The next few days I am going to document how I lost over 50 lbs in 2010- this is what worked for me- but it begins with 26 years of failure. I hope you are encouraged. Because there is some background here- let me give you the January goal- don't diet yet- eat normal- but SLOWLY begin to get your body in shape. Fuel your body while you build cardio endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility. Your strict diet will not begin until April- so gear your mind for a LONG process and it will happen.
Psychological and Spiritual Factors in Weight Loss:
I need to address the most crucial of all the weight loss factors in my struggle. Losing weight begins on the INSIDE. I have to admit there are some idolatry issues in this. Food can be a powerful idol, it combines with a longing for comfort and desire to be filled. My quest for taste and fullness, pleasure and excess, with no regard for my body as a temple is a huge deal here.
And these idols are so deeply seated in my heart that I am still very much in danger to be lured and trapped yet again.
I remember the horror of reading Philippians 3:18,19 ( For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.) and knowing that was describing me.
The beauty of the gospel was that over time, I was able to say – “Lord, this is me. My only hope is You. I trust in Your death to cover me and the truth of the gospel message to set me free.”
And yet this was a 20 year seemingly unanswered prayer- but I say again and again. The big things- the important things- take decades in God’s timing. You must search Him out and wait and wait and wait- and be willing to be content that His delivery comes at a much different timetable than we can see. But He is faithful.
There are psychological tricks here as well. One is Human Apperception.
In psychology, apperception is "the process by which new experience is assimilated to and transformed by the residuum of past experience of an individual to form a new whole." In short, it is to perceive new experience in relation to past experience.
A rich child and a poor child walking together come across the same ten dollar bill on the sidewalk. The rich child says it is not very much money and the poor child says it is a lot of money. The difference lies in how they apperceive the same event – the lens of past experience through which they see and value (or devalue) the money.—Christopher Ott (source wikipedia)
They way this impacted me was the man in the mirror. I would gain 5 or 10 lbs and look at myself and feel disgust or anger or shame or hurt. Then I would lose 5 lbs and see myself in the mirror and feel such victory.The view was always an extreme; a warped stretch of the reality.
Photographs disturbed me more than the mirror. Someone would show me a picture of me and I would feel so bad about how heavy I looked. A year or so later, I would feel the same pain at a new photo and look at last years and wonder why I couldn’t at least look like last year.
The amazing difference was in '10 year' pictures. I would look at an old picture (that I previously thought was disgusting) and long for being that way again.
All of this though was a sinful human heart being swayed by my sinful and tainted senses. For example: if my wife told I looked good, my image was accepted and I was OK. If she told me I had gained weight, it pushed me into that dark hole.
It is important to remind ourselves that we are not regarded by others in these extremes. I rarely notice the weight change on others and in the long run, I don't care. If you are reading this right now, don't feel bad about how you look. You are you- people know you as you are- and though we think that appearance is something that indicates acceptance or rejection, it is never as important as we think. A warm smile and bright eyes and a loving spirit shows through way more than what your body shape is. Stop beating yourself up.
Without sounding 'hokey'- I also sensed that the enemy used quiet heart whispers to further push the pain. There is a demonic part to the inner voices that say, “You’ll never defeat this” or “You’re just a pig” or “How can you say you glorify God when your temple is a wreck”. Those thoughts were darker and deeper that just my heart. How that works, I just don’t know. I don’t think it is Satan himself, but the dark forces of evil tend to do these types of whisper campaigns to torture believers.
About 3 years ago, I began to become more aware of these battles and began to confront them. As I began to feel some small victories and growing in confidence, the battle pressed harder. I had some vicious attacks come through false accusations, misunderstandings, gossip, and deadly rumors.
But God kept picking me up and I began to fight consistently and well. Not in words so much as in deep prayer and positive attitudes. When the battle was really raging I would get up each morning and say: “No matter what the devil or world throws my way today- I will rejoice- I am a son of the King of the universe- Jesus Christ my Lord loved me- He died for me- I am a blessed man- I am overflowing with joy, hope, and love.”
I also would begin to pray for people who were being used in attacks toward me. I wasn’t growing bitter toward them. The largest victory came when I was so full of mercy at those who misunderstood or disliked me. I felt true love for them. I prayed for their health, I spoke well of them to others, I looked to serve them, and when they wounded me, I copied my Lord’s prayer “Father forgive them, they know not what they do”. Now please, I did not do this perfectly… I got angry, at times, in the fight, I slipped at times, I accepted that I sometimes deserved the attacks- But the Holy Spirit deserves ALL THE CREDIT- as I began to get better in this fight.
