Friday, August 26, 2011

Hard Work?

Three years ago this month, I weighed 225.6 lbs and felt terrible. I was lethargic, didn't enjoy physical activity (but was reminiscent of when I did as a kid), and ate too much food - too much of which was poor quality.

Three years ago this month, Steve and I made a commitment to change our health & our lifestyle. I now reside in the 145-149 range, 75-80 lbs lighter than I used to be. I ran in a 5K last year and hope to do at least one more this fall. My blood sugar levels have stabilized and neither Steve nor I have any cholesterol issues any longer. I dropped from a size 20 in denial (I wore an 18 out of protest) to a size 10, sometimes an 8 depending on the article of clothing. Three years later - I'm still not at the ideal weight that my doctors would like to see me at ultimately, but I keep working at it even though I am at a plateau and my doctors are generally pleased with where my health is at. Steve and I feel fantastic.

A question we're commonly asked: What's your secret? How did you do it?

In the age of the obesity epidemic & millions of quick-fix/short-cuts to losing weight, we decided to give it a whirl the old-fashioned way and see if doctors were full of crap or not. We changed our diet habits and started to exercise. As the pounds started to melt off, we celebrated small milestones (200! 175! 150! Holy crap I weigh less and look better than I did in high school!) and kept plugging along. We've been through periods of counting every. single. calorie that has gone into our bodies and now know the secrets to resetting our bodies after a vacation. We go to the gym 5 days/week at least and just recently bought bikes to get out and ride after work and on the weekends. Through commitment and hard work, our lifestyle has completely changed - completely for the better.

So why am I telling you this? 

Recently our good friend John gave his first sermon and in it he talked about faith. I was pumped for him; he serves in the youth ministry alongside us and I knew his energy would lend for a great message that morning. In the middle of his sermon, he started talking about today's Western Culture looking for immediate fixes and how when people want to lose weight there are those who will work for it with diet & exercise, and then there are those who will sit on the couch watching TV using one of those contraptions that are supposed to give you a six-pack while you do nothing.



Then he said this statement that has stuck with me since Sunday:

"Jesus is NOT an 'Ab Zapper'!"

This has stuck with me all week because it felt like God had grabbed my head and pointed it up at John at that exact moment. I realized with that statement that too often I approach my relationship with Jesus much as our culture tends to approach dieting. I have my salvation, I rest in that... but maybe too comfortably. I don't always follow the spiritual disciplines the way I should... sometimes I forget to rely on Jesus as the leader in my life and instead trust myself. Sometimes I am not good at communicating with Him through prayer, and I'm going to openly admit here and now that I am terrible about keeping up with my scripture readings.

I need to be approaching my relationship with Jesus with the same drive, desire, and discipline as I approached weight loss. Until I have the same habit-changes in my spiritual life that I now have with my weight change lifestyle, I need to be engaging in habit-changing behaviors that point me on the path that gets me closer to Jesus. And like I was able to have Steve as a partner when things got tough in weight loss, I look to him to encourage me in my spiritual disciplines as well - and vice versa. At the end of the day, I will not see the kind of deep relationship with Jesus that I know in my heart that I long for if I do not chase after it hard all the time.

At the end of the day, I have no good answer to the question "why haven't I been as disciplined in my spiritual journey as I was in my weight loss journey?". I have only myself to blame for that, I know what it takes to have hard work & perseverance pay off in a big way. I need to stop facing my relationship with Jesus like most of America faces the prospect of attaining a healthy lifestyle. After all, spiritual health is a big part of total health - arguably THE biggest.

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