If you are a Christian who needs to lose weight, you face a dilemma. You are unhappy with your weight. Perhaps you've hit a rock bottom moment of recognizing that your health and quality of life are suffering.
This unhappiness isn't all bad. After all, it's this concern for your health that leads you to make the required necessary, but not easy, changes.
Yet as a Christian, you also know your call to live content in all circumstances, as Paul writes in Philippians 4:11, "Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content."
How do you deal with these two seeming opposites?
The answer lies in gratitude. Read on to learn how gratitude to God helps with weight loss.
How Gratitude to God Helps with Weight Loss
When I began my 100-pound weight loss journey, I had so many things going right in my life. I was married to a great man and had a beautiful family. Our call to be foster parents was challenging yet rewarding. So why could I not get control of my weight? This was the one area of life where I couldn't seem to make progress.
I could lose weight for a short time (as much as 40-50 pounds) but then I would gain it back and when the pounds came back, they brought more pounds with them. I ended up even heavier than before, until I finally reached an all-time high of more than 250 pounds.
When I lose weight the final time, I knew that instead of just tackling my issues with specific foods or amounts of food, I needed to get to the heart of why I continually compulsively overate and went on eating binges. During therapy, I learned that many people who overeat and binge-eat are caught in the following cycle.
Restrict - Binge - Guilt.
I would heavily restrict calories or types of foods, but eventually my willpower would run out and I would binge-eat. Then the guilt would come rushing in, which led to even more restriction, and the cycle would continue.
My victory over food arrived when I came to deeply accept the grace given to me by Christ on the cross. 1 Corinthians 15:57 reminded me, "But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." In this way I was able to let go of the guilt, which stopped the binge-eating cycle.
This change didn't happen overnight. It took continual reminders of God's truth by reading meaningful Bible passages and daily, conscious practice of accepting God's grace and compassion for me, even when I messed up and overate yet again.
Gratitude was an important part of this process because the more I focused on gratefulness for who God is and how He has blessed me, the more my guilt decreased. I recognized the incredible outpouring of God's rich blessings on my life. Gradually, the pull to heavily restrict my eating became less and the binges were not as frequent.
Helpful Ways to Add Gratitude to Your Weight Loss Journey
Recognizing gratitude to God during your weight loss journey is an important step, but it's not magical. Reading a few Bible verses will not suddenly end years of the practice of overeating.
Still, I encourage you to focus on gratitude and you will be amazed at how you will see change. Here are some helpful ideas for adding gratitude into your weight loss journey.
- Praise God for who He is. Psalm 107:1 reminds us, “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures forever!” We are called to daily praise God for who He is, not just what He is doing in our life circumstances. This praise for God's attributes will change your focus as you are filled with gratitude for our amazing God.
- Thank God that you live in a country where food is plentiful. As tough as weight problems are (and I recognize they are very tough!), what a blessing that we even have these issues. We live in a land of abundance.
- Look for the blessings. The weight loss process can be incredibly overwhelming, especially if you have a lot of weight to lose. Practicing gratitude helps you keep perspective on all the blessings God has given you to make success possible. Maybe you have a supportive spouse, or you live in a community with plenty of recreation options. Do you like all type of vegetables? Do you have the culinary skills to try new recipes? Each of these is a blessing worth celebrating.
- Focus on what you can eat, not on what you can't. When I head to a picnic or church potluck, instead of noticing any of the foods I need to avoid, I focus on what I can eat. Fresh, healthy fruits and vegetables, high-quality proteins, and filling whole grains are all wonderful foods that taste great and keep me satisfied.
- Remind yourself of what you can do, not what you can't. Maybe I don't have the strength yet to lift 100 pounds, but I am able to keep up in my weight lifting class at my gym. I can't run a marathon, but I can go for a short run in my neighborhood. I have some aches and pains that are frustrating, but I am healthy enough to walk with my husband in the evenings or take my kids to the park. Praise God!
- Focus on progress, not perfection. In the Christian online weight loss program I run for women, I encourage our members to focus on the positive steps they take each week, not the numbers on the scale. Make it your goal to aim for realistic, healthy changes and let God be in charge of the final outcome.
By regularly incorporating gratitude to God into your weight loss journey, you will see the blessings that surround you. Accepting God's grace and compassion will move you into making healthy changes in order to stop the overeating cycle for good.
Help your family embrace a healthy lifestyle with Family Wellness by Dr. John Eckrich.