It’s rare to find a person that isn’t interested in dropping a little weight. Few of us are content with how we look even though 20 years from now it’s likely that we’ll look back on pictures and think- “dang! I looked gooood!” and chide ourselves for not being more thankful for bodies that function well & were healthy.
In my post about running recently I wrote about how I decided to try and “strive for five” fruits and veggies a day starting last January.
While I had developed a good running routine, the extra 20 lbs. of baby weight just wasn’t coming off very quickly. It’s funny that the things that are the easiest often seem the most difficult to practice- namely self-discipline when it comes to eating and exercise. It’s simple to say, “have an apple instead of five one cookie, but far more difficult to have the self-restraint to make this choice. In January I had set a goal to lose 10 lbs by March 1st. I didn’t put myself “on a diet” per say because I love to bake and I love to eat what I bake. Every other time I’ve tried to do things like Body for Life or the South Beach Diet I end up a: obsessing about what I CAN’T eat, b: sneaking things that the diet says I can’t eat (just a little ketchup won’t hurt will it Bill Phillips?) c: basically being really cranky because my life is consumed with thinking about what I should and shouldn’t eat.
So when I just decided to try and strive for 5 the only guideline I gave myself was that when I hit my goal of eating 5 a day, I could eat whatever I wanted after that. Pretty soon I found that when I had eaten portions of grapes, apples dipped in sunflower seed butter and stir-fry loaded with veggies, I wasn’t even hungry for the cookies I had baked or the ginormous bowl of popcorn to munch on while watching Lost. And even though I had set a goal of losing 10 lbs. by March 1st, I ended up dropping 15 lbs by the third week in February. I was amazed by how making this small yet powerful shift in my eating habits both changed my body and the way I thought about food.
The funny thing was, I felt like doing this was something I sensed God encouraging me towards years ago. When I was on a silent retreat I decided to get a massage- something I loooooove to indulge in every once in awhile. During the massage as I was enjoying the scent of lavender oils and feeling relaxed during a really stressful time in the year, I sensed God saying to me “eat only what I’ve made.” Now, I know to some people this will sound freaky-deaky. But it wasn’t- God likes to speak in lots of ways- through scripture, through our spirit sensing some kind of encouragement (rather than in booming thunder) or in words of truth spoken through a friend. It’s always personal and it’s always true. But at the time I thought- “dang it Lord, I LIKE Hot Cheetos! I like McDonald’s cheeseburgers (and I still do), I like brownies warmed in the microwave for 30 seconds with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and hot fudge drizzled on top!”
At the time though I sensed God was encouraging me to be more mindful of what I put into this body of mine, I wasn’t too into pursuing the self-discipline to change. When I started to eat more fruits and veggies, though my body was changing from what I was consuming, my inner world began to change too. Scripture tells us that “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely. Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.” galatians 5:22-23
These things are often referred to as “the fruit of the spirit.” And while I was putting more literal fruit into my body, I sensed that God was growing spiritual fruit of self-discipline in my life, a thankfulness for the people who grew the food I was consuming and a body that is healthy because of the choices I was making to care for it. Though we often think of things like self-control, love or peace as ethereal things- they aren’t. Our internal worlds shape our external world. God made us so that everything is connected- our bodies, our spirits our minds.
I’d going to throw down a challenge for anyone who reads my blog: September is national “5 a day month.” I’d love for you to join me in the challenge to eat 5 fruits and veggies a day for the rest of the month. Not only because it’s healthy, but I’m curious if what happened to me will happen to you too- that as you are more mindful of what you eat your inner world begins to change. Rather than just making this about physical fitness, I want to challenge you to pray that God would give you a spirit of self-discipline when it comes to eating or another area of your life. So how bout it? Anybody up for the challenge? Every Tuesday I’ll post something about how our inner world affects our outer world when it comes to eating & encouragements & accountability to “strive for 5” together. Post a comment in response to this blog if you’re in!
Here are some resources to help you get started:
Roasted beet wedges: Here’s a recipe for the roasted beets I recently made- try a new fruit or veggie this week! Or just use the allrecipes.com website to find out how to cook veggies you’ve never tried before!