Dear SSO Friend, this is an unusual lesson in that many of the sections are written about our hearts. When we soften our hearts, our demand for comfort and entertainment with food decreases. Therefore, growing spiritually, emotionally, and mentally will help your battle with the Beast of Overeating.

Week Eleven, Day One
The Beauty of Tracking and the 3 PM Talk

When you are tired or worn out, it is easy for Demanding Child and her desire for pleasure to walk in the door unnoticed. One fabulous strategy to combat Demanding Child is to be diligent to Track. A second strategy is to have a 3 PM talk.

Demanding Child tries to get you to NOT track because if you don’t measure and track, you can go “unconscious” and have a big time, eating and drinking whatever you want. This is what your lower nature wants: no rules, only fun. But that doesn’t get you what you want. You have to construct a fence around yourself and stay in it. You are only battling yourself. Your real battle is overcoming your Demanding Child who wants to eat for self-soothing and entertainment instead of correctly eating for nutrition and hunger.

Very few of us mess up early in the day. No, it’s around 3 p.m. or 5 p.m. when the accumulation of the day’s stresses are pressing in and we’re TIRED!

Here’s a great strategy that has helped many women in SSO: 1. Make your morning commitment to stay on your SSO program of 15 g. of sugar and 50 g. of carbs 2. Commit to ditch/plan/wait 3. Have a talk with yourself at 3 pm every day, knowing that Demanding Child will soon be knocking on the door. Take three minutes and re-read a special page (create one!) in your Ruby Journal that you know will access your Sane Adult and throw light on the deceitfulness of your Demanding Child.

This 3 p.m. talk with yourself is huge, because this is a reminder right before the actual battle. Re-remind yourself (by reading that page of sentences in your Ruby Journal) that Trash Food is not your friend and what you truly want and care about is not found in food. In fact, food that is not on your SS program has caused you a lot of suffering in the past. You can enjoy a modest amount of pleasant-tasting nutrition without going “over the line” so no whining about any deprivation. Enough is as good as a feast. Be grateful you get some pleasure and say to yourself, “In my sane moments, this is how I want to live. I will not listen to the demands of Demanding Child. I will follow my morning commitment when I was sane.”

You need soothing and maybe entertainment at this hour, but find legitimate substitutions that get you what you want. Have your tea ready. Have your Quart Bags or soup ready. Be prepared.

Maybe you could write yourself a note somewhere that says, “Read Ruby Journal at 3 p.m.” There are a million ways to help you help yourself.

All of your success is found by retraining your mind. Decide if you will do the work to make new grooves. Don’t wish for it, work for it.

The Weekend

Friday is coming and then, the tempting weekend has arrived. Make a promise to yourself that you will be 100% on your Skinny School program this weekend. You will Ditch 100%, you will Plan 100%, and you will Wait 100%. Do not allow yourself any cheats.

You’ve cheated for years and it resulted in your emotional suffering. It is time now to enjoy the emotional freedom that comes when you make good choices and treat yourself the way you know you should. This is not selfish at all. You will have more time and energy to give to those you love and more time and energy to do the work God has called you to do because you will quit wasting all that time and energy on being depressed, discouraged, and beating yourself up for what a loser you are.

When the urge to cheat appears, and it will, don’t even give Demanding Child the time of day. Quickly move into your Sane Adult and start reasoning aggressively with why you are going to be 100% steadfast with your Skinny School program. You are the Emperor of your mind.No one stands in your way except that annoying Demanding Child.

I’ve written before that I asked God to help me with choosing the right food and He whispered to me, “You can choose to eat right by yourself. Ask Me to do something you can’t do.”

Champions take 100% responsibility for their decisions. They never blame the circumstances (for example, a lot of Trash Food around). And they never blame other people (like food pushers). They take 100% responsibility.

Guess what happens if you stay 100% on your program? You get healthier and you get skinnier. I have been chubby and I have been thin and I can tell you for sure, hands-down, that being skinny beats the heck out of being chubby. It is worth the temporary discomfort of passing up Trash Food.

And when you have a good food planned, passing up Trash Food is not very hard.

