I yelled at God.
As I drove our minivan through the quiet streets of our neighborhood, my internal dialogue with God raged. I had just returned from a doctor appointment and I was furious. Despite my best efforts, not only had I failed to lose weight, but I had gained 4 pounds.
I had been attempting to eat better and even start some moderate exercise, but nothing I did seemed to help my weight-loss efforts. I was 30 years old, 100 pounds overweight, and miserable. I had it together in other areas of my life—why was weight loss one area where I just could not seem to get my life together?
That day of my miserable doctor appointment was more than 10 years ago, and I’m thrilled to say that since then I have lost 100 pounds and kept it off. The journey was not a quick or easy one, but by keeping God at the center of my weight-loss efforts, by his grace I’ve accomplished it.
If you, too, struggle with weight loss, I am here to tell you it is possible and in fact, part of God's plan for your life. God does not desire for you to be sick, miserable, and unhealthy. If you are like me, you have tried to lose weight, only to find yourself right back where you started or even heavier. Here are five ways to lose weight for good, most of all keeping God at the center of your efforts:
From the time I was 3, I was overweight. I tried countless diets, only to gain back the weight I had lost plus additional pounds. My 100-pound weight-loss story is rather unglamorous. I didn’t go on a fancy diet or have surgery. I started therapy. I ate healthier foods. I began to exercise. Through it all, the drastic change that made all the difference was accepting God’s lavish grace and compassion for me. Accepting God’s grace frees you from the overeat-guilt-overeat more cycle where many people are stuck. Grace means love and forgiveness and a fresh start right from the next bite.
Reliance on God’s words of truth became an integral part of my weight-loss efforts. I printed Bible verses on notecards and carried them with me everywhere. I read them when I got in my car. I even carried them with me to the grocery store. These words of truth became my lifeline. For so long, I had bought into the lies of the enemy, Satan. I needed to pour God’s word of truth into my life on a regular basis in order to change my thought patterns. One verse that meant so much to me during this time was Isaiah 43:1-3. I am not ugly and unwanted. I am precious and redeemed! (I’ve created printable cards of some of the Bible verses that helped me the most. You can get your free copy of my Weight Loss Bible verse notecards here.)
One of the most challenging times to worship is when you are stuck in a downward cycle of sadness and depression. There were times when I didn’t want to attend church because I was embarrassed by my looks and none of my clothes fit well. Thankfully, part of life as a pastor’s wife means regular church attendance because that kept me going to worship, where I could continually hear God’s Word, worship with other Christians, and participate in Communion. Even at times when I didn’t feel up to it, God fed me with his Word and Sacraments.
Prayer is regular communication with God. Along with using God’s words from Scripture, prayer became my go-to activity for strength during my weight-loss journey. My prayers weren’t always pretty or sweet. Like my time of crying out to God during my van ride home from the doctor’s office, I poured it all out to God. I prayed about the littlest things, too, like, "God, please help me not eat my kids’ leftover French fries.” It sounds silly, but I believe God cares about every detail of our lives, so those French fries are worth praying over.
5. New life
I like to say God worked a different kind of miracle in my life. I prayed for a miraculous healing where one morning I would wake up and all this excess weight would be gone. God didn’t work that way. Instead, it was slow, steady work, day in and day out, but it’s no less miraculous. Every day, I wake up and am thankful for the ways God created new life in me. Today, I’ve completed more than 50 running, biking, and triathlon events, and I’m just a few months away from testing for my black belt in Taekwondo. I say none of that to brag—I give God all the credit for this new life He has worked in me.
If food issues are a struggle for you, take heart. Healing is absolutely possible. Keep God at the center of your efforts through regular worship, prayer, and studying Scripture. Accept God’s grace in order to break the overeating cycle. With God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26), including weight loss.
Ready to start your journey? Dr. John Eckrich provides tips for embracing wellness in his book.