Category Archives: Faith

Are you ready for your marathon?

Last night I was sitting in church listening to the guest speaker. My ears perked up as he began talking about how his wife was an avid runner—something he had no appreciation for since he had a car and that was his preferred method for getting from one place to another.

I kind of half-laughed when he said that, because with the busyness of life, running has taken a lower place on my list of priorities. In the past I loved to run. It was one of the few times I could get alone with my thoughts. He said his wife was a marathon runner and as he continued to talk about some of the reasons she enjoys running, it all resonated with me very loudly.

Here’s my spin on what he shared about the commonalities between a marathon and the race we call life.  There are three main things to consider:

  1. The preparation. When you embark on any race, you must first get ready. Those who train (prepare) are bound to do better. For example, in a marathon you must be sure to be stretched and hydrated. Likewise, in life’s journey – you must take care of yourself. Nourish yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually and prepare for the road ahead.
  2. The focus. Don’t get distracted by looking at the mile ahead or the one behind. Focus on the mile you are on right now. “Tomorrow has enough troubles of its own.” (Matt. 6:34) Stay focused on where you are right now. This will keep you stronger in this moment. If you do this, you’ll have what you need for the next one.
  3. The reason you’re running. I hadn’t really thought of it this way before, but the guy sharing last night said, “A very small percentage of those competing in a marathon are doing it to actually win it.”  He went on to say that most runners are there not necessarily to win, but just to finish.

I thought about the power of that statement. There is something extraordinarily gratifying about finishing what you started.  Not only do you feel powerful, but it prepares you for the next goal.

Are you running a marathon now? If so, are you prepared, focused and sure of the reason you’re running it?

First Half Marathon

At the finish of my first half marathon. I wasn’t the fastest. But I finished. And that feeling was amazing!


Don’t get “dogged” by your past…

I’ve shared this story before, but it’s one I need to remind myself of sometimes so I want to share it again here. It’s the story of two dogs: Marty and Sam. Marty, is a Miniature Schnauzer and Sam, is a yellow Labrador Retriever. They both belong to my pastor and he shared this in a sermon a while back and it really made an impression on me.

When Sam was a puppy, Marty would exercise his dominance as the “alpha male” and eat his dog food and then go over and eat Sam’s too.

Now, many, many months have passed, and Sam outweighs Marty by almost four times his body weight. But guess what happens when Marty finishes his own food? He goes over to Sam’s bowl and Sam cowers down in fear as Marty proceeds to gobble up both bowls.

Sam reverts back to the mentality of a six-week-old puppy. Even though his size and strength far exceeds Marty’s now; he has a defeated mindset that he can’t overcome.

This illustrates to me the danger of living too much in the past. It can keep us focused on the wrong things. If we remember our past failures it can freeze us in the present and hurt our prospects for the future. It causes us to say things like: “I’ll never…” or “I can’t…” or “I messed up too many times to…”

But there’s got to be a delicate balance in our thinking. The fact is the past isn’t all bad. I believe we should use the past; both the positive and negative – to build us up and prepare us for the future.

I hear from people a lot who share stories about feeling defeated in their attempts to lose weight or make changes in their lives. They are scared of change, and they are defeated by their past. I try to encourage them to just take that first step to move beyond the past and into the future.

Whenever you begin to make changes in life, it may be scary but more than that it’s going to be exciting. Sometimes when you begin to make those changes things feel beyond your control. But when that happens, just remember that God is in control – His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Rest in that reality and make a change today that will impact all your tomorrows!


Q&A with Julie: How Do You Combat the Negative Self Talk?

I know I say this a lot, but I really mean it – one of the very best parts of being on “The Biggest Loser” and the “journey” that has followed is getting to meet people from all over that I would have otherwise never known.  These people share their stories, their struggles, their victories.  I love it!

So I decided recently to start answering some frequently asked questions via my Blog.

The other day I got a message from a precious lady in Chatham, Ontario.  She shared her heart and at the conclusion of her email, she said:

“Could you reassure me that it is possible to lose weight and keep it off.  Also, how do you (did you) battle the negative self-talk?”

I have gotten variations of those questions many times.  So I thought it would be a great topic for today.

First of all, yes it is possible to lose weight and keep it off.  I maintained a healthy body weight for five years after being on “The Biggest Loser.”  Notice I said “healthy body weight.”  Not necessarily “my finale weight.”  I was running fourteen miles a day (yes, I said a day) prior to the Finale.  I couldn’t keep up that schedule.  But I found a healthy weight and a size I was comfortable with.  And through good nutrition and exercise it is possible to keep your weight under control.  Is it easy?  HECK NO!  It is a struggle every single day.  There are constant highs and lows in the battle…days of both victory and of defeat.

