Friday, May 16, 2008

It's about what you THINK,
not what you EAT



"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee."
Proverbs 23:7



Before I talk about food choices and exercise in this little blog series about things I've learned in my weight loss journey, I want to talk about the most important thing of all which is about how you THINK. I talked to you yesterday about the fact that an intimate "secret place" relationship with God is your most important thing. But the second most important thing are your THOUGHTS.

The Weight Watchers program realizes this well. It's why the whole program is based upon what they call their "tools for living." These are great behavior modification strategies -- a different way of thinking - than you had when you were overeating. 

The tools are:
Winning Outcomes
Storyboarding
Empowering Beliefs
Mental Rehearsing
Motivating Strategy
Positive Self Talking
Reframing
Anchoring

I will talk more about these tools in future blogs, but in case you haven't guessed yet none of this has anything to do with carrots, skim milk, cheeseburgers and fries. Nope. It has nothing to do with food. It's all about the way you think.

Perhaps you are overweight and you think it's all about the fact that you just like food. Rare is the person where this is the case. Most people like the way food makes them feel. It can be comforting. Of course we even call certain foods, "comfort foods." We have to ask ourselves, why are we searching for comfort and if so, why are we choosing an inappropriate amount of food? (Usually it is not the type of food that's the problem, but the portion size. Or, the fact that we are eating it when we are already full.)

The first thing we must do is come to a point where we change the way we think and stop medicating ourselves with food. I will lay my heart open to you in this little blog series and share things with you about me that until three years ago I never shared with anybody. They aren't things I'm proud of, but maybe they will help you.

One of the reasons I was overweight was that eating momentarily made me feel comforted or better when I was upset about things. I would get mad at situations or people that I couldn't discuss with others (so much of the ministry is confidential) that I would come home and eat an entire bag of potato chips in order to "feel better." Momentarily it would feel good when that bag of chips or huge bowl of fudge brownie ice cream was going down. But later I would feel terrible. After the food was gone I was still left with the same problems. I got relief for a few minutes as I was eating, but it was short lived. Food was my drug of choice that I ran to. 

I could live with this addiction rather safely because pastors are not put in jail or fired for overeating, nor do most people even care. Even if a pastor has a heart attack from eating too much and being overweight, his or her church will typically be sympathetic. It's not like they are smoking crack or drinking a case of Corona. It's only Twinkies they are killing themselves on, so it's much more acceptable. Some just make jokes about it. How many pastors do you know who have "pulpit bumpers"? It's almost expected in some cases and nobody thinks anything of it.

I'm here to tell you a lot of those men and women of God are eating because they are stressed out and feel like they have no place to take it. Some of them aren't online journaling or calling another pastor-friend, they are simply eating themselves into a larger size suit. Outwardly we can act like everything is fine and the hurts and pressures aren't getting to us, but our actions will ultimately be revealed through our weight gain. My first WW leader, Ginger, used to tell us all the time, "You can binge all you want in private but be assured it will show up in public." 

Yep. I could show up as a woman of "victory and power" on the platform each week and act like nothing got to me as I praised, worshipped and preached. But, the extra 40 lbs. on my body was saying, "um, some of ya'll are really getting to me...and so to feel better and try not to think about it, I've eaten a bunch of extra bowls of Ben and Jerry's this week..." When our former church went through a split, I just ate my way through it. Argument with my hubby? No problem. A Chick-fil-a fried sandwich slathered in mayo and some waffle fries dipped in mayo always made me feel better especially washing it down with a sweet tea and topping it off with a brownie. Kids driving me crazy? A staff member being rebellious or lazy? No problem. I always had boxes of brownies on hand in my pantry to bake and gulp down as many as I wanted in an emergency. (Definition of emergency: anybody getting on my nerves.) Extended family issues?? (Yep, everyone has at least one fruit or nut in their family to deal with, it seems. I know I'm not alone.) No problem. When a "granola" family member got to me I just took out the box of Milano's I always had hidden in the back of the kitchen cabinet, poured myself a glass of iced cold Coke and slowly took it all in while I ran a bubble bath for myself. Was somebody in the church pressuring or criticizing me? Nothing a half gallon of ice cream couldn't cure at least for 30 minutes. Up and up and up went the dress sizes as I ate to make myself feel better and numb the pressure and pain. How stupid was all this? I was just making all my problems worse.

I had to first and foremost realize my thinking needed to change. My overeating when I was angry, hurt, lonely, frustrated did nothing but harm me and make me more exhausted. I was less prepared than ever to face the rigors of life, marriage, parenting and the ministry, carring 40 extra lbs. around all the time. My desk at the church office was littered with Hershey bar wrappers and empty full fat cappuchino and latte cups that I downed to take the edge off my stress level. Please note, none of these foods I've mentioned are off limits on WW, nor are they 'bad foods'. They were simply just ones I abused because I was hurting. 

Have all my problems gone away? Absolutely not. No one's life is problem free. In the midst of a 3 year weight loss journey I've had some hum-dinger problems including my son getting a potentially fatal staph infection, a serious situation with my daughter's school last year, my dream car getting wrecked, some church situations thrown in and a whole lot more. There are times everything in me is screaming to run to the hot fudge instead of the Lord or the "tools for living". Everyday it's a battle and I'm relying on His grace. My problems haven't changed, but the way I deal with them has.

My friend, if you are overweight, first and foremost the way you THINK must change. Forget about whether you are going to choose an apple or an oreo for a moment and first consider WHY you are eating at any given time. Are you in need of nourishment, or are you avoiding dealing with feelings that are uncomfortable?

3 comments:

Lady Melissa said...

"For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee."
Proverbs 23:7

This is an awesome Scripture and you are so right - it's about how we think and that was my main problem. I decided this month to think differently and by doing so, I've loss not much but I have loss.

Once again this was a very informative post, I will be re-reading these for encouragment.

Anonymous said...

Pastor Deanna,
You always have such encouraging words and life-changing information for us. We are blessed to have you! Thanks for all you do!

Anonymous said...

Pastor Deanna,
You bless us with so much information. Thank God for you! Thanks so much for caring enough to write about things we all confront.