Tired of weight loss stress? In today’s guest post, my new friend Jen encourages you with healthy ways to cope if you’re trying to lose weight!
While I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with wanting to improve your health and drop some weight, too often I see the detrimental effects this effort has on a woman’s mental health. What begins as an honorable goal can consume her thoughts, emotions, and time to an unhealthy degree.
Maybe you’ve been there? Has the number on the scale, following your diet perfectly, and getting in enough exercise determined whether you had a “good” or “bad” day?
Or maybe you’ve seen personal progress, but that darn Instagram feed has you caught up in wanting to look like her? And as you scroll through other people’s before and after pics you suddenly feel a tad bit envious, discontent, and down about your own weight loss journey.
Ladies, I am here to tell you that losing weight and reaching your health goals does not and should not have to control you. Eating well, moving your body, and practicing healthy habits can be done with balance, joy, and a positive mindset when your heart and perspective reflect Christ’s.
So, let’s dive into five mindset shifts and life-giving rhythms that will reduce weight loss stress and overwhelm and help you create a more joyful, healthy lifestyle that lasts.
1. Begin Your Day with Scripture and Prayer
Of any of the strategies I recommend to improve your health and relationship with food, it’s this: get your heart and thoughts aligned with God’s will by praying scripture first thing in the morning. It doesn’t matter what your particular struggle with weight, body image, or food is–everyone can benefit from this practice because we’re all sinners in need of grace.
It only takes a quick scan of the news, social media, or magazine stands to see what this world says about our self-worth, identity, and beauty–and it’s all backwards. If we aren’t intentional to fill our minds with God’s truth we fall prey to believing the lies of Satan and carrying around shame that has no place in the lives of believers.
If you’re feeling bogged down by the pressure to be thin or lack of self-control with food, take hope: God’s word does not return void! (Is. 55:11) It has the power to transform our thoughts, and therefore our actions, when we consistently put scripture in our minds. Rather than getting caught up in negative self-talk, defeating attitudes, or emotional eating, the Holy Spirit empowers us to stand firm in our God-given identity and freedom, and not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery (Gal 5:1).
2. Make Small Changes Over Time
Our culture fixates on finding short-cuts to losing weight. But despite what some diet programs promise, you deserve to know the truth: there’s no easy, quick-fix solution to improving your health and fitting into your skinny jeans. You didn’t gain all the weight in a month, so why would you expect your body to shed it any faster?
Stop looking for the “golden ticket” or “magic pill” and make small, healthy changes over time that are sustainable for life. Ditch the idea that you have to cut out all carbs and sugar while tracking everything you put in your mouth. That is a stressful recipe for burnout, binge eating, and re-gaining the weight you already lost.
Instead of doing a complete lifestyle overall at once, take it one healthy habit at a time. This way you won’t feel overwhelmed, deprived, and defeated because the rules are so restrictive. Creating new rhythms over time that nourish your body, mind, and spirit make the transition to healthy living easier and more enjoyable–and therefore more likely to last!
3. Focus on Eating Real Food
If you’re like the majority of women, you’ve probably found yourself counting calories, WW points, or macros at some point in your life. Or maybe you were afraid to eat a cookie or slice of pizza for fear of gaining weight or messing up your diet.
Can I ask you: Did you find it time-consuming, taxing on your mental energy, or ever wishing you didn’t have to think about food so much?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, I have good news for you!
If you simply focus on eating real, whole foods that God created for us to eat, you can throw out those “diet rules” and still slim down. It may not happen as quickly or drastically as other weight loss programs promise, but as you un-process your dietand focus on feeding yourself nutrient dense food in its most natural state, the weight will take care of itself.
When it comes to food, think quality over quantity; fresh over boxed, simple over complicated. Choose food straight from the farm vs. food labs most of the time, and you’ll see your health improve without the mental and emotional stress of dieting.
4. Redefine what Healthy Looks Like
Sometimes we make ourselves miserable because we’re striving for a certain “look of fitness” that’s completely unrealistic for our age, lifestyle, or God-given body type. We get swept away with the fantasy of looking like the half-dressed aerobics instructor on Beach Body who’s 24 years old, never had kids, and whose profession it is to lift weights and spend hours a day at the gym.
May I gently encourage you to reexamine your expectations of what a “healthy you” looks like? Whose standard of beauty are you chasing after? The worlds? Or God’s?
Sure, God wants us to honor Him with our body and food habits; but he doesn’t want us feeling hungry, irritable, or speaking poorly of ourselves because we’re striving for an unrealistic body type that was never meant to be.
So rather than chasing after a number on the scale or a “look of fitness”, focus on your overall health: your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. Take time to connect with God daily, be kind to yourself (both in your thought life and how you feed yourself), incorporate daily movement that you enjoy, rest, and make sure to get plenty of sleep. Tending to those aspects of life, in a consistent, gracious manner, will increase your health, joy, and quality of life–something much more valuable than a flat stomach and firm booty.
5. Be Careful What Your Put in Your Head
Just like the Bible can uplift our spirits and help us focus our thoughts on what truly matters, there’s a lot of junk that can propel us be overly focused on our weight, diet, and physical appearance.
Are they trying to sell you the easy, quick-fix solution that we already know doesn’t exist? Do you feel discouraged, discontent, and worse about your body after viewing certain people’s social media accounts? Do you find yourself worrying more about gaining weight, food choices and eating perfectly?
If so, you’ve got to say goodbye to those sources! They’re keeping you stuck in old thinking patterns and behaviors that are not serving you well. You’ll feel so much better about yourself and personal progress once those voices and images are no longer lingering in your head.
Goodbye Overwhelm, Hello Balance and Freedom
My fellow sister in Christ, you are God’s masterpiece (Eph. 2:10). Whether you feel that way or not doesn’t negate its truth.
You are loved and worthy of love no matter your body size or fitness level. So why don’t you let go of those rigid eating rules, crazy workout plans, and fad diets and adopt a realistic, healthy way of life that focuses on eating more real food than processed and making small, positive changes over time?
Let God’s word be your guide as the power of the Holy Spirit transforms your thoughts and actions to reflect the heart of Christ.
Distance yourself from people and messages focused on body size and eating perfectly and run to the Author of Life who came to set your free.
Today is a gift. Let’s not waste is fretting about calories, cellulite, and a few extra pounds around our waist. Let’s celebrate life, giving God the glory as we create a balanced, healthy lifestyle full of good food, gratitude, and life’s sweetest moments.
Will you join me?