Monthly Archives: June 2010

The Power of Imperfection

As I have shared before, one of the best parts of this journey that I’ve been on for the past couple of years is that I get to meet people I would have otherwise never had the privilege of crossing paths with. I continue to be humbled that people reach out to me with their stories, problems and successes! I truly feel for them at their struggles and I rejoice with them at their victories too. This has been one of the neatest, and yet most unexpected, parts of all that I’ve been through.

This week I received a message from a woman (I’ll call her Patty—but that’s not her real name) who had a particular struggle that I thought would be perfect to address through my blog, because I fear that it’s an issue many people also struggle with.
In her message Patty shared that she is a fitness trainer. But that she has another 20 pounds that she feels she needs to lose before reaching her goal. She explained that each day she asks for God’s help but continues to feel frustrated and ends up overeating “everything in sight” to sooth her discontent. Not only does she feel she’s letting her client’s down, but she feels she is letting God down.
One particular line in her message really struck me: “Food fills me…and when I don’t have the food I crave I feel so empty inside.”
I could relate to many of the things Patty shared with me. She asked specifically for my advice. And although I am the first to tell people that I am not a nutritionist, personal trainer, or psychiatrist, I do have some opinions that I shared with Patty and I will now share with you.
The first thing I wanted to express to her—strongly, because I feel so passionate about this—is that she is NOT letting God down because of the extra 20 pounds she’s carrying around. He is not mad at her—He is madly in love with her! I really want Patty to believe that in her heart more than in just her head. And I want those of you reading to believe that too! Because it’s so true.
If Patty can really embrace that as a reality, it may very well be the key to everything else.
Secondly, she mentioned using food to sooth her spirits and fill her emptiness inside. To that comment I say, figure out what your greatest (food) weakness is. And then get it the heck out of your house! If you are eating everything in sight by the end of the day, then get rid of the temptations. If they aren’t around you can’t eat them. Replace them with good things. Safe choices like fruits and vegetables…that way if you do gobble it all up…it will be good things.
Since Patty specifically mentioned her connection with God, I suggested that she ask Him to reveal “what you are truly hungry for.” It sounds like there’s something deeper there than I am not qualified to help her with. As a fitness instructor, she knows that the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume. I know personally, I have to shake up my routine sometimes to get my body out of a rut. I’ve said this before, but on The Biggest Loser we sometimes increased caloric intake to stimulate our metabolism and then went back to a reasonable amount just to keep our bodies working.
One of the things that I most wanted to stress to Patty was that she can still be an inspiration to the people she instructs, even with 20 pounds to lose.
We don’t have to be perfect (we will never be) to be effective in helping people. In fact, sometimes it’s through our failures that we are the most authentic and therefore can help others the most. I still have my own struggles and some days I succeed and some days I fail. But the important part is to not stop trying. And not stop working at it.
Dr. Harriet Braiker has a quote that I find inspiring. She says, “Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” So I encourage Patty and all of you reading (as well as myself) to strive for excellence in all that we do. Perfection is not attainable, nor should it be aspired to. After all, if it was, God would have never invented erasers.

The Not-So-Easy Way

Moving is exhausting! Now I remember how much I really dislike that task after packing up all our earthly possessions and moving them from one state to another this past week.

Although it’s very satisfying that the move is complete, there are still so many boxes to unpack and a garage that looks like the set of the old ’70s sitcom Sandford and Son.
At the close of a very long weekend my family and I decided we would “reward” our hard work by driving around our new community and finding a place to eat.
Uh, oh…
Did you catch that? “Reward ourselves.”Even as I write that statement it gives me an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I have learned that you can not reward yourself with food. That mentality is dangerous! It’s a concept I fully embraced for far too many years. When things got tough—I rewarded myself with food. When I was sad—food was the answer. Heck, even when I was happy—let’s celebrate with food.
Overeating was the answer to all my problems and it was obviously the wrong answer. It landed me in a miserable lifestyle with the classification of “morbidly obese” stamped on my medical records.
As we drove around looking for a place to dine, my 9-year-old spotted a neon sign with the name of a restaurant that he dearly loved when he was younger but that had been closed down for several years in our previous hometown. He was elated to know that there was still one in existence. So he began pleading for us to eat there.
It was an all-you-can-eat buffet and while I reluctantly agreed I promised myself that I could still “be good” amidst the temptation. When I walked through the door my stomach literally got a knot in it. I likened the feeling to that of an alcoholic walking into a liquor store.
Now, without saying the name, I will tell you that this place is a virtual smorgasbord of greasy, buttery, fatty foods. And if I’m being honest, all of it looked delicious.
With great trepidation I immediately went to the salad bar and fixed a light salad. Having been successful at that, I then went to the other islands of foods. I saw fried chicken, country fried steak and macaroni and cheese. These were things that I hadn’t been that close to in a long time. I started to get an uneasy feeling. In my mind, I began to play a game of negotiation. “Well,” I said to myself, “if I splurge tonight, I can run an extra mile tomorrow.”
But I quickly snapped myself to my senses.
It’s not that indulging in your favorite foods—in moderation—is a terrible thing. And for some people, it’s probably easy. But not for me. I know my weaknesses and mashed potatoes slathered in gravy is one of them. I didn’t want to open that door. And I also didn’t want my family to see me fall off the wagon either. (As I’ve said before, accountability is a wonderful thing.)
Then all of a sudden, while I was having this battle going on in my mind, I remembered a quote my friend Hollie recently shared with me that made all the difference:
“There are always two choices, two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.”
Boy, does that put things into perspective. After remembering that, I felt suddenly in control again. And I realized that along with all the sinful-looking goodies on the food bar, that there were also smart choices like grilled chicken and fresh fruits and vegetables; things that were still good but also good for you. If you look for them, you usually can find safe alternatives.
I felt like I had fought a little battle and won. And that’s really what this journey of weight loss and healthy living is all about. You don’t have to have a glorious success everyday. But it’s about remaining focused and not giving up the fight. It’s about keeping yourself and your own well-being on the top of your priority list. If you fall down, get yourself up and start all over immediately.
Also, if you find yourself facing a temptation that you think might win just remember that saying about the easy reward. Anything worth having is worth working hard for. The easy way is not the best way nor does it bring with it lasting change.