Last week I shared my first new post in almost two months. I was so encouraged by the response and feedback—clearly many of you relate to either temptations with food or some other temptation in life. If we’re honest, we all struggle with temptation to different degrees and in unique ways. You need to know you’re not alone. And in this current season of coronavirus quarantine, temptations may even be higher than usual.
In part two of this series on wellness, I’m sharing a few “secrets” I’ve learned over the last seven months. I say “secrets” very tongue in cheek. You’ll understand why when you see what I’ve learned! These lessons have served me well in the face of growing temptation. This post will focus more specifically on eating and wellness more than temptations or struggles in general.
What secrets did I learn?
A few weeks ago, I completed a six-month weight loss program at The Cooper Clinic in Dallas, TX. At the encouragement of some friends I decided to take a big step of faith and try something drastic in my weight and eating battle.
If you’ve been around this blog long you know my battle with my weight is one of my biggest challenges and sin struggles. I’ve written candidly about my victories and my failures. While eating is not a sin, my relationship with food has, at times, been sinful. I’ve looked for food to bring satisfaction and comfort in a way God never intended. I’ve run to food to celebrate and in mourning, when I’m anxious, and when I’m tired. Food won’t reject me and brings me comfort in ways no human being can provide.
While eating is permissible (and necessary) God never intends for us to be mastered or controlled by it. Food has let me down over and over and over.
And I know I’m not alone. While I love writing about marriage, relationships, books, ministry, and parenting, nothing gets a bigger response on this blog than when I write about wellness.
In this post I want to share how I’ve experienced six months of victory in my battle with food and eating.
I’ve lost a bunch of weight the last six months. The number doesn’t matter and I still have a VERY long way to go. What does matter is how I’ve lost it—slow and steady. In this post I’ll share how I got healthy the right way. Prepare for your minds to blown (insert sarcasm).
I know, right? Crazy. Mind blown. Eat healthy foods and track what you eat.
That’s it! Do some research and choose healthy foods. For me this has meant a lot of veggies, color on my plate, and a combination of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. I’ve met with a dietician who’s coached me in what I should think about eating. She’s helped me see food is neutral – there’s nothing out of bounds. I have freedom to eat chocolate, candy, and loads of carbs.
In 1 Corinthians 6:12, Paul writes, ““I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything.”
While everything is in bounds and I may be free and “have the right”, she’s helped me see there are good choices, not so good choices, and best choices. I’ve tried to make “best choices” and have expanded my palette to enjoy healthy foods in a new way. I don’t look for food to comfort me or fix my problems. I eat because it’s a gift from God and because it helps me live. It’s cliché, but it’s true: I eat to live, not live to eat.
She’s also encouraged me to track everything I eat. I’ve used My Fitness Pal and have logged every and anything I put into my mouth. I’ve learned to measure my foods and exercise portion control. I plan, eat healthy snacks, and minimize eating at night. I also drink a ton of water—I try to drink half my body weight in ounces of water every day.
Logging my food has been the keystone habit that’s helped me see how much I eat. What I thought was 1 serving of popcorn or chips turned out to be 3 servings! I’ve learned to identify my bad habits and replaced them with better habits.
I can certainly write much more here, but the bottom line and the key to my weight loss has been logging/tracking my food and making good decisions. No pill, drink, or eating plan: simply making good choices and realizing I have the self-control needed to not be mastered by food. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), not a skill I need to muster up or white knuckle my way through.
Exercise and sleep.
Here’s the second thing that will blow your mind: exercise and move your body.
While I’ve tried to stay active for a long time, I upped my workout game. I do something physical every day. Most days I walked or used the elliptical machine. Some days I walked outside and other days on a treadmill. With all gyms closed now due to the coronavirus, I’m walking 1-2 hours every day outside.
As much I dislike it, I started doing weights and resistance machines to help build muscle. I stopped writing so I could exercise more (that’s partly why I’m only releasing 2-3 posts every month instead of 5-6). And, I said no to speaking opportunities, social events, and ministry gatherings so I could focus on taking better care of my body.
I still need to sleep a lot more—I now average about 6.5 hours of sleep/night, up from 5 hours/night. Yes, I have a long way to go, but at least I’m moving in the right direction. I don’t fully comprehend all that’s involved with sleep, but I do know it’s an activity of trust, where I acknowledge the Lord has created us with a need to sleep.
Wellness is a community sport.
God never intended us to live alone. In Genesis 2:18, the writer of Genesis says, “It’s not good for man to alone.” This is both a marriage and community verse. We need others in EVERY part of life.
In a different way I invited others in to my battle. I openly shared victories and confessed when I hid what I ate or got lazy.
My wife and community group guys get the credit for leading me to do this weight loss program. They got tired of watching me literally kill myself, one meal or snack at a time. They asked me to make a big, bold commitment that cost time and money and they carried my burdens with me (Galatians 6:2). My weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol have all gone down. In addition, I was on the front door of diabetes and I’m marching away from it.
So there you have it. What’s cool about this post is that I wrote the outline of this post 6 months ago when I started my weight loss program. I knew what I needed to do to experience victory. I knew I needed to eat well, exercise, and invite others in. It’s not rocket science. While I greatly benefitted from the expertise and wisdom of experts like a dietician and trainer, I knew what I had to do to win.
I know many of you have been in this battle for a long time. And to be clear I’m STILL there with you. I am not done. But I’m filled with hope for victory in wellness for the first time in years. Eat right, move your body, and invite others in.
I’m finding right now in the challenges that come with being quarantined, that I need to control what I can control. So much is out of our hands right now, but no one is forcing food down my throat, telling me how to exercise, or preventing me from bringing others into my life. When life is so out of control, you and I can make “best decisions” when it comes to health and wellness.
In Part 3 of this series I’m going to talk more about the role of community and the importance of keystone habits.
How can I pray for and encourage you in this battle?
What has worked for you in your efforts to get well?
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