I apologize for the delay. I have learned my lesson and from now on will substitute “more next time” in place of “more tomorrow.”
Where was I? Ah yes. What if instead of arranging our goals around our weight, we arranged them around our habits?
There are several facts of the matter that I had to stumble my way to, haltingly and reluctantly.
1. I am a rich woman.
I am. Now, how am I going to live?
I don’t approve of the world scene in which poor black women in Africa long for adequate nutrition, while rich white women in America glut themselves on a lavish array of the fat, the sweet, and the fresh—then torture themselves into razor-thin shapes.
To this rich white woman in America, several important words come to mind. Temperance. Gratitude. Humility. Generosity.
2. I have been given a beautiful gift: almost perfect health.
This was another epiphany: If my body were taken from me I would miss it very, very much. Silly of me, no? But to have a strong, pain-free, reasonably fit body with completely functional members? There’s no word for it but “wow.” And then, “thank you, Jesus.” With Job, I will now lay my hand over my mouth.
3. My body will not always look the same.
That’s a hard fact to adjust to. But bodies have phases. We can blame it on the babies if we want, and with good reason, but a number of my single friends have told me they had to start watching themselves at a similar age. Some girls face it far younger—a pre-adolescent wave of weight gain as early as 9-11. And another wave at the 25 year mark. And another at 45 or 50. It’s a body’s way of marking stages, preparing for the stresses ahead. I may work to stay fit, but I must accept the stage my body is at. I’m not a teen anymore.
4. Believe it or not, my body will look something like my mom’s and my grandma’s.
The illusion of a one-size-for-all willowy beauty queen is a myth. I am made in a bit of a mold.
5. Modesty is not the only virtue.
My habits matter even if they never show. My size matters even if it’s all covered up.
6. Again, the perfect weight is the one at which I am healthy, active, joyful, and self-controlled.
I decided to take the crazy step of ignoring my scale (truly!) and making a health plan for myself that I felt good about—a plan that allowed joy and discipline to coexist.
I wanted three things.
- A whole person in harmony,* with my energy level, my appetites, and my overall health submitted to Christ, ready for service
- A body attractive to my husband and pleasant to myself
- A workable long-term plan that did not require starving myself into happiness
* That phrase sounds New Agey but it’s not. All it means is that I have both a body and a soul. My habits in one carry over into the other. Both are important; both must be brought under the lordship of Christ.
And then I sat down and made a plan.
Which I honestly got suddenly shy of sharing here—one of the numerous reasons I was stalling. On the other hand, I don’t believe it helps that much to discuss theory if we can’t discuss practicum.
Out of seven resolutions, two or three dropped clean off my radar and I also cheated at least once a day. But it helped.
1. To ignore my scale entirely for the remainder of the year (Oct-Dec)
2. To take vigorous exercise at least x times a week
3. To care for my body simply and thoroughly
4. To go without food one meal per week
5. To make a meal plan that looked like this
- A hot drink and a piece of fruit for breakfast
- A single item for lunch*
- A nice plate of food for supper**
6. To announce aloud before any snack what I was going to eat
7. To find another joy to replace that of enormous snacking after the kids are in bed: one piece of candy I really, really like
* Anything I want, but only one variety: a sandwich/ a salad/ a bowl of baked beans/ tortilla chips with hummus.
** “A nice plate of food” is code for no seconds. It just sounds—nicer.
So there it is. Rather rough, but helpful for me—helpful most of all to think in terms of how I wanted to live instead of what I wanted to weigh. This was (for me) a very strict plan. Even cheating, I lost the weight I wanted to, and now of course in the maintenance stage I’ve gotten lazy. But holding to even a couple of items on the list has helped me gain some focus and intentionality. I need much less than I think I do. And simultaneously, the food I’m eating is usually just what I want.
What say you?
If you want the template for crafting a similar health plan of your own, click here.