of reaching your goals…

 

1. Know your “why” and be specific.

We talk about this ALL of the time.  The truth is purpose will fuel perseverance. When you have a strong “why” behind your goal;  you are more likely to stick with it when the going gets tough.  The more specific you are, the more obvious your action steps become. Vague goals will produce vague results.

2. Plan it on your calendar.

Have a realistic plan to achieve your goals.  Pull out your calendar.   Block time (whether 15 minutes for a small goal or a whole day for a big goal) to brainstorm how you will achieve the goal and plan your timeline.  You schedule medical appointments, maybe even gym time and other activities – why not schedule time to plan and implement the steps to reach your goal.  Identify potential obstacles and figure out a plan to help you avoid them.  Identify and put in place the things you will need to reach your goal.  Is it a healthier grocery shopping list? An automatic withdrawal from your paycheck so you can boost your savings by 25%? No matter what it is, plan for it so it will happen.

3. Clarify what needs to change AND be honest with yourself.

Do you know why most people fail to reach a goal?  They underestimate what it takes to reach it.  The bigger the goal, the bigger the commitment. “I want to work out three time a week” is a good start, but when? What will need to change to make time for this goal?  Most of all be honest with what has held you back from reaching this goal in the past.  Fill in the blank of this statement, “I hate to admit it, but ….”  Now, make a goal to address the BUT!   For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to lose weight,” the goal becomes, “I’m going to find healthy ways to cope with my stress/insecurity/anxiety other than eating.”

4. Make it fun.

Have you ever noticed when you have positive emotions, you feel better?  Research shows positive emotions have lots of health benefits. Positive emotion can help you set better goals, see more options to get to the goal and persevere in the face of adversity.  Why not ask a friend to join you, take a class or join a group focused on the goal, and brainstorm ideas for making it fun or creating a game out of it.  When you work together, you can encourage each other on those tough days.

5. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Okay, this is probably the hardest thing for me to do!  What about you?  Perfectionism is actually rooted in fear – fear we’re not good enough,  fear mistakes are the end of the world, and falling down means never getting back up.  Does this sound like you?  Buying into fear means you are less likely to ever get started.  Give yourself a break!  It is okay to make mistakes and stumble on the way to your goal.  Then when it happens, simply ask:  What is the lesson for me to learn? What will I do differently next time? Use your failures and mistakes as learning tools.

6. Pinpoint the milestones and how you’ll celebrate.

Anticipation is a happiness trigger. It produces positive emotion which keeps you moving forward. Rather than having just one big milestone – the finish line – create multiple milestones along your journey to the goal. Plan for them along the way.  Treat yourself when you hit one.  Most of all, be sure to share the milestones with people who will celebrate along with you.

7. Fear is inevitable, but it’s not a stop sign.

The biggest obstacle to creating meaningful goals and taking consistent steps forward is fear. Refuse to stop just because fear rears its ugly head. Instead, question your fear. Ask, “Well, what if that happens? What will I do then?” Push through your fear by being brave enough to face it, imagine it and make a plan to handle it.

Whether you are trying to finish off the year by reaching one of your New Year’s Resolutions or are already planning for the New Year, these steps will help you to reach your goal.  Share you goal with us, let us celebrate your milestones and encourage you when you hit the bump in the road.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Things People On Weight Watchers Understand

Thursday morning weigh in with my extended family.  I have been on Weight Watchers for years.  I have lost more than 120 pounds and believe it is the best way to lose weight (for me).  Is it an easy road? NO!  Do I get frustrated? YES!  Do I keep going? YES!

If you are on Weight Watchers, can you pick out those who are also adopting this way of life.  No, it is not a diet but a change in the food we eat and the way we look at eating every day.  Those of you on WW will understand today’s blog – see how many you can identify with…

1. Your friends know you always have snacks stashed in your purse (or in the car) just in case.  Anyone need a carrot or a granola bar or maybe even a jerky stick?

2. You’re have a deeply committed relationship with your pedometer or your fit bit.  Have you been known to do the happy dance when you hit your steps goal before sundown?  Or maybe you have walked circles around your living room just to hit your goal before the clock strikes midnight?

3. You know exactly how many ounces of chicken fit in the palm of your hand.  Or maybe you measure tablespoons by the tips of your thumb?

4. And you’ve figured out how to include exercise into every space you spend time in.  Even at the doctor’s office — why not? Parking in the farthest spot away from the store or carrying one thing at a time up the stairs?

5. You’ve considered walking a few extra miles for wine…Yup, that’s me!

6. …or for a little reward when you deserve it the most.  Keep the dessert and give me wine!

7. You have a special lightweight outfit set aside for your weigh-in day each week. Yup, been wearing the same type of outfit every week for weigh in FOREVER and never denim!  Or maybe you have been known to change clothes once you weigh in?