No more dabbling around and cheating. Do not let your lower Demanding Child rob you of the delights that come with self-control and discipline.

Do You Drink Diet Drinks?

The hardest thing for me to get off (worse than Trash Food) was Diet Coke. I was addicted to aspartame since I was 15. Getting off aspartame was a very difficult goal so I did it in stages. The first stage was to start buying the very expensive Stevia sweetened diet drinks in the health food department of Kroger. I did that for a couple years. And then I was ready to move to herbal tea with Stevia which is much cheaper and probably better for me. Friend, aspartame is bad for you. 

Get on the site and read his articles about aspartame. The stuff is vicious and vile. Don’t try to give up all your bad habits at once. Work on ditching Trash Food first. Then work on your planning. Then work on waiting until you are a three and stopping at a five. And when the weight is coming off and you’re ready to tackle something else, maybe consider looking at the aspartame that you’re putting in your body. It’s bad stuff.

I don’t like to give you all too much to think about. That’s why we didn’t talk about Exercise until lesson 9. You will overwhelm yourself if you have too much you are focusing on. But you might put this on a list to consider down the road. I have things to work on down the road. So get your Ruby Journal out and maybe make a new list. Call it, Things I’m Going To Work On In The Future. And then list, Get Off Aspartame. If you are reading, you will know more than many medical doctors about nutrition and healthy eating.

Week Eleven, Day Two
The 3 Parts of Weight Loss Coaching

There are three parts of being a Weight Loss Coach. The first aspect is giving you the tools and knowledge you need to lose weight (Ditch, Plan, and Wait and the other Skinny School principles).

The second part (and the harsh but necessary part) is to be ruthlessly honest in order to be sure that you take full responsibility for what you put in your mouth (no one is stuffing food down your throat.)

The third aspect of being a Weight Loss Coach is to repeatedly remind you that no matter how many times you fail, to stay in the game. Habits are deep, and the prior grooves in your brain will not go away overnight. You must continually bathe your brain to override your prior thoughts and behaviors. This aspect of coaching includes reminding you that humans CAN change and that your efforts to keep trying and your efforts to get back on the bus ASAP when you fail WILL eventually flip the switch and turn on the light.

There is no reason to give up. You are only sabotaging yourself. Failure is part of this program and how you handle your failure (either get back on the bus and record it in your Ruby Journal so you can learn from it OR give up) will largely determine your ultimate success. EVERYONE gets the program at a different rate, but again, there is NO reason you cannot get this if you will STAY with it. EVERYONE can reprogram their brain, i.e., how they think about food and eating.

If you need to, start again. If you have to start again 1000x, it’s okay. Because you’re going to get thin if you keep bathing your brain with the right thought. The only people who aren’t are the people who give up.

This is the time you don’t give up. Right?

So You Messed Up Again, Did You?

The truth is: Humans can break bad habits. The lie is: You’ll never get this.

It is true that habits are very hard things to break but it is a lie that you are too stupid-sinful-weak-selfish to get it. The only people who can’t break habits are the people who quit trying because they get discouraged from failing.

For example, let’s pretend that yesterday you had a big stressor in your life, something really hard. Or maybe you were rushed with so much you had to do. (There are infinite things that can throw you off your Ditch/Plan/Wait strategy.) Here you are, the next morning, feeling like you’ll never get it, you’ll never change habits, and you are stuck in this problem forever.

This is where the Ruby Journal changes things. It is imperative that you dissect the situation and see what “thoughts” precipitated your fall. If you will collect these thoughts that led up to the fall, then you eventually will be able to start hearing the sirens when you are in that situation again. But SSO friend, dissecting the situation is not the norm. The norm is that we fail and because it is so painful, we don’t want to think about it. Instead, we must think through what thoughts or situations happened and write about them, review them, train our minds to be aware of them, and then start listening for the sirens to go off.

Habits are fierce, but the human mind can break them with re-training and becoming aware of our thoughts. For example, maybe something upsetting happened and you didn’t respond well. You were upset and needed self-soothing and food is your normal “go-to”. The next morning, you felt discouraged. The first thing to do is pray, and the next thing to do is write about it in your Ruby Journal (what happened, how could you protect against it happening again, etc.).

