Check The Environment

The other day an Instagram friend posted this quote:

“When a flower doesn’t bloom you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.” – Alexander Den Heijer

I loved this because it resonated in me. But as swiftly as the thoughts came in, life swept them away.

I was going through my Facebook newsfeed a few days later and was quickly reminded of that post. It was from an article in the Paris Review from author CJ Hauser. The essay titled The Crane Wife was an incredible read about how a woman found herself on a crane research trip after breaking off an engagement. Here’s the passage that took me back to that earlier post:

Here is what I learned once I began studying whooping cranes: only a small part of studying them has anything to do with the birds. Instead we counted berries. Counted crabs. Measured water salinity. Stood in the mud. Measured the speed of the wind.

It turns out, if you want to save a species, you don’t spend your time staring at the bird you want to save. You look at the things it relies on to live instead. You ask if there is enough to eat and drink. You ask if there is a safe place to sleep. Is there enough here to survive?

Why did this hit me so hard? Spending the last five years ardently working on myself by dealing with my weight, my food addiction, and my (often crippling) anxiety I discovered a link I never knew I was missing! I’ve been so focused on myself that I haven’t paused – consciously – to consider my environment.

When a person has a weight issue it’s often because there’s an imbalance somewhere. Many will consider that imbalance to ONLY be calories in far exceed calories out. It would be nice if that were true. It’s just one part of a much more complex algorithm! There’s usually an underlying cause that leads to the pure calorie math.

For example, consider the environment in which a person lives. Has food insecurity ever been an issue? A person who was deprived food through poverty or even through a parent’s withholding can be a factor.

I personally know a woman whose mother was terrified she’d grow up to be fat. She was slightly overweight when we were kids and her mother was obsessed with how much she ate, what she could eat and where she could eat. Her mother constantly micromanaged her food. When I saw her ten years after we graduated from high school she had gained a lot of weight. I often wondered if leaving her parents house where she had no one to stop her or manage her food led to her weight gain. Turns out her mother was heavy as a child and was taunted throughout her school years. Her desire to save her daughter from the same treatment was the motivation behind her behavior.

Trauma is another item to consider. Comedian Russell Brand famously said this:

Cannabis isn’t a gateway drug. 
Alcohol isn’t a gateway drug. 
Nicotine isn’t a gateway drug. 
Caffeine isn’t a gateway drug.

Trauma is the gateway.
Childhood abuse is the gateway. 
Molestation is the gateway. 
Neglect is the gateway. 

Drug abuse, violent behavior, hypersexuality, and self-harm are often symptoms (not the cause) of much bigger issues.

And it almost always stems from a childhood filled with trauma, absent parents, and an abusive family.

But most people are too busy laughing at the homeless and drug addicts to realize your own children could be in their shoes in 15 years.

Communicate. 
Empathize. 
Rehabilitate.

— Russell Brand

When I first saw this, it hit me hard. The weight of that truth sunk into my core. Although he doesn’t specifically mention food, when it’s abused food can be just as dangerous! When I started to take on the challenge of my weight I had to consider the source! What is the root of my eating? It wasn’t only WHAT I was eating (calorie math) but WHY was I eating (complex algorithm)?

I was stagnant in my behaviors for years. I discovered that despite how I felt about myself the greater risk was in changing. It was far easier to stay the same! I willingly chose a life where I was so miserable in my own skin because even though I was unhappy with myself it was far more comfortable to stay in my misery than to attempt to do something and potentially fail… again. I knew my misery and ended up making it my friend. I was the flower that wouldn’t bloom but I didn’t have the strength to consider switching my environment!

Looking back, I see how taking the steps to work on myself contributed to a change in my environment. To be successful in how you live after surgery you have to be able to eat according to a plan. Before surgery I’d often order food or go out to fast food. I’d have a steady supply of ice cream, chocolate, and cookies at my disposal at all times! You can’t do that after surgery. The first environment I changed was my kitchen! I didn’t even realize that’s what happened!

If you’re struggling or lost, have you considered what in your environment is hindering you? Look around and take stock. Then look inside and try to uncover the roots. Having the courage to honestly get to truth of your weight and being willing to challenge the environment around you will lead to success.

