Will I Maintain The Gain?!

I have finally reached the time when I celebrate my transformation. For so long compliments were nice but I still didn’t see or feel it for myself.
Now, right behind an inward celebratory thought of ‘you’ve done well’, ‘you look good’, is a taunt ‘you’re going to be a public failure like Oprah’. She made her weight loss journey so public and then gained all her weight back. It is scary to think about it. I have lived out my journey on FB and here on this blog for all the social media world to see. While I feel that my transformation, all that I have learned and the new behaviors I have adopted are pretty solid, I wonder.
Will I maintain the gain?!
The reality is my lifestyle must be forever committed to my personal wellness and fitness. I must continue to make the best choices for my health and for my life. Eating well, even better and moving as long as this body will go. It is both exhilarating and exhausting, I’m not a young woman, I’m a grandmother!:-) I know several people who have gone to the extremes of weight loss surgery and they have gained the weight back. People who have lost a significant amount of weight and gained the weight back. I just cannot.
I always share that this is as much a spiritual journey as anything that we trust God for or depend on Him to do for us. I know then that I must affirm all that I have achieved and who I have become. It is more than the weight loss, it is my sense of self. Who I was, who I am, and who I am becoming. I have been stretched beyond anything I ever thought possible of myself. I have gained so much.
My Prayer:
Lord, change me from the inside out that healthy thoughts continue to govern my behavior and that I will continue to have strength of mind, body and spirit to maintain the gain. Pure and simple, I pray for discipline and determination to win over indulgences and seeking comfort in food. I know that by Your hands I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I know that You have created me and refined me in the fire. I know that my body is Your temple, that you have given it to me whole, well and beautiful. I know that Your hands form, frame and shape my being. I know that it is You Who has helped me and I will depend on You ALWAYS.

Defeat By Excuses (A Work In Progress, That’s Me, Part II)


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Continuing from my previous writing, I knew there was something critically important I was forgetting at the time: EXCUSES!
They surface from our thought patterns to our lips with lightning speed as a crutch for why we cannot be what we need to be or do what we need to do. Excuses exempt us from what we do not want to do. Excuses are empty, some call them cop-outs. My Pastor teaches, ‘excuses are filled with corruption’.  The point is they lead to no where, no success, no progress, nothing. Excuses only limit us and defeat us.
This year I have had to fight past excuses (not always successful), fight past the “I can’t do it”, “I look awkward”, “I’m too thick for Yoga”, “I’m tired”, “I’m the oldest on this floor (in this room)”, “I’m too old”, “No one welcomed me”! Then there is the beast on the floor, someone running past me along my walk, or spinning like the blades of a fan in front of me. Yada, yada, yada.
Excuses are endless, relentless, they link together like a chain to choke the life out of you.
Excuses choke possibility.

Excuses are the pseudo voices that justify why we cannot or will not do (because we don’t want to) what we need to do.
‘Fear of failure’ is so huge. I have written about it before, http://simplyphenomenal.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/quitting-before-you-get-started/
Imagine the rich experiences and opportunities that we miss because we never start, never take the first step or initiative to see if we can succeed. We are no better for it. We just remain in the same stagnation. That surely is not the abundant life.
It is not until we break free of our fears and excuses, that we realize we can succeed enough to stretch and pursue more.
To be more, to do more, to have more, to live more.
Most of our dreams are beyond our reach and require us to risk tripping, falling, failure or rejection to attain them. It is then, ‘in order to succeed, our desire for success must be greater than our fear of failure’. (paraphrasing Bill Cosby)
My wellness/fitness journey has been and continues to be one of overcoming, choosing every day to stay the course, to push through stinking thinking, push, fight, push, fight. Keeping the set goals forefront in my mind, visualizing the finish, and finding a way to get there.
I know excuses will not get me there. My desire for success is greater.

A Work In Progress, That’s Me


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This writing is a response to an inquiry someone made to me about my wellness/fitness journey. I started it to reply to her directly, but decided to blog it and share it with everyone. I know much of it is being restated from previous writings but in case you missed it before, here it is again.