Here is an example of a Ruby Journal entry: “Yesterday was horrible. Just terrible. I was stressed out of my mind with bad situations and I was experiencing a lot of inner turmoil. I looked at the X (fill in food) and said to myself, ‘It’s okay to have that because I’m so upset and I want to go unconscious and not feel bad like this anymore. X will take away all this inner turmoil for now. I should not have to be this uncomfortable and I don’t know any other quick way to soothe myself to the same degree’.”

That’s powerful, writing down sentences like that, exposing yourself to your Demanding Child. Now, continue to write, but in your Sane Adult: “Indulging in X is not what I really want to do. I want to have a healthy body and that was not healthy. I will re-read this often and when I want to indulge in X or Y to go unconscious and self-soothe, I will tell myself that I am strong enough to mentally handle some discomfort. I will devise other strategies to soothe myself, such as make tea, eat out of Quart Bags, call a friend, read a book, take a bath, take a nap, take a walk, pray, etc.”

What you must do is learn to listen and hear what your Demanding Child is whispering to you, so you can be aware of it next time when you hear her. Also, you must devise alternate strategies for dealing with stress because you will need help de-stressing the harshness of life. But you can get this, if you don’t give up. You may fail 1000x but if you don’t quit, if you write in your Ruby Journal, and if you discuss these issues with your group (because you have a group, right?), then you can retrain your brain to be aware of Demanding Child’s schemes and eventually, choose to reason aggressively with her…and win.

Week Eleven, Day Three
Waiting on God and Taking Daily Massive Action

I know you have hurt and pain in your life. No one gets by without disappointment showing up. In the past, we have mistakenly chosen to dial down that pain with Trash Food. But as you and I now know, that didn’t work very well for us.

Many of us receive food for our souls from the Bible to help with the pain. How many times I have read Scripture with a heavy heart and somehow, in some capacity, God reminds me, “Count on My coming.” That is one theme He has drilled into me for years is that He knows, He cares, He is powerful, and that prayer moves Him. I count on His coming.

One favorite passage God uses to encourage me in my areas of sadness is Habakkuk 2:3. “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”

I can choose to Ditch, Plan, and Wait to handle my weight. But there are many things which only He can bring. I am counting on Him to come. I am begging Him to come. And I know you are, too. May God come to us and answer our prayers. “Though it tarries, wait for it, because it will surely come.”

Waiting on God to come is rule number one when you have a hard thing. But then there is also taking Daily Massive Action on your goals. As contradictory as it seems, God tells us He will do the work to build his church and then He also tells us to go and make disciples. It’s both. Be sure you pray as if it all depended on God and work as though it all depends on you.

A Test for Champions: What Do You Do When “Stuff Happens”?

As we all know, stuff happens. Annoying interruptions. Upsetting people. Anxiety. Disappointment. And just as likely, good things happen: weddings, births, celebrations, and vacations. There are two zillion things that can throw you off your Skinny School program because…stuff happens. 

Now, here is the test for the Champions in the group. What is the very first thought that should come to mind when “stuff happens” in your life and you lose your way? What should you do when you find yourself in a downhill mudslide?

Do you have your answer in mind? What do you say to yourself? Think about this before you read on.

Here’s the answer: When you lose your way, you YELL to yourself, “Hey, there, Sane Adult! GET BACK ON THE BUS!!! Yeah, you tripped up, but only a little. That means, before you do any more damage, you draw a line in the sand, and get back on the Ditch/Plan/Wait cycle this instant! Not tomorrow. Not even after lunch. This second!” Demanding Child will give you reasons to “wait” to get back on the bus (after this wedding weekend, after my husband gets a job, after Susie leaves for college, after Johnny starts kindergarten,…). You know and I know that you’ll be sorry if you wait.

Of course, you will lose your way. Of course, you will find yourself in a ditch. I promise you will because that’s what humans do, they mess up. But the second the siren roars, get back on the bus. How you handle failure predicts your ultimate success, because you are going to fail. 