Back On Track After Illness

I started to write a blog the other day about my sinus surgery. It really wasn’t until I started to write everything down that I noticed just how long my sinuses have given me problems. I actually first started presenting issues back in May of 2018. That was a year ago!

The past year has been amazing from doing my TEDx Talk, launching my book, and having my dream book signing at my favorite book shop Savoy. I was even nominated for an Athena award, celebrated 10 years with my husband, and moved! Did I mention that I teach POUND several days a week and take karate?

In the midst of all these great things I also took 10 rounds of oral antibiotics of increasing strength and duration, took prednisone for far longer than I ever wanted to, had a PICC line of antibiotics since my “severe persistent maxillary sinus infection” seemed to never go away. Through it all I rarely paused.

Figuring out I’m allergic to a host of plants, animals, and fungi and starting immunotherapy has been great but finally going in to repair my deviated septum and tool through my sinuses has been incredible. I sleep better, breathe better, and even though the first couple of days I felt like I was hit with a bat it is all worth it.

Now that I’m feeling better I got to see just how much this has affected me. I was always very diligent with journaling my food and meal prep but the past few months have been so draining that I barely kept up. It’s easy to make excuses when you don’t feel well. Being under the weather is always a great excuse to slack.

If you’ve been around these Blog parts for a while you’ll know that I’ve had a very unhealthy relationship with scales. It was bordering on obsessive and emotionally controlling. When I had RNY Gastric Bypass I only weighed myself at the doctors office until those appointments became less frequent. I then implemented what I call the Rumble Strip.

On a roadway the rumble strip is the lines placed in the asphalt beyond the white line. When your tires hit them it makes an alarming sound jilting the driver back to attention. My rumble strip is a pair of pants. I have a pair of jeans that I love. They fit well and the true test is how they fit fresh out of the dryer. If I ever want to check how I’m doing I’ll throw on those pants and let them be my guide.

I haven’t done it in a while and with my general slack and boatload of excuses I knew it was time. I put them on yesterday after 3 solid weeks of limited activity recovering from my surgery. They went over my hips and zipped just fine. The button, however, not my finest hour. I’ve officially hit the rumble strip and I’m finally feeling well enough to tackle it!

So many people ask about getting back on track. Not just after weight loss surgery but after any way that you’ve lost before and began the slow creep back. The best thing is always to go back to basics. You know what you did that worked so return there and begin again. The month of June I’m doing a 30 Day Re-Focus where I’ll return to my basics and get back on track.

What are Basics?

  • Count macros and calories
  • Journal all food (if you bite it write it)
  • Chart how I feel when I eat
  • Be sure I’m pausing and taking 10 seconds (read about that HERE)
  • Increase step goal to 15,000 per day
  • Move 60 mins per day
  • Meal prep!

What are NOT Basics?

  • Getting upset about gain
  • Isolating and not addressing the issue
  • Continuing to live in your excuses
  • Not trying to correct the behavior before it gets out of control
  • Hating yourself

Remember:

  • You cannot hate yourself happy
  • You cannot shame yourself thin
  • You can take steps to correct
  • You can reach out for help and accountability
  • You can bounce back
  • We can do it together
  • Give yourself 30 days

Before May 31st

  • Weigh yourself
  • Take measurements
  • Make sure you have a place to journal your food
  • Find an accountability partner or check in with me
  • Have at least 3 days of healthy and portioned meals ready to go
  • Be ready to take this challenge on!
  • NOTE: You will not weigh in or take measurements until July 1st. Feel free to put on your Rumble Strip pants to check progress if you NEED to see how you’re doing before July.

You’ll be amazed what 30 days of focus can do! Let’s do it together. I’ll be posting some free reference guides and helpful planning tips.

The Cruelest Words I’ve Heard

I read a post on a bariatric group a few weeks ago that just stayed with me. She wrote this:

It’s so sad that strangers are so much nicer to me since I lost weight.

This is a fact that many men and women notice after weight loss. People can be truly cruel, especially when someone who is not an ideal body type. I’ve often said that weight is the lowest hanging fruit on the insult tree. The first thing people grab when they want to throw an insult.

