My people, hello.
I've been quiet due to laptop issues, and what I guess was writer's block. January is just tough eh? And what is with this Nairobi heat? And dust, everywhere? Sigh. We are where we are, rejoice in all things.
So. You've heard it said; you felt it yourself. It's all fun and games until the jeans don't fit anymore. The memory Facebook sent me yesterday was a picture from three years ago. It was five months after I had given birth to our son, and I was holding up a skipping rope, starting the journey back to my pre-pregnancy weight. If you've been keeping up with the posts, you know my efforts have been curtailed by various blindsides. I found it ironic that I logged onto Facebook and saw the picture right after my workout yesterday. I'm in the exact same situation again, working to shed the baby weight after a second delivery.
I got serious about this in October last year, got 10kg off by New Years. The wheels came off in December though. I think we had four or five barbeques at our house in that one month. Then there was the family Christmas party. There was our wedding anniversary holiday. There was my husband's birthday cake. And then my mom's birthday cake. Let's not forget the takeout!
I think I've come to terms with the celebratory feasting of December. I didn't start January with that horrible feeling, when you stand on the scale and wail "What have I done?!". There has been no guilt, no regret really. What I did do, is begin 2017, with a PLAN. Not an ambiguous general resolution to "watch what I eat", but a plan with detail. I've made sure it's sustainable, and God willing it won't need amendment the rest of my life. In other words, it's not a diet. Those in my experience have been a torturous waste of time.
So what am I doing? Let me give you some background.
Most of last year was spent trying to survive instant indigestion every time I ate. Bloat, nausea and heartburn were daily occurrences. I was very undisciplined about when I ate. I never woke up hungry, because I ate dinner too late, and way too much. So then I would be starving by around 11.30am, and decide to just have lunch, but again, my portion would be too big because, the hunger was otherworldly. Naturally I'd reach for white starches, because they filled me immediately, and they tasted so good :). But in a couple of hours my sugars would dip tremendously and I'd be looking for food again.
Funny thing is, I wasn't ignorant of these nutritional facts. I knew it all. But, I don't know, some seasons come and you don't want to put in the hard work and take care of your body. You find comfort in food; literal comfort. What is your reflex reaction when things are not going well? If you're in a depressive episode, if you're having hellish PMS, if your marriage is fraying every nerve in your body, if your job is sucking the life out of you, if the bills are piling, and you're flat broke...whatever situation has you down; would you rather sit and EAT, or get on your knees and pray, read the Word? Be honest. A chocolate croissant/pizza/tub of ice cream/nyama choma/fries/pasta/chocolate chip cookies/wine/beer/italian bread etc on one side and your Bible on the other...what do you choose?
I'm trying to create a visual here, to make a point we know well in our heads, but rarely resonates in our hearts. Do you find it bizarre that food honestly and genuinely makes us feel better, however momentary? Isn't it fascinating, quite odd actually, how our gut is connected to our heart? How is it so easy for Christians to replace the Living Water, who promises that we will thirst no more, with perishables that comfort us for such a short time, only to have floodgates of regret open on our heads? You know that baggage in the morning, post-ice cream tub, post-large pizza, post-sufuria of pasta, right? I hate it with a passion. But still I make the wrong decisions. Why?
The answer is simple, and unoriginal. I am a sinner. A sinner saved, praise God. But my sinful nature continues to war against the Spirit. See, the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. The good intentions to abandon greed (let's call it like it is) and learn self control in our eating. The good intentions to physically train our bodies. Check out Galatians 5:17.
I can just see ya'll about to close the tab right about now...this girl's material is too heavy, it's just cake and ice cream. These religious types can 'spiritualize' anything, LOL. Stick with me just a little longer, please :D.
So this war of our sinful nature against the Spirit , against our redeemed selves...it's on all fronts. Self control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (check Galatians 6:22 out), and I'm convinced it is the one least found in Christians. Not just with food, but it seems to be the most critical issue, don't you think? Any human being knows when their stomach is full, we've had the ability from birth. Babies turn away when they've had enough milk. My three year old is pretty clear about when he's full (though my African through and through nanny is always like, "bado anaweza kula, ng'ang'ana na yeye tu...and gets all passive-aggressive with me when I take his plate to the sink with food still on it; with this look of "these babies are only still alive because of me", I FEED them, LOL.) When does being excessive in our portions become the status quo? It's something we need to think about.
