Allison got my attention in the first sentence. She has been there. She was morbidly obese. She suffered abuse as a child and as a wife. She was a single mother. She was a successful model. She suffered depression and survived prescription and illegal drug abuse as well as a suicide attempt. She knows the emptiness of living without the Lord and the Victory of being one of His. But what held my attention most of all was the way she addresses problems we can't solve with all the knowledge in the world of diet and exercise. She deals with attitude. She analyzes view point. She reaches to the aching spirit.
In the end permanent changes for good health (or any difficult transformation) comes down to one thing... You have got to want it enough to stop making excuses. You have got to believe you are worth it. You have to believe you hold the power to overcome the obstacles. And only with the Lord is any of that possible.
Fad diets come and go by the dozens a day but not one of them will ever work for permanent change. I constantly find myself shaking my head at some of the attempts I see those around me making at a quick fix to their weight or health issues. I know at the onset of each new diet craze that it will end in failure because it is only through using the body as God intended that we can truly be well spiritually, emotionally and physically.
Health and fitness have been joint passions of mine since I was about 12 years old. As an asthmatic, I wanted to find ways of treating my breathing issues that didn't involve daily steroid use. As a diabetic, I knew there had to be ways to control my glucose without pills and shots. As a mama who has gained lots of pounds with every pregnancy, I knew there had to be a key to losing postpartum weight. I have read and studied and applied both world and Biblical perspectives. And, by God's grace, I've been blessed with good health.
Ladies often come to me for advice or encouragement on gaining control of their health, or to lose weight or to find ways to change their diet or exercise to feel younger and more energetic. This being one of my passions, I am glad to share. I am sure I share way more than most people ever care to know. It seems I see three types of women. Those who get busy, make changes and reap life long rewards. Those who start for a while but quickly give up. Those who never get anywhere at all. What is the difference between these three groups of women?
It's all in the heart. As in most things in life, until you get to the heart of the matter there can be no true or permanent change. Allison gets to those underlying issues. With lots of personal examples she leads the reader from the cause to the cure through the Word and through practical steps.
It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Harvest House Publishers (August 2012)
***Special thanks to Ginger Chen of Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Allison Bottke is the author of Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children and Setting Boundaries with Difficult People,and the founder of the SANITY Support Group, an outreach based on the acclaimed Setting Boundaries " book series.. She has written or edited more than 27 nonfiction and fiction books, and is a frequent guest on national radio and TV programs around the country. www.settingboundariesbooks.com
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
List Price: $12.99
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
For many years my life was a never-ending drama of crisis after crisis revolving around my drug-addicted son. It was absolute insanity—and it was not how God intended for me (or any parent) to live.
Before I was able to eventually write Setting Boundaries with Your Adult Children, the first book in the Setting Boundaries™ series, I had to first recognize my own enabling patterns of behavior and put a stop to the part I had played in continuing the vicious cycle of irresponsible behavior in my son’s life. Before God could use me to help others find sanity, I first had to learn how to stop trying to fix the mess my son was making of his life. I had to stop enabling his behaviors.
As I developed what I call the Six Steps to SANITY in dealing my son, I began to realize the futility of harboring negative feelings of guilt, frustration, anger, fear, and inadequacy. Those destructive emotions only hindered my ability to resolve the daily drama of those years. Instead, I began to focus on developing new strengths that helped me break free from the bondage of the poor choices my son was making. I learned I had to make better choices myself.
Today, thousands of parents and grandparents around the world have joined me in finding freedom from the exhausting cycle of enabling our adult children. Together we have found sanity by recognizing and identifying false conceptions about our adult children and ourselves. We have begun replacing those destructive lies with spiritually empowering truths.
Over the past few years, God has been showing me how the same SANITY principles (outlined in Part Two of this book) that helped me establish the necessary boundaries regarding my son’s life can be applied to the challenging issues I faced with food and obesity. It’s from that conviction that I write the books in the Setting Boundaries™ series—the conviction that God alone can help us set the necessary boundaries and enable us to make the right choices, bringing us right-side up in whatever issue we’re dealing with.