I wrote some blog postings during March of 2010. It captures a lot of what I learned in this three year concentrated and intense spiritual battle. I encourage you to spend some time in these if you have experienced some of these same feelings of shame and disappointment in yourself. Remember that you will suffer tribulation in this world and learn how to keep your joy in spite of circumstances.
Ok I have taken a long time talking about this ‘philosophy stuff’.
But I have to reiterate all of this. Do you see the long buildup? Do you see the deed seated roots of this problem? Do you understand it is not just physical? It is not so simple to say:’Oh well just stop eating and exercise'- and it is offensive when a thin person asks if you want to lose weight and you say yes and then they say "Push that fat butt away from the table."
Also- without the life changing, Holy Spirit given, gospel message- what hope do we have?
Jesus loves me- fat or thin. His death covers all of my failings and sin. Can you embrace that? It is hard… so many people say “I just can’t accept that- it seems too easy” but my friend I am crying to you again- YOU CANNOT EARN GOD”S FAVOR. YOU CANNOT BE GOOD OR DISCIPLINED. YOU CANNOT DO GOOD WORKS AND GO TO HEAVEN.
It is a sheer gift- we call it grace.
I could care less if this inspires you to lose weight. My desire is for all of us to fall on our knees and cry out to the God of mercy and say to Him: LORD- I give this to You! You are God! You are in control. Take this… take me.. I cannot do any good. If you marked my sin or counted it against me- I am in trouble- But YOU LOVE ME- your death proves it- your resurrection validates Your sacrifice. My only hope is Christ. In Christ alone- I have FAITH in HIM- I trust HIM- I don’t even understand how it all works- but I lay every thing I have- my life- my eternity- my affections on Him.
And when it is all through- at the end of the day- what I just did is by HIM TOO! What a God! What a Savior! How can I not proclaim this to the world! What a message!
Finally- the fruit of this latest victory came at the exact right time. It was God's timing. He got me ready for it. And now I see that He had a BIG reason for giving me this victory after 26 years of failing.
So I will list it out like this:
STEP 1- SPIRITUAL GROWTH.. I began to apply the Word more, pray more, and fight
STEP 2- RELEASING FEAR AND PAIN FROM DAILY LIFE..The realization of this was when in 2009 we finished 3-7 in football. I can't remember a time that this had ever happened to me. Every coach in America fears these types of years.
But, it was a blessing to understand that I'M OK- I DID NOT DIE!. Instead of running to food and poor self esteem I actually found a huge desire to get better.
I stood in front of the new group of seniors in Jan of 2010 and said “Watch me- you are going to see me change- I am going to work and compete- follow my lead” and I began to take it day by day- but I was determined to be the hardest working person on our campus- and I went after it mentally, physically, and spiritually. It felt good to fight! Everyday as I ran, all I did was to pray for those seniors... I wanted them to have a great year and I wanted to lead everyone I could by my example.
STEP 3- CELEBRATING SMALL VICTORIES- I did not gain weight during the 2009 season- which was significant.It did not dawn on me until after my meeting with the rising seniors.
STEP 4- FACING THE REALITY OF POOR HEALTH – I knew my blood pressure was growing and my wife kept up her concern- this was a silent killer- and what would my family do?
STEP 5- GETTING INTO THE ROUTINE- I had a good exercise routine going- I was finally healthy enough to run without pain and smart enough to know how to pace myself and cross train. (Take days off, do elliptical training,swim, ride a bike on sunny days). I was also smart to not start a diet in January. I decided to let my body get in shape for a month.I needed to fuel my workouts. The plan was to get an initial weight in Feb and begin to slowly change eating habits. I started with breakfast every morning, a lot of water, and eating 5 or 6 small meals a day. I did this Feb and March and I lost about 10 lbs.
GOD'S MIRACLE –In April 2009- Out of the blue- one of my best friends – inspired, persuaded, and sponsored me to join Medi-Weightloss in Brentwood in April- it was a perfect time of year to begin the journey. I can't say enough of what he did for me. I hope I have the means one day to do this for someone else.
The other things had to have taken place for this to work. But I do know that my commitment to not let my friend down and the great plan at Medi was huge. I will talk more about what I learned from them tomorrow.
From March 15- June 30- I lost an additional 39 lbs. The fun part was that as the days got warmer and I saw real weight coming off, I got great motivation to keep going. When I finally had my metabolism and eating right I was losing about 2-4 lbs a week.
Without the gospel- without the timing- without all of the above- it would have been a waste of time. Please see that this is a process- a long time… a lot of failure. Then, at the perfect moment, God takes over- HE IS NEVER LATE- BUT HE IS RARELY EARLY.
Tomorrow I am going to share a ‘diet’ plan.