As a mom, it has been my tendency to take care of everyone else before I take care of myself. I was feeling really run down both emotionally and physically. I felt achy, no energy and generally have found myself being cranky. I knew I wasn’t being very fair to either myself or my kids. Frankly, I didn’t think there was much I could do to change it. I really just felt stuck.
In November, we got our annual family picture taken. Oh how I hate getting my picture taken. After I saw the picture, I had a realization. Not only am I not feeling good, I am not looking so good either. I am thirty pounds over weight, I have dark circles around my eyes, and my skin isn’t looking particularly healthy. I am not saying this to knock myself, it was just the moment when I realized how I have felt on the inside is coming out on the outside. My honest thought was, “No wonder my mom is worried about me!” I am not forty yet, but if this is how forty feels, I don’t really like it at all.
At that moment, I thought I really need to sleep more. I get big dark circles around my eyes when I get tired. My husband has bizarre hours at work. I was staying up late to spend time with him. Not a little bit late but a lot late, like midnight or 1 a.m. I was getting up at 6 every morning to babysit. No wonder I am tired! I retrained my body to go to sleep. This took me a few weeks and definitely was tough. I am now happy to say I sleep like a normal person 🙂 Sleeping helped some but I still didn’t feel all that great and I was still 30 lbs over weight.
I really started to pray about this issue and realized that I have basically ignored my own well being in every area. I realized I need to exercise, I need to eat right, I need to have time in the Bible each day for my emotional and spiritual health, and I need to change my view on the importance of taking care of myself . My view has always been, everyone else comes first. As I prayed a particular verse stood out to me.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinithians 6:19-20 NASV
I prayed and questioned whether I was treating my body like the temple of the Holy Spirit that it is and became convicted when I realized the answer to the question is definitely not.
The first major change I made was to wake up a little earlier. I got up early and read my Bible. This gave me that critical time I needed before Jesus, before I started hearing the words, “Mommy, mommy.” It’s funny how you need that time to gather yourself, and fill yourself back up, before you start pouring into those little hearts and lives.
The second major change was the decision to go on a walk each morning, after I am done with Bible time. I have been walking two miles each morning by myself. I have found this to be an amazing time of quiet, prayer and peace. I come back home feeling more awake, refreshed and ready to go.
I started to do a bible study book called Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst (I highly recommend this book by the way). It deals with a biblical view of food and satisfying your “deepest desire with God, Not food.” I came to an understanding that food is meant to be the fuel that keeps your body running. I know that sounds obvious, but that is not how I was treating it. I treated it as an after thought for myself. Funny enough, I didn’t treat it that way for my kids. I made sure they ate every meal, veggies, fruit and all. For me, I ate on the run or forgot to eat all together. I ended up starving mid way through the day and having intense cravings for fatty, salty and sugary foods. Even when I did eat a healthy meal, I followed that healthy meal by downing something sugary because the sugar cravings were so intense. Which really was a vicious cycle for me. Every time I gave in and ate that sugary thing I craved, the cravings got worse, not better.
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God 1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV
So after extensive prayer and study, the third major change was the decision to incorporate as many fruits and vegetables into my diet, and by default my family’s diet, as possible. No we are not vegetarians, but now a large amount of what we eat is fruits and vegetables. What I did not do was make sweeping changes of everything I was not going to eat. Frankly, I don’t think that method would have worked well for me. I just decided what I was going to eat needed to provide the appropriate fuel my body needed to function. If the food served no purpose, I simply did not buy it.
I made the biggest change to my diet. I replaced breakfast (or more like started eating it) by drinking green smoothies every morning. This particular change has made the single most drastic change in how I feel physically. I was absolutely shocked at the result of this one simple change. First let me say, you have to make sure you put healthy ingredients in to get good results. No skipping steps here. No buying prepackaged smoothie mix at the grocery store and no adding unnecessary sugars. Stick with fruits, veggies, and other healthy ingredients. I have become a big fan of flax-seed and chia seeds. I also enjoy putting in Greek yogurt, milk, water, nuts, and various spices. I have found I don’t usually notice the flavors of the veggies. The smoothie keeps me feeling full all morning. In general, I think the smoothies are delicious and I don’t feel like I am denying myself anything at all (I am not recommending everyone rush out and change their diet. I am not a nutritionist here. This is just my personal experience). I do take one day off each week to enjoy a big home cooked breakfast with my family.
I immediately felt an incredible energy burst that lasted the entire day! I mean seriously, who needs coffee. Within a couple of days, my digestion was much improved. I also stopped craving all of those high sugar, high salt and high fat foods, that I literally craved twenty-four seven. That one difference right there has made it easier to lose weight. I also felt like my mind was clear. I wasn’t having what I called foggy mommy brain any more. Within a week, I started losing weight. I have now been drinking green smoothies for over a month. My skin is clear, I have lost ten pounds, I have energy, my mood is much better and even my nails are stronger.
I started drinking smoothies in hopes of helping myself lose some weight. If you would have told me that this would make such a drastic difference in my life, I doubt I would have believed you. Fortunately for me, this diet change has been affordable, easy and is definitely something I plan to stick to for the long term. Even better, my kids love the smoothies so much that now, I get to sneak all kinds of healthy food into them and they never even know it 🙂 I still have another 20 lbs to go, but I feel like a different person.
I am not telling you that suddenly I have it all together, because I don’t. Far from it, but what I am telling you is I have learned something. If you expect to pour great things into other people’s lives, you need to take the time yourself and get filled up. Take care of your heart, soul, mind and body. If you are running on empty, you won’t have much to pour out. If you let God fill you up, then good things will just overflow from you.