I’ve not written or posted much about my full physical life journey publicly, not because I’m embarrassed, but because it felt weird to share it. I’ve been happy to talk about it, especially as people have asked me about it, but posting pictures and stats, if you will, felt odd. Pastor Dave asked me to write a blog about what I’ve been doing and what motivated me to do it, though, both as an encouragement and because finding your why for something is even more important than figuring out what to do. So first, I’ll give you stats and a couple pictures, then I’ll explain my journey, and how God called me to it and has kept me on it. On October 1, 2017, I clocked in at 5’5″ and 251 pounds. I’m still 5’5″, sadly, but I now weigh 181 pounds. I’ve had a lot of people ask me what my trick or secret was lately. There isn’t a secret or trick. Through diet (made possible with Sarah’s help) and exercise, I’ve lost 70 pounds so far, and I’m shooting for another 11 at least, at which point, I’ll evaluate myself again. Below is my face last Summer, followed by last Friday. I’ll spare you the full-body, shirtless before and afters that seem to be popular.
At the end of September last year, I went to a youth pastor conference. One of the sessions was on physical health. I thought, “here we go again.” Pastor Dave had talked a lot about it, but I just wasn’t seeming to get it fully. I believed it in general, but I didn’t believe it was possible for me. I felt this would be more of the same. First up was a crossfit coach. He was funny, but I found myself dismissing his message. I didn’t dismiss it, because it wasn’t true, but because he’d never been as big as me. What would he know about getting someone like me in shape? (Probably a lot, but excuses are easy to believe when they let you remain lazy.) Next up was a guy from Saddleback. He was really fit looking. I was ready to dismiss him, too, but then he showed us a picture of himself a year prior. He was almost as big as I was! But on stage, he was trim and fit. He motivated me, because for the first time, I saw weight loss as possible.
Just before the end of September, I saw a couple pictures of myself from the conference. It was embarrassing how big I was. That was the last straw. I started dieting. I went high protein, low carb. I don’t do no carb, because I need energy to exercise. I only drank (and currently only drink) water. I cut out fast food completely for a long time, and now if I have it, it’s in small portions and only once a month. Most of my food is prepared at home, but I’ve also gotten smart about where I go out to eat and what I order when I’m there. From January 2 until April 1, I exercised 6 days a week without exception. The diet and exercise routine was grueling. There were days I wanted to quit. I didn’t, though. I still haven’t, either. I have tapered back my exercise routine to 4 days per week, but I am still maintaining my diet with a goal in mind.
Why did I start and how did I keep going? I felt convicted that my issue wasn’t weight; it was self-control. I was overweight, because I never said no to myself. Whatever I wanted to eat and drink, I ate and drank, and I ate and drank a lot of it. I consumed everything in excess. God has worked on me in different areas of my life regarding self control in the past. I know it’s something He desires from believers (it’s also part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit). Once I was able to see my weight issues through that lens, I knew I had to do something about it. That’s why I started. I wanted to honor God, exercise self-control, and honor the Holy Spirit in me.
Three things kept me going. First, The reason I made a commitment to God, my wife, and men’s group. I don’t like backing out of commitments I’ve made. Our men’s group did that Transform series, and at the end of each chapter, we had to write SMART goals. My 3-month goals for physical life were to go to the gym 6 days per week and get under 200 pounds by Easter, which I made to God and my group. The second thing that kept me going was getting into accountability relationships. I had both a huge group of youth pastors and my men’s group. I weighed in every Monday for my youth pastor group, and I met with my men’s group every two weeks. Every men’s group, they asked how it was going, if I was staying strong, and if I was on track. I never wanted to show up and admit failure, so I chose to not fail. Third, I set personal goals, so I could have my eye on specific, measurable things by which I could gauge success and be encouraged. I knew what I was shooting for, and I wasn’t going to quit until I got there (or even further).
You know how Pastor Dave always says that each area of full life mingles in with and affects other areas? I’ve always believed him, but I’m really seeing it, too. My physical life has improved (losing weight, aches, and pains), but so has financial life. I’m not wasting a bunch of money going out to eat or on drinks. My work life is better. I have more energy, so I’m able to focus longer and get more done. My spiritual life has benefitted as I’ve exercised the fruit of the Spirit (self-control) in my life more. Even my friends and family relationships are better, as I’ve made new friends and accountability partners along the way. My life, on many levels, is fuller right now than it’s ever been.
If you took the full life survey and found that fitness was an area you needed to focus, you can do it, too. I know it’s difficult, and it’s discouraging. It can be done, though. It’ll take time. I’m 8 months in so far, but it’s not as grueling as you might think. It may have been at first, but I’ve been able to build new habits and get used to different things. You will, too. If God’s calling you to it, make a commitment to Him, make a commitment to some people whose opinion of you matters to you, and get some accountability. Chase full life, and you’ll catch it.