Joyce Meyer said, “Every time you feed the flesh, you strengthen it. This is good if you are trying to build a good habit, but detrimental if you are trying to stop a bad habit. The way to “kill the flesh” is to starve it; to stop feeding it.”
What a simple concept: Starve what you want to die, feed what you want to live. In the context Joyce was talking about, she was addressing feeding our physical desires, not necessarily just our stomach. Our body has physical desires. It lusts, it hungers, it wants to sleep, it wants to be lazy. Sometimes it wants to get angry, it wants to cuss, it wants to be get its way and if we LET it get its way, without practicing self control, the flesh will kill you.
So how do we subdue the flesh and grow the things we want to grow in our life? The same way we kill something or grow anything – it depends on how we feed it.
Trust me, if you don’t feed a plant it will die. If you don’t believe me, I’ll show you the plants on my back porch. However, the plants in my yard are thriving. Why? Because my lawn people take really good care of those plants. They feed it fertilizer, they get rid of weeds that may choke out any life, and they give it regular attention.
Our fitness is the same way. It requires attention. The more we feed it, the more it will grow. This means we need to attend to it regular. It also means we need to pull anything out of our life that might choke out our progress. And, it means we need to starve our bad habits (poor eating habits, laziness, business, etc) that will make it more difficult to succeed.
You are in control of your flesh. You decide what lives and what dies.
You are what you think:
“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, (this means you decide what you want your mind should be on, think on those things, meditate on them, focus on them, fix it and keep it there. However, we can think on better things, healthier things, greater things…) “but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5
What have you been allowing yourself to set your mind on that doesn’t belong? Decide now to not meditate on those things and replace those thoughts on the things you want to grow in your life. 🙂
Surrender to Win: Part 1
In this 2-part blog, I will be talking about surrender, deliverance and denying ourself. I know, you are probably already looking for the EXIT key. Believe me, it may not be the motivational words you think you want to hear, but they are words (packed with truths) I believe you need to hear before you can chase your goals and begin to really change once and for all. By the time you are done with these 2 blogs, I believe (if you apply them) it truly can change your life. With that said, put on to your big-girl (or boy) britches and get ready for some tough talk.
In order to change, you must first surrender the things that have kept you from your goals so you can become who you want to be. You may need to surrender certain food, or surrender your time, so you can exercise more. You may need to surrender laziness and decide that is not who you want to be anymore. Whatever your goals, I guarantee it will require a certain level of surrendering.
Deliverance vs. Surrender
I believe many people are waiting around to be miraculously delivered from their addictions, struggles, weight, health, financial stress, bad habits and selfish ways. They might even pray for deliverance, that God would just take away their desires completely. I personally believe, most of us can’t be delivered until we first surrender.
Seriously, think about it this way. If you are holding on to something SO tight, how hard is it for it to be pulled away from you? It would be very difficult. However, as you loosen your grip, it becomes easier to take away (not that God needs to workout harder so he can win an arm wrestling match). But how fair is it to ask God to rip something out of your hands that you refuse to let go of? Even if He did take it from you, if your mind hasn’t let go and you will likely just take it right back.
We have to surrender. We have to take the first step and let go – in our mind, in our heart and in our actions. It may take weeks or months of letting go before you are completely delivered. You may have to let go every morning and decide to continue surrendering certain things every single day of your life.
Look at the first and second definitions of surrender. It explains surrender is often used in reference of giving up something for something else, something better. Surrendering to either avoid something bad, or in favor of something good. In war, someone may surrender (or wave the white flag) to save their life. In that case, a warrior may even lose his rights to land or freedom (something that is rightfully his), but it’s a trade-off. The same applies for us in many cases.
We have the right to eat whatever we want. We have the right to say whatever we want. We have the right to be as fat and lazy as we want ….BUT that doesn’t make it right or best for us. We choose to surrender those things in order to have life (and a better, happier, more peaceful and joyous, healthy life).
Of course most of us are not held at gunpoint, forcing us to choose and wave the white flag, but there comes a time in our life where we come to the end of ourselves. We get tired of feeling bad. We get tired of the repercussions of our poor choices. Then we finally realize that surrendering is the only way to deliverance – AND that it will be SO worth it!
Warning signs you may be in bondage with food:
Here are some warning signs you need to take your relationship with food more seriously and make some serious changes (surrendering) in order to WIN the fight with fat once and for all!
- When you are stressful, blue, mad, sad or excited – you reach for food. It’s your coping strategy.
