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  • by Barb Shelton

Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss

It dawned on me one day, with a sickening thud, that if I want to arrive at the Finish Line of my life as healthy, flexible, strong, and active as possible – and I do! – I would have to make some major lifestyle changes long before I got there. And I would reach it much sooner if I didn't make them.

Don't get me wrong, I'll gladly go Home when the Lord calls me, but I don't want to leave Earth prematurely due to my own laziness and failures.

I've always had plenty of motivation to get my weight off, like to have better sleep, health, and mobility; to reduce aches and pains; and, more superficially, to fit back into my smaller-size clothes.

Black scale with tape measure & apple on it / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

I knew better than to let my health go. And I've deeply regretted it, now having to deal with the weighty repercussions of it in my body.

But I found myself stuck, unable to get back in the saddle. Starting... falling off... restarting... falling off again... getting back on... and off... for several years!


There were two resources (both free!) that God used as catalysts to get me UNstuck and moving in the right direction. (I'm 18 pounds down as of now, and haven't fallen off for a few weeks.)

1) One is a 10-minute Facebook chat by Heidi Bylsma called "Flipping the Switches for Victory." (She does Corporate Communications for Thin Within.) She humbly and openly shares her heart regarding what the Lord used to wake her up ~ and me as well! (The foundation for this message ~ what she's returning to ~ is presented in her audio message called "My Story & 7 Reasons To Ditch Dieting FOREVER.")

Heidi Bylsma chatting / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

2) Heidi also shared an audio presentation by Crystal Munson who shared her story about her history with eating and being convicted by the Lord of her sin of gluttony. I will never see overeating the same. (The link takes you to their website where her husband, Jamie, introduces her and the talk. If that link doesn't work for you, here's an alternate version of Crystal's talk.)

Crystal Munson with husband / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /


These resources were major catalysts that compelled me toward an eye-opening realization of where I was at, and then toward the needful next-step of repentance!!!

So we don't start by "seeking to be successful." We must start by humbly coming to the Lord and admitting our sin and our utter powerlessness to deal with ~ and find success in ~ this area on our own.

"Success" is something I attain only with God's help. I'm utterly dependent on Him to transform me. This next statement is really the core of this whole article:

Cooperating with God

in this transformation process

is really the ultimate

"success" I can have.

So what I'm about to share is not meant to circumvent repentance or connecting with God on our journey! First get your heart matters with the Lord taken care of, then you'll be ready for what comes next.


God has been showing me ways that I need to get myself better set up to shore up my weak spots, where I tend to "lose it."

ALL the power for resisting temptation, and the ability to stay on track comes from the Lord. I am (super) weak, but he is (stupendously) strong! But GOOD NEWS!!! He says:

"My power shows up best in weak people." (2 Cor. 12:9)

Another favorite:

"Abide in Me, and I in you, for apart from Me, you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

And putting two favorites together:

"By the mighty power of the Spirit of the Lord at work within me," ... "I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me." (Eph. 3:20 & Phil. 4:13)

Yes ~ truly ~ absolutely nothing is too difficult for God! I'm finally starting to get what this really means!!!

I want to be equipped, and ready to fully live the life He wants me to live, and to allow Him to bring me out of "Egypt."

To accommodate these desires of my heart, here are the...





Graphic with pink rose: Setting myself up with SUPPORT / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

MY PLAN: I'm using a Christian weight loss approach called Thin Within. Its focus is much deeper than merely being about food. It leads us to find the reasons we overeat and helps us deepen our relationship with God so that we can get set free from what compels us to overeat.

(Thin Within offers many wonderful resources. Some are self-paced and used alone; others with a large group; others in smaller coaching groups. They offer encouraging forums, books, workbooks, courses, and videos. Some are free; some you pay for. Here is my overview of various options.)

This ministry has been LIFE to me!!! So my plan for this area of "Support" is to connect with and utilize many of these wonderful resources!