If you are like me, I am a food addict.  It is possible for an alcoholic to eliminate their addiction completely from their lives (not easy, but possible).  But who can stay completely away from food?  You have to have it to live.

So I in no way want to imply that there is anything easy about maintaining weight loss.  I think you must be determined and be realistic.  But as we’ve all heard many times before, anything worth having is worth working hard for.

During my pregnancy I gained weight and I am in the process of getting it back off.  I look at these women on magazine covers that pop a baby out and the next week are back in their skinny jeans.  Well, that has not been my experience (and I don’t own a pair of skinny jeans anyway).   I have discouraging days when the progress is slower than I’d like it to be…which leads me to the second question:  How do you battle the negative self-talk?

Negative self-talk got me up to 218 pounds and landed me on a reality TV show for the morbidly obese.  So I know quite a bit about it.  I was guilty of it my whole life.  And even now, I sometimes catch myself having a defeated or discouraged attitude.

What helped me initially, and still does to this day, is to acknowledge the source of my strength.  For me, it’s my faith that plays that integral role in my life.  I read in the scriptures all the magnificent things God has to say about me.  “I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”  I am “the apple of His eye…”  He calls me His “Beloved…”  And “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  This part of my life truly does help me combat the negative self-talk.  I mean, if the creator of the universe holds me in such high esteem…then I must be something special.  It’s all about feeling WORTHY…worthy of the effort it takes to live the life of your dreams.

I realize that some of you reading this don’t share the same faith.  But you can still drill down to whatever the source of your strength is.  Maybe it’s yourself.  Or your family.  Or your kids.  Whatever it is that motivates you to keep on trying and never give up…lock your mind around that thing.  BELIEVE you really are worth all the effort to make a change in your life.

I read this recently and I have said it to myself many times since then:   “Losing weight is hard.  Maintaining weight loss is hard.  Being fat is hard.  Choose your hard.”


Words of Encouragement from an Unexpected Source

Today I was searching for a specific email from someone and I was scrolling through tons of old correspondence. Suddenly, one jumped out at me and hit me like a brick in the face. It was the last email from my mother-in-law, Betty. She passed away in October 2012, after a very brief battle with acute Leukemia. And yet seeing her email was like she had just walked through the door or called on the phone. It made her presence seem real once again.

Those who knew Betty, can attest that she always cared about others more than herself. And, when it came to her children or family, there was no question of her unending love and concern. It was very common to get a note in the mail, or a news clipping of an interesting or helpful story from her. Although she was seldom one to send email “forwards” – the message I found today included a quick message from her and a forward of some wonderful advice.

It was such a simple and yet profound list – and it came from such a precious source – that I wanted to share it here:

1) Pray.
2) Go to bed on time.
3) Get up on time so you can start the day unrushed.
4) Say “No” to projects that won’t fit into your time schedule, or that will compromise your mental health.
5) Simplify and unclutter your life.
6) Separate worries from concerns.
7) K.M.S. (Keep Mouth Shut).
7) Get enough rest.
8) Eat right.
9) Exercise several times a week for optimal health of your body and mind.
10) Write down thoughts and inspirations.
11) Remember that the shortest bridge between despair and hope is often a simple ‘Thank you GOD…’
12) Laugh.
13) Develop a forgiving attitude.
14) Be kind to unkind people (they probably need it the most).
15) Talk less; listen more.

These “words to live by” have inspired me today, like they did when I originally read them. And they caused me to think of the wonderful woman who first shared them with me. I hope you will receive some encouragement from them today as well.


When the Answer is…Wait

There’s really nothing easy in life. Whether it be losing 100 pounds or changing careers or choosing a new school for a child.

My family has been undergoing a lot of transitions recently. We’re faced with many important decisions. And we’ve really been seeking God for answers. And still, we wait. Do you ever find yourself in that position?

I’ve heard a lot of sayings over the years that should serve as some comfort. Things like, “waiting times are not wasted times” and “delayed blessings are not necessarily denied blessings.”

I guess it’s then when you really have to dig in deep to find your faith. Live your faith. And you have to trust that the God who created you is big enough, strong enough and capable enough to guide you in the right direction. Actually, it’s never God I doubt; it’s myself. It’s wonderful when He makes things so obviously clear that there’s no denying it’s His will.