Praise the Lord, Sister …
First thing is you have to change your thinking, really make a decision to commit to the WORK. I must say too, you don’t realize it until you actually start the journey.
I have written about my journey on my blog, http://www.simplyphenomenal.wordpress.com … look through some of my writings this year.
I started with the 21-day Daniel Fast. I did not do it as a spiritual fast but as a jump start to my weight loss and it was the motivation that I needed to continue. I recommended getting the book because it has devotions for those 21-days that will help your mindset which is VERY IMPORTANT. After the 21 days, I continued eating the way I did while on the fast, [called the Daniel Cure], it was working for me (no meat, chicken, dairy, processed foods, sugar, etc).
I changed EVERYTHING because #1 I was experiencing success and #2 I was determined.
Also, most importantly, I COMMITTED TO ONE YEAR … it is not something you can do in a short amount of time.
Making short-term, realistic and achievable goals will help you maintain your motivation.
Also, important, is accountability, fine someone or people who you will be accountable to … in addition to wanting to encourage others with my journey on FB, is that it makes/keeps me accountable … I know people are watching, but they are also encouraging and cheering me on.
At first I just changed my diet and I had some success. Then I realized it was not enough, I HAD TO EXERCISE.
I enjoyed Zumba so I was doing that periodically. Then I went to a Health Fair and came across a walking program so I started walking again. I pretty much started with 1 mile, now as you may have noticed on a distance walk I can do 6-7 miles (even with a torn menicus in my knee).
So, I changed my MIND, changed my DIET, started EXERCISING, then you also have to build a COMMUNITY of people who will counsel you and motivate you … Fitness Trainers do that. So I started going to fitness classes, I like group classes doing different workouts and learning what I need to do to reach my goal. You MUST surround yourself and interact with people who will HELP YOU, TEACH YOU, MOTIVATE YOU, BE AN EXAMPLE.
So as you can see, it is no play thing. TIMING is of the essence, you have to be ready … I was fed up with the way I looked and felt. Also, EDUCATION & INFORMATION … I also connected with a Health Coach/Nutrition (actually blessed through the Wellness Program at my job) to learn about health eating. I have also learned a lot just my searching and googling the internet. I get smoothie recipes, etc. from the internet, even FB … you can search for just about anything on FB just like the internet.
It is an investment of time AND money (which I would spend on other things any way).
COMMITMENT to yourself and your goals, not anyone else (your husband, anything or anyone) … you have to do it for YOURSELF!
You have to make a decision, set a long-term goals, set short-term goals and strategies to achieve your goal(s), and then get to work. When you put the time and effort in, you will achieve results. It will not be drastic, it takes time, you have to give it time and you have to be CONSISTENT and COMMITTED to the promise you make to YOURSELF.
I cannot remember how much I lost after the initial 21-day Daniel Fast (in a previous blog), but it was the most weight I had lost in 30 yrs and it was the motivation I needed to continue.
Over the year, starting with my diet, then to walking, then I kept challenging myself to do more, so I made a commitment to MYSELF to do something/an hour or more of exercise every day (inspired by the girl who went to the gym 100 days, http://youtu.be/I5FkshLcNLQ). I keep evolving to stay motivated and to experience new things (What I have done this year: Walking, Zumba, BOKWA, R.I.P.P.E.D., Bootcamp, Yoga (not a fan, ijs), Body Toning, Diet/Nutrition, Personal Training, my latest adventure is Spinning)
Every time I reach a short-term goal, I set another one: 3 lbs, 5 lbs because that is easier than 10 lbs or 20 lbs. My ultimate goal is 100 lbs which I’ve been advised may be too much but we will see. I know it will take time, probably longer than my initial commitment, but I’m COMMITTED to MYSELF to keep chipping, squeezing or melting the fat away.
I am nearly 9 months in, having lost 44 lbs my last weigh in. Every day is not perfect. Some days I make blunders (sweets), but I don’t give up, I put on my big girl pants, check into warrior mode, and I get right back in the game because of the commitment I made to myself.
Finally, this has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life … I am not there yet, but I know I will get there. [tear]
I owe God great praise, He is my HELP!


