For a couple months now I have been one foot in, one foot out in regards to healthy eating and exercise. I would put together meal plans and make promises to work out at least X number of minutes at the beginning of the week, but I almost always failed to follow through. One excuse or another always led to me not making time enough to exercise consistently or to prep healthy meals which then led to less than stellar eating choices. I reached the point three weeks ago when I saw that pattern, recognized my lack of desire and discipline in doing what I knew was best, and just started praying. I knew that my body needed nutrient-dense nourishment to fuel it and that exercise would be really beneficial in helping me achieve my weight loss goals and be energized. I just didn’t want to do it. To put it plainly, I wanted all the benefits of healthful living without living a healthy life. Over the course of the first two weeks I noticed a subtle shift in my mentality. I was being more conscientious about what I was eating; I was moving more. Last weekend, I knew it was finally time to start doing the acts of obedience in prayerful, expectant hope that God would do the heart-work I needed to follow through. Again, I made a meal plan. Again, I set a goal to work out 5 days out of the week doing my Jillian Michaels DVD for at least 25 minutes each day. Part of me wondered if this was going to be like so many other times, but a louder part of me knew that it wasn’t because this time it was God-inspired and I was tapping into grace.
One week into sticking to “the plan” without much difficulty, I am amazed at how much better I feel! My energy levels are through the roof. I had been needing daily naps before, and literally over night I can’t fall asleep to take a nap, even if I wanted to. The quality of my sleep has improved and I have more energy on less hours of sleep then I was needing before. I have been able to get up at 5 in the morning the past few days, wide-eyed and bushy tailed. Ok, maybe it was more groggy-eyed and bushy-bunned, but the point is that I was able to get up without being tempted to go back to sleep 😉 It has almost seemed to good to be true. I’m not saying there haven’t been any difficult moments, but I certainly haven’t felt like a deprived dieter. It is like my senses were in a haze, and now they are clear and sharp. As I have reflected on this, a couple thoughts came to mind:
- Prayer MUST be a prerequisite as well as a continual reality for any goals I set. Apart from grace, goal-setting is just a work of the Law. In order to tap into the wellspring of grace that is given to every believer, I must pray. I will be writing a book review on it later this week so I don’t want to say too much, but A Praying Life by Paul Miller has reminded me of my great need for continual, daily communion with my Abba Father in prayer. I am helpless, cynical, and ineffective apart from Him. I need Him to give me goals, and I need Him to achieve those goals.
- God deserves all the glory. I can not even count the number of times this week I either thought or said, “Look at this! Look at what God is doing. He is changing everything. This can’t be me, because I have seen so often the discouraging results of doing things in my own strength! This has to be all Him, I have proven myself to be utterly helpless apart from His aide.” It is truly marvelous that God answers His people’s prayers and changes us from the inside out. Pessimism can often blind me to the many works that God is doing in my life, but in times like these I am overwhelmingly aware that He is in every aspect of my days. Only He can transform my desires. I can know what the “right” thing to do is, but I can’t make myself want to do it. God is the only doctor with access to do surgery on my heart. He is not a stingy giver, and if I ask He WILL give according to His good will and lovingkindess. I can count on His character.
- Truths about my physical body communicate deeper realities about my soul. I cannot acknowledge the spirited awakening I have experienced in recent days without acknowledging the physical sluggishness I had previously fallen into. My habits of giving into laziness and poor eating had had a negative effect on how I felt, and it was only once I abandoned those bad patterns that I have begun to be rejuvenated. This reality has led me to ponder what other habits I have let into my life that have dulled me on a spiritual level. My actions are either feeding my soul, invigorating it with inspiration or they are starving my soul, deadening and dulling it. Patrick and I have begun to converse together about what habits we need to change and what ones we would like to put into practice for this season, in order that we might experience the fullest life that there is for us, in Christ, while we are here on earth.
There is a vulnerability to acknowledging these kind of moments so early. I am very aware that one week is a very short time. Anybody can do almost anything for one week! But I wanted to note that these are the things that God has taught me this week, because I know that He has so much more coming down the line. Also, because I know God is in it, I am not afraid of failure. Through His grace, I have confident faith that He will complete the work that He has started, both in this small area and on my heart as a whole! He isn’t finished with me yet, thank Jesus.