In the health and fitness world, we’ve been led to believe that if you exercise and diet, your excess weight will just magically melt away but first hand experience will tell you that this is not true. Although this may be the case for a small percentage of people, studies tell us that 90% of people who ‘try’ to lose weight this way will put the weight back on again.
Unfortunately, the rate of success for Christians is not much better. We’re taught to pray more, resist the devil and submit to God to lose weight, which is beneficial but most of us can attest that we still struggle with our weight despite our deep faith. In fact, we are often left feeling even more guilty because we can’t understand why our faith is not working in this area of our life.
So if the traditional ‘eat-less-exercise-more’ approach is not the answer and the Christian approach of ‘having-more-faith’ is not the answer, then what is?
Over the years, I’ve come to realize that some areas of our lives need a different kind of healing beyond just the physiological or just the spiritual. There are some habits that you might be able to easily (or not so easily) change using these strategies BUT there are some areas of our lives that will require more. They require an unlearning of past wrong programming and relearning by the renewal of our minds. This approach is a combination of physiological, emotional AND spiritual healing.
If there’s a habit/pattern or behavior that you’ve been struggling with for many years like your weight, then you will not be able to change it by ONLY reading another book or taking another program OR by praying more.
Here’s why you can’t lose weight: If you’ve grown up with any type of dysfunction in your home, these events of your childhood shaped your belief system, your perception about the world and about yourself. These events (abusive parents, single parents, lack of positive reinforcement, feelings of rejection, a traumatic experience or even something that might be seemingly trivial) created certain beliefs in you (I’m not loved, the world is not safe, I can’t do it, I will never amount to anything, I’m a failure) that have shaped your feelings and therefore your reality. Over time, these beliefs and feelings have become your identity; not your God given identity but a ‘false identity’ that you were made to believe by the enemy.
In my practice over the last 25 years, I’ve noticed 7 identities that always get in the way of successful weight loss. I’ve talked about the People-Pleaser in previous posts because that’s the one that trips me up the most in my life but there many others such as the Control-Freak, the Drama-Queen and the Super-Spiritual to name a few (I will talk about all 7 in another post). These identities keep us in the constant cycle of disappointment in specific areas of our lives. If your struggle is weight loss then the cycle goes like this: you ‘try’ to lose weight – you start off well – you feel lost or uncomfortable in this new reality so you subconsciously sabotage yourself – you feel guilty, shame and disappointment – you confirm your deepest fears – you give up – you try again – and the cycle continues.
The cycle is so frustrating because you don’t even realize what you’re doing wrong, in fact you’re doing everything ‘right’ and to compound matters, you’re seeing the testimonials of how it’s working for hundreds of other people, so why doesn’t it work for you?
So, how do you unlearn faulty programming?
1. Get to the root of the Problem – Until you can get to the root of why you do what you do, you will continue to struggle with your weight loss. Getting to the root means spending time in prayer and taking time to recognize which false identities are sabotaging your success.
2. Releasing the ‘false-identities’ to God – We live most of our lives either worrying about the past or being fearful of the future. This leaves us very little time connecting with our father who is ever present and available to minister to us right where we are, right now. Our goal is to connect with him regularly and consistently so we can learn our new identity in Him and through Him. God want to replace our false identities with His original intent for our lives if we allow Him.
3. Renew your Mind and Spirit – We renew our mind and spirit by spending time with our heavenly father to learn our true identity in him; by learning to think as He would have us think; learning to talk as He would have us talk and not as we’ve been conditioned to talk and by receiving and experiencing His true love.
4. Rehearse a Consistent Action Plan – The principle of baby steps seems frustrating and painfully slow but it’s the way to lasting change. There are disciplines, habits and mindsets that God wants to cultivate in us but they require time and patience which is often not our area of strength. As you spend time with God the concept of renewing your mind will become more habitual.
5. Remain in Faith and Action – The above 4 principles must be applied over and over again. The process of unlearning, relearning and re-programming is not a one-time deal. It will take lots of practice, patience and and perseverance to stay the course.
All of us want to change but unfortunately most of us are not committed to going deeper than the traditional diet and exercise or trying to pray the fat away. If you’re ready to understand why you can’t lose weight then this is where you start.
The great news is that our Heavenly Father has not left us on our own to accomplish this challenge or any other challenge we face for that matter.
If you’re ready to get started on this new approach to weight loss, commit to taking some time today to just be present. Being present means that you are not worrying about what used to be or anxious about what will happen in the future but you are fully aware of what you are doing and feeling at this very moment. How are you feeling? What are you thinking about? Especially notice all of the areas of your life that leave you feeling discontent, deprived and depressed because they will provide you with clues as to what false identity is running the show and sabotaging your weight loss efforts. This is only a preliminary exercise we do in our Breakthrough course, but it’s a start to gaining a better understanding of why you do the things you do. I challenge you to set your alarm clock on the hour over the next 24 hours (not overnight) and take note of what you’re thinking about and how you’re feeling. Are you up for the challenge?
Everything you said here hit home for me. I’m an emotional eater and food is my best friend. I’m deaf and don’t have much of a social life. I’m the person who always needs to lose 10-15 lbs. which takes more decipline. I know how to eat healthy and meal prep but I over indulge in things I like as a way of being good to myself. I used to exercise regularly but have gotten lazy about it and keep saying tomorrow tomorrow. Even though I know it’s better for my health. I have high blood pressure and cholesterol but… Read more »
What a great post! I struggle with many of the things you’ve mentioned, however I believe my biggest challenge is realizing weight loss is a never ending journey. I’ll always have to be mindful of food choices, how much exercise I’m getting, what time of the evening I eat…the list goes on and on. Even when I’ve met my goal there’s still more work to do. But I know that is why I need God to be ever present in my life–for everything. Hmmm. Interestingly enough, I started my comment feeling weary because I truly relate to all you’ve outlined… Read more »
Awesome post Cathy and absolutely TRUE! So important to make the commitment to do the work…no matter how messy it gets…because God makes all things beautiful and will not let us stay miserable over these things in our past. Loved the Breakthrough session!