Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Three Years and Counting

Today is three years since I started The Lord’s Table, the online Bible study that has helped me lose 81 pounds and was the biggest catalyst in changing the way I think about food. 

I had already started losing weight without realizing it.  One day I just became aware of the fact that for a couple months I hadn’t been eating as much food and had lost some weight.  I was clueless as to why I wasn’t eating as much but happy to have the loss, of course!  Later that year, I was boasting to a friend about my self-control in having McDonald’s for breakfast only 2 days out of 3. 

He told me about The Lord’s Table at www.SettingCaptivesFree.com.  I looked at it for a few days, decided to sign up, and the rest is history!  Except that it’s not only history; it was just the beginning and even three years later it’s the present.  I’m not doing that specific study any longer, but the truths about God I learned in that course still figure prominently in my decisions today and will for the rest of my life. 
In a nutshell, I was fat and didn’t want to be but thought it was inevitable and linked to genetics.  Surely the effort I was making should count for something.  Not eating the last bite of a sandwich…once…a month…should result in weight loss.  I’M TRYYYYYIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNGGGG!!!!!!

Ahem.  I think that red backpack was full of snacks and drinks in case we got lost in the corn maze. 

No, I wasn’t really trying, I discovered.  Through The Lord’s Table I learned that overeating is sin (which I repented of) and that I hadn’t been trusting God to give me what I need when I need it.  I had been getting it for myself.  Way too much of it (which I also repented of).   I’m typing this blog and eating lunch at the same time.  An hour and 15 minutes ago I had some leftover Smoked Mozzarella Chicken from Olive Garden, but I'm feeling hungry again.  I went to the fridge and got the leftover salad from Olive Garden.  I started to walk back into my office and heard God say, “You don’t need all of that.”  I went back into the kitchen, got a small bowl, and put about a third of the salad into it.  That’s what I’m eating now.  I call this feeling like Gideon.  In Judges 7, Gideon starts out with 32,000 warriors under his command, but God starts whittling his army down until he gets to 300 and then God says He will give Gideon victory over his enemies with just the 300 soldiers. 

Ummm…God?  I had 32,000 calories at my disposal.  [Figuratively, of course.  Stay with me; it’ll make sense in a minute.]  You’re telling me to eat just 300?  How can I possibly sustain myself on just 300 calories???  God answers, “You won’t.  I’ll sustain you.  I’ll cause your enemies to fight among themselves and I’ll give you the victory.”  My enemies, the world’s wisdom when it comes to weight loss, often contradict themselves.  A study comes out claiming that this food is the key to permanent weight loss.  Soon another study comes out debunking the previous one and claiming that this rare supplement found only in a 1-square mile area of the Andes Mountains is the key to permanent weight loss.  You know how it goes.  Situps are the key to a flat tummy!  No, planks are the key to a flat tummy!  No, lift weights so that you build muscle and burn fat even when you’re resting!  Sure, there’s a little bit of truth in all those claims, but do you see how they’re fighting against each other?  Some foods are good for weight loss when they’re substituted in place of another food, planks are fine (I do them regularly), and strength training does build muscle so that I burn fat even when resting.  That’s why men generally lose weight faster than women; they have more muscle that’s constantly burning fat.  Sometimes I start thinking that a new revelation (or an old one packaged in a new way) will be my key, so I start researching it, but then I find contradictory information.  I start researching that and find something that contradicts them both.  It’s ridiculous! 
So how do I make sense of it all?  This past Sunday I re-read one of my favorite weight loss Scriptures, Colossians 2:20-23.  “You have died with Christ and He has set you free from…this world.  So why do you keep on following rules of the world such as, ‘Don’t handle, don’t eat, don’t touch!’  Such rules are mere human teaching…These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, humility, and severe bodily discipline, but they have no effect when it comes to conquering a person’s evil thoughts and desires.”  The world's methods work only on the outside, or rather, only on the body.  God's method gets to the heart of the matter.  "Are you going to trust Me, the One who made you, about what's best for you?  Are you going to obey Me when I tell you to do something?"

