It’s No Secret…

This week, I had someone comment on my postpartum weight loss and ask me, “how did you do it?”For me, there’s no secret – when I was pregnant, I couldn’t eat much of anything without throwing up. Not a recommended weight loss method at all. However, it reminded me of a post I’d written as a contributor for another blog a few years ago, called Elevate Your Marriage. While I hesitate to share something I’ve shared elsewhere, I’d like to share this post with you here.THE SECRET TO WEIGHT LOSS…

For the past 6 weeks or so, I’ve been making an effort to be healthier. Walking more, eating less, drinking more water… the standard method. It seems to never fail that when others notice any kind of weight loss, the same question is uttered.

It’s usually almost said in a hushed tone, as if preparing to take in some monumental secret for a magical solution to taking off those extra pounds. The speaker may lean in and turn an ear more in your direction, just to make sure they don’t miss anything.

“How are you doing it?”

Is there a secret to it? Exercise. Watch what you eat. Drink plenty of water. Repeat tomorrow.

As I drove home from work today, I thought of my work as a therapist. I’ve worked with so many families who are dealing with their children’s behavioral problems, or with the aftermath of years of abuse, or even just years of poor communication that have wreaked havoc on a marriage.

When we begin to “let things slide,” problems pile up. When you decide to give in to your child’s demanding tone, rewarding the behavior, you’ll see it again. When you begin to take the elevator when you know you need to take the stairs, you’re more likely to do it again next time. When you allow hurt feelings to fester and avoid discussing an incident with your spouse, the bitterness and resentment will grow. If you tell yourself, “oh, I’ll clean up that mess tomorrow,” you may find yourself soon overwhelmed by the chaos around you.

I know all too well that sometimes life seems to beat us up and get us down. We all feel exhausted from time to time. We all need a vacation sometimes. It’s easy to get bored with the routine.

Look around you. What are you letting slide?

Do you need to have a good, long, heart to heart talk with your spouse or children? Do you need to start addressing your child’s unacceptable behavior? Do you need to start counting calories and getting more exercise? Do you need to regain control over the clutter in your home? Do you need to start saving for your retirement?

Here’s the big secret to getting it ALL done…

Ready for it?

There is no secret.

You didn’t arrive where you are now in just one day

 

It takes hard work. You didn’t arrive where you are now in just one day, and you’re not likely to be where you want to be in just one day either. It takes time and work. Break it down into manageable tasks and dig in. You can’t fund a retirement plan in one day, but you can skip the meal out and tuck that money away. You may not be able to clean the whole house in that hour you have, but maybe you can tackle one corner of the living room, or that sink full of dishes. You’re not going to lose all the extra pounds in one week, but you can lose a pound or two and still be healthy. You’re not likely to repair all the hurts in your marriage in one conversation or have a miracle 30 minute transformation of your child’s behavior, but you have to start somewhere.

There is no quick fix. It all takes work; but if you’re willing… oh, what a change you could have.

Philippians 4:13
New International Version (NIV)
13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

 

What change is God asking you to make?

If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through diving in to a wellness plan, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. What areas of life do you find are most difficult to balance? I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!

Resist the Devil and He Will Flee From You (August Affirmations Series #5)

Throughout this month, we have focused on affirmations as positive, healthy, and helpful self-talk. However… affirmations are not limited to self-talk. We live in a society that is quick to point out the negative. Any time spent on social media will certainly highlight this! Check out any political post, any article on public breastfeeding, or …. Well… really, any article that goes viral and is seen by keyboard warriors who care nothing about the poster or person referenced. It is both frightening and discouraging how quick people can be to tear others down just because they can.

We talked last week about the spiritual influences around us, and this is no different! The spiritual battlefield is real, and finding balance means we have to learn to acknowledge it for what it is. With that said, I’d like to turn this post toward affirming those around us.

Negativity can be an easy habit to form and a hard one to break. How many of you have found yourself in a vicious cycle of “no, stop, don’t” with your children, or in pointing out the negative in situations you face with your spouse? Telling yourself it’ll never get better? Telling your friends only the “bad stuff” happening to you?

I know I have! It wears us all down if we get into that mode. Misery loves company, so the saying goes. BUT… I’d like to stop here and share the verse that has played over and over in my head lately.

 

James 4:7  Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

 

I am realizing more and more what resisting the devil really looks like. It’s not only telling him to go away (but I totally do that too, in determined defiance), but it also looks like replacing those negative thoughts, criticisms, and hopeless statements with what we know is true and healthy. It looks like going against that sinful, selfish human nature when you are tempted to fire back a jab when your feelings are hurt. It looks like giving your child a hug when you feel like screaming. It looks like going to your spouse and saying, “I love you, how can we work on this together?” instead of slamming the door as you walk away.

 

“Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

 

I’m being completely real with you when I tell you, I had really gotten myself pulled into that negativity cycle for a while. With God’s help, I’m really working to change that. This morning, my 6 year old dumped his entire bowl of cereal in his lap. I kept my cool. He helped clean it up, the morning went on, and there was a lot of giggling going on about various things that happened (such as letting my three year old brush MY teeth so he wouldn’t whine about me brushing his… THAT was entertaining). At one moment, I looked at my husband and commented on the difference. I realized THAT is what resisting the devil often looks like in practice.

