Twelve months ago, what began as a two week cleanse led to a journey that I never saw coming--or thought would even be possible for a girl like me.
As I come up on this one year mark, I am ever thankful for this journey becoming the steadfast type. The only way that has been possible for me, has all been dependent on where the focus hinges.
"…therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame." [Isa. 50:7]
I've learned this year that much relief is found in surrendering to the Lord, all things. Seeing myself in light of Christ. Yes, even that number on the scale. He made us after all, right? Perfectly in His image. He must know better then anyone what we need.
After finding myself perpetually sick and mentally fatigued, I realized I wasn't able to fully engage as He had called me to. I couldn't be apart of community as I had originally felt led nor could I focus when I was. It was this lingering heaviness which kept me bound. Depression, lack of sunlight, those extra holiday pounds, the frigid air, or the continual flow of germs from the kiddos--call it what you like, but I knew something had to give.
I remember sitting in a missions conference last year realizing, I most likely would not have been fit enough to serve with a missions agency which I really loved. If being unhealthy was going to limit my ability to go take the gospel to the nations, especially the harder to reach peoples who have never heard, than I needed to change something. I remember feeling defeated and enslaved.
I had done a cleanse once before so I decided that would be a good start. Those first two weeks were awful, there's no denying that.
But after they ended, I felt a world of difference. I decided to go for a month. Once that month was up, I began to wonder why I felt so different--on all levels--what was it that so greatly affected me? After doing some research, I discovered most people have some sort of intolerance to gluten and lactose, so I decided maybe limitation of those should be my main focus going forward.
By no means am I saying gluten and lactose are an issue for everyone or that a "Paleo lifestyle" is the be-all, cure-all. But if it does help someone the way it has me, then it's worth sharing my own journey!
As I learned just how much the way we process food today drains it of the very nutrients He put in it for our good [and His glory] from the beginning, all the pieces continued to connect in my mind. This has been a process--and lets just be real, there are some things I may never give up…i.e. dark chocolate! As the weeks gave way to months, and now months to a year, I have found a balance that works for me. Peanut-butter, rice, tortilla chips--certainly not considered "Paleo" and yet for me personally, they don't make me feel bad, so I enjoy them occasionally. I've found this only works when I'm focused on a lifestyle not just following rules of an eating plan.
I also began to learn quickly that my fast-paced lifestyle placed a demand for instant gratification upon my stomach that always left me feeding my body the quickest, easiest meals--which were generally the ones packed with the fluff and lacking the nutrients. No wonder I was always feeling so out of it! Luckily this season of my life has allotted plenty of time to invest in learning how to cook differently. I realize that's not always realistic. I have found that freezing half of what I make always helps for those busy weeks!
After spending over a decade enslaved to food and my body, I knew "diets" and "products" never really offered any lasting change, at least for me. Over a period of the past twelve months simply [yet not easily done] eliminating gluten, lactose and refined sugar, my life has truly changed. The freedom this year has brought in changing my diet has been such a victory--simply because this time it has not been about the food or the weight or all the crazy thoughts our minds cycle through in regards to our bodies.
This year, the focus has been how can I best serve Jesus with this body He's entrusted to me?! The numbers--scale, calories, miles run, pounds down, grams of sugar--they all seem so empty in light of God's plan to redeem man, to use us in that, right? And yet, oh how easily I forget in the day to day!
I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.
I'm not saying we have to deny the numbers or the physical changes that come as a result of a healthier lifestyle. Of course, seventy pounds lighter is something to be incredibly grateful for--as I am so much more healthy without that weight. But for me, the real celebration comes in the clarity of my thoughts and how much less "crazy" my brain seems to be these days, my ability to keep up with the kiddos I nanny, my growing LOVE for running, the discipline I am being trained by which lends to great joy, and the fact that I can use this body to go wherever and serve in whatever capacity God would call me to.
The best part is, this past year I have thought about food less then I have in my entire life. I never knew if I would get to experience that sort of freedom as long as my feet touched this soil--but God really has used this Paleo journey as a sort of protection around me, which has enabled me to spend a whole lot less time concerned with my daily bread and whole lot more time consumed by the words of his mouth.
I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food. [job 23:12]
People often ask if I will eat in this "Paleo" way forever--the truth, I have no clue! But for now, it seems to just be a normal part of my life. I am so grateful for the freedom the Lord has provided through this journey!
Crazy the difference a year makes…this has been a tough journey, but He has been faithful to use it to train my eyes to fixate on Christ, the author and perfecter.