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This Is A War
Our Weapons Have Failed
The person who coined the phrase "the battle of the bulge" certainly knew what he or she was talking about. Until we understand that losing weight is a battle-that only God can fight and win-we will be doomed to failure. When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, our souls are secure and destined to live in heaven for eternity. Our bodies are quite another thing, just as Christ spoke of in Matthew 26:41: "The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." If we rely on our own power to bring our bodies into submission to God, we fail miserably. This is why trying to exercise self-control in weight loss has failed so many people, including myself. We can do it for a while, but never long enough to achieve permanent victory over this battle of the bulge.
Knowledge alone is not the answer either. Most of us own quite a few "war manuals" on weight loss, yet here we sit today staring defeat in the face. If spending money were the solution to this battle, most of us would have certainly won the war by now. The percentage of our own personal budgets that many of us havespent is comparable to the percentage of the federal government's budget spent on defense.
One of my dear friends, Beverly Henson, has lost 147 pounds in the First Place program and has kept it off for five years. Beverly is an entertaining speaker, and she keeps everyone in stitches when she tells about the thousands of dollars she spent trying to lose weight. When she saw Oprah Winfrey on television sharing that she had lost weight drinking a liquid six times a day, Beverly immediately signed up to do the same thing. She said she was doing really great until they started reintroducing solid food back into her diet. She calls it refeeding. When the refeeding started, she promptly gained back all the weight she had lost. Another time, Beverly was watching television and she saw a television evangelist with a healing ministry. She was a new Christian and, upon seeing this program, became convinced that she needed healing or she would never lose weight. So she chartered a 48-passenger bus, loaded it up with her friends and drove to the city where the preacher was holding a healing service. Beverly said her hopes were dashed when she was told that they were only taking people in wheelchairs that night!
All of us have stories about our weight-loss adventures and the money we have spent without finding the success we so desperately want. So, if self-control, knowledge and money will not help us win this battle of the bulge, where do we start? Let us look at some of the practical truths of any war.
We Wage War on More
Than One Front
When we wage war against our weight without considering every aspect of our being, we are doomed to fail every time. So many of the diets we try wage war only on the physical. The weight appears to be the problem, so we attack it with another diet. But wars are waged on many different fronts-land, sea, air and covert operations. Likewise, if we focus only on "calories in, calories out," and yet fail to recognize the truth that we are four-sided-body, soul, mind and spirit-then we are waging war only on one front.
What areas (or fronts) will God (the master of covert operations) use to help us win the war?
1. Our bodies (the physical front)
2. Our minds (the mental front)
3. Our souls (the emotional front)
4. Our spirits (the spiritual front)
We Can Lose Battles and
Still Win the War
In our weight-loss battle, we desire victory to be quick and easy; but wars are fought strategically-one battle at a time-and we must expect setbacks and defeats along the way.
Recently, I received a letter from a friend telling me about her weight-loss battle. She joined First Place weighing over 200 pounds. She had great success and soon found herself leading the group. Within eight months she had lost 80 pounds. Due to a series of circumstances, her First Place group stopped meeting for a while; she began a downward spiral and the weight began to creep back up again. Before long, she had gained back 40 pounds. This story has a happy ending because she is again in First Place and is losing the regained pounds.
If we are ever going to gain victory in the war of our bodies against our spirits, we must understand that we will lose battles along the way. I want more than anything to be a woman of God; but if I refuse to believe that I am fighting a spiritual battle, then I will be one of the first casualties and will be disqualified for the victory celebration. Paul said it this way in 1 Corinthians 9:27: "I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." If we can learn how to give God permission to fight this battie that we are waging, we will find the keys to victory.
On September 9, 2002, God called me to the battle to lose the weight that I needed to lose. He asked me to do this as I write this book so that I can share the truths that He is teaching me on the way to victory. I had six wonderful weeks and found that I had lost weight when I got on the scale each Monday.
In week seven, I flew to California with my husband, Johnny, for a doctor's appointment. Just like Paul Prudhomme (the wonderful, well-known New Orleans chef whose recipes Johnny loves) creates recipes that are complicated and must be followed to the letter, so Johnny's doctor gives instructions that are complicated and must be followed to the letter for Johnny's treatment to be effective. My mind must stay alert when I take notes for the minimum of five hours that we are at the doctor's office each time. So, after six hours in the doctor's office this time, we were both tired and hungry.
As we left the doctor's office at 7:30 P.M., Johnny remembered a sushi restaurant close by in Santa Monica. We went inside and Johnny ordered sushi. Being tired, I let my defenses down and ordered shrimp and vegetable tempura. I did not even look closely at the menu to see what other options I might choose. Tempura would not have been such a bad choice, but God and I had launched this war with two absolute directives: Do not eat any fried food, and do not eat any high-calorie, high-sugar, high-fat desserts. (I want the plan in this book to be simple, though not easy.) After eating the tempura, I could have gotten right back on track the next morning. I didn't though; I ordered tempura once more while we were in Ventura. When I got on the scale Monday to begin week eight, I had gained one pound. Here was my opportunity to quit or to decide to get back on track that very minute. I am happy to say that I was able to get back on track. Week eight was a new week, a fresh start. It would be different from week seven because I had learned a valuable truth that I had heard quoted: If we don't learn from history, we are destined to repeat it.