So the end of chapter 2 tells us what NOT to do, but are we TO do?  Keep reading in chapter 3.  “…set your sights on the realities of Heaven…let Heaven fill your thoughts.  Don’t think only about things here on Earth.” 
That’s what I did 35 minutes ago when I heard God tell me to eat only part of the salad and I obeyed. 

In the three years since starting The Lord’s Table, I’ve lost 81 pounds. 

I had lost 90 by this past January, but I’ve gained back 9.  I’d like to skip that part and just let you think it’s been all loss with no gains or plateaus but that would be deceiving you.  There have been a couple gains, this 9 pounds being the biggest one, and plenty of plateaus.  It’s been slow going, but that’s okay.  I recently realized why the weight loss has slowed.  For the past 1-1/2 years I’ve been concentrating on fitness, not just weight loss.  I started running (yes, running!) and love it!  You’d think that would help me lose more weight, but actually the days I run I’m VERY hungry.  I don’t overeat or gorge myself, but I do eat more on those days than on nonrunning days.  I’m trying to curb that.  (See Colossians 3:1-3 above.)  I think that if I stopped running I could consistently eat less and possibly lose weight faster, but I don’t want to stop running.  I enjoy it too much to stop!  I enjoy the increased fitness and challenging my body and my mind.  I’m constantly learning new things and tweaking what I do, though, so we’ll see.  I am conscious of the tendency to eat more on running days and am reining it in. 
So, to summarize, three years ago GOD, the past 1095 days GOD, today GOD, and tomorrow GOD. 
Simple as that.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Easy or Challenging?

I started putting $1 into a jar every time I work out when I saw this on Pinterest. 

Today was a $2 day because I ran for 39 minutes and then swam.  It usually takes me about 40 or so minutes to run 3.1 miles so I set the alarm on my phone for 20 minutes.  I turned around when it went off and ran back the way I’d come but I got back to where I started one minute early.  I’m not sure why.  That suggests I ran faster on the way back, but I was running in sand and after last night’s big storm the beach was actually pretty ugly, to tell you the truth, and there were several spots where I had to wade through water almost up to my knees so I lost a few seconds each time.  Twice I stopped to take a picture of the brilliant rainbow and the more faded one that together made a double rainbow and once I stopped to take another picture.  I figured my time would be slower with all that, but it wasn’t.  I don’t understand why I seemed to finish faster, but I’ll take it!  Anyway, my plan for after running was to change into my bathing suit and swim out to the buoy.  I decided to not change and just swim in my running clothes, a pair of cotton capri exercise pants and a tech shirt (moisture-wicking).  I know, it’s not meant to wick water away from my body when swimming.  :-)  I just didn’t feel like messing with sweaty clothes then a bathing suit in a public bathroom.  I did take my running shoes off to swim, though! 

I swam out fine, but the waves were big (as I expected after the storm) so swimming back in I drank and breathed water a couple times in the first few minutes.  I don’t like drinking and breathing water.  I changed my stroke to one that requires me to use my legs more, which is the opposite of what I wanted to do.  Running works my legs.  The swimming stroke I do works my arms while my legs rest completely.  Oh well, sometimes you have to improvise. 
I may have run faster because I had the MP3 player my daughter got me for Christmas that I just started using.  Music makes me run faster, especially when it's music like NeedToBreathe, Mandisa, Newsboys, etc.! 

At any rate, here’s what God showed me today:
There were several places where I had to actually go through water, not just run on sand.  I had to slow down to a walk because the water was sometimes about halfway to my knees and other times even higher than that.  There are times in life when you’re going along just fine but then something unexpected comes up and you have to slow your pace in order to get through.  It’s okay, though, because God (represented by the water) is there to get you through the low spots.  Of course He’s always there, but I was more conscious of Him when I went through the water.  When I got to the other side I was a little slow running again for a step or two.  It’s okay to take a while to get back in the groove.  Just keep moving. 

