Tag Archive | counseling

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

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

Tis Better to Have Loved and Lost

10 months of bliss came to a sudden halt as a few turn of events made it clear I had to walk away. God is funny in that way, making His presence known so mightily even when He is speaking so quietly. I did the hard thing once again. But this was hard for so many other reasons than it had been in the past. Being single is one thing. Being single and jobless and grieving the loss of a loved one is another. I am in the midst of that grief and a few others and wonder often if I will come out on the other side.

As I stood in my bathroom over the sink with a bleeding heart I had one simple prayer: “God meet me here.”

And of course He did.

He made sure I wasn’t alone. Even sent a dear friend to stay with me that night which is a great comfort in an empty home. And as the difficult weekend rolled by and it became more and more apparent I was unappreciated, undervalued and taken for granted, I let the pain roll over me. I poured over scripture, listened to worship music and laid on my face. One by one 7 friends called to check on me, knowing the grief I was facing.

7 friends and 7 women who walked with me down the aisle as I laid her to rest. 7 women (and then some) who covered me as we stood near her grave. I was in a fog that day and really for several months after. I felt nothing and that was such an odd feeling to feel nothing for one who has always been such a deep feeler.

But now I am surely feeling. I felt that weekend when I chose to let him go and try to do this season without the crutch. I chose to walk the unseen path laced with doubt and uncertainty. The pain was horrible and in some ways worse then I remembered from past breakups.

I have asked God why has He allowed so much loss and trauma in such a short time? To which I feel His response has been, “I’m entrusting you with it.”

I think we can be entrusted with suffering. And there was a time I would have counted it a great honor. Even James encourages us to do so (James 1:2-4). But I have never felt pain like this.  So now I don’t feel very honored.

I go to counseling tonight and I look forward to it because before when I went I was told that I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t ready to talk about the deep things. The things of her passing and the suddenness of it and her being the only family I really had.  So God gave me Time.  He gave me a distraction which was sufficient.  Until it wasn’t.

But now it’s time.

All of these changes happened suddenly and coincided with Rush Hashanah the Hebraic New Year and that was not lost on me since He had taught me years ago of the significance of the Hebraic calendar.  It is clearly a new season.

I was driving not long ago and kept praying about this new loss but the whisper on my heart was that it was not mine but his. His loss because I am the one of great value. Not that he isn’t but I did value him, yet he did not return the favor.  At least not at the very end.

I talked to my friend and told her even though it hurt like hell I’d still rather have loved and lost.  To have nothing, to feel nothing is in my opinion a greater loss.  I value feeling, at times overly so.  But still there is value in it.

I know it’s been a while since I poured out my heart on this blog but so much has happened that vulnerability and intimacy through writing to the public felt overwhelming. Though God stays the same I’m changing and life is changing and I’m trying to navigate it all at once.

I know there is grace to navigate but that doesn’t exempt us from the pain of doing so.

SHALOM

Shedding Perfection

rain

I remember years ago a brother in Christ gave me a prophetic word, “You are a perfectionist”.  I nodded in agreement and smiled.  I thought it was a compliment.  Its only now years later that I’m starting to learn how deceptive perfectionism is.  As my friends and I navigate life with its high highs and low lows, our mid 30s are teaching us that no one gets through this journey unscathed.

We add notches of undesirable experiences to our belts.  We realize the black and white of our 20s and early 30s has now morphed into shades of gray.  And all the while God battles on our behalf…

I find it interesting in this season of quiet that He is most vocal when things are in an upheaval.  I struggle with resentment about that.  I struggle with resentment about a lot of things.

I ask Him questions like, “Where is the restoration?”  I know that the question cannot be answered unless it is asked.  I know He will answer in His own way.  In His own time.

Time has always been difficult for me.  I have always been prompt yet surrounded by many who are not.  I watch the clock and the seconds turn into minutes and the minutes turn into hours.  I watch and watch and there is no movement.  I know He tests me with time because of my own impatience.  Even this knowledge does not seem to make me any more patient.

I sat across from my counselor and she asked, “Do you know why God makes the journey difficult?”  I sat looking back at her blankly.  I really had no clue.  She responded, “So that you remember that you need Him.”  A light bulb went on in my head.

