As someone who has been overweight, underweight, and is now at a healthy, happy place in my life, here are my own top five tips for achieving your health goals:
1. Learn how to eat mindfully. Eat like a young child. Children eat far more intuitively than we adults do. Savor an ice-cream cone rather than cramming it down while you’re in the car waiting for soccer practice to be over, and don’t feel guilty about it, either. Enjoy food and the fellowship that often comes with it, but don’t be afraid to leave some food behind on your plate or put your fork down before you feel like you’re going to burst your seams.
2. Exercise for health and for the way it makes you feel, but don’t turn it in to punishment. So many people push themselves to exercise because they want to negate all the brownies they ate. Or they choose an activity they don’t really enjoy just because they’re pining for sleek abs.
3. Forgive. Forgive yourself when you overeat or skip a day of exercise. Remember, the contents of your pantry are not a sign of morality. If you ate a few too many potato chips, that doesn’t make you a bad person. Don’t self-destruct just because you feel like you fell off the bandwagon again. Start each day anew. Remind yourself that you want to be healthy and be closer to God more than you want to eat a pint of ice cream or more than you want to be thin (depending on your own personal struggles). You may also need to forgive people who have hurt you in the past and may have contributed to your negative body image.
4. Believe. You have to believe there’s a future ahead of you where you won’t be a prisoner to your flesh or to the fridge.
5. Be grateful for your body. Your body is a gift from God and a temple of the Holy Spirit. Break a sweat as a way to honor your body. Adorn it with clothing that accentuates your assets without flaunting them. Eat well. Be well. Don’t view your body as an ornament which can too easily be objectified; instead see it as an instrument to do God’s will. But remember that, in order to carry out his will for you, you need to engage in loving self-care.