My first instinct is to make a list. A list of things I can and cannot eat. A list of exercises and the number of days that I will complete them. I like lists. I like rules. The problem is that rules have never left a lasting impact on how healthy I am. Rules are stiff. They have no life. More than that, I cannot follow rules like I think I should. Rules are very good at pointing out failure, but they can’t change hearts. This truth flows down to my daily life.
I tend to be an all or nothing kind of girl. When I get the urge to clean the house, I have to keep going because I know I won’t muster up the motivation again for a while. If I’m interested in a topic, I pour over a three-foot tall stack of library books to learn all I can. This mentality is most evident in my eating habits and exercise routines. If I eat a slice of pizza, I decide that the whole day is a failure and eat half a package of mint Oreos and whatever else I can find.
Observe the crazy pendulum of my life. One day, I realize that I’m overweight and unhealthy. Then comes the fun part. I make a list of rules and goals (or steal someone else’s). Maybe I’ll only eat foods closest to their natural state. Maybe I’ll go with South Beach. My personal favorite: avoid anything and everything fried/high-fat/sweet/dessert like the plague. Plus, I’ll come up with an ideal goal weight and a week-by-week breakdown of the potential weight loss. Sometimes I’ll even get uber spiritual and hang an inspiring “eat and drink for the glory of God” on my fridge. The obsession of counting calories and avoiding certain foods lasts for a while. About 20lbs later, I get bored of the rules or get sidetracked by a trip, a project, or a bowl of ice cream. After a few months, the cycle begins again.
Underneath it all lies an intense insecurity and desire to be in control, as well as a knowledge that something is just not right in my life. My view of food has never been healthy. Only on rare occassions could my eating habits have been construed as God honoring.
As I read a few weight loss blogs, I was struck by the obsession over numbers: calories eaten/burned and weight/inches lost. Normally, they would have fueled my own obsessive tendencies. This time, however, I was saddened by the emptiness of it all. Some people do it to stay accountable and keep track of progress. Others need some major therapy.
I’ve decided that I’ve elevated food and weight control to a place it should never be. My self-worth is not determined by whether or not I eat that piece of cake. Losing weight is no longer my ultimate goal in my own little food world. Numbers no longer interest me. What does interest me is God’s glory. I want to be healthy, and I want to be a good steward (I’m not my own, but I’ve been purchased by the blood of Jesus).
I am not willing to count calories and weigh myself everyday for the rest of my life. I can’t even bring myself to get out of bed early to walk before work. On the other hand, I’m willing to give up my precious Family Feud time on Facebook so that I can do something besides sit all day. I’m willing to eat more vegetables and less chocolate. (Can you see the lists beginning to form in my head? Sheesh…)
I will resist the temptation to turn this post into a list/rule-making session. Instead, I will revel in God’s grace and mercy. Jesus died for my brokenness, and He is calling me to live like I believe He walked out of the grave. That’s all the motivation I need.