2019 is starting off strong! So this month, I tried a number of new things. Some I enjoyed. Hello, new locally owned restaurants! Others, I stomached–literally. A hearty swig of apple cider vinegar before bedtime every night. (Lots of scientific research about this multi-purpose health elixir so I thought I’d try it and see for myself.) I also tried two new gyms. I joined one. A new toothpaste. Crest is still my fave. A “winter shade” for my hair color. I’m going back to “Honey Butter.” One of the other things that I tried this month was intermittent fasting. I swore I’d never do this (never say never) because it goes against my tried-and-true-weight-loss-belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I believe (and still do) that it’s what “starts your fire every morning.” Now let me explain, sunshine. You may know that I embarked upon 21 days of prayer and fasting with my church (if you didn’t, you do now.) Every weekday since January 7 we attended a prayer service from 6-7am and 9am on Saturdays; we finished at our Sunday services yesterday. During the time leading up to the 3-week journey, I prayed. And God revealed a few things that I needed to “let go” of in order to be healthier–spirit, mind, and body–in 2019. So here’s what I fasted: 1. Social media: I struggle with comparison and jealousy, so what-appear-to-be-perfect-posts can wreak havoc on me. To strengthen my spirit and mind, I dove into God’s Word on these topics during times when I would be tempted to scroll and “like” (or in my case, question and wonder, “Why is her ministry so effective? How did she do it? What am I doing wrong?” Can you say, “PRIDE?!”) I restricted my use to our #100 rep challenge and to work related posts (including Kingdom work.) I saved related scriptures in my notes app on my phone and made an album in my pictures app of scripture quote cards. 2. Coffee and water. Only. For the entire month. No artificial sweeteners. No chemicals. Cold turkey. I miss the sweetness in my morning cuppajoe and my afternoon fizz fix, but what great opportunities purify my temple. Crucifying my flesh for sure. 3. Intermittent fasting. While I had these other things I was fasting, I really wanted to reign in my eating. I’ve noticed I’ve gotten sloppy with portions and choices. So I thought, “Why not try it?” Every day I had an eating window from 12-8pm. Now this didn’t mean I could go full-on-old-school-Ponderosa-buffet during that time. I chose to limit my foods to leaner and cleaner sources and more closely monitored my portions. Now don’t get me wrong here, sunshine–I wasn’t on a body builder diet. I still ate a cake pop, french fries at a new farm-to-table restaurant I tried, and chicken parm during our Wonderful Wednesday faculty luncheon. And there were other things, too, but I just want to give perspective. I choose the foods I ate–shame free–foods do not control me. As of yesterday, I’m down -11lbs. and have lost several inches all around. My bras latch on the second hook. My work pants are not busting at the seams. I have minimized the shelf on my hips. Even my Fitbit hangs looser on my wrist. While these are all benefits, what’s most important is how I am feeling. Yes, I feel leaner, but most importantly, I feel stronger and healthier. Spiritually. Mentally. Physically. I know that fasting is a spiritual discipline designed to prepare us for battle, but man alive–I feel like an Avenger! Eliminating toxic elements from my life (social media, aspartame, a jar of crunchy peanut butter every week, etc…don’t judge me) and filling up on God’s Word has strengthened me in ways I never imagined. I am most grateful for this time of elimination and moderation. Even with less (fill in the ______–Instagram envy, Crystal Light peach iced tea, Ghirardelli dark chocolate sea salt squares, etc…), I have more. More of Him. More peace. More energy. More joy. I have strengthened my relationship with God in life-changing and life-giving ways. It’s hard to say which variable contributed most to my body changes this month, and I am not sure if I will adopt the intermittent fasting as a lifestyle, but I do know that during this time of fasting, I’ve adopted a slower, more mindful, pace of awareness and living. I’ve lost but oh how I’ve gained. “Why is everyone hungry for more? “More, more,” they say. “More, more.” I have God’s more-than-enough, More joy in one ordinary day.” Ps 4:7 MSG “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 NLT Courageous is happening here in Florida–Saturday, February 23! And you’re invited! Click below to register for this fun, faith-filled, fitness event where you’ll be strengthened and emboldened–spirit, mind, and body! And guess what?!? I’m stepping out of my comfort zone in 2019–guys are invited! Let’s rally and share the shine! Yes! I want to be more Courageous!