79 Days

Once upon a time, I used to be a weight loss blogger. I had a day of reckoning back in 2008, when I stepped on a scale and saw a number I never thought I would see. I am not sure exactly what clicked for me, but I decided enough was enough and began waking up to walk slowly on the treadmill. I counted calories. Days added up to weeks, which turned into months, and within the first year I lost 50 pounds. Over the course of 2 years, I lost 90 pounds, and I blogged the ups and downs, including what I’m sure now were boring posts about workouts and weigh-ins and my newly-discovered love of running. As the years passed and trials stacked themselves on top of each other like so many weights on a barbell, the number on the scale began ticking up, the workouts slowed until they stopped, and running took a backseat to ice packs and hip surgeries.

On Saturday, I had another day of reckoning. I weighed myself and saw a number I never thought I would see, one even higher than that fateful day 11 years ago. Within the past year alone I have gained almost 25 pounds. The Erin of January 2019 wouldn’t have cared much about this fact, since she was too busy sinking in the deep waters of depression, but the Erin of October 2019, the one who now has her head above water and has been treading there for the better part of a month? This Erin cares very much, and this Erin is going to do something about it.

Today, I’m going to start counting calories. I’m going to start practicing saying no to my sweet tooth. I’m going to learn all over again that delayed gratification is better than instant indulgence. I’m going to remember how it feels to see the number go down instead of up. I’m going to experience the satisfaction of honoring the Lord with my body and with my choices. I’m going to starve my flesh and feed my spirit with His Word when I am tempted. I’m going to say no to self-hatred and yes to adoration of the One who made me fearfully and wonderfully.

I’m also going to have bad days. I’ll have failures. I’ll have times when I question if I’ll ever get where I want and need to be. But what I don’t want to have is more regret. Even if all I have at the end of this year is 79 days of trying to lose weight (yes, there really are only 79 days left in the year–I counted), that’s more than I had at the beginning. I’ll at least have 79 days of trying to make better choices. 79 days of saying no to defeat and yes to discipline. 79 days of choosing joy over pity, and worship over worry.

The complicated thing about weight loss for me is that it’s not just a physical thing. The number on the scale is merely a reflection of an uglier reality: food is my drug, and I am addicted. I have been worshiping at the altar of food and giving it far too much of myself. I have looked to food to fill a place in my life that only God can truly satisfy. I am tired of being enslaved. My soul needs this change even more than my body. I wish that food addiction weren’t a part of my story, but it is, and it’s time to start the next chapter.

I honestly don’t know how much I will blog about this. I have no aspirations of becoming a weight loss blogger, but I also know that accountability–even the kind of accountability that comes from having a blog–is beneficial. I hope you will join me for this next chapter, in whatever form it takes. Hopefully the ending will be worth it.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There’s Something About November 12…

Two years ago today I had arthroscopic surgery on my right hip. I posted on Facebook after the surgery and said that I was looking forward to starting the journey toward being pain free. Two years, another hip surgery, weeks on crutches and even more weeks of physical therapy (and not mention a few thousand dollars) later, and it seems that I’m still on that journey toward being pain free.

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Sometimes I have questioned whether surgery was the right thing, but I know it’s foolish to question decisions I’ve already made, for I can’t change the past. And if I had to do it all over again, I probably still would have the surgeries because if I didn’t, I would always wonder if I did everything I could to find and treat the source of my pain. Even though my surgeries didn’t have the complete outcome I hoped they would, they did show me how blessed I am to have a strong support system. My husband was invaluable to me in the days and weeks after my surgery, helping me get out of bed and to the bathroom and in the shower and around the house and on and on and on. My parents helped care for Charlotte and also for me. My church family made sure we had meals to help us in the early weeks, and I don’t even know how many prayers were prayed for me. There is nothing like suffering to show you who your friends are.

Five years ago today, I came home from another visit to a hospital, this time after spending a week there and finding out I have ulcerative colitis. I remember feeling so incredibly grateful to be at home and being overwhelmed with the kindness of the Lord. I had a chronic illness but also a heightened sense of God’s love for me.

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I don’t have any desire to spend more time in a hospital, but I’m thankful for the way that the Lord has watched over me there and everywhere. I’m thankful for the way this day reminds me that the Lord’s mercies are new every day.

Giving Thanks for Chronic Illness

Five years ago today, I woke up from a drug-induced nap to see my parents as they sat by my hospital bed, ready to give me the news that would change my life. I had just had a colonoscopy, one test in a string of different tests that doctors did to figure out why I had been so sick for weeks. But with this test, I finally had an answer: ulcerative colitis, a condition I would become well-acquainted with over the weeks and years to follow.

Today I looked at pictures taken around that time and remembered anew how sick I felt. I had lost weight and was incredibly fatigued and soul-weary and beyond tired of visiting the bathroom. But in the midst of my confusion and sadness, the Lord met me with His peace. I felt Him with me and knew that because of Him, I would be fine, more than fine even. I had spent that year reading through the Bible, and that foundation of truth upheld me when I needed it most. The Lord prepared me for that season of sickness by grounding me in His Word, and so even though I didn’t know what the future held, I knew I could trust Him with it.

