shoulder surgery

Why I'm Choosing the Holy Spirit over a Quick-Fix Diet for Getting Healthy in 2015

Surrender. Holy Spirit Lead me. 

Surrender. Holy Spirit Lead me. 

In my book, "Healthy Voice: Life Beyond the Weight," I have a set of 12 points on the journey to living life beyond the weight and beneath the surface. They are guideposts that help you look at the big picture and break it down when life seems overwhelming. 

Consequently, the year of 2014 has been quite overwhelming for me.

Just when we got through the first six months of marriage with three kids in the house, my shoulder dislocated for the third time in my life - in my sleep. Yes.

That was January 3rd one year ago Saturday. 

Let me tell you: What a difference a year can make.

The doctor told me, "You'll hate me till Christmas," and he was right. One year from injury to healing. Lots of time at physical therapy and virtually no exercise. So, the year didn't quite go as I'd hoped.

But God did what he does best. He slowed me down just enough to cause a seismic shift in my life.

Today, I spent time in the Word which is regular for me now. I can't live without it. Before I'd just glance at a verse on my phone. Today, I got to workout in my basement and actually do 30 seconds of a plank and some free weight exercises. A year ago? No way. Today I got to talk to a friend who found out she's looking at knee surgery. A year ago I wouldn't have known what to say. Today, I can speak to her from experience knowing that God is doing something in her amazing, that she doesn't even know yet. It sucks in the moment but he's doing something. My close friends and I have laughed over the year about how God is slowing me down for a reason! And through the year I could talk to God and just say, "What are you teaching me or showing me?"

It's just amazing how he stops us in our tracks - to get us on a track, a track for a purpose that is much greater than any we could imagine.

It has been the year of HEALING for me. Somehow I think God had to stop me in my tracks so he could get me to dig way beneath the surface, deeper than I ever could have imagined. He got me to trust and surrender to him - in my pain, in household duties, my marriage, my stepmom-hood, in the time I wanted to commit to work or writing but therapy always got in the way, and most symbolically  - in my weight. I have surrendered the process, trusting that He who carries me THROUGH life, will keep doing just that. 

So when I come to the place, like I am today - where I GET to workout and I GET to do a 30 minute plank or pick up a free weight, I am GRATEFUL.

And when I went to the doctor yesterday to discuss my health, I full-well know that I've got a new journey ahead of me - one where I have to rely on the Spirit not to help me heal necessarily but to help me get better.

This year ahead is the year I will get my HEALTH back. I say a year, because it will take that long just to get my sea legs. My weight is at a number I don't like, but I know to get those 40 pounds off in a healthy way - it will take MONTHS. It will take commitment and it will take a complete and utter TRUST in God's strength. Not only that it WILL be a journey for life. It will not stop at a goal weight.

Going Against The Grain

Despite the powers of society to start a diet to "fix" the weight, I will be going against the grain and doing it with 1st) God's Word, 2nd) the 12 steps and 3rd) not alone. I will not be signing up as we say in 12 steps, "for the debating society" of which program is going to get you to lose weight. I will be doing what God puts in my path to help me and relying on His wisdom, the people who know my body better than me, and the people who are walking the road with me - that "get me."

And as tempting as it is to get the "next right fix", I'm going to do the "next right thing." Instead of feeling self-defeated, and thinking I have to go on a diet because gaining weight means I've failed at life (not), I've started with the admission of defeat, the recognition that I am powerless over certain foods that want to get me, and I can only overcome it with the power of the God who loves me.

I know today like I've never known before how hard the devil fights to get me in my greatest weakness. For me - it is food and weight insecurity, because it's a battle I've had to fight my entire life. No matter how many diet commercials I see or how many people say, "Oh just don't eat that much," or "Just workout and eat right," it is more complicated than that. My relationship with food has been a lifelong one that needs attention and I'm okay with it. Why? Because it's where the devil tries to work his hardest. 

The funny part is that even with this weight gain, I've never felt more at peace, more centered or closer to God than I've ever been. And I think a lot of that has to do with the enormous amount of surrendering I've had to do in the last year, heck the last three years - to let God just take the reigns. When I think about it and write it out - it's truly amazing how much God has carried me THROUGH. 