- You panic if you can’t have it.
- You plan your whole diet around still trying to have certain foods or beverages.
- You focus on adding good habits, to avoid getting rid of bad ones.
- You look for fitness, diet plans, supplements and diet pills that allow you to keep doing/eating what you want. You buy every gimmick you see. (Why do you think stupid gimmicks like the “Cookie Diet”, “The Ab Belt” & Diet Pills does well? Because they prey on this type of person.)
- You work out more than you need to, to make up for eating more than you are supposed to.
- You can’t control yourself around it. If you have one, you have to have 5. If you can’t control yourself around something, then it is more than an indulgence, it’s an addiction.
- You binge. Maybe you deny yourself something, and when you finally do give in you go crazy.
- It is always on your mind. You talk about it, think about it, plan your day around it.
- You think you need it to be happy.
Homework (for the brave and determined:
While I’m not expert of food addiction, I can tell you that I’ve seen plenty of people be fully delivered from their prior addictions. You don’t have to fight a chemical dependency like a cocaine addict, but in some ways you likely have developed a coping strategy and a dependency on food to help you through life – to comfort you, to reward yourself, etc. In a way, food addiction is just an extreme bad habit that can be broken. Breaking habits take work, a lot of practice and a lot of introspection. So be honest with yourself and be openminded to the idea that your weight issue (or food/drink issue) is more than just a luxury you aren’t willing to part with – it could be more serious. If you treat is seriously, you CAN conquer it. However, the same way you can’t expect to put a bandaid on cancer and it heal, you can’t put a bandaid on a food addiction and expect it to go away. Some things must be cut out, removed, treated, operated on – until it’s GONE. 🙂
- What are the things (types of food, alcohol or habits) you need to surrender?
- Do you admit you are powerless around food, or certain types of food or drink? (this is actually the first step to recovery for true addicts. And it typically takes a while before someone come to grips with acknowledging they really are powerless. However, if you haven’t been able to give “it” up yet, it’s likely you are truly addicted to “it” or the lifestyle. Once you realize you are powerless, then you can begin “treatment” to gain back control.
- How do you plan to “let go” of these things? You have to know what this is going to look like. You also need to realize there’s a reward – you have to lose something to gain something (even better).
- What kind of support do you need? Are you willing to get the help you need no matter the cost (time, money, effort)? Put it this way, if you had cancer, would you do whatever it takes to get help?
- What actions and guidelines can you apply in your life that can help prevent you from falling into temptation. Drug addicts might change phones so drug dealers or friends don’t have their number anymore. They would quit frequenting their favorite hang outs, and start spending time with people who are on the same path. They would not allow whatever it is they are addicted to to be in the house, or around them. They would go to weekly meetings and they would join a 12-step program to learn what their triggers are so they can identify signs they may act out. They would require their friends and family to be supportive – and they too may join groups to learn how to be more supportive and understanding.
Note (the good news):
Realize, while some people will never be completely free from an addiction, as you separate yourself from the things that have ruled your life, it is likely those things will become less and less important to you. Over time, a rich food will likely not taste as good to you. Feeling healthy will feel SO good that you will know there is no comparison to your old past and old ways – so it will be easier to “say no”. The same way an true addict goes through withdrawals in the beginning, the hardest part will be the beginning of your journey. It will get easier, but also like an addict, you must never let down your guard. You have to guard yourself against things that can sabotage progress, as well as guard yourself against those same things when you reach your goal to avoid a relapse.
Next Up: Don’t forget to read tomorrow’s blog for PART 2 of this series. Subscribe (above right) to get notified when blogs are posted.
Should Fitness Leaders Encourage Cheating on Your Diet?
My Answer: A Big FAT No!
WARNING: This is a rare rant, but I believe it’s necessary and could be helpful. Here is the email I got in my inbox today that is sparking this topic.
Here, I have another one for ya! How about: “Cheat on Your Spouse (Without Getting Divorced)”. Or, what about “Cheat on Your Taxes (Without Getting Caught).” I wonder how that would work out for ya. All I know is that title would never fly if it were about any other subject other than diet.
Have you ever wondered why we treat dieting differently than anything else? Cheating is cheating. Instead of teaching people to cheat, let’s teach people how to eat right and maintain a healthy balance so they don’t HAVE to cheat (which I’m sure was their intensions, but still sends a bad message).
I personally believe if we can teach people how to improve the issues that CAUSE cheating, we wouldn’t need to cheat to begin with. I also believe people need to know the difference between cheating and treating.