In another recent situation, I said something through text that came across poorly. It nearly caused a big blow-up between my husband and me. I felt that nagging temptation to snap at the response (though I completely understood how it had come across and why he was upset). I hesitated. I responded with an apology and reminding him that I love him and I didn’t mean for the statement to come across like it had. The moment passed, and it didn’t escalate. I later realized again… THAT was is what resisting the devil often looks like in practice. I thanked God and thought, “Ha! you didn’t play me that time, satan!”

I’m learning how important it is to not only resist the devil for my own self, but also to build up those around me. I’m trying to make a conscious effort to give more frequent affirmations to my family and others I encounter. Have you heard something positive about someone you know? Tell them. Is your spouse having a tough time at work? Tell him how appreciated he is. Tell your kids how great they are. Be sure you are taking time to acknowledge what is true of those around you. You will often be able to see their strengths much more quickly than they will. Help them resist the devil’s tactics by affirming them every chance you get with what you know is true. I’d like to get you started with some examples, but I would love for you to share your own as well!

 

You are loved.

You are appreciated.

You are a great kid!

You are such a great worker.

You inspire me when you _______.

I’m so thankful you are my husband.

I’m so thankful for your friendship.

You are a great listener.

You are a blessing to me.

You brighten my day.

You bring me joy.

You did such a great job with that.

You rock!

I’m so thankful to be your mommy.

You make me smile!

You are doing fantastic, thank you!

 

 

Think about what affirmations you would love to hear from others. Can you think of someone else who needs to hear the same? Tell them!

I’d like to leave you with one more passage for the week.

 

1 Thessalonians 5:11  Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

 

If you would like some more personalized support as you work to balance your life through affirmations, check out the “take the next step” tab here at everydayincredible.net. Check back next week for more thoughts on finding Christ-centered life balance. What areas of life do find are most difficult to balance? I look forward to hearing from you in the groups and want you to remember that every day is full of opportunities, so make every day incredible!

6 Barriers to Wellness (and how to overcome them)

We all want happiness and wellness, right? Who wouldn’t? I certainly can’t think of anyone. Even so, we all have areas of our wellness that could use some work.

So, if it’s something we all want, but something we all have to work at and even struggle to have, where is the problem?

In thinking of some of the common barriers to common wellness I’ve seen, and would love to take this opportunity to share them.

1. Stinking Thinking

Have you ever heard the phrase,  “Stinking thinking?” It’s pretty much just what it sounds like… thinking habits that.. well, stink. We all know about habits, and all have them. When you hear the word, habit, you probably think of behaviors like biting your nails or chewing on a pencil. What doesn’t usually come to mind, however, are the habits in THINKING that we develop. Again, we all do it. Based on life experience, input from others, etc., we develop patterns in the way we think, and they are often not helpful or healthy. We often get in the habit of looking at the negative side of situations, or see the glass as “half empty,” for example. It’s easy to get into the habit of ignoring the potential good in front of us, or the good qualities about ourselves or the world around us. Sometimes we make mountains out of molehills or assume we know what others are thinking. For a great list of examples of these, check out this page at www.getselfhelp.co.uk

The good thing is that, like other habits, thinking habits can be broken and replaced! If you are trying to break a habit, you have to bring your awareness to it when it happens, make a choice to replace the habit with something more desirable, and take action. To increase awareness, you just take action every time you catch yourself engaging in the behavior, even if it’s after the fact. When you realize you’ve done it (bitten your nails, chewed on a pencil,

focused on negativity, etc., you engage in the alternative behavior or at least acknowledge what you could have done differently. If you were trying to stop biting your nails, you might move a penny or pebble from one jar to a second, with the goal of ending a day without having to move any pennies/pebbles at all.

When it comes to unhelpful thinking habits, they tend to cause emotional and behavioral symptoms you can learn to catch.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, experience problematic symptoms, have an angry outburst, realize you are feeling more depressed/anxious than normal, etc., you can dig a little deeper into your thoughts to figure out what may be leading to those symptoms. 

To do this, keeping thought records can be very helpful. A Thought record basically takes note of what the situation is, what emotions are experienced (and how strongly they are felt, rated from 1-100%), what underlying thoughts are there (sometimes these thoughts may be more of an image or scene that may have never really been put into words before), and then an evaluation of those thoughts. Are they accurate? Are they helpful? Could there be another explanation? If a best friend were saying those same statements about her own situation, would you agree with them, or would you challenge her to adjust them? Ideally, as you break down your thoughts through these steps, you can begin to acknowledge which thoughts are helpful and healthy, and which ones are tearing you down and keeping you in your rut. The next step would be to come up with more accurate, helpful thoughts, or “affirmations,” which can be used to replace those unhelpful thoughts and change the thinking habit.

