Since January I have been on, yet again, another weight loss journey. I have lost 22 lbs so far. This is not my first attempt and its not my first time having success. It is a mountain I have been marching around for years now. I am always hesitant to share or talk about it, because failure hurts. It is something you can see, something I wear.
It wasn't until several years back I started realizing it was more than the fact that I carried extra weight, it was something I was refusing to give God access to. I liked to compartmentalize areas of my life, God is in control of this area, this one over here, giving some access here, but this weight and eating area what does He care about that? But if you know Jesus at all He is never satisfied with some, He didn't come to sit in his designated holy room, He comes to take over it all. To love you in it all, even the parts you despise about yourself. The parts that we don't see as presentable and cry over because we don't know how to make ourselves better about.
When I realized He wanted into all of that it I started seeing and then confessing how little I had control over it. I would work hard, lose the weight, and then eventually relax into my "regular" way of eating, gaining it all right back.
My fear of failure or my fear of not knowing what to do with success when I got it always ended in self sabotage. It was frustrating and I felt like finding real long lasting answers was impossible. I wanted God to wave a magical wand over me and I would wake up with a skinny persons metabolism and way of thinking about food. That's not what happened.
I knew this was what the Bible referred to as a "stronghold" in my life, something I was unable to free myself from. I began to fast and pray over it asking Him to set me free, and owning the fact that food controlled me and not the other way around. But the thing was it wasn't like in a mean hurt my body way, it didn't feel like that anyway. It looked and felt like celebrating and letting lose and treating myself because I deserved it, comforting myself because I was stressed or tired and it felt exhausting just to make myself stay engaged. Letting go and eating what I wanted felt like freedom. Restricting felt like prison.
How confusing, how could something that held me captive feel so much like freedom?
I recently watched a video on Facebook, I couldn't tell ya now what it was about in context but what was said has burned into my brain. Freedom is found in discipline and routine. Rebelling feels like freedom but it actually traps us in unhealthy patterns, keeping us captive. I had felt the Lord tell me several years ago when I was seeking Him for freedom over this in my life to simply track my food and work out 30 min a day. A simple routine, a simple choice to show up. I can waist time on the most frivolous of things like social media or television, I guess half an hour of my day isn't too bad? Not much effort for freedom.
But our brains have those deep patterns and grooves of thinking, we always go back to them if the Lord doesn't literally renew our minds. The Enemy doesn't want us to be free in this area any more than he wants us to have freedom in any other area. Convincing us God doesn't care about it, we were meant to just be "bigger", we can't say no to all those foods, or that it's too hard or impossible are thoughts he has been barraging some of us with for years. This is our go-to thought pattern. How we think about anything in life will determine where our life goes, ever single time. Eating and health is no different. I began to realize that God not only cared about my eating and my weight, He wanted me to become reliant on Him for my freedom, to walk it out by faith.
So, how do I get all this spiritual, ideology stuff into my real life, effecting my real body? I started to pray. I was honest with the Lord that I just didn't feel like it, I didn't know what to do, I was trapped and afraid. I tried to be as real as possible with Him about how stuck I felt, how hurt it made me feel, what failing over and over again was doing to me. I needed Him to do for me what I could not do, I needed Him to show me what would work for me, what was something that would be effective long term and not just a quick fix or a band wagon. I needed Him, even in this.
I began to research and came across intermittent fasting, which I had already done in my spiritual fasting for a few years during Lent so I knew I could do it. I found that many used counting macro nutrients along with fasting. I immediately felt like this was an answer from the Lord, like He was showing me a way to tackle this that matched who I was and even how I ate. I can get more into the specifics of how all that works if anyone is interested, but the long and short of it was and is that as I started following this way of eating I felt freedom and not that sense of hatred that I have experienced so many times before. This was different than anything I had ever done before, eating more calories of foods I liked and doing less cardio and lifting more heavy weights. No one in my immediate circle of family or acquaintances were doing it, it felt like God lead me to it. I tracked my food and decided I could commit to 30 minutes of working out a day, in my living room. It would just become a part of what I did; spend time with the Lord, work out, clean the house, take out dinner, put in laundry, pick up my son from school, just part of the routine.
The real test will of freedom comes in the ability to maintain it for the long term. I have lost this pretty significant amount and am feeling proud of myself and more comfortable in my clothes, but I still have a ways to go. I notice myself wanting to relax and wanting to disengage, become more loose and eat snacks and fast food all the time rather than just occasionally. This is where the battle begins, because the Lord has taught me in many areas of my life that I have let my feelings boss me around long enough. I may have well said of myself instead of "I walk by faith" that I "walk by feelings". Feelings have nothing to do with faith, I don't have to feel like I love my husband to stay engaged and fighting for our marriage. I don't have to feel happy with my kids to make them dinner. I don't have to feel like taking a shower or brushing my teeth, but I do it. We do so many things in our lives that we don't feel like doing because we know they are best.
What did my son learn in school today? Is he a genius? Can he graduate college? Can he run a company? So if none of those things can be accomplished by one day, even a week, not even by the end of first grade, why bother? It takes to long, its too much effort, stop going. If we looked at schooling like we look at eating and weight loss we would be labeled a true nut job. We know that every day is a small block that leads to the greater picture. Without learning letters, they can't learn to read, they can't write essays, they can't one day become a journalist. It all starts with showing up a little bit every day.
This is what the Lord is showing me. It's not about me having to do two hours of the most grueling workout I can come up with every day of the week in order to see improvement or eventually find freedom, it's about showing up a little bit every day, keeping track of what I am eating and saying no to McDonald's just for this day. Those little choices don't make me skinny, fit, or free the next day or maybe not even the next week, but they are building towards something slowly. In our culture of instant gratification we have lost the art of slowly chipping away at something even when we don't feel like it, even when it's not fun, even when it doesn't bring us instant success.
God cares, and we don't always know how to invite Him into something so personal and often painful. He has shown me that He loves me no matter what I weigh, I am His precious daughter, but its the pain that the weight causes me that bothers Him. My weight has effected every area of my life; my energy for my family and even my responses to them because of that lack of energy, my relationship with my husband and not trusting his love for the body I have labeled "gross", and my self esteem and the words I say about myself, like I have felt so rejected and judged because of the weight that I have used it to hide, to hold back, to withdraw from who I really am, from life.
That may not be your story or even your struggle, but dare to let Him in. He loves us, He wants us to be free.
, by Ashley Jackson