Why We Cheat
Why do people cheat on anything?
- They feel like they are missing out
- They are deprived, they aren’t getting what they want, or feel like they need
- They are greedy
- They lack discipline
- They are looking for happiness
- And many other issues I’m sure a psychologist would tell us our real issue is
Strict dieting (and depriving) can absolutely cause some people to cheat and binge. It’s caused from extreme short-term discipline, or extreme (but typically short-lived) self control. Just because you have good discipline for a period of time doesn’t mean it won’t backfire on you. Ask your spouse to not have sex with you for a few months and see how that works out for ya. If you do that, you are putting them in a very bad and unhealthy place, so why would we do that to your own body?
While some issues are caused by extreme yo-yo discipline, other issues that cause cheating are from the opposite, a lack of discipline and self-control altogether. People who never really work on improving self control will continue to struggle until they really commit to making permanent changes. Instead, people will dabble in eating better for a period of time, but they never really stick with it long enough to learn a new long-term disciplined behavior. Self control is difficult in any area of our lives – it will not be easy, and it will take constant practice, but it is most definitely healthy.
Think of all the areas of our life that require constant discipline. If we have to constantly control our tongue, control our anger, control our desires, control our thoughts and control our spending, why would we think we would ever get to a place where we no longer have to control our eating? Self-control is required in all areas of our life if we want to live fruitful, healthy lives.
For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:11
Cheating vs Treating
Now that we’ve talked about why we cheat, let’s talk about how we cheat. First, I think people misuse the word. Instead of looking at having a piece of cake as “cheating”, we should look at it as “treating” – BIG DIFFERENCE. The same way we make room in our budget to treat ourself to a new pair of shoes or a new purse, we need to learn to make room in our budget for a dinner out or a piece of pie. As long as we aren’t doing it all the time, it’s a healthy way to have treats. Unfortunately, many people are not treating, they are cheating. They are not making room for that treat. They aren’t shaving calories off somewhere else. They aren’t working it off now, and they have no plans to work it off later. They aren’t working to “buy” that treat the good old-fashioned hard-working way.
People are just taking what they want, when they want – whether they can afford it or not. Anywhere else, that would be called stealing. In the dieting world, it’s called cheating – but I’ve got news for ya. People are NOT getting away with it. They are imprisoned in body fat, tight pants, insecurities, depression and despair.
American Needs Stronger Leaders
WARNING: The following content is rated M for mature. Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense truths, unpleasant news, offensive and/or strong language. Caution is advised.
I am so tired of seeing headlines suggesting dieting is easy and fast. It’s not. While it doesn’t have to be awful (and when done right, can be much easier than you think), practicing discipline isn’t easy. It takes some level of effort – and results are rarely fast.
I’d like to encourage fitness leaders to choose their words carefully and, may I boldy say, challenge American to QUIT cheating. We need to encourage people to be accountable. We need to speak truth in love and, for once, actually tell people “it may be your fault”. It’s not a fun message to give, but at some point, people need to hear the truth – even if it isn’t as fun.
Could you imagine if Magazines used headlines like:
- 10 Ways to Practice Self-Control
- Learn How Balance Diet and Treats (not Cheats)
- Get the Foods You Need, So You Don’t Fall Off the Wagon
- Overweight? Then Move More or Eat Less
Of course those don’t sound near as fun as “have your cake and eat it too”. And “get off your fat butt and burn off that cake” would not only offend half of American, but it probably wouldn’t sell magazines. Sadly, America spends so much energy on being politically correct, and non-offensive, they don’t have the guts to use headlines that people really need to hear. Instead, they tell people what they want to hear, even if it’s not true, unhealthy, only partly true or even damaging. We live in a “feel-good” society that preaches “if it feels good, do it” and “you deserve it”.
Fitness leaders needs to help people get to the root of the problem and fix it, instead of encouraging followers to find ways around the problem, or mask it. Personally, in my opinion, we shouldn’t teach people how to cheat, or even appear to. That is just a bad message to me. While teaching practical eating tips so people can ENJOY life, and not be miserable on a diet, would ultimately teach people how to FEEL like they are cheating (which I am sure is what the magazine was doing) – I don’t think we should even use the word cheat in a positive sense. Why? Because the uneducated dieter could be led to believe that some people are getting amazing results by “cheating right” and doing whatever they want. NO! People get good results by eating right and practicing self control.