On Temptation

So with that, I wanted to share with you a Bible Study I worked on this morning and over the last few days about TEMPTATION. The devil is always there trying to get us to follow him in his fleshly ways and it ALWAYS ends up crappy. He promises much in his quick-fix ways but only God can meet us in our deepest need for the longest haul.

This next year is going to be all about navigating triggers for me - around food, around people that make me want to eat the wrong food, or feelings or situations. So I want to share this with you and invite you to join me in a journey this year of really turning it over to the Holy Spirit, because if we know the Lord, in the end - He's the one guiding us anyway, so why not let him? 

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of your flesh.
— Galatians 5:16, ESV
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
— 1 Peter 5:8-11, ESV
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape that you may be able to endure it.
— 1 Corinthians 10:13, ESV

That last one I had to dig in a little more. I found something that said this in reference to this, "God makes an open road, but then man must walk in it." We must take the steps where the Spirit guides.

It makes me think of the song "Oceans" by Hillsong (play while you read) and the lyric, "Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the water, wherever you might call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my savior..."

I am also reminded of 2 Timothy 1:7, 

 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

We know it, but sometimes we can't just grasp it - right? Maybe because we think he wouldn't be there in those fears with us, that we have when we need self-control? We think we don't have the willpower, but in reality, when we know him and realize he's right there in that kitchen cabinet standing by our side? we have a power greater than any favorite snack or sweet we may desire.

I'm not saying it's easy. In fact, I'm praying God will just take me through one day. But thankfully that's all he gives us, and all we need. When I get fearful around certain foods then I just need to stop and remember the power I've got within me! Christ IN me, the HOPE of glory!

God doesn't want to punish me for everything I eat - that's the devil! God wants to help me see that in the depths of my soul - it's HIS love that can satisfy me WAY more than ANY craving. The devil likes me scared. God likes me free. He doesn't want me to fear. He wants me to feel peace with his presence.

Jesus was Tempted Too

Lastly, I have to remember that Jesus WAS tempted. In Matthew 4. He "gets" it. He may not have been a food addict but he certainly was TEMPTED. After 40 days without eating, the thing he was tempted with WAS food - bread (ironic). (I mean 40 days, wow. One day is tough, 40 had to be tough, and then have a temptation dangling in your face?) The note in the side column of my Bible says this:

Why would the Spirit lead Jesus into temptation?
For Christ to accomplish God’s will, he had to face Satan and prevail.
— Quest Study Bible, p.1388

I mean that is POWERFUL. And Jesus's response to the devil trying to get him to eat the bread to prove he is the son of God?

Jesus answered, ‘It is written: Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
— Matthew 4:4, ESV

I mean, Wow. I can just imagine myself today standing there with Jesus, going through the 40 days with Him, thinking - I would LOVE some bread, thank you! And witnessing His response like that? I mean, I know he's Jesus but he also became human so there is no way he wasn't salivating. He stared the devil in the face and put him IN his place.

I'm not kidding - every time I want to eat a cookie that is going to make me feel like crap physically or make me get in my head? I'm going to close my eyes and imagine Jesus standing there, fighting for ME. Me and all my brokenness, weakness and crappy willpower. HE stood there and said what he said. He gave me this word to study which is PROOF I don't have to listen to the devils schemes.

Food? Yes - it is ESSENTIAL to life. But it is not at the very deepest level the sustenance of my life. My relationship with Jesus is what fills me up where no ONE, no thing, no cookie can fill me up. Not only that - he fights for me. All I have to do is realize he is standing there. 

Powerful, powerful stuff.

So, all that being said. I hope you'll join me this year in giving the healthy lifestyle thing to the Lord. Stop trying to control it in a million ways inside and out and just trust his plan and then SHOW UP for his plan.

If food is the place that the devil likes to take you down? Then fight. Find where the devil lurks and rely on the power of God to take you through every storm he brings. 

Cause let me tell you - I'm going into a fire. I am getting my health back and you can bet it is going to be T.O.U.G.H. But I am more reliant on God than I've ever been. If he restored me to sanity once before, and he restored my shoulder over a year, then he can AND WILL restore me to health and I am looking forward to the journey. I hope you'll join me. Come back to visit. Since last year I was pretty out of commission - this year, the support group, the course on how to knock the devil back with the power of God is going to begin. This time, I think it's better than I thought it would be and that's only because I had to rely on the power of God in my life.

