Lose Weight With Faith
Still Searching for a Real Weight-Loss Solution?
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." Matthew 5:6
In this Hub, I am talking about how God wants us to love our body, in its present size, no matter what. That is not to say you should never attempt to lose weight. You should desire to do as much as you can do to take the best care of your body. You should engage in regular physical activity to help maintain good health, and you should not be a glutton about food. Remember the last line of the Beatitudes where Jesus says, “Ye are the light of the world.” This Hub is about not allowing anyone to turn your light off (not even you), no matter what weight or size you are right now. Instead of simply wanting to lose weight, your strongest desire should be to love yourself better. You should want to take better care of your body so that you can maintain your health.
Two Choices--In a Nutshell
After many years of searching for answers to my life-long weight dilemmas and drama, I one day came to realize that the solution to my weighty problems, ultimately, came down to two choices: (1) I could continue believing that physical weight was my only problem, or (2) I could ask God to help me to discover how to love myself and my body in a way that would bring me greater health, allowing me to live happily with me, no matter what the scales said about my weight.
Option Two represented a new challenge. It was filled with potential for a chance at a new life; a new kind of happiness I’d never known before. It represented a chance for me to tap into a Higher Power to triumph over something I'd always found to be one of the greatest struggles of my life. Option Two was filled with the promise of hope for a new path to spiritual bliss.
Option One, on the other hand, represented the enticing and satisfying comfort of routine. It was the status quo, the devil I knew. It was the same old beguiling melody I'd danced to for years, a familiar song owned by God's fallen angel--the best Pied Piper of them all. Habitual and non-threatening, I could have Option One without changing anything about my M. O., my method of operation for losing weight. It's beauty was that it didn't offer any new challenges. It wasn't filled with new promises for hope, new chances, or anything new. It was the same old, same old, and that's what made it shine. And, sadly, for too many years I continued to cling tightly to Option One. The comfort of routine, the serenity of not having to change my M. O., it was all just too easy, and I embraced it wholeheartedly, cleaving to it as though it was manna from Heaven.
If you're someone who has searched for a way to control your weight, for many years, you might see yourself in something I've said. You might know there is something else you need to be doing to save your life; something you can start doing to gain health, instead of continuing to fight losing battles while always struggling to lose weight. You might already know you need something other than Option One.
Have you realized that you are free to choose a new path, a new life of setting new goals and achieving more? You know you need more than a plan that helps you lose weight only to gain it all back again. Why? Because as you were losing weight on the last plan you tried, you failed to gain what it really takes to keep the weight off. Because you've realized that until you make a plan for gaining health, instead of clinging to plans for losing weight, you will continue to ride on a roller coaster of defeat while being a living, breathing, walking statement of self-loathing.
Yes, choosing to stay with Option One is choosing to live on a weight-gain/weight-loss roller coaster. It is a dizzying, unbalanced, fuzzy-headed existence that will take you to some very high heights and some very low depths, and it will always bring you back to the same starting point.
Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy
Living on the dieting-and-weight-loss roller coaster will cast you as the ANTAGONIST in your own life story. In writing fiction, the antagonist is the adversary, the person who is opposed to the protagonist, the hero or heroine of the story. The antagonist fights against the protagonist, and is a story's "bad guy."
When I lived as the antagonist in my own life, I existed in a state of constant denial. Clinging hopelessly to Option One, even though I had full-length mirrors in my home, I learned how to look straight into them, and still not see the person I needed to see. My image was staring me right in the face, head-on, but as a “Queen of Denial,” I could not see that my real problem was not what I weighed or how I looked at all. My real problem was the need to learn to love myself unconditionally. So, when I was looking at my mirror image, I wasn't really seeing me at all. I might have been focusing my eyes on what the mirror was revealing, but what I failed to see was that I was too focused on how I looked and what I weighed to pay any attention at all to what I really needed.
During my unenlightened years, I was not able to accept as sincere any compliments about any aspect of my appearance. For example, if someone would say, “that’s a pretty dress you’re wearing,” at a time when I was wearing "plus-sized" clothing, I would hear the words of the compliment, and I’d say “thank you,” but I always felt as though the compliment giver was really offering an expression of sympathy. I felt that it would have been more sincere for the giver to say something like “Gee I’m so sorry you’re so fat that you can’t wear regular size clothing, but I’m really glad you found something big enough for you to wear that doesn't look hideous on you.”
