Do you ever dig out old photos (yes, actual photographs on paper) and reminisce about that time-stamped year captured on film? If you’re like me, you might look back at your teen years and recall how uncomfortable you were with your body. I had a skewed perception, likely rooted in comparison and lack of self-assurance at that age. Our bodies were growing and changing so much then. It was hard to get comfortable, never mind confident. The funny thing is, when I look back at those old photos now, I think to myself, Wow! I looked so fit and tiny. I wish I had appreciated that figure when I had it!
Has this ever happened to you? Ahhh, the perspective that comes with age…
Since those teenage years, it’s only gotten harder for me to consistently maintain my weight. With my twenties came a fluctuation of about five pounds – on and off, on and off, again and again. My thirties brought a similar cycle, but with a ten pound swing. My forties added another five pounds to this rollercoaster, and as I near my fifties, I’m determined to stop this trend. I’m pretty sure I can, because I’ve discovered the culprit: it’s me. My choices, my attention, my attitude.
Bottom line: my priority was wrong.
Before you go thinking this is a blog post about weight, let me reassure you, it’s not. This post is about so much more than a number on a scale or a size printed on the inside of a waistband. For most in the world today, our personal health (and that of our loved ones) is on our radar like never before. Who would have thought we’d experience a global quarantine in our lifetime? Yet, here we are in the midst of one, hoping to stop the spread of COVID-19. It’s likely that we’re hyper-aware of our body’s wellbeing in a whole new way.
Leading up to this unprecedented time, I learned a very valuable lesson that changed me. Last summer, upon the advice of a friend, I followed the Whole30 plan for the month of August. It transformed not only my way of eating, but also the way I thought about food. In order to follow the plan’s directive, I had to remove the following from my diet: all things processed, artificial or sugar-laden, all grains and gluten, dairy, legumes and alcohol. For me this also meant resigning all the other reasons to eat: mindless snacking, stress or boredom. If it wasn’t for fueling, protecting or nourishing my body, then it wasn’t allowed.
I thought it would be so difficult to follow through. It wasn’t. It was actually freeing. It literally broke chains and demolished bad habits that had enslaved me for years. Truly, in 30 days, my taste buds changed, coping mechanisms evolved to healthier habits and a major realization became clear: everything I was “allowed” to eat was put on this earth by God. He provided exactly what we need to be healthy and thrive. It’s only because of convenience and economics that food has become so processed, engineered and far from its original state.
More than nine months since doing Whole30, I’ve remained gluten-free (turns out, my body doesn’t love gluten), I’ve had a drastic reduction of inflammation throughout my body and I’ve lost and kept off about twenty-five pounds. So, how did my priority shift to get these results? You might think I prioritized me. Nope. I’ve tried that many times before and that has yielded poor results or failed altogether.
This time, I prioritized God.
I viewed my body as He views my body: a temple. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Our bodies are houses for the Holy Spirit, so once we believe in Christ, our bodies are no longer our own. We can honor God and the most holy deposit He has made in us by taking care of our own house of worship.
I ingested what He gave me to nourish my body. In Genesis, God created the plants and animals. He gave humans domain to rule over them and authority to eat them for food. (Genesis 1:29, 9:3, 1:30) Our bodies are His creation too, and so I trust that He knows what we can process and use to build our health.
I looked to Him for strength. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13). This is a big one, because I’m weak all on my own. I can be tempted easily, especially if I’m tired or if I’m with friends (and wanting to dive head-first into a bowl of queso). I learned to ask God to give me discipline, which He promises. (2 Timothy 1:7) And I can trust that with Him, I have power that can’t compare without a reliance on Him. It gets me through the moments where I’m drooling. It sounds funny, but it’s true.
In the midst of this Holy Week, as we lead up to the day when Jesus sacrificed His own body for us, my hope is that we would consider the fact that He doesn’t ask the same of us. Our bodies shouldn’t be sacrificed or cast aside during this quarantine or any time. The work is done. It is finished. We only need to believe. And to honor His great love for us, we should nourish our bodies to do the work He gave to each of us in our purpose. We are His plan to share His love. We need healthy bodies and minds to do so, and with our best selves, we can bring Him glory!
Lord, I pray that you would help us each to honor the body you gave us. Remind us of your own bodily sacrifice, and never let us forget your resurrection that sets us free. Help us to feed our bodies well so that we may be strengthened to do Your good work. And may You be our priority so that we can accomplish more than we ever thought possible. In Jesus’ name, Amen.