grew up in the 1960s and ’70s as a Church of God preacher’s kid. One of the greatest things about our church was fellowship. Usually, fellowship meant food . . . and lots of it.
There were lots of activities we were not allowed to do, so going out to eat was a world-class event. The conversation on the way to church usually consisted of “Where will we eat after church?” I was not taught the importance of practicing a healthy lifestyle, and it was manifested in my physical life as the years passed by.
As I grew older, I abused my body through eating the wrong things and not exercising enough. My weight peaked at 333 pounds. Like most everybody who is over- weight, I tried many diets and lost hundreds of pounds in the process. Nothing ever worked long-term. The taste of food always won the battle over the thought of being at a normal weight.
In July 2009, I changed my life. A crisis moment compelled me to decide I would never be obese again. The best way I can describe this moment is Romans 12:2: “Be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
The decision to change my life was a transformation due to the renewing of my mind. I was a changed man in one day and began the process of dropping weight. Over the next 16 months, I lost 110 pounds. During this period, more was happening than the loss of weight. I was learning about fit living and actually enjoying it.
When my journey began, I was mostly interested in losing weight. Having attempted fad diets in the past and gaining the weight back, I knew I had to change my habits and begin honoring God with my body. I learned that diet is a noun, not a verb.
Along with eating a healthy diet, I began walking 25 miles a week. Eventually, the walk became a run, and today I compete in races all over the country. I have completed one full marathon (26.2 miles) and over 60 other races in 20 states. It has been five years since I began the journey, and I have successfully maintained my weight loss. More importantly, I have learned about healthy living. It is who I am, not what I strive to be.
Here are seven steps to consider in becoming healthier and fit.
1. Make the decision.
Choose to transform your life by the renewing of your mind. The first step to good health and fitness is to change your thought process. Nothing about a fad diet or a fitness-center membership will do that for you. You have to do it yourself. Anything else is just putting a Band-Aid on the problem.
2. Have a plan.
When I made the decision five years ago, my plan consisted of walking 25 miles a week. I did not intend to become a runner; that just happened. Running did not cause me to lose weight; you cannot outrun a bad diet! Healthy eating is vital, and you should exercise by doing something fun. Biking, swimming, hiking, walking, lifting weights, running—it doesn’t matter which you do, as long as you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, you will quit.
3. Set a goal.
I wanted to weigh 190 pounds, but I never reached that goal. However, I have maintained my weight at around 215 pounds for over three years. My weight, however, is not as important as eating healthy. My goal of 190 pounds was the catalyst for a weight loss of 110 pounds in 16 months.
You need a goal, and you need to own it. Make your goal known through social media or other means. It keeps you accountable. I still have the blog I wrote about my goal and read it frequently. Even if you don’t quite reach your weight goal, the ultimate aim is leading a healthy life.
4. Become obsessive.
Some people are obsessed about their sports teams; I am obsessed about my
health . . . and everyone around me knows this. I have to be obsessed in order to maintain. Obsession is good if it’s about the right thing. There is a difference between being obsessed and obnoxious.
5. Educate yourself.
When I started five years ago, I had no clue about healthy living. I have educated myself about what to eat and drink. I am still learning every day.
I have learned that Americans don’t eat real food; we eat processed foods. However, we can learn to enjoy genuine food instead of processed junk. The Internet is full of great resources. The key is to avoid those websites that are attempting to sell a particular product.
Here is a good start: Stop consuming foods and drinks from cans, and stop using artificial sweeteners. Start eating organic foods. Eat little or no pork and red meat, and eat more fish and chicken. Drink water. Add spices like turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne. God has created real food for us, but man messed it up by adding chemicals. Research “super foods” and consider adding these to your diet.
6. Help others.
I wrote a book called All My Strength. It is my story and my way of attempting to help others. We have a responsibility to help each other with the knowledge we attain. I wish I had learned about healthy living earlier.
7. It’s a spiritual matter.
If the Lord gave us a beautiful vacation home for the summer, would we take care of it? Would we attempt to leave it in better shape than when He gave it to us? I believe most of us would.
In fact, the Lord did give us a house to live in. He calls it “the temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19 NKJV), and He compels us to take care of it. It is good for us and our families, and it is God’s best for each of us.
Who should lead the way in healthy living? Who better to carry the banner of healthy living than holiness people?
We have always been wise in warning against the health risks of smoking and drinking, but what about the risk of eating the wrong things? It is my desire to see a health revolution invade this church to the point that our healing lines are shortened. There is healing in God’s food; there is disease in man-made food.
Let’s embrace personal holiness by treating our bodies as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Not only will we live longer . . . we will also live better.