You fat (enter insult here)!!!

Don’t think this is limited to just overweight people. Thin people get this too and it’s just as damaging. I used to think calling someone skinny was the ultimate compliment because I wanted to be thin so badly. It’s not an compliment regardless of your intention. It’s a stone that when thrown leaves a mark. You can’t see the mark but trust me, it’s there.

Ultimately, people are much kinder after weight loss. When I first started walking I didn’t want to walk outside because I didn’t want the stares from people on the street or hear insults yelled from cars. This has happened more frequently than you can imagine.

I was eating an ice cream cone at a county fair minding my own business when a man walked up to me and said:

That’s probably part of your problem.

I don’t know what he gained from this. If your mission in life was break me down emotionally by attacking me verbally, then you won, good for you. If you thought this one second insult made in passing somehow got through to me and I would drop my ice cream and join a gym, that’s where you went wrong. You only succeeded in making me feel bad about myself which is the precursor to bingeing. You literally threw a log on the slow burning embers of my fragile self esteem. Congratulations.

Next my mind wandered to a different place. I’ve fought the battle of my weight for over 30 years. Thirty years of not feeling beautiful – and thinking people who said I was beautiful was lying or crazy. This is not a way to live. Then it hit me:

The cruelest words I’ve ever heard are the ones I say to myself daily.

Yes, people definitely treat me better now that I’m smaller, however, that’s an issue that will only be changed when people learn to accept that all body’s are different but all deserve respect. I can’t change other people’s thoughts, opinions, or even their cruelest words. I can control mine.

I don’t believe in diets or resolutions. I believe in creating lifestyle changes that will better my heath and wellbeing. This year I’m working on that nagging voice that gets in the back of my mind and tells me I’m not enough, not ideal, or not worthy. Negative self talk ends today.

The bible verse 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NASB) is a great reminder:

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?

Notice it reads “your body is a temple.”

It doesn’t say your body is a temple when:

  • You lose weight
  • You gain muscle
  • You cut carbs
  • You fit your high school prom dress
  • You get your body back after childbirth

Your body is a temple – without qualifier! Again, I’m not one for resolutions but I am all about a good, healthy goal. My goal this year is to silence my inner evil critic and remember my body is a temple and should be treated with – and spoken to – with respect.

Who’s with me?

Farewell 2018

Thank you 2018. What a whirlwind year! Goals achieved, dreams realized, and relationships cultivated; tempered with loss of loved ones, physical health issues, and personal challenges. From the joy of publishing my book and speaking on the famous red dot of TEDx to the tragedy of losing my aunt, this has been a year.

What I’ll take from every joy and pain of 2018, is that life ebbs and flows moment by moment. We tend to trick ourselves into the newness of a year on January 1st but a new opportunity is born every second. Not just on January 1st, not on Monday morning, but every moment you’re alive is a chance to do better or be better. Don’t get sucked into the hype of a new year. Be present in moments. If you stumble, all is not lost! With the simple blink of an eye, by the grace of God, you can try again.

Thank you 2018. If you’re reading this then my heartfelt thanks to you! What a gift and pleasure to share this space with you all. I can’t wait to show you what’s planned for 2019!

God Bless!

Regina

Perfectionism, Food Issues and Karate

I’m definitely a perfectionist. I like things done. Right. The first time. I like doing things well and I’m obsessed with things like order and placement. From a marketing perspective this can be considered great or even ideal. One thing that really changed my life was when I discovered perfection’s back story. Perfection is really fear, anxiety, and procrastination doing an elaborate dance.

What does that mean? I can’t speak for all people, but I can certainly speak to my own experiences. Looking over my past behaviors – which was essential to weight loss – I discovered that I would often opt to do NOTHING if I couldn’t do it PERFECTLY. Inevitably, the task I needed to do would likely take more time to complete but I’d want to do it immediately. If I didn’t have the time to do that, I’d leave it to another day.

Perfection is merely procrastination in a tuxedo.