Johnny told me that he once heard a weight "expert" on a popular talk show say, "The battle to lose weight is not a sprint, it's a marathon." Everyone clapped and loved this statement. Even the host said, "That's good!" As Johnny sat there and thought about that statement, he said to himself, A marathon ends after 26.2 miles, but the battle to lose weight never ends. As he relayed the statement to me, he said, "Ask an alcoholic or a drug addict if their battle is a marathon. They will tell you that their battle doesn't have an end." After thinking about what Johnny said, I realized that, yes, this is an ongoing battle-with very real victories and very real defeats. We will want to remember that we will lose some battles, but if we allow God to have control, He will help us win the war.
We Must Recognize Our Weaknesses
I joined the First Place program in March of 1981 and have led First Place groups since I finished that first session. As the director of the program, I have been privileged to meet hundreds of men and women who have joined the fight. Some have lost over 200 pounds and have been able to keep it off for years. They all say that there are still skirmishes, even though they have obtained victory in losing weight. They also say that, at any point, they could easily let their defenses down and start gaining weight again.
It is my belief that the reason for this is that people who have lost and gained weight for years are compulsive overeaters. Those of us who are compulsive overeaters know it. Once we get started eating a high-calorie food, we feel we must finish the entire container before we can get back on track. We may eat it all at one sitting or eat it every day until we decide just to finish it and get it out of the house. Throwing the food in the trash is usually not an option we choose. For some, the food is crunchy and salty. Others, like me, are drawn to creamy and sweet foods.
Compulsive overeating doesn't hinge on whether we have a little or a lot of weight to lose. When we overeat compulsively, getting back on track is harder. It keeps us from having victory over the food we eat. Our emotions get into the mix, and we again lose hope that we can ever change permanently. God wants to help us overcome this destructive habit, so it is imperative that we recognize ourselves as compulsive overeaters and ask Him for help.
A lady in this session of my First Place class weighed in at over 200 pounds the first week. She has a stressful job (who doesn't?), and she told me at the end of the first week that she had written God a letter. In the letter she said, "O God, you do have a sense of humor. In the past I overate when I was stressed; now I can't even do that!" I never heard a truer statement. The best part of this story is that she recognizes why she overeats. Until we recognize that we have a problem, we will never ask for help.
I can count on one hand the people I have known over the years who joined First Place because they needed to learn how to eat right. One of these women came into the program, and I asked her at the first meeting when her baby was due. Since she was wearing a maternity top, I assumed (which is, by the way, the lowest form of knowledge) that she was pregnant. She said, "My baby is six months old and that's why I'm here." She lost the excess weight she had gained while pregnant and never came back to First Place. Since she is a member of my church and I see her from time to time, I am always struck by the fact that for the last 18 years she has not gained back the weight she lost in that one session of First Place.
If you are like this woman, you probably are not interested in reading this book. The book isn't being written for those who need knowledge. There is enough knowledge out there today for us to lose all the weight we need to lose. If you are reading this book and you realize that this battle of the bulge is an ongoing battle that will be hard to win-but not impossible-then you have overcome the biggest hurdle of the war.
Let's Not Give Up
To win this battle of the bulge we must remain confident, strong and relentless. The difference in this war, though, is that our confidence will need to be placed in God and not in ourselves, where it has been in the past. We must be confident that God's Word, the Bible, is true and that we can believe it. We must be strong as we make the conscious choice to believe that God is able to fight this battle and to trust Him for the victory-even after apparent defeat on some days. Being relentless means that we will say with Winston Churchill, in his famous speech of 1941 at Harrow School, "Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never-in nothing great or small, large or petty-never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy."
At the end of the Gulf War, we-as well as the news reporters-were amazed to hear that the Iraqi fighters were giving up to anyone they met along the way. The reason for their surrender is summed up in these seven words: They had lost the will to fight. You may be reading these words right now and thinking, That's me. I have fought a good fight, but I have lost so many battles that I am ready to give up. The very fact that you are reading this book is evidence that you still want to fight. Our enemy, the devil, wants us to believe that we will never win; but God's Word says, "I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:14, emphasis added). Ultimate victory will be achieved on the day we go home to heaven. In order to have victory on a daily basis we must believe that God wants us to have victory in the here and now. To secure victory on this earth, we must learn the secrets that all good soldiers know instinctively and remember that God will never be able to help us win our own personal battles if we refuse to fight.
As we move on to chapter 2, let us remember these truths:
1. Wars are fought strategically, one battle at a time.
2. Wars are fought on more than one front.
3. Recognizing our own weaknesses will help us win the war.
4. We must expect setbacks and defeats along the way.
5. When we lose a battle, we must get back on track immediately,
so we don't lose the war.
6. We will not win if we refuse to fight.
Put on your uniform. We are now ready to start basic training!
Dear Lord, I admit that this weight I need to lose is a problem I cannot
handle myself. Come into my life today in might and power. Give me the
strength to get up and fight this war, knowing that You will help me
fight. Help me believe that as You give me the strength to fight,
I will win, if I do not quit. In Jesus' name, amen.
Excerpted from Back On Track by Carole Lewis
Copyright © 2003 by Carole Lewis
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.