Polishing off my second bowl of ice cream while watching “The Biggest Loser”, a thought occurred to me. “Sure, put me on a ranch with trainers, massage therapists, and dietitians; offer me a financial reward if I succeed and I could drop the weight too!”
Then I took a mental inventory of all the “opportunities” I’ve been provided over the years. Though not an exhaustive list, let me share a few.
- Nordic Trak
- Jack LaLanne Juicer
- Tae Bo Workout Tapes
- Multiple Gym Memberships
- Weight Bench with Olympic Bar & Weights
- Golds Gym Adjustable Dumbbells
- Speed Bag
- The Bullet (another “juicer”)
So how does one land in the “obese” category? The answer is simple. Do none of things listed above, live a sedentary lifestyle, and eat from the dollar menu.
I heard your ideal body weight should be what it was when you were a senior in High School. That would put me at about 185. No thank you, my ears are big enough as it is.
185 sounds unrealistic but I shouldn’t be pushing 290 either. While there are many reasons I haven’t one excuse. A few months ago I read the results from my 23andMe DNA Health Report. “Studies have found that almost all elite power athletes (including sprinters, throwers, and jumpers) have a specific genetic variant in a gene related to muscle composition. You have the same genetic variant as these elite athletes.” Evidently under all the layers of lard were muscles waiting to be “elite”.
Lack of knowledge isn’t the issue either. I know McDonalds, Wendys, and Taco Bell isn’t organically grown food rich in vitamins and minerals. Anyone who thinks a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder is healthy is as they say, “one fry short of a Happy Meal”. (pun intended)
As I packed on the pounds I found it easier to untuck my shirt and peruse the “Big & Tall” section than to change my lifestyle. High blood pressure? No problem, there’s medication for that. Shirt too small? Buy a new one. Pants? Ditto.
It’s easy to be flexible when you’re no longer flexible.
But I never took “diet pills”. Reading the fine print promises to help “shed those pounds” if taken in conjunction with “a balanced diet and exercise”. If I had a balanced diet and exercised I wouldn’t need your product! I want to eat what I want, when I want, and as often as I want. Come up with a pill that lets me do that and still lose weight and I’ll get back to you.
When it comes to health most guys in their twenties aren’t thinking longevity and most guys in their fifties just don’t want to die. For the record the thought of dying doesn’t bother me, but the idea of a stroke or other physical ailment leaving me incapacitated haunts me from time to time. But even that didn’t motivate me to change.
Here’s a partial list of other things that haven’t motivated me either.
- Childhood friends having heart attacks
- Being here for my family
- Holding my breath to tie my shoes
- Airline seats
- No energy
- No motivation
- Mental fog
But then something something happened…
In July 2018, I flew to California to take my granddaughter Ellie on a road trip. Wanting to make it memorable, I decided to take her somewhere she’d never been. Stephanie, my daughter, knew in advance but I wanted to be the one to surprise her. The morning I arrived, with great excitement (on my part) said, “We’re going to Knotts Berry Farm!” Her facial response said “Knotts Berry what?” She had no idea what it was. And Stephanie didn’t help matters when she, with said with a straight face, “You get to pick berries. You’ll have a great time!” Ellie now had that face we all make when opening a gift that underwhelms us and yet try and appear grateful.
Heading down the freeway my attempt at undoing “picking berries” was having minimal impact so I did what any smart Papa would do. Grabbing my iPad I searched YouTube and provided dozens of “Knotts Berry Farm” videos that were both educational and entertaining. By the time we reached the hotel lobby she knew more about Knotts than I.
At check-in, Ellie was surprised with a souvenir Snoopy I’d arranged in advance and we were off to the room. Pushing the “Up” button I asked, “What are we about to ride?” She thought for a moment and smiled, “An Ellie-vator!” Yeah, I know it’s cheesy but it’s what Papa’s do. That and lots of sugar, which according to Ellie helps her sleep.
She picked her bed, got a view of the pool, and paired her favorite unicorn with Snoopy. We then began to unpack, which for me is mostly electronics. As I turned she asked, “Papa, what’s that?” pointing to a small plastic box I’d purchased a few weeks before the trip.
I’ve taken daily blood pressure medication for years, and recently my doctor recommended adding another one. Which also meant adding another one to the other one because it “enhanced” the other one. So now instead of one pill I was taking three. Oh, and it seemed my cholesterol was a little high so I let’s make it 4 pills daily to control what I through proper diet and exercise could control on my own.
Buying a pill box easier.
I tried to respond but as I looked in her eyes I was deeply convicted. I knew in that moment I had to make a change. But why now? What was it about that question that evoked such an emotional response?
I don’t know.
The next few days were filled with log rides, whitewater rapids, and as many trips on the Pony Express as our Fast Pass allowed. We feasted on the traditional chicken dinner, BBQ, ice cream, and cotton candy. By the end of the second day we were completely exhausted.
The next morning we packed our bags and headed home. A few souvenirs, memories to last a lifetime, and “September” (Ellie’s favorite song) by Earth Wind & Fire cranked so loud you could hear it from The Magic Kingdom.
Upon my return to Minnesota the conviction to change was still strong and yet I wondered if it would last. I’ve headed down the “healthy highway” many times only to take the first offramp with a Golden Arches. I’ve had a Fast Pass to Fast Food.
But this time was different. I’ve dropped quite a few pounds, haven’t eaten fast food for months, and am cooking my own meals. I’ve also been frequenting the gym in search of those “elite” muscles.
Ellie’s question seemed to be my epiphany, but it was more than that. God intervened and gave me the grace to accomplish something I couldn’t on my own. Honestly it didn’t make much sense to me, I’d quietly given up on the idea I would ever make that change.
This is a story of my personal struggle, and trust me it’s not the only one. Give me enough time and I’ll write a trilogy.
But there are times we all struggle, developing destructive habits we find seemingly impossible to break. Yours may be as mine, an unhealthy lifestyle. But perhaps the weight you’re carrying isn’t physical. Anxiety, stress, and depression can emotionally cripple leaving us suffering in silence. And the colossal weight of unforgiveness will rob you of God’s blessings and slowly poison your soul.
The good news is God wants to do in us what we are unable to do on our own. “But Dan, you know the Bible says God helps those who helps themselves”.
No it doesn’t.
If you’re self-sufficient your God-deficient.
God helps those who can’t help themselves.
But also know that his answer to prayer may be more practical than spiritual. Can’t he just fix it? Can’t I just pray tonight, wake up tomorrow and it’s done? The answer of course is “yes”, but in my experience he rarely does. More times than not he requires something of us. We’ll pray to be blessed financially and then complain when asked to work overtime.
Do you have a “weight” problem? Is there something you’ve struggled with so long or failed at so frequently you no longer believe in yourself?
Now believe in Him.
He is faithful even when we are not. He believes in us even when we do not. He empowers us to do whatever he requires and will show up in the time of his choosing.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16