When I was cast on The Biggest Loser up against hundreds of thousands of other applicants, it was obviously God’s will for my life. When I was able to work hard and lose the weight that had held me back for so much of my life—God’s will. When we were able to jump through so many hoops and cut effortlessly through red tape to execute the adoption of our precious little boy quickly and smoothly, it was obviously God’s hand at work.

So what about when things don’t fall so precisely into place? What then?

What if you have a weight-loss goal and the scale isn’t budging? You know it’s in God’s will to lose weight and get healthy and be a good steward of the body He gave you.

What if you have a goal to break a bad habit or make a positive personal change? But you can’t seem to conquer it and instead you are filled with anxiety and defeat.

It’s then that what we are truly made of comes through. I find scripture to be very enlightening and helpful during these times. God’s Word is more than just a little pat on the back and the utterance of a cliché from a well-meaning friend. If we can wrap our minds around the power and truth of scripture I think we can all draw great strength during these waiting, anxious times.

Here are two in particular that are blessing me at this crazy time in life. I share them with you in the hope that whatever struggle you may be facing will be made better by resting on these same promises from God.

  • “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

As you read this, my wish is that you’ll be encouraged if you, too, happen to be going through some “waiting times.” Be sure that God has a wonderful plan for your life! Stay strong in your faith and it will come to pass.


A Different Perspective on Re-Gifting

Chances are that this Christmas you will probably receive a gift you aren’t particularly thrilled with. I’ve received my share of less-than-usable gifts over the years and I have given plenty of them too.

I will never forget, for example, my grandmother’s inability to hide her unimpressed reaction upon opening a bird house I gave her a few years back. I laugh about it now, but surely we can all relate to this experience. So what do we do with the items we don’t have a particular use for? Well, we re-gift them of course.

People have vastly different opinions of the practice.  But we have probably all done it —the practice of re-wrapping and giving away what you have absolutely no use for.

This season I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of re-gifting. But not in the typical way you might think. I’ve been thinking about all I have been given that is worth giving away. This past year has come with many highs and lows like they all do. But God has certainly been gracious to me. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities and blessed by many people. It is those things that I will be re-gifting this coming year.

If you have received forgiveness; re-gift it. If you have received mercy; re-gift it. Likewise if you have been the recipient of any good thing: friendship, laughter, trust, patience, grace—why don’t you make a point to re-gift that in this coming year?

Christmas will be here in just a few days.  And my prayer for you this week is that you will have a wonderful time with family and friends and that you will spend some time remembering the real reason we celebrate at this time of year. And amidst all the gifts you receive this week, be thinking about the important things you can re-gift that can make a difference in someone else’s life.

Merry Christmas!


A Spiritual Spin on Frankenstein

It used to be called “Sunday School” when I was growing up.  Nowdays, we call it “LIFE Group” at my church.  But you know what I’m talking about, right?  — The gathering on Sunday mornings to talk about real life issues and study the Bible and spiritual things.  I am blessed to have a great teacher.  He’s always spot on with the lessons.  So this week’s topic was a little…um…unusual to say the least.  It was – of all things – “Frankenstein.”

Now you may ask yourself (as I did), “What the heck can you derive spiritually from the story of Frankenstein?”  Ahhh, I am glad you asked.  Because as our teacher began to weave the intricacies of the legendary story, I actually had an “a ha moment.”

I must admit I wasn’t too familiar with the classic story.  I mean, truthfully my knowledge of Frankenstein is pretty limited to watching “The Munsters.”  And ironically, Mary Shelley who wrote the story was not a Christian, but there is a significant spiritual correlation.

Here’s the deal:  Dr. Frankenstein created his monster sort of on a whim.  Out of arrogance it seems, he wanted to see if he could do it.  So he combined parts from the morgue and the slaughter house (let that one really sink in for a minute).  With very little regard for making the creation much to look at – the end result was rather repulsive to the doctor.  As a result he was disgusted by the results of his efforts and abandoned the monster.  He spent much of his time either trying to hide from him, ignore him and even later on kill him.

The monster, on the other hand, longed for a relationship with his creator. He was lonely.  When he was abandoned by the doctor who created him, he rebelled and wreaked havoc on everyone and everything he could as a result…with disastrous consequences.

The point of sharing this story in a spiritual context is to say that we are so blessed that our “Creator” not only looks on us with love and compassion; but He took the time to make us perfectly and in His own image.  Fearfully and wonderfully, we are made.  He says we are the apple of His eye.  And He longs to communicate with us.

How awesome is that?

There is a lot of talk about Frankenstein-type stuff at this time of year.  So the lesson from this past week was timely.  And the contrast between the two creators (Dr. Frank and God) makes me extremely grateful to have been created by the latter.