As someone who has ridden the “Diet Roller Coaster” since she was fourteen years old, I’ve been through a plethora of fad diets. You know the story… you’re motivated and on fire when you first start a new diet, and you even do really well for a week or two. But when something gets in the way of that initial motivation, or when you’re faced with all kinds of sugary temptations at a family function or birthday party, you throw in the towel. Ultimately, you end up gaining back the weight you lost and then some. I assure you, friends, if I had a dime for every time I said “I’ll start fresh on Monday,” I would be rich by now.
Believe it or not, even with that track record, I have been known to call myself a Health and Wellness Coach. I use that term lightly, though; I don’t have that title as a certified professional in the industry, but with what I do for my side hustle these days, that is exactly what I am. For all intents and purposes, let’s just say I’m a Wellness Coach- total wellness that is. I may share some interesting facts about physical health and clean eating once in a while, but my real passion is to help other women like me find spiritual and emotional health, too. Even more-so!
If you would have told me five years ago that I would one day be a Wellness Coach, health or otherwise, I would have died laughing. But isn’t that just how God works? I know someone who was mercilessly teased when he was a boy for a speech impediment, and today he is a well-known motivational speaker and preacher. In one of her books, Joyce Meyer tells us that she was lucky to pass English classes with D’s year after year, and now she teaches, preaches, studies the Word of God like nobody’s business, and has written more books than I can count. Of course, let’s not forget about how God used Paul! (Read Acts for the miraculous story about how Saul went from one of the worst prosecutors to Paul, a fierce Christ-follower who went on to write two-thirds of the New Testament!)
It’s taken me five years, but I finally embraced the reality that God turned this food addict into a health and wellness coach! I not only help people stay motivated when they’ve decided to make healthy changes, but I educate them about what they put into their bodies and how it affects their health. For example, I teach people that it can be toxic for your body if you drink too many acidic beverages and not enough water. It also does not do a body good when we eat too many processed foods and refined sugars and not enough fresh produce, whole grains, and lean meats that are filled with the nutrients we need to fuel our bodies. There are also the “fun facts” I share such as, your body needs fat to burn fat, and, anything light or fat free is filled with chemicals and sugars. There are many other golden nuggets like these that I share with my clients, and I love doing it.
What I do is not about taking miracle pills that offer a quick fix, and it’s not about slapping on band-aids that offer a temporary fix. To truly be healthy- body, mind, and soul- I try to encourage people to change the mindset that got them unhealthy in the first place. I do teach my clients about eating as clean as possible, but I never try to make them feel bad for just staying true to themselves. I want people to honor their bodies, not hate them.
Since I jumped off of the diet roller coaster five years ago and instead boarded the new healthy lifestyle train, I’ve learned a lot about why fad diets don’t work. I’ve changed my reading habits from romantic suspense fiction to non-fiction health and wellness books or spiritual growth books. In Eat & Stay Thin by Joyce Meyer, she states, “When they [people who struggle with weight loss] are afraid that anything they put in their mouths carries the potential for ‘making them fat,’ they would much rather follow the list of rules and regulations in a diet than have liberty.” That struck a chord with me, because that is my true heart’s desire- liberty!
Ever since I tried (and failed) the program that made the most sense to me years and years ago, The Weigh Down Diet by Gwen Shamblin, I have felt like a complete and utter failure. What I loved about Gwen’s program was that it wasn’t based on what you were eating as much as it was based on listening to God and our body’s God-given cues. Basically, you were taught to eat whatever you’re truly craving, but to only eat when you’re truly hungry. You’re also supposed to… and this is where I struggled the most… stop when you’re pleasantly satisfied, not stuffed. In today’s terms, you may hear it referred to as “intuitive eating.” Honesty, I’ve been chasing that dream since it was first introduced to me over twenty years ago!
Like Joyce Meyer, Gwen talked about how society tries to “make the food behave” instead of making ourselves behave. We think that if something is fat free, we can have double portions of it. The truth is, when you take a look at the real reasons behind overeating, and there could be many, no amount of diet rules can help us overcome the surface problem.
I constantly tell people that my battle with food is more spiritual for me than it is physical. And that’s because I’ve always looked at overeating as sinful. I wasn’t taking care of my temple, and I felt I loved food more than I loved God. I was ashamed, and I was definitely stuck in bondage. When I wasn’t a slave to the food itself because I was on a diet, I was a slave to the diet’s rules, meal plans, and limitations. Even to this day, I often feel like I’m a slave to the scale, because I let its numbers dictate my mood, my motivation, my self-worth, and even my sanity. Dare I say… my relationship with the scale is toxic! I have to remind myself every single day that this is about me and God, not about me and that scale.
For me, this journey is truly about finding the freedom that Christ died to give me. There are days I honestly feel like I could burn out from stressing so much about food, and toxicity, and meal plans, and carbs, and sugar, and right and wrong.
In Mark 7, verses 18 and 19, we read, “Can’t you see that the food you put into your body cannot defile you? Food doesn’t go into the heart, but only passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer.’ By saying this, He declared that every kind of food is acceptable in God’s eyes.” (NLT) Jesus has plainly told us that there IS NO right and wrong!
Let’s dig a little deeper, though. We also learn in the New Testament where the real problem lies. Consider this: “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” (1 Corinthians 6:12, NKJV) Ahhh, there it is. Most people today take the first part of this verse and run with it. Jesus said you could have a 16-ounce steak, loaded baked potato, and a hot fudge sundae, true… but is that really helping you?
