If you’ve ever been on the weight loss yo-yo train like I have been, trying a new diet every year, you may be wondering “is there a better way?” And the answer is yes! Christian weight loss is different than the world’s methods because our motivation is the glory of God, not the glory of a fitness selfie or vacation swimsuit goals.
Worldly weight loss is often motivated by shame over our bodies and feeling like we don’t measure up. Shame is such an uncomfortable feeling that we are in a hurry to get rid of it. In our hurry, we try all-or-nothing diets and programs to feel better. The problem with this approach is that fast doesn’t last.
We want to be healthy for the rest of our lives. And we can only do that if we chose methods we can stick with forever. When we are motivated by honoring God with our bodies and taking care of what he’s given us so we have the health we need to serve him, we can choose habits that last over diets that crash.
We want the energy to play on the floor with our grandkids. Making the travel to a foreign country to serve at an orphanage requires physical stamina. And if we are plagued by weight-related health conditions, we are caught up with managing those instead of sharing the gospel.
Serving God, rather than proving our worth, is the motivation that drives Christian weight loss. And because we know that to go fast with weight loss, we must actually slow down, Christian weight loss allows us to focus on Christ-honoring healthy habits.
I was recently reading the book of Exodus in my one-year bible reading plan. I often listen on my phone while walking or driving the kids to school, and what struck me about the book of Exodus is the incredible detail God gives the Israelite people to build the tabernacle. He goes as far as to tell them exactly how many rings to put on the curtains and how to sew their clothing. These are tiny details, and it reminded me that God cares about the details.
Because God is the almighty creator of the universe I tend to think of him as a big picture God who orchestrates the major pivots in my life. It’s easy for me to forget that God is also intimately invested in the details no one else sees.
When my jeans fit tighter and I’m agonizing in my head as I get dressed, he cares about those thoughts and wants to redeem them. When I’m taking the time to chop up a salad and fuel my body so I can focus on the ministries he’s placed in my life, he beams with pride. When I handle a difficult parenting moment with grace, and no one will ever see or hear about it, he is there cheering me on. When I take a walk, with gratitude I remember he made the ground I walk on and placed the tiny finger-sized purple flowers in the grass, so I can delight in him.
Healthy habits done for the glory of God, are set apart and holy. We may not think about a workout, going to bed early, or drinking water as activities God cares about. But if they are done with the motivation to take care of the bodies he gave us, then it’s worship.
It is a beautiful freedom to know that we don’t have to be in a bible study or raising our hands in praise to worship God. Mundane activities like changing diapers or cooking a healthy dinner will never get accolades on a platform. They don’t look very religious from the outside. But when our hearts are oriented toward God, it all becomes a beautiful act of spiritual worship.
Though there is no one size fits all approach for weight loss, there are some healthy habits that are backed by science and the word of God that will serve us for the rest of our lives. I am reminded of Romans 12:1-2:
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
I also love this paraphrase of Romans 12:1-2 from the Message:
“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
8 Habits for Christian Weight Loss
1. Drink More Water
As Jesus traveled miles on foot he stopped to rest and drink water from a well. He strategically confronted cultural tension when he chose a well “on the other side of the tracks” and spoke with a woman who lived in sin and was despised by the Jewish people.
This stop reveals his divine plan to offer eternal life and shows his human nature to need rest and water. If we are made in the likeness of God, what does this say about our need for rest and water?
In John 4:13-14 Jesus told the woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Have you noticed when you drink more water, your body begins to crave it? Research tells us drinking water can increase our metabolic rate by 30%. Make drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water a habit, and thank God for the eternal life you have that never runs dry.
2. Sleep Longer
In Psalm