But this time is unlike any in the past because you now know what to do with failure: draw a line and get back on the bus. Over and over and over. And soon, very soon, you’ll be zipping up those skinny jeans. Yeah, baby, those real skinny jeans. And you’ll live your life as a skinny flip of a thing, not thinking about your weight, but thinking about all the people God has given you to love and all the work He’s given you to do. That’s the goal: freedom from the Beast of Overeating! Freedom from the Food Dungeon!

You will lose your way, but you now have an immediate strategy to stop the mudslide.

Week Eleven, Day Four
She Can Laugh at the Days to ComePart I

SSO Friend, The following section was written two years ago. It is from Lesson 4 of Wife School Online. I had not even written Skinny School when this post was written. Our hearts and our eating are not unrelated. The more we work on our hearts, the less demanding we become about our food! This post is long and divided between Day 4 and Day 5. Here it is:

Proverbs 31 has so much wisdom packed in it that we must give ourselves to combing through it slowly. (I have never seen an essay on womanhood that can touch Proverbs 31.)  Today we will talk about verse 25b that says “she can laugh at the days to come.” Notice the writer didn’t say “smile”. Nor did the writer say “she can handle”. The writer said “she can laugh”. That is beyond cool.

I want you to sit and stew with me about that verse. What is it about this woman that she can “laugh” at the days to come? Isn’t that a remarkable sentence? A remarkable “word”? The following is all my opinion. I am going to give you several reasons I think she could “laugh at the days to come”. It is from meditating and thinking about this verse for years that I write the following. I invite you to share your opinion with me, as I’m sure there are many other opinions on this verse.

Do you know a woman with a “happy heart” that “can laugh at the days to come”? Isn’t she just delightful? Even her “hello” and voice lift your spirit. We all love these women and we must learn how to be one of them! (You want that, right?)

This Proverbs 31 woman is very busy and productive, yet she is not stressed. Instead, she laughs. Being able to laugh is a measuring stick of your stress. No one is laughing when they are getting ready to hit the wall. I love how God cares about our stress (while few others do) and tells us that the wise woman learns to “laugh at the days to come”.

The first reason the Proverbs 31 woman was able, in my opinion, to “laugh at the days to come” was because she understood that you can’t be ultra-stressed and laugh at the same time so she kept margins in her life. You can’t be scheduled to the brim and still “laugh at the days to come”. Sometimes, we have to say “no” to “good things” in order to say “yes” to the “right things” and that is a difficult thing to do (because we want people to like and respect us). In Virginia, when our six children were ten and under (I had a newborn and I was homeschooling), a gentleman from church called and asked if I would “take over the nursery and preschool department”. (Now that is an important job, I admit, but the need is not the call). When I declined, he was unpleasant and accusatory. Sometimes we think that these people in authority are the same as God. The nursery work was important but I was barely getting through my day and I knew (loudly confirmed by my husband) that I was not to take on that responsibility. After I declined, his wife then proceeded to tell me that I “needed to be more balanced” (although she was empty-nesting, only had two children, and both kids had gone to school!). Well, to be balanced and to handle my family at that season of life, I would have needed a 54-hour day. Don’t let others pressure you into something that is not of the Lord, however “holy” it seems.

I say this carefully, with fear and trembling, because I want you to hear from God and do His will. But Jesus says in Matthew 11 that His yoke (His will) is a “light and easy yoke”. When we are prayer-led, Scripture-led, and husband-led, we will better be able to know what to allow and what to reject. Just be warned that others will try to press you and tell you that their agenda is God’s will (at school, at church, at the charity, in the neighborhood, in your extended family, and in your social circles). Get clear on your calling and learn to graciously say “I’m so sorry, but I can’t right now; maybe in the future.” Your stress depends a lot on your ability to say no. Stressed women don’t “laugh at the days to come”. Don’t blame anyone else, either. It’s your job to learn to say no.

