I started being intentional about losing weight and living healthier in October 2012. It’s been a real journey and as expected there were some great points and some low points. Sometimes I’d be jumping for joy and practically kissing the scales and other days I’d be standing in front of the mirror angrily as if my evil stares would burn the fat away. When I look back over all of the sweaty gym sessions, the days I craved chocolate, the days I gave in and ate chocolate and the great times that people told me I looked good I can see many similarities between my fitness journey and my Christian walk.
So here are the lessons I’ve learnt, I’ve split this post into two parts because let’s be honest, nobody likes to read long blog posts.
1. It’s not about how you feel – devotion over emotion.
Sometimes I don’t FEEL like going to the gym. I’ve worked a 12 hour day, it’s late and I’m tired and the last thing I want to do is squats. But if I only worked out and ate well on the days I felt like it then I wouldn’t see or feel the results. This is where self-discipline comes in; you have to look at the bigger picture and realise that if you do not follow the steps you need to then you will not reach your goal. It’s not about what ‘feels good’, it’s about what IS good for you. Chocolate feels good, so does cheesecake and so does lying in bed but will my body thank me in 30 years for lying in bed when I could have been jogging around the park? If you want to lose weight then bopping into the gym and only using machines that ‘feel good’ and eating salads when you ‘feel good’ but cake when you don’t will not do you any favours. You might feel like simply walking on the treadmill and cycling at the spin bike at the pace of a snail but that won’t burn the fat! Push yourself and give it 100% even if you’re tired and watch your body transform.
Likewise, my relationship with God will never improve if I only base it on feelings. Sometimes, I don’t FEEL like waking up a bit early and reading the Bible, but is it good for me? Yes! I won’t get any closer to God or learn anything new if I wait until I feel like it. Does that mean I should force myself to pray and go to Church if I don’t like doing it? No, but what it means is that naturally our flesh does not always like what is good for us. Like I said earlier, naturally my body wants to sleep all day and eat chocolate because that is how I’ve trained it over the majority of my life but that isn’t what my body actually needs and slowly I can change my body to crave good things instead of bad. In a similar way, naturally my flesh wants to mess around with boys and neglect the Bible and only pray in times of trouble but if I want to grow and become a better person then I need to put what my flesh wants aside and do what is best for it. I need to feed my spirit rather than my flesh and give it what it needs; the good stuff, prayer and positive messages from God through the Bible.
2. Always be prepared
One tip that is always floating around the healthy eating world is to plan ahead and be organised. When you’re trying to eat well then it’s crucial to plan your meals ahead of time. Whether this be through actually cooking the food early days in advance or simply knowing what you’re going to eat and following through. Relying on the shops is likely to result in disaster because it’s unlikely they’ll have anything healthy (No, the deli of the day is not a healthy option) and it’s likely to be expensive (£4 for a salad is not a meal deal! I can buy 12 cucumbers for that price.) Personally I like to meal prep; I cook 5 lunches and 5 dinners on a Sunday, plan my snacks and then every day I simply throw one in my bag and go to work. This works for me because I don’t like cooking (shock horror) and I sometimes work long or late hours.
But, the most important thing about my food planning is my deserts. I have a sweet tooth and after a meal I always crave something sweet to finish it off. I have come to accept that and whilst I am working on changing my body’s cravings it is better that I plan ahead and deal with my desire for sweets than simply ignore it. So, I always pack a small serving of either fresh or dried fruit with my lunch and dinner. If I don’t then I’m likely to spend my pennies in the canteen vending machine. I know my weakness and the trouble it can get me in if I adhere to it (hello jelly belly and bingo wings) so I avoid temptation before it approaches.
A day’s supply of food: Lunch, desert (dried mango), dinner, fruit salad and snacks for in-between.
It’s the same with my spiritual walk; I have to know my weaknesses. If I know that hanging around with a certain girl leads me into gossip then I need to avoid her. If I know that his phone calls will lead to unclean conversations then I need to stop picking up. I need to be prepared at all times to fight the devil’s temptation because he knows my weak points too. It’s not good enough saying ‘Oh I’ll just pray when it happens’,’ the same way in which I plan my meals is the same way that I should plan my day with God. I should think about situations that I may find myself in throughout the day and plan how I will ensure they do not lead me into sin. That might mean turning down an invitation or going the long way home but in the end those choices will end in positive results. What’s better than a 6 pack you ask? Eternal life with the Saviour and it’s not worth giving that up because of a guy with a nice beard.
Ways to be prepared include having scripture ready in my head to convict me before falling for temptation, knowing my boundaries, having an accountability partner or practicing whispering a quick prayer when I see a temptation approaching.
3. Be patient and consistent
It’s cliche but it’s true! You will NOT see results overnight. “You didn’t gain weight overnight so don’t expect to lose it overnight.” I mean, I wish one serving of quinoa equaled one inch off of my waist but it doesn’t. When I first started losing weight the first ten pounds came off pretty fast but after that things slowed down. Some weeks the scales wouldn’t move and I’d think of how fast I’d sprinted on that treadmill that week and it’d drive me insane. And don’t even get me started on my belly; losing that took forever. I did want to give up at times, I’d moan to my friends or I’d skip the gym and eat junk instead, but it was when I found a proper training plan and stuck to it consistently that I saw results. In the last year, I have not gone a week without training and I can honestly say that I can see the results of that on my body. Normally my weight, especially my belly, fluctuates a little but over the last few months despite travelling to three countries and eating whatever I wanted (One of them was America. ‘Nuff said) I haven’t gained any weight and my belly has remained in tact. I was actually shocked at this but I think its due to my consistent training. Even when I travel I work out; I haven’t always wanted to crawl out of my hotel bed and down to the gym or plod outside in the burning sun and do burpees but I’m glad I did because that trip to the Cheesecake Factory and those birthday-cake-oreos are nowhere to be seen on my body. It’s when you stick to something good and work hard at it that results come but you have to wait and be patient. You get out what you put in but it takes a while because your body isn’t used to all that running and lifting and those brown and green foods. To transform in a week like those Herbalife adverts would be unhealthy so stop watching the scale and enjoy the journey.
In the same way, when I pray I want instant results. It’s like I think God is a genie and that when I ask for money it will fall from the sky or healing that the bones will instantly glue together. Of course God is capable of all of that but what good would that do for us? What lessons would we learn if God just threw whatever we wanted at us. The spiritual journey is a walk not a run – you have to start somewhere and it takes time to get to the end destination. You have to be patient; just like one apple will not make you lose weight, one morning devotion will not make you the perfect Christian. But if you study a little at a time and pray every day you’ll notice new habits forming, a positive mindset and a deeper connection with God. Consistency is key! Reading and talking to God every other month will not do much for your walk with Him. You wouldn’t call your boyfriend every other month and expect things to be great so the same goes for God. If I put as much time into my relationship with God as I did in the gym or in planning and preparing my meals, things would definitely be a lot better.
So losing those pounds and lifting those weights taught me a lot! Can anyone relate? Come back next week for part 2.
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