Physically, I'm half the woman I used to be, but as a result of my journey with gastric bypass surgery I've gained a lot. I'm Julia, and this blog is about the miles I've traveled in transforming my body, soul, and spirit while shedding more than 160 of the 300-plus pounds I carried before surgery. 

I'll share my personal experiences of restoring my health and changing my lifestyle, and I'll offer spiritual encouragement, social and emotional tools, nutritious recipes, health information, and more.

I've had a few challenges along the way, but through all the struggles I've grown stronger and regained my health and my life. I had my surgery on Easter Monday, 2006, which I call my personal resurrection day. Because of my transformation, I now look forward to many more "miles to go", and I invite you to travel with me on the road to a happier, healthier lifestyle....yes you can...I just did!

the healing tree

In the last few months I've been reading books and listening to pod cast about trees. 

How long has it been since you spent time in a garden? Strolled down a shady forest path? Or rested under the shadow of a tree? Did it serve to lighten your load, help you feel less stressed, or maybe allow you to breath a little easier?

I invite you to come with me—to the trees.

In early September, I went to a church conference near Dallas, Texas. It was a wonderful time of spiritual teaching and refreshment. But I didn't just find what I needed inside the church building. God had a prepared a special gift waiting for me along a tree-lined path in the middle of a garden.

For months, I had been suffering from sciatica. I had taken medication, been to a chiropractor, and returned to Pilates class to find some relief. After months of severe pain, I had found some improvement. But after hours of sitting on planes and in airports, and days of meetings and sleeping away from home, my sciatica was again in full swing. I needed to find a place to walk that wasn't made of concrete!  

The church grounds had a special feature that I had been looking forward to—a beautiful Prayer Garden. Full of trees, springs of water, plants, and flowers in abundance, complete with a chorus of birds, radiant butterflies and the joyful humming of honeybees. It was a perfect place to reflect, meditate and worship—not to mention a cool retreat from hot Texas heat, and the promise of some much needed relief to my aching back, leg and hip. I soon found a few quiet spots perched under the protective canopy of a few massive oaks who seemed to be calling my name. During my 5-day visit, I made my way into the garden at every opportunity.

In the words of the poem, "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer, "Only God can make a tree." Trees are the lungs of the earth. Most of us know that trees give off oxygen and take in carbon dioxide—giving us life and purifying our world. But did you know that trees also release life giving pheromones that bring healing to our bodies and our environment. Scientists are just now discovering the many healing properties of trees. 

It has been scientifically proven that those who live in forested areas, or spend time in or around the forest have less cancer—80% less breast cancer, as a matter of fact. There are actually changes that are detected in our bloodstream and in our cells. Those who spend time around trees have 40% more natural killer cells, which fight foreign invaders in our body. These pheromones, given off by trees, change our atmosphere, but the tree canopy helps keep the stronger concentration of these life giving chemicals within 3 to 6 feet from the ground—right where we live and breath. These healing aspects effect our cells, make us calmer, reduce our blood pressure and lower our heart rate.

There are also healing aspects within the interior of trees, called resins. Resin is the lifeblood of the tree which heals the tree when injured. But did you know that these resins contain oils that bring healing to our bodies as well? Science is also discovering many types of essential oils within plants and trees that help heal diseases within our bodies. 

Our lives are often full of stresses of one kind or another. Fresh air is often a good cure for what ails us, from relieving stress to healing physical illness. But we also have inner hurts—many of us carry unhealed wounds deep within us. Some of us respond to these wounds and stresses by eating. Then we turn to weight loss surgery to help fix us on the outside, but physical weight we carry is not always just about what we eat. 

I am so thankful that weight loss surgery helped me return to a healthy weight, but often times our weight is just a physical symptom of the inward emotional weight we carry. After surgery, I had to find a deeper solution for long-term success.

Most of us turn to food for comfort, security and self-medication. Weight loss surgery may fix our capacity to eat and our urge to eat, temporarily. And although a smaller stomach can help us get our figure back, it's not enough. Weight loss surgery itself is a stressful journey. Our lifetime struggles of internal wounds must be healed on the inside as well. Along with physical healing, we need to find emotional, mental and spiritually answers, too.

We can take our lesson from the trees. When a tree is wounded, it pours out the resin which seals and heals the tree. Resin is the lifeblood of the tree, poured out to bring healing to the wound. Just like trees, we too can be wounded and scarred by things in our environment.

Not only do trees offer healing for our physical needs, but they are also a picture of spiritual healing. The Bible tells us of one tree in particular who's fruit will always satisfy our deepest hunger and heal our inner wounds. Wouldn't it be wonderful to spend time under the shadow of this tree?

