I had been overweight for the last ten years, ever since I gave birth to my fourth child at the age of forty. At the beginning of this year I thought about the fact that I would be turning fifty in December and that I really ought to take care of myself better. Taking care of ourselves is usually not a strength with many of us Christian women. We are raising a family, while many of us work full-time, serve those in the Church and reach out to the lost, leaving us very little time for us at the end of the day.
I have a large family, having just adopted our fifth child. I work a full-time job for a non-profit organization called HOPE, which is very demanding. I am surrounded by needs all the time, in my church, from my children and my job. On top of this, two of my children have special needs. I have also been battling Crohn’s Disease for the last couple of years. A lot of us can relate to that kind of life.
As our family was nearing the end of the adoption process for a three-year-old little girl with special needs, I needed to be in good shape! This made me consider the potential of future health problems with my age. For this reason, I decided to take my physical condition seriously and to focus on myself a little more, not so much in a selfish way, but more as a way to stay energetic and fit so I could continue to give to my family and to others.
I started praying about things, not really knowing what to do. I really believe the Holy Spirit spoke to me and guided me. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness…” (Romans 8:26). In the last five months, I had lost fifty pounds without the help of a fancy diet. God told me to listen to my body, to only eat when I was hungry, and to stop eating when I was not hungry any more. It was really that simple.
The weight came off very fast. The most encouraging part of this diet is that I can sustain this regime for the rest of my life. I eat three meals a day. I eat everything I like including desserts and yummy Indian food (I live in New Delhi, India), however I probably eat about half the amount of food I used to eat before as I try to listen to my body and not my cravings. The problem with diets is that they are actually very focused on food, and are also very hard to sustain once you stop the program.
I am also exercising more. I am not a sporty person at all. Growing up I always had my nose in books, always being the last kid to be picked for any team. I did not like running, and whenever I took part in a race, I was certain to be last at the finish line. I recently started swimming and running again after thirty years. Here again, I believe the Holy Spirit was leading me. I started running two weeks ago. I could only manage running for five minutes at a time. Two weeks later I can run for an hour without stopping, which is nothing short of a miracle for someone like me! I am now dreaming of running the Delhi half marathon in November with my husband who is a long distance runner.
Our health and fitness is a spiritual issue. This is an area of our life where we need to listen to God’s Spirit and let Him lead us. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” (Gal 5:25). Too often we take things into our own hands, and we fail miserably. We end up discouraged and we lose the motivation to try again. I am excited about being fifty years old. I am now the same weight I was when I got married. I wear the same size jeans as my 21-year-old slim daughter! This is the fun side for me. But, at the same time, for me it is not about appearances and what other people think. It is about entering the second half of my life with a good dose of energy so, God willing, I can keep on giving till the very end.