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My Health & Fitness Journey (Thus Far)

My relationship with food has always been a focus. I remember going on my first diet at the tender age of 10 years old and the person who influenced me the most to do this was in my home. She was someone I looked up to and highly esteemed.

I also remember being told I was overweight by my physician and that my family needed to monitor my eating. They then replaced my after school snacks with healthier options and informed my after school child care faculty this new regimen. Although I’m sure the intent behind their efforts came from a good place (they only wanted me to be healthy) I still remember feeling different from my peers, and even somewhat ostracized. Normally if we finished our milk with our meal we could have a second. Now I could no longer have seconds, but others could.

Middle school was full of dieting. Weight was an issue for the woman who had the greatest influence on me. Then in school I was surrounded by my more slender, caucasian peers. By sixth grade I had developed my first eating disorder. Anorexia. It didn’t start out that way. Like any addiction it was a gradual progression. I watched shows that depicted the women I wanted to look like. I went to school and was surrounded by these types of girls. And then in my home, my petite and lighter-complected influences were a constant reminder that I was not them. I was dark, and “bigger”.

The only thing that brought me out of anorexia before it really complicated my health was my grandmother, my biggest influence. She said, “You have to eat, this isn’t healthy.” Thankfully that’s all it took. I started eating again, but the poor self image and insecurities with my body had already been deeply rooted. My first bout with an eating disorder would not be my last.

Part of the reason this was the case was my own distorted self image. But the other reason was the attention and affirmation I received from outside influences. All of a sudden after losing weight in the 6th grade, the popular boy I had had a crush on was flirting with me. People wanted to be my friend., and I grew in confidence. This all happened from losing weight. The problem was, my confidence was superficial. It was predicated on something as flighty as my physical appearance, not on the internal value I had as a person. But at 11 years old who has that type of deep rooted confidence? Even as an adult we can still struggle…

To make things even more interesting, middle school was socially rough. In elementary school we were all friends, then in junior high people started clicking up. I found myself on the outs and while going through puberty, I was experiencing bullying and rejection. My home life was also a wreck during that time. Reading became my consistent outlet and books were my best friends.

High school was better socially but again I fell into my old habits of feeling that my weight was the precursor for self confidence. My junior year I found myself enthralled within the grasp of another eating disorder, this time it was Bulimia. My family tried to help me, taking me to counseling and talking to me about it. I only lied and said I would stop, but I didn’t. They didn’t realize the seeds were so deeply planted that I could not simply stop because they wanted me to, or even that I wanted to. I was experiencing a sense of control over myself when I couldn’t control my external environment. And again, I was getting a lot of attention. I was now “fly”.

It wasn’t until my college years that I was able to be free from Bulimia. It was a supernatural experience where I didn’t have to go to counseling or through a long drawn out process. It was God. He was showing me my identity and purpose, neither of which had anything to do with my weight. I was finding my worth, and I wanted to treat myself accordingly, so no more vomiting.

I did put on a lot of weight as a result and my highest weight in college was 185lbs (I am 5′ 4″). I was a size 18 but I don’t remember even being too upset about it because I was so in love with God. I was experiencing a happiness I never had before. Nothing else seemed to matter.

Right after college, 2006. (size 16/18)

After college I got my weight down to around 165lbs. I was very active and got into running. I was maintaining a healthy size 12 and I felt that I was the best version of myself. I didn’t want to be extreme anymore. I didn’t want to starve myself. I was learning that our culture tries to depict the normal weight of a woman to be different than what really is. And I was learning that in the black community curves were “in”.

Graduating with my MBA, a healthy size 12.

It wasn’t until my Pastor started teaching a health coaching class that I felt led to eat even healthier. I participated in her detox plan and experienced a change in my perception of food and my desire for it. No longer did I crave sugar; it was too sweet. All of a sudden I wanted to eat food as if it were fuel for my body, not out of pure pleasure. I had developed self control over my eating in a healthier way then I ever had dieting or battling bulimia, and as a result I dropped down to a size 8. I hadn’t been in the single digits since I was a kid! I couldn’t believe that my body could even be that small. That is when I knew that I was manifesting more of who my true eternal self was and not who I thought I was. God was revealing me to me.

2013, right before I started the detox.

