I have often been asked what I did to lose weight and get in shape. Much to the disappointment of many who ask, I have to tell them what they don’t want to hear. It takes work!
Because I have struggled in the last 2 years to keep my weight in check and to stay physically active, I thought it would be good encouragement to myself to go through my initial motivations to lose weight and what I did then to get me to where I needed to be. (And where I need to get back to).
When we first arrived in Mexico in August of 2004 I realized that I was very unhealthy. My weight had gotten over 270 lbs. that year (photo). I was spiritually convicted by the fact that, as a missionary, I was doing an important job that would be a poor reflection of my Lord with the body I currently had. While I know there are Bible verses I could have used to say why someone should take care of their body physically, for me it was a matter of knowing that I would die an early death and not be able to serve God long term with the way I was living.
Besides the physical aspect of my condition, there was also a spiritual problem I was facing. There was a need in my life to become more spiritually focused. You are probably thinking to yourself that I could not be too far off the mark if I had spent all my adult life in ministry and had just moved to the foreign field as a missionary. But anyone who travels constantly (which I had done for 10 years up to that point) knows the struggle one faces when they have no daily routine. When do you read your Bible? When do you pray? It becomes so easy to say that you will do it later in the day. But sometimes many days, or even weeks, go by and you realize that you have been drifting spiritually. That is where I was.
I needed to get some focus back in my spiritual, as well as my physical, life.
Not having done much exercise in the recent years, I figured a good place to start was walking around the block and searching for help on the Internet. I read that you should combine aerobic exercise with some weight training for a healthy routine. I bought a barbell, a few pounds of weights and a jump-rope. I don’t remember where I got all my information, but I started with jumping rope and lifting light weights. I got started with a jump-rope, a few weights and a neighborhood I could walk in. It was October 2004 when I got serious about all of this.
When I got started I was down to 264. I had lost 10 lbs. during the move and was eating better since we were eating at home and no longer traveling constantly. I had a goal to get down to the weight I was when we got married 10 years before. I don’t know why I remember that I weighed 227 at our wedding, but that became my target. Secretly however, I would have loved to get down to 200. I hadn’t weighed that little since high school.
I had had goals before, but they were always a weight associated with a date. It had never worked. Maybe it works for some people, but for me I would see that I was not going to reach my goal in the time I wanted, so I would just give up. I needed a different plan.
Instead of focusing on the 37 lbs. that I needed to lose to reach the goal, I focused on smaller numbers with absolutely no time restrictions. At first I thought that if I could lose 2 lbs. I would only need to lose 35 more. But that still seemed like a big number after I got rid of those 2 lbs. I then switched my focus again to an even smaller number. If I lost just 2 more pounds then I would be at 160. If I can lose 2 lbs. then I could easily lose 3 for my next step.
By that time I had totally ignored any long term goal and started focusing only on the mini-steps that would push me the right direction. My focus was losing 2 lbs. then 3 lbs. for a total of 5 pound chunks. Then I would go back to the 2 lbs. again. I alternated between 2 pound and 3 pound goals for several months.
When I finally did reach 227 I knew there was no way I was going to stop there.
Things were coming back into focus for me spiritually too. I was able to settle into a routine that allowed me to carve out time every day to read my Bible and pray. At that point it was not a matter of whether I could spend time with the Lord, it became a matter of whether I would spend time with Him. I had the time and the place set aside; I simply needed to be obedient.
Discipline in one area of my life reflected discipline in other areas. If I was motivated to exercise then I would use that encouragement to help me discipline myself spiritually. Most of the time they went hand in hand with no extra motivation needed. But sometimes I had to tell myself that it was not fair to my spirit if I was willing to exercise my body but not read my Bible. Then there were times I felt lazy and wanted to just read my Bible and ignore my body (that happened less often). I would encourage myself that they were both important.
I had hoped to get this all out in one post, but I can see that it would be so long as to discourage you from reading it. I don’t know how many parts it will take to tell the whole story, but doing it this way allows me to cover more ground and gives me a reason to sit at the keyboard and add some words to the space I am paying for every month anyway.