Trees in the Bible are a symbol of life and healing. Ezekiel 47:12 reads, "And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing."

Scriptures tell us that Jesus is The Tree of Life. He provides us with spiritual food just like our natural trees provide physical food. When we eat spiritual food it satisfies our heart, our mind, and our spirit. "Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'" John 6:35

Where do we find this tree? The healing we need? At the cross of Christ—the "Tree" that gives us life, salvation, wholeness and peace. His life's blood was poured out for us. We can let go of our past, and receive forgiveness, righteousness, reconciliation, freedom, healing, peace, and eternal life. We can come to him and be filled and healed from the inside out. In Acts 5:30 in which Peter says, “The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a tree.”  This word "tree" is often translated "cross". The cross was a "tree".

I went to the conference in Texas to deepen my spiritual walk with God. God had been preparing my heart. The trees in the garden reminded me of His healing power. As I walked into the garden I trusted God to heal my back, and I stepped through the gate with expectation. I could feel a change in the atmosphere around me and within a few steps the pain in my back was gone as I walked into God's healing presence. Oh the wonder and miracle of Him who made all things. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork." 

Are you tired of being wounded and hungry? Whether you need healing on the inside or on the outside—He will always be there to meet you at the gate of your heart. Maybe it's time you took a journey...to "The Tree of Life".

introducing the mufas

the who?  

The MUFAs...

MUFA (MOO-fah) is an abbreviation for mono-unsaturated fatty acids.

In other words, MUFAs are heart healthy foods that are high in fatty acids.

and yes...we need to eat them (in moderation, of course).

Here's why:

There are five categories of MUFA's.  

1. Oils

2. Olives

3. Nut and Seeds

4. Avocados

5. Dark Chocolate

Fatty acids are the essential building blocks for all dietary fats.  

Unsaturated fats, that's MUFAs, glide through your bloodstream bringing health and protection for your arteries. 

Don't stay trapped in the "diet" mentality after weight loss surgery. Mufas are plant fats, that when eaten in moderation, keep you healthy. Healthy fats help "carry" or deliver nutrients to your body.

After surgery keep fats around 5 grams per meal. Remember this is a guide not a rule. Around 5 grams per meal is a healthy limit to control dumping too much fat into your system at once.

A 1/4 of an avocado, for example, has 7.4 grams of healthy fat, 1 grams of protein and 4.3 grams carbs, and 3.4 grams fiber. and .3 grams sugar. That makes avacadoes a low-carb, low sugar, health friendly plant food. Avocados do not contain any cholesterol or sodium and are low in saturated fat and high in fiber. 

Yes, we can. We have many more miles to go!

for more on healthy MUFAs, oils, nuts, seeds and even chocolate click here.

what is eating me?

I realized before I made the decision to have weight loss surgery, that there had to be more to success than just the surgery itself. I realized there was more that needed to be "fixed" than a tiny tummy, a healthier diet and more exercise.

There is more to the issue of obesity than what you eat. I found that it's also about "what was eating me." I just didn't know what that "something" was. But it didn't take long before I figured it out.

It was only a few weeks as a matter of fact, that I came face to face with this "missing link" and I began to experience the impact it would have on my success.  

The problem, however, is our appetite. BUT, Not just the appetite for food. I began to recognize the fact that we are created with different appetites. These appetites have a value and purpose.

We are made with an appetite and desire for food, sex, authority and power, pleasure, work, gaining wisdom, companionship, love, acceptance, to be wanted, needed, understood, cared for, appreciated, trusted, and to fellowship with God. That's a lot of appetites, no wonder we are still hungry.

To satisfy an appetite, you must use the actual thing being desired to fill it. This is where we get off track.  We begin to use the wrong thing to fill the appetite desire.  We begin to substitute by trying to fill our needs with something else. You may have discovered already, that our appetites don't like to be ignored. That is when they begin to "rage" out of control.   

I encourage you to consider your appetites. Do you recognize your body's different desires? What are you really hungry for?  Are you filling every desire with food instead of what you really want or need? 

You can read more about appetites and how I worked through "what was eating me" in my book, Out of Obesity and into the Promised Land. Click on title to purchase.

Yes, you can. You have many more miles to go!

Posted on Monday, October 29, 2018 at 10:00AM by Registered CommenterJulia Holloman in | Comments Off

avoiding the webs of sabotage

Here are a two seemingly unrelated questions.

Q #1. Have your weight loss efforts ever been sabotaged by someone, or even yourself? 