FRUSTRATIONS / DOWNFALLS: When I am not doing well, I tend to not want to connect with others. My "flesh man" likes to hide when I'm sinning. (There is nothing but grace and practical help within that community, so the problem is not them. It's me.)

SUCCESS SET-UPS: To set myself up to make it harder to hide, I have joined three Thin Within groups online. One would be enough, but I wanted to saturate myself in fellowship. Plus each is actually different in function and purpose:

1) A small coaching group led by Heidi and Christina - There are five of us participants in the group. Heidi directs a weekly phone conference/chat with all of us, which I greatly look forward to each week! Plus there are lots of video chats by Heidi and Christina, and encouragement within the group. Each session lasts 10 weeks. Cost is $250 for the session, and is WORTH. EVERY. PENNY!!!!!

2) Heidi's course: Think Thin Within Academy - There are four weeks worth of material, but you can go at your own pace. A private group on Facebook is included where course participants connect and encourage each other, and discuss their process and anything pertaining to the course. Cost is $49. Again, WORTH. EVERY. PENNY!!!

3) Thin Within Discussion and Support group on Facebook - Soooo much wonderful encouragement feeds through this group, plus questions, victories, struggles, testimonies, ideas shared by members and group leaders, and announcements of upcoming classes. Totally free.

Graphic with pin rose: Setting myself up for success in Eating / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

MY PLAN: Thin Within promotes 0-5 eating, which simply means we wait for a "zero" ~ true physiological hunger ~ before eating, and then simply stop a "five", which is just satisfied; not "full" or stuffed. But for those of us who are addicted to food (not joking), it's not that simple ~or at least not that easy. And that's what the program mainly deals with: the heart stuff going on inside that keeps us bound to food beyond what's normal and healthy.

FRUSTRATIONS / DOWNFALLS: When I don't have food that I enjoy on hand, I just grab anything, and am not really satisfied. Buffets, potlucks, and eating at someone else's home are also challenging.

SUCCESS SET-UPS: Just three simple things:

1) Make a "Favorite Foods List." - These are foods I enjoy that are within my eating boundaries and that are "whole body pleasers" rather than merely "tastebud teasers," and have these on hand.

A "whole body pleaser" doesn't please only the tastebuds, but the well-being of the whole body as well. These foods are enjoyable without being detrimental to my health.

Since I'm eating very little food, I want to enjoy what I do eat. Having yummy foods* handy doesn't make eating less any easier ~ in fact, in some ways it makes it harder ~ but when my heart is surrendered to God, these foods just make it more pleasant for me to adhere to my eating boundaries and carry out my desire to eat right.

2) Have a few special treats on hand that I really enjoy. - Two examples: I baked a loaf of banana bread, sliced it all up, and stored individual slices in baggies in the freezer. I take one out, toast it, and it's as delish as fresh!

Banana bread slices in baggies / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

I also made up a batch of Oatmeal Date Bars, cut them up, and stored them in a bin in the freezer ~ with plastic wrap between the layers so they wouldn't smoosh into each other). I take out one at a time to enjoy without the rest of them tempting me. Of course, I could always go back and get another, but the Lord's helping me be temperate, so this is a treat that's part of my "eat-in-moderation training"!

Date bars in bin / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

3) Use a smaller plate. This makes the small amount of food I eat seem not as "lost" on a large plate. (I got this at Goodwill for 49 cents!) It had a familiar feel to it, so, thinking maybe it was a lamp we had when I was a child, I asked my sisters if any of them had a lamp with this image on it...

Special, smaller plate / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

...and one did!!! And she sent a picture of it so I could show you!

Lamp from my childhood that matches my special plate / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

See how this small amount of food looks like more on this plate?

My special plate with food on it, and my hand to show relative size / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

( *We all have different tastes in food, and there's nothing exemplary about my preferences, so I'm not listing them. It could open a discussion on my choices, which I don't feel would be fruitful.)

