Pastor Scott Summers
Student & Young Adult Pastor, Shiloh Community Church
With each New Year comes New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, at this point in the year, most of those resolutions have been given up on, determined to be too difficult, or pushed back a bit because, “It’s just been a rough start to the year.” My hope is that in sharing a bit of my story, I can encourage some of you to keep fighting for positive changes in your lives.
Most of you know this by looking at me, but about a year and a half ago I looked a bit
heavier. They say dads gain about 15lbs in sympathy weight per child (I have three), and add that to the 10lb of extra weight before my kids came, and there you have the 55lb that I lost over a several month span. Although “lost” just feels like the wrong word. It was not accidentally lost; I intentionally packed its bags, bought its airline tickets, and sent it on a one-way trip to Fuji. To do this I didn’t jump on a fad diet, join a gym, or swallow a tapeworm. Instead, I read a book called the Bible. Ok, and another book called “You Can Change,” by Tim Chester.
No, this is not some self-help book; in fact the premise is that you can’t change. Chester points out that we dismiss habits that don’t seem that bad to us, rather than calling them what they are: sin. In our own strength, by our own willpower, we are incapable of preventing ourselves from sinning (long-term), and we can only truly change when we recognize our negative behaviors and emotions as sin and then ask the Holy Spirit to help us not to sin.
Prior to reading this book, I struggled with motivation to lose weight. I’d say things
like, “I’d rather be fat and happy by eating whatever I want,” or “I’m just a foodie,” or “Paradise Valley Burger puts addictive drugs in their beef.” It was only when I reflected on the thought that I wasn’t allowing God to remove habitual sin in my life that I was able to have the drive to start this process.
I’m no dietician, so kids don’t try this at home without the consult of a doctor, but
here is how I did it. I kicked things off with a fast, possibly initiated by a violent onset of the flu, but a fast nonetheless. Then I started counting calories. I thought, “Most food labels say, “based on a 2,000 calorie diet” so that has to be the average calorie intake of a normal adult to maintain their weight. I want to lose weight, so I’m going to eat less than that.” Profound, I know. My target was between 500-600 calories per meal, three meals per day, no snacks/drinks (besides water) in between. If I did need a snack, I ate baby dill pickles and baby carrots (both low in calories).
The first month was the hardest, as it took a little while for my stomach to shrink.
To avoid my discomfort, I started looking for the most filling foods with the fewest
calories. As it turns out, healthier foods tend to be lower calorie and more filling, whereas processed foods tend to be higher calorie and less filling…shocking, right?!
When I had the temptation to eat something that would put me over my calorie goal,
I prayed that the Holy Spirit would help me. After all, God promised that I wouldn’t be tempted beyond my ability, and that He would provide a way of escape so that I could endure it. I told you, I read “You Can Change” and the Bible. Anyway, most of the time I took God at His Word, and was able to make better choices with my eating, which turned into better habits, which led to the results that I desired.
I don’t know what it is God wants to change in you, but whatever it is I encourage you to do two things. First, don’t dismiss bad habits, but rather call them what God calls them: sin. Second, don’t try to will yourself to change, but rather pray to ask God to help you. Once you have prayerfully laid out a plan, understand that deviating from that plan is really temptation to sin, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you see the way of escape so that you can endure the temptation. What is the way of escape? It’s trust. It’s trust in the God who made you and loves you, and who has a way that is better than whatever you’re being tempted with. Now go, you can change too.