Monthly Archives: December 2009

Have a Happy, Healthy Christmas Season

It’s amazing how quickly the months have flown by. And again, we are at the most festive time of year.

It’s especially wonderful to watch through the eyes of my children. Our 9-year-old has really embraced some of our family traditions and has seemed so engaged in the spirit this year.

Our (almost) 2-year-old is simply mesmerized by all the lights (his term for them: “yites”). Every time we walk out the front door or return home in the evening his reaction is one of amazement and awe, like he’s never seen them before. Oh, that we would all share the same childlike attitude of amazement over the meaning of this special time of year.

Of course with all the fun, comes challenges to stay on track with healthy choices and smart decisions.

There’s no way around it, food is an important part of many holidays, celebrations, family and cultural traditions. And as I’ve said before, many special occasions often center around food (especially in the South where I come from). People struggle with their current weight and especially if they are trying to lose weight.

Maybe it’s all the tempting treats available during the holiday season or the pressure from family, friends, and co-workers to overeat. Maybe it’s the increased emotional eating (whether it be from holiday stress or holiday joy). Maybe it’s the dangerous “New Year” mentality that tells us to indulge all we want now because a new year and a new start is just around the corner.

Regardless of the reasons, it is not necessary to completely avoid holiday food and fun in an attempt to maintain your weight. Just be smart about it.

Focus on weight maintenance—not weight loss—during the holidays.
If you are currently overweight and wanting to drop a significant amount, let’s face it, now isn’t the time to do it. Maintaining your current weight is a big enough challenge for this time of year.

Be physically active every day.
Busy holiday schedules can often get us off track from our fitness and exercise routines. But remember, physical activity of any type can actually help reduce stress, speed up your metabolism and burn extra calories you may have consumed from holiday eating.

Also, turn those last-minute Christmas shopping sprees into a mini-marathon. Don’t search for the closest spot to the store. (And be honest…at this time of year you probably won’t find one.) Park in the far corners and make the walk part of your physical activity.

Be creative in holiday food preparation.
There are plenty of resources out there that show healthy alternative recipes for the season. If you don’t feel so inclined to search for those, just use your head.

There are plenty of low-fat and low-calorie substitutes that are amazingly tasty. Try using applesauce in place of oil in your favorite holiday breads; use egg substitutes in place of whole eggs; try plain nonfat yogurt in place of sour cream.

And remember if you stumble across something especially good, share it with your family and friends. And when you are invited to a party or get-together bring a healthy food as your contribution. That way at least you can be sure there’s something “safe” for you on the spread of choices.

Keep things in perspective.
Overeating on one day or at one party won’t make or break your eating plan. And it certainly won’t make you gain weight! It takes days and days of overeating to gain weight. But if you slip up and overindulge at a holiday meal, put it behind you. Return to your usual (healthy) eating plan the next day without guilt or frustration. It’s life, but it’s not supposed to be a way of life!

Enjoy the real reason for the season. The birth of Christ is the real reason for the season and the reason we celebrate. God has done so much for me in my life that it’s impossible to not simply give him thanks for all He’s done.

Although I am mindful of that each and every day, this time of year seems especially easy to maintain my focus on that. And when you are enjoying your blessings with family and friends and have a heart of gratitude, somehow that extra serving doesn’t seem quite so important.

My wish for each of you is that you will have a very Merry Christmas filled with much love and happiness!

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Fat Chance: Losing the Weight, Gaining My Worth

When I think about how my life has changed over the past couple of years it makes my head spin.

Flash back to the Spring of 2006…I was a stay-at-home mom who had come to a place of desperation in my own life. I had always struggled with my weight but it had become an all-consuming force in my life by that time that I could no longer ignore. It was affecting everything in my life.

I cried out to God for help. And He answered in a most usual way, as many of you already know: through reality TV.

Being cast on Season 4 of The Biggest Loser was a life-changing experience to say the least. I was taken from all the comforts of home: my husband, my child, my family, my church…my FOOD. And I was thrust into a crazy world I had never known, in California, on the set of a TV show with a bunch of strangers; none of whom I knew or (at the time) trusted.

And to make things worse, I was morbidly obese and being expected to exercise for hours and hours a day. I was attempting physical things I never thought I could do. And every part of my body hurt as a result of it. I was beat down physical, emotionally and spiritually.

My progress was slow at first. As I have shared before, I only lost two pounds my first week on the show. Others were dropping 10, 20, 30 pounds…and me? Two. I was so discouraged. I questioned God and His plan. I felt alone and hopeless and still desperate.

Then God began to work.

I realized that He—in His perfect wisdom—had removed me from the place of my distractions and placed me in a “foreign land” (or so it felt) so that He had my complete attention. There’s no way to convey in a short blog the lessons He taught me. But if I could sum it up it would be that all the failures and all the condemnation I placed upon myself throughout my lifetime was weighing me down. Yes, my physical weight was excessive and out of control. But it was a manifestation of a much deeper problem.

When I began to catch a glimpse of how God truly saw me—the Julie He had created—instead of the Julie I had created, everything began to change.

As the physical weight began to fall away, so did the emotional and spiritual weight of failure and insecurity. I reemerged from the process a new person—the one I believe God intended me to be all along.

Among the amazing opportunities I’ve received over the past year or so was the chance to write a book sharing my story. The REAL story of the transforming work God has done in my life. My story is so simple. I was given the chance of a lifetime. A chance to face my fears, fight my demons and change my life.

Some people called it a “fat chance” that I would ever even be cast on a reality show with over 250,000 other people vying for a spot. They said it was a “fat chance” that I could compete with 300- and 400-pound men who had a far greater likelihood of success through their weight-loss percentages. They said it was a “fat chance” that I’d ever lose the weight and change my life. But—with God’s strength—that’s exactly what I did.

So with that in mind, my book is entitled Fat Chance: Losing the Weight, Gaining My Worth and it was just released by GuidepostsBooks this week. I hope you’ll have the opportunity to read it. Not because of anything extraordinary about me. But because I serve an amazing God who is ready and able to do transforming work in your life too!

Your weight may not even be physical. It may be a financial weight, or the weight of feeling insignificant in your own life. Or it may be a weight that someone else has placed on you. But whatever it is—I am here to say that you CAN lose that weight and gain your worth—the invaluable worth placed on you by God.

Don’t listen when people tell you living the life of your dreams is a “fat chance.” Let it be your second chance.