I know it sounds silly, but that’s how I felt. I don't know if anyone else has ever felt that way about a compliment, but that's how I often felt. Instead of accepting a good thought as a gift, an acknowledgement of my appearance as being pleasant to someone else, I interpreted compliments in a convoluted way; as expressions of “pity.” That way, I could relegate them to being just one more vehicle driving me to feel badly about myself. But, with insight gained from reading and studying the word of God, I learned that when you don’t feel good enough about yourself to truly and freely accept someone’s compliment, it means that deep down inside, you don’t feel deserving of the compliment. Because I could not appreciate myself in the size I was, I gained even more weight from stewing in the misery of not loving myself unconditionally.
I was allowing the secular world’s ideas about weight, obesity, and worldly standards of beauty to dictate how I felt about myself. The negative "translations" I got from hearing positive words were actually coming from inside of me. I was the one who was always engineering ways to keep feeling defeated and depressed about the size of my body. And even though I knew that secular society places way too much emphasis on appearance, and not enough emphasis on character, I still held myself “hostage.” I denied myself the love I needed from me, and I was determined to deny me that love until I could reduce the size of my body; until I could reach a weight that was more in line with worldly standards of female beauty.
Seek to Learn More About "The Greatest Love of All"
Learning to love yourself truly is the greatest love of all. As I began to study the Bible in earnest, I began learning lessons from the Greatest Teacher of All. That's when I discovered what I needed to give myself, and what had been missing from all the things I’d tried in the past when it came to losing weight and keeping it off.
And, with those previously missing components came permission to feel the pain of what I’d given up or lost out on due to years of living a life without loving myself completely and unconditionally. As I learned to hunger and thirst for the righteousness of God, I finally started to realize my very life was a gift to me every day, from God. I knew that if I was truly grateful for the gift of life, I could not keep looking at it--and the hope and possibilities it represented, as being “not good enough.” I had to learn to be thankful for the life God has given me, and I had to learn to live my life on purpose every day, in order to find happiness in God, and in order to experience the greatest love of all.
By studying Holy Scripture, I was guided to the realization that there was a new way to move forward with my life. I knew I could embrace it, but first, I had to say good-bye to some of the relics of my past. I had to permit myself to grieve:
- For the loss a loving, energetic young life that should have been lived with great love for who I was, instead of as someone who was constantly unhappy about what she weighed.
- For the loss of not accepting dates, as a teenager and as a young woman, from guys who truly liked me for who I was, because I was always holding out for the day I'd be slim enough to attract the “popular” guys that all the other girls wanted to date.
- For the loss of ever feeling truly young and beautiful as a young woman beginning my career, because I always compared myself to the standards of beauty embraced by my favorite secular magazines. Those magazines gave me no reason to feel good about the size I was when I wasn't starving myself, and I believed they were right.
- For not having been thankful for blessings, for not cherishing my mind and my personality, or anything I accomplished, because it all paled in comparison to wanting to possess standards of beauty set by Hollywood and shallow people. The very people who said there was an acceptable size for a beautiful woman to be if she wanted to be accepted as beautiful.
Every year of my life from about age 16 until age 36, I made exactly the same New Year’s resolution, “I’m going to lose the weight this year, for good.” Finally, around age 37, it got to be so redundant and unbelievable, that I stopped resolving to do it, even though I knew, in the past, I'd always recited my resolution with heartfelt sincerity.
Through the years, in between the New Year’s resolutions and on my days off from self-pity, I would try different weight-loss programs. From Weight Watchers™ to Richard Simmons to Jenny Craig™, to the Atkins Diet™, to Slim Fast Plan™, and even diet-candy plans. I tried everything. From fasting and semi-fasting, and almost every fad diet that came along. From the all-protein diet to the rice and fruit diet to the fiber soup diet (vegetables with lots of fiber cooked into a soup); you name it, I tried it. And throughout all these diets, I exercised. I was indoctrinated early in life with information about the importance of exercise, and fortunately for me, that is something that has stayed with me.
