Tuesday, June 17, 2014

On This "Paleo" Journey [& the first twelve weeks]

Typically, I tend to shy away from this kind of posting, probably in light of my past. BUT-- after seeing the changes in my health, energy levels, sleeping, and mood over the past three months, I felt compelled to share!

Lately it seems you fail at life if you eat gluten or your workouts fall short of the infamous Crossfit methodology. For us all or nothing personalities, there is no dabbling. It's all in or all failure. Up until this point I have actually been quite careful to focus on health and lifestyle rather then bearing up under a title that holds so much weight. Literally.

But this journey has been teaching me that God really does desire to be apart of every aspect of our lives. Including our physical health and well-being.

19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." [1 Corinthians 6]

I had the verse about us being His temple washed down my throat and wrung dry over the years I spent battling an eating disorder. It never meant a thing to me. In fact, even reading it now causes something ugly to flare up in me, because I think back to those dark, hard days where my whole world revolved around this broken temple.  I remember wondering how God could possibly think I could glorify Him with this lousey shack He'd given me. I begged for a mansion, adorned in tanner skin and smoother curves and less flop.

But instead He gave me the holy spirit on the inside. And somewhere in the process of that the glory of Him dwelling inside the temple became more significant then the temple itself. And that's still happening, that process, probably straight up until heaven, for me anyways.

As He became more and I became less, I also began to surrender parts of myself to His authority. (as if He didn't authorize all in the first place anyway, right?!) One of those huge areas I feel I am and will continue to have to choose to consistently surrender to Him is food. After spending over a decade enslaved to it, those cracks run deep along the foundation of this temple. The binding up is a process. And I've learned to be okay with that.

But this past winter I found myself wrestling with this temple yet again. I was tired and sick all the time. I was so busy that eating fit in where there was time--with whatever was convenient or sounded tasty at the time.  Not to mention, nannying three little guys is whole new taste of hard when it comes to the heaps of sweet and salty laying around. Christmas goodness lingered well through the chocolate of Valentines and the next thing I knew I was hating the temple. Dread filled at the thought of social events. The lies were consuming me yet again. Something had to change. But it was so much more then a number on the scale or a few new panes on the roof. It was very much spirit led from the start. And I think it must be that way to not taper off.

It has always been about control. Me or Jesus? His glory or mine?

So I decided it only made sense that giving up the control of food in my life meant I had to give it right over to Him. But in this case, not just hypothetically speaking. More so, quite literally.

Most of us have heard about eating as the bible depicts. There are actual plans, perhaps most notably The Maker's Diet or this raw revolution. While there is much wisdom to be grasped from these, I never felt led to follow a set out plan, but still applying many of the concepts. This time has been more focused on trusting the Lord in my food choices and allowing Him to help me discern. But also really seeking wisdom and doing lots of research about what I've actually been feeding my body all these years! For me, I don't think I knew how sick I really was until I glimpsed how healthy I could really be. Now, I really can't imagine going back.

So, how does this flesh out? Let's get practical.

While I have maintained a bit of a modified paleo eating routine, I beleive there is wisdom is simplicity and going back to the basics. God created certain foods to feed our bodies. We wanted to make them taste better, so we add and add and add until an apple holds no satisfaction in light of a bag of cheez-its in the afternoon.

For me, this has all been about getting back to the roots. If it is grown out of the ground it is good. If nothing is added to it, it's better.

At the beginning of March veggies and fruits quickly became my best friends. My consumption for the first few months was mostly built on these two food groups. I also ate chicken, ground turkey and salmon once a day/every other day. I chose to avoid most pork, beef and fish that feast on the bottom of the water, but that is mostly because I don't really like any of the above. And some things I'm learning in scripture continue to affirm this decision in my heart. But, most Paleo followers feast on meat!

I've learned a lot about grains and how much our way of processing them depletes them of the nutrients God created them with. So, I chose to eliminate all of them for a season, and might revaluate at some point, but for now I feel so much better making my own gluten-less recipes!

After a couple months I added in nuts, nut flours, seeds, dark chocolate, limited rice and corn based products, eggs, beans, gf oats, coconut oil, coconut flour, honey, maple syrup, and sweet potatoes.

Eliminating gluten and dairy has probably brought forth the majority of the transformation in my health, but I have also been challenged beyond that to specifically focus on simple ingredients and as raw and fresh as possible. Pinterest has really been the greatest gift to me through this--there are paleo-friendly recipes for EVERYTHING!! Really. I have rarely felt deprived of anything. They even have ice cream!

I try to only introduce one new food or brand of GF product or recipe at a time and spaced several days apart so that I can really tell how my body responds. Through this process there has been one occasion where I had to eat a meal with some gluten and dairy in a social setting among international friends--I never could have imagined the consequences of that! Just several bites in, my head started feeling fuzzy and I couldn't think as clearly. It was insane how quickly I felt the effects. After an hour my stomach was super upset. I felt the effects for three days, actually. Who knew? I've been much more careful since and so far God has really provided ways out of those tricky food situations where you don't want to offend the cook but also don't want to suffer the consequences!

So here I am, bearing this "paleo" title for the first time, though there is much grace needed! There are certain things I'm more relaxed about and others not as much---it's all about how my body reacts to various food choices.

I've also been running 2-5 miles at least five days a week. Soon I intend to get some toning exercises added in there too.

This has been a crazy journey, challenging me to trust Jesus more. And my life has been drastically different since that physical, emotional, spiritual surrender of my will, my fear, my pride and my temple to Him. God can bring such transformation many different ways--for me it was quite practically through changes in food habits and I am so grateful for His patience with me!

The heart refinement and surrender has by far starved me more then my stomach ever groaned physically. But there has certainly been a physical transformation as well, which has also been covered in much prayer and grace as the enemy lingers near, just trying to trip me up some days. BUT Jesus is greater and His spirit in me has enabled even me, a girl who was so bound by food and appearance for over a decade to freely follow Him, even when it comes to a lifestyle change that could trigger old habits and mindsets. May this never be about the number on the scale, so as to rob Him of the glory found in His redemption story. He is faithful to redeem, that I know.

                                                           Eight Weeks Difference

Mostly, I just desire to know Him and make Him known, and to glorify Him in my response to how He directs me. I am seeing those passions of my former ignorance being tossed off and becoming less binding. His Spirit is so very alive! So as He who called me is holy, may I also be holy!! [by grace abounding!]

That can look different for us all, of course. There is nothing more holy about this Paleo lifestyle then an alternative, but for me this is all about His glory and His reign over my ever-wandering heart. May He be praised for what He is doing in and through this messed up temple--may it continue that He may be known even more greatly--to me and to you! 

He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
(1 Peter 1:20-21 ESV)

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