I maintained that size 8 for about 7 years with my healthy eating lifestyle but when I started dating I gained about 15lbs. All of a sudden I was fearful because it had been a long time that I was unhappy with my weight. But God met me again. He showed me different ways of eating that would help me lose, but not go overboard. Even though I was experienced with eating healthy there were some changes I needed to make in this new season of my eating journey. In the midst of this I had gotten into strength training. Although after college I had been pretty active, up until 2 years ago I had never done strength. I learned that strength training boosts your metabolism even after you are done working out, unlike cardio where you only burn while you are working out. I learned I need more protein to build and tone the muscle groups I am targeting. I also need to eat more frequently to fuel my body for the workouts I do (I usually eat every 2-3 hrs).

When I gained 15lbs from dating, aka “happy weight”.

After losing the 15lbs I had gained, I was satisfied that my body was where it was supposed to be. After all I was comfortably back in my size 8’s and at a strong 158lbs, (which is where I had been for years). Then more recently I found out I had unexpectedly lost 4lbs. How did I lose 4lbs without trying? I wondered. I have been very “in tune” with my body for several years and just believed I was where I was supposed to be without being extreme and staying active. Yet God is showing me again that my body is changing and it is a new season. Now I am intrigued as to where my body can go given my new regimen of strength training and a higher protein diet. I am excited!

Me flexing in the mirror LOL

I am so grateful by the Father teaching me the best diet and exercise regimen for me. I have received the affirmation and attention I did when I was younger and smaller but now my confidence is not superficially based on that. It is based on knowing who I am to Him. My value to Him. And His love for me.

I know many struggle with their weight and women have so much pressure to be a certain size just like men are pressured to be a certain height. I can share that my experience is that we can overcome our weaknesses and be free from addictions, however it is rarely an overnight occurrence, and it truly does not happen without discipline and intentionality (although I did randomly lose that 4lbs, LOL).

The unique thing for me is that I know my discipline and desire for fitness comes from Him. The self control I have is His fruit and I can taken no credit.

My health and fitness is truly a byproduct of me manifesting my true identity in Him and I’m glad He has revealed such an important concept, especially when as a youth my view was distorted.

He does great things.

And loves giving us the desires of our hearts.

The new Me.

Come thru abs! LOL

SHALOM

Rare Air

Last night I conversed with a woman who’s known me nearly 20 years.  You know you are really getting up there when your friendships last decades. 

You know you are blessed as well…

We have been running our spiritual race side by side since our early college days, where our competitive natures led us to some type of outside obstacle course for Freshman.  I will refrain from sharing the rest of that story as she tends to gloat at its ending (even though I did in fact, win) however looking back at it now I wonder if it was symbolic? We were learning how to finish our race even then.

Although she and I have stories that are unique, we have “The Call” that is in common.  The Call to live for Him, and we started it together, our sophomore year of college.

I remember those early days of fire, where we were so hungry and so thirsty that nothing could satisfy.  We laid down our greatest desires at the time.  We have been laying them down ever since, and leaning on each other for support during the very difficult moments.  As of late there have been many…

I think God is gracious in that He gives us these people to support us when we are faced with overwhelming obstacles.  I get so frustrated with the journey and what all it has entailed, but I look around and see that I am surrounded by many who are on the same path.  Many who are living extraordinary lives for Him. 

Even if they seem ordinary to us.

I told my friend last night, “We are breathing rare air.” That was the phrase that had come to me.  I don’t believe this phrase is reserved for Presidents and Nobel Peace Prize winners.  No.  I believe that when we are being counter cultural, when we are doing the opposite of what the world says to do, when we are holding on for dear life (and even give up, but He is still holding us), when we are being the standard in a generation that has none, well, we are rare.

And the air is thinner up here.

And yet we are still breathing.

I am reminded of those in Hebrews 11.  Those who are in the “Hall of Faith”.  The Word says that the world was not worthy of them.  Dare I say God feels the same about us?  Those of us who are here now, enduring, persevering, sacrificing, suffering long?  Dare I say He sees us and knows our sacrifice and the very depths of it?  Knows we have given our lives even if not physically but emotionally, mentally, intellectually, socially?  And yes, even some physically?

It is a rare thing to believe in something supernatural.  In something you cannot see.  And even rarer to demonstrate that belief by the actions you choose.  To follow Him, knowing that you may not get what you want.  But in the end, really, don’t we all just want Him?

In my younger days I would have thought since He is all I want then nothing else will matter.  But now I see, it is Him just wanting to be first.  It is Him just wanting me to want Him more than anything.  Of course He has good things for us.  Of course He wants us to enjoy this life.  But not if we enjoy it more than Him…

My friend shared last night that He was giving us grit.  Yes, I agreed, and went into a story about a prophetic word I received years ago.  He said he was giving me backbone then.  That word was about 9 years ago.  If I was getting backbone then I cannot imagine what other body parts he developed in the time since of this journey.

