Friday, August 26, 2005
I Can Lose Weight "Through Christ Who Strengthens Me"
This week I, Raul, will share how the Lord has blessed me, when I have let Him be Lord of my Body-Temple.
I Can Lose Weight "Through Christ Who Strengthens Me"
Most of my life I have lived a life of pleasure. As someone suggested my life was a life of "whatever - whenever." I drank what I wanted to drink when I wanted. I ate what I wanted to eat when I wanted. The sad part is that although I enjoyed it, I did not truly like the consequences of this lifestyle. It is no surprise that most of my life I have been overweight, if not obese. This is the part I did not like. Like everyone else I tried all sorts of things, but nothing worked. Actually, it seemed like things got worse every time I tried something new. And, people kept asking me when I was going to do something about my weight. In answer to years of intercessory prayer by my loved ones, I finally yielded my will in this matter to God. It was only then that I was enabled to stop trying on my own, and let God do it. And when God took over with my permission, that's when I actually started losing weight consistently, and in a healthy manner.
Now that I have lost more than 100 lbs, the question frequently is, "What are you doing to lose weight?" In the beginning I would give the standard answer, "I'm walking, watching the proportions I eat, and when." Then one day when I was feeling satisfied with my progress, then Christ rebuked me. He told me that I was giving the credit to myself and others that He deserved. You see, I had forgotten that it was really Christ who was doing the work in me. There is only one reason you see results today: I am willing. So now when the question is asked, my answer is, "I am following the Philippians 4:13 plan: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." This of course, is puzzling to some people. It was to me, until I read an article, on how the Gospel gives us the power to lose weight, and then it clicked. When I was taking the credit for my weight loss, I was being just like King Hezekiah who, when the Babylonians came to him in search of answers, took all the glory to himself, instead of giving it to God - its Rightful Owner. I have since realized, that its God who does the work, and I just surrender my will -- daily. In the past I was resistant to yielding because I thought I could handle things, but now by His grace I am willing to let Him work in me. Recently as I was relating this new found insight to some friends, one of them caught on and then asked, "So what is God doing for you (now)?" Here is the answer to his question.
My weight loss is really an answer to prayer. Loved ones who were concerned about my health, prayed for me for at least ten years. God loves to answer prayer that is from the heart and is offered collectively. While He listens to our individual prayer petitions, He responds more quickly to our collective intercession, particularly on behalf of others. So, if you are in need, ask God to send you -- people who delight in being in His presence, and who take sin seriously -- to pray for you.
In His Time and in His way I came across persons as well as information that God used to guide me along to the next step in this journey. As an example, God provided select television and radio shows which provided critical information at the time when I needed it. He also provided two specialists for me to work with (a Physician and a Nutritionist) along with a workbook or two.
2.1 A Book To Read
In early 2003 my sister asked me to watch an Oprah talk show on the topic of weight loss. Immediately I made a face of disgust, and made up an excuse that the show was on too late. But, in the Lord's providence, I ended up watching it. The guest speaker that day was a female author by the name of Laura Mellin, who had written a book entitled, "The Solution." I watched in fascination as she discussed the content of the book. What Laura said that really peaked my curiosity, was that there are about six cures we learn from our parents as we grow up. According to her book, if we learn these six cures our weight will be appropriate for our age, height and bone structure, and will remain stable. If however, these cures are not passed on, or we aren't able to learn them, we are not only likely to overeat, but to become overweight and even obese. The case is not lost however, for if we choose to, we can learn these six cures as adults, from her book. Amazingly, by working in the workbook under the power, direction and guidance of the Holy Spirit, I have resolved many of my past issues, and been relieved of all the baggage that led to my gaining weight. I am so thankful to God for using this process to clean and purify my mind and emotions. Folks, this is what the Holy Spirit is trying to do in all of us. Yes, He has different methods, but the process is the same. This is what Sanctification is all about, the Holy Spirit, with our permission, ridding us of hidden sin. God has used this book to heal me emotionally; for which I am grateful.
2.2 A Specialist To See:
A few years ago being obese started to produce complications. For starters, sciatica pain put me out for a week; a few years after that I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, and soon after found that I had mild levels of arthritis in both knees. To add more insult to injury, I developed two pinched-nerves in the lumbar area of my back. Boy was the pain and discomfort were unbearable. Naturally most of these ailments were all weight related. My primary care physician was so concerned that he recommended I consider a gastric by-pass operation. Fearful, I changed some habits (which I discuss next), but my efforts were inconsistent and half-hearted. In late 2003, I was diagnosed with Diabetes, and when I saw that "Diabetic" label being stuck on my chart, it finally hit me that I was "over my head" in trouble. At that visit, the physician said, "...no more games. You will see a dietician as soon as possible," and I said, "Anything." Finally, I was ready to listen willingly to God, and to hear what He had to say. The Diabetes scared me so much that I knew that I had finally lost control. It was then that I chose -- both emotionally and intellectually to listen and yield (to God); really listening, helped me stop resisting the necessary changes to becoming a healthy individual. Prayerfully I beseeched the Lord that He would show me the right dietician for me. I then approached my Brother-in-Law with the names of dieticians I had been given. He recognized one name immediately, and strongly recommended her as he knew her personally. God answered our prayers in that this dietician was professional, conscientious and explained my new way of eating in a simple manner with examples. She was exactly what I needed, and God provided her in His time and in His way.
