With the turkeys, hams, and roasts calling our name in the coming weeks, I just received a helpful article from Team Beachbody with eight practical tips to fighting the tendency to indulge and go haywire in self-control. Too many times have I used the excuse that “Hey, it’s the holidays” when I want to let go and let bulge. Of all the tips, I find the first one has been a help to me. Too often I don’t see myself gaining weight in the mirror. BUT when I put on that suit that fit a few months ago and it is a little uncomfortable, I know I fell off the wagon.

Here are the eight tips.

  1. Buy clothes that fit right now.
  2. Write it down. We try to write down everything we eat, right? We spend hours each month staring at a food diary, adding up our calories, and seeing if we got the correct balance of macronutrients. And then the holidays happen, and our little book ends up in the bottom drawer.
  3. Keep exercising. Most fitness trainers will tell you the slowest point of their year is between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Sure, their clients schedule workouts with the best of intentions, but then they cancel them for parties and gift shopping.
  4. Eat before parties.
  5. Get junk out of the house. The majority of people don’t get into the car at midnight, drive to the store, buy the ingredients for cookies, bake them, and then stay up to eat them. But if those homemade cookies that Linda in accounting made for you are already on your kitchen counter, you better believe you’ll find a way to justify it. Frankly, at 12:30 AM, after a rotten day, for most of us there’s nothing like a few cookies to drown our sorrows. The secret is to get the enticements out of the house.
  6. Offer to prepare healthy fare. This suggestion won’t be well received by those of us who’d rather spend Thanksgiving sitting around watching football than toiling in the kitchen, but if you do the cooking, you have the control.
  7. Choose wisely and proportionally. Something occurs during a holiday meal. It’s like a Las Vegas buffet—we feel like we have to eat some of everything. We feel almost like those foods will never exist again, and this is our last meal on the planet. This year, why not try to eat only your favorites, as in two or three items, and keep the portions to the size of your palm? If you’re still hungry, try to fill up on veggies (preferably ones that aren’t drowned in butter or cream-of-mushroom soup). If you want dessert, lean toward a small slice of pumpkin pie (220 calories) as opposed to pecan (a heftier 543), leaving out the hydrogenated nondairy whipped topping if possible. If you’re going to have an alcoholic beverage, go with a flute of champagne (100 calories) as opposed to that rum-laced eggnog (with more than four times more calories, at 420). Just a few wise choices will save you a ton of calories, and probably a significant amount of heartburn as well.
  8. Don’t beat yourself up. Quite possibly the worst thing you can do is beat yourself up over a bit of holiday indulgence.

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Mental Health and Spiritual Health

In an effort to nuance some of my thoughts on suicide that I posted at The Gospel Coalition, I want to write a few more posts here to answer some responses and excellent questions I have received in light of that post. Hopefully these will be helpful as you think through your own depression or those around you.

One of the first things I want to respond to relates to those who claim that if you just have enough faith you will not suffer depression. My question to that person is faith in what or in who? If you answer “God” or that you ought to have faith in “God’s love for you,” then I would say that the Bible does not teach us that category of faith equaling the lack of depression or sadness. To say so would make 3/4 of the Bible irrelevant to our experience this side of the Fall.

Just a couple days ago, I was reading Psalm 13:

How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

2 How long must I take counsel in my soul

and have sorrow in my heart all the day?

How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3 Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;

light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

4 lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”

lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;

my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6 I will sing to the Lord,

because he has dealt bountifully with me.

We see here that David lived in reality. For someone to say that depression doesn’t happen to those who are full of faith obviously doesn’t live in the same world of betrayal and frustration and fear and pain that David lived in. . .that I live in. Therefore, such a counselor has no place in my counsel. They are out of touch with the reality that all Creation groans in the pains of childbirth awaiting the consummation of all things. We likewise groan. Longing for full, unbridled adoption. An adoption that has not bit in its mouth reminding it that life hems it in.

Such were Job’s friends. Miserable counselors for sure. As I have said, those who struggle with depression may actually be the most honest among us. Being struck by the reality of pain and suffering and that things are not the way they are supposed to be. May all who give poison under the guise of balm for our pained hearts be done with their sermonizing and lies.