This is the part with good news :D. I'm genuinely shocked that January is almost over and I'm sticking to my goals. This month has consistently defeated me, year after year. But not 2017. What's different? Well, I've been through the wringer, in a nutshell. Three years of bobbing about in a life raft, the storm never-ending. And I've learnt this statement to be true: you don’t realize Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” (Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods). I've been holding onto God's Word like a drowning man holds onto a vine. Through His incomprehensible grace, I've held on for dear life itself, even when I didn't believe a word I read; even when I was convinced He had forsaken me, and the promises and hope in scripture no longer applied to me. Oh how wrong I was. The sun is shining again guys. He has caused my eyes to see Him, and his love for me. It is genuine, unconditional, passionate, all-encompassing. And not because of the changed life I started to live after He saved me. I just need to clarify that I'm not loved by Him because of how good I am, or how dedicated my life is or whatever. I didn't have to DO anything. You don't have to do anything for Him to love you. That's not how God, the one true God of the Bible, works.He does the saving, He does the dying, He takes on all your sin, He pays the the price, He takes your place in judgement, and as a result, You are justified. What does that mean?
We are justified, declared righteous, at the moment of our salvation. Justification does not make us righteous, but rather pronounces us righteous. Our righteousness comes from placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice covers our sin, allowing God to see us as perfect and unblemished. Because as believers we are in Christ, God sees Christ's own righteousness when He looks at us. This meets God's demands for perfection; thus, He declares us righteous—He justifies us. People, do you realize what I'm saying here? Upon your salvation, the righteousness of Jesus is placed on you; it becomes yours. God sees you as PERFECT; but with no input of your own whatsoever. So this fear people have, you know, "I just need to get my act together before I go to church." "I know I need to deal with this 'where am I spending eternity' issue soon, but you know, I'm not ready." You have had Christianity misrepresented to you. You don't do anything, or bring anything to the table, because nothing you bring could ever save you, you have no good deed you could think up that could atone for your sins; and that's great news guys. Because Jesus is it, The Lamb Who Was Slain to take away the sins of the world. Do you get it now? Has a light bulb come on?
Bet you're thinking I've completely lost the plot with this post, but nope, LOL. Why did I go into all that? Let's see if I can tie all of this together intelligibly. I'm going to quote Tim Keller from his book Counterfeit Gods again: "If we are deeply moved by the sight of his love for us, it detaches our hearts from other would-be saviors."
I am able to make healthy food choices, wake up and exercise, take my vitamins, because God is enough for me. I don't need the sugar. I don't need that useless starch. I never have. Especially in those huge servings. God has been my satisfaction, my settledness, my peace. It's been a big surprise to me how easy it's becoming to say no to something I shouldn't eat, knowing it's not necessary for life and good living. There's the tough nature of it; pushing myself in my workouts, doing those body weight exercises I absolutely loathe, jogging as I want to give up every 17 seconds. Yet even then, He helps me, gives me His strength and grace.
Are there days I have dropped the ball; of course. I'm too lazy or in a don't-care mood about exercise. I'm knee deep in my cravings week, and instead of indulging in small treats, I just go ahead and eat the entire pack of cookies. I'm feeling low/irritated/bored/whatever and I just throw my new lifestyle out of the window, and eat chapos like they're going extinct.
I've failed emotionally some days. I want to forget this whole story because you know, the post baby weight, it never really goes away. Anything I lose, will just return. Who am I kidding, I will never fit into that kind of dress. This self depreciating commentary can pull you back into the pit if you don't check it. Or I start to justify things to myself. I'm African, I'm fluffy and proud etc etc.
I'm not looking to become a size zero. In fact, the size and shape has become secondary. I just want to be healthy. I'm in my thirties. My cousin once told me, the decisions you make in your thirties, determine how your forties and fifties will turn out. That age bracket of our parents with their diabetes, hypertension, gout, heart disease etc. They didn't get there by poor choices made when they were say 52. No. It was the ones made two decades earlier.
As an aside, I'm frightened to see how many of us will even make it that far. My generation, and the one behind me...have imbibed enough alcohol to fill all the seas. I mean, guys. The drinking between ages 13-30, is unbelievable. Will these vessels we live in, make it to 45 disease-free? Will we see our grand kids? Another story, for another day.
God is enough.
Taste and see that He is good. He can get you to shed your excess weight, by showing you who He is. You'll want Him and His Word more and more; and in doing so, give you perspective about how to treat the body He gave you.
The BMI chart isn't the best yardstick, but if you're in the red zone, you need to wake up. If you're carrying a lot of yourself in your belly, wake up: that's diabetes and heart disease ticking like time bombs. If you're breathless after climbing a set of stairs, my friend, smell that coffee. You need to take care of yourself.
Start small, but remain consistent. the gains will add up marvelously this December.
Anybody with me on this?
Christian, wife, mom, doctor, and an alien on earth, on my way to the city of God.