Updates from the Battlefield
I am halfway through the battle. Our furlough time is moving right along. So how am I doing in my battle against the Furlough Twenty?
Let's just say...
I have LOST twenty-two pounds total since we arrived in the States!
Other victories? My family is also doing well. My husband has lost twenty-five pounds and my children are eating better, making better choices, and learning to get a healthy amount of activity each day.
Last week, I ran a full 5K for the first time ever and without stopping to walk. I did it again a few days later and cut three full minutes off my time.
What does this mean? It means that when we return to the field early next year, we will be in great physical shape. Our field can be very physically demanding. Ministry in general can be physically demanding! This next term, we will be better equipped to do what God has called us to do.
And what does this mean for other missionaries?
It means that the Furlough Twenty is not a given. It can be conquered.
My progress in September has been slow. I have lost a couple of pounds, but feel they were earned the hard way through a lot of abstinence and careful choices despite my circumstances. We had several long driving days with little activity, a missions conference, and many meals in homes where I had to make the best of it. I also had back trouble for over a week which slowed down my exercise efforts. So I guess I should be rejoicing in the weight loss, no matter how small.
Understanding Roadblocks and Recoveries
Almost two months ago, we took our son to Carowinds (roller coaster theme park) to enjoy our last week with him before we dropped him off at college. Typically we would pack a lunch and eat at the car, but since we had just arrived home late the night before from a three week road trip, packing lunch was not possible. There was no food in the house to pack for lunch!
Spending time with my 6'6" college kid
So what was our plan? We would search the park for the healthiest option we could. It was a great plan. We had a healthy breakfast before we left the house. We ate a healthy snack just before we entered the park. We drank water every chance we had. And we kept our eyes peeled for healthy lunch options from the moment we entered the park. The plan was going perfectly.
Lunch time finally rolled around. We were determined! Then we finally spotted it. Chick-Fil-A! Yes, Chick-Fil-A has salads and grilled options, right? I was thrilled!
So we got inside in a long line. A little late and past the point of no return, I noticed the very limited menu. Fried and breaded only. Waffle fries. No salads. No wraps. (Ugh!) We were too far embedded into the line to escape.
That, my furlough friends, is called a "roadblock."
Sometimes roadblocks happen. Sometimes we are invited to eat with people, and the meal isn't exactly on the health plan. Sometimes we plan, and the plans fall through. What do we do?
We work with what we have and give thanks. We use restraint instead of giving in to gluttony. We are not victims. We are victorious. We don't throw in the towel and use the roadblock as an open door for poor choices. Eat the fried chicken sandwich, but skip the fries. Drink water, not soda. Then immediately plan for "recovery."
One meal doesn't blow a whole week, but a series of bad choices does. Could you imagine driving on the road, coming to a roadblock or traffic jam, making your way through the roadblock, and then saying, "Well, that roadblock threw our travel schedule out of whack. Let's just keep driving slow since we are already running late."
Yeah... I didn't think so.
Once your get through the roadblock, figure out ways to recover and get right back on track. For our family, we stopped to eat at a buffet with lots of healthy options for dinner. (Yay for gift cards!) Salads, lots of vegetables, lean meat, and water, water, water! Sorry, no croutons on the salad. No splurging. It's recovery time!
So don't panic if you give it your best, and it falls apart. Navigate the roadblock to the best of your ability, and then immediately purpose in your heart to enter recovery mode.
"For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again:
but the wicked shall fall into mischief." Proverbs 24:16
When there is a roadblock day where I have little control over my eating choices, I have a few strategies. First, I take small portions and try to leave out the carbs if possible. I am always courteous to my host and eat whatever she prepares in the form it is meant to be eaten over my "diet," but sometimes I can leave out carbs or decline dessert and still be polite. My weight loss may be slower for it, but I think the relationship is more important. The important thing is that I do not let it derail me afterwards.
The next day after an experience like that, I will try to eat less, exercise more, and drink lots of water. I just get back on track. I have never gained weight because of one cheat meal. I have gained weight when I let it become an excuse to eat that way for an entire day or the days following.
Navigating the BuffetSpeaking of buffets...
I must tell you, buffets were my worst nightmare on deputation. It wasn't because I didn't like them. I loved them! They were filled with every choice imaginable, and I didn't have to even choose. I could have a little (or a lot) of everything! Those things unfortunately all showed up on the scale and on my body. It was rough!
Here are the facts:
1) It is very likely we will eat at a buffet while on furlough. Churches love to give gift cards or to take their missionaries to places that they know everyone can find something they like. It's a great idea, actually!
2) Buffets have tons of very unhealthy food choices... and an entire section of desserts. Yummy, sugary, fatty desserts.
3) Buffets also have healthier options from which we can choose. That's why I love buffets now more than ever!
4) No one is forcing us to make unhealthy choices at buffets.
5) We don't have to be gluttonous at a buffet in the name of "getting our money's worth." Our "money's worth" is getting a meal that feeds and nourishes us, not a mound of food that could feed three people.
Here are a few rules I set up before I go into a buffet restaurant.
1) I try to eat a quick, small snack in the car on the way to the restaurant just to give me a little more control. It might be a few mini peeled carrots or a few slices of cucumber, but it is just enough to knock the edge off my hunger. (I carry a healthy "go bag" cooler everywhere with snacks, water, and a few other items.)
2) I let my family know my plan so that they can hold me accountable when we get in the restaurant.
3) I may only go to the buffet one time.
4) I may only drink water with my meal.
5) No breads. No desserts.
6) I must get a plate of salad. It must have the healthiest dressing option available, and only 2 tablespoons of dressing.
7) The other plate must have a lean meat (I look for roasted or grilled meats, not fried, breaded, or in gravy) and vegetables that have been steamed or grilled, not fried or breaded... or in cheese sauce.
8) If in doubt, I can usually look up the nutrition information through the MyFitnessPal app that I use. I simply search for the restaurant.
9) I get proper portion sizes in all things. (If I want more vegetable choices, then I have to half the portion size of both items.)
Recently, we went to Golden Corral on a gift card someone had given us. Here is what I ate:
I chose the roasted chicken breast. I removed the skin, too.
I chose a small portion of turnip greens.
I got a salad with 1 1/2 tbsp fat free ranch dressing and 1/2 tbsp regular ranch.
(The fat free ranch has no flavor so I began mixing the two to make a low fat ranch. Still only 2 tbsp of dressing allowed.)
It's very easy to ruin a healthy salad by putting the wrong things on it. I stick with mixed lettuce greens, baby spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, onions, a few jalapenos, and a tiny amount of cheese. Watch out for those croutons and nuts. They add fat and carbs very quickly. I usually just skip them.
A half portion of steamed broccoli and a half portion of grilled zucchini to finish off my plate.
Sorry, no cheese sauce allowed for me.