• Amy Sotis

Success! (There's More To Life Than It)


We are three weeks into our January Wellness and Weight Loss Challenge and it has been exciting to see "success" in many of the participants' lives. We know that life is not about temporal successes only, but it is wonderful to see how hard work yields results. Yes, if you put in the hard work and you are able to make a commitment to a few of the main principles we espouse, you will see positive change, i.e. "success". As with most programs/plans, dedication and a spark to pursue it with passion are the keys to seeing results. This is true of the Luminaries meal and exercise program AND many other good ones out there. One primary difference with the Luminaries Retreat program to many out there, however, is a focus on the deeper/spiritual reasons why food might have a negative hold on your life. It goes way beyond "sugar detox" or eating "non-processed foods" or "tracking calories and workouts" (although these are all powerful tools and ones that we spend a lot of time on!).

Tools given to someone who is still going to eat to quell a negative feeling or emotion, is just a band-aid on a gaping wound. You can see success in losing some weight or improving fitness, but for most of us, those successes ebb and flow with seasons of life. Our goal at Luminaries Retreat is to get people beyond the common "diet" hang-ups: "I work hard and make sacrifices and I lose weight - YEA! I'm a success!" .... "I cheated and fell off the bandwagon and now I'm a failure - Boo!" We cannot base our health and wellness on such short-term and temporary highs and lows - this only leads to discouragement. We truly believe that living a healthy lifestyle brings joy and peace which out-weigh "success" that is temporary.

I'm not saying I'm perfect in this way by any means (after all, as I have shared before, I put on 50 pounds in 5 months during a pregnancy by eating junk food and simple carbs to quell anxiety that my baby would die. As a side note, he did not...Gabriel John is a happy five year old). Thankfully, however, I have learned and experienced a few things along my path toward health and try to honestly share them from my heart. Certain elements of the program and seminars are important to one person while another person takes away a different principle or concept and they see success in a different way. There is no one right way to "diet" - in fact - there is basically no right way to "diet" - the hallmark of the Luminaries program is lifestyle change rather than diet. Another hallmark is that physical fitness/exercise is a key to breaking the body's natural weight set point. Learning nutrition principles, how to cook, and basic exercise techniques are all good tools we teach as well. But, if that is all we give someone, and they still run to food for comfort then we haven't given them all the tools they might need. One of these tools are the spiritual principles that we teach to try to help people figure out why they still overeat and under-exercise even after "trying it all".

Family practice doctor, Jamey Sotis, teaching about obesity and the health risks at the Luminaries Building in January

Although weight loss is not the only or most important goal, it is indeed important to some individuals who need to decrease their weight to live a full, active, healthy, happy life. I believe that God honors faith and many individuals have expressed to me that they are praying and studying God's word for their lives in a way that they haven't before - does He really care about what I eat? Does He have a plan for my life in regard to health and wellness? "Without faith it is impossible to please him, for everyone who comes to God must believe that he is, and he rewards those who diligently seek him." Hebrews 11:6. We encourage people to seek God and believe that he wants to reward efforts at working hard and sacrificing temporary pleasures for greater rewards in the body or even better - spiritually.

How this works is that if food is your comfort, for example, and you decide that whenever you want to run to food to comfort you and all of a sudden that junk food is removed and you no longer use it that way, and instead you run to God himself in prayer, in faith, for his help, this will be rewarded. It might be rewarded in the long term by meeting goals you have (weight loss, increase in health, physical fitness), or it might be rewarded by a greater knowledge and relationship to him, which is by far, a greater reward in the long-run. God also implores people to "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me". Psalm 50:15. I can confidently say that when you call upon God for help in times of temptation, during times of weakness, or even during an intense exercise session that you don't think you can finish...he will pleased to deliver you and your only job at that point is to glorify him. I do the asking, he does the delivering, and I do the thanking. A great exchange.

I just want to especially commend our two residential retreat participants Cindy & Jackie who both had a 3.8 pound weight loss this week alone (and roughly the same the first two weeks as well!). They are living a new lifestyle (not a diet) and they are enjoying freedoms that come from breaking a sugar and food addiction. In addition, I am especially proud of their dedication to trying all kinds of new exercises and work-outs too!

Jackie was willing to try the arm machine for some cardio (variety is important)

Cindy using a step bike for a good cardio workout - she's tracking her calorie burn by using a simple heart-rate monitor watch from Polar.

Hand weights are effective tools to build muscle and increase calorie burn

Amy teaching on nutrition in the Luminaries Lounge to the January group

Trying out some snowy fat-tire biking for a little extra fun and exercise!

One of our retreat participants, Theresa, made this for her Luminaries breakfast. "Don't be afraid of salad for breakfast" she said!

Jackie and Amy doing a weight-lifting class called Body Pump

Cindy and her personal trainer Mike Colaizy learning how to strengthen the core

Jenn Lutz from Insights Health Coaching, teaching about adrenal fatigue and the effects of a good diet on overall health and wellness

Fitness Instructor Cory Pratt teaching on the importance of tracking workouts and calorie/nutrition intake for weight loss (example of MyFitnessPal - the free app that we recommend)

Sharon Christensen sharing her personal story of overcoming food addiction, tragedy, and loss through her long-time involvement with AA and Luminaries Retreat

Teresa Wolfe, certified herbalist and owner of Welcome Harvest, teaching about how our bodies react to processed foods and also encourages us with goal-setting and finding motivation to make lasting change

Sara Haase gives us an eye-opening, heart-warming, and even humorous look at her life-long journey with obesity and the positive changes she's making right now to continue on in her journey for health and wellness

Pastor Mark Barlow shares his own weight loss story through sugar detox and also explores the wider issues the Christian church has with food and overeating

Bob French shares his one hundred pound weight loss and his amazing road toward completing the Wisconsin Ironman triathlon this past September!

One of our lunches: Cauliflower crust pizza (with chicken, mushrooms, peppers, red onions, and cheese as toppings) was much-loved as a substitute for the typical junk-food pizza

Residential retreat guest Cindy's first time at a Spin class - she loved it and was amazed how much her body has been strengthened in only 3 weeks here.

Residential retreat guest Jackie building muscle (and confidence in a gym environment!!) by doing free weight exercises to strengthen the arms, back, and core

We are excited to see what the rest of 2017 brings at Luminaries Retreat. If we can serve you in any way, please let us know. We have been blessed with so many great speakers, program coordinators, and staff thus far. Thank you to all of you who have had a part of our program participant's successes! I know they are all very grateful!

Amy Sotis


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