Friday, July 22, 2011

Temperance: Eating for Weight Control

Our Story (You can check out our updates here)
Over the weekend Jared found a couple of pictures of us at our heaviest. It was quite a shock to look back and really see how other people saw us. When you are obese, you try not to have your picture taken very often and when someone does catch you on film you tend not to look at them very close or keep them out for others to see. Both the hubby and I were (and still are) obese. Weight is something that we've both struggled with since we were young. Granted a small part of it is probably due to genetics but most of our struggle is due to the choices that we've made in the past and present.
Early March 2006
(I was around 245 at the time.)
 I have never really been small (got to love that Norwegian and Swedish heritage) and shifted blame almost solely to my large frame for weight struggles most of my growing up and early adult years. I refused to accept that I was obese because of the choices I had made and was continuing to make.

By my freshman year of high school I was 156 pounds at 5'7", and had jumped to the high 180's by the beginning of my junior year. It was then that I undertook my first "diet". I started making healthier food choices and dropped down to 175 by the end of that year. My senior year I didn't stick to those healthy choices and it showed.
I weighed in at 195 my freshman year of college (fall of 2001) but dropped down to 185 the middle of my sophomore year due to illness. By our wedding (October 2004), I had jumped up to 223. Things went downhill from there. Between work, finishing my bachelors degree, and adjusting to married life/cooking for 2 (and not 6), I was up to 252 in January 2006. Jared had really started putting on the weight as well and in February 2006 we decided to join our local YMCA to begin getting in shape. We started eating healthier and working out 3 times a week. By May 2006 we'd dropped a combined total of 60 pounds (hubby had dropped 40 and I'd dropped 20). It was then that we found out we were expecting Mr. R. We kept up with eating healthy and exercising until I was about 18 weeks along, which is when we began to pack on the pounds again. The hubby gained back all 40 pounds and then some and I was back at 235 by the time Mr. R. was 6 months old. I did fairly well at staying in the 230's even with the addition of 2 more kids but by the time Miss A. (kid #3) was about 6 months I was just shy of 240. The hubby was almost 380 at the beginning of his final semester of college (January 2010). He went to his physical and was informed that he had to get in shape or go on blood pressure meds. 
Christmas 2009
(Jared weighed 380 and I weighed 240.)
We both started cutting back on how much we ate and started eating a little healthier but didn't make time for exercise at that point. Starting in May 2010, the hubby started exercising 3-5 days a week at the YMCA and really started eating less. He began dropping weight pretty quick. I got excited about exercise and felt empowered by how hard Jared was working at losing weight. By our anniversary (October 2010), he'd lost over 60 pounds and I was down 22. It was then that we found out we were expecting #4 and my weight loss plateaued. Jared continued losing and by Christmas he'd dropped a little over 80 pounds. I started gaining a little weight but was able to keep up with exercise on a fairly regular basis. By the way, this was the first pregnancy where Jared DIDN'T gain any weight. In fact, he continued to lose and hit the 100 pound mark a couple of months ago.
I only ended up gaining 16 pounds with Miss S. and have already lost all the weight I gained plus another 6. I am currently at 212 and really looking forward to diving back into my workout routine beginning next week. Both Jared and I each have another 35-50 pound to lose and we'd really like to be at our target weights by Christmas.