The Common Denominator
While there are countless emotional, circumstantial, or even physical reasons why so many people struggle with their weight, there’s one common denominator that all of us who struggle share—and that, of course, is food itself.
We can “just say no” to enabling our adult children, or allowing difficult people to hurt us. We can put alcohol and other drugs out of our lives—we don’t need either substance for survival. Yet it’s impossible to “just say no” to food, for without it we would die.
But that doesn’t stop us from trying, does it? We try to “just say no” to food by skipping entire meals or going days, weeks, even years in some cases, eating little to nothing, determined to be in control of food and the weight it adds to our bodies. At its worst, this control issue with food can result in life-threatening illnesses such as anorexia, bulimia—or, on the other end of the spectrum, heart attacks, diabetes, and the host of other maladies that can stem from overeating or from eating the wrong foods in excess.
Many of us, in a brave attempt to lose weight, have tried to eat and drink according to some sort of regulated system typically based on two key components: deprivation and reward. In short, in an effort to lose weight we’ve developed an unnatural attention on food while we starve our spirit, soul, mind, and even our body itself of the nourishment it really needs. By dieting, taking pills, using exchange lists and points, and counting calories, fat grams and carbohydrates, we have been trying to make food behave instead of changing our own behavior.
Setting Boundaries with Food isn’t about making food behave; it’s about replacing our focus on food with something far more fulfilling. It’s about making a series of choices that can free us not only from the pounds that weigh down our bodies, but also from the worry, anxiety, and stress that weigh heavy on our hearts, souls, and spirits. It’s about choices that can bring us into a bountiful relationship with a loving and nurturing God, who can fill the empty places no amount of food can ever reach.
To do this, we must seriously address the emotional and spiritual hunger many of us have ignored. The truth is that we must heal our bodies and souls from the inside out—not from the outside in.
A Reflection of Character
In this fourth book in the Setting Boundaries™ series, I’m going to challenge you to give up destructive dieting and unhealthy eating patterns for the last time—to say goodbye to the vicious cycle that has held you prisoner in your own body for years, perhaps even decades.
With so much attention focused on what foods to eat or not to eat, or by ignoring nutrition needs entirely, many of us have stopped paying attention to why we’re even eating in the first place.
Are we really hungry?
Do our bodies actually need fuel, or are we feeding something else entirely?
The truth is that many of us have never learned how to separate food from feelings. Instead of managing our emotional needs and the internal frustrations related to growth and change, we’ve fallen into harmful habits of either clinging to food or depriving ourselves of it. We habitually overeat and under eat, habitually watch the numbers on our scale increase and decrease, and habitually start and stop one promising diet after another. When it comes to eating, we’ve developed many unhealthy and even dangerous habits.
A habit is a pattern of behavior acquired by frequent repetition that reflects the prevailing character of a person. Have you ever thought of your habits as a reflection of your character? As Christians, our character should reflect the character of Christ. We are not born with habits. We develop them—and we can make the choice to change them.
Together, we’re going to address the part our emotional needs play in our relationship with food. We’re going to see how reorganizing our relationships and understanding our responsibilities can help us set healthy boundaries—boundaries that more deeply reflect the character of Christ. And all the while, we’ll be growing spiritually and developing new habits of emotional self-control.
Looking for Love
Many of us have confused the empty space in our stomach with the one in our heart, stuffing one while ignoring the other.
I struggled for decades with my weight as a result of emotional overeating, even for a time becoming morbidly obese. I know what it’s like to feel trapped in a seemingly never-ending cycle of dieting, deprivation, despair, and disgust. Weight-related insecurities consumed me for the majority of my life. In fact, there was a time in my twenties when suicide appeared a better option than living another day in an overweight body that I hated. Imagine that—preferring death to being fat.
The truth is that the elephant in the room (sadly, the perfect metaphor) regarding excess weight is our pain and inner emptiness—none of which can be dealt with through fad diets. Some of us, having finally realized the futility of diets that don’t address our real hunger, end up treading water from day to day as we desperately try to juggle poor relationships with our loved ones, coworkers, and even with ourselves, due to our poor self-image. We go to sleep at night wondering how we can get through another stressful, boring, unfulfilling, or horrid day. Emotional and physical fatigue has rendered us all but powerless to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In fact, it’s often said that many people feel like the light at the end of the tunnel is nothing more than an oncoming train, which is certainly how I felt years ago when my weight soared dangerously close to 300 pounds.