3.0 Things I Could Do:
In God's time and in His way He showed me there were things I could do, if only I was willing.
He showed me that I could start a walking routine. I was amazed to find that one way of making sure that I exercised consistently, was just to find out what worked, and then do it. In my case, I can walk right after work around my job. Initially I started walking in the immediate vicinity of my job, but over time, I have increased the distance and by His grace, I now walk approximately two miles in 40 to 45 minutes four to five days a week.
3.2 Drinking Water
It is said we need at least 6 - 8 glasses of water daily. Someone else has said that amount is a minimum. The amount of water we drink should correlate with our weight. Ideally, we should drink half our weight in ounces, which means that if you weight 180 pounds you should drink 90 ounces of water. In my case I needed to drink 1½ gallons of water daily, but I don't think I ever accomplished that. Despite this, God showed me how I could come close to drinking the amount my body required. Its fashionable now to carry bottled water, but it wasn't always so. God showed me that I too could carry water with me and thus I would be able to drink as necessary. One of the unpleasant side-affects of drinking so much water is that I have to go to the restroom more frequently, however, unlike before, my urine is clear and odorless.
3.3 Changing Eating Habits
There is a saying that goes: "Have the breakfast of a King, lunch like a queen, and supper like a pauper." The reason this saying is accurate (and it is) is because we typically expend the greatest amount of energy in the morning. Logically then, we should eat our heartiest meal in the morning, to acquire the caloric energy when it is most needed. God showed me it would be better for me to eat dinner in the morning and breakfast in the evening. In this manner I have been able to use the calories when I needed, and not when I am in bed sleeping (and thus gaining weight).
The biggest change came after being diagnosed with Diabetes. God used the Dietician to show me how I could eat the right portions of food, in the right proportion. I learned that I needed to increase the daily volume of salads, vegetables, and fruits as well as to increase the amount of complex (Low Glycemic) carbohydrates I was consuming. This meant that I could eat less sweet, refined flour products, and that fat and proteins needed decreasing as well. I thank God and give Him praise because I have been satisfied. The very first day when I started the diet, I wondered whether it would be enough, and was pleasantly surprised to find out my plate was full. I next asked God in prayer, "Will it hold me?" God answered my prayer that day. Yes, it did. To Him be all Glory.
4.0 Using For My Good What Is Supposed To Be For Evil.
As I mentioned above I had developed a series of health complications due to obesity. These do not include other types of inconveniences such as finding clothes that fit, being too large to sit in certain chairs, and breaking furniture. I also know first hand what diabetes can do to you. God allowed me to be exposed to other people who did not take care of themselves and I saw how they suffered the consequences. I liken diabetes to AIDS, in that one does not die of AIDS but of the complications. It is the same with Diabetes, and its complications are gangrene which leads to amputation, hypertension, which leads to blindness, strokes and heart attacks, and kidney failure. I did not want to experience these for myself. And thus God used various obesity related ailments to motivate me to lose weight. Currently, I am more willing to follow His plan, because I want to live a healthy life. It is a lifestyle change and it is for a lifetime.
Repentance is a gift from God. It means turning around. God convicted me that I had made the wrong choices regarding my health. I chose to accept this and confess it. Thank God for this gift, because He has changed my heart on the issue of health. This isn't a temporary change until I lose the desired weight, but through God's grace I will never return to the old habits.
6.0 He Has Curbed My Desires
God has taken away my desire for forbidden foods. It is not that I do not like sweet junk food. I just do not have those cravings as I once did. I give the glory to God for this. God has given me the will power to decline eating forbidden foods, eating between meals, consuming the wrong things at the wrong time, and eating food in the wrong proportion. So when I am tempted, by His grace I can say, "No!"
7.0 He has showed me that how I use my time directly affects what and how much I eat.
God has helped me to avoid stressful situations which have often driven me to eat more than I should, and to eat the wrong things. For the same reason He has reminded me to avoid boredom, for I have noted that when bored I crave activity, and unfortunately, eating is my activity of choice to avoid boredom.) God has also convicted me to sleep the required hours I need. If I go to bed to late at night I get hungry, and that means eating unnecessarily. I've learned that I should pray about what I types of things I should do and when I should do them. Of course, I wait for an answer even though sometimes I am restless and don't want to, but I am aware that God knows best.
God wants what is best for each of us. He wants us to enjoy a healthy life, so although we have the freedom to choose to indulge now, we can also choose to grow old with minimal aches and pains. We can have the latter only if we choose to live God's way. However, if we desire, and resist God, He will let us have our own way even though it hurts Him and is to our detriment. It is His greatest desire that we allow Him to transform our characters so that we can be with Him eternally.
8.0 Last Thought
If God is indeed the Lord of my body, then I should consult with Him its needs and functions. Anything that goes into my body -- anything that I do with my body should have His consent and approval. After all I belong to Him, and am merely the steward of my body. If I do not have this attitude here and now, I will not be prepared to enter Heaven. Anything short of this type of disposition is self-righteousness and rebellion. God wants us to be one with Himself as is Christ. Through faith, His attributes can be ours through the gift of His indwelling Holy Spirit. Amen.
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