So You Want to Lose Weight
Dr. Michael L. Ford
In all my years of counseling I long ago lost count of the number of people, mostly women, who came into my office with issues where concerns about their weight was a key part. There are good reasons for some people to be concerned with weight loss, but first you must determine if you are really one of those people. The first thing I want to talk with you about when it comes to a desire to lose weight is what is your motivation(s) for desiring to lose weight?
If you have been slightly overweight all your life, it might well be that this is the way God designed you. It might not fit with the way society currently pressures people to look, right now, but if you were designed to be a bit chunky it is really better to leave things alone because trying to lose weight can trigger a lot of problems. For instance, losing weight is something that is usually not a short time effort. Most people who want to change their physical appearance from a weight perspective will need to be on a diet the rest of their lives. And, you can start a spiral of weight loss and weight gain that can leave you grossly, morbidly obese, afflicted with joint problems, and other ailments we are just learning about. In other words, something that was really only a social problem can be turned into a life-threatening problem. This is something that has been demonstrated by the U.S. military’s years of pressure on service people to fit a rather arbitrary weight standard based on height. So for the slightly overweight person who is feeling some mental pressure to lose weight, I suggest you give the matter a second thought.
The reality is that a certain amount of body fat is actually important to good health, and the exact amount is something that the definitive definition of is not yet truly known. It seems from observation over a number of generations that persons who are slightly heavy in their early years and slightly underweight, say from the mid fifties on generally live longer and healthier lives. But for a person only slightly overweight, the price you might pay for meeting social expectations may be more than you bargained for. So why do you really want to lose weight? If you are so heavy the weight makes it a problem for you being able to do what the average person can do, you might be too heavy. But not everyone can be an Olympic athlete or a runway model and it is foolish anytime one tries to be what God did not equip them to be. It is more important to be the best that God designed you for. I remember years ago reading an account of how my favorite Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello, was kept on a strict diet as a child. According to an article she never had a potato growing up. Later she would suffer the onset of multiple sclerosis, which has been linked to a Vitamin D deficiency, when it occurs in young adults. I do not know the multiple sclerosis can be attributed to her diet regimen. But I have been suspicious this might be the case for years. Don’t play games with your health to meet society’s pressures. It is not worth it.
So, why do you want to lose weight? Many times I have found that the reason someone wants to lose weight or recover a certain size they once had is because someone is putting pressure on them about it. If your boyfriend or girlfriend is making the price of their continued presence weight loss, cut your losses. I have found that people who make weight loss a condition of their continued presence are not going to stay around anyway. As soon as they find someone, they can attract, with a body type more in keeping with their desires you can look for them to leave. Someone who is that superficial will never establish the kind of relationship that is deep and meaningful. It is better to find out, and eliminate someone like that early rather than late in the association. Anyone who bases their relationship, friendship or more, on you meeting their expectations in such peripheral things does not qualify as a person you can build a meaningful lifetime of experiences with. That also includes the pressure to lose weight in order to fit in with a group. This happens to people a lot in High School. Does not work. So consider the reason you want to lose weight. If it is to meet other’s expectations, forget it. Going into weight control for such reason is a good way to be miserable twice over.
Now, if you have valid reasons to need to lose weight let me give you some hints that will help you to be successful:
1. The first of these is to not get roped into one of the weight loss clubs that take a lot of money for membership, sell you their foods, and put you on the spot when it comes time for weigh ins. For most people weight loss is very personal and people are going to plateau too, so they do not need the embarrassment of being a public spectacle when things do not go well
2. The second thing is take stock of what you are eating. Most people who gain weight do not eat well. They eat sweets and snacks instead of meals. Learning how to cook and taking time to cook good meals where the emphasis is on vegetables is a good place to start changing a lifestyle and at the same time gain a reputation for your abilities as a chef.
3. Make it a rule to never eat when you are not hungry. Never eat foods just to give yourself comfort, because you are depressed, or because you are lounging watching t.v. The second part of the rule to never eat except when you are hungry is to eat slowly and relish what you eat. Do not glut yourself by eating quickly so you do not eat beyond satisfaction. Never feel like you have to finish something because it is the last little piece either.
4. Get a good quality scale and weigh yourself daily at the same time of day. The best time is in the morning, right after your first trip to the toilet. Keep the scales on a flat hard surface so you always get an accurate reading. A morning weight check will help to encourage you in how you treat your food intake all the day.
5. Keep a journal. Begin it with your morning weigh in and then record what you eat, when you eat it, and how you feel about what is going on. You will often find a relationship between emotions and food intake. As you go through your day practice the Mind Renewal Plan I outlined in my booklet on the subject and found in the Book of Philippians chapter 4 beginning with verse 4.
¶ Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.
Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.
Be careful (concerned/worried) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Think on These Things
¶ Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true,
whatsoever things are honest,
whatsoever things are just,
whatsoever things are pure,
whatsoever things are lovely,
whatsoever things are of good report;
if there be any virtue,
and if there be any praise,
think on these things.
This is not a secret, but a biblical principle covering how Christians are supposed to order their thoughts. If something does “get you down” record it so that you can consider the whole matter later, learn and grow from the experience.
6. Let your family who lives with you know you are working at weight control and living more healthily. Advice them that you are not telling them this to make them watchdogs over what you put in your mouth, but because you want them to consider becoming partners with you in adopting a healthy nutritious lifestyle with less sweets made with artificial sweeteners and more good things to help them live longer and better lives. Don’t be discouraged if they are not overnight converts. And, don’t become the tormenter of someone close to you who chooses not to go along with the plan. People are not won that way and the person using such tactics do not endear themselves.
7. When you get hungry between meals use things like raw vegetables, fruit, and yogurt to satisfy your cravings. Any diet that leaves you hungry all the time leads to overeating. Also, hunger sensations are sometimes caused by other problems that will need to be identified if they persist in spite of healthy snacks. Sometimes medications will cause feelings of hunger, even though there might not be warning about this with the drug. One thing you will find is that supplementing food intake with vitamins and minerals will actually serve to give you more energy and to curb hunger cravings, but you always have to be careful if you are taking medications that the herbs you use do not conflict with the meds.
8. Give yourself treats. The best things are those you have made yourself limiting the amount of artificial sweeteners going into them. I prefer treats made with oatmeal as a basic ingredient. Oatmeal is great for lowering cholesterol and at the same time giving you a good taste. If you want a chocolate chip cookie you can make them with oatmeal, natural sweeteners and dark chocolate which has medical benefits over other kinds. Sweets have to be limited but the right kinds of sweets can be a treat and a health benefit at the same time.
9. Exercise as much as you can without straining or discouraging yourself. For disabled people or folks with problems like fibromyalgia this can be quite difficult to get in to. But exercise helps to maintain your internal workings and speed up your metabolism as well. Man was made to work and exercise is part of a healthy weight control regimen.
10. Do not leave God out of the equation. If He is not in it, you cannot succeed at it. You must be sure your efforts at weight loss or weight control is something that can be honor and glory unto the Lord. If you try to do it for other reason you are the more likely to fail or continue to be dissatisfied in success. If you try to do it for yourself the odds of success are not very good. But when you try to do it for the honor and glory of God, bathing the matter in prayer, well! Then you will likely find all the power of heaven backing you up!
P. O. Box 752
Buchanan, Georgia 30113