For the past week or so, I’ve had Deuteronomy 30:19 on the brain:
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (KJV).
There are so many real-life applications for this verse, it’s not even funny, but it occurred to me that it also applies to the decisions we make regarding our health. For example, I’m sitting here with a stomach ache right now because I chose cursing; I ate both pizza and ice cream in a one-hour time frame. I had a decision to make about what to put in my body, and I made the wrong choice.
Here’s the good news: I have the opportunity again at my next meal to choose life or death, blessing or cursing. That may sound overly simplistic, but weight loss really can be that simple. This verse can help us to make many good decisions in life, and I’ve found this is especially true for weight loss.
Breaking it Down
One of the main obstacles during weight loss attempts is that we’re often a little too focused on the long-term. We look ahead and say things like, “I still have 24 more pounds to go,” or “I have to make it a whole five days on this diet.” Whether you’re attempting a short-term diet or a long-term lifestyle change, try focusing on the more immediate aspects of your goal. Think of it meal by meal: Every time you eat something, you have a choice. Just like this verse in Deuteronomy says, you can choose life or death, blessing or cursing.
Focusing too far ahead can make the present moment feel irrelevant; your goal begins to feel impossible when you dwell on how much farther you have to go. Don’t do that to yourself! Breaking your goals down into micro goals takes some of the pressure off. Take it meal by meal, choice by choice, and choose life! If you make a bad food choice, remember that just like other areas of your life, one bad decision is not the end of your journey. Your next meal (and next choice) is right around the corner.
Selecting the Right Course of Action
We also inadvertently set ourselves up for weight-loss failure when we select the wrong method to achieve our goals. What’s best for one person may not be best for another, but with so many choices out there, it can be hard to make a decision. It’s always tempting to choose a more extreme, short-term diet. Who wants to spend months working on this when you could spend just a few short weeks? The trouble is that extreme diets can often feel like death.
The most successful diets feel like life. Of course, they include their challenging moments, but overall, you can choose a gentler approach that allows you to make changes at a more reasonable pace. It may take longer, but the physical, mental and emotional changes are happening along with it, and so it is often the healthier (and life-giving) option. This is often referred to as “lifestyle change” versus a “diet” because it allows you to slowly make changes, and slow but steady changes are the most likely to stick over the long haul. The end result of a lifestyle change is that you lose the weight and keep it off!
I don’t think we can talk about life-giving choices without mentioning food quality. When beginning (or continuing) your weight loss journey, food quantity is not a bad thing to consider, but don’t overlook food quality. Our God is a purposeful God, and it is not a coincidence that some of the most nutritious food choices grow naturally on this planet. Fresh fruits and vegetables have a higher content of vitamins and minerals than processed food. If your diet isn’t currently rich in fresh produce, start by paying just a little more attention to food quality. Try adding just one serving of fruits or vegetables to your day and let that build some momentum toward a healthier lifestyle!
Water is also worth mentioning. Among our physiological needs are air, food, and water—again, not a coincidence that water made the list. We’re designed to drink it! For a lot of people, this is quite a challenge. If “plain old water” seems like a stretch, try dropping some strawberries, blueberries, cucumbers or even lemon into your water. Infusing your water with fresh fruits and veggies will add a touch of flavor until you taste buds adjust!
Most diets emphasize switching out a favorite beverage for water, but if you find this to be challenging, try simply setting a goal for water consumption that has nothing to do with your intake of other beverages. For example, set a goal to drink four 8-ounce servings of water each day for the next week (that’s less than the recommended amount, but if this is an area of struggle, start small!). Although your intake of other beverages will be impacted over the long haul, this strategy takes away some of the immediate pressure to give up your favorite drinks, but still gets the ball rolling in the right direction.
Overall, if you’re trying to lose weight, keep in mind that it’s okay to pray about it. In fact, it’s preferred. Philippians 4:6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” God wants you to live abundantly, and that includes your health! Not only will He help you move forward and make good choices, but including Him in your weight-loss journey will ensure that you keep Him as your top priority.