“In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don't.”
Food is a necessary thing; eat or die, the choice is yours. Literally, we must eat in order to stay alive, but that doesn't mean we should eat whatever we want or however much we want. I had some misconceptions about dieting. When I went on my strict diet at 204 lbs I thought I was going to be consistently hungry, I was wrong. Often, it's not how much you eat, but what you eat! In fact, I am in the maintenance stage of my diet which simply means I can add a few things back into my diet, but I don't get to add cotton candy or Mountain Dew. I do get to add some healthy things that have some of the healthier fats back in and I may need to add more food, but still healthy food.
Sin works a lot like a healthy diet. It isn't the desire for food, sex, comfort, or information about others that is wrong, it is the kind of food, sex, comfort, or information and the manner in which those things are acquired that is wrong. Finding comfort at the bottom of a bottle or from a pill bottle is sin. Sex is good and created good by God, but satisfying ones sexual desires with acts of rape or outside the context of marriage is sin. Acquiring information by means of gossip and spreading it when inappropriate is sin. When it comes to food, a diet is all about getting rid of the wrongs kinds of food and the wrong amounts so that your body has the fuel it needs to perform.
I am sitting at 172 lbs right now and I am trying to stabilize my weight so that I can maintain it. I am actually concerned about how much food I am going to have to eat to maintain my weight, but that doesn't mean I can go back to Mountain Dew and Cotton Candy! I have to eat more of the right kind of foods to provide the right kind and the right amount of fuel for my body. This is why I'm not a fan of cheat days where you can eat whatever you want for a day and go back to your diet. Too often this leads to bing eating junk food.
I know this seems radical, but I had to get radical. Mountain Dew ruled my food world. I would even say it was the sin of gluttony for me. Proverbs 23:19-21 says, "Listen, my son, and be wise, and set your heart on the right path: Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags." Mountain Dew wasn't the only food, there were other culprits, but MD was the worst one. Can I drink soda or Mountain Dew? Nope! Can you? Maybe, but it will take over my life if I drink it. If it won't take over yours fine, but it did mine. What about you? What takes over your life and causes you to do wrong things? Get rid of those things. Followers of Jesus are to walk by the spirit and often that means saying no to the flesh. If food controls your life, go on a diet for the rest of your life. I can have pizza once and a while without sinning or ruining my diet, but I can't have Mountain Dew.
Dieting is about slaying the things that cause you problems and finding the right things to put in your body to live a healthy life. Some things are wrong for everyone, others are a matter if conscience and not being ruled by the flesh (Gal. 5). I've had a lot of people comment about my weight loss, everybody can see that, But I have had to make radical changes to deal with other things in my life that aren't so obvious. Living healthy isn't about moderately eating bad things or moderately participating in sinful behavior, it is about getting rid of it. On both accounts, where I have experienced victory, I am better for it. I'm not missing anything.
In the picture on the right I probably weigh about 240 lbs I got up to 250 lbs at one point. On the left I weigh about 175 lbs. As of this moment I am 173 lbs. I have learned a lot in going from 250 lbs to 173 lbs. One blog post won't cover it all, but here are a few of the important things.
First, for me working out wasn't enough. I have worked out and even done a lot of cardio supplemented by a little weight lifting in the past. I gained muscle working out that way, but I also maintained or even gained weight. Perhaps when a person is younger (depending on their metabolism) they might be able to just add some cardio and be good. For me, as I got older my metabolism didn't cooperate and it didn't work. My body reacted to lifting by adding muscle pretty fast but I also added a lot of weight that wasn't muscle.
Second, I had to be passionate about my workouts. For me that meant MMA. I love doing Jiu Jitsu and Muay Thai and I have become an instructor, as well as a student. Both offer a great work out along with challenging the mind by learning a variety of techniques that take a lot of work to master.
Third, the closer I got to my goal weight the more diet mattered. The first 50 lbs came off with a lot of working out and small diet changes. The last 27 lbs have required a more significant change in diet. I met with a nutritionist to help me figure mine out. Furthermore, when I say diet, I don't mean a short term diet, I mean a change in lifestyle when it comes to the food I eat. I eat a lot of food, but it is combined with significant workouts.
Fourth, it took me 2 1/2 years to lose all the weight with a variety of plateaus and a lot of learning along the way. I'm still learning and my diet will change a little bit in the near future to reflect a maintenance diet, but it will remain a very clean diet for the rest of my life. Losing weight is not a short term project if you want to keep it off, it is a lifetime commitment.
Fifth, I experienced physical injuries, soreness, and a lot of days where I didn't want to do the work, but did anyway. I had time off because of injuries and I will probably have some more of that in the future, but I will stay the course.
Last, it was all worth it. I am healthier, I have endurance, I mentally healthier, my stress level is more manageable, I am experiencing less pain in my joints, I am doing 14ers again without knee pain, I am running 2-3 miles a few times a week. Today I ran two miles went to a kickboxing class with my daughter, and then did an hour and 45 minutes of competition team. I was tired, but I was able to manage it and still feel good. I look better and feel better. If you have been struggling with weight, do what is necessary to deal with it. We ought not worship our physical body, but it taking care of it holds value; our spiritual life is of more value (1 Tim. 4:8).
John Byrne is a pastor who has been spouting off his opinions his entire life (just ask his mom). This little blog is his venue for continuing in this tradition.