Part 1 of a 2-Part Series on Losing and Managing Weight
If the cover photo and title of this article got your attention, the chances are you are struggling in this area. Feeling unattractive and dealing with the low energy, physical limitations, and the ailments associated with being overweight can lead to depression, eating disorders, and other mental health issues. In this portion of a two-part series I am not going to point you to another diet but instead, I offer lifestyle strategies I use myself, and which support lasting success!
A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. – Proverbs 16:9Like us if you are enjoying this content.
1) Seek God’s Counsel
The very first step to losing weight or setting up a long-term weight management plan is to consult God’s Word and bathe every desire and effort in prayer.
2) Make an Achievable Goal and Write It Down
Once you’ve consulted the Lord, commit yourself to a reasonable goal. Write it down in a notebook or electronic file, on a whiteboard, or wherever it makes sense to you to store this information.
3) Educate Yourself
If you have not already done so, learn about nutrition and a healthy lifestyle. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should read a dozen diet books. While you can certainly review what various “experts” and authors believe, you are likely to be confused by the many contradictions. A healthy eating style will be primarily comprised of what I like to call “God foods.” God foods tend to grow out of the ground or on a bush or tree. They are not packaged, canned, or processed. There are no potato chip trees or Twinkie bushes. Research a wide variety of God foods, their health benefits, and the ways in which they can be prepared.
4) Develop an Individualized Plan
No two people are alike. If you need a plan to follow, I suggest that you write your own diet. It should include only those foods and dishes that you actually like, and that reflect your personal nutritional philosophies and convictions. You can borrow from a variety of sources, but be sure that your plan makes sense to you.
5) Stop Weighing Yourself
Seriously, unless you struggle with denial, just stop. How you look and feel in your body and your clothes provides you with enough information. Stop obsessing about those fickle numbers and focus on improving your health and vitality. Drop two pant sizes versus dropping pounds.
6) Make It Fabulous
If you don’t LOVE what you are eating, you will probably not stick with it. This is one reason why diets fail. Consider creating a binder or PC folder in which you can insert the recipes and meal ideas that you have tried, that taste amazing, and that are good for you. Look for recipes that “healthify” your all-time favorite dishes and comfort foods. By all means, try new things, but do not put anything into the binder that is just “okay.” Only include only foods you cannot wait to taste.
7) Give Your Taste Buds a Chance to Adapt
Adopting a healthy eating style when you’re accustomed to standard American fare, or downright junk food, can be challenging and takes time. Super sweet, super salty, and super fatty “pseudo foods” can overwhelm your taste buds and lead to an under-appreciation of the natural sweetness, saltiness, and fattiness of God foods. If you are unimpressed the first time you try a particular God food, try it again after working your plan a while and see whether your assessment does not improve.
8) Use Seasoning Instead of Fat
Reducing or eliminating butter, oil, and frying when cooking may not be missed at all if the food is jazzed up with the right seasonings or condiments. Research and experiment.
9) Focus On What You WILL Eat, Not What You Can’t Eat
Psychologically, it is usually more pleasant to try to do something positive, rather than to focus on avoiding something you know you shouldn’t do but really want to do. For instance, instead of dodging sweets all day, concentrate on incorporating healthy foods that support your goal. Let’s say you decide to consume three servings of fruit and five servings of vegetables a day. In doing so, you may actually crowd out many of the more undesirable food choices out there.
Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
10) Eat Intentionally
Anything can be consecrated to the Lord and eating habits are no exception. A strong, healthy body and a long life of service are useful to God for kingdom purposes. But there are also other reasons to be intentional about eating. Instead of “giving in” to a food (particularly those you crave but you know you should limit), exercise your freedom to choose and “intend” to eat it instead. This has a much different psychological feel. For instance, do you want dessert? Are you in the mood for chips and salsa for dinner? Adjust your food consumption in order to make room for it, and plan to eat it, rather than caving in, overeating, and feeling like a failure. As long as your dietary deviations are only occasional, there shouldn’t be any dire health or size gain repercussions.
11) Save Food for Later
You don’t have to finish everything on your plate or eat everything offered to you immediately. When facing an enormous portion of a dish at a restaurant, eat half and take the rest home for lunch the following day. In this way, you enjoy it twice rather than once and you avoid the overeating that leads to unwanted weight gain and negative feelings. Are you too full to eat the amazing-looking dessert at a friend’s dinner party? Ask your hostess if you can take a serving home to enjoy at a later time.
12) Give It Away or Throw It Away
During the holidays, I have a rule. I am free to sample all the treats on the day of a holiday, but the following day, any leftovers go either to the office, to my friends, or into the trash. No matter what the eating situation, starving children in third world countries will not be affected by whether you eat something or waste it. What will be affected is your body and potentially your resolve to achieve your health goals.
How Christian Counseling Can Help You on Your Weight Loss Journey
Are you an emotional eater? Do you feel addicted to particular foods or have destructive eating habits that are resistant to change? Have you carried around excess weight your whole life? Are you depressed, anxious, lonely, or your history includes trauma, loss, or illness? If you identify with any of these issues, it is easy to understand why weight problems are often the result of a perfect life “storm,” involving biological, psychological, social, and spiritual components. If you are struggling to make sense of your weight problem or body image issues, I can help you comb through your history and identify hindrances that are keeping you from the whole-person health that God intends for you. I am not a skinny person who has never had a weight problem. Rather I overcame mine and I would love to help you overcome yours! Two heads are often better than one – make an appointment today!
All photos courtesy of Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0) – “Chocolate Goodness,” courtesy of Frankieleon; “Cooking,“ courtesy of Dave Bleasdale