Graphic with pink rose: Setting myself up to RENEW MY MIND / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

MY PLAN: I've learned in Thin Within that, to become free from emotional eating, it's necessary to renew my mind. There are many ways to do this, which I share HERE. Christina shares her insights on this HERE. My soul is nourished in the process of renewing my mind, so the benefits go far beyond just losing pounds!

FRUSTRATIONS / DOWNFALLS: I often found myself floundering for lack of having my materials ready to grab and use, so I'd lose momentum right when I needed it most.

SUCCESS SET-UPS: Here are mine:

:: 3 NOTEBOOKS: (3-ring binders) Here's a pic of them; details comin' next!

My 3 notebook spines / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

  • Fresh Wind, Fresh Desire Notebook contains the printed-out curriculum materials I received as part of the small Thin Within coaching group I'm in.

  • Thin Within Notes & Lists Notebook - This contains my "Attributes of God List," which is an ongoing, add-to-able list of His attributes, my Gratefulness List, my "Victories" List, and other cool stuff I find.

  • Worship Songs Notebook: I've collected the lyrics pages for worship songs when playing percussion on a worship team, so rather than having them lying loose in my basket, I put them into a notebook, in alphabetical order.

(This post contains Amazon affiliate links,

which just means that if you click on one and make

a purchase, I may receive a small compensation

at NO cost to you whatsoever.)

:: MY TRUTH CARDS - These are cards you put truths on. There are several ways to do these. Click HERE for my compilation of ideas and options at the Thin Within website.

:: "RENEWING MY MIND" BIN - This is set up with several physical resources for this purpose. (I say "physical" because some of the resources are online, and others I just do in my head.) These include:

  • My three above-mentioned notebooks

  • My Bible

  • Favorite blanket (aka "blankie"!)

  • Holder for pen/highlighters/bookmarker/nail file - (not shown) These were unhandily tucked into the side, but I've since added a narrow holder for them.

My Renewing My Mind bin / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

Nice 'n' neatly nestled in its niche under an end table!​

My Renewing My Mind bin under the end table / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

Everything's set up in one handy spot! So when I want to renew my mind, I just pull it out and choose something in there to do!

Graphic with pink rose: Setting up my home with VISION REMINDERS / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

FRUSTRATIONS / DOWNFALLS: My memory. What else can I say? (Nothing that I can remember, anyway!)

SUCCESS SET-UPS: Post encouraging notes and truth cards at eye-level inside cabinet doors around the house.

Truth card inside bathroom cupboard door / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

Here's the above note so you can read it...

"Run with everything" truth card / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

Then, of course, stop to read these every so often when said cabinet/cupboard doors are open!

Graphic with pink rose: Setting up to DRINK WATER / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

MY PLAN: Drink 8~10 cups of water each day. (Not sayin' how much is in each "cup" 😁; you just need to decide the optimal amount for you.)

FRUSTRATIONS / DOWNFALLS: Drinking enough water is a challenge for me. I don't enjoy drinking water, and (therefore) I just don't think about water, except when I get thirsty, which isn't that often. So I tend to get dehydrated, which causes headaches, lack of energy, and digestion problems.


  • Set a timer (phone or Pampered Chef timer) for 90 minutes, and get a drink whenever it goes off.

  • Check off the glasses of water in the "Water" section at the bottom of my Day Tracker. Example:

Water glass check-offs on my Day Tracker / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

  • Have a cup sitting by each of the three sinks in our house.

  • Whenever I go to the bathroom, drink water. (Out with the used; in with the new!)

  • Get any of my favorite water cups filled with water and a little ice, and keep in a handy spot.

My 4 favorite water cups / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

(The "Be Aware" on this Dutch Bros.

cup is actually for breast cancer, but it

fits for drinking more water, too!)

