On Getting Healthy

I am not the kind of person who really likes to discuss her weight. However, over the last few months I’ve been opening up about it and sharing some of my struggles. A few friends have asked me what I’ve been doing to achieve a healthier weight, and since this journey is MUCH more than weight loss, I thought I’d share a little here. So here’s my journey, in brief:

1. I was convicted by the Holy Spirit that it was an issue of sanctification.

The first time I realized that I was overweight was at recess in fifth grade. I noticed that my shorts hugged my legs in a way other girls’ shorts didn’t. I was in seventh grade when I started my first diet because I wanted to be skinny like the other girls in my class. I wanted to blend in. It never occurred to me that my weight was unhealthy – all I knew was that it was abnormal.

Eventually I acknowledged that my weight wasn’t healthy, but I wasn’t as concerned with that as I was my body image. When I was a junior staffer on Capitol Hill, I decided that I wanted to date, but knew I couldn’t ever be comfortable dating at my size. So I started modest exercise and made a few modest diet changes. I lost a lot of weight, and I felt fantastic. For the first time, I realized how happy I could be when I wasn’t huffing and puffing all over the place. I knew what healthy was, and I liked it.

And then Jack and I met and fun date night dinners got to be frequent. I got a new job and couldn’t exercise like I had been. Weight steadily piled back on, and then Jack and I got married and I moved back to the Midwest where drive-through food is EVERYWHERE. There is very little in the way of drive-through restaurants in the immediate DC Metro area. So if I got hungry while I was away from home, it was tough luck. But back here, if I got hungry I could just swing through someplace and get a snack. It took very little time for me to regain everything I’d lost. And then I got pregnant – enough said.

You’ll notice throughout that whole narrative I never once described my food intake as sinful. But one day when I was pregnant with our second daughter, I stopped at a drive-through and after placing my order, a thought popped into my head:

“Do you really need that? If you don’t really need that, is consuming it sinful?”

Over the course of my second pregnancy I was increasingly convinced of the sinfulness of over-consumption of anything. I knew that as my kids watched me over-consume, they would have little reason to listen to me when I told them they shouldn’t. I was working this over in my mind when I read the story of Eli, the priest of God who died when he fell over because he was “old and heavy.”

…the story of Eli was a catalyst for me to really start examining my habits and the example they set for our daughters. With God’s help, I am working to change course in a number of areas of my life. I know that ultimately the choices my children make will be theirs, just like Eli’s sons’ choices were their own, but I want to be able to say with confidence that I did what God asked of me as a parent.

The Holy Spirit and the Word of God worked to convince me that I had sin in my life I needed to excise. So I started trying.

2. I started a diet and exercise program.

After we came home from Christmas travels this year, I purged our house of every cookie, full-fat ice cream container, bag of chips – everything. I subscribed to Weight Watchers. I don’t go to the meetings (I know lots of people like the meetings; I just didn’t find them particularly helpful. Also? I have no time). I like Weight Watchers because it’s basically a calorie counting and portion limiting plan, and it’s taught me how to plan my food consumption. I track my food on weekdays. I still make low-point meals on the weekends and don’t go totally overboard (we typically go out once on the weekends), but I take a break from tracking.

We have an elliptical and I try to walk on it every day, and lift hand weights (to this routine) every other day. And – guys, let me be totally honest with you – I do not work really hard. I put the elliptical on the highest resistance setting and just walk. I do not care about achieving a good cardio heart rate. I just aim for the activity. Sometimes if I’m feeling ambitious I’ll run for a few minutes.

I do my best not to be really hard on myself if I don’t get downstairs to work out or if I eat something I shouldn’t (the nice thing about Weight Watchers is if you slip up during the day, you can usually keep within your point allowance if you’re diligent).

3. I pray about my struggles.

Probably unsurprisingly, prayer was not a huge part of my weight struggles until recently in my life. Mostly my prayer in this area was limited to emergency “keep me away from this temptation” prayers. These days, I pray for diligence in this journey and give thanks for the total transformation God is working in my life. (Don’t get me wrong – those emergency temptation prayers TOTALLY still happen! There are still a gazillion drive-through restaurants out here, after all)

I’m incredibly happy to report that since the birth of our second daughter I’ve lost all of the pregnancy weight (from both children) and am down 55lbs. I still have 50lbs to my next goal (assuming no pregnancies), which I hope to reach by November. I am learning so much about myself, and how I’ve used food in the past. But most importantly, I’m learning that there isn’t a sin pattern too tough for God to break if you let Him. As with any story about my life I can tell you, this story is ultimately about Him and His power, glory, and goodness. And it is so exciting to be part of anything God is doing!

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