Monday, November 23, 2015

What if Weight Loss Tips Were About More Than Weight?

On a late summer day, I broke a personal rule and checked email as soon as my eyes opened. I know better.  Any distraction before I seek the Lord’s face completely derails my time with Him. But that day, I succumbed to temptation and opened gmail before my Bible. 

This subject line captured my attention: Love Your Body, Weight Loss is NOT the Goal.

Now I’m no thin mint. I can’t remember the last time I felt happy with my body image. BMI charts classify me as obese - that is, until today - but I’ll get to that in a bit. 

As I read, a few of Janet Thompson’s points hit my heart like a 2 x 4.  

1) “Weight loss without a realistic lifetime eating plan is doomed for failure.”  

I’ve heard that dozens of times.  But I’d recently regained 30 pounds I’d worked hard to lose, and her words resonated.  

2) “The way God created our bodies, Energy (Calories) IN and energy OUT = maintained weight.  More IN than OUT = weight gain.  More OUT than IN = weight loss.”  

I majored in science. I get that kind of stuff.  But could it really be this simple?  The preface that God created our bodies to work within this ordered system spoke to me and I kept reading.  

The third 2 x 4 was the real clincher:

3) “To be successful at long term weight loss, we must adopt a new lifestyle, just like when we became Christians and we put off the old way of life and put on the new.” (Italics mine).

Now we were on to something.  My spirit cried out, “I can do this!”  And I knew immediately, this pertained to more than weight loss and body image.

A Universal Truth

Truth has universal application.  Think through these points with me since they can apply to nearly ANY area of struggle. Look at Janet’s sentences again with blanks inserted: 

1.  _____________________ without a lifetime plan is doomed for failure.
2.  The way God created (us), more ________ than __________ = ___________.  More __________ than __________ = ____________.
3.  To be successful at ____________________________, we must adopt a new lifestyle, just like when we became Christians and we put off the old way of life and put on the new. 

Now, let’s fill in those blanks with some of our common areas of struggle:  

1.  Calming anxiety
2.  More worry than trust = anxiety.  More trust than worry = peace.
3.  overcoming anxiety

OR, how about:

1.  Overcoming shame
2.  More negative self-talk than belief in who God says I am = feelings of condemnation.  More knowledge of identity in Christ than listening to lies of the enemy = freedom to be who I’m created to be.
3.  leaving shame in the past

Are you getting the picture?  Don’t leave out the valuable words that surround those blanks as you consider what you’re currently wrestling.  In your personal situation, what would you like to overcome?  What do you need more and less of in your daily walk with Christ?  

Yes, truth has universal application. There’s beauty in that. 

It’s About Freedom

This is why I believe we should talk about weight loss, even during the week of what is likely our largest feasting holiday of the year.  Let’s have this conversation now, because it’s not only about weight loss. 

It’s about freedom. 

It’s about identifying the areas of bondage that oppress, and breaking free from chains that hold us captive. It’s about adopting a new mindset and embracing a shift in our spirits. 

Finding freedom through truth - especially in areas where we’re accustomed to walking in captivity - is an incredible element of God’s best. Sometimes it’s only as freedom comes that we begin to realize the level of defeat that had become comfortable and routine. When our change becomes obvious, we’ll want to holler, dance, and celebrate.  Because we’re FREE!  

Embracing the Miracle

After reading Janet’s post that morning, I’d like to tell you that I had great quiet time with the Lord. That’s not the case. I didn’t spend time in God’s Word before I left for work. I downloaded calorie counting apps and started a life change.  I took off some old habits and asked the Lord to help me as I put on some new. 

Here’s the miracle that happened:  I felt released from bondage to food. I felt liberated from captivity. The numbers on the scale became a secondary consideration. 

For the first time - probably ever in my life - I found the will to say no to a chocolate bar or a portion of comforting mac and cheese without feeling cheated.  I no longer think “I can’t have that,” but look at my daily calorie allotment and know today’s not the day. If I eat carefully tomorrow, I can budget it into my meal plan then.

Treading Through Triumph

I’m thrilled to report that our family enjoyed vacation in September and I lost weight during our trip.  All while enjoying ice cream on Disneyland’s Main Street (one of my favorite things to do and I didn’t have to say, “No, I shouldn’t.”).  All while eating In-N-Out Burger two (or maybe even three) times.  Yes, I chose a “protein-style” burger (lettuce-wrapped), and ate fries only once, but I relished the experience with my family and didn’t feel left out or deprived at all.

A dear friend visited last week from Canada. We stopped at many of her favorite US restaurants and I shared wonderful meals with her.  She brought my very favorite unavailable-in-the-states candy bars and I sliced them up and delivered bites to everyone in the house. We loved it and I didn’t feel guilty.  Not a bit.  When my friend left, the scale said I’d dropped another pound, which was not nearly as sweet as the absence of self-reproach I’d experienced throughout her stay. 

Just this morning, I saw the disappearance of the final pound needed to move my BMI classification from “obese” to “overweight.”  I caught a glimpse of myself in a wall-sized mirror in a retail store and didn’t want to move away from the reflection.  In fact, my lips curved into a giant smile as I peeked a second time. 

We Can Do This!

Now I fully realize that two and a half months of successful behavior does not a lifetime make, but I’m a lot farther down the road than I’ve been before.  Pray for me, please.  And I’ll pray for you too.  It’s only in the Lord’s strength that we can do all things.  

Let’s not fail to DO because we’re deceived into thinking that we CAN’T.  Today is always the day to begin a new, God-honoring habit to recognize and embrace God’s best for us. 

This newfound freedom is very high on the list of things for which I’m grateful this Thanksgiving.  Breaking out of bondage and experiencing victory where I’ve battled for years is a savory taste of God’s best. I’m embracing it.  Will you, too?

Your Turn:

Where have you experienced victory in a battle you fought for years?

How is your life different now that chains are broken?

Be Strengthened Today, By His Word,
Psalm 119:28


Continue the conversation by commenting below or on Facebook or Twitter