It is common knowledge that the combination of a well-balanced diet and exercise lead to a healthy lifestyle. However, knowledge in this area doesn’t always lead to action. Why is that so? What makes it so difficult to begin losing weight and to maintain this loss once it’s achieved? In seeking to answer these questions, the following paragraphs will address how your mindset can impact your weight for better or worse. This article is not about weight loss, but rather discusses the importance of being healthy and honoring God with a mindset that properly directs our hope, surrenders our results, and seeks God throughout the entire process.
Prior to taking action in one’s weight loss journey, it seems common for people to exhibit feelings of complacency or a sense of denial that their weight problem will get any worse. There is an ongoing hope present, which leads to a belief that their weight has finally stabilized. Now hope is a beautiful part of the Christian walk, but it needs to be placed in appropriate items. The Bible warns that “hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12, NIV). Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to clearly see one’s weight situation for what it is. Wishful thinking isn’t going to change the facts. Taking off the blindfold and coming to a place of acceptance is a wonderful first step to living a healthy lifestyle. In this situation, it seems more fitting to place our hope in God to help provide the clarity of mind and overall acceptance needed, no matter the weight.
Another common factor attached to many individuals’ journey with weight loss is the ever-present disappointment when after depriving ourselves of those tasty treats and exhausting ourselves with demanding workouts we find that all of our hard work did not make a dent on the bathroom scale. With this disappointment in mind comes the word surrender. As Christians, we need to work hard and make the right health choices for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God. Rather than making decisions that will achieve the end goal of losing 50 pounds, we need to release these results to the Lord. God informs us that our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, therefore we have a responsibility to keep our bodies as healthy as possible as a way to honor him (1 Corinthians 6:19, NIV). With this particular responsibility at the forefront of our minds and being careful to approach any weight loss with an appropriate mindset (that of surrender), we are protecting ourselves from the disappointment that may come with any setback or lack of progress.
In addition to bringing honor to God with the decisions we make surrounding health and wellness, another result of taking care of our bodies is in learning how to love ourselves in the process. Many people seek after the final results of weight loss and believe that love and happiness will come when they have successfully achieved what they sought out to do. After all, the Bible says “seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7, NIV). However, God wasn’t referring to weight loss in this verse, as no amount of dieting will produce true fulfillment or eternal joy. God desires for us to seek after a different object--himself. Seeking after God and experiencing the ultimate love he has for us should transform the love we have for ourselves. One way to love ourselves is by taking steps to live out healthy lives (physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually). Another way to love ourselves throughout this journey is to avoid depriving ourselves of things that bring momentary enjoyment, allowing the occasional brownie or ice cream cone guilt free. God loves us as we are and desires for us to do the same.
The Christian life is full of ups and downs, and the struggle with one’s weight is no exception. Take a moment on this weight loss journey to consider your mindset. A prayerful reflection on the following questions will help you determine whether you are doing weight God’s way. What is it that I am placing my hope in? In what ways is God asking me to surrender? What (or whom) am I seeking and for what purpose? Open up this part of your journey for God to work in and through for his glory as you do weight God’s way.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Dr. Robert Ritzema