In our last house I had an office studio where I’d make personalized items. After the holiday season it was usually a wreck. I’d open the door and want to clean it to sheer perfection. Realizing how that was impossible I’d simply shut the door and wait until I had more time. If I did get to the place where I’d actually tackle it, I’d often get so overwhelmed at the enormity of it all and shut down. Greetings Anxiety! I knew you’d show up eventually!

As I began the process for weight loss surgery, I noticed how a lot of this behavior was not only in office clean up but heavily tied to my food behaviors. I would never say, “I’m going to cook dinner tonight.” I would say, “I’m going to cook dinner every night for the rest of my life!” When I failed once at my Lifetime Cooking Goal I’d go right back to ordering out because I failed.

I had to recognize that I was constantly setting myself up for failure! In my office I could’ve planned to break down what needed to be done into smaller, more manageable tasks, set a deadline for completing those tasks, and worked toward completion. With cooking dinner I could’ve endeavored to cook that one night and work up to cooking more often.

I mind-tricked myself out of my own wellness!

My internal need for perfection would often have me procrastinating until I felt that I could accomplish something perfectly. What a realization!

As I applied this model of breaking things down into smaller and more manageable tasks, I realized it was not just in office cleanliness or wellness that I had this issue. Karate brought out a lot of this behavior. I wanted to have black belt skills as a white belt. Yeah, that’s not possible. I’d often go home after class and beat myself up for not learning fast enough or looking as good as my peers. It was challenging physically and even more mentally.

After a while, you realize that you will only get better with dedication and practice. I am not a black belt so I won’t have black belt skills. What I can do is learn and practice. I will not know anything instantly. I will have to break it down, learn it in pieces, and put it together over time.

One of the most valuable pieces to all of this is the realization that doing something – even something unbelievably small – is better than doing nothing at all. Gracefully bow out of the Dance of Perfection and Procrastination and begin.

Progress not perfection.

Did You Do It Yourself

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to have a booth selling and signing my books at the Rhode Island Women’s Expo. I loved sharing Food, Sweat, & Fears with new people.

Weight is so personal. You could see it in how people chose to engage at the booth. Some didn’t want to engage at all, while others had more curiosity. Many people opened up and shared stories of about themselves or a loved one battling the issues of weight. Most people seemed like they were looking for The Secret Missing Link Of Weight Loss.

The most frequent question was this:

Did you do it yourself?

The battle rages on. People still seem to believe that weight loss surgery has no element of work and is considered “cheating” weight loss. There was a woman who had surgery and called it cheating! I was stunned. She intimately knows how much work is involved in this process and still called it cheating!

My work is not done. I will continue to speak and share my message about the surgical options for weight loss. Surgery is NOT for everyone but removing the stigma from this option can save lives.

Weight loss surgery is not a quick fix or even a guarantee of weight loss. Long term success eludes most people after surgery. This can be directly attributed falling back into unhealthy eating behaviors after surgery. When you’ve spent your life exhibiting poor eating choices – like me – or you use food as a primary coping strategy – like me – this can be extremely challenging. You have to do the work. No matter how you choose to lose weight there will be work to do.

Coming out of the Thanksgiving Food Olympics and heading straight into Christmas Cookie Season, makes me really sensitive to people’s comments. Probably because the hardest workout I do this season is shaking my head from left to right refusing your offers of cookies and cakes.

I have to do that all by myself.

______________

Did you know you can preorder my new, expanded cookbook Healthy Fare today? Ships before Christmas! Check it out here: Healthy Fare

Thanksgiving and the Emotional Bondage of Food

FLASHBACK: This was originally posted on my Facebook page on November 14, 2016. For reference, this was nearly 2 years after surgery and one week after the NYC Marathon.

Food. If Halloween is like the World Championships then Thanksgiving is definitely the Food Olympics. This is where you gather with family and friends and eat. Then eat. Then loosen your pants and eat. Followed by eating and packing takeout boxes for eating later when you can eat in sweatpants or leggings.

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. After being classified as Super Morbidly Obese for most of my life and then having RNY Gastric Bypass surgery I’ve managed to lose 250lbs. But please know that surgery may have cut my stomach but not my mind. I still love food. I’d love nothing more than to do a backstroke in a pool of stuffing but this is no longer my reality.

