Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Spiritual Side of Health and Weight Loss

Part I of III
Look here for Part II of III
and here for Part III
So often, we set out on a new adventure in life and at the onset, we have absolutely no idea just how much that we DO NOT know about the direction that we are going. The first few years after I turned my life over to Christ was a constant trial and error as I learned more about His Word and the direction that He designed for me. The same thing was true in the first years of marriage and motherhood. I kept looking for the book or the person with the tried and true formula for success. I found a vast amount of advice and examples to guide me along the way, but in the end, the best teaching that I received was when the Holy Spirit spoke into my heart. It was at those times that I knew very specific instruction was etched in my heart, and it was there to guide me along as I navigated unfamiliar territory.
The University of Maryland Medical Center discusses the historic connection between the health of the body and spirit, and how the scientific revolution sought to treat with medicine alone for some time, but is now acknowledging the research supporting this vital connection between body and spirit.  Understanding that it is God who designed these vessels, I believe that we can learn how to manage our health, weight and physical strength. If we first begin with the spiritual aspects, we gain control of our emotions and bring our physical being into order. I seek to offer some encouragement and direction in this area, so that you can begin to see progress in all three of these areas. I will begin with the area of the spirit.

Our physical flesh is a rowdy rival of the spirit. At times we feel like the flesh rules us, and other times we feel “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” –Matt 26:41, but the beginning of that verse says, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation…” This is the very key to overcoming the flesh. You may ask, “How is my health/weight related to prayer?” It is deeply connected to the source of power that we draw from. During the years that my weight registered in the obese category, it was never my intention to be that weight. I did not wake up wondering how I would maintain my grand stature, nor did I rejoice over the fact that I was winded with every flight of stairs I had to climb. I did not actively pursue that condition, but I allowed my flesh to drag me around like pony on a leash. But there is an amazing thing about the Holy Spirit: it contains the power to overcome any adversity or addiction. The Holy Spirit gives us eyes to see and ears to hear. With the Holy Spirit, the purpose for the changes in our lives become a part of your “character DNA,” creating long-term, life-enduring progress.

Nov 2009
While I was not a habitual “dieter” in terms of programs and such, seeking weight loss always seemed to be something that I had on my mind. At one point, in my early 30’s, I was fairly successful with the Adkin’s diet, and lost around 80 lbs. I will come back to this in a future post, but what I do want to point out about this time period, is that I did not see things from a spiritual perspective or from a long-term health perspective. I simply saw the program as a vehicle to lose weight. So as you can imagine, as some of my old habits (some principles I tried to hold on to), I gained back 40-50 of the 80 lbs that I lost.

In 2011, when I first experienced the “Mom Moment," I knew that I could not make a lasting difference in my health unless the Lord gave me strength. It was no different than an alcoholic putting down the drink, except, complete abstinence of food is not an option, we have to eat to live! At this point in my life, the economy was causing a severe hardship for our family, and there were often days that I was not sure if I could mentally endure the struggle that we were experiencing. If I ever had a good excuse to crawl in a hole and cry, it was during this particular time. I often had to step carefully around the pit of depression and discouragement, and learn to catapult myself over walls that tried to block me in. But I did not do this alone.

Daily, hourly, and minute by minute, my prayers included whispers of, “Lord, show me how to develop temperance, endurance, consistency and give me a greater desire to honor you by placing value on the things that are lasting, my faith, my family, my loved ones and my health.” When the funds were very limited, I asked God to teach me how to provide healthy meals for my family on a limited budget. When my flesh did not want to get outside to exercise, I prayed for a spirit to overcome the old habit of laziness. I asked God to give me a vision for an active lifestyle that would include the ability to keep up with my kids and other little loved ones and enjoy the days and years that I have with my husband. When I set out to complete my first couch to 5k program, one part of my mind could not comprehend how I would complete it, but by praying through the running intervals, I was amazed that each and every time that I did it without quitting. I would pray, that God would teach me endurance during adversity, and I dwelt upon this passage:

Jan 2014
"Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified." -1 Cor 9:24-27 NLT

This verse is specifically referring to the Christian’s walk and call to their faith, and as an integral part of honoring the life that He has given me, I was able to draw great strength from these verses. The verse that says, “So I run with purpose in every step” is a golden nugget! This is the type of reminder that should be written on the bathroom wall, stuffed in workout shoes, and repeated several times a day. When God gives us that purpose, He allows it to be the fuel for our journey!

Let me tell you how this translates in my life.

From the time that I first set out to serve the Lord, there has been a tug on my heart to minister to the needs of the body of Christ. Specifically to women, mothers and wives. It is so easy for us to stay busy caring for those around us and we forget the fact that we lead others by example. As mothers, our children, though they do not always do as we say, they often do what we do. In many ways, we set them up for success or for failure, based on our own actions. It is far more important that we model habits and a lifestyle that will foster good spiritual, emotional and physical health. Experiencing spiritual breakthrough in this area gave me the faith in God to step into new areas, areas that I would not have previously had the courage to do alone. Understanding that He is the perfect way-maker (not that things are always perfect, but that He makes a perfect way in all things), I began to trust that His vision is grander than mine could ever be. When we are willing to turn our stubborn flesh over to the Lord, and allow Him to breathe purpose in our lives, the results are astounding! I will share more about how this experience has opened doors to new areas that I never would have dreamed of before.

Stay tuned! In another post, I will share the emotional side and the physical side of health and weight loss. These three things come together to offer a full, healthy perspective on lifelong weight management as a natural side effect of good health. If I can do this, so can you! 


Tasha Brickhouse

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