So, 2018 is upon us and New Year’s Resolutions will soon be flying.
Let me ask you a question. Is it wrong to resolve to lose weight this year? Isn’t that just too cliche and too over-baked to be a good one? Doesn’t everyone make that same resolve and fail? Don’t people just sign up for some useless “challenge”, or detox, or gym membership that only lasts a few weeks, or at best a few months? Does resolving to lose weight set me up for disappointment or a slightly narcissistic focus on myself? Does focusing on the scale lead to body dysmorphic disorder? Does weighing myself regularly make me obsessive about my image? Does God care what I weigh? Will resolving to lose weight cause me to overindulge when the “diet” is over? Speaking of diets, is it a good idea to go on one? What about the latest diet craze, the Keto diet? Will losing weight affect my fitness performance or cause muscle wasting? How about just wanting to tone up a little or do an endurance athletic event this year that is beyond my current ability - do I need to weigh myself for that?
So, now that I just asked you not one question but fifteen, I’m sure you’re wondering where this is leading. Are you frustrated yet, like, “just answer the question, Amy, or I will click away to another site in the next 3 seconds!” (Sorry, I don’t mean to frustrate anyone, please stay with me…)
The answer to the first question and to all the questions I posed at the beginning is this: Yes, it might be wrong; or it might be life-altering and powerful! Yes, it might be a bad idea for you to weigh yourself, or it might be a helpful tool in achieving your health and fitness goals. Although I don’t personally believe that God cares, per se, what you weigh, I do believe He has a vast heart of compassion for all people and many are weighed down both physically and spiritually by their weight and He wants to deliver us from that burden by His grace. Yes, also, it is cliche to resolve to lose weight come January 1, but it is also a good time for new vigor to fight the ever-growing sugar and processed foods addiction, and to combat the obesity epidemic which is wreaking havoc on all ages in most countries in the world. And yes, if you are prone to an eating disorder or body dysmorphic disorder in the present or the past, please guard your heart carefully about this and glean all you can about nutrition and spiritual health and wellness principles we talk about, but do not feel the need to weigh yourself or to attempt to lose weight. One more thing, we never promote “diets” here - just a lifestyle of nutrient-dense, probiotic-rich foods and beverages that lead to weight loss, cellular-level health, and even freedom from sugar cravings. All this without doing something too radical or unsustainable for the long-term. But, is it okay to want to lose weight too?
Sometimes I want to throw the scale out the window for some people who are hyper-focused on it, but most of the time, the scale is a simple tool among many that can useful in determining what you are at with your health and wellness. It is eminently important that you establish a foundation of your worthiness in God’s eyes, regardless of your current weight or shape, as the basis of real change. If you try to change your weight or fitness out of fear or self-loathing you will not ultimately succeed in your goals. The psalmist King David wrote, “I praise you [God], for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-14). You are a treasure - don’t forget it! Your body - “normal” BMI or not - is something to be valued and treated with honor because God made you! I think of it like the not-so-amazing guitar that legendary musician Prince once used, which is now hanging in a glass display case on the wall of Guitar Center in Minneapolis. That particular guitar is special only because of the one who used it - not that the guitar itself has any merits particularly. Our bodies are valuable because of the One who made us and uses us in this world for good works and for glory - therefore, treat your body with honor! If you can’t love yourself for yourself’s sake, at least love it because of the one who made it.
In my weight loss seminars, when I bring up the subject of BMI, I mention how inaccurate it can be for some individuals. Although this is rare, a very muscularly-dense person can have an elevated BMI with a low body-fat percentage. Hypothetically, let’s say I’m married to someone who was initially denied his good life-insurance rate because the company “determined” he was in the “obese” category given his height/weight ratio (which is all BMI is and doesn’t account for body fat % or muscle mass). Since this hypothetical person actually isn’t overweight whatsoever, our financial advisor actually took the time to write the aforementioned hypothetical insurance company a letter and explain that said recipient was actually just muscular and short and that’s why it seemed on paper that he was obese. Insert fight-bump, the letter worked and the low rates were approved!
Nevertheless, BMI is important enough that literally every time you go in to see your doctor that information will be noted and recorded. If you go to the doctor regularly because of obesity-related health concerns (Type 2 diabetes, high-blood pressure, etc) you are probably way too familiar with your BMI (groan, you think, why am I being told again that I should lose weight, I know, I know). If you are in that category, just sit tight, I’ll circle around to you in a second. Okay, but how about those of you who don’t know what you *should weigh for your gender, age, height, body composition? It is a very useful thing to have someone help you figure out because it can then become a guideline for a goal. I recently read that the average weight for a 40 year old woman in America is 160 pounds and that that average will climb by 10 pounds for every decade she ages. Now, unless you are 5’ 10” tall, that is in the overweight category or obese category depending on your height. And in actuality 2/3 of adult Americans are already in the overweight or obese categories. I am not trying to make you feel bad about your weight, but it is a marker for your overall health and wellness and even if you are not suffering from any medical conditions at the moment, you are at an increased risk for them with every 10 pounds overweight that you are.
In the most long-winded answer ever, yes, it is okay with me if you want to resolve to lose weight in 2018, provided it does not do anything damaging to your mental or emotional state - its just a number on a scale, not the determination of your value or worth! As long as you know that deep down, lets celebrate those scale victories! A few weeks ago, two of our residential retreat guests each lost 5 pounds in one week. You have to believe there was high-fives given and “woot woot” called out enthusiastically all around! Celebrate the victories but don’t be overly discouraged by the lack of apparent “success”. When success is a fit and strong body, one or two weeks of not seeing the scale move downward shouldn’t alarm you.
So, now, what if you are in the category that you are at an ideal weight but you are not actually healthy? What if you are what is known as “skinny-fat”? Another term to know is TOFI(thin on the outside, fat on the inside) - something to be avoided for sure. An example of this is someone who is at a normal weight according to BMI charts, but is “chubby” around the middle or using a substance to maintain their low body weight rather than through good nutrition and regular exercise (for example, smoking, alcohol use or even amphetamines). If you are in this category you would still benefit greatly from the nutrition benefits of a whole-food, high-vegetable, good-fat dietary plan.
What I’m hoping for you personally that you have a realistic goal for your 2018. For some of you, that may be simple weight loss and for some of you it may be being released from a soul-crippling food addiction. For others, it may not be weight loss at all but achieving a fitness or athletic goal you’ve been longing to do and you need proper nutrition to accompli