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Smiling after my first shower without being attached to an IV pole.

The years since my diagnosis have been equal parts difficult and beautiful. At one point I was taking 16 pills a day. I dealt with a variety of side effects from medications and the disease itself. I have spent many hours in doctors’ offices and given up dozens of vials of blood. I didn’t achieve remission until 3 years after being diagnosed. Even though my disease has been inactive for 2 years, I still wake up each day not knowing if I will find myself in a flare.

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At one point I was taking 9-12 of these pills a day. Now I’m down to 4 a day.

But I do not dwell on the uncertainty of my disease; I dwell instead on the certainty of the Lord’s kindness. He was faithful to me in that hospital room, He is faithful to me now, and He will be faithful to me always, for He must be true to His character. I may not be able to control or fully trust my body, but I wholeheartedly trust the God who made it. He knows me inside and out, and in His Son, I have all that I need. Ulcerative colitis taught me to let go of control and embrace God’s sovereignty in a way I hadn’t before, and that is a gift so valuable that I am able to give thanks to God for my chronic illness. Chronic illness has taught me not to depend solely on medicine or doctors but on the Lord, for He holds my past, present, and future in His hands.

I give thanks that in regards to my disease, I feel better now than I have in a long time. Back in May, I stopped taking Humira, a drug that I self-injected every 2 weeks for 4 1/2 years, to prepare for Ava’s arrival. I have yet to take it again, almost 6 full months later. I am on less medication than I have been since I was diagnosed. Of course, all of that could change tomorrow because autoimmune diseases are largely unpredictable. I’m not foolish enough to think I will enjoy this level of health forever, but I give thanks while it lasts and will give thanks when the next flare comes because I know the Lord will meet me there. I may not be cured in this lifetime, but I know that one day I will stand before Jesus healed and holy. Glory to God.

When a Picture Is Worth a Thousand Feelings

On Tuesday night I received the link to the family pictures we had taken a couple of weeks ago. These were our first professional pictures since we became a family of four, and I couldn’t wait to see them. I scrolled through sweet pictures of my two girls, but then I got to pictures with all four of us, and my heart dropped. I could not believe how HUGE I looked in the pictures. It’s ridiculous that I was blindsided by this because I own a scale and have been on it recently, so it’s not as though I was unaware of how much I weigh or what size clothing I currently wear. I think in my mind I was still picturing myself at a lower weight, but pictures don’t lie. Seeing these pictures woke me up to the fact that I have allowed myself to reach a weight I never thought I would see again. I’m currently the heaviest I’ve been in nine years, and that is a tough truth to acknowledge. I love the pictures of my sweet family, but I can’t help but wish that I looked a lot thinner.

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I know I had a baby two months ago, but even before I got pregnant I was heavier than I wanted to be and yet doing little about it. I used the pain in my hips and the depression that accompanied that pain as an excuse to eat poorly and not exercise. Instead, I fed my sadness and hopelessness with food. I knew what I was doing, I saw the number on the scale gradually go up, and yet it was hard to stop. After I got pregnant with Ava, I let pregnancy be my excuse for eating sweets more often and generally being a lazy bum. I told myself that after I had Ava I would get serious about losing weight. If I lost the weight before, there is no reason I can’t lose it again, and yet I look at pictures of me when I was at my lowest weight and feel like I don’t even know who that person is anymore.

So here I find myself, completely overwhelmed by how much weight I have to lose and disgusted with how I look, but have I done anything about it? Not yet. I keep telling myself that something has to change, and then I keep on doing the same things that got me where I am today and then feel sad that I’m this fat.

However, moping about my weight isn’t going to make me thinner. Moping about my weight isn’t going to make my clothes fit better. Moping about my weight isn’t going to make me pick healthier foods. Moping isn’t going to change anything, except maybe to make me feel even worse about myself. Dwelling on the past has rarely served me well. Instead, I want to dwell on this fact: God doesn’t want me to be skinny as much as He wants me to be holy. I have to stop being so self-absorbed and remember the truth of the gospel: I am approved before God because of the work of Jesus on my behalf. How I look has absolutely nothing to do with God’s love and acceptance of me. When I remember who I am in Christ, I can let go of the feelings of despair and hopelessness. When I remember who I am in Christ, I can fight the temptation to eat to excess. When I remember who I am in Christ, I can have confidence not in myself, but in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me. Food does not love me back. Food will not satisfy the deepest longings of my heart, but God will.

The battle I am fighting is a spiritual battle as well as a physical one, and it’s time I put on my armor.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10-11

“With the merciful you show yourself merciful;
    with the blameless man you show yourself blameless;
26 with the purified you show yourself pure;
    and with the crooked you make yourself seem tortuous.
27 For you save a humble people,
    but the haughty eyes you bring down.
28 For it is you who light my lamp;
    the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
29 For by you I can run against a troop,
    and by my God I can leap over a wall.
30 This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:25-30