I always want to write even though I feel I’m not good at it and rarely have anything worth saying. Last week one of my favorite bloggers (Tim Challies) put out an article, “On Writing Well,” which inspired me to try to get back into it – or at least write this one post.
Over the last five weeks I have seen a great transformation in my life. I’ve had multiple friends ask “what” and “why” so I decided to share my story. Two points, however, before I begin. First, I’m sharing not to boast of my own accomplishments, but to praise the changes God allowed in my life. Second, I hope it may be an encouragement to others.
I’m a Big Guy
For well over a year, a good friend of mine (Tim) has been encouraging me to start eating healthy and working out. We both were about the same height and same weight. We both are web developers so we spend an unhealthy amount of time sedentary, looking at our computer screens. We both needed to get in shape and drop a few pounds. He got motivated – I didn’t.
I love eating and I hate exercising. When I say “I love eating,” I mean that one of the highlights of my day usually involves food – even if it’s just a taco from my favorite Mexican restaurant. When I say “I hate exercising,” I pretty much mean that at face value – as in, I would get winded running more than 50 ft and I’d hate every step. However, last month as I was constantly frustrated with trying to find a t-shirt that still fit, I decided something had to change.
At 6’5″, 240 lbs, I am not what you would call “small.” I carry much of my weight in my stomach which mostly just gives me a big gut. Beyond the problem of finding clothes that fit me (something already challenging because of my height), I have high cholesterol and the increased risk of heart disease for people with excess stomach fat concerned me. I decided “I am going to lose weight and I am going to get in shape.”
So on April 13, I began the most drastic physical change of my adult life. Tim got me started on the Body for Lifediet (which I follow, but my own variation) and I started the T25 seriesthat my sister loaned me.
It was brutal – but change like that usually is. I went from no exercise to a daily 25 minute “intense for me” active workout and from 4,000+ calories a day to 1,800. I was constantly sore from the workouts. I usually wasn’t hungry, but I always had cravings. I wanted a quarter pounder from McDonald’s or tacos. Oh tacos. If that wasn’t enough, after about a week I decided I wanted to start running – maybe even set a goal to run a half marathon. I’m not a natural runner so I have no idea why I thought running long distances was a good idea.
The Parked Car
It was on one of my first runs that something hit me. No, it was not a mailbox or parked car. But it was something as equally impactful. It dawned on me that in a matter of minutes, almost on a whim, I had drastically changed my daily life and daily focus. I had gone from eating two “normal” meals a day to eating five smaller meals a day; from eating whatever I wanted to following a pretty specific diet; from an already “full” day to trying to work in 1-2 hours of exercise. Not only had it impacted my life but my family’s. We had to grocery shop a little different, my wife started letting me skip out in the evening to run after the kids went to bed, Saturday became a holiday (I can eat whatever I want on Saturday), etc. It was life altering not only in my physical body, but in how I was living my life.
Three months earlier I read an article by Preson Phillips (pastor and one of my favorite musicians) – “Let’s Talk about Your Soul Crushing Calendar.” He talks about how our calendar is a reflection of who we are, instead of who we want to be. We fill it for work and other people, but we don’t fill it with the things that are important. He expressed that it should be the opposite:
Your calendar is not about what you need to get done, it is about the kind of person that you want to be. Your calendar should represent the you of your dreams.
Back in January when I first read it, the article hit me pretty hard. I had no problem filling my calendar with meetings and activities, but I never filled it for myself, for the person I wanted to be. So I opened Outlook and scheduled some time to read my Bible, to pray, and to just read in general. I also started making sure that my days ended at an earlier time and that my evenings and weekends didn’t get filled unless it was with family time. My calendar transformed.
What hit me like a “parked car” was that my calendar transformation lasted a week, maybe two. My commitment to study the Word, to my prayer life, and to generally grow and develop as a person lasted at most fourteen days (if I was even diligent during those fourteen days). Yet, three months later, my transformation to modify my diet and exercise was going strong over a week in. It had foundationally changed how I lived each day. The realization that my “calendar transformation” had been so pathetic and half hearted almost brought me to my knees on the street.
It was then that I decided that my new life change was not going to be simply physical – it was going to be spiritual as well. I realized that the desires of my “calendar transformation” were sincere (even if my efforts were not) and that my motivations for losing weight were misaligned. I decided that if I couldn’t dedicate my life to Christ the same way that I was dedicating my life to losing weight, then there was no point.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
— Romans 12:1-2 (ESV)
The Fruits of Change
On April 13, my only goal was to get my weight down to 199 lbs (to lose 41 lbs) in ten weeks. When I decided that the change needed to be spiritual as well, I simply included the goal of reading the New Testament and dedicating time to prayer everyday – not realizing how God would use this to change me.
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
— Psalm 119:105 (ESV)
I’m not sure I can even begin to express the ways that God has blessed me by simply pursuing Him. By the simple act of obediently studying His Word, the Holy Spirit has began to transform who I am.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
— 2 Corinthians 3:18 (ESV)
I have seen a true change in my heart as the fruit of the Spirit grows and takes hold. I find myself willing to look past my fears and willing to take steps in faith that I would never have considered before. I have seen how the Holy Spirit has worked through me to encourage those around me. I have felt my heart change in areas to desire to show love where I never have before. He has brought people into my life to encourage and lift me up. I could go on and on with the ways He has blessed me.
I don’t say any of that to sound perfect. I am far from it. Do I lose my temper and yell at my kids? You bet – probably everyday. But I find things like that happening less. I find myself stopping, trying to understand them, trying to show love and kindness in my voice without losing the discipline and correction they desire and need.
I say none of this to brag – I want no credit. Today I weighed in at 218 lbs. Yesterday I ran seven miles (well, ran most of it) when four weeks ago I couldn’t run more than 100 yds. I am faster to turn to prayer. I have a greater understanding of the role God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit play in my life. I have a better understanding of the necessity of Christ in my life and what that means for me. These things I can take no credit for, only praise the Lord for blessing me.
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
— John 15:5 (NASB)
At the beginning I said I hoped this could be used as an encouragement to others. So, after a bit of rambling, let me offer this:
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
— Colossians 3:17 (ESV)
Whatever you are doing, do it for the Lord – to pursue your relationship with the Holy Spirit as He aids our desired transformation to be more like Christ. It is Christ who gives us freedom, and you never know when, where or how He will work in what you give Him to change you from the inside out.
I originally posted this on my personal site back in 2015.