“…people always want to see what they can get away with first…”
People are already looking for every way to lose weight besides the right way. I see it way too much at the gym. People work really hard at the gym, only to blow it on poor choices because they basically want to see what they can get away with and still get the results they want. If you are dieting that way, I’ve got news for you – you can’t get away with it for long. Living like that is risky. It’s no different than stealing and hoping to get away with it. You have to be ready to get caught and face the consequences. The best thing you can do is just live right – and, in this case, eat right.
A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls. Proverbs 25:28
So you set out on a path to get healthy, lose weight and get fit – but how committed are you really? Do you have a back-up plan or an escape route already in place? Maybe you have a few pit stops you’d like to take along the way to make your journey a little more fun. By the end of this blog, you will be able to determine if you have prepared yourself for success, or set yourself up for failure.
People do not like commitment. Ironically, pretty much anything that’s amazing requires it. Marriage, work, family, finances, where you live – you can’t be successful in any of these things unless you fully commit. But commitment is not just about what you hold on to, it’s about what you have to let go of.
When someone gets married, they say “I do” at the alter. They list all the things they promise to do, but they don’t list what they promise to NOT do. Of course, that does without saying but, with fitness, I think we need more closure. We need to remember it’s more than just what we plan to do – but what we plan to stop doing.
Can You Let Go?
When we set out to get fit and eat healthy, I believe one of our biggest problems is that we refuse to let go of certain things. There are still foods we want to eat, things we want to do (or not do), and a certain lifestyle we want to lead. Even if we plan to get rid of stuff for a while, we still have plans to go back to them, or at least make it an option. The evidence of this may be in your pantry, or it maybe in the big clothes you still keep in your house (just in case). Holding on to some of these things might be holding you back from faster progress.
When you hold on to these things, it’s like you have a back-up plan – a Plan B (or what I’d call a Plan F, for Failure). If you truly want to turn your life around, there should be no option to “going back”. You need to completely let go of the things that created the old unhealthy you, and grab hold tightly of the new you and new healthy lifestyle.
Breaking Your Food Addiction
I’m going to give you 2 examples to help you think a little deeper on this. First, let’s use a recovering drug addict as an example. Even if the addict gets rid of all the drugs in the house, how successful do you think he will be if he keeps all the paraphernalia and friends that enabled that lifestyle? There must be a complete disconnect with that world in order for most addicts to kick it for good. In many ways, living healthy can require some of the same steps – and overeating can be a very real addiction.
Ending Your Love Affair
Second, let’s look at marriage again. What if you still kept a relationship with your last boyfriend or girlfriend? What if you were faithful for a few months, but allowed yourself to kiss someone every once and a while? Do you really think that marriage would work? I don’t think so. Marriage is a total lifestyle change. There are things you simply cannot do if you plan to stay married – and there are things you simply cannot do if you plan to stay healthy, fit and trim. However, many people treat fitness like a temporary fix – not a completely new lifestyle. Of matter of fact, many people actuallly plan to return their old ways. They count on it – like a “prize” for their efforts.
Can you imagine saying “honey, I’ve been so good for so long, so I was thinking I really deserve a treat”? (and they weren’t talking about having an ice cream sundae!) Of course no man in his right mind would say that, but they may change their behavior. They might not be quite as careful maybe as they used to be. Like in marriage, what can start as just having a little fun (a “treat), and having an innocent relationship, can turn into a full-fledge affair. I believe the way we treat our relationship with food has many similarities. We put our guard down, we “play” a little, and we ultimately fail.
No Going Back – The Ultimate Example
If you want the perfect example to follow, I’ll give you a great story to think about. It’s the story of Elijah and Elisha (thank you Jim for touching on this yesterday!). Elijah was a regarded prophet by all faiths who did many great works. When it was time for him to “pass the baton”, he found Elisha plowing the fields. When he shared his plan to pass his ministry down to him, check out Elisha’s response. Not only did he say “yes” (that he’d leave his life there and follow Elijah), but it’s what he did next was simply the most perfect example of being sold out and whole-heartedly committed.
He went back to his family to say goodbye and threw a party – but it’s what he served at the party that made the biggest statement. He grilled Oxen. Not just any ordinary oxen – he actually used the oxen he used to plow his field – and grilled it over a fire that was fueled by the tools of his trade. This was his way of saying “I’m not coming back“. Even if he was tempted to, it wouldn’t even be an option. (1 Kings 19:19-21)
THIS is how we should be when we decide to turn our life around – whether we are talking about getting spiritually healthy or physically healthy. We need to fully commit, become sold out and be able to say goodbye to the things of the past.