2. Stress

I have no doubt that we all have our times of stress – some more than others. While much of stress may be linked to unhealthy thinking habits, or “stinking thinking,” may situations are stressful and genuinely out of our control. Combining the thought record/habit changing approach outlined in the last section, other methods of stress management include exercising good self-care. Relaxation exercises (such as these free downloads provided at Dartmouth University’s website), utilizing a healthy support network, strengthening spiritual wellness through prayer and Bible reading, journaling and exercising your intellectual wellness through creative expression… basically, making sure that you are not entirely focused on the one area of your wellness where there is a current major conflict. Strive for balance.

3. Disorganization/chaos

This is a tricky one. This is both a cause and a symptom much of the time. Have you ever noticed that? The weaker your overall wellness is, the more disorganized and overwhelmed you will probably feel. If a person is feeling significantly depressed or anxious, she is much more likely to have a messy home, desk, or car. I personally found this to be especially true following a time period of some intense grief.

As both a cause and a symptom, you can address it from both ends. Working on addressing the stinking thinking, anxiety, depression, and grief can help you feel more like tackling the disorganization, but you can also tackle the disorganization to help address the other concerns.

Start with SMALL goals – something that will be an “easy win,” so to speak. If your car is a mess, for example, make it a goal for the week fill a grocery bag with trash or items that need to be taken in and put away properly. Schedule a time frame to do it, and stick with it. If you accomplish that and feel inspired to do more, by all means, do it! But if you do that much and feel satisfied, you’ve still met your goal. Set the next one. What specifically are you going to do, and when are you going to do it…. then follow through. Just keep it simple and you’ll feel more and more encouraged with each met goal. Feeling more encouraged in one area can easily translate to others as well!

4. Distraction

I would love to know – what are your biggest distractions? What sucks your time from you? Social Media? A favorite TV show? Books that aren’t helping you meet your wellness goals? Okay, let’s be real… my dear, sweet children are among my biggest distractions… can any of you relate??

Whatever your distractions are, they can really do a number on keeping balance in your overall wellness. Even your distractions generally have their place, though (for the most part). TV shows, social media, and books can be a great way to unwind, catch up on the world around you, feel a bit more connected or find an escape from stress. Your children obviously need your attention and can add tremendously to your overall wellness, sense of purpose, and so much more. Once again, we are looking for balance. There are times we need to close the facebook, twitter, instagram, or pinterest tab. There are times we need to turn off Netflix or put down the book. There are even times we need to call the grandparent squad, a friend, or a babysitter to keep the kids. We need to make a deliberate effort to focus on things that are going to improve our overall wellness. This easily brings us to number 5.

5. Lack of Goals/Vision.

In order to achieve wellness, we absolutely must have a vision for what achieving wellness will look like to us. In earlier posts, we talked about figuring out where we are going… visualizing where we are headed so we are able to set appropriate, effective goals. It’s very important! We’ve also talked about examining your areas of wellness to decide what area or areas need the most work right now. Don’t skip these steps! Get real with yourself and be honest. Where is your overall wellness off balance?

What is it really going to take to get there? Think of the big picture and work backward so you can start with the baby steps, or easy wins, like we just talked about with tackling disorganization. One step at a time, but you MUST have goals and a vision so you know where you are going!

6. Weak areas of overall wellness

Balance, Balance, Balance. It really is key. We’ve been talking a lot about the importance of finding a balance because having one area of wellness neglected can have a severely negative impact on all of the others. To help keep the balance, focus on where your boundaries are. This could largely refer to your boundaries with people around you, as a lack of firm social boundaries is very often a significant source of trouble. Whether family, friends, workplace, or even strangers, if you do not set clear boundaries in your life, you are most likely a person who is frequently taken advantage of by others.

If setting boundaries is not something you currently do well, just remember that it IS a skill that you can work to improve. Practice. Address any stinking thinking in which you tell yourself you don’t deserve better, or that you have to give in to others so you don’t have conflict, and recognize that you have the same basic human rights as any other person, and it’s not only okay to stand up for your rights, but it is healthy. As balance is the key to overall wellness, assertiveness is the key to healthy boundaries. Being assertive basically means standing up for your rights while respecting the rights of others. Do you treat yourself like you have the same rights as those around you? Or do you treat yourself like you don’t deserve better than what you currently have, while you are treated with a lack of respect by a person or people around you?

Setting boundaries can also apply internally. Some areas of wellness are just more enjoyable to give focus than others, right? Sometimes we have to set boundaries for ourselves to exercise self-control and find that balance we keep referencing. If physical wellness is a tough one for you, maybe use another area as a reward, such as being creative after a work-out session. Instead of spending all of your time occupied in a good book, set aside time to work on building your social network. Each individual will have her own favorite areas of wellness – those areas that come easy, and those that are more of a challenge. Strive for balance. Your balance may not look like the next person’s.

What areas of wellness are easiest or hardest for you? What have been your most challenging barriers to overall wellness? Come discuss with other ladies in the Every Day Incredible Ladies facebook group. If you are interested in a more direct approach to setting your personal goals and achieving balance in wellness, check out the next step, our “Digging Deeper” private facebook group.

 

Philippians 3:14 (NIV)
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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