Discipline, Disgust, and Delight

diet.gifTomorrow I finish the 7th day of the 1st phase of the South Beach Diet.  I’ve never dieted in my life, and I can tell you it’s no picnic!  I feel as though all I do now is chop and cook green vegetables!  Now, don’t get me wrong, I love vegetables…or at least I used to.  I never thought I would see the day when I would look with disgust at green bell peppers, celery, onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes the way I do today.  It’s especially difficult when I’m looking down at my vegetable gazpacho last night and watching-smelling-salivating the Little Caesar’s pizza the rest of my family is devouring!  I have to be honest, I was near the end of my rope last night.  After a long, intense day of church ministry, the pizza almost derailed my diet.

Let me put a few more details into the mix to help you understand my plight.  A typical breakfast consists of a glass of vegetable juice (it tasted just as awful this morning as it did 6 days ago!), some form of egg or egg substitute, sometimes a few thin slices of Canadian bacon, and always some form of spinach or the like.  Then, I get to enjoy a mid-morning snack…a part-skim mozzarella stick.  It knocks down the cravings a few notches but is not very tasty.  Lunch always includes a salad, sometimes a fish like salmon or tuna, and occasionally even a plain hamburger–no bun.  Cottage cheese, tomatoes and cucumbers are a common afternoon snack followed by dinner.  Dinner is by far the best meal of the day.  It usually includes some form of meat, always another salad, a helping of ricotta cheese (Yuck!), and often a steamed vegetable of some kind.  Now, I know you’re thinking, “That’s not so bad.”  However, my dear friend, try eating the same things over and over and over.  Add to that the fact that I can have no breads, no potatoes, no sugar, and no fruit.  While the purpose of the diet initially is to curb cravings, it is happening too slowly!!  It was all I could do last night to take spoonful after spoonful of my cold, chopped-vegetables-in-tomato-juice soup.  What I really wanted to do was gobble, gobble, gobble all the pizza on the table.

Why the discipline?  Why endure the culinary monotony?  Why deprive myself of flavorful food?  Why struggle?  The short and simple answer is God.  You see, I found myself at a crossroads, nearly halfway through my life.  Here were my frustrations:

  1. I was tired…all the time…and tired of it!
  2. I didn’t have the energy to father my children the way I wanted.
  3. I found myself tending toward internal laziness and apathy in different areas.
  4. I lacked inspiration; and as a result, I found it difficult to inspire others.
  5. I found myself late-night snacking habitually, accompanied by TV.

As I began to think seriously about these personal issues, I came to a startling realization: my physical well-being reflects not just on me, but on my God.  I carry His name with me everywhere I go–I’m made in His image.  Not only am I commissioned by God, I am owned by God.  Although I may be a clean-cut, well-educated, conservative pastor, how could I say that I am glorifying God in my body, when I neglect its health and fitness?  It was time for a change.  The change meant a diet.  The diet becomes the new adventure in my life.

The remarkable result of this process, however, has been one of those wonderful biblical paradoxes.  You know, the ones like “to be great, serve,” “to lose your life is to gain it,” and “strength in weakness.”  I found that, even though this diet, not even a week old, has been a tremendous struggle for me personally, I can find true joy while I’m “suffering.”  The reality is that my God, my family, and my church are far more important than pizza, french fries, soda, or ice cream ever could be.  The shameful reality is that for too many years, I did not live as though I embraced that principle.

So, I persevere.  Time will tell if I actually follow all the way through to phase III.  I pray I will.  I look forward to the renewed energy, enhanced health, better sleep, and more effective ministry in the future.  I want to be an accurate reflection of Jesus Christ and not cause any shame to His reputation or mine.  And hey!  I’ve already lost 5 pounds!

All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. “Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food”–and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is not meant for immorality, but for the Lord…

And I do all things for the sake of the gospel, that I may become a fellow partaker of it. Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified.

So, especially my overweight pastor brothers, would you consider taking action in your life as well?  I’m convinced the Lord will be glorified.  And BTW, anybody have any success stories to share?  I’d love to hear them.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Good post, Brian. I’m not over weight, but I’m not in good shape either. I have started working out at the gym and have been blessed to have a good trainer (as well as the fact that several people in my church attend the same gym making me accountable). But I understand the tired part and the sudden dawning that this is starting to a radically and negatively impact my ministry. I appreciate your transparency and the word of motivation. Thanks.

    Reply

  2. Way to go Brian,

    As you know I’ve been on the SBD for some time now and it has worked for me. My belly is gone and my waist went from a 35 to a 32 inch waist in a month. I feel better and do also have more energy. Once you are in phase 3 you are allowed some of those goodies you have had to say no to, but only once in a while and only in moderation. I’ll pray that you stick with this diet as it will be better for your over all health and testimony. I’m pleased for you and trust that others you know who need to lose weight may follow your example. love dad

    Reply

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