The health plan

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.

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10 years ago

“My habits matter even if they never show. My size matters even if it’s all covered up.” This was the most powerful line to me.
Glad you were brave enough to let us in on your processing!

10 years ago
Reply to  Anita

Thank you. This was almost a direct quote from a friend of mine.

10 years ago

Happy you found something that works for you!

10 years ago

I like your list. I like that you are ok that some dropped off your radar. I like that you still experienced success. If it’s not too personal, could you share some ideas for vigorous exercise? Thanks

10 years ago
Reply to  janelle

I just want to go on record as saying that exercise is hard, esp for a mommy. Sadly, that was one of the first things to drop.

I love biking–up and down hill on the streets around my house. In the fall this was great, for 30-45 minutes on a quiet evening or weekend when Ryan was home with the kids. Wintertime? Don’t make me laugh.

I have a friend who does freestyle dance, to music, in the privacy of her room first thing in the morning before catching a shower.

For a while I got together with a friend and a walking exercise DVD… Sledding (walking uphill all those times :)), pulling the kids for a walk in a wagon or stroller, running races with my boys, indoor tournaments of jumping jacks and sit-ups…

10 years ago
Reply to  Shari

thanks, Shari. I’ve been reading about planking as a strength and toning exercise… never tried it for longer than 60 seconds – hard! And as always… not so good at repeating any random acts of exercise. 🙂

10 years ago

What do you mean …”care for my body simply and thoroughly”?

10 years ago


That was a catch-all phrase with some very concrete ideas behind it. Mostly it means that caring for a body can take as much time as you want to give it. Personally, I like to streamline the process (or I get terribly bored)–being efficient about haircare, nails, legs, moisturizers, eyes, teeth, skin–doing it well so I don’t have to do it as often. It means I don’t require the latest and greatest, but pick the simple products that work best for me without heavy time commitments. Tranquil, stress-free, non-frilly.

10 years ago
Reply to  Shari

Oh yeah that makes total sense!

10 years ago

Good for you for coming up with a plan that suits your desire to live well and that enabled you to reach your goals. You look fantastic!

10 years ago

I like how you’ve summed it up. Do you find you think about it even more with a little daughter coming along in your heels? I know I have… How to teach healthy discipline balanced with a healthy delight… Thanks for your thoughts and an enjoyable subject!

10 years ago
Reply to  Alisa

Yes, I do! She will adopt for her own (at least in childhood) the same concept of her body that I have of mine. Rather frightening when you stop and think about it.

10 years ago

I agree with previous comments, hurrah for finding something that works for you! Remind me that I have more to say about this the next time I see you;)

10 years ago

Thank you Shari for letting us in on your plan!!! 🙂 I have more to say too!! 🙂 Craig and I are busy getting ready to head for VA. James Swartz is planning to get married this weekend!!! But thank you until I can get my thoughts together!!! Blessings, Brenda

10 years ago

Have you ever heard of the idea to eat a large breakfast, medium lunch, and small supper? The goal being to provide lots of fuel for your metabolism during the day when your body needs it, and ramp down as you get closer to bedtime.

I’ve never tried it myself, but would be curious to know what impact it would have on one’s well-being.

10 years ago
Reply to  Alvin

Hmm. No, I haven’t. Makes a lot of sense to me though, and would probably be effective if for no other reason than that it’s exactly opposite what many of us do…

I’ve always liked eating at bedtime. Singularly unfortunate.

Dena Skrivseth
10 years ago
Reply to  Shari

Yes have heard of the method that Alvin talked about…but it doesn’t really work for a mother with a family…who needs to cook an evening meal, sit with the family, but not eat it!! 🙂
The method Shari mentioned does work!! I had a similar plan years ago, only I had prune juice for breakfast, fresh veggies for lunch, and a ‘normal’ supper…somewhere along the way responsibilities tend to bog one down, and it feel by the wayside!!
So as an encouragement to Shari…hang in there!! 🙂

10 years ago

breakfast is the most important meal. supper should be light. It’s not good to go to bed with your stomach the fullest it’s been all day! Your heart and other organs have to work waaaay to hard! Especially if you’ve had protein. It doesn’t mean you can’t have supper, just means it should never be the heaviest and biggest meal of the day. Yes, I’ve been to a dietician 🙂

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