Graphic with pink rose: Setting up myself to EXERCISE / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

MY PLAN: There are seven types of exercise I do. Ideally I do all seven any given day, but that seldom happens, so I'm happy with whatever I can do. Even if I do only 2~3 of them, that's still better than doing nothing. Exercise experts may not approve of doing all types day after day (which, again, seldom happens), but I don't do intense workouts; just some "reasonable" exercises to make my body healthier, stronger, and more flexible. I don't have a certain amount of time I spend doing each one; I just want to make sure I maintain and improve my current level of physical stamina each day, because, at my age (65), skipping one day is a greater loss than it was when I was younger. Since I am not in great shape, I don't want to just maintain; I really need and want to push myself.

FRUSTRATIONS / DOWNFALLS: Left to myself, I do not gravitate to exercise. I don't want to take the time to do it. Once I get going on it, I'm fine with it. But, whether I feel like it or not, I just need to be more diligent at it.

SUCCESS SET-UPS: Here are my seven exercise types along with things I need to do to "set myself up for success," as well as prevent excuses, since that is the subject of this post:



STRETCHING - Nothing is needed to set up for the physical aspect of this. What I like to do is watch/listen to a video/audio of Heidi or Christina as I stretch. Or I'll also do my stretching as well as floor exercise and hand weights while Dave and I watch a movie. 😁

Pics of Heidi and Christina chatting / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /


TONING / FLOOR EXERCISE - I do my routine either on the living room floor, to my favorite exercise music, or while watching a show with Dave in the family room. Get some music set up on my phone, and I also have a couple of favorite exercise CDs near the CD player, ready to pop in.

Screenshot of my exercise songs on YouTube / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /


WALKING - I set up a "Walkin' Duds" bin, and store a neck scarf, ear puffs, gloves, and an umbrella in it near the office door in.

My "Walkin' Duds" bin / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /


​HAND WEIGHTS - I greatly prefer the neoprene-coated type of dumbbells as the grip is nicer than vinyl. I keep these in the family room where I use them. First I got the pair below that are 4 pounds each, which I love.

2 blue 4-pound hand weights / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

But I wanted to allow for growth, so I also got the set of 3 pairs below so that I could have a few different options for the weights. So now I have 2, 3, 4, and 5 pound weights! And I really like the stand for them as I can easily choose the ones I want to use today! (I put the 3-pounders in the top holder slots, the 4-pounders in the middle, and the 5-pounders at the bottom, with the 2-pounders at the very top.) I greatly prefer the neaprin

My set of 3 pairs of hand weights / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

Why have weights that are less than what I am currently able to lift? Because there are days, like after being sick, that I need to do less weights. Going back down to a lower weight will still keep me moving, and prevent me from just totally abandoning doing weights at all. I am setting myself up to succeed in the future by planning for consistency even when a situation that will very likely arise is not ideal.


AEROBICS - Do my own aerobic dance routines to any of the CD's I have with lively dance-inspiring songs. (Which is all of them in the photo.)

My aerobic dance CD's + CD player / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /


FLEXERCISE - This is for anyone who has experienced loss of strength in doing things you never even thought of when you were more fit or younger. You may have had an injury or a surgery, or you may just be getting older and less active. Things like stepping up onto a chair to change a lightbulb... getting down to look into the back part of a cupboard or closet... going up and down stairs... getting out of a car... getting up off the floor from a sitting position... or even getting down to the floor to begin with! ... So "flexercise" is the name I made up for practicing those normal-life movements several times a day.

Golden cat walking down porch steps / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /


HOUSEWORKERCISE - Certain types of housework are active and require enough activity and exertion that I count them toward my exercise. Dishes, folding laundry, and sweeping don't, but vacuuming, mopping, and parts of watering outside do. (Sorry, no pics of me doing this.)

Rose graphic: Setting up my day to Stay on Track / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

This one's the most detailed and therefore the most likely to overwhelm you if you're already tired. So if you're not fresh, please save it for when you are!)

