I've spent the last fifteen years...or maybe my whole life...believing lies about my health. When I was young, I never struggled with my weight or having to watch what I ate. My father was diagnosed with diabetes when I was in junior high and that shook me up. I attempted to cut sugar and soda out of my life, but I didn't last long.
I got pregnant three moths after I was married, and since that point, I've only gained weight. After Ellen was born, I reached my all time highest weight and decided I needed change. I started watching what I ate and running. I lost some weight and began to feel better, and then I had a gall bladder attack and had surgery to remove it. All of the progress I made slowly crept back on, and eight years passed.
I stopped, started, imagined, failed, and gained. Last summer I found myself weighing more than I did pregnant with my third. How did I get to this point? I could blame many circumstances, but I believe my philosophy of health really was behind all of my choices.
When a couple of my friends started losing weight with Trim Healthy Mama, I really thought I would rather do anything but a program like that. Then they started looking dramatically different. I decided I needed the change, and went for it. In four months I lost 30 pounds and felt better than I had in a long time.
Then life hit.
I am a victim to my circumstances, and in the past four months I've struggled to stay eating right. If you ask me what happened, I'll cite a million different justifications for my stagnation. If I'm honest, I'd admit that while I changed my eating patterns, I didn't fully change my philosophy about health.
It goes deeper than that, and at this point I'd like to give you a glimpse into my faulty thinking and how I'm trying to reconcile my actions with Truth.
Lie #1: When I'm thirsty soda satisfies better than water.
Realistically, I have no good reason to believe this, but when I'm really thirsty, I crave soda. If I don't pay attention to what I'm drinking, I can just drink soda after soda and never become satisfied. I'm sure there is something in the soda that makes me want to come back for more, but have you ever drank water? It is wonderfully satisfying. The more that you drink water, the more satisfying it becomes. Everything in me works better when it's hydrated with H2O.
In the Bible, water is a picture for God's Word. I realize that my physical body cannot be separated from my spiritual body, and that this healthy hydration concept applies both to my body and my soul. Typically, if I have been out of reading my Bible, I have an unquenchable thirst that I attempt to satisfy in other ways. It never works. When I soak in the water of the Word, I find peace and health. The longer I stay in the Word, the more I want of it and the greater satisfaction I draw from it.
I could make a rule to cut soda out of my life. But I'd rather change my thinking on why I'm choosing it. I'd rather identify the false belief that soda can satisfy and replace it with the truth of the glorious refreshment found in both physical and spiritual water.
Lie #2: When I'm tired, I need sugar.
Seriously typing some of these things makes me feel ridiculous. The reality is that sugar slows me down. It's oppressive. I never feel better physically after eating sugar. However, I have given sugar great power in my life to make me happy. It tastes good - temporally. Have you experienced the enduring satisfaction from eating foods with nutritious value?
Sugar in my spiritual life relates to social media. When I wake up in the morning, I am tempted to seek out the latest on my phone. Social media has the same emotional spikes that sugar provides for my physical body. Again, the nutrients of studying, memorizing, or contemplating scripture satisfies and energizes my soul like no other.
Lie #3: Healthy eating is expensive.
So if you do a side by side comparison of my grocery bills when I am eating real food vs. processed food, it might look like healthy eating is more pricey. However, I can tell you that neglecting your physical body can produce some of the most expensive medical treatments and hospital stays. By spending a little bit more on real food, I'm saving in the long run.
Time spent in God's Word is expensive. There is so much to do in the day, that it is very costly to take time out of the urgent activities to work on something that doesn't have immediate results. It's like the old story of the man who is hired to chop down trees. If he takes a little time at first to sharpen his ax, then his time chopping is more effective. When I spend time with God in the morning, I am prepped for life. It seems like not spending time in the word actually makes everything I do less efficient.
Lie #4: Exercise wears me out.
I talk myself out of going walking or running because of the exhaustion I anticipate on the other side. This lie is effective because it's partially true. When I finish a workout I should be somewhat worn out...or I'm not really doing anything. However, when my body is pumping blood like it should, I have so much more energy throughout the day that the short term weariness is quickly overcome with the long term energy.
It's easy in my quiet times to think I don't have the mental energy to actually study a passage of scripture. If I do take the time, then I'll be mentally taxed and wasted for the day. I really think these crazy thoughts! A single insight can energize my spiritual thought life for hours and days, revamping my courage to live for Christ in all that I'm doing. Is the revitalization worth a little mental gymnastics? Absolutely!
Lie #5: Skinny = Healthy
I've believed this one for a long time. Again, this one has some truth to it, however when it comes to my husband, his slim frame is inherited from his gene structure and not a direct product of his immaculate eating and consistent exercise. He eats like a teenager, and rarely exercises outside of the physical requirements that his job entails. I have to realize that I'm not working on becoming healthy to hit a specific number. I'm doing it to be healthy. It may or may not materialize in the perfect body, but I'm okay with that.
This is so true of the church. Sometimes there are people that are "skinny" spiritually. Maybe it's their lack of hot topic sins in their childhood, or the way their family presents itself on a Sunday morning. Either way, these people are not necessarily healthier than the ones who are wearing their sins on their sleeves. Perfection is impossible this side of heaven. By working on my spiritual health, I can bless everyone around me with the Holy Spirit that is flowing unhindered through me.
Lie #6: I can train my children to eat differently than I am eating.
Really?! I know how silly it sounds when someone says, "Do as I say and not as I do." Every time I choose unhealthy over healthy I'm giving them a pattern to follow. I want them to live healthy lives. I don't want them to be held back from any opportunity because of their health. I have restricted the parameters of my living because of my physical state. I want freedom for them, and yet they're living under the tyranny of my selfishness.
This also applies to my spiritual health. How can I ask them to spend time regularly reading their Bible if I'm not? Why do I desire it for them and fail to desire it for myself?
Lie # 7: The choices I make with my body only impact me.
This one hit me the hardest a couple of Sundays ago at church. The pastor was talking about the keys to living in community, and I thought of the fact that my family is also a small community in which God purposefully placed me. If I make poor decisions with my health, my whole family is impacted. My dad struggled with his diabetes for the rest of his life, and he ended up dying at the young age of 58. Maybe my decisions are not as extreme as death, but what about my grouchy sugar crashes? What about my sleepless nights because I overate, have heartburn, or consumed excessive caffeine?
The same applies to my extended spiritual family. God has placed us all in community to be blessings to one another. The choices I make do not happen in isolation. There are others involved, and I must love them with the choices I make regarding my health.
I'm still on my journey...I have a lot of pounds to knock off in order to reach the "healthy" mark according to doctors. Regardless of the number, I believe that if I have a right mind focused on God's truth, then He will manage the results. Living in lies is a lazy way to live. Truth requires hard mental work refuting false ideas.
Let us keep looking to Jesus. Our faith comes from Him and He is the One Who makes it perfect. He did not give up when He had to suffer shame and die on a cross. He knew of the joy that would be His later. Now He is sitting at the right side of God.
Hebrews 12:2 (NLV)
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.