~ 85 days ’til my Birthday! ~

Oregó (REACH)

Nearly nine months into my fitness journey which I began January 5, there are 110 days until my birthday.
A significant part of my new personal fitness community or network is the family at No Fat Birthdays, a boutique fitness studio owned by Fitness Trainer/Coach Jamey Mixson. The studio or gym name grips you in a way that gives you a relatable focus point for your goals.
Entering into this new season on this first day of September, with Autumn officially arriving in a few weeks, I’m focused on or REACHing to achieve more progress by my birthday, “’cause no one wants to be fat on their birthday!”
The prompt for Five Minute Friday, http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/ (I know it is Monday) is REACH.
After returning from our Alaskan cruise vacation a few weeks ago, I was so low because of all the delicious indulgences I enjoyed while we were away. For days I really struggled, beating myself up about it. I vowed I would not weigh myself for several weeks because I could not bear to step on the scale and see it move up. I could not see it myself, but people around me kept saying how great I looked like something drastic had taken place. In my mind I asked, what are they talking about? I cannot remember why I did it, but I stepped on the scale one morning and was pleasantly surprised to see I indeed had lost more, reaching another short-term weight loss goal. It was the breakthrough I needed to release me from the state I was in. Then I had a checkup with my doctor who had not seen me since I began my fitness journey. She was so impressed and, of course, encouraged me to continue … that was a huge boost for my motivation. I put on my big girl pants #beastmode and got back in the game, mind, body and spirit.
Now, I’m here, 110 days ’til my birthday with this REACH in my spirit. I am excited about where I am and optimistic about what I will achieve.
I have made a commitment to myself, which I intend to keep. “… REACHing forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize …” or the goal which I have set for myself.


WOW, how powerful is that!

Family, friends and readers … Thanks for coming along for the ride and for inspiring encouraging, cheering and championing me along the way. Hang in there with me, I need you.

Bloom Among the Rocks

It is totally possible.
Possible to bloom beautifully, inspiringly among the rocks of your existence.


These blooms, I’m not sure if they are weeds or flowers, but they catch my eye and thought every time I walk along the lakefront of my city’s national treasure, Lake Erie. I’m intrigued at the life that springs forth from boulders of rock, strangling weeds, litter and debris. I’m constantly reminded, it is possible, possible to live out of your rocky, stony, hard, difficult, seemingly crushing existence.

Life. Illness. Heartbreak. Unexplainable craziness. All of it. Whatever it is, whatever mold of its shape.
Because HE, our God is The a Lily of the Valley, it is possible to bloom in the hard places of our lives.

Oh it seems we are crushed under the weight of the boulders, crumbled to despair, fear and hopelessness, but I tell you there is life blooming, never giving up under the pressure. Blooms, pushing through, intertwining and weaving, slipping out of the chokehold, breathing beauty and life and hope. Blooms, opening up to reveal God’s grace and promise. They seem to say, ‘See Me, I Am your God in the midst of these rocks’.

Those boulders, they have their purpose, providing a fortress against other forces and elements that may indeed destroy us, BUT.
When our foundation is solid.
When our walls are secure.
When our faith is anchored.
When our commitment and confidence is unwavering.
We bloom life through the hard and the high places.
God gives it, He restores the life, He springs it forth as a new thing.

Sometimes it is so dark, painful, hard, disorienting, and scary as what, BUT.
Listen, God promised!
HE IS The Promise-Giver.
HE IS The Promise-Maker.
HE IS The Promise-Keeper.

The songwriter says, Live through it; Grow through it; Get through it; You can make it if you just – Pray through it …

I’m telling you, bloom through it.

Right, directly buried in The Rock (Jesus, The Christ).

Yes, God is giving You LIFE.

Our Enduring Love


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 LOVE suffereth long, and is kind; LOVE envieth not; LOVE vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. LOVE never faileth: ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

LOVE that is lasting, continuing, patient, persisting, surviving, growing, and enduring.

Thirty-six years ago today, I married my best friend. He loves me unconditionally.

Thirty-six years is a long time. Time that God has given to us, woven by all that HE IS. The essence of Who God is has given sustaining and enduring life to our marriage.  No marriage is perfect, because no two people are perfect; only God is perfect. Enduring Love is what perfects our marriage covenant. Faith, wisdom and reverance for God as the center of our marriage is what has made it an Enduring Love.

Enduring Love is not jealous, is not self-centered, is not arrogant, is not strong-willed, is not selfish, is not controlling, is not impulsive, is not disrespectful, is not revengeful or begrudging, it never gives up. It is not a fairytale.  Enduring Love is all that the Love Chapter proclaims, it suffers long, is kind, is committed, is sacrificing, is giving, is caring, is honest, trusts, honors God, never retreats or gives up, it grows forward, stronger and greater, it endures.

