It’s day 200 of my picture a day weight loss journey and… wait, WHAT?!?!?!? DAY 200!!!!!! Can you believe it?!?!?!?!?
This is all kind of surreal for me. I’m one of those gals who, by the time I started this journey, had tried just every kind of diet and exercise regimen under the sun. Nothing worked, nothing stuck, nothing helped. I think I had actually begun to believe that nothing ever would.
And then, one day when I was doing my quiet time, I read the following verse and I understood it for the first time in my life:
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:27
It hit me like a ton of bricks. Although Paul was not specifically talking about fitness — he was addressing the issues of legalism that were dividing the church regarding what Jews were allowed to eat and drink as God’s chosen people — the words themselves stopped me dead in my tracks.
Discipline. Subjection. Disqualified.
I had grown quite comfortable in the lie that being the mother of three small children meant I was exempted from needing to be disciplined or bring my body under submission rather than me submitting to it. There’s so much about pregnancy and child birth that is outside of our control, right? From the cravings, to the digestive issues, to the stretch marks, you name it. Being a woman who bears children kind of means we get a free pass to let ourselves go because we can’t control all of the things that change about our bodies as we carry and delver children.
After having my third child, I was the heaviest I’d ever been. Rounding 250 with essentially no muscle to speak of, digestive issues, a pathetic immune system, an inability to engage in even the simplest of physical activities (like, walking or getting myself upstairs), knee issues, back issues, chronic fatigue, you name it and I struggled with it.
But then I read this verse and it changed my life.
I had been believing the lie that there was nothing I could do about my health because I was just too far gone. There was no possible way for me to discipline my body or to bring it under my submission so that my testimony of God before others would be sound.
And it was true. There was nothing I could do to bring about the insurmountable amount of change that needed to occur – it was something only God could do.
So, right then and there, I thanked the Lord for illuminating my understanding of this verse, confessed of living a lifestyle devoid of discipline, especially concerning the stewardship and upkeep of my body (His temple), and begged Him to empower me to change COMPLETELY.
That was December 19th, 2016. The first day of my journey.
Since then, God has done a miracle in my life. I started learning about nutrition, clean eating, and exercise. I won’t lie, that first week was hellish. I could barely keep up with the simplest at home cardio workout, I felt like I was going to die, and I hated throwing away all of the sweets and treats that had overrun my pantry. But it needed to be done. An overhaul this extreme meant making big, serious changes and I couldn’t allow myself to try keeping things around that worked in complete opposition to what God was trying to do in my heart and life.
I’ve since found balance and the right kind of eating and exercise routine, but the first few months were marked by a lot of extremity and confusion.
Once I found what did work for me, though, I stuck with it. Although I tried a slew of different things that didn’t work that well for me, these are the things that did:
- No fast food
- No processed food
- High vegetable intake
- Moderate dairy and fat intake
- Moderate meat/poultry intake
- Low carb intake
- Very, very low sugar intake
- TONS of water
- A weekly treat meal is a MUST
- Strive to exercise 30-45 minutes 5-6 days a week
- Track inches, not pounds
- Strive for balance in all things
- Progress, not perfection
On this “plan,” over the last 6.5 months, I’ve lost 3 dress sizes, 13.5 inches, 3% body fat, and 18 pounds.
More importantly, though, this is what I’ve GAINED:
- A greater understanding of God and His best for my life
- The ability to play with my children
- Decreased lower back pain
- Increased digestive regularity
- Decreased pain during menstrual cycle
- Increased confidence during sex
- Greater flexibility, strength, and stamina
- Increased discipline in many other areas of my life
- Increased energy
- Courage to try things I never would have considered in the past
- So, much more!
It may not work for everyone, but it sure does work for me. And if I can encourage anyone to start their own journey or press on in their current one, then I’m doing what I believe God calls all of us to do – sharpen each other like iron sharpens iron.
So, if you’re like I was six months ago, wondering where or how to begin, keep these things in mind:
- This is much more of a spiritual battle than a physical one. Surrender to and depend on God. He alone can equip and empower you to discipline yourself and bring your body under submission so that your testimony for Him won’t be disqualified before others.
- It’s a marathon not a sprint, especially if you’ve let yourself go like I had. Progress will be slow, but if you are faithful, it will be SURE!
- Figure out what works best for you and your family in terms of food. Stay away from fast and processed foods as two things that will automatically change things for the better. It won’t be easy, but it will work!
- Be patient, flexible, and wise with yourself as you figure out what works best for you. What works for one person might not work for the next, and, as your body starts to change, you will have to adapt to it in new and different ways.
- It doesn’t have to be as hard or extreme as other people make it seem. Start small and be faithful. Do what you can with what you have based on your specific restraints, responsibilities, and circumstances. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, especially not people who are “already there.”
- Take progress pictures and measure in inches NOT pounds. The camera and your clothes are SO MUCH BETTER at tracking victories than that darn scale. I learned that the hard way. As fat decreases, muscle mass increases, sometimes making it seem like your gaining weight when you’re not. Just look at the pictures! You won’t see progress right away, but, if you are faithful and consistent, you WILL!
- If you totally botch a meal, or three, or 20, don’t quit! This is a lifestyle change, not a diet. If you mess up, just start again the next meal or the next day. You can’t undo all your hard work with one bad meal, or one bad day, or one bad week. But you can (and you will) undo all your hard work, if you quit. Keep at it! Struggling is part of your journey too – don’t try to exclude it from the process! Accept it, learn from it, grow from it, and move on.
- Find yourself a solid support system. Whether that’s just your husband or BFF, or a whole group of like-minded people, you can’t do this alone – especially since it’s a spiritual battle too. Find people who will pray with and for you and encourage you along the way. You won’t last very long if you don’t have people you can rely on to be excited about your victories and to help you through your setbacks.
- HAVE FUN! Eat things you enjoy and find exercises that thrill you. Don’t try to make someone else’s eating plan or exercise routine work for you, especially if you hate it. I have found that free, YouTube, at home workouts work best for me — I highly recommend HASfit, Kit Rich, and Yoga with Adriene for Beginners as places to start if you just don;t know what to search for on YouTube. After that, the possibilities are literally endless! — but figure out what you enjoy the most and do that! You shouldn’t hate this process because there’s just no need to!
I’m sure there’s more I could say, but this post is getting really long. Just know you’re not alone and because God is able to empower you, you CAN do this!
Until Next Time My Friends,
The Taylor of All Trades