What the Year of the Diet Is Teaching Me

So, here is a funny little series of events...

When our church moved into our building, I was so excited about having a space to function in 24/7. It is beautiful and fits our needs very well.

And it was a management train wreck!

Whole new worlds of decisions, needs, and things that were supposed to work that didn't emerged and we were left to deal with functioning in a space that was less than we had expected. 6 months of this proved to be a lot of stress all at once.

Add to that the reality of dynamic organizational and staffing issues that mounted as the staff team also felt the stress and pressure of new horizons, and what you get is a big fat ball of "hot mess."

And speaking of fat, what I got was 30 pounds added to my waistline. I am a stress eater. And apparently, I am pretty good at it.

Our culture doesn't have a great space to talk about over eating. Mainly, I think, because we don't see it so much as a problem. It is more like a bad decision. But for me, what I have figured out to this point is that my condition on the outside corresponds to my condition on the inside. And I am afraid that I was able to let my internal self suffer because I didn't mask it with alcohol or drugs. I masked it with a socially acceptable medium.

But it was still avoidance. And it was still detrimental.

So, as we came into the new year, I officially dubbed 2015 the "year of the diet." In the past, when I would lose weight or get back into shape, it was a very private thing for me. Because I am not so much interested in the scale and what it says, I am interested in dealing with the thing below the thing that would allow me to put so much unhealthy food in my body to begin with. So, the journey of losing weight is not so much about the weight, but about the journey to something deeper.

Four years ago, I lost a lot of weight. It was interesting to observe the responses of people. For the most part, there were people who wanted to know what I was doing and how it was working and how I felt. That is all fine. But there was this contingent of people who wanted to make sure that I knew what I was doing that they felt was wrong and how evil it was and one person even said that I should stand up in front of the church and tell everyone not to do what I did.

Seriously...

The journey was never about the weight anyway. It was about the thing that would drive me to over eat in the first place. So, while I don't care what people think about how much I weigh, I wish that people would keep quiet about it.

So this time around I am on a similar journey. An introspective look at what drives my eating. But I am taking a different approach. Since I am trying to get to the thing that drives it all, I suppose the better conversation would be about that.  And I have gone public with it. In fact the year of the diet is "Facebook official." And I knew what would happen as soon as I said it. And it did. But I want to make sure to stay on task as I focus inward, not outward.

Some of the funny things that people have said to me so far...

"You're not fat." I never said that. I said that my eating was out of control.

"Don't diet!! Small healthy changes for a lifetime of health." Uh, not even the issue I am dealing with.

For the most part people have been supportive and encouraging. But I don't blame people for missing the mark even in their encouragement. I have still kept the real reason to myself. So, people are working off of what they know. 

In an attempt to get the real story on the table, and continue to ramp up my own accountability, I want  to share what I am learning as I go through this journey.

1. Our culture is obsessed with food and health. And these problems are systemic, not rudimentary. Our culture's conversation about food would be like trying to shoot a cannon at a castle in order to get it to collapse. But we aren't shooting at the foundation, we are shooting at balloons that are floating up from the watch tower.

2. Some food issues are a real addiction. And especially in the church world, we will listen to a preacher who is completely strung out on food tell us how evil it is to be a drug addict and say nothing.

3. Fitness is not the answer to health. It helps in the process and we should be active. But the same brokenness that drives us to eat can drive us to workout and while it looks healthier, it isn't.

4. The scale doesn't matter. And my clothes and how they fit don't matter either. What matter is an inner state of being that flows out into my worldview and how I treat others.

5. There is a direct connection to our diet (what we eat) and our spiritual well being. Maybe we should take a much harder look at that.

6. Sleep is a gift that gives health. If you want to be healthy - proper rest is key.

7. This is not a journey to a specific destination. So when people ask me how I am doing on the year of the diet, I don't know exactly how to answer that. I have not quit and my soul is healthier than ever.

So, nothing earth shattering, but it does change my perspective a bit on the future of this endeavor. I don't know what it looks like to not connect stress and eating. But unfortunately, what I have to also admit is that I don't know how to connect stress and prayer, stress and meditation, stress and turning to the Lord.

So maybe the biggest lesson that I am learning is that I need God more than ever. And I am still learning how to trust Him. And maybe that is the key that unlocks rest and health and Shalom...

To be continued.