There are times I feel slain and I am reminded of Job’s cry.

“Though He slay me yet will I trust Him”.

It is not an easy posture for one’s heart.  But He never promised it would be easy.  He only promised He would be with us.

And the blessing is that He is in His people. 

And they are with us too.

Nearly 20 years later…

SHALOM

 

 

New Beginnings: Miracles In the Mundane

I was standing near her grave feeling a little awkward because he was standing there too.  Never could you have told me we would be in this position (on speaking terms, let alone at her grave).  I had come there a little early with a friend so I could have alone time to think about them; the women who had gone before me.  The ones who paved the way.

Years ago when my grandmother passed I never visited the cemetery.  I didn’t see a need to, she wasn’t there.  Instead she was with her Maker.  Now that both of them are gone I have found the grave to be a place of connection.  I connect with Him.

I connect with them.

So when he asked me if he could come too, well, I was understandably hesitant.  We hadn’t really spoken in two years, when everything happened.  When I shut the door to further communication.  So meeting with him in such a vulnerable place would be a risk.  But one I felt Holy Spirit was leading me to take.

My bestfriend was there with me.  And really she is my sister.  She’s been by my side since I was 14 years old.  We fell out in college (over what, neither of us can remember) but she was already grafted into my family by then.  My mom and gramma held on to her.  I think they were saving her for me for when I would be mature enough to value her.

And oh how I value her…

It was a rainy day, although it wasn’t currently raining, and I was fighting a fierce cold.  So inconvenient considering the world was dealing with a pandemic with the same symptoms.  We kept taking my temperature and I was assured I didn’t have this illness, this COVID-19.  But I did have a cold and it wasn’t letting up.  I was just going to have to push through.

He and I didn’t embrace when we met out of precaution because he’s older, but I felt his love just the same.  We stood there and talked and it was clear to me he finally had gotten it.

“Thank you for calling me out on my sh$t,” he said.  I appreciated his frankness.  He was finally demonstrating those qualities I had desired for so long: humility, ownership of wrongdoing, maturity.  These were qualities I had wanted in a male counterpart.  In the past I had wanted these men to see that me walking out of their lives was the worse thing to have happened and they needed to get it together to get me back.  But they wouldn’t.  Now standing here in front of this man, my own father, I realized he was the one who really needed to get it.  And he did.

He finally did.

I was guarded but he still made me laugh and even tear up.  “You are mine,” he said.  “You will always be mine.  You can hate me but that will never change.”  And I was immediately reminded of the Father’s love, and of my mother’s (both are the same really).  It was evident that was the love that was in his heart.

He and I are closer in physical distance than we have been my whole life.  I told him God was giving him a new beginning.  Now I can see that He is giving us a new beginning.

I feel the Father has said the warfare that has come against our relationship these 30+ years is finally over.  He is giving us time.  Just as He did with my own mother.

The Father has been so merciful with me.  I have experienced great pain and heartache within the area of relationships and family, yet He has chosen to move and bring restoration and redemption.

It has not been easy, nor will it be.  But He has still been working, bringing about His promises in His own time.  And for that I am grateful.

He is still producing miracles.

Even in the mundane.

P.S, Here is a pic from my 37th b day!  Fierce and Fabulous 😊😉

 

SHALOM

2 Years Later

It’s been 2 years but it feels more like one.  Every day I think about you and since that day life hasn’t been the same.  Things moved swiftly foreword yet at the same time stood still.  So many days I thought the pain would never end.

It hasn’t ended but it’s dimmed.

I see you at the store, on tv, while running errands. You are everywhere and anything can trigger a memory; a time when we were together in the physical.  I realize how quickly my childhood passed and how you and gramma were the bulk of it. 

And its over.

Somehow God saw fit to surround me with so many who are not blood related but who love me just as fiercely.  Sisters who are steadfast, spiritual parents who fill the gap, brothers who care…  I still yearn for my own but I so appreciate that they are there.  I never would have made it if they weren’t there.

Just a few moments this past year…

I moved.  And moving was bitter sweet.  I laid in your bed for as long as I could before I had to pack it and relocate.  I kept the mattress. It’s like laying in your arms.  And literally this home is hugging me with its warmth and comfort.

God is the best comforter.

He comforted me these last 2 years for sure.  Using people and circumstances and financial blessings.  I have been so blessed.  But there has been so much emptiness and loss.  It feels like the holes are just now being filled.

