I was 44 when I found myself in a neuro-oncology unit unable to walk or stand and seeing the world in double.
After dozens of blood draws, CT scans, MRIs, x-rays, neurological evaluations, and a spinal tap thrown in for fun, the numerous doctors consulting on my case still couldn’t determine what was wrong with me. But after several weeks and lots of IV steroids, they sent me home.
Shortly after I was released, I determined to try to do what I could to improve my health. My first priority was to lose weight. I was 5’8″ and weighed at 245 pounds and hoped that among other things, weight loss would positively affect my newly-diagnosed diabetes.
I’d dieted most of my life and thought foods were “good” or “bad.”
Dieting was about deprivation. If I ate a bite of cake or a cookie, I immediately felt like a failure. As a child, my father had shamed me for my weight. I don’t think he did it to be mean. My father’s weight never fluctuated more than 5 pounds over his entire life. He was an engineer, and the world was black and white. I think he intended to motivate me, but his harsh words harsh haunted me for decades.
I created a simple plan.
- Eat more of the healthy foods I loved.
- Eat fewer calorie-laden foods.
- Find lower-calorie substitutes for high calorie foods.
- Reduce portions. I could eat all of it, but I couldn’t eat it all at once. (I began asking for only half of a restaurant meal to be brought to the table and the other half to be boxed up for me to take home.)
- Become more active.
- Eat and enjoy what I liked.
My plan was sensible and simple. It focused on foods I liked and wasn’t a “diet.” It was a plan I could live with for life.
I joined Curves with my daughter. We met in the morning and chatted our way through our exercise. It was such fun being with her that I loved to go. Slowly, over the course of about two years, I lost 75 pounds. I’ve kept the weight off for over fifteen years.
At no point did I feel like I was on a “diet.”
I eat everything and anything. I simply eat more of some things than others. I’ve made sure I eat my favorite healthy foods regularly: chicken, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, oatmeal, sugar-free popsicles, Special K Protein Flakes (I LOVE this cereal!), mini carrots, apples, fresh asparagus, broccoli, green beans, and more.
On occasion I split a nutty donut with a friend or indulge in Sonic onion rings. I also love all things bread. I eat pizza, cookies, and Culver’s frozen custard—but not very often and not in large amounts. But I don’t need to any more. Small, occasional treats satisfy me.
As my eating changed, my appetite and palate shifted.
I seldom eat french fries anymore because I don’t enjoy them as much.
This way of eating works for me. It allows me to eat sensibly and follow diabetic guidelines.
Looking at Scripture, we find many references to food. Jesus is the bread of life. Biblical celebrations are marked by feasting, and Bible passages often cite the fatty portions of meat as the most choice. Many of Jesus’s most memorable sermons and interactions involve food and beverage. Food is typically portrayed as celebratory.
God gives food to us as a gift, and we are to enjoy it while using it wisely.
My body is healthier at my current weight, although I am still pushing toward a goal to lose another ten pounds.1 Corinthians 10:31 tell us “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” This includes trying to maintain a healthy diet and weight, drink water, and walk on our treadmill five times a week for therapy. For the Christian, stewardship is a matter of all we have and all we are, which includes stewardship of our bodies.
My plan consisted of simple steps, but discipline and routine are important to me. More importantly, they work for me and keep me moving forward.