So, if you want to get honest and get real and let God into your food or weight struggles, join me, please. I can tell you - I cannot do this alone. But if you want to grab the quick-fix and push this blog under the rug for another year, that's fine. Just save it in your files, cause you might want to come back to it next year - when the diet fix didn't work again and you've had enough. We'll be here. But most of all, God will be there, waiting with open arms to give you a big hug and tell you he loves you and that despite your stupid choices, he wants you in His life. Period.

Oh, and one more thing - these two verses came to mind as I finished the blog today. 

No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me, declares the Lord.
— Isaiah 54:17, NIV
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish it’s work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
— James 1:2-4, NIV

Let God do what he does best -- protect you and guide you. Let him steer your ship. Trust His timing and have faith because it's not about a fix when you walk with the Lord, it's a journey - a satisfying and strengthening one.  So, Godspeed my friend. Hope to see you back in the coming year.

(Oh, and for those who may have wanted a video - next week. All the kids are home and it's a little harder when they are in the house.)

Happy New Year.

I'm signing off, so you can get back into your life.


Bonus: Here's an acoustic version of the Hillsong, "Oceans" so you can really rest in Him. Repeat button is most helpful. lol

Willingness: An Important Factor in Finding Peace with Your Mental Health

South Bend River Lookout adjusted size.jpg

This is the fourth post in a series from the rest of the week on finding your healthy within by Meredith Terpeluk.

Yesterday, I wrote about how important it is to practice acceptance in moments when we don't have much control over our circumstances - or in my case, my body after surgery. I also mentioned in the blog that I have gained weight since with this injury.

Yuk, right?

Well, here's the deal. I've got a secret for you.....

I know we all have that instinct that tells us, "Oh no your weight is up! Drop it!"

But the truth is we need to look at this in a completely different way.

Instead of taking the weight gain as an opportunity to beat ourselves up and fail another diet - we need to step back, take a breathe and realize the other opportunity we have.

We can actually take this and go within to look at what else might be going on, like with our mental health.

But it takes WILLINGNESS to let go of that "Losing the weight is the answer," so we can get to "I must go within." 

There are many reasons why this is such an important shift. One of them IS so you don't have to be a lifetime member of the yo-yo dieters club.

But another one is so you can look at EVERY aspect of yourself, including your mental health and find more lasting health. 

Instead of letting your instinct take you RIGHT to that diet, you can say, "Okay, what's going on in my mind."

"What's been happening in my life and how have I been reacting to it?"

You don't have to BEAT your head over the stick or have a panic attack with it. Y

You can approach yourself with love and compassion and look within.

WILLINGNESS to look beyond the weight.

WILLINGNESS to go beneath the surface.


So, people wonder if I'm some sort of trainer, food police or the ultimate healthy person because of the name of my brand.

Far from it.

I work on the inner journey, guiding people to a place where they can find healing and solutions right there - instead of keeping their perspective so small on the surface. I don't "fix" them, I meet them where they are, and guide them to the next doorway of action, whatever that may be.

So in order to GET to that place of being OKAY with looking at that most feared place - our mental health - we have to be WILLING.

Let me explain a little bit more....

My journey to awareness of my mental health has been a long one - that started with counseling here and there as a kid after my parents divorce, but didn't really kick in as necessary to treat until regular panic attacks. I found a therapist who led me in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and changed my life. What I didn't know was that was just one little aspect we were approaching, almost a surface thing that was caused by a bunch of other internal things going on with my mind, my brain itself, my thoughts, and my feelings. I don't know where I'd be today if I hadn't faced that mess up there in my mind.

I want to share just a few of those things here - the things I would NEVER have known if I hadn't looked at the mental aspect. Maybe they will help you approach it with a little more self-love.