In thirty-six years there have been some tests, some mistakes, some poor judgments, some uncertainties, some challenges. But overwhelmingly there has been a lot of joy and God’s goodness, dreams come true, blessings on top of blessings, lessons learned, experiences and memories to cherish, children and grandchildren.

Some years ago I had the privilege of presenting a seminar for married couples. The conference theme was “The Race of Your Life-Making It To The Expected End” so I entitled the presentation, “Enduring Love Covenant Marathon” (Running With My Mate — A Marathon to The Finish”.  The focus was that marriage is not a sprint or a relay, it is a marathon. A marathon is a race of endurance. Much preparation, training, and conditioning is necessary to FINISH a marathon.  Because at the FINISH is where you receive the rewards, the expected end. The key points I shared was understanding the runners in the race (two, ‘together’, making a team of one) (Matthew 19:5-6); determining and understanding the singularity of your goal(s) (1 Corinthians 9:24-25); conditioning for the covenant marathon with the mindset to win (Romans 8:37); actually running the race, the huddle experiences, and seeing (always in view) your goal, seeing your marriage at its expected end, claiming the rich rewards of enduring love.

“Do you think our love can make miralces? I do.

“Do you think our love, can take us away together?

I think our love can do anything we want it to.” (Allie & Duke/Noah from The Notebook)

[Reflecting now, that was a good presentation.]

So today, we’re still running this race with so much more maturity and wisdom. We’re running it with our enduring love as the wind in our backs and beneath our wings. We’re enjoying some rich rewards too, a life well lived, blessed by the favor of God, children who make us proud everyday, and grandchildren who literally take our breath away and consume our hearts with joy.

Thank You, God, for my gift, my husband, my lover, my covering, my friend, my confidant, my covenant partner, my forever love, Terry D. Lipford.

Thank You, God, for our Enduring Love, ‘ageless and evergreen’.

Love, soft as an easy chair
Love, fresh as the morning air
One love that is shared by two
I have found with you

Like a rose under the April snow
I was always certain love would grow
Love ageless and evergreen
Seldom seen by two

You and I will make each night a first
Every day a beginning
Spirits rise and their dance is unrehearsed
They warm and excite us
‘Cause we have the brightest love

Two lights that shine as one
Morning glory and midnight sun
Time we’ve learned to sail above
Time won’t change the meaning of one love
Ageless and ever evergreen

(Lyrics of one of our wedding songs, ‘Evergreen’ by the incomparable Barbra Streisand.)

Don’t You See It?


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This is what God says,
the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
who carves a path through pounding waves,
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? – Isaiah 43:16, 19 (MSG)

An Aromatic Perspective for Life

An Aromatic Perspective for Life

Five Minute Friday: BLOOM

We live in a world where everyone is consumed with their devices, checking social media, surfing the ‘net, living life through a brightly lit screen.
We’re missing the blooms. The blooms of God. What He is doing, saying, commanding, in and of us.
Even in His Sanctuary, we’re recording and capturing photo moments, scrolling the timeline, texting our neighbor, checking dining menus. Ouch!
He is blooming new things in a realm so much higher and wider than who, where, or what we are or think.
No, we don’t see it. We’re missing it, we’re missing Him.
Every day it seems we’re running, but we’re not gaining any ground; we’re striving, but we’re not increasing … we don’t see it.
We’re taught that vision is not in the eye, but in the mind. In the mind is where we see what God is doing in ourselves and in His Kingdom.
We must be alert and present more instinctively by our spiritual nature to see the blooms (the evidence) of His planting in and through us.
The blooms of His redemption plan for mankind, of His call to holiness, of the great hope He gives us of eternal life in Him.
My son said recently, ‘we must never become a spectator church’, but we must remain spiritually engaged and connected to God, Who He Is, and what He is doing that we may be representative of Him in the Earth and to a world that does not know Him.
The evidence of God’s doing is always in bloom, springing forth, bursting out!
Look UP unto Him, don’t you see it?