Yesterday, my church hosted this enormous Thanksgiving Dinner for our community completely free of charge and we get about 300 people. The night before we start to set up. I’m feeling tired and achy and thinking it’s just “post Marathon stuff.” It wasn’t. It was growing anxiety about being there. Being around people eating whatever they want in any amount. I miss being that free with food but when I was that free I was being held captive in a body that was so weak and sick.

By the following day, I was so tense thinking it was other things but really I was thinking of how many times people will offer me food, or pie, or anything! Will they say:

“Not even a little?”

“This can’t hurt!”

“Are you sure?”

Or when I explain why they say “Forever? Why would you do that?”

I would do that because I was miserable. I would do that because I was sitting on the sidelines watching life happen to other people. I would do that because I wanted to be healthy.

I know most people have no idea about the emotional bondage that food has for many people. If that’s never been your reality just know that for others Thanksgiving and all of the food holidays can be very hard.

So if I’m a little quiet, a little withdrawn, or refuse your invitation all together just know that it’s me and what I’m working through not any reflection of you or me not wanting to be there.

Missing our church Thanksgiving was hard but necessary. Missed you all!

2018 Addendum
Please, be aware of your words and actions with the people in your life who are dieting, making lifestyle changes, or who are trying to better their lives by reducing their weight. If they refuse your offer of food just know that it may be the HARDEST THING THEY’VE DONE. 

Overwhelming Wellness and the Power of Words

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately from people overwhelmed by their health goals. I totally understand it because everywhere you look there’s a new thing to try that could potentially be better than before. Keto. Low Carb. South Beach. Atkins. They all seem remarkably similar.

What do you choose?

I’ve discovered that for me it was abandoning all of it. Diet is a dirty word with a limited time connotation. You do it “for a while” then when you try to just live your life after the “diet” is over you’ve likely gained the weight back and more.

There’s a lot of power in words like “diet” and even “cheat meal” carries some weight. This meal that you can take advantage of for another limited time that usually brings you only emotional relief and no real nutritional value.

Now, let’s look at “junk” foods. You know what they are: chocolate, sugar, high fats, and usually quite delicious. They are also the first things you remove when you’re on a “diet.” “Healthy” foods are usually things like vegetables and kale and often carry the weight of a necessary evil in a diet.

Are you seeing the power of these words? Have you noticed when you eat “junk” you feel like junk? Or a “cheat” meal makes you feel like you’re getting away with something? Don’t you always want most what you cannot have and it almost seems sweeter when you “get away with it?”

Imagine there are no “good” or “bad” foods. Is it possible that food is food? Can a cinnamon roll drenched in gooey icing have the same word as kale? Food really is food BUT cinnamon rolls are less nutrient dense than kale. Ultimately, that’s the difference.

We strive so hard to be “perfect” on our “diets”‘and we often are; yet during that window of time, we’re miserable. We count down the moments to chocolate and bread and we can’t enjoy where we are or what we’re doing.

When I speak at the hospital the most frequent question I get about food is: “Does this mean I can never have (insert what you love here) ever again?” I’m not the Food Police for adults. When I opted for surgical weight loss it was because my weight was completely out of control and I couldn’t manage on my own without outside help. When I took that step I also realized that moderation is not a strength of mine. With RNY Gastric Bypass could I eat chocolate again? I choose every second of every day what goes in my mouth. Will my stomach tolerate it? Most likely not. Could I eat it? Yes. Should I? No. What just happened there?

I took the item I wanted – chocolate – and I ran it through a couple of gates before the gateway of my mouth.

  • Do I want it? Absolutely!
  • Is it nutrient dense? Not at all.
  • Am I helping to maintain my fitness goals with this? No.
  • Is wanting it NOW more important than my long-term goals? No.
  • Why do I want the chocolate? Usually, an emotional response to something troubling me or it just looks darn good.
  • Do I eat it? No.

There is no diet, or cheat meal, or junk food. They are all opportunities. An opportunity to eat nutrient-dense foods that work toward reaching your health goals and less nutrient-dense foods that may hold you back from your goals especially if these decisions continue to outweigh your nutrient dense decisions.