Now, I would never tell anyone that they can’t enjoy these things, so please don’t misunderstand me. The key to good physical health and taking care of your temple is to adopt a healthy lifestyle where you make healthy choices 80% percent of the time, and treat yourself 20% of the time- not the other way around. And instead of over-indulging like in my scenario above, try having an 8-ounce steak, a baked sweet potato with butter and cinnamon, and if that satisfies you, skip the hot fudge sundae. You could always go out for some ice cream later that night or sometime the next day.
Let’s examine the second part of this verse. “I will not be brought under the power of any.” Now this is where I’ve truly had my struggle. I can remember many, many times crying out to the Lord asking, “Why does food have such power over me?” The pull of food in my life was always so prevalent that I wondered what was wrong with me. It wasn’t until much later that I realized I am not alone in this fight.
The reason I believed this problem to be a sin in my life is because, as an emotional eater, I should be turning to God and His Word for comfort, not a pan of brownies. When I’m angry about something, I should be turning to God and His Word to calm me down, not taking my frustrations out on a bag of Doritos. When I’m stressed out about various circumstances in my life, I should ask the Prince of Peace to help me trust in Him, not visit the nearest drive-through. Above all, I wasn’t honoring God with my body and with what I was eating and drinking.
It’s actually strange to think about how something as simple as food can have such control over your actions. When you get up in the middle of the night to use the restroom and then take an unplanned detour to the kitchen before returning to bed, you’re under the power of food. When you stop for gas but just have to run into the convenience store for a candy bar, you’re under the power of food. When you’ve had a wonderful dinner out and still order the chocolate lava cake despite being full, you’re under the power of food. Do you see a pattern here?
I know what I’m talking about, because I’ve lived through every one of these scenarios more than once, and hated myself for it every time I did it. I truly had a love-hate relationship with food. But here’s a newsflash for you: food is not the enemy! Believe me, treating yourself to a candy bar when you are craving some chocolate is not a sin! But be aware that there is a true, blue enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV) He will not only take advantage of your weaknesses, but he will surely kick you while you’re down. After you down that unplanned candy bar or drive-thru burger, you will, if you’re anything like me, proceed to beat yourself up for hours afterwards because you “did it again.”
The devil likes to tell us we are failures. He loves to remind us how weak we are. He takes absolute delight in making us feel miserable about ourselves by illuminating our flaws. He knows us well, and he will gladly use the information to keep us as far from God and His truth as possible.
But, here is one truth from Romans 3:23-24, NKJV, that you should keep in your heart every moment of every day… “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Woo-hoo! Doesn’t that make you want to shout and dance?! Listen, not one of us is worthy of receiving God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and there is nothing we can ever do to earn or deserve those good gifts, that’s all true. But when the enemy takes that truth and twists it into something that makes you feel bad about yourself, that’s taking it way too far. Christ came to reconcile us unto God, and through His sacrifice, we are holy, righteous, and redeemed! Amen!
I assure you, I’ve been fighting this giant for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been beating myself up for “being a failure” for even longer than that. Can I be brutally honest with you about something? You are a child of God! That means that when you make nasty faces at your reflection, talk down to yourself, call yourself names, or any other thing you do to beat yourself up, you are BULLYING one of God’s daughters! (How’s that for perspective?) Wow! A daughter of The King is the last person I would ever want to bully!
The bible frequently tells us how much power we have in the tongue. We can use it to tear down or to build up. Which one do you think glorifies God? Proverbs 15:4 states, “The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” (NIV) Be soothing, my friends! Your spiritual and emotional health & well-being are key to achieving physical health and well-being. You can’t have one without the others.
Do you know that when we are in Christ, we have a supernatural power within us to accomplish things we can’t do in our own strength? Acts 1:8b reads, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (NKJV) 2 Timothy 1:7 reads, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV) There are many more where they came from, too. The Bible is chock full of wonderful truths that we should be telling ourselves (and telling the enemy!) every single day!
To this day, I have a stack of index cards that each contain powerful truths I’ve used at one time or another during this battle. They are attached to a book ring and kept in a little filing box so I can review them often! The Bible says the Word of God is the sword of the Spirit. (See Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12) The Word is our weapon against the attacks from the enemy, and we should be able to use it at any given moment. But I use them to not only fight the enemy, but also to embrace the freedom that was promised to me when I gave my heart to the Lord.
I would like to share these Scripture verses with you, so if you would like your own printable copy of these flash cards, visit my Freebies page! I color-coded them for easy sorting, too! I have included 36 life-giving verses to start with, but I encourage you to begin adding your own as you study more of God’s Word and find the truths that specifically speak to you. You can carry these little “flash cards” with you so you have them readily available, or you can use them as study guides to practice memorization.
I began this post by talking about body toxicity, and then I mentioned that my relationship with the scale is toxic. For a very, very long time, my relationship with myself was toxic, too. I can’t even begin to tell you how often God “hit me over the head” with His truth about my true identity, and that is why I am so passionate about sharing what I learned with other women like me.
What is your relationship like with you? Do you have a toxic relationship with yourself like I did? How do you treat your body? Are you taking care of God’s temple by using food for fuel instead of for comfort? What kinds of things are you telling yourself? Are you using your tongue to crush or to soothe? To hurt or to heal?
If you are a mother, you know how terribly painful it is when your children have trouble with bullying in school. It is a very sad and helpless feeling to watch your child suffer with such torment. Imagine how much more painful it is for God to see one of His children suffer with that torment. YOU are one of those children. Don’t be a bully.
To find out more about Joyce Meyer’s book Eat & Stay Thin, or to learn more about Gwen Shamblin-Lara’s Weigh Down Diet, visit my Resources page. If you have any Scripture verses that have encouraged you along the way, reminded you of who you are in Christ, or helped you ward off attacks from the enemy, I’d love for you to share them with us. In fact, if this post related to you in any way, I would love for you to share your comments below. Thanks, and God bless!