I wish the picture I took to illustrate this next point had turned out okay and that I was able to get it from my phone to my computer.  On my right was the Gulf, then packed sand where I was running then a long low spot of a strip of water that ran pretty much my entire distance then what would normally be dry, loose sand but because of the storm it was wet and fairly packed.  That sand was a smoother, easier surface to run on but looked sterile and boring to me. 
Most analogies have only one meaning, so don’t try to read too much into what I’ve written here.  Sometimes in life you need a smooth, easy surface and there’s nothing wrong with running there.  I’m ready to take up the challenge of not so easy surfaces, though.  (Wait…am I?  That’s a big thing to say.)  God...I...uh...don't know if I meant that the way it sounded.  I like smooth, easy surfaces.  Yes, running in (walking through) water today was fun, but do I want to transfer that to life?  I don't...ummmmm...You're in charge.  Put me on the path You want me on, whether it's easy or challenging.  I mean that. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Music Helps Me Run Faster!

Last night Brianne got all the songs I wanted put onto my MP3 player that she got me for Christmas.  Thank you, my dear!  Mwha! 

My pattern had gotten to the point of running 23 minutes, walking 2, then running the rest of the way for a total of 42-43 minutes.  This morning I ran the entire time, hit 1 mile at 12:42 (at least a minute, maybe more, faster than I’d been doing) and got to 2 miles at 26:18 (a little slow.  I would’ve liked to be less than 25:30.).  I must’ve picked up speed on the last mile because I finished the whole 3.1 miles in 41:25, about 2 minutes faster than I’d been doing lately!  Thank You, God! 

I even extended my cool-down walk because my absolute favorite song came on and I couldn’t stop in the middle of that! 
My mile times were 12:42 for the first mile, 13:36 for the second mile, and 15:07 for the last 1.1 miles.  

I want to do some song tweaking because I didn’t even get to hear some of the songs.  The Veggie Tales song “Keep Walking” that I personalized is on there but it’s hard to sing my version in my head when their version is going into my ears. 
Regardless, I’m grateful to God, my daughter, NeedtoBreathe, Mandisa, TobyMac, Tenth Avenue North, Newsboys, DC Talk, Me in Motion, The Afters, etc. for fueling my solo runs.  J

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thoughts After My First Midnight Run

It’s my normal pattern to run early in the morning as soon as it gets light, about 6:00.  My first official race was at 7:00 a.m., my second race was in the evening after dark, my next two races were on the beach at sunset, and now I can say I’ve run at midnight!  I ran under a full moon last night from 11:25 p.m.-12:08 a.m. 

This was a growing race and not just because they had a record number of people register.  It was a growing and stretching race for me.  With my first race I wanted to know the course well in advance so I could run it and be very familiar with it.  I don’t like surprises.  With my second race, some of the course was the same as my first one, but I still had to find out the exact start, route, turnaround, and finish.  My beach races were in straight line, but I still observed one last year without running it and didn’t run until this year.  With this midnight run I saw where the course started and finished and that was all.  Really, it’s not like I’m going to be leading the pack and need to know for that reason!  So for me to not bother trying to learn ahead of time the exact route was a step up from having to know everything possible about a situation.  It was…faith?  It was going with the flow, which can be a problem for me.   

We started off and had a very slight incline over some water after, I’m guessing, 2/10 of a mile.  Hardly noticeable.  We ran some more and as I looked ahead I could see the crowd like they were higher than I was.  Were they on a bridge or a hill?  We’re in Florida and on the coast so hills are an extremely slim possibility.   It was a bridge, the Dunedin Causeway. 

About a mile into the run was the beginning of the bridge.  I’d never run a bridge before, but I have now!  It really wasn’t very hard, but then it wasn’t a very steep bridge.  I liked running over the metal grate at the top and seeing the water below.  It was such a gradual decline that I hardly noticed it on the way down.  Oh, I just remembered that I’ve run the incline on part of the Pinellas Trail to an overpass.  I forgot about that. 

