Envisioning Better Health? Start Within.

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Health is more than eating right and exercising.
It is addressing the well being of our spirits, souls, and bodies.

I attended a City Current seminar with The Biggest Loser trainer Dolvett Quince on September 21, 2018. He said, “Health is four pillars – physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional. If any one of those pillars are off, then the other pillars will suffer.”

I could write the book on what to do to lose weight: drink eight glass of water a day, cut out meat, sugar, and carbs, sleep 6-8 hours straight, etc. Why I wasn’t doing it consistently is the key to addressing the root of my weight issues. I have had to take a tough, honest look at my walk with Christ, my relationships, daily habits, surroundings, beliefs about myself, and more.

Living Out My Vision for Better Health

Since the beginning of 2019, through God’s grace, I have lost over 20 pounds. I am truly thankful. This is a lifelong process. I’m just walking this journey out with Jesus day by day. However, the following life changes have contributed to this result:

I have my quiet time with the Lord daily. I fill up on Him so I don’t have to fill up on food later.

Rick Warren in his Purpose Driven Life book said that while we can resist the devil, “The Bible never says, ‘Resist temptation.’ It says, ‘Flee temptation.'” Kimberly Taylor of Take Back Your Temple said, “The best way to win a fight is to not even get in the ring.” I moved out of my parents’ house and essentially fled food temptation and stepped out of the ring. My food purchasing decisions are completely mine. I no longer have to contend with soul food, cakes, pies, sodas, etc. I think twice before purchasing any of these items for myself because I don’t want to waste money on food that does not serve me.

I strengthened my decision by hiring an accountability partner Trina Sette, CEO of Go for Goals, to help keep me consistent. The three daily goals I routinely set are: follow the Daniel Plan, do 30 minutes of activity each day, and cut off eating after 9 pm. When I am tempted to venture away from these goals, I remember that she will call me at 10:15 am the next morning. I don’t want to come up short, and I don’t want to waste my money. In this way, accountability serves as the bridge between my decision and my results.

Trina also said during our initial call, “Food is not fun. It is only fuel.” I have had to disconnect food from the many other meanings I was assigning to it. It is not fun. It is not love. It is not comfort. It is not relationship. It is not relief from boredom or stress. It is not something to do. It is not a way to deal with my feelings. I can turn to Jesus for help with these concerns. Food’s only purpose is to give me energy to fulfill God’s vision for my life.

My work cutoff time is now 10 pm. This means I can get to bed earlier, get up earlier, and start my day feeling more refreshed.

Questions to Consider if Struggling With Weight

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If weight loss or maintenance has been a challenge for you as it has for me over the years, I ask that you consider the following questions. Hopefully, the answers will help you uncover the root of the issue.

Do you believe that God loves you?

Do you spend time with God daily?

Have you invited God into your weight loss journey?

Do you love yourself?

Do you know how to say no to yourself?

Do you know how to say no to others?

How are your relationships with others? Who energizes you? Who drains you?

How do you handle comments (good or bad) about your body?

How do you handle offense?

Do you feel your voice matters?

Do you ask for help when you need it?

Do you overcommit?

Do you have a vision for your life?

When you fail, how do you respond?

When someone says, “Just one cookie (or chip or whatever food will throw you off your plan) won’t hurt…” how do you respond?

When you decide to pursue better health, do you strengthen it with accountability to someone outside your world to gain and maintain results?

Is your environment set up to help your health goals?

Do you eat for any other reason than fueling your body?

Is there an area of your life where you need to face fear and step out on faith?

Why do you want to lose weight? Is it to better fulfill God’s purpose for you? Or do you want to lose weight for an event? A mate? Appearance? Revenge? To satisfy someone else’s desire for you? Because you know you should? Etc. (Hint: Besides living for God’s glory, none of these other reasons will work long-term.)

Are there any other questions that you think should be added to the list? What’s your health story? I would love to hear from you.

Dare to Believe

In February 2018, I reached out to coaching organization Noomii for help with my career. After initial consultations with three coaches, I worked with the great Marilyn Rose of Marilyn Rose Coaching. Throughout our sessions, Marilyn taught me about energy leadership styles, asked penetrating questions that led to discovering new perspectives, changed certain thought and behavior patterns, encouraged me to believe in my gifts and talents, and challenged me to stand in my truth with love, but without fear. She also offered unlimited support via e-mail, text, and phone calls. For more information, check out her website here: http://www.marilynrosecoaching.com.

One of the first encouraging words she gave was the following poem Dare to Believe.  I hope it also empowers you for your life’s vision.

Everybody Knows:
You can’t be all things to all people.
You can’t do all things at once.
You can’t do all things equally well.
You can’t do all things better than everyone else.
Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.

You have to find out who you are, and be that.
You have to decide what comes first, and do that.
You have to discover your strengths, and use them.
You have to learn not to compete with others,
Because no one else is in the contest of being you.

You will have learned to accept your own uniqueness.
You will have learned to set priorities and make decisions.
You will have learned to live with your limitations.
You will have learned to give yourself the respect that is due.
And you’ll be a most vital mortal.