I need Him.

Oh yea, that’s right.  I keep forgetting that.  I have this vision of what my life should be like, of what I want to do and accomplish and deep inside I feel that if given the chance I can just make it happen.  But then I fall short.  My insecurities and my issues and my fears surface, and I make a mess of things.  I am faced once again with my own imperfections.

But slowly, I am giving up that feat.  I am letting go of this idea of what being a Christian is supposed to mean, and what being single is supposed to mean, and what being me is supposed to mean.

There is a freedom in laying down a standard that was self imposed and never really accurate anyway.

There is a freedom I am discovering in my mid 30s.

 

SHALOM

Simply Human

Sometimes it’s good to cry. I am wired to be more emotional so crying is typical for me. I guess the fact that I haven’t cried much in response to this season is actually a red flag. I should be crying more.

I sat on his couch this morning and cried. I hope that won’t be an ongoing pattern. Only our 2nd session and I’ve now cried in both. He already had the tissues waiting.  He brought  up some good points and I wrote down things to ponder on later.

Do I feel abandoned by God? Am I projecting my father’s abandonment onto my Heavenly Father? Do I equate God’s manifestations and intimacy with His love? And if so then when they are gone do I feel unloved?

I realized while talking to him I’ve had this “superhuman” complex. I felt I couldn’t possibly struggle in these ways because of my experiences with Him. How could doubt, fear and depression be issues when I have been set apart, called, and immersed with God’s intimacy? Maybe for those who only knew Him theologically but surely not for those who know Him intimately.  Surely not me!

I was wrong.

I am faced with my own humanity just as Christ was on the cross: “Father why have You forsaken me?” 

Just as in the garden when He sweat so hard He bled.

I have to admit to myself, I am not super human. I am just a human who has supernatural experiences and a supernatural Father who has chosen to be silent in this season.

Well, not silent really. But moreso speaking in a still, small, voice…

SHALOM

Higher Ground

We met at a local restaurant that I hadn’t been to in a while. I had been putting off the meeting simply b/c our last meeting left me burdened. But God was going to surprise me and reiterate that this connection was indeed a very important assignment from Him. I remember early on in our relationship He told me that this woman and I had very similar “issues”. Back then I had very little self-awareness but took Him at His word. I couldn’t have guessed how accurate that word was and just how many issues we had in common. I took a chance and ordered roast beef and fries. I haven’t had beef in a while and decided that b/c we were heading into the weekend I would indulge. Also the fall weather always makes heavier foods more appealing. We dug right into the meat of things (pun intended) and started catching one another up on our love lives. Or lack thereof. We talked about the exes, how crazy they all were and how crazy we were to want to be with them. Why is it that we chose the same type of men over and over again? Finally I had an answer. I let her in on a secret I had recently learned. Most people will choose a person with both negative and positive traits of their parents. They will do this more than likely to get the needs met that they did not get met in their childhood. If only I had understood that truth 5, 10, 15 years ago. My friend reflected on that information and shared about her daughter choosing the same unhealthy relationship she had experienced in her own marriage. “Of course, because that is what is familiar to her” I shared with my newfound wisdom. We consumed our meal and dished more on all we were learning in the area of mental and emotional health. I was so blessed by the meeting, I couldn’t help but think of my initial apprehensions about it and how they were clearly not from the Lord. God was confirming my call. He was reiterating that He was going to use all of my failures in relationships. Just as He used me to share on my heartbreak He would use me to share with others about getting healthier.Before we parted ways my friend, 20 years my senior, commented about how awesome it was that I was learning this stuff so “young”. I briefly thought about it and responded “I know its b/c of my family. They knew they wanted me to have better opportunities. They knew they did not want me to repeat their same mistakes. Even if they didn’t have the verbiage to say, ‘I want her to be healthier emotionally or have healthier relationships’. They knew how to pray for better. This is my better”. 

 

Often the path feels fierce. It feels like I’m climbing uphill, alone, struggling to take the next shaky step forward in my fight for healing and recovery. But there are times I remember, I’m not alone. My ancestors take these steps with me. And b/c of them, I get to experience life even more abundantly.

SHALOM