Why do we fail on our weight-loss journeys? Is it because we don't have the right diet plan? Is it because we don't know how to exercise? Is it because we don't get enough sleep, don't drink enough water, drink too much soda, eat too much junk food, get too many sweets, are constantly stressed, overworked and worried? Yes, but those are not the core issues of why we fail.
We fail because we know what to do but we don't do it. Why don't we do it? We give into temptation because of four core issues. They are spelled out using the word FAIL. Fear, Anger, Insecurity and Loneliness are the main reasons we fail. Dealing with these will take us a long way on our road to healthy living.
Being able to exchange these core issues for core truths is where we must begin in order to sustain a healthy lifestyle.
I'm not talking about fear like fear of snakes or mice or even heights. It's fear of living our lives in the way we know God wants us to. It's fear that if we step out and do that hard thing God is asking us to do that He will not be there to lead, guide and protect us.
Fear is one of the biggest reasons we run to food. It is a protector. What better way for a woman to protect herself than to make herself bigger so she does not attract men who might take advantage of her?
We use food to soothe our anguish and fears and make us forget that we have them in the first place. This only shoves our fears down into the cellar of our lives where we throw food at them to keep them quiet.
All the time, our fears are growing even larger and will raise their ugly heads again the next time they are triggered. Then, look out! There may not be enough doughnuts in the universe to placate them.
We may not call this anger. We might use words like, frustrated, overwhelmed, stressed or ready to give up. Whatever we call it, a low-boiling anger is the reason we just want to run away to an island somewhere and forget about everyday life while we eat nonstop.
When we are angry, we want something to calm us down, something to make whatever made us angry go away. We want to be comforted. One of the places we run to for comfort is food, high carbohydrate-content foods, fast foods, desserts, chips and dip, donuts, cookies or whatever is readily available.
Food numbs our negative emotions, but it also numbs our positive emotions. We become blah, unenthusiastic and done with the world. We aren't screaming angry any more as long as we are eating everything in sight, but we aren't dealing with our emotions either.
When we don't feel secure in who we are we try to control more. It's just human nature. When we feel insecure, we feel we are not in control. So we try to take control of something, anything in our lives.
We tell ourselves that one thing we can do is eat. No one can govern what goes in our mouths because we are adults. Finally we feel we are in control of one part of our lives. Then one day we wake up weighing 430 pounds, as I did, and realize we aren't in control of food. God is in control of us. However, we still tell ourselves food makes us feel more secure, more in control.
Insecurity forces us to work crazy long hours, control our children, our spouses and our bank accounts to the point that we are ready to give up on life because we find we cannot it all. We need help, so we run to food again. Of course, that only exacerbates the problem.
Many of us are lonely even when we have people around. We feel no one really understands us. We have issues that others just don't get, such as getting out of breath easily, not being able to walk very far, not being able to find clothes that fit us, not being able to fit into a booth at a restaurant or being afraid the seatbelt in our friend's car won't go around us. Every day, we face a new problem.
No one understands our issues, and we can't tell them. That would be too embarrassing. So we don't go places. We stay home. Then we begin to feel sorry for ourselves. It's that old line: "Nobody likes me; everybody hates me. Guess I'll eat some worms." But it's not worms that we eat, now, is it?
We want companionship. We may even be married and have children, but we just don't feel like anyone understands us. Food has become our companion. It's always there because we make sure we always have enough of our favorite go-to treats.
These core issues seem unfixable, but they are not, because God Himself meets each one of these needs. At some point in our past, most likely our childhood, someone has made us feel afraid.
It happened to me when I was sexually molested at ages 6 and 11. This gets embedded inside us, and until we go through the process of forgiving these individuals, we may not be able to trust that our perfect heavenly Father will watch over us.
One of His main roles in our lives is as our protector. He is the one who promises to shelter us beneath His wings (Ps. 91:4). He promises to fight our battles if we will simply get out of the way and turn them over to Him (Ex. 14:14).
If anger, insecurity or loneliness are our issues, the same is true. There has probably been a time when we were told anger was bad, and we needed to suppress it. The only way we knew how to meet those demands and find any comfort was to eat.
The Holy Spirit, though, is our Comforter, not food (John 14:26 KJV). His tangible presence is our stronghold of comfort in the midst of the storms of life. Embracing that one core truth was a game changer on my weight-loss journey.
Insecurity or trying to control everything was a big issue for me as well. My mother had manic depression as I was growing up. She was out of control, which, since I was the oldest child, threw everything in my world out of control. To rectify that, I wanted to be in control and always felt insecure if I wasn't.
As an adult, I worried about everything, such as Do we have enough money, enough food, enough clothes? Am I working hard enough? Did the kids get their homework done? Everything changed when I finally began to understand that God is the provider of everything I need. When I am putting Him first, everything will fall into place. I will be provided for (Matt. 6:25-33).
Loneliness began to be abated when I really tapped into the fact that Jesus is my companion as I walk through this life. He lived in a body and was tempted in every way just as I was (Heb. 4:15). He gets me. He understands and gives me direction, hope and peace when I simply follow Him (John 10:27).
The important thing to understand is that every emotional need we have been trying to get from food is met in God. He is our source. Food is simply fuel for our bodies. Food provides us with energy to walk through this earth. Nothing more.
When we get that down in our being and it becomes one of our core truth, it will be much simpler to go forward on our healthy living journeys.
Instead of fear, we trust that God is our protector. Instead of anger, we trust that the Holy Spirit is our comforter. Instead of insecurity, we trust that God the Father is our provider. Instead of loneliness, we trust that Jesus is our companion.
We don't need another diet or exercise plan. We don't need a way to be more accountable. We need to understand our core issues and replace them with our core truths.
A core truth is not just something we can spout off, but something we have experienced in our lives. "You will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you" (John 8:32, MSG).
What core issue do you have? What core truth do you need to experience?
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of five books and two study guides, including her latest, Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy, and her No. 1 best-seller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. She is also a blogger, spiritual weight loss coach (check out her coaching group, Overcomers Academy) and speaker at TeresaShieldsParker.com.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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