Dare To Believe:
That you are a wonderful, unique person.
That you are a once-in-all-history event.
That it’s more than a right, it’s your duty, to be who you are.
That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish.
And you’ll be able to stay one up on what used to get you down.

Making Peace With Me

This poem addresses one of my greatest challenges: the comparison trap. Every time I compare myself, my gifts, talents, limitations, and challenges with others, I lose my joy. I used to ask, “Why don’t I have Beyonce’s body? Why can’t I live overseas? Why can’t I strike out on my own without any family ties? Why can’t I go to Hollywood?”

Over time, I have made peace with the fact that I have broad shoulders instead of an hourglass frame, that my calling starts in America, that one of God’s purposes for me is to love, serve and empower my family, church, and community, and that the seemingly glamorous Hollywood is largely smoke and mirrors.

Which one of these points in the poem is the greatest challenge for you? What is your biggest takeaway? I would love to hear from you.

Isn’t It Romantic?

Tonight, my friend and I saw the romantic comedy Isn’t It Romantic? starring Rebel Wilson as Natalie, a New York architect who works hard to get noticed at her job but is more likely to deliver coffee and bagels than design the city’s next skyscraper. She gets knocked unconscious in a subway mugging and wakes up to find herself in an alternate universe. Disenchanted by love, Natalie’s worst nightmare comes true when she suddenly realizes she is playing the leading lady in a real-life romantic comedy.

The movie’s self-awareness about the many clichés of romantic comedies make it a joy to watch. It also features several themes about the importance of vision and love.

Worthy of Love

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Young Natalie watches Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere.

As a young girl, Natalie loved watching the classic romantic comedy Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere. Her mom says, “It’s just a movie…life’s not a fairy tale. Girls like us don’t get that.” Young Natalie asks why. Natalie’s mom responds, “Well, look in the mirror,  doll. We’re no Julia Roberts.”

In that moment, Natalie’s mom showed her a skewed, lesser vision of herself, her beauty, her worth, and love and shattered her dreams. Natalie believed her mom. 25 years later, this vision manifests in her daily life. She gets used to poor treatment by others at work. Even her pet dog ignores her. Her project manager Josh likes her, but she keeps friend-zoning him.

Be Open, Be Seen

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Whitney encourages Natalie to open up more to love.

While at work, Natalie’s best friend and assistant Whitney (Betty Gilpin) watches romantic comedies. Natalie rants about the evils of these movies to Whitney who says, “I think people would have an easier time seeing you if you were a little more open.”

F.L.Y. – First Love Yourself

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Natalie and Josh are best friends.

While living in a romantic comedy world, Natalie learns that her best friend Josh (Adam Devine) will marry Isabella (Priyanka Chopra), the Pantene model he only met and dated for a few days. Natalie realizes that she loves Josh and tries to stop the wedding by making him fall for her at a karaoke bar. It does not work. On the day of the wedding, she races to the church and bursts into the ceremony only to realize that she now loves…herself.

Love for herself changes Natalie and her interactions with others. She stops taking out the trash and doing other people’s tasks. She confidently presents her idea at work. And she learns that while she sits in front of an ad of the Pantene cover girl (Priyanka Chopra), Josh is watching her.

God’s Message to Me

For all its satire and cheese, Isn’t It Romantic? sends an important message about self love that I needed to hear. At the end of the movie, my mind went back to part of a prophetic word I received from a gentleman named Joey during the Bethel Conference in California on Valentine’s Day:

“Self love will be a major hallmark of your ministry. God will keep telling you over and over again how much He loves you until it clicks with you.”

Isn’t It Romantic? was a love note from Daddy God for me. Thank You, Lord.

Morrie Schwartz’s Tuesday Teachings

My sister Sheronda recommended author Mitch Albom’s book Tuesdays with Morrie.  In this precious work, Morrie Schwartz is an extremely lovable college professor in his late sixties who learns that he is dying. The story of his last few weeks on earth is told by Mitch, one of Morrie’s former students, who runs into him during his final days. Below are just three of the many takeaways I gleaned from this book.

Our Values Will Decide Our Vision

In the chapter titled “Taking Attendance,” Morrie discusses the importance of pursuing a meaningful vision and life.

Pursuing God’s vision for our lives will always give us meaning, purpose, significance, and legacy.

Learning How to Die Helps Us Live

In another chapter, Morrie and Mitch discuss death. Morrie once thought he would be a healthy old man, not an old man dying from ALS. He confirms that we usually do not believe we will die, so we often live on autopilot. Yet,

Realizing that we must all one day stand before God and account for our time on earth, and realizing that how we live on earth will determine how we live in eternity, will prompt us to wholeheartedly pursue His vision for us.

Without Love, We Have Nothing

Morrie told Mitch that one of his many visitors asked him if he worried about being forgotten after he died. He said he did not think he would because of the many people he was involved with in close, intimate ways. He quoted poet W.H. Auden: “Love each other or perish.”

Love is the most powerful force in the world. It is stronger than death, and it makes our vision worth accomplishing.

Tuesdays with Morrie is a gem of a book that stays with readers long after the last page. It is required reading in high schools and colleges across the country…and for those who want to lead the full, abundant lives that God intended for us all.