A Break from Facts and Figures

I’m a chemist – I really like facts and figures, but I’ve noticed that when I write blogs that seem very insightful from my perspective, I’m often the only one who reads them.  I don’t write for accolades, rather to document my journey, so it’s not a huge problem for me, but I have definitely noticed the connection.  Since I promised to post weight and measurement stats tomorrow, and yesterday was all about food reintroduction and blood tests, I thought I would take a few minutes to share my feelings on what I am experiencing.

In general, fasting has been a huge win for me.  For my two extended fasts, I learned that I will feel amazing by Day 3 and I’ve noticed that subsequent fasts become easier and easier for me.  I can now skip a day of eating and not even notice it.  I take that back, I notice that I have extra time on my hands because I don’t have to plan meals or spend time eating.  I can use that time for studying, exercising, reading, or writing blogs. I’m also saving money, since not eating is free!

Fasting offers flexibility for my life – it’s really quite freeing. When I have a special occasion where I want to be less regimented regarding my eating, I know I can fast before or afterwards and minimize the negative consequences of my decisions. This isn’t carte blanch for going crazy and eating a dozen donuts, but if there’s a dessert I am really interested in trying at a party, I don’t have to say no. I also don’t feel guilty for my decisions. If I really want something; I have it; if I’m just eating because it’s expected and not something I truly desire, I can say no and be comfortable with my decision.

Real food actually tastes better than processed food, and I don’t mind cooking it. I used to think processed food and fast food was the best stuff ever, but now I’ll chose my own cooking over most other things. Maybe part of it is subconscious after reading “Sugar, Salt, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” by Michael Moss, where he describes the “bliss point” that Big Food Companies seek to find, but I think this is a great thing! For example, I had one Chick-Fil-A nugget at a potluck dinner earlier this week, and it was rather disappointing. After finished the remainder of my healthy plate, I went back for more of my friend’s Asian Chicken Salad.

Real food is also surprisingly more convenient and affordable than I ever imagined. I have found ways to acquire better food for less cost, which has been helpful to my mindset. We buy produce through a farm coop called Bountiful Baskets, where you get ~25 pounds of local produce for ~$19.50. You get what you get, and sometimes there are items I don’t know what to do with, but it provides an opportunity for experimentation. And, if a few items don’t get used, it’s not the end of the world. I made a delicious carrot dish the other day, as I had three pounds of carrots to contend with. I used two pounds and brought them to my potluck and they were all eaten. What a win!

I also look for fresh meat and produce items at the grocery store that are reduced for quick sale. These items are still good, generally 1-3 days before their sell by date, and offered at a 25-50% cost savings. In the past, I have personally spiralized squash to use as pasta, but I find there’s sometimes a lot of waste and it’s often not the right consistency when I cook it. Buying spiralized butternut squash is so convenient, but I would never pay $4-5 for a small package. However, when it’s marked down (and sometimes combined with a coupon) and I can get it for $1-$2.50, that’s a definite win! The same is true for the more expensive, “Natural” cuts of meat. As long as I am going to consume or freeze the item before the sell by date, I’m getting better quality food and saving money.

Eating better makes me feel better, no question about it. I am down to 10mg amitriptyline for pain, and I think I am almost ready to stop it completely. I also don’t feel like I’m in a fog, unless I happen to have a bad night’s sleep, which, unfortunately, happened two nights in a row this week. I have been sleeping better, overall, so that’s a huge improvement. My skin looks better, although I do still turn red from time to time. However, real food has yet to cause that problem for me. It’s happened with wine, eating out, and beer, but not quality food that I have prepared myself.

Eating better also makes me feel good emotionally. I am more at peace with sound nutrition entering my body. I am more interested in exercising and content with engaging in activities that are harmonious with my body in this moment. I’ve been doing a lot more yoga and have found that walking on the treadmill is a great opportunity for studying. I have come to terms with not being able to power lift like I used to and I’m okay with that. I tried a BodyPump class a couple of weeks ago, thinking I would be okay with a lighter weight. My normal warmup light weight was too much for the squat track. I can do squats all day, I just can’t put a bar on my back anymore. It was disappointing, but I’ve taken it in stride. I am pleased with my flexibility and gracefulness, and have no concern pursuing that direction.