And now we are struggling with a virus.  The whole world is struggling.  They call it a pandemic.  And it’s kind of crazy to me its a virus that is related to the illness that you yourself battled some 20 something years.  Those last few days were horrible.  I don’t even like to think about them.  And some would say you lost the battle, but I know better.

You won.

I saw you in your glorified body in a dream I had right before your passing.  I had no idea what was to come, but the dream has been one of many comforts.

Thank you for being great.  I would not be who I am without you.  I wouldn’t have made it this far.  I’m so grateful for your sacrifices and how you poured out your life for me.  Even when things were rough between us, you were always for me.  I appreciate that now.  I didn’t know our time would be so short and the only regret is that I didn’t know.

But even in the not knowing we knew.  And spent those last few months together.  And I will forever treasure them.  It is a gift of the Father who knows when we don’t know.  Who sees when we don’t see.  And who is always for us.

Thank You Father for providing these 2 years.  For keeping my mind and teaching me mental strength. For being with me even when I felt alone.  For being the net when I jumped by faith.  For catching me when I fell.  Over and over again.

Your love is miraculous.  And it is that love I pray that somehow others will experience in the midst of such uncertainty.  Such difficult things happen in this life and yet You are the hope.

You are the light in the midst of darkness.

And now we are the light.

Forever and always Alayna Miller, you are loved.

SHALOM

Thoughts of An Introvert

I am sitting in my living room on an overstuffed cream chair with a cup of green tea and a book on grief. The crackle of the candle on the window sill is almost drowned out by the ocean wave sounds coming from my speaker. I can smell the scent of pumpkin roll coming from said candle and wish once again that it would never run out. It’s the perfect setting to wind down to.

I had a networking event today of which another introvert called me out on being introverted. She voiced my inner thoughts on being grateful that I had made it out and yet I was simultaneously looking forward to when I would leave.

I did get involved in a few good conversations on travel and such and was encouraged enough that I only left a half hour early. But then, so also did the host…

I am becoming very aware of my introverted ways particularly when I compare myself to my more extroverted friends. When I receive lengthy texts flooding my phone with information I get overwhelmed. When I am invited to several events at once I feel the same. I even do not scroll often on social media because taking in so much information on a variety of people (most of which I never talk to in person) is too much for me. Normally I post. I post about me and the people in my direct sphere. I can handle that. But anything more, feels too much.

Still I love connecting. Usually it happens in small groups like this past weekend when I hosted a friend to share on Mary Kay products. I was able to offer appetizers and a warm and cozy space. I love hosting. Especially in this house which perfectly fits me.

This house has been such a comfort. It is cozy and warm and I feel like I am being hugged at all times. I finally got my bookcase up and tomorrow my loveseat will be delivered. The living room will be complete and all the furniture is now purchased. It is just a matter of wall decor…

I never dreamed I would so enjoy interior decorating or have such a knack for it. But God knew. I stand in awe that He had a place for me. I think about all the places I wanted before I found this house and they were not for me. But it was not because there wasn’t a home for me, there was. It was because they were not the right fit. There was one particular home I really really wanted. I had fallen in love with that house. It hurt me when it did not work out but there was a lesson in that. He was teaching me something even in it falling through.

He has purpose in all things.

Tomorrow I have a long day ahead and I know I will need to get as much rest as I can. I know myself. I know my energy levels. I know when I will reach my end and when I have the capacity for certain engagements.

There are so many joyous times in this season and still sad times. A friend said that watching my life is like reading a good book. I concur. I feel that way sometimes. Like when I go on amazing trips with friends or shopping and catch a good deal or meet with a new client for my business. It is a fabulous life indeed. But still not without its difficulties.

I realize the difficulties have made me more compassionate. I have such a heart for those who experience tragedy or loss or suffering in a way that I did not before.

Again, He has purpose in all things.

Even in the hard things.

Especially in those…

SHALOM

Eyes To See

As I mentioned previously on this little blog things are moving quickly.  Yesterday we did the inspection on the house and while there were several things brought to my attention I was assured by the professional (the inspector) that these items were a given for a house of this age.  In fact, it was in good condition given its age.

An interesting phenomenon occurred yesterday.  I found that while the inspector was highlighting certain things my eyes became open to them also, either while he was speaking and sometimes even before he spoke.  I told him that just being around him was giving me “eyes to see”.  It is an interesting occurrence that we can be influenced to that capacity by people around us, even those we have just met.  I can see this as being symbolic of my spiritual journey.  Being “around” Christ these 15 years has greatly influenced me and helped me to “see”.