Secondly, I believe the Proverbs 31 woman could “laugh at the days to come” because she understood that whatever hardship would come, God would match it with His comfort to get her through the trial. My husband was recently diagnosed with an auto-immune disease and there was a time he could barely walk to the bathtub. (At one point, the doctor said his illness was life-threatening. But God has miraculously restored him for this season, so “high five”, PTL, thank You, dear God!) I still don’t remember how, but the peace that flowed into our lives during those eight weeks was remarkable. In fact, our lives grew richer after that experience. The grace showed up when we needed it. Our children were wonderful during this time. Friends showed up for visits. People brought food. Christians showed up to anoint David with oil for healing. It was an amazing time, in hindsight. I remember being downcast one day, sitting in front of Charlie’s Meat Market, talking on the phone with one of my best friends, Kendall. She said, “People can live happy lives with chronic illness.” I remember my shock at this statement. Why, my whole paradigm shifted. I went home and told David what she said. It was at this point that we changed how we viewed the illness and realized we could still have happy lives in the midst of it. God used that friend at our moment of need to give us grace.

God uses different strategies to bring comfort to our lives when we face difficult trials. But knowing that “the grace will come when difficult circumstances arise” helps us rest today and “laugh at the days to come”. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says “My grace is sufficient for you.” However, God doesn’t give this grace until the very hour we need it. That’s why we fear hard things now…the grace isn’t there yet. I used to tell my husband how much fear I had about the possibility of losing a child. He would tell me, over and over again, that if it happened, the grace to handle it would show up. I believe the Proverbs 31 woman understood this principle that the grace will show up when you need it and this trust calmed her deepest fears and anxieties. Therefore she could deeply rest and “laugh at the days to come”.

I think of Amanda, a sweet girl in one of my prior groups. Amanda was given a precious baby with Down’s syndrome. At first, she was devastated. Later she said, “What we thought was the worst that could happen turned out to not be that bad.” What happened? Grace showed up. Grace will show up for you, too, when you need it. We must all learn to trust that the grace will show up.

Tomorrow we will discuss the rest of the reasons.

Week Eleven, Day Five
She Can Laugh at the Days to Come, Part II

To continue from yesterday…

Thirdly, I believe the Proverbs 31 woman knew how to take her problems to God in prayer and leave them on the shelf in heaven while He worked on them. It’s one thing to pray and leave our anxieties with God; it’s another to pray over them and then continue to stomp around in their little mud puddles.

Early in my Christian life, I did a Bible study on having a quiet time called 29:59 by Peter Lord. I remember a striking thing he said that has always stayed with me. He said his first job every day was to get his heart “happy in the Lord”. Wow. What a way to live! We are to get our hearts “happy in the Lord” and that means, learning to leave our burdenson the shelf in heaven.

We have to quarantine our negative thoughts. Once when David and I were dating, he broke up with me (actually, he broke up with me twice as I was quite the head case). I was devastated. I told God that I would not think about it, though, unless I was with Him in prayer. I “quarantined” the pain. Yes, God changed me in other ways and brought David back, but I learned early to pray and put it in God’s hands, and leave it there. We have to learn to leave our problems on the shelf in heaven, knowing that Somebody has plans to prosper us and not to harm us; that Someone has plans to give us a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Believing the Jeremiah 29:11 concept that there is “a glad surprise around the river bend” is a great perspective to help grow happy hearts. (If you repeatedly struggle with discouragement, this is especially a huge concept for you. I recommend Jesus Calling to you.)

To balance the concept right before this, I now want to discuss the fourth reason the Proverbs 31 woman could “laugh at the days to come”. In my opinion, it was because she knew that she was very proactive. After David broke up with me, I got a new plan for my life. I was going to get a PhD in Marriage and Family Counseling. Obviously, God brought David back and we got married, but the point is, I didn’t sit around and sulk. I proactively made plans during the heartache to move on. I often wonder if the Proverbs 31 woman’s husband needed help with finances and that’s why she had so many home-based businesses. Maybe she proactively assisted her husband in business because he was having problems. Look at how the Proverbs 31 woman proactively made sure her home was well-provided for. Look at how she proactively took care of her beautiful clothes. This woman saw what needed to be done and by golly, she did it. No blaming. No self-pity, but a good work ethic to get things done. She knew she could bring this “work ethic” to whatever future trial she should encounter. As Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “pray like it all depended on God and work like it all depended on you”. This Proverbs 31 chick was pretty savvy.

