Our bodies are fueled by food, and exercise makes our bodies strong and functional. Psalm 139:14 declares, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Indeed, our bodies are amazing—fearfully and wonderfully made! However, in the unfriendly environment of too many calories and too few calorie burners, often it is difficult to maneuver toward healthy choices. A PLAN can enable a person to steer clear of obesity and associated diseases. Follow this PLAN toward success:
P: Portion control
- Smaller portion of food
- Greater portion of exercise and activity
Practically speaking, no foods are forbidden. However, portion sizes of all foods need to be controlled. In the land of super-size food servings, we need to eat smaller portions, especially of high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. Typical junk foods such as potato chips, soda, candy bars, etc. have comparatively fewer nutrients and more calories than foods like apples, spinach, or grapes. Generally speaking, a pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories. If we take in more calories than we burn, we will carry that weight on our bodies.
An article published on November 10, 2015, in The Journal of the American Medical Association declares, “Physical inactivity has been labeled a pandemic due to its increasing global prevalence and its health, economic, environmental, and social consequences. More than half of US adults fail to meet the 2008 physical activity recommendations of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise daily . . . or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise weekly.” Unfortunately, elevators, remote controls, and automatic devices have reduced our activity. Clearly, many people need to increase their number of daily activity minutes.
L: Leave it. Flee from evil.
- Leave it . . . high-calorie, low-nutrient food sources
- Leave it . . . couch, computer chair, and other sedentary circumstances
Flee from anything that tempts you to eat too many calories. What are areas from which you need to flee? Drive home on a different route so McDonalds or Dairy Queen does not call your name? Walk right past the break room at work or down a different hallway? Push your grocery cart toward the fruit aisle and away from the snack aisle? Avoid the all-you-can-eat restaurants? Turn the TV, computer, or other electronics off so you avoid sedentary evenings on the couch, at least until after you have exercised?
- Food diary
- Exercise diary
- Accountability partner
Repeatedly, research shows that keeping a food diary helps a person reduce the number of calories and increase the number of exercise minutes. Because of modern technology, multiple options are easily available for food and exercise diaries: online apps, calendar logs, or journals.
A few years back at an obesity conference, a renowned speaker declared, “We have the magic bullet for weight loss.” You could have heard a pin drop in that room as people listened expectantly. “Every research study has shown that if people keep food and exercise logs, they will lose weight!”
Pick a person to be your accountability partner. Identify your problem areas. Give your accountability partner two or three quantitative questions (can be answered with yes, no, or specific number) to ask you each week. Examples might include the following: How many minutes did you exercise last week? How many evenings did you eat food past 8:00? How many sodas did you drink? Did you eat vegetables every day last week?
- Nurture in nonfood ways.
- Nurture yourself with exercise.
Our culture uses food to comfort, to calm, and to celebrate. Identify nonfood ways to nurture yourself, your family, and your friends. Make a list. Have your ideas easily available so you do not fall back to your usual source of food (and usually high-calorie, low-nutrient food).
Instead of cookies for the children after school, try hugs, fruit, and cuddling on the couch reading a good book. Instead of grabbing a bag of chips, stroll around the block. Instead of eating candy, take a few moments to read or listen to God’s Word. Other ideas include listening to favorite music, taking a soothing bath, writing or drawing in a journal, golfing, playing the piano or another musical instrument, woodworking, talking with a friend, reading a fun book, or doing another favorite hobby.
Exercise should not be unpleasant or a punishment; instead, exercise should refresh the body, soul, and mind. As you exercise, focus your mind on fun memories, memorize a special Bible verse, allow God’s Word to penetrate your mind and soul by listening to the Bible on a phone app, or just be mindful of the moment. Or nurture yourself and a family member or friend by enjoying exercise time together.
Bask in God’s love and nurture for you!
“The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
Scripture quotations from the ESV Bible® (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Thijs M. H. Eijsvogels and Paul D. Thompson, “Exercise Is Medicine: At Any Dose?” The Journal of the American Medical Association 314, no. 18 (2015): 1915, doi: 10.1001/10858.