Lose, Maintain, New Idea

I think everyone knows that our bodies store fat as a defense against starvation.   When there is too little food, the metabolism slows down and fat is stored as much as possible.  If it can’t be stored, then the body looks to other sources of fuel, such as muscle.  As a very last resort, it will burn off fat reserves.  We call that “dieting.”

When more food is available, rather than shutting down this system of fat storage and speeding up the metabolism, it continues to conserve fuel and store as much fat as possible.

I find this really interesting.  We don’t have an automatic function that tells our body that everything is OK and to shed the stored fat.  The fat-storing is automatic, but there is no way to notify the body that everything is fine.  It just keeps preparing for the next starvation episode.

Of course, people who have never dieted or been through a famine haven’t ever turned on this fat-storing mode.  I wondered if it is possible to return to this state.  This was part of the reason I quit dieting.  I wanted to see if it was possible to relax this drive to store fat, or even reverse it.

I made a few lifestyle changes.  One was to try as much as possible to not be too hungry and not be too full.  The book “The Seven Secrets of Slim People” gets credit for some of this idea.  When I get hungry, I eat if at all possible.  If I’m not hungry, I try to wait until I am.  In order to have a fairly normal relationship with food, it’s important to eat enough to make it to the next meal, but not so much that the next mealtime arrives before the hunger.

My goal isn’t so much to lose weight, but to reassure my body that everything is fine.  This has worked for the most part.   When an occasion comes along where I do eat more than I need to, I have found that within a day or two my weight returns to where it was before.  I think that this means the excess food was not stored as fat, which makes me hopeful.

In the past year, there have been three times when I have lost ten pounds.  There were several months of maintenance between each.  After three years of not dieting, I started walking to work.  It’s about half a mile each way.  The ten pounds came off slowly, and I don’t know why it stopped at ten.  I’m still walking because there are so many other benefits.

My next lifestyle changes that prompted another ten-pound loss was to eat less processed food and to eat more slowly.  By eating slowly, the idea is to not touch the next bite of food until the one in my mouth was chewed and swallowed.  This means not digging the spoon or the fork into the food.  It means not reaching for the next potato chip.  You might be surprised at how much discipline this takes.  I went through several cans of Pringle’s Potato Chips learning to do this.  I also switched to brown rice, whole grain bread, whole wheat pasta, and many of those higher fiber, higher nutrition changes. This allowed me to slowly lose another ten pounds.  Then my weight stabilized and stayed the same for several months.  I still try to eat foods as close to their natural states as possible, when I can.

In the more recent drop of ten pounds, my son told me he wanted to be vegan.  He showed me some documentaries, and I thought it sounded safe enough.  I liked the part about it not being a religion, and if you make a mistake, you just go on.  It’s not that you have failed, you just ate some animal-based food.  I thought I would encourage him by doing it with him.  At first, it was challenging, because I’m too cheap to throw food away, so I took all the cheese, milk, and sandwich meat to work and at them for lunch to keep the house vegan-ish.  I still wore leather shoes.  When the animal food was either eaten or given away and I seriously started eating beans, grains, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables, my whole digestive system kicked into high gear.  It was a constant battle to not be hungry.  Eventually it settled down to a more comfortable level.  Over three months, I lost ten pounds.  Even though I have returned to a less restricted menu, I still eat vegan now and then.  The weight has stayed off, making it a total of 30 pounds for the year. 

For the most part, I wouldn’t say that I have been dieting, but experimenting with my health from time to time.  I think it’s interesting that these little ventures result in ten pounds lost, not more, not less.  I’ve been maintaining for quite some time now, and every so often I try to think what I could do next, to tweak my lifestyle to be a little healthier and see another ten pounds go.  The first ten happened over the holidays, so if I can think of something, I just might give it a try.

It’s a Bad Time to Talk about Dieting

It’s less than a week before Thanksgiving and it’s a bad time to talk about dieting. However, in my opinion, every day is a bad time to talk about dieting. I quit dieting four years ago.

I realized that it’s not that hard to lose weight. What’s hard is keeping it off. After all of the sacrifices of the weight loss process, to see the weight just come right back has been a really hard thing for me. My idea was to learn to maintain my weight, even if it was not an ideal weight. If I can’t maintain my weight, why bother with losing it?

In this time I’ve watched others lose weight, and then see it come back, and I couldn’t help feeling glad that I was spared that go-nowhere journey. I have also enjoyed coming to a new season and finding the clothes in my closet from last year still fit.

I think what has surprised me the most is that it’s not hard to maintain my weight when I don’t diet. I was concerned that I was risking become heavier and heavier. Not so. When there is no diet on the horizon, no pressure on myself to lose weight, it’s like stepping off of the roller coaster and walking on the level ground. I no longer have a sense that time is running out and I should enjoy life all I can before the next diet has to happen. I also can ENJOY a dessert or a double double cheeseburger, rather than hating myself for indulging. I have found that this life with no diet rules is much less focused on food and eating. I do try to make healthy choices, and I’ll tell you more about that another time. For now, I just want to let you know that there is life without diets and I am truly looking forward to Thanksgiving next week!

Drive, Park, Walk

The kids and I went to WalMart this afternoon. Eric was driving, so I was free to observe the behavior of other drivers. The thing that made me a little crazy is how hard it is to park a car for some. He tried to drive through the parking lot as we left, but we were stopped by huge SUVs just sitting there waiting for someone to back out. People! Just drive to an empty spot, park your car, and walk a few steps. Gas is expensive and we spent more time idling than I care to think about waiting for people who were waiting for someone to back out. I am willing to concede that some of them may have been handicapped, but certainly not all of them. The lot wasn’t even that full. It was the middle of a beautiful, sunny afternoon. This is a problem on so many levels, which I am not going to solve by blogging. All we can do is make sure we are not one of them, and happily get a little exercise and burn a little less gas by parking away from the store!

