Most of us put on a little weight over the holidays. Last year my New Year's resolution was to lose some weight. For me, the second week of a diet is the easiest because by then, I'm already off the diet. But last year I was serious. My body is a temple, but my building program was getting out of control. At first, it was the little signs, like the elevator stopping a floor short. Then it started getting obvious. When I stepped on the scale, the message said, "One at a time, please." Then, Evel Knievel called to see if he could jump over me. Later, someone from the government called and said I was being picked up on the satellite photos. I guess the final straw was when I went to McDonald's and got stuck in the golden arches, and the next morning I put my pants on backwards and they fit better. I knew it was time to do something.
I started out with the low fat cookies for snacks. I reasoned that when you eat low fat cookies, it's like eating at church — you can eat as many as you want, yet God doesn't let it count. So for a snack I would end up eating ten low fat cookies. I later discovered that's 500 calories! I could have had a Snickers! Needless to say, after three weeks on that plan, I had only lost twenty-one days. I would have to say, however, my fat appeared to be a little lower.
It was time I got serious. I went on a Slim Fast liquid diet. That didn't work well either. I mean it was very difficult — three shakes for breakfast, four shakes for lunch, and two sensible dinners, but I still didn't lose any weight.
I tried many diets: The mush diet — you eat while riding on a dog sled; the eggplant diet — plant an egg and whatever comes up, you eat; the vaudeville diet — eat only foods thrown at you. One time I went on a diet of poly-unsaturated oils for two months. I didn't lose any weight, but I don't squeak anymore. (You might achieve the same effect by spraying WD-40 in your ears.)
The diet I enjoyed the most was the hole-istic diet. I didn't eat anything but donut holes (donuts equal fried sugar — I wonder why they don't put pleasure grams on the side panel of donuts?). I gained so much weight on that diet that I decided to cut out breakfast. That morning at work I was so hungry I was chewing my nails. My secretary said, "Your fingernails are a mess!" I said, "You ought to see my toenails!"
Then I heard fiber is the secret. On this diet, you eat the cereal and the box and after a while you feel like Mr. Ed. This high fiber diet will allow you to live five years longer, but you will spend four and a-half of those five years in the bathroom.
Since diets weren't going well, I decided I needed to exercise. So I rented the newest exercise video — unfortunately, I hit the rewind button, worked out in reverse and gained two pounds.
It's harder to lose weight the older you get. The reason is, your fat and your body have become friends. It's like the fat has been living in the same neighborhood for 20 years. It's comfortable there — it doesn't want to leave.
People will try just about anything to lose weight. One lady was on a Valium diet. If you take enough Valium, it will help you lose weight — it doesn't really curb your appetite, but most of the food falls on the floor.
My daughter couldn't muster up the will power to lose unwanted pounds. One day her friend came up the driveway and my daughter said, "Marisa's so skinny it makes me sick." I said, "If it bothers you, why don't you do something about it?" "Good idea," she said, and she hollered at Marisa, "Here, have a Snickers."
The problem is food has become a big thing. Even when we lose two pounds we reward ourselves by going to the donut shop. I have discovered, if it tastes good, spit it out. Food is like anything else in life, if it is pleasurable from the start, it is probably painful at the end (no pun intended). It's the difference between green beans and jelly beans. If you're going to live ten minutes, have a jelly bean, but it's not the food for a lifetime.
Many times we eat the wrong foods because we are eating for the wrong reasons. It may not be what we are eating, but what's eating us. Do you realize that "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts?" Many times when we are hungry, it's spiritual hunger and we try to feed the spirit with physical food. I've discovered that no amount of Snickers will feed the spirit. I realize that if I eat more soul food I will be less hungry for Snickers.
Bottom Line: If, in your life, eating is the big thing — count on it — you will become a big thing.
Charles Lowery is pastor of Hoffmantown Baptist Church, Albuquerque, N.M.