There’s one other interesting caveat to the power of words and your food choices. Calories. I hear a lot of this as well: “I eat good, healthy foods and I continue to gain weight!”

A calorie (kcal) is the amount of heat energy it takes to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius (Wikipedia). By this logic, 10,000 calories of ice cream and 10,000 calories of kale are equal. How your body uses the kale and the ice cream will certainly vary and there’s an entire degree program for Bioenergetics that I do NOT have. The groundbreaking thought process here is that you can still have too much of a “good” thing because if you aren’t burning those calories then weight gain is inevitable.

So what do you do?

Try to find a way to make peace with your food. Don’t give it names of good or bad or junk that will subconsciously assign an emotion to what you’re eating. Pass your options through several gates and ultimately decide if it’s worth it for you. My experiences with bingeing food made me very aware that food felt great…. until it didn’t. Find a way to live your life well and if you get a moment of indulgent, less nutrient-dense food then let that be what it is – an option you made. Not a failure, mistake, or any other negative connotation. If it was a decision you wished you didn’t make, acknowledge it and remember the next time your making decisions.

Stop dieting and start living!

Also see: Take Ten Seconds.

Self Improvement and Self Acceptance

Have you ever heard a quote that instantly made you pause? Something that strikes right into the heart of who you are or what you believe? My friend is a yoga instructor at our YMCA and she’s implementing a series of quotes on self acceptance into her classes this session. She provided me the quotes she was going to use. I read down the list and they were all wonderful but one really stopped me from reading on. I was almost forced to consider its meaning. I love that.

“No amount of self improvement can make up for any lack of self acceptance.” Robert Holden

Whoa! Pump the brakes! I was transported to the very origins of my weight and body image issues. In a flash, I was back to battling with my body, how much I hated it, and how badly I wanted it to change.  I never maintained any long-term success.  I remember losing a lot of weight and not being happy because it was never enough. Then the frustration would set in and I’d find myself back where I was or worse.

What was missing in all of this – which was the soul of my TEDx Talk – was acceptance. I needed to love and appreciate my body just as it was. I had to find value where I didn’t see it before. My body always had value, even if I never noticed it, including my Jiggly Arms!

That self acceptance clears the path to self improvement. You can want to improve yourself by getting in better shape, being more active, or whatever but until you have genuine gratitude for who you are as you are you’ll be spinning the spiral of “never good enough.”

Love yourself today because (drum roll)

“No amount of self improvement will make up for any lack of self acceptance.”

Another reason this speaks so clearly is that I’m working on a program based on my experiences with food and body issues. I did a soft launch with a few people a few months ago and saw that it needed some restructuring before a full launch. Ultimately, I needed more time to put it together and run it effectively. Here’s one of the days of the original program:

When you love something isn’t it easier to take care of it? You are the same way! Your body is the same way! Self love seems simple for some but for people with long-standing issues with their body the concept is almost revolutionary.

What part of your body do you struggle with loving?

Can you accept it right now?

Can you thank it for something it’s done? Try it.

If you’re interested in being a part of the Compass Course launch let me know by filling out the form below.

God and the Stupid Muffin

There is no doubt in my mind that God provides divine appointments. What some will consider serendipitous or lucky I believe has been put in place by the Creator.

Many know the story of my friend Kathy that I met at the NYC Marathon in 2016. The full story is in my book Food, Sweat, & Fears (no spoilers). There was also the day that I was feeling defeated after an 11 mile training run and my friend Jaime posted something on my Facebook wall that provided comfort and understanding when I needed it most. God places people where we need them, when we need them… especially when we had no idea we needed them!

This brings us to one day at Panera about 8 months after I had RNY Gastric Bypass. By this point I’d already lost 150lbs and I was doing well. I was out shopping and realized I hadn’t eaten in a while and there was a lot of fast food places and a Panera immediately around me. I decided Panera would be my best bet for fresh and healthy food choices. When I walked in the first thing I noticed is the large case filled with bakery items. Bagels, cookies, and breads of all kinds displayed lovingly. The line to order was long and as I waited and I couldn’t help staring at the display case.