What's Our "Secret"? (Please note that I am not a physician and you should discuss your weight issues with your doctor before starting any diet or exercise plan. Please see my update on 3/13/13)
Since losing weight we've had lots of people ask us what our secret is. They want to know what diet we went on or what program we're doing, etc. We tell them all the same thing - Temperance. I know it sounds like a very silly "program" but it works. You may be wondering exactly what I mean so I'll tell you. 
Temperance is moderation; particularly, habitual moderation in regard to the indulgence of the natural appetites and passions; restrained or moderate indulgence; as temperance in eating and drinking; temperance in the indulgence of joy or mirth. Temperance in eating and drinking is opposed to gluttony and drunkenness, and in other indulgences, to excess. Webster's 1828 Dictionary 
As Christians we came to the realization one day that we lacked this attribute of temperance in our daily lives. We had never truly learned to say "No" to ourselves. We were in debt up to our eyeballs and were both bordering on buying completely new wardrobes in a larger size (4X in Jared's case and 3X in mine). On and on I could go about our lack of restraint. It was while reading 2 Peter that we stumbled upon our lack of temperance.
And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. 2 Peter 1:5-8
In our walk with Christ, one of the steps toward growth is temperance. And did you know that temperance is listed as one of the "Fruits of the Spirit"?
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. Galatians 5:22-24
Once we realized this managing our weight became easier. If temperance was a step toward Christian growth and was one of the fruits of the spirit, then we could just ask God for help and strength to develop this attribute in our lives. Granted, just asking God for help does not MAKE you change, you still have to start working toward change. It is hard to get started with the first step but with each step you get one step closer to your goal. A couple of other verses that helped to encourage us to continue working at temperance were:
For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate; (Titus 1:7-8) - We are working toward the goal of entering full-time Christian ministry someday and as stewards of the Gospel we are to have the attribute of temperance.
That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. (Titus 2:2) - In Titus Paul calls the "aged" men and women to teach the younger and be examples of Godliness. Since temperance is a sign of maturity in our lives and part of our growth as Christians, we need it to be better teachers and examples to others.
Here are some tips that have aided us in our weight loss goals and helped us to keep the weight off:
  1. We started to eat healthier foods. Yes, we enjoy the taste of food and we were meant to, but we should not eat just because it tastes good. Food needs to nourish our bodies and we should try to focus on eating foods which do just that. Foods that are high in fats and sugars but low on nutrients should be avoided. I'm not saying that it's a sin to eat these types of foods but we do need to eat them in moderation and not as a staple in our diet.
  2. We started to eat less. We decided to count calories for a couple of weeks, writing down everything we ate throughout the day and then entering them into a Google Homepage App. In doing that we discovered that we were consuming 2-3 times more calories than we needed for our activity levels. This also helped us to realize exactly what a portion size should be.
  3. We started to get exercise. We knew that we'd need to get our muscles in shape and burn more calories than we ate in order to lose the excess weight that we had gained due to our lack of temperance. Jared started working out at the YMCA 3-5 days a week for 45 minutes each time, which is one reason why he lost weight in the beginning faster than I did. For those of you who wonder just how you will find time as busy moms to exercise, I will interject here that you don't need a long workout or even a whole routine to start getting in shape. When we first started working out, I had 3 small children who required a LOT of time and attention besides all the household tasks and my work schedule. I didn't have time for the gym as it is a 30 minute drive from our house, which would mean taking a minimum of 90 minutes out of my day just for a 30 minute workout. So I got creative. Jared would leave for work at 6am, so I would get up at 5am and go for a brisk (3-4 mph) 20-30 minute walk while he was home with the kids. I would find the route that gave the most resistance i.e. uphill. If the weather or time did not permit walking, I would pop a workout DVD in the laptop and do a 15-30 minute workout with that. We also got the Wii Fit Plus with Balance Board along the way so I started exercising and keeping track of weight, etc. on it. The key to getting regular exercise is finding something that burns calories, works your muscles, and you "enjoy" doing (by enjoy, I mean it is something you can convince yourself to stick to).
  4. We ate out less and cooked at home more. Restaurants serve much larger portions than you would normally eat if you ate at home. They also tend to be higher in calories and fat than what you can cook at home. If you choose to eat out be sure to either split the meal with someone else or limit yourself to only half the food. Think about it this way, you will either save money by splitting the meal or you will get to enjoy your leftovers later prolonging the enjoyment. :o)
  5. We found new ways to add flavor and cut calories/fats/sugars in cooking. We started using more herbs and spices to our foods. I have an herb garden with fresh basil, lemon basil, chives, cilantro, parsley, and oregano in it. Using fresh herbs in your cooking adds so much flavor without adding lots of calories and fats. We often substitute coconut oil for butter or even olive oil. I generally substitute unsweetened applesauce for 1/2 to 3/4 of the oil in anything I bake (muffins, quick breads, cakes, etc.). I try to stick to light sour cream over regular sour cream, "skinny" vs. regular flavored creamers, and other such things. You can also buy reduced fat cheese now! I try to use "lighter" cheese that still have a lot of flavor like Feta. Also, you can use smaller amount of a bolder flavored cheese (sharp cheddar) than you would of a mild flavored cheese (mild cheddar). I bought a subscription to both Weight Watchers and Healthy Cooking magazines so that I could find new recipes and ways to cut calories and fats without loosing flavor.
  6. Plan out your menus and write a shopping list from your menu. Writing out your menu helps you to stick to healthy, home-cooked meals because you know ahead of time what you plan to make and then you'll be prepared. Writing up a shopping list helps you to stay away from impulse food purchases while keeping you on track for your menu plan.
  7. DO NOT GO GROCERY SHOPPING WHEN YOU ARE HUNGRY!!!! There really isn't much for me to say here. We all know that going shopping when you are hungry may influence you to make an impulse buy like ice cream, candy bars, donuts, etc. because you are hungry and want something to eat. Many times on long shopping trips I will bring along healthy snacks such as carrot sticks, string cheese, or a piece of fruit. I will usually stop at 2-5 stores in one shopping trip as we live 30 minutes from the major grocery stores so there is a big possibility that I will get hungry at some point before I'm done shopping.
  8. Stay hydrated. You eat less and your metabolism works better when you are fully hydrated.
  9. Do not skip meals. Skipping meals slows your metabolism so you should just eat smaller meals and then snack healthy.
  10. We are accountable to each other. It is a fact that you loss weight better when you have someone to be accountable to or someone working at loosing weight along with you. Jared and I encourage each other to do better.
  11. Set several small goals along with your final weight goal. I have several small weight goals that I am working to achieve along the way to my final goal. Each small goal has a significant meaning for me like my pre-pregnancy weight with Mr. R., the weight that I was at when I got married, what I weighed at my high school graduation, etc. Think about the question, "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer, "One bite at a time."
Jared & I on our Caribbean Cruise (February 2011)
I was at 225 (21 weeks prego) and Jared was at 285.
Check out our update (6/15/12) here.


  1. Excellently written! I enjoyed reading the entire article. You've both done just great and I'm sure that you will reach your goals! Praising the Lord for you.

  2. Thank you Beka! Very well written and God's word is ALWAYS that much more of a help. It gives you strength and a feeling of not going it alone,but Leaning on the Everlasting Arms! :)
    VERY proud of you both! Love you!

  3. This was a really interesting read! I'm greatly impressed with the weight loss and with your honesty. Seasonings are my BEST friend when it comes to cooking - and garlic makes just about anything taste better! And I use olive oil in most of my stove top cooking (occasionally I will use vegetable oil but pretty much never butter). I'll have to start substituting the applesauce in some of my cooking as well.
    Thanks for sharing and being so open!

  4. I just about at the same weight as you Beka. Jeff and I have started the temperance diet also. And we are trying to eat healthier. I use My Fitness Pal app on my iPod to count my calories. Now to just start walking again.

    1. So excited for you, Helen! MyFitnessPal is such a great tool. It's a lot of work but the benefits are tremendous!:o)