Because I Choose, I Belong


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It was so odd.
I chose my seat, the same seat, in a group session at work, where I am the only African American in the room. I sat in the first seat near the speaker to be sure I could hear her. Nearly fifteen other people sat at that table 3-5 seats away from myself and the speaker. Even when they were prodded by the speaker to move closer, no one did. It gave me the feeling I didn’t belong. I still am a bit bewildered by it (knowing it wasn’t my hygiene), but I literally have no clue.
It is a dark, lonely place where we feel we don’t belong.
It can be a dangerous place where we feel we don’t belong.
It is a place that compromises our wholeness where and when we feel we don’t belong.
This quote, though, from Ansa puts the responsibility of belonging into our own hands.
“Claim what is yours. You belong any where on this Earth you want to.” ~ Novelist Tina McElroy Ansa quoted by First Lady Michelle Obama (Spelman College Commencement, 2011)
Here, Dr. Maya Angelou further enforces it, “You only feel free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place …”
We belong ‘every place’ so we must claim our place, our belonging.
It is a challenge when we feel like we don’t belong. To find ourselves always on the outside looking in, trying to fit, wanting to be accepted, needing to belong.
We must choose to belong. Many environments and situations are out of our hands but we must not let them frame our entire sense of belonging.  We must find the place we want to be and include ourselves through our sense of purpose, abilities and contributions to be apart, to belong. When we get out of our comfort zone, make new discoveries and enjoy the things we love and are passionate about, we make our own place to belong. We must decide not to be controlled by the opinions, perceptions, judgments, prejudices or indifferences of others, instead we must choose to belong.
It is my choice. Stretching myself beyond myself makes place for me to belong.  When I use my giftedness in a place, for a cause, in a group, I make my own place to belong.
Even when I may not feel accepted, when I claim what is mine, I belong.
Even when I am rejected, when I claim what is mine, I belong.
Even when I am unsure, when I claim what is mine, I belong.
‘What is mine’ is my choosing to belong.
Because I choose, I belong.

I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday group again.  

Mind Games


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I’ve done so much.
I’ve come so far.
Then the reality test of whether your commitment is greater than the novelty of when you first began.
Mind games.
I recently had a consult with a personal trainer, two as a matter of fact. All of my success was smacked in the face with real numbers of my BMR (basal metabolic rate), BMI (body mass index), fat weight to muscle weight ratio, you’ve been doing well with this, but you need to incorporate this, your goal will take this much time and more commitment is needed in this area. All good to know, but it echoes ‘not enough’.
Working out, pushing myself, stretching myself, embarrassing myself, fighting.
Mind games.
A plateau, not necessarily a weight loss plateau, but a mental plateau.
Mind games.
Throwing a wrench into my gears, locking and pulling at my resolve.
I’m there. On a plateau of performance anxiety, perfectionism, irresolution.
All the encouragement I hear, why isn’t it enough?
Meltdowns at the thought of not succeeding, seeping into my determined core. I fight back the tears, I won’t be defeated.
Mind games.
Yes, I said it before (wrote about it too, http://simplyphenomenal.wordpress.com/2014/01/05/fight/)*, I know it is true, this is a spiritual battle, not just a physical one.
So, here I am, at a place, needing God to elevate my mind to yet another, HIGHER plain.
This writing is definitely for me, I’m writing through it, writing for a breakthrough.
Seven months into the journey.
I’ve done so much.
I’ve come so far.
I’m more than a conqueror through Him Who LOVES me.
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
With God, all things are possible.
Adopting this …
‘We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought (mind games) and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.’ – 2 Corinthians 10:5 (MSG)

*I find it so interesting that the link I referenced to a past blog post, I wrote on the first day of my journey … God took me back to where I began to speak to me now. Love Him for that.


Find Your Essence


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(Five Minute Friday: EXHALE)


Take everything out of your hands.
Sit back in your seat.
Let your arms rest.
Close your eyes.
Take a deep breath through your nose.
Exhale through your mouth.
Now slowly open your eyes.
Rub your hands together. Feel that heat? It is an energy source that you can give back to yourself, to your essence.
We’ve been taking these cleansing breathing moments during my Nourish Up (Nutrition) class for the past few weeks. It is amazing how a brief concentrated exercise can renew you just by closing off everything and EXHALE-ing.
Releasing it all into the atmosphere, like a vapor rising into the air.
These cleansing breathing moments are available to us freely, at any given time during our day, during our lives.
We’re so overwhelmed with the cares of life and being and doing so much and often more than we should.
Our lives are a whirlwind of tasks, responsibilities, activities, commitments, engagements, stressors.
Family, work, ministry, school, life!
We need to exhale.
For a brief moment, stop, find your essence. Linger there even for a brief moment.
Releasing it all into the atmosphere, like a vapor rising into the air.


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