I’m Expecting a Daughter

In just over a week, my exchange student daughter will be arriving from Tajikistan.  I’ve been busy fixing up her room, buying welcome gifts and in general getting as much as I can done around the house because weekends will be taken up with day trips a lot for the next ten months.

Well, that was the plan anyway.  The last couple of days I haven’t made much progress.  I don’t know if I’m just waiting for the last-minute pressure to build up, or if I need a break in the action.  As a multitasking procrastinator (which means I can procrastinate many things at once) I fear it is the former, not the latter.  I love crossing finished projects off of the list, but the list is long and intimidating right now.

One of those projects was getting my kitchen floor repaired and replaced.  Now that the kitchen is usable again, I’ve been doing quite a bit of cooking.  I have stockpiles of leftovers ready to warm up in the microwave.  I am fully aware that preparing meals in advance is a form of procrastination, but I love standing on that new floor!

In the minutes before I needed to head to the airport to pick up my first year-long student I was trying to hang a towel bar in the bathroom.  It looked easy enough, but I was failing miserably, emphasis on the miserable.  It was hot and I was feeling rushed and excited and nervous and the parts just wouldn’t go together.  I finally gave up and went to get her.  She went to bed early that first night and I finally got that towel bar on the wall.  I ended up getting away with that one, and I hope it will serve as a reminder that it’s time to get these projects done!

Tomorrow is a new day.  I won’t have to cook.  I will act as excited about this new venture as I feel!

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us oh
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us oh,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all
Find More lyrics at http://www.sweetslyrics.com

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

That He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
MusiXmatch

I realized that I probably owe it to David Crowder to look up the lyrics to his song and post them correctly.

It takes me back to high school when I was a bit lazy about referencing my sources on research papers.  I still don’t know how my teachers figured that out.  However, they should be proud to know that their comments in red ink still affect me.

Weeds and Worms

I have weeds in places in my yard that used to not have them.  What happened?  I started watering new plants, and all of a sudden, weeds started growing.

What I really want to know, though, is where do tomato worms come from?  I was pulling weeds under my tomato plants and barely bumped a green tomato, and it fell to the ground.  I wasn’t too happy about that.  I’m not sure why I looked at the stem, but maybe it was because it didn’t have one.  It had a hole.  In that hole was a worm.  The worm had made several tunnels and was resting in the hole where the stem should have been.  On closer inspection, what I expected to be a nice crop of tomatoes is turning into a popular fast food place for worms.

I bought my home five and a half years ago.  Before I bought it, it was empty for two years.  Before that, it appears nothing had been planted other than Bermuda grass and a few trees.  The house is 77 years old.  My tomato plants are against the garage, not against the fence that separates me from my neighbors.  I think it is very safe to say that for at least 50 years, there haven’t been any tomatoes in that location.  So how did I get tomato worms?  Do they lie dormant in the soil for centuries, waiting for someone to plant tomatoes?  Do they have little spies who detect ripening tomato plants and parachute them in?  I really don’t get it.

Back to the weeds.  I suppose it’s the same story as the worms, though they are similar to weeds growing in other places on my yard, so I’m going to guess they are either there by way of a root system or a seed.  No big mystery there.

When I think about weeds, I often think about sin.  I know it’s not a popular thing to talk about, but we all know what it is.  Like weeds and tomato worms, it can pop up in our lives at times or in places where we don’t expect it.  Maybe it’s been there all along waiting for the right conditions.  I don’t know about you, but for me, it’s very tempting to let it go.  I am usually pretty good about taking these things to Jesus and confessing them.  Without grace, I’d be so lost.  More than I’d like to admit, though, I don’t yank it out by the roots.  

The same water that causes the weeds to grow makes it easier to pull them out by the root.  Where there is water, there will be weeds.  My cat Rufus lives outside in the summer by his own choice.  When I come out to work in the yard, he thinks I am there  to pay attention to him.  I mention him, because as I get near the end of my work, I invite him onto my lap to massage his neck.  He seems to enjoy hearing me sing, and one of my favorite songs is by David Crowder.  How He Loves Us.  I don’t know all the words, but there are some phrases I just sing over and over because Rufus doesn’t seem to care.  “…Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, bending beneath the weight of his grace and mercy.  All of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, and I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me.  Oh, how he loves us, oh, how he loves us, oh.  We are his passion and he is our prize, drawn to redemption by the grace in his eyes.  If love is an ocean, we’re all sinking…”

Perhaps that love is like the water.  It goes down under the surface and brings to mind those things that don’t measure up.  Until we focus on God’s love for us, and the redemption Jesus offers, we may not notice the dormant seeds and roots under the surface.  They begin to thrive under those conditions, and sooner or later there is damage being done.  That same love is also there to soften the ground to make it easier to yank out the sin by the root.

My yard and I, we have a lot in common.

What Am I So Afraid Of?

Today has been an interesting day.  I have spent much of it just trying not to panic.  I should be excited that I finally took a step toward a dream and started a blog.  It hasn’t worked out like that.  I haven’t been able to think of anything to write.  It’s like the great flow of words dried up when I hit “Publish Post” last night.  

I was excited to check my email this morning and find I had five followers!  Then another one joined up this afternoon, and one this evening!  So my seven friends, I wish I had something for you!  I have never before felt so afraid of writing.

I’ll tell you what!  I plan to pull some weeds in the morning, and I always have great thoughts when I am weeding,  I also have a nice big piles of dirty dishes and laundry.  Let’s just call it a day for now and see what happens in the morning.  

I really do have a lot to share with you.  I just have to get over this fear.