Q #2. Have you ever walked into a spider web?

Interestingly, spider webs and sabotage have a lot more in common than you might think. 

Spider webs are amazing. Although their intricate threads may be delicate and fragile to us, to their unfortunate victims, these delicate webs are five times stronger than steel and virtually inescapable.

The strength of the web is in it's design. These tiny silk threads are more stretchy than elastic and capable of withstanding hurricane force winds. Nearly invisible, these tiny traps are well hidden and strategically placed to catch their prey off-guard. The spider then uses it's venom to paralyze and defeat it's unsuspecting victim.

Just like spider webs, sabotage works in a similar same way. Sabotage is defined as a deliberate action aimed at weakening another, often by applying pressure. We, too, are likely to be trapped if we don't know how to detect the webs of sabotage and avoid them. 

Here's how it happens: our best friend, our spouse, our mother, our mother-in-law or even our own self-talk may put pressure on us to conform. Comments such as: "You've lost enough weight, you look under-nourished, you need to eat." "I made this cake just for you." "Are you going to waste it?" "Just this one time won't hurt." Overwhelmed, giving-in to these comments often seems like our only option and we fall prey to the deadly web of sabotage.

It's really easy to let others define our boundaries or rule our choices. Even when offered with good intentions, these temptations when strategically placed, throw us off guard and weaken our resolve. They often leave us entangled in a web of guilt, shame, or self-condemnation.

It only takes a little mist or dust to reveal a spider web. So it is with the webs of sabotage. With a little know how, we can be armed and ready to detect and combat them. 

I have found that I can't rely on will-power—my will-power is often gullible, weak and easily persuaded to surrender to the slightest pressure. I have to set my mind to something stronger. My strength comes by remembering my pre-determined convictions and the commitment I made to take care of myself by making healthier lifestyle choices. I start by revisiting my reasons for having weight-loss surgery in the first place.

▪    Why did I have weight loss surgery?
▪    What are my objectives? 
▪    What do I really want my life to look like?
▪    Do I have a plan of escape?
▪    What are the convictions that hold me to my plan?
 

Spider webs don't just intercept prey, they are actually designed to attract their victims. My best advice, steer clear. We first are tempted with our eyes. I find it best not to wait until I am in the heat of the moment to make these decisions.  

Defining my personal convictions in advance helps empower me to be true to myself and strenghens my beliefs—standing firm in my purpose. Knowing how to detect and anticipate the webs of sabotage is essential to avoiding them.

I often avoid dessert menus by removing them from my sight when I'm first seated in a restaurant. Or avoiding places in the grocery store that I know hold those temptation, such as the area where they keep the donuts, cakes and cookies. I shut the door to temptation by not buying candy, even for others, if it meant I might not be strong enough to resist it. I had a rule, I only ordered dessert in a group, and I only allowed myself 2 small bites, no more. For years, I avoided temptations together. Later, when I was more equipped to face them, I could walk through the maze of sabotage undeterred.   

Temptations lie in wait everywhere we turn. We can't avoid them forever, but we can equip ourselves with purpose and a plan of escape. Get creative in finding your own way to intercept temptation before you fall into it's deceptive power.

Yes, you can. You have many more miles to go!

overcoming loss

Every time I close the door on reality 

 it comes in through the windows.  

 Jennifer Yane

Believe it or not, after weight loss surgery, we lose more than just weight, we also face feelings of loss over food, security, and the familiar. Emotionally we go through a process of grief.

We need to be aware that these feeling are normal and we need to be prepared and equipped to face them and to work through these emotions to bring closure and healing into our new life.

There are five stages loss or grief that are just a normal part of the process that leads us towards healing.

denial,

anger,

bargaining,

depression,

and acceptance.

The first four (4) follow no prescribed order or length of duration and can be experienced over and over again as we adjust to our new reality.

Then there is the fifth (5). Acceptance. Although all of these feeling are extremely important, to let ourself feel and expereince as the work through the emotions. Acceptance is the most important one on the list in the sense that this final step brings us closure in the healing process. Reality may not always be easy to accept but it is the only key that unlocks the cycle —working through all the emotions and accepting what is true, present, and real. 

Don't be afraid to grieve. It is important to allow yourself time to move through these stages. It is important to take time to grieve, to feel. to experience, to process. But we don't want to live and dwell in these stages long-term. It's important to move forward. Accepting reality. Putting the past behind and embrace the new.

It's when we find ourselves not moving forward or not experiencing and embracing our present, that we need to seek professional counsel to help us move forward.

Yes, you can. You have many more miles to go!

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