Monday, March 19, 2012

More than a magic weight loss pill

Back in September or October, I did some evaluation. I weighed the most I have weighed without being pregnant, and I had no excuse. I hated it. I felt bad about how I looked, about what I was eating and about the road that I saw myself on. When I looked down the path I was on I saw a very overweight middle-aged mom. Granted middle age is a good number of years away, I’m only 33, but I tend to have a ‘long-view’ of things. Despite how I felt, the cycle continued. Less than ideal dinner menus and delicious brownies were regularly present in my house.

For two years, I have participated in Bible Study Fellowship –a training organization that teaches you how to study the Bible and teaches you to hear God through his inspired Word.

This year we are studying the book of Acts.

In late September, my study in Acts was focused on the role of the Holy Spirit. I will not forget the following two statements made by our teaching leader, which the Holy Spirit used in coordination with the Bible to really change me:

As we look at Acts 2:14-21, the principle was this: “the Holy Spirit convicts and enables a person to repent and trust Christ.” The challenge to me was this: When you feel convicted, what do you do about it? It is not enough to acknowledge the sin [I know I should not bake and eat these brownies], but you must be contrite and be converted from the sin (converted – ‘to turn away’). You have to realize that the Holy Spirit is grieved when you ignore him.

This stayed with me for weeks. Each week as I read Acts, and studied the Holy Spirit, I was challenged to think “how can I apply this to my life” the only answer was this: poor lifestyle choices – choosing to eat what I should not eat, what I know is bad for my body was purely a sin.

I had been convicted to change to ‘turn away’ and I was not. In terms of sin, food (for me) could have been alcohol or drugs, or rage – or any other thing. It was becoming an addiction, and I felt powerless to stop. So I looked to the Holy Spirit for guidance, HE wanted me to stop, to change, so I needed HIM to tell me how. So I began to pray: Please show me why I cannot change, why can’t I truly repent.

And he did. Slowly a realization began to emerge. The last time that I looked and felt ‘good’ was nearly 8 years ago. At the time, I was single; I met my husband at that time. I had lots of free time and I spent that free time at the gym 4 days per week and cycling or doing other active things on other days. I realized that I had given up, I told myself that with a husband, two toddlers, a house to manage, a business to run, friends to try to see – it was impossible to dedicate the kind of time and energy that it would take to achieve that again. So – why not bake some Ghirardelli Brownies instead?

That was it. That was the bottom line. In my mind and in my heart, I was defeated by my weight.

This had been my road to repentance in this area. The Holy Spirit had convicted me, I had submitted in my weakness, I did not know how to repent and he showed me the last thing I needed to surrender. I had to surrender my attitude of defeat. If He wanted me to change, then I was not defeated. It was time to ‘turn away’.

Shortly thereafter, I was given an arsenal of tools, and the Lord opened a door for me to change.

My husband hates talking on the phone. He never calls me on the phone. Literally, the same week that I reached this point, my phone rang at 11am – prime work time for Alex. He called and said, “I met a guy who owns a gym, called CrossFit. It sounds really different from anything else I’ve heard of. I think you should go to the introduction meeting on Monday.” Alex is part of a business networking group called BNI and the owner of my CrossFit visited one day, and one day only. He didn’t join the network. But since Alex is the visitor host, he got to spend extra time talking to Vidal and learning about his business. As soon as they left the meeting, Alex called me. I truly believe that God introduced them. It was important that Alex was inspired for me to try CrossFit. It takes a lot of time and it is expensive – and now he was bought in for me.

I went to the introductory meeting and loved the approach, the philosophy, the mutual encouragement among CrossFitters. It didn’t matter that when I started I was using parallettes to do pull ups – people were happy that I was working hard. And when I progressed to 2 bands and then progressed down to a single green band – people were seriously excited for me. And I was thrilled with myself.

More importantly, I found that I didn’t want to quit; I didn’t want to skip a workout or cheat on reps because I had greater tools at my disposal than even my (awesome) coaches. Many verses echoed through my mind and heart during workouts and meals:

· Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:18) I said it to myself this way: “because Jesus was tempted, he is able to help me when I am being tempted... to quit, walk instead of run, not push as hard as I can, eat a French fry…”

· Everything is permissible for me, but not everything is beneficial. (1 Corinthians 6:12). This verse was my driving force once I started CrossFit’s Paleo Challenge – 10 weeks of eating lean meats/fish, veggies, fruits, nuts and seeds, cutting out sugar and processed food. I would joke to Alex that I was eating like Jesus (not a caveman, like the paleo diet says) because I would frequently eat fish and fruit for breakfast.

So I may, or may not, win the Paleo Challenge on Thursday’s weigh out. But I’m 24 pounds lighter since November 17th when I joined CrossFit and 15 pounds lighter since the challenge started on January 17th. I have learned that (lo and behold) food should give you energy after you eat it and make you feel good, not sluggish and tired. I have learned that it is liberating to know that I don’t need to eat whatever I might have a desire for and I’ll feel better afterward for not doing so. I have learned that I have muscles in places that I didn’t know I had them – and that I can actually use them! I have learned that I am strong.

The end of the Paleo challenge is four days away. I hope that I win. But I don’t care if I don’t. I am being transformed. It didn’t start in November when I joined CrossFit. It started in September when God began to refine me. You might say that getting ‘fit’ and losing weight is insignificant in the spiritual sense. But it’s not, because it hasn’t been about fitness and losing weight – it was about submitting to Christ through the Holy Spirit. It has been about trusting God to refine me in an area that I was holding back from him. It is about realizing that what I was trying to hold onto on my own was hurting me – but that He didn’t want to change me to keep me from enjoying what I like (food) – but that he wanted to show me that His power is greater than what I thought I wanted.

I’m preparing myself to live ‘post paleo challenge’ and this is the verse that’s going to drive the days ahead.

· 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. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

· And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)



Lourdes and Jamie said...

Wow, Shaleen. This is very powerful and inspirational. Congratulations.

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