My husband didn’t get it until the Sara Lee pound cake episode. That divine sliver of cake left in its rectangular aluminum foil tin in the fridge stayed on my mind every day for more than a week. Ceremoniously, I’d come home from work, swing open the fridge and ask him whether this was the day he’d finish it off. I couldn’t take the last slice because I’d inhaled most of the cake days earlier. He’d barely look up and say, “Oh, I’ll get to it eventually.”
One evening after about eight days of this, I lifted the garbage lid to throw something away and saw the cake, intact, in the tin. When I asked him why he’d thrown it away, he said that he finally understood:
I get it, you need help with this, he told me.
In the beginning, help for me came in the form of tough-love pep talks and asking my husband to save me. My instructions to him: No. 1, by any means necessary, make sure I don’t eat a second helping; No. 2, stand guard over the refrigerator after 8 p.m. I also attempted an office fitness challenge, but fruit on Mondays and tomatoes on Wednesdays made me crazy.
It was only when I felt like I was out of options that I started to pray for guidance. Then, earlier this year, I noticed a class offering in the Sunday bulletin at my Suitland church. From the Heart’s Sports & Fitness Ministry was about to start an eight-week class called Our Bodies: A Living Sacrifice, designed to show us God’s perspective on how we should treat our bodies.
I rushed to sign up.
A few weeks later, 15 of us launched the class with prayer and a praise song. Toni Gilchrist, who led the team, talked freely about her health journey and then began with the garden story from the book of Genesis. Satan saw how glorious Adam’s and Eve’s relationship was with God. He’d heard God grant them dominion over every living thing and set out to find a way to destroy a race that he thought had been given too much power. He used Eve’s desires to tempt her with food, and because it worked, ever since then, He has been using humans’ relationship with food to destroy them.
Over and over, the class showed us through the Word how Satan did his thing. Esau, the son of Isaac, gave away his inheritance for a bowl of lentils. He had been working all day and was starving. His younger brother Jacob offered the stew in exchange for his brother’s birthright. Esau, like I tended to do, made an impulsive decision, not thinking about the future consequences. I learned that I have to be prepared, or again, come 3 o’clock most afternoons, you’ll find me raiding the chocolate candy jars on the desks of my colleagues, eating what seems like a day’s worth of calories in Hershey’s Kisses. We found Satan again trying to tempt Jesus with bread after His 40-day fast. So when Jesus responds to Satan by saying, “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” I realize that I have essentially replaced God with food. I have assigned a soul and a beating heart to something that cannot love me back. I have given it power, made it a priority. The revelation was liberating. Now I could fight back, this time with God.
After a couple of weeks, I saw that I had the most success when I started the day with God. When I spent time with Him in the morning, giving Him permission to control my day, my food choices, my thoughts. The class also emphasized practical ways for healthier living. We talked about diet and exercise, and techniques for managing stress. We all opened up about why we overeat. Are we hungry, angry, lonely, tired or stressed? We called those the H.A.L.T.S. to our success. I commenced to drinking half of my body weight in ounces of water, I’ve taken up spinning and I dine out smarter.
It feels good to please God. He asks that as an act of love, we take care of our bodies. Now I’m always mindful of what’s at stake if I don’t get this under control. To start, there’s my credibility as a Christian who’s supposed to know a God who can do anything. The class helped me see that my lack of discipline and self-control affects the people around me and is a poor witness to family members suffering from preventable diseases.
My health and future as a woman who hopes to raise children one day is contingent on me taking what I’ve learned and applying it. In the end, it isn’t all about a smaller dress size; it’s about developing wisdom, loving myself the way God does and knowing when enough is enough. I don’t know why it took me so long to go to God with this issue, but when I did, He was there with his arms stretched out, ready to take me in like a proud parent.
Another eight-week class session just ended, and I’ve dropped about seven pounds. For the first time in my life, my workouts and healthy eating habits are more than just preludes to special occasions. At work, I keep healthy snacks in my desk drawer.
And after my time as a student, I’m now helping to lead my church’s efforts. Carla in the Sports & Fitness Ministry . . . now that’s a miracle.