For me, as a Christian woman, one answer came as a result of prayer. Having been diagnosed as morbidly obese, I knew I had to do something to change my life. As I prayed, I decided to look into the admittedly hot-button topic of gastric bypass weight loss surgery. Because it turned out to be a viable starting place for me, I’ve devoted an entire chapter to this option in this book.
Weight loss surgery (WLS) isn’t for everyone, and should never be considered as a panacea for rapid weight loss. While it was an effective tool that helped me lose weight quickly and regain the physical mobility I had lost, it didn’t erase the old tapes replaying in my mind, nor did it remove old habits. There are still times when the magnetic pull of the refrigerator is powerful—when food seductively calls my name when I’m not physically hungry. There are times when the trials and tribulation of life seem too big to handle and I find myself being enticed back into my old habits, returning to the false comfort and safety of food.
While I’ve maintained a 120-pound weight loss for over a decade, the journey to true weight loss freedom came when I discovered the connection between healthy boundaries, spiritual nourishment, and maintaining successful long-term weight loss. Now, I’m keenly aware that my obesity stemmed from boundary-related issues, and my old habit of retreating from emotional pain to the comfort of food was my preferred form of self-medicating. The abuse of food was my attempt to self-soothe and regulate my emotions. Plus, carrying extra weight provided me with a false sense of safety. Protection. It’s a good way to keep people at a distance.
When I’ve told my story, others have confided to me that they have felt the same way. Perhaps you do too. Perhaps you know that your hunger for food is a search for comfort—an attempt to self-medicate the inner emptiness you feel.
I do understand. That’s why I’m writing the book. I know from personal experience that it is possible to break the cycle of insanity that holds us captive.
My Prayer for You
Today, instead of trying to control my food with the latest fad diet or weight loss trend, I rely on the Six Steps to SANITY that I teach in this book to help me focus on spiritual food. This has sustained me over the years as I’ve learned more about the role healthy boundaries and balance plays in virtually every aspect of life.
The Six Steps to SANITY can bring hope and healing to hurting hearts. During the course of writing—and living—the Setting Boundaries™ books, I’ve found strength I never knew I had. You can find this strength as well.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint (Isaiah 40:31).
This scripture passage has brought me great peace in my journey to set healthy boundaries in many areas of my life and to live the abundant life God has promised. Many of us who deal with the very visible challenge of obesity often have far less visible challenges to overcome. We’ve spent years hiding behind pounds of pain.
Our lives are incredibly complicated—and often our relationships even more so. As with many of us who find setting boundaries difficult, I came from a fractured family where dysfunctional relationships thrived. I never met my mom’s mother, and my dad’s mother was a rather taciturn and stoic individual. I don’t have many warm and fuzzy grandma memories, but I do remember that she made the best lemon meringue pie. We seldom talked one-on-one, but I vividly recall her words one day when I was a very young girl sitting in her tiny kitchen in Toledo, Ohio. I watched as she added one ingredient and then mixed it in, stopped to add another ingredient, and then mixed some more. Thinking I had come up with a brilliant timesaving option she’d never thought of, I proudly offered some great advice. “Grandma, why don’t you just throw everything in the bowl and mix it all at once?” I asked. “That would be easier.”
“The easiest way isn’t always the right way,” Grandma sternly replied, without missing a beat or even looking up to acknowledge me.
That simple exchange was a lesson that stuck with me over the years, and it comes to mind now as I write about the importance of following a progression of six steps on our journey to set healthy boundaries—whether it’s with food, adult children, toxic parents, or difficult people.
The right way isn’t necessarily going to be the easiest way.
When it comes to confronting issues, breaking habits, and ushering in transformational change that will have lasting implications, there is a right way to find sanity. We already know there’s a wrong way—our extra pounds testify to that.
That said, what is the right way—and how do we find it? How do we find sanity in the insane situations and circumstances of life?
It all begins when we reorganize our relationships and understand our responsibilities.