8. You know the feeling of pure bliss after having all your work lunches figured out ahead of time.

9. You’ve grown accustomed to people asking “can you really eat that?”  Yes, that’s chocolate chip cheesecake. And yes, you can have the recipe.

10. You find yourself doing things you thought were impossible effortlessly.  Well, almost.  Maybe the stairs are a little easier.  Maybe you jog more instead of walk.

11. You find yourself talking to strangers about how amazing spaghetti squash really is.  “It’s just like spaghetti. But it’s squash! No, really!”  So guilty of this one and cauliflower rice!

12. Light whipped topping is basically your boyfriend at this point.  You’ve found a million and one ways to use it, and you’re never gonna let it go.

13. More than anything, people can’t put their finger on what’s different about you… …but you look and feel great — of course they noticed!

Whether you are on Weight Watcher‘s or not, I’m sure you can identify at least a friend or two who fit one of these things.

How can you spot a fellow Weight Watcher?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Want to Sound More Confident?

I don’t read a lot of books, since I have a hard time remembering BUT I do love the core principles Valerie Burton outlined in her book, Successful Women Think Differently.  

Your thoughts create your actions.  I have said it a million times, think negative thoughts and more negative things happen.  Think positive thoughts and more positive things happen.  For me, sometimes I don’t realize I am thinking negative thoughts.  Crazy, right?  How many times have the words “don’t” or “need” or “won’t” been in your thoughts?  The Universe seldom hears things after these words.  I never really understood it until I started a list of positive mantras and read them every morning.  I claim the things I want and I am getting them – slowly but they are coming.

When you become aware of what you are saying to yourself about things, you can consciously decide if the thought is moving you toward your goals or farther away. Thoughts don’t just lead you to take actions,  your thoughts also shape the sound of your voice. Yes, the tone of our internal voices will reflect on the outside and others will see it.

Our voice is an expression of our internal state. If our internal state is anxious and you think danger is imminent, our voice will reflect anxiety. I have seen this play out so many times.  On the inside, I am stressing about money, relationships, business or whatever – on the outside, I am snappy and tense.  Our body responds to our thoughts.  No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to hide it.

Here is the “technical reason”: The sound of your voice is regulated by the vagus nerve, which is central to the parasympathetic nervous system. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, which can happen as a fight-or-flight response to anxiety-producing thoughts, the vocal cord muscle spasms. This can cause your voice to quiver or ‘sound nervous’. Additionally, when stressed or nervous, you typically don’t breathe deeply. As a result, you don’t have the air which creates the pressure needed for a strong, consistent voice quality.

How can you change things to sound more confident?

1. Become aware of your thoughts and redirect counterproductive ones. Basically, go from a negative thought to a positive one.  Instead of “No one wants to book parties” or “It is taking so long to pay off my debt”, intentionally change the thought.  If you can, change your environment – go for a walk, a ride or just sit out in the sunshine and watch the clouds.  Choose a new thought – like “I am a booking machine” or “I have enough money to pay off my debt”.  Do something (anything) to get your mind moving in a new direction.

2. Exercise. Exercise purges negative energy.  It is true.  I don’t mean you have to go to the gym to exercise, unless you want to.  For me, it means a walk around the block or some housecleaning or turn on the music and dance.

3. Practice. We have heard most of our lives “practice makes perfect”.  While we aren’t looking for perfection, we are looking to feel confident.  Need to do a presentation in from of a group and you feel uncomfortable or anxious – practice what you are going to say in advance. Some will say you should even record it and listen to find the areas where you want to improve. Take a video on your phone or have someone else film you.  Then watch it back.  Don’t be overly hard on yourself, just look for ways to improve.  You don’t need to be PERFECT but you want to get rid of the nervous energy.

4. Hydrate. Hydration alleviates dry mouth. Drink water before or during important conversations.  In the beginning of talking to a group of any size, I am nervous.  I usually ask for a glass of water or keep a bottle of water handy.  When I feel like I am talking too fast or my nervousness is showing, I stop, take a sip of water, breathe and move on.  It really does make a difference.  It is like the water washes away the nervousness.

5. Talk it out. This one is tough for me because when I have the negative thoughts and I try to share them, I get emotional.  I have been blessed with friends, old and new, who help me to put my negative thinking into perspective.  Be careful and choose wisely.  Be sure you pick someone to share with who will help put the negative thoughts into perspective restoring a sense of confidence and calm.

These are some basic steps which will help, I know because I continue to practice all of them at some point in my life.  As you become more aware of the negative thoughts, you will be able to convert them to  positive thoughts and actions to help you move forward.

What thoughts make you anxious and chip away at your confidence?