As I engaged in many and varied exercise and diet programs and routines, I would sometimes see amazing results from my efforts. At other times I’d see no results at all. But through it all, there was one thing that would become a surety, from the first weight-loss battle I engaged in until I found myself weighing nearly 300 pounds. And that was that no matter how much or how little I lost, I was sure to gain it all back again, and sometimes more than I started with. And as the weight came back, so did the cycle of dieting and packing and piling new items of hurt and humiliation into my already overstuffed personal storage container of misery.
Another thing that remained constant was a feeling that there was something I needed to discover in order to find peace with my body and myself. And then one day I discovered something important. Just as Dorothy found out in the Wizard of Oz after telling everyone how much she wanted to go home, I too discovered that I had the power all along. I already had the ability to take control of my own life, and that power was enveloped inside the need to learn how to love myself, unconditionally.
The funny thing about it is, somewhere deep inside, I think I knew I had the power all along, because I knew that God loved me. But I had to learn that not acknowledging my need for continuous guidance from Jesus Christ is what chained me to victimizing myself as a rider on the dieting roller coaster. I always had the power, but I kept looking outside of myself for answers that God taught me were on the inside of me already. I had to understand that God’s love is the only thing that can empower me to love myself, unconditionally. And it was not until I was able to truly comprehend this truth that I was able to become self-controlled, rather than allowing standards set by other people to control the way I felt about myself.
With the help of God, I became able to see that I am controlled by my own mind, not by other people, other things, or other situations and events in my life, past or present. That’s why I know in order for you to get where you want to get, physically and emotionally—off the diet roller coaster, and into a comfort zone about your body, you need to realize God has given you dominion over your earthly body. You control it. Your mind and how you choose to use it is controlled by you, and not by others, past or present. Only you can learn what you need to know about yourself, and only you can ask God to help you to learn these things. Other people can help guide you to the truth, but you have to learn and apply the lessons yourself.
God Loves You Just The Way You Are
God loves you. He is not waiting until you lose 5, 10, 20, or 50 pounds before He can love you. He loves you right now, just as you are. So don’t listen to negative talk about you, your size, or your weight, from anyone. Not even from you. Remember, in the Beatitudes, Jesus says “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” Therefore, if you are thirsting after the righteousness of God, you are on a quest for God's idea of perfection. That means you are not already perfect as a human being, and God does not expect you to be. That means it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of or says about you, your weight, how you look, or what size you wear. That means you cannot wait until tomorrow to begin to love you. It means you have to love you now, just as you are. Right now.
You are God’s creation, and that encompasses every inch or centimeter of you, just as you are. You are not perfect, but no one is; not even those people who would hold you to some unholy standard of what constitutes beauty. God made us all in His image, as human beings, and God does not make any mistakes or errors. The way that you look right now is exactly as you should look at this moment in time, because God has a plan and a path for your life—physically and spiritually. There are things you need to learn in life that you can only learn from being in the body you’re in right now. If you were in a different body, you could not learn the lessons God has for you at this time in your life.
It’s time to focus your attention on God and the lessons He wants you to learn, so that you can move on in your Christian journey on earth. If you are not able to truly love and accept yourself right now, as you are this very minute, then it could be that before allowing you to change what you weigh, God is waiting for you to change how you think.
Your Body: A Holy Temple of God
Your body is a temporary, physical embodiment for a spiritual being with an immortal soul. God placed you on earth in a human body, and you should be treating your body as though you are protecting it for God. Why? Because you need to use this "temporary housing" to do what He placed you on earth to do. Therefore, you have a holy purpose for being, and you need your holy temple to fulfill that purpose. You should not abuse your body or harm it in any way unless you want to say to God that you are not pleased with His creation. God loves you, and He wants you to love you too.
To begin to truly love the real you, you must take away all "conditions" for loving you. You cannot allow anything to stand between you loving you, and that means you must learn to take the best care that you can of your body, because it is a Holy Temple on loan from God. Believe this: If you cannot find it in your heart to love yourself as you are now, it will be very difficult for you to begin caring for your body the way you need to in order to improve your health and make positive changes in your body weight.