MY PLAN: I want "the hours of my day to be profitable" ~ to get to the end of my day having done (most) everything that I value and want to have done. Like exercising, renewing my mind, drinking more water, housework, projects around home, etc.

FRUSTRATIONS / DOWNFALLS: It's too hard to remember everything I want/need to do, so I tend to just drift through my day, delving into projects, to the exclusion of other things I really should do.

SUCCESS SET-UPS: So I created this Day Tracker to help me remember to do the things want to! Plus I admit I actually enjoy checking things off!

HOW IT WORKS: Everything I want to basically do each day is on this little page. It's less than a half sheet of paper. These are just prompts; my options for the day. I would never do everything on this page! The only items that become actual to-do's are the ones I highlight.

My Day Tracker / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

This helps me think through each of these areas:

Exercise - the 7 types I do. Highlight the ones I want to do, and check what I did do today.

Mind Renewing - my different ways to do this. I may do only one or two; I may do several.

Housework - all the rooms of the house. What needs to be done today?

Disciplines - I want to do all of these.

Bigger Projects - my ongoing projects. Work on just one each day. ("Baby steps"!)

There's nothing legalistic about any of this; it just helps me keep my day on a better track.

I use a highlighter to quickly color in the circles of just the things I want to do in any/all of the sections. I ignore the rest for today.

FREE PRINTABLE!!! Here's my Day Tracker in Word if you want to edit it for your own needs and preferences, and here's the same Day Tracker as a PDF file, which you can't edit, but you can at least view.

Here (below) is the clipboard I decorated to keep my Day Tracker on so that it has a cute home! It's not at all necessary; keeping it on a plain clipboard works just as well!

My decorated clipboard with my Day Tracker on it / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

(An earlier edition of my Day Tracker is

on the clipboard above; please ignore, and just refer

to the one further above .)

You can't see it in the picture, but the Day Tracker is on top of a same-size white piece of cardboard so that the pink dotted ribbon below doesn't mess with my writing.

Close-up of the top for you detail-appreciaters:

Close-up of the top part of my Day Tracker clipboard / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

And here are the supplies I used to make it: (This project will be featured in a future blog post.)

Supplies to make my decorated clipboard / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /


​So there you have it! "All the above" is not a one-size-fits-all blueprint for setting up for success. You will have your own plan and set-up's! I share my ideas only to give you examples of how I took my plan and set myself up to stay focused on it, since it's very easy for me to lose my focus!

Again, my success is coming from the Lord, who, as I take my (many) weaknesses to Him, is transforming my mind, recreating a new "will" in me, and conforming my heart to His. So He is not only leading me along in this whole process, He is empowering me to DO it!!! ~ which is at the heart 'n' soul of Thin Within!

"And David had success in all his undertakings; for the Lord was with him." (I Samuel 18:14)

And I will close with...




I am on a journey. Before embarking on it, I needed to decide where I was going, how I would get there, and what "arriving there" would even look like.

The usual "destination"? WEIGHT LOSS. But in Thin Within I've learned that gaining weight was a product of my wrong understanding of God, plus my own sin, and therefore my relationship with God being out of whack.

So my destination this time is really the journey itself! Developing a thriving, abiding relationship with God and a right understanding of Him, with weight loss being a natural result of that.

The usual means of getting to the "weight loss" goal? DIETING. But no more. Dieting merely puts a band-aid over the reasons behind our eating out-of-orderness. We may lose weight, but we don't deal with the causes, and therefore end up going back.

For my "mode of transportation" for this journey, I chose a "limo" that's all decked out with a variety of "accommodations" ~ set-ups that will not only make the journey more comfortable, they will help keep me IN the limo; less likely to jump out mid-trip.

Long white stretch limo / Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

So my set-ups are minimizing hindrances, eliminating my excuses, and making my process much more peaceful and enjoyable!


I'd love to hear in a

comment below how you

made this fit your own

style and priorities!


Hexa-graphic for Setting Up for Success in Weight Loss /

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