A few of my friends have asked some questions about the Beautiful Women’s night this past Friday night sponsored by Ballycullen Church here in Dublin, Ireland. I decided to post the transcript from my talk from this event. I hope that reading this will provide you all with some encouragement and some helpful tips to be the healthiest you can be!
I was so excited when the ladies asked me to speak today. While going over all of the important things I wanted to say today, I realized that just talking about what to eat, how much to eat, just wasn’t what I wanted to say. Most of us know what we should be eating and what we shouldn’t be eating too often. So instead let me ask you, how healthy are you? Think about yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being the least healthy. And consider why you rated yourself that. Health is defined as “the general condition of the body or mind with reference for sound or vigor.” Are your efforts to be healthy more related to the condition of your body or for beauty and vanity? As women, we are under a lot of pressure to achieve a standard of beauty that is defined by our culture. We all have struggles related to this. Whether it is struggling with our weight, a specific outward trait, being active, eating healthy. The list could go on. I am so glad you are all here today, and whatever reason you came today, I hope you can take home a little extra confidence and a couple tips that will help you to become a little healthier. My goal is to help you put into practice one of my favorite passages from the bible. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.” How do we honor God with our bodies when it comes to being healthy?
To tackle this questions, I’d like to look at 4 reasons, I think, we fail to be healthy, and what to do about it.
- We have the wrong motivation
Consider your past efforts to “get healthy”. Motivation has come from doctors, parents or spouses, or maybe a desire to look like someone else. How many of us have tried to lose weight for a wedding, a reunion, a holiday, only to regain everything we had lost not long after the event? Our motivation cannot come from something or someone else. It must come from OUR desire to make a change. I challenge you to think a little differently tonight, and consider eating differently not to look good, but to be healthy. We should strive for health to honor our bodies, and to do good on this earth for the Lord. When our motivations turn from fleeting to steadfast, we can actually change habits and make progress.
To find your steadfast motivation, think about the reasons you desire to be healthy. Important people in your life can be motivators (your children, grandchildren, or spouse). Having more energy or taking less medications are good examples of some practical reasons you may want to get healthy. Your real motivation needs to come from YOUR desire to be healthy. Your reasons for being healthy are what will sustain change. Consider recording your motivations on paper. Record motivations that are not for vanity, or for an event that will come and go, but instead record those that are lasting, the reasons you desire to be healthy.
- We make changes that are too BIG
As humans we are not made for drastic change. There is actually a physical response to large changes that then inhibits us from any sort of rational thinking. Then we just give up. This is typically what happens with a new “diet”. When we go on a “diet”, we decide to change absolutely everything about what and how we eat. We expect insane results on day 1. When we don’t see the results, when our willpower runs out, when stress, loneliness or fatigue hit, or when it’s time for our best friend’s birthday party, we say, “I’ll start again on Monday.” We are constantly dissatisfied with our appearance, constantly searching for the next “diet”, and completely exhausted from thinking about it all! So before you consider your next diet, try starting with something small. Small changes are easy, being patient for results is hard! I have put together a list of 5 examples of small changes to get you started. #1. Always eat something for breakfast! It will help your metabolism get started in the morning. Try an egg with a slice of toast, or some museli over yogurt. #2. Try making ½ of your dinner plate veggies. Sorry potatoes don’t count hereJ 3. Eat every 3-5 hours, don’t let yourself get overly hungry, we all know what happens when we do that… #4. Limit the junk, but also don’t deprive yourself. Practice self-control and have only a small amount. #5. Purchase a pedometer and add more steps to your daily routine. Remember every step counts, don’t feel like you have to get an hour of exercise every day for it to make a difference!
- We believe many lies
To illustrate this point, I am going to give you 4 examples of some common lies I hear my friends and other women saying.
Lie number 1: I can’t do it! We may not believe we can get healthy. We may think: I don’t have willpower. Or, I have failed so many times in the past, I won’t be able to do it this time. We can practice combating lies a few ways. We can memorize scripture. For every lie we tell ourselves, there is a truth found in the Bible. Change that lie into a truth from God. We may not be able to do it in our own strength, but the Lord will help us. Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” We can also practice writing our own truth. To fight this lie, we might say, “My willpower may not be the best, but it is enough, and I can plan my day so that I will be successful and not fall into temptation.”
The second lie is “I deserve it.” We have too many excuses. It seems that everything is an excuse to indulge. Whether it is a reward, a “cheat day”, or a celebration. These events are too frequent, and have become the best way to sabotage otherwise good healthy nutrition. I am not saying we should never have treats, in fact, you will probably have a treat tonight! And, don’t worry, no one will be judging you. What I am saying is that for many of us, “treats” are too frequent. There is no magic rule for how frequent they can be, and everyone’s is different, but consider 1 Corinthians 10:31, “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial.” Our culture tells us it’s OK to overindulge and to make unhealthy choices because we deserve it. The bible tells us that courage to deny unhealthy desires takes self-control, a skill admired by God.
The third lie sounds something like this: I’ll never be as thin or as pretty as her, I may as well give up. Comparison seems to be the root of many of our struggles with health. Pastor John Piper says, “Comparison is either boasting or wallowing, neither or which are helpful.” Comparing ourselves will always result in failure somehow. We will either become prideful, or we will throw ourselves a pity party. To fight comparison, we can write, “I am working to be the healthiest I can be, and that makes me happy.” It can also help to focus on inner beauty. What does God say is beautiful? 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” God admires a gentle and quiet spirit. Even dictionary.com has a definition that is not based on outward appearance. Beauty is defined as “an individually pleasing quality, grace, or charm.” Of course, recognizing that inner beauty is far more important, doesn’t mean abandoning healthy habits. On the contrary, it means continuing to make healthy choices because we are loved, and because we were made to do great things.
The last lie I will discuss is that there are good and bad foods. Actually there are no good or bad foods. We make food bad by using it for other reasons than nourishment, and by using it in inappropriate amounts. For example, if you eat 3 avocadoes, do you think you are eating well? Probably not, you would probably say, no that was too many. If you had a small 50 calorie chocolate bar, would you say that was bad? Probably not. Foods are not inherently good or bad, but they become either depending on the amount we eat, or why we are eating them.
- We fail to prepare for battle and forget to ask for God’s help
Often we go into our day unprepared. With an attitude like that, we will fail. We need a plan, we need to be prepared for the battles. We need help to overcome these struggles! We can be assured that God is there to help us. We can practice Ephesians 6:13 which says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.” When we prepare for our day, we should think about all of the things we are gaining from our healthy choices, not dwelling on the things we can’t have. Keeping a positive attitude and focusing on taking care of yourself is what will encourage success. A “poor me” attitude won’t do anyone any good. Prepare for your battle ahead by believing in yourself, asking for God’s help, and planning. If we fail to plan, we will plan to fail.
What happens when we start to practice all of this?
As we find steadfast motivation, start making small changes, recognize the lies we are believing, and prepare ourselves for the day, we will see a change in our spirit and in our minds. We will start to find victory. We will find delight in honoring our bodies and taking care of ourselves. We will see that we “can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). So whatever the struggle with taking care of our bodies, the Lord is here to help. Whether it’s weight, exercise, food choices, or discontent in appearance, he is here to help, if we will only ask for it. Overcoming our struggles will lead to growth. Our faith will become stronger and we will develop perseverance. Let’s strive for health. Let us honor our bodies for the Lord. Let’s always remember 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your body.”