Your body is the vessel in which your spirit resides while you are on your earthly journey. It is a gift to you from God. Remember, in the Beatitudes, Jesus declared: “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savoir, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world.”
Jesus wants us to feel good about who we are as salt, as the unique flavor we bring to the world. We are not all the same size, shape, or color. Like salt sprinkled on different dishes, our bodily differences help to flavor the earth with different experiences, different dreams, different expectations, different challenges, and different outcomes and victories. And all of these things work together to glorify God when we are willing to accept the calling to put God first in our lives.
God wants you to love your body in its present size. He wants you to learn all you can to help you take better care of your body. Once you begin to do this, barring any other medical condition that could cause you to be overweight, you should begin to lose excess weight. But even before you do that, you need to accept that learning to love you, unconditionally and right now, is more important than anything else. Because no matter what you do to change yourself on the outside, ultimately, you are going to be the same person on the inside. Losing 5, 10, 50, 100, or even 200+ pounds is not going to change who you are. For this reason, you need to work on being the person you know God wants you to be, so you can love yourself, always.
Take it from someone who is living inside of a body that once weighed nearly 300 pounds. I’ve lost weight before, and once went from a dress size 20 down to a size six in less than a year. But I eventually gained back every pound I’d lost, and more, because I didn't learn to love myself unconditionally before I lost the weight.
You see, when you love yourself unconditionally, you make better choices about food, about friends, about activities, and about who and what you will allow to affect you emotionally. You make better choices all around. But until you can see this, you will likely feel that losing weight is all you need to do in order to be happy. And you will be all wrong. And you will probably lose the weight. And you will gain it all back, and more. And guess what? This cycle is going to repeat itself, over and over again, until you realize that what you’re going through is the process God has designed because He is trying to get your attention so that He can teach you something. So, stop. Listen to Him, and learn something.
Add Prayer to Your Daily Routine
If you are overweight and you don’t love yourself now, there’s a good chance you’re not going to love yourself if and when you become a slimmer version of you. You may love the attention you’ll get from people who'll notice your new appearance. Or you might love the way you look in your clothing once your body is slim and trim. And most of all, you might love being able to buy smaller size clothing. But you still won’t be fulfilled, because you’ll know something is still missing. No amount of money, clothing, hair styles, plastic surgery, or anything else you can purchase will be able to fill the void in your life caused by not loving yourself—unconditionally. I've found that adding prayer to your daily life can help, so here are some of my prayer activities that I hope will bless and help you:
- Every morning when you rise, ask God for the willpower you will need to apply self-control to your day. Pray for guidance in making the best choices for nourishment and for physical activity. Ask Him to inspire you to want to take better care of your body, so that you can be physically and mentally empowered to do His will while living your life on purpose.
- Ask God to guide you to what you need to do to overcome constant cravings for unhealthy food or snacks. Pray that He will help you to keep in mind that food is to be consumed for fuel, and not as recreation. Ask Him to help you make better choices for your nutritional needs.
- Pray for guidance toward the knowledge and understanding you need to begin to see how the adversary can use food in a beguiling way. Just as he tried to tempt Jesus to turn stones into bread, he can tempt you and me to overindulge, to see food as something to be worshiped; something that is a constant reward for misery. Ask God to help you remove this "rotten" thinking from your mind, so that you can see food in a way that is healthy, so that you can use it to improve your health.
- Remember to thank God every day for empowering you to exercise self-control throughout the day. Before you close your eyes to go to sleep at night, make sure you have acknowledged your need for God's guidance and strength. Thank Him for being there with you and for you, for loving you fully and completely, even when you find it difficult to love yourself.
Get closer to God, and you will begin to feel empowered by His presence in your life. As you begin to believe more in the power of God, you will begin to believe more in His power to empower you. You will learn to love yourself with no strings attached, just as God loves you. Then, before you know it, you will have discovered that the best way to lose weight and keep it off is to focus on loving you enough to do all you can to keep your body strong, and in good health.
© 2012 Sallie B Middlebrook PhD