depression,  personal

Being Healthy is a Journey Not a Destination

heatlhyisajourney

In January, I had decided to take control of my overall health. I wanted to lose weight but I was also ready to take on this depression I had been plagued with since childhood.  I knew it would take a lot of personal development on my part, but I never imagined just how much I needed to grow and change. The ripple effect of these changes has been nothing short of miraculous to watch and experience. While I am excited to say I am just shy of reaching my goal weight, this journey is far from over.

Today I am making yet another public admission of weakness in an effort to pursue a better life of health and freedom from these things that hold me back. I am admitting I still like food – TOO MUCH.

Admitting you have an issue with food is embarrassing, I’ll be honest. It’s just food sitting on a plate. It can’t twist my arm. It can’t jump into my mouth. In theory, I should have complete control over food and whether or not I eat it. Yet, I still eat things when I don’t really want to. For many of us, including myself, we became overweight because of an unhealthy relationship with food and the inability to just say no. Food has always been a comfort for me when I was sad or upset but it’s also the first thing I turn to when I am happy or feel good. I’ll just say it. I like to eat. I like the way food tastes and the instant pleasure I get from eating those foods and often I struggle to pass that feeling up despite my head telling me otherwise. This goes for healthy and non-healthy food – which, by the way, you can over indulge in both.

You would think after losing 33 lbs I would have this all figured out and be in complete control of my diet, but you would be wrong. The fact is, the closer I got to my goal weight and the longer I went without gaining it back, the more relaxed I became with what I ate. Before I knew what was happening, I was craving all the old junk I craved before. Slowly, my portion sizes increased. I was no longer as strict with the foods I ate, knowing I would “do better” the next day. Chips and salsa came back like an old friend. The stuff I refused to buy for months was all of a sudden in the shopping cart again. I was feeling tired again and lo and behold I could feel the depression creeping back into my thoughts. If you think your nutrition doesn’t effect these things, I encourage you to do some research on your own – because it most certainly does.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that idolizes food – and not the good kind. This has made my weakness all the more challenging. Every social event is focused on what food will be served – birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, work events, sporting events – all of them involve some sort of delectable food we can’t wait to treat ourselves too. Every other commercial on tv, social media and radio advertises some food or restaurant that will bring us great joy and comfort if only we indulge. Mailboxes are filled with coupons for every nearby fast food joint. Newspapers offer coupons for every processed food imaginable. We live in a society that revolves around food. Not only is eating high-fat, high cholesterol and foods plagued with artificial ingredients socially acceptable, it’s the norm.

We are consistently sending mixed messages to both adults and children. We are raising children up to think that chicken nuggets and frozen pizza are ‘meals’ and that fruit snacks are ‘real fruit.’ We are constantly telling children not to smoke because it will ruin their health – and yet we promote foods that have more chemicals than any cigarette out there. We tell them to avoid drugs because it will destroy their minds, and yet we serve them unreasonable amounts of sugar, proven to be as addictive as cocaine. We are constantly advertising the next fad diet or equipment promising quick weight loss – followed by commercials of seductive meals and beverages of fat and calories.  Food has become the one drug that every member of society or religion has learned to accept as just a part of life, something that we all indulge in, laugh about and carry on as if our sick fixation is acceptable.

These are the things I’m learning about on my journey. The more research I do on our food sources the more disturbing it becomes. The more I realize how little our government really does to protect our people, the more worried I am for our health and the health of our children. So, after learning all these things, why on earth would I still crave this junk food you ask? Good question.

The simple answer? Because it tastes good, and because it’s easier to say yes than it is to say no.

The more complex answer? At some point in my life I made the decision that I was not strong enough. I made the decision that I was not worth it, nor was my health valuable enough to cherish. I made the decision that the instant gratification of that food was greater to me than the discomfort and guilt I felt afterwards. I made the decision that it was easier to be depressed and upset about my weight than it was to actually do something about it. I decided that rather than ask for help, I would just suffer alone and not tell anyone my secret.

Recently, I came across a book titled, “Made to Crave; Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food.”  I wasn’t looking for a book like this, I was actually shopping for a devotional for a friend and saw it at the local bookstore. Admittedly, the title caught my eye, but I decided not to buy the book thinking it sounded a bit extreme. A few days later at the library, this exact same book jumped out at me on the shelf I was browsing through. I decided to check it out  and just see what it had to say. Within the first 10 pages, my mind was blown.

I won’t summarize the book here, but the key things that I took away from this book were:

  • I was made for more. I was made for more than that 3rd slice of pizza. I was made for more than that piece of cake. I was made for a better life than one that revolves around food.
  • Over indulging in food is a sin too. Prov 23:20
  • The number on the scale is an indication of what our body weighs, not our self-worth
  • We must stop dwelling on what we shouldn’t have and be grateful for what we CAN have
  • 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 : “All things are allowed for me, but not all things are beneficial.. I will not be mastered by anything… therefore glorify God in your body.” We must choose foods that benefit our body with nutrition. If there is no benefit, we shouldn’t be eating it.
  • Put boundaries in place not for restriction, but to define the parameters of your freedom. If you aren’t ready to control your portion with certain foods or say no, don’t allow them in your body or your home.

So what does all this mean? This means that this battle is not just physical, but also mental, emotional and spiritual. You may not be strong enough to win these battles alone, but with the help of God and a good support system, you can do this. This means that you will have to learn to make healthier choices on a daily basis for the rest of your life. Reaching your goal weight does not mean that you return to the lifestyle you had before only to gain it back and more. Reaching your goal weight means continuing with the new healthy habits you’ve made.

Being healthy is a journey, not a destination – it is a never ending process that requires commitment. I know this journey can be hard, but I know that doing this together we will discover we can accomplish far greater things than we ever imagined.

~Jessica

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