Then I saw him. He was as beautiful as ever. Round with the tiniest hint of shimmer and flecked with raisins. This pumpkin muffin was positively calling my name. As the line winded down I was only closer to him. I think I broke out into a sweat.

Me: I don’t want you.

Pumpkin Muffin: Liar. You know you want me.

Me: I don’t. (I look away)

PM: Look at me and acknowledge you want me.

Me: (looking) Fine! I do want you.

PM: Then have me. I’m just one muffin!

Me: It’s NEVER one muffin AND I just had surgery! No! I could get dumping syndrome!

PM: (silence, just staring me down)

As much as I tried to ignore his obvious advances I was getting weak. Apparently, pumpkin muffins are like dogs… they can smell fear.

PM: Just try it and not everyone who has RNY gets dumping syndrome.

Now, the PM is making sense! I could try it. Maybe just take a tiny bite. How bad could that be? I don’t know anyone here! Who would know?

It’s just one stupid muffin.

I finally get to the front of the line and it’s shift change. Of course it is! I always get to places at the wrong time. If there’s a construction person ordering coffee for an entire job site I’m always behind them at the coffee shop. I’m frustrated and now I know I’m going to order that muffin! That will totally make this better.

IT’S JUST ONE STUPID MUFFIN!!

Just as I’m so looking forward to stuffing that muffin in my mouth and savoring every ounce of it – dumping syndrome be damned – a woman comes out to take my order.

Her: Hello! How are you?

I nearly passed out! The smiling woman ready to take my order is Mary Ellen, woman from my church who lives in our neighborhood! She knows me and I’m sure she knows that I had surgery! I couldn’t believe it! When did she start to work there? My heart was palpitating. Can I order the muffin like it’s for a friend? Maybe she doesn’t know what I can and can’t eat? Ugh! What should I do? I really want that stupid muffin!

When God speaks to me sometimes it’s the tiniest whisper in the wind and that gentle breeze of truth changes my heart. This verse was that whisper:

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

This time, the whisper felt like a 2×4 to the head! Am I honoring God by trying to justify eating this muffin that has over half of my daily calories? I was one smile-from-a-friend away from sacrificing what I want most – my health – for what I want right now – one stupid muffin! After greeting her warmly I order my plan approved meal and went on my way. That was a seriously close call.

I thought of this divine appointment all the way home. I could see that God knew I was being tempted and placed Mary Ellen directly in my path.

In Greek mythology Sirens were bird-like women with beautiful voices who use their alluring sounds to entice sailors into destruction. The sailors would hear the song and follow it only to have their boats crash on the rocks. Food is my siren song that leaves my will and common sense crashing on the rocks. Food is absolutely everywhere and temptation never takes a sick day. I lose count of how often I think of food and how many times I have to say no to myself per day. I can’t think of how many times I pray for the strength to do the right thing. I’m just grateful to Jesus I have a place to take these temptations and anxieties!

I thought of this story today because I’ve been working on a project and praying for direction. I know what I’m trying to accomplish but I’ve been struggling on some key parts that have held up progress. Yesterday, my only plans were to go to church and meet up with Mary Ellen’s sister. Both of these events almost didn’t happen because I was sidelined by a horrible sinus infection for nearly a week.

Feeling better that morning, I made my way to church and kept my other appointment. These were both divinely ordained. In church, the Pastor’s sermon was directly related to what I was working on and I asked for his guidance on my project. We were both very much aligned with what I was sharing. It was exciting to know I was on the right path and had someone willing to keep me on the path.

When I met my new friend that afternoon it was a tremendous blessing. I’ve often spoken of the power of understanding and the joy that comes from a person who truly gets you. Our conversation will travel through my mind and soul for years to come. Turns out, she is also a person who could greatly influence my project and I had no idea the depth of her knowledge and skill. I didn’t need to know because God placed her squarely in my path on that day, at that time.

I’ve struggled for years with asking for help. I’ve definitely improved over time but sometimes I’ll end up hanging on to something way too long instead of just asking the question that could end the wait. As I reflected on the day this was the whisper over my heart:

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

And this time it really was a whisper.