This is part 3 of “On Weight Loss and Theology”. In part one I discussed the fact the Bible does not directly deal with the concept of weight loss. In part 2 we explored some of the fallacy behind “biblical diets”. In this final part we look at some practical ideas just from my own personal experiences.
Personally, I don’t like being overweight: I want to be healthy. (And yes, I understand that one can be slender and unhealthy. But in our current environment it is more likely the more you weigh the less healthy you are. In North American society we are seeing more and more heart attacks, adult onset diabetes, and other health problems directly associated with obesity).
Throughout the years I have fought off the extra pound or ten (or at one time 30!). I tried a variety of methods that had one degree of success or another. Weight Watchers was an excellent choice in the early 80s. I made lifestyle changes that stay with me to this day (i.e., I eat mainly chicken, generally avoid fried food, and there is a killer WW chili recipe that I still think is the best ever). I lost 30 pounds on WW and have never gained the full thirty pounds back.
After ten years I gained about 10 pounds back and I tried the Weigh Down approach which seemed rather simple and easy to do. I was able to shed those pounds in a short while and kept them off for a very long time. I never bought into the “biblical principles” behind it because textually they were tortured and contrived. Anyone who had a passing knowledge of biblical interpretation could see the fallacies and problems with the underpinnings of the diet.
After that I maintained my weight with various body weight exercises and aerobics (including jogging).
However, over the years the pounds crept back. Last year I noticed my clothes were no longer fitting. I had gained inches on my waist, ten pounds, and a BMI of 25 (BMI of 25-29 is “overweight”). While most people couldn’t tell, I could grab two handfuls of fat off of my stomach–if I had three hands, I could have grabbed another: certainly not healthy.
I then discovered a wonderful phone AP that made calorie counting an attractive approach (there are several aps like this available). In three months I have dropped thirteen pounds, nearly three inches off my waist, and my BMI is 22 (18-24 is “normal”).
I didn’t feel deprived because I could theoretically eat anything, just within limits. There was no obsession, just a few minutes each day to track my intake. And therein lay the similarities in all effective weight loss plans.
All diets or “lifestyle changes” involve restricting calories either through intake or output. There is no magic bullet, no pill, and no special food that will make losing weight easy. It is a matter of eating less and/or burning more calories.
Clearly some methods are healthier than others. Following a balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruit and protein, cuts down on refined flour and sugars and being physically active is the ticket. I encourage avoiding pharmaceutical short-cuts. I also find resources like The Blue Zones to be very helpful.
Ultimately, losing unhealthy weight means changing lifestyle. You can’t go back to your old habits.
So, if you struggle with weight I can’t give you a magic formula or product. I can’t give you a God-ordained plan that will make God bless your efforts. All I can do is suggest you find a method that works best for you—something that helps you restrict your intake of calories and/or something that helps you increase your physical output. As you age, you might want to consider restricting calories anyway (research indicates calorie restriction increases life expectancy).
But you need to recognize a few things:
- Whatever plan or method you choose, you will have to change your lifestyle for the long haul. Recent research suggests if you can stay on a plan for a year the long term healthy effects will almost be irreversible.
- Whatever weight loss plan you follow, it will require discipline and effort on your part.
- Give up the ideas that medicine, nutritional supplements, hormone treatments, wraps, or magic pills will do the work for you. If you are overweight, you simply can’t eat the way you are currently eating and lose weight. And there is no healthy magic pill that will shed the pounds off of you effortlessly!
- Be patient. You didn’t get to your present state overnight and you won’t reach your goal condition overnight, either.
- Forget finding a “biblical” way or secret Bible diet. That’s not only nonsense, it borders on legalism.
- And most importantly, don’t sit in condemnation and judgment on others who struggle with their weight or follow a different food management plan than you. We all have our own struggles and there is enough condemnation in the world without adding to it.
Above all, please take this to heart: you can lose weight. You can become healthy. Don’t allow the Accuser to tell you otherwise and don’t give up!