Making a lifestyle change is never easy. Let’s face it, we all want to have our cake and eat it too. We want to eat fried chicken and ice cream (at least I do!). When we exercise, a light stroll around the neighborhood is justification to go home and have that bowl of ice cream, or a little bite of brownie, because, hey, after all, we just walked, we deserve it! Or, one of my favorite and overused excuses for indulging is a really stressful or hectic day at work. If I’ve been on a dead run for most of the day and/or I’ve been pulled in a hundred different directions at once and am wound as tight as a spring, french fries at the drive through, a double-tall-mocha-caramel frappuccino is just what will relax me. After all, I deserve it!
What it all boils down to is the part of our humanity that wants to control our lives, every single part of it, eating and exercising included. We want to say, “Nobody’s gonna tell me what to do!” Not taking care of the body God gave us is really a control issue. But I propose this to you: Overeating, eating consistently unhealthy and little or no exercise is controlling you and taking away your freedom, not the other way around. When you take a few days to eat right and exercise, don’t you feel quite different, both physically and mentally? Your energy level goes up and you sleep better. Little things don’t bother you quite as much. You feel better because you have the freedom from unhealthy and, for some, compulsive behaviors.
Other than the obvious, why does this freedom make us feel so good? Because it lines us up with our true selves, our purpose for being, to walk in perfect harmony with our Creator. God didn’t make robots; He gave us the freedom to choose. When we choose to surrender all aspects of our lives to Him, including diet and exercise, we will experience joy and harmony in a way we never dreamed we could. Surrendering all things to God gets us (egos, wants, compulsions) out of the way so He can bring out your best and you can have a more perfect walk with Him.
Surrender. Wow, that’s a hard one for most of us. It’s also not a once and you’re done kinda thing. It is an ongoing process, sometimes several times a day. If we ask, God will show us all sorts of areas we’re holding back from His control. If it’s eating, you may need to surrender every morning, possibly even at every meal. You may be one of those that have a very limited list of what you do like to eat or would consider eating (to put it plainly, a picky eater). The key is to find things you do like and make healthy, balanced choices. You like fried chicken, but it’s obviously not a healthy option. Try oven-fried chicken – dredge a skinless chicken breast in an egg wash, season with herbs, roll it in panko crumbs and oven bake it. You love greens, but only the way grandma used to make them, shiny with ham grease. Oh, forgive us Father for what that does to our arteries! You’d be surprised how good vegetables are cooked in chicken broth with a piece or two of turkey bacon thrown in for seasoning. Another option – if you have cooked a ham, put the broth in the refrigerator overnight, skim off the fat the next day and then use it for seasoning vegetables. You have all the glorious ham flavor without the fat. It also freezes nicely for future use. Pour the defatted broth into an ice tray and, after frozen, put the cubes in a freezer bag. The next time you need it for seasoning it’s as easy as taking a few cubes and dropping into a pot of vegetables.
How about exercise? I know our schedules are just so packed that it’s difficult to find the time for exercise. How about giving up one hour of television, or even 30 minutes, for a little exercise of your choice? Walk the dog, easy aerobics, play tag with the kids. If you’re really honest with yourself, I’m sure there are little bits of time throughout the day you can work in exercise. Even parking in the spot that is at the other end of the parking lot from where you need to enter a building can add steps and more exercise to your day.
As you take this first step, I suggest you consider this an opportunity to focus on the discipline of surrender. How willing are you to let God be in control and allow Him to work in you? As you take this first step, use this opportunity to look for ways to allow God to direct your steps every day, and ask Him to open your eyes to areas you are holding on to as tightly as you can and not letting Him have the control, especially in the areas of eating and exercise. Start your day with prayer and have conversations with Him during the day to keep you focused on His perfect will for you, both spiritually and physically.
Father God, right here, right now I give back to you the works of Your own hands. You designed me and made me, and I know You desire for me health and wholeness. Help me to want Your will for me. I know that I need Your strength and power to begin a healthy lifestyle. I am surrendering all of my excuses and rationalizations and giving them to You. Lord, I am raising the white flag and asking You to be in control from this point forward. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.
Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.