Are You Ready to Say Goodbye?
Are you so sold out to change your life, to get rid of your weight once and for all, that you are ready to say goodbye to your old ways? Or are you going to keep your “oxen” just in case you fail? I challenge you to search your heart deeply and ask God to reveal to you the things that you are holding on to that could be holding you back. A new life awaits for you – but only if you can say goodbye to your old one.
Today’s Motivational Mantra:
We are nothing more than big babies – and we do NOT like things taken away from us. Whether it’s food, money, simple luxuries and even people, we tend to hold on with a death grip. And, the moment we think one of them is going to be taken away, we hold on even tighter, and even begin to cry before it’s gone.
However, replace one of your favorite things a new favorite thing, hobby or friend, and you won’t even realize that something you once valued is replaced and not even missed.
Learn from the Master
Most parents know all the tricks when it comes to taking something away from a child. When a child is caught holding something that could be harmful, a parent knows how to take that object away with minimal resistance. They either have to quickly snag it and entertain them to take their mind off of what they just took away, or they have to replace that object with something equally exciting.
The same happens with food. Every mother knows you don’t go anywhere without a pacifier. As a baby, the pacifier is a true baby pacifier. As a toddler, it’s normally a toy, blanket or baby doll. As a child, it could be a video game, barbie doll or action figure.
Nothing has changed. We are just bigger babies, with bigger toys and stronger wills – and we’ll throw a tantrum in a minute, as soon as we think we’re about to be stripped of something we really like.
Habits are nothing more than things we do that we like. We like to sleep in, we like to eat junk, we like our sweet comforts – even if they are bad for us. The problem is, we forget the age-old trick of the need to replace something bad for something good. We need a pacifier.
We can’t expect to be completely satisfied if we are constantly taking stuff away without replacing it with something just as good. I see this a lot with dieting. Someone will stop eating junk-food cold-turkey and not eat anything at all, or expect something lame like celery sticks to pacify them. Come on people! No wonder you fail! You need a better pacifier.
Going without, or eating something as boring as a celery stick, is no replacement for french fries. However, find a snack you actually enjoy that maybe more calories than celery, but fewer calories than french fries, and you have yourself a happy dieter.
The trick is to replace a bad habit with a really, really good habit you enjoy. This will require some trial and error, and like anything, it will take an adjustment period. Think about it. Half the vegetables we eat right now, we probably would have never tried (or kept trying) as a kid if mommy didn’t make us. Not only do we mature, our tastes change.
We have to try new foods and new exercises until we find the ones we like. If we don’t, then our diet or exercise will be temporary. But, when we find stuff that works, then our new healthy lifestyle will be forever – and we won’t even miss our old ways.
Stop That – Start This!
Stop That: Drinking fully leaded coffee
Start This: Drinking half regular and half de-caf coffee, or regular tea (which has 1/2 the caffeine as coffee)
Stop That: Meeting a friend for coffee
Start This: Meet a friend for a walk or run
Stop That: Drinking wine at night
Start This: Sip on flavored decaffeinated hot tea with natural relaxers in it like Chamomile
Stop That: Eating processed cereal
Start This: Eat high-fiber whole grain cereal or hot cereal (oatmeal) with fresh fruit
Stop That: Snacking on Doritos and flavored chips
Start This: Pop, or air pop, homemade popcorn with light oil and flavored Nacho Cheese popcorn salt
Stop That: Meeting friends out for dinner
Start This: Meet friends during the day at the beach, lake, or park for fun and R&R in the sun
Stop That: Eating ice cream after dinner
Start This: Eat a Publix low-sugar fudgesicle, low-cal ice cream treat or protein shake
Stop That: Using food as stress-reliever (which leaves you feeling even crappier)
Start This: Use exercise as a stress-reliever (which leaves you feeling better)
Stop That: Sleeping in on Saturdays
Start This: Run or walk during the time you normally sleep. You won’t miss the sleep or the time – and you’ll have more energy.
Stop That: Eating high carb side dishes at night
Start This: Eat more dark green veggies. You can eat more and lose more!
Stop That: Relying on salt to boost taste
Start This: Use more seasonings, lime juice, hot sauce and fresh herbs
Stop That: Drinking sodas
Start This: Drink more water, fresh brewed iced tea and/or seltzer waters
These are just a few ways to turn you bad habits into good ones. There are so many more!
What bad habit have you replaced with a good healthy habit?