Recently I had an interaction with a family member and I was greatly discouraged to find that they did not “see”.  It had been a while since we had spoken and the reason for our disconnection was due to their own narcissism and selfishness.  I felt that I was called to implement strong boundaries to focus on my own health and healing during a season of recovery.  I had hopes that one day the relationship could be restored, so when they reached out I was surprised, but hopeful.  Unfortunately upon interacting with them I soon learned that they had not grown.

They had not healed.

They were (still) toxic.

I did not understand why they were still in the same place.  How could all this time have passed and they did not see?  But I was reminded of the gift I have in community and the teaching I am under.  I am surrounded by people who value healthy relationships.  I am surrounded by people who desire to grow and change for the better.  I am influenced by those around me.

Maybe one day that relationship will be restored but for now I must continue on my own path.  The Father has given me all the tools needed to accomplish His purpose on this path and I am grateful for the greatest tool He has given:

His love.

Now I understand so much why He revealed Himself to me as He did.  He told me years ago He would be anything that I needed and I so have needed Him as Father, Husband, & Family.

I pray that God brings forth His desires in the earth.  As an intercessor I can’t help but to do so.  But I also understand we all have choices.  And I choose to value myself above someone else who will try to devalue me.

I choose to protect myself from others who may bring me harm.

I choose to see myself as He sees me.

SHALOM

A Quick Turnaround

So I have some good news!  I bought a house!  Literally within days of writing my last post about the process, I made an offer and it was accepted.  No one was more than shocked then me!  Prior to seeing the house I was on the phone with one of my besties and was sharing with her about my revelation of the process and how much peace I now had being in it.  I simply was not pressed and also did not expect to purchase a home that day.  My mindset was, “It’s going to be awhile”.  When you’ve walked out long seasons it can be easy to have that belief system.

Last night I was watching some old videos I had posted on Periscope (is that even still around?) and I marveled at the things I discussed that I am now walking in.  One in particular talked about entrepreneurship.  I was talking about ways to identify that you yourself are an entrepreneur.  Now at the time I was in a sense an entrepreneur because I had published my first two books.  However I still had a full time job.  It is like God was slowly easing me into the idea and now, it’s full throttle.

Me at a Speaking Event on Financial Literacy for Small Business Owners

It was obvious to me that the insight I had back then was prophetic and was from the Holy Spirit.  I was reminded of this gift inside me.  I think because I am surrounded by so many with this gift I can take it for granted or think it’s normal.  The Father has manifested Himself and spoken so loudly to me so many times, I assume that is most believer’s experiences.  But I have learned (and am still learning) He manifests Himself according to the identity of the individual.  With me He manifests Himself prophetically.

This house search has been symbolic to me of a search for a spouse.  It seemed every house my realtor and I looked at had some type of obvious flaw.  Some would look good on the outside but then have very serious issues such as large appliances being rusted or foundations being cracked.  It seemed God was making it clear: “This is not the one”.  I spoke with my counselor about it and she agreed that I needed to find a house, (and a spouse), that I was willing to do minimal repair work with.  “Do you want to have to replace a whole hot water tank Nicole, or just tear up some carpet?”  Her point was that there would of course be some type of work needed in a person but that level of repair needed to be less rather then more. I knew that I wanted a house that was, “move in ready”.  I also new that I wanted a man who was the same.

We all have our flaws.  We all are a work in progress.  However Holy Spirit has taught me (along with John Townsend & Henry Cloud) that some of the keys to being a “safe person” is someone who values humility and taking responsibility.  Someone who is mature and doesn’t just point the finger.  Someone who wants to grow.  I am surrounded by people on this similar journey of becoming a whole person and manifesting our true eternal selves.  How could I not be paired with someone of that same mindset?

My Sister and I Celebrating My Mom’s Birthday

He is also showing me that I need someone who has a similar starting point as me.  I can’t be with someone who is “behind”.  I have often chosen people who were behind, but that was due to a lack of self value.  I am learning.

Now things are moving QUICKLY.  I have a lot to do in a short period of time.  But that is the pattern I can see in my journey.  Slow, slow, (sometimes another “slow”) and then quick.  I think He does that to teach me not to get comfortable and so that I know it’s Him allowing things or making things happen and not me (because I can easily default to being controlling).

I still have some questions to Him concerning this house, but I know without a doubt He orders my steps and I trust Him to guide me with His eye.

It is a new season.  It is a new day.  And it happened suddenly.

Feel free to check out the video I referenced earlier on entrepreneurship!

SHALOM