Fifthly, I think this fab woman could “laugh at the days to come” because she wasn’t struggling with “insecurity or grandiosity”, those twin beasts which make us struggle with addictions (I warned you this was my opinion…) I think our Proverbs 31 girl had figured out two things. One, how valuable she was to God (remember how a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight?). And two, this woman had given up trying to be “a big shot” (there is such a clamoring in our hearts to be important instead of wanting to serve). This woman accepted herself, her lot, and her life. She wasn’t eaten up with feeling insignificant, with feeling “overlooked”, or eaten up with “self-pity”. She had figured out how to get emotional freedom. She had given up regrets. She had given up addictions, if there were any (no woman “can laugh at the days to come” if she’s battling an addiction such as alcohol, spending, prescription drug, or food). This smart woman had battled her pesky insecurities and her demanding entitlement issues in prayer, and she had won. Therefore, she could live each day with emotional freedom and joy. You simply can’t put a price tag on being able “to laugh at the days to come”. The best things in life are truly free.

The sixth reason I think this woman “could laugh at the days to come” is because she was free of her guilt. She had found forgiveness for all of her stupid, willful, mean, idiotic, dumb, and low thoughts, mistakes, and actions. And then, she lived a virtuous life, daily surrendered to God’s will (remember, when you lose your life, you truly find it, as the Bible says in Matthew 10:39). The freedom of “walking daily in the Spirit” and “living by the priorities that God has set out in His Word” is equal to the size of the Pacific Ocean. There is no freedom like this! Despair and depression come from living apart from God and His principles. No woman can be a happy song if she is making wrong choices or even if she is thinking wrong thoughts. Give up those foxes, “the little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (Song of Solomon 2:15), i.e., the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1). You know what your sin issue is. Let it go.

The seventh (and final, ha) principle I think this woman understood was that she could choose to use her one-of-a-kind creative genius/brilliance “gift” to bless others. I believe she found her “zone”, that area where she buzzed and fired on all cylinders. I believe each of us has a genius, a gift zone, an area of brilliance, and we are to fan it into flame. 2 Tim. 1:6 says, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God.” Much of our boredom is because we are not in touch with our gifts. When we are not operating in our area of gifts, we are frustrated, bored, and are critical of others. You have a gift. Discover it, fan it into flame, and give it away to bless others and receive great joy yourself. Learning how to enjoy giving away your “genius” will change your daily enjoyment and will help you “laugh at the days to come”. (If you have little children, you will have to be very careful about “fanning into flame your gift” during this season of life. But even pursuing and growing your gift for thirty minutes during naptime can mean a lot to promoting your emotional health.)

As I said, these ideas were my “interpretation” of this Proverbs passage. I’m sure there are hundreds of other applications. I’d love to hear yours.

Questions for Group Discussion

  1. Just as a review, how would you say you’re doing with tracking? Planning? Reading the Ruby Journal? Adding to your Ruby Journal?
  2. Do weekends present a problem for you? If so, what strategy are you using to combat that temptation?
  3. Have you been informed about aspartame? What are your thoughts?
  4. Are you continuing to experience failure? Do you write about it in your Ruby Journal? Are you experiencing any discouragement? Are you cheating any? What excuse are you telling yourself so you can cheat?
  5. Were you previously aware that your emotions came from your thoughts and that you can choose your thoughts? What action can you take on this truth? Do you see the possibility of “dialing down your discouraging and negative thoughts?”
  6. When you lose your way, do you hear your Sane Adult screaming to get back on the bus? Are you able to start reasoning aggressively with your Demanding Child? Where are you in this process?
  7. After reading my 7 reasons I think a Proverbs 31 woman can “laugh at the days to come”, what are your thoughts? How is your ability to laugh at the days to come? Our hearts are often very attached to our habits of eating. What does this say about you?