A Stronger, Healthier Me
by Twila Belk
My frequent prayer is for God to use me in big ways. I want to impact lives, and I’ve had many opportunities to do that. Yet I want God to use me on an even larger scale in the days ahead.
One day as I talked to God about the important ministry I wanted to do, I came face-to-face with reality. Instead of prayers, questions occupied my mind—questions I didn’t want to confront.
How can God use me in bigger ways when I barely have the stamina to walk a block?
How can I be credible as a speaker when my size is sending the wrong message?
The questions continued and spilled over to my personal life.
How will I deal with my husband’s increasing health needs and be his able caregiver when I have trouble caring for myself?
How will I enjoy my future grandchildren when I have no energy?
My health was on a downward spiral. A weight that resided in the morbidly obese range. A sedentary, unbalanced lifestyle. It didn’t help that most days I sat in my recliner, attached to my laptop for hours without interruption.
I didn’t want to be like the passionate 19th century Presbyterian pastor Robert McCheyne who treated his body poorly. Before he died at the young age of 29, he wrote these words: “God gave me a message to deliver and a horse to ride. Alas, I have killed the horse and now I cannot deliver the message.”
Little by little I started replacing old habits with new ones. I made adjustments in these four areas: focus, food, activity, and self-talk.
Instead of dwelling on the enormity of the task and becoming overwhelmed, I concentrate on smaller things. I make small positive changes. I set small goals for myself. I celebrate small victories. I remind myself that any forward steps, no matter how small, are steps in the right direction. By changing my focus, I experience results. The smalls have turned into an 85-pound weight loss so far, and I have increased stamina, strength, health, and confidence.
Rather than jumping on the newest diet craze, I threw out the word “diet.” I want something sustainable for the long term. What I do now is think about the foods I eat. I’m learning about the value of a calorie and am more aware of what I put in my mouth. I discovered an online site called My Fitness Pal, and I log what I eat there. I don’t deprive myself of foods I enjoy, but I might ask if eating that piece of pie is worth the 500 calories I have to spend. To help with eating out, I look at restaurant websites beforehand and check out the nutritional value of their menu offerings. That way I can make a healthier selection when it’s time to order. I’m opting for fruit rather than desserts and whole grains rather than white. I’m drinking more water. And I’m praying crazy prayers, such as “Lord, please help me to crave foods that are better for me.”
I tell myself that any movement is better than none, and I’ve gradually added more activity to my life. What started as a couple minutes of stepping from side to side while watching TV has progressed to jumping on a mini trampoline or working out with a Zumba video. For my birthday, I purchased a Fitbit—a device I wear on my wrist that tracks steps. My goal is to get 10,000 a day. I’m not always successful at that, but I’m at least incorporating more steps in my days than what I did before. I’m getting to the point that I actually want to walk or move more. I’ve also added strength training to my routine, which has firmed up my body and makes my clothes look better on me.
I’ve turned into my own cheerleader. “You can do it, Twila. You can do it. Just a few more steps.” As I bounce on the mini tramp, it might be to the cadence of “Exercise is good for me. Exercise is good for me.” I’m careful to feed myself encouraging messages to renew my mind and to reinforce the idea that I want to be strong and healthy so I can impact lives.
Here’s something I try to remember when I think about the big picture: It’s not a race—it’s a marathon. I’m a work in progress and will be for some time, but the consistent small, positive changes I’ve made have resulted in a stronger, healthier, and more energetic me—a me that God can use in big ways.
Twila Belk, aka The Gotta Tell Somebody Gal, is a writer and speaker who loves braggin’ on God. She’s written or co-written five books and contributed to several others. Her newest title is I Believe in Heaven: Real Stories from the Bible, History and Today (co-authored with Cecil Murphey) and she’s at work on Raindrops from Heaven, to be released early next year. For more info, visit www.gottatellsomebody.com.
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