I have also come to appreciate everything I am doing from a spiritual stance. I mentioned in an earlier blog that my first fasts were for spiritual reasons. My faith is also what made me successful in my longer fasts.

You may be thinking, “Uhhh… I read this because I’m interested in your nutritional journey, why did you have to bring God into this? Shouldn’t you have another blog for that?!?” I do, it’s called “Authentic Believer,” but I don’t write there much in my married days. I found that it’s hard to be completely transparent in struggles that involve other people. Despite that, I’m still that same open-book, on the slow path of spiritual maturity, often falling-short, Christian who I’ve always been. I think God has just allowed me to focus on my physical, emotional, and spiritual health as an individual pursuit, and thus, something I can share with the world.

I will mirror this post on my “Authentic Believer” blog, but still want so share my thoughts here, in case you’re interested. If not, that’s okay too… No pressure to continue. I won’t be offended, I promise. Come back tomorrow and I’ll be back to stats and numbers, with less emotion and spirituality.

During the spiritual component of this journey, I have come to embrace several verses that help me see God in the midst of my transformation. Let me share some verses that are on my heart:

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, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6:19-20, ESV).

The first one might not seem too crazy, as “your body as a temple” is a term that can be used in a variety of contexts and it makes sense from a secular perspective. I just heard that expression used in yoga last night, and I have no idea what the teacher’s context was. Basically, the idea is if you treat your body well, it will lead you into health and good things will result. Or, alternatively, if you don’t, it’s basically garbage in, garbage out, and there’s a litany of health problems that may result.

For believers of Christ, we take it a step further and this verse tells us that we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit guides us and leads us, and is our source of comfort. It is because of God’s leading that I grow, and if His Spirit lives in me, why wouldn’t I seek to honor him with my body? For so long, I have neglected His temple, and it’s been amazing to finally seek to give Him the respect He deserves.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:1-2).

There are many verses that encourage Christians to be different from the world. Romans 12 is my absolute favorite chapter of the Bible and it starts off with some amazing truths that I am trying to live out. Not only is my body a temple, it’s a living sacrifice to God; taking care of myself is a spiritual act of worship! I am also to not be conformed to this world, but rather transformed to the will of God. I believe my desires to pursue medicine and serve others with my skills originated from God. I have the opportunity to learn first on myself, and perhaps I will have the opportunity to pursue medical school formally. I feel led to use my knowledge to help others, regardless of their income or medical concerns, on their own path to wellness.

Regardless of what the future holds, I feel centered in God’s will for my life. The most important thing for me to remember is to not let the world sway me to its ways. I need to seek out God’s desire for me, regardless of what the world tries to tempt me with.

As silly as this may sound to some people, for the first time ever, I’m beginning to see health and wellness from this spiritual perspective. What the world offers isn’t really what I want; I am fully seeking the will of God and heavenly rewards, not earthly ones. People in the world have learned many amazing facts about medicine, health, nutrition, and science through the gifts that God has provided. But, there are many people in the world who may be guided by the wrong motives and put “self” and “self-gain” before the perfect will of God. I don’t want to become one of those people. My desire is to be in the world, loving the people of the world, but not being swayed by the negative aspects of the world – things like greed, fame, or power. I pray that my heart remains pure in this pursuit.

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

The context of this passage is about eternal salvation and choosing to follow Jesus over putting your faith in false religion or living life where you are your own god. It’s deep, and yes, probably too much for my blog today. However, it keeps coming to my mind, and no matter how hard I try, I can’t escape it. I feel like the principle of this verse holds true for all of life: the easy path leads to destruction and the harder path leads to some place positive, ultimately, heaven, for those who believe and give up their life for Christ. But, the narrow path, well… can just be difficult… It’s hard to be humble; it’s hard to love those who hate you; it’s hard to bear your cross. But, it’s what we are called, as Christians, to do.

I pray this will always be my focus regardless of what comes my way. I hope to always remember that everything I am learning is from God and for God, ultimately, and I’m just thankful to be part of the process.

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