Confession: I have a terrible relationship with food.
It calls to me, without relent. It taunts me from afar, on my plate, and later on my body. I have told myself that it’s okay to eat the way I eat and the amount that I eat because I exercise. But throughout seasons of inadequate exercise, I’ve had to find a new excuse. So, I told myself that it was okay because I have a fast metabolism. But without exercise and with the passing years, I find my excuse once again faulted. I’ve also used celebration, sadness, stress, and boredom as my meager excuses, each leaving me prey to guilt and shame.
I have turned to excuses instead of solutions to manage my relationship with food, but it’s starting to wear on me – physically, emotionally, mentally…and as I’m coming to realize, spiritually.
First of all, you must understand that you can struggle with food whether you’re skinny, of healthy weight, or obese. I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating. Technically, I wear the same pant size that I have been wearing since I was in high school (although there are a few pairs that are now too snug for comfort!). It doesn’t matter. What I know about my relationship with food is measured by the way my body feels, the energy I have (or don’t have), and the tightness of my clothes. It is not, for me, measured by weight.
This might be contradictory to what we see on TV, but I’ll be the first to say that my transition from college to now has seen me at 137 lbs to 142 down to 132 and from there up to 150, now trying to find solace around 142 once more. Those are real weights. My weight. You see, my weight does not bother me. In fact, when I was the most fit in college, I weighed more than I weigh now.
That’s the trick of muscle vs. fat.
I know when I’m not being healthy. And it isn’t just the fast food bags that I leave in my car out of fear of visual confession. That’s another story. I don’t even LIKE fast food! What am I doing? It’s not just the bag of workout gear that’s been sitting, untouched, in my car for the past several months. It’s not just anything. It’s a combination of things, all of which point to one sorry excuse: Lack of willpower. No, not willpower. Because willpower has become this thing that we joke about. “I just don’t have it!” we cry! And somehow that’s become an acceptable excuse among our friends, laughable even.
What I lack: Determination. Commitment. Hard work. My real issue with food is that I am always looking for an excuse. I love food. I hate food. Either way, I find myself eating when I’m full or eating things I instantly regret. It’s a problem that I’ve had, maybe secretly, since at least 5th grade. And it’s left me sluggish, and upset, and full of shame and defensiveness.
I don’t believe in diets.
I don’t like people telling me what I can and cannot eat.
I’ve been carefully stepping on a slippery slope, always telling myself that I can still get back to my healthy lifestyle when I make the decision to do so. All the while, I’m absolutely aware that life happens. Excuses happen. And I could very well find myself years down the road cursing the fact that I didn’t start now.
I picked up a book the other day. Every once in a while, I get a book or magazine about healthy eating or lifestyles to make me feel healthy. It’s pathetic, I know. (I had a habit of reciting Bob Greene’s The Best Life Diet for some time, but it’s now been replaced). This book, Made To Crave, is different.
Made To Crave by Lysa Terkeurst is a spiritual approach to a healthy lifestyle. In it, Lysa examines our draw to food from a biblical standpoint. She embraces that we are made to crave but encourages us to use our cravings as they were intended, to honor God. She challenges herself and her readers to see their unhealthy food cravings as roadblocks to our true purpose to crave a close relationship with God.
I know it might seem far fetched to non-believers, but I really don’t have the determination/commitment/hard work to do this on my own. I think Lysa is onto something. In fact, I think that she might have tapped into the most important diet secret of all…
Anyway, I’ll let you know how my spiritual life improves as I join her on this journey. Hopefully, it will come with a report of renewed energy too!