Anyway, the run continued toward Honeymoon Island.  I worshipped as I looked at God’s creation under a full moon with a minimum of human influence (lights).  It was almost the way He intended it to be.  The only sounds were feet pounding the pavement, lungs breathing heavily, and the occasional very breathy word or two.  After reaching the turn-around point at 20 minutes (good time), I saw the bridge again.  I wanted to run it up and down both ways, so if I was going to walk at all, the time to do it was before I got to it.  I walked for two minutes then began running again.  I easily climbed the bridge running, ran over the metal grate again, and then ran down the other side.  One bridge up and down up and down conquered!  Bring on another! 
I had passed up the first water station, which was ridiculously close to the start line in my opinion, because drinking water while I run upsets my stomach and I don’t need to for just a 5K.  On the way back, though, I decided to get water and pour it on my face.  Why had I never thought of that before?  Oh well, live and learn and improve.  I got a cup, poured it on my face, and man did that feel good!  (Why did I not take up swimming instead of running?)  The end was in sight after that, and I kept running. 

This had been my most spiritual official run in that I had been praying frequently thanking God for giving me the ability to run at all, protecting my knee that had been giving me very brief twinges of pain earlier in the evening, giving me this beautiful creation to enjoy, good-functioning lungs, a full moon, water, breeze,...  I had to sing my “Keep Running” song only a handful of times. 
As I turned from the road into the parking lot where the finish line was I started to pick up speed.  I always do that in official runs but struggle to do it in practice.  I crossed the finish line after 43 minutes and 11 seconds,

a little slower than I had run the last few times in practice but this run included a bridge both ways so I wasn’t too disappointed.  I’m happy and look forward to shaving more minutes off my time and running more bridges!

I came in 81st out of 99 in my age group.  I'm moving up!  I had a per-mile pace of 13:54.  These numbers are a little different from what I reported on Facebook, but I got them from the official results.  The FB numbers were just what I saw last night immediately after the race. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Thoughts Before My First Midnight Run

Tomorrow night is my next race, the Midnight Run.  Yes, I’ll really be running at midnight.  That’ll be something new!  The 5K starts at 11:25 p.m. and ends at 12:10 a.m. so they can start the 10K.  They allot only 45 minutes for the 5K, and I ran 41:48 this morning.  I’ll really be racing the clock this time!  I’ll try to take a nap in the late afternoon and have a little bit of caffeine so I won’t be tired.  I’ve been trying to go to bed early the last month or so and was asleep by 7:00 last night (!) so my late nights are a thing of the past. 

I'd love to see you at the race.  Festivities begin at 9:30 p.m.  My race starts and ends in the Causeway Plaza Shopping Center parking lot in Dunedin.  2602 Bayshore Blvd.  That's at the corner of Bayshore Blvd and Causeway Blvd. 

Now, for two new things.  It has happened.  I put a piece of Dove dark chocolate in my mouth and let it melt and was not transported to my happy place.  It tasted fine, but it didn’t do for me what it used to.  I haven’t had any Dove dark chocolate in a week or two, so it’s not like I’m chocolated out or anything.  I guess God is changing my tastes again.  He did it with Dr Pepper; now I can hardly take more than one drink of Dr Pepper because it’s just too sweet.  Looks like he’s doing it with Dove dark chocolate too.  And you know what?  That’s okay.  God’s in control of my life, including my taste buds, and He can add or take away whatever He wants to.  J

I wrote this June 24, a little more than a week ago:

The scale isn’t moving but clothes are getting looser.  I want the scale to go down AND clothes to get looser.  Why won’t the scale go down? 

Why am I so concerned about a number no one will ever know?  Why not be happier about what people can see?  Why can’t I just be happy about looser clothes? 

People may not know the actual number, but I can report weight loss when the scale goes down.  That’s the reason - so I can have good news to share.  But I already have good news to share, and it’s not about me.  It’s about Jesus, and what He did doesn’t necessarily show in people’s physical bodies.  Many times it does, but that’s not the point.  Jesus paid the penalty for my sin by dying on the cross and then defeated death and hell forever by rising from the dead.  His victory for me was primarily for my spirit, not my body.  If it results in me shedding pounds because I’m not nearly as selfish, greedy, and indulgent as before, then great.  If it doesn’t result in that, am I still thankful and will I keep showing my thankfulness by being obedient even when the results of my obedience aren’t visible?