  1. That panic attacks aren't something you can overcome with willpower.
  2. That beyond the mental health issues, there may be a behavior issue that is blocking you from healing - like addiction.
  3. That addiction is a disease of the mind and body and will tell you that you don't have a disease when you do in order to keep you stuck in it - no matter whether it's a drug or a behavior.
  4. That the huge stigma that eating disorders are purely something you can see on the surface is completely wrong. It hides more than most people know.
  5. Eating Disorders aren't about eating as much as our thinking.
  6. Anxiety, Depression or any other mental thing CAN be genetic. In some cases you can address it with behaviors but sometimes it DOES take other measures.
  7. ADD does NOT mean you are less than or broken. You are creative (which is a good thing), and the way your mind functions is just different than the linear way the world approaches things.
  8. Willpower wil NOT cure whatever may be going on in your head like a diet.
  9. Positive thinking is one thing. But a spiritual journey with a power greater than you.
  10. Mental Health is completely ignored in many cases of obesity or other physical health issues - and it could absolutely be the biggest factor. We MUST consider it at every level of care and not judge those people who might struggle with it. No one, absolutely NO ONE has a perfect mind.
  11. Physical change - good or bad - can be hugely impact by your mental health. Don't ignore it.
  12. I am a life coach who helps people change their lives, but in the end I'm a woman who knows that when all else fails, even the way you are thinking - it is the Lord who is there for us. He is the one who reminds me through the word that HE is bigger than my thoughts and understanding.

I could write about 100 things I've learned. But what I can tell you is this:

Each thing I've learned makes me more WIlLING to look at what's going on from the mental aspect.

Let me give you an example:

With Dad's passing it was a year after he was gone when I finally realized I may have something else going on mentally.

With my surgery on my shoulder? It was almost a month into recovery that I realized my mental health was playing a factor.

I never thought about it before surgery, because I was focused on the procedure itself - and so was the doctor. But when I was laying there one day in physical therapy, letting my PT move my shoulder in painful ways, she said something about how long the journey is. Thankfully  I have to remind myself of that every single day of my life.

But somehow it made me sad. I walked out of there, googled "surgery and depression" and BINGO, there were the articles of people sharing the struggles about how down they were. Finding these showed me I wasn't alone and made me realize, "Duh - of course!!" 

A surgeon does surgery. A therapist does therapy. A physical therapist helps with the healing process. But no one is there to help with the inner healing process of getting healthy again or at least is on the "team" of people who inform patients of this factor on the journey. 

I went to my next session, looked around and realized how much more work these PTs probably do than they are paid to do. Then I thought about all the people getting physical therapy who may have mental health stuff going on and have no idea how much it affects their recovery. Of course, then I think, "There is a need for a Healthy Voice in surgery recovery!" (Of course - I'd love to write a book right now, but that's why I'm writing a blog.)

Then yesterday I go in for my six week checkup with the doc. He tells me how I'm positive and the recovery is long but I've got a good attitude and attitude is everything with this.

Nice compliment!

But also I knew it wasn't a trait that has come naturally.

Yes, I had a father who was an incredibly positive influence on my life.

He believed that I could do anything in life I wanted. He planted a seed for my approach to life - a huge one.

But I also had something his inspiration could never give me - and that was this....

The WILLINGNESS (at the age of 31) to finally look beyond the weight fix and go beneath the surface. With a lot of tools and people walking the journey with me - I've gotten there. Dad was one of the people who helped me start that healing process, and I'm grateful today to be on a spiritual journey where I always feel like he's still with me. But the journey of grief is a whole other topic for another time. 


My hope with this blog is that anyone who may need to address their mental health finds some courage within to face it. I also hope that anyone that has ever has surgery (of any kind) may find this blog somehow and realize they are not alone and that the mental health IS a piece of the puzzle. 

If I had the money for a national advertising campaign, I'd design a billboard saying this:

Pay Attention to Your Mental Health if you want to be HEALTHY FOR LIFE!

- Brought to you by Your Healthy Voice :)


Tune in tomorrow for a blog on the emotional aspect and the thing you might need to address it. In the meantime, check out the rest of the series from this week.


Acceptance: How Injury Can be Your Teacher (3rd of a series)


This is the third blog in a series this week called "The 7 Key Elements to Finding Healthy Within."

As the world tells us changing our physical selves for the better is the one thing we should strive for in life, I believe there is a much more powerful message when we can't do anything about it.

It's in these moments that willpower takes a huge backseat, and we're given the opportunity to surrender to acceptance in the moment. Truly, there is no more powerful way to learn this than when we are forced to be still and know.


Psalm 46:10 Be Still and KNOW that I am God.

I've learned this lesson before, when I was not yet in recovery, planning to run the NYC marathon and busted my ankle. I could do nothing. I remember depression setting in. It was like the world was coming to an end and I didn't know how I was going to live without being able to run at all, let alone run the race. My self-worth was so low, I thought that race was the only thing I had going for me. That was about a year before I got into recovery. 

Flash forward 7 years to right now. I just got home from a tough session with my physical therapist, Deb, at South Bend Orthopedic. I go three times a week right now and often times it takes up a few hours of my day. I'm grateful for it, because it's getting me better. But, it's a slow process.

I asked her this morning (as she's holding my shoulder in her arms and I'm secretly screaming trying not to focus on it) something I already knew, "So, no working out till maybe end of summer, right?" "Nope." "Got it." It's like I just needed to be reminded -- this is a journey and I'm still on it! There is an end in sight and I do have a God that I know will carry me through this season. 

Right now though? It's a season of physical repair, a time of physical healing.  

Here's why....

On January 3rd, I was asleep and was woken up around 2:30 in the morning by my shoulder dislocating for the 3rd time in about 15 years. My husband had to find a YouTube video to teach him how to put it back into the joint. It is extremely painful and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.

A friend told me I should get it checked out, might need surgery. After an MRI, I found out it was pretty bad. When I saw Dr. Balint he told me that I was going to need the surgery and I'd hate him till Christmas.

I was amazed I was so calm. I would not have been calm a few years back. Major moment of gratitude for recovery. I can do this. 

So I went till April with the injury - not working out except a little light workout on the elliptical - no lifting, no running, no yoga, three of things I like to do in variety to keep me balanced.


6 weeks ago today, I had the surgery. Here's what I've missed...

I have missed being able to put my hair in a ponytail, and being able to put on pants with two hands and a button. Shutting the front door behind me and the car door next to me are a feat.   I miss not having to grab 3 ice-packs every time I sit down. In a weird way, I miss being able to do so much laundry with gusto. Now I can only fold almost a full laundry bin thankfully, but it's tiring. I was trying on clothes the other day in a store and I was literally sweating, almost in tears, not because of my waist, but because there was no way I could get that thing over my head without help. I tried and tried and then got someone to help. But it felt like a defining moment of how I've felt with this injury. A good reminder that I've got a long way to go...but I've improved.

My waist wasn't comfortable either so that just added to it. But the shoulder hurt enough not for me to focus on it. I can tell you that I MISS working out and every emotional, spiritual, physical and mental release it gives me to keep my head on straight and my emotions at bay. It is a tool I use to find peace in life. 


Flash back to last Wednesday when my husband and I got our checkups for health insurance, I get on a scale - which thankfully I don't give the power anymore. I told her not to share with me but then she flashed the number in my face not realizing I'm someone who used to obsess about that number, and I kinda freaked. That's okay, I wouldn't expect her to know.

The weight gain was there. I knew it. I hadn't felt great in a few weeks. My Mom said to me, "You haven't worked out in 6 weeks Mere, give yourself a break." Then my husband said, "Honey, it's been almost 6 months." That felt better because it's been longer that I've had it, but also a little worse! And all I could think was that I've got another four to seven months to go. 


I can tell you I am in one of those places, where there just isn't much I can do to change this. I can go to PT, I can certainly be much more conscious with my food choices, which I am doing, but it can still suck. THIS is that moment where Acceptance is necessary. Like 12-step program says, you do what you have to do and you can do and let God take care of the rest.

I know, my body is going through healing. This is a season in my life. I trust his plan absolutely. I just have to walk the journey and trust the process.


In just a few hours I'll be going in for my 6-week checkup with the doctor. I'm not going in there expecting anything. He was great in telling me that I wouldn't like him till Christmas because he kept my expectations completely realistic. He must have seen I was a Type A and wanted to prepare me. I am so grateful for his understanding and wonderful bedside manner. Sometimes docs that work on your body don't understand what it's like to be someone who IS interested in maintaining your physical health. They'll say, "Well, no more of that at all!" And I just appreciate that this guy gets it. He gets that I'm physically active. He wants me to get better, and whatever he tells me today I will have to accept, and shockingly I'm okay with that. His words, my program, and my belief in God is what is keeping me going through this season of healing right now.

I hope you'll stop by tomorrow because I'm going to be sharing how this surgery touches on my mental health and how being aware of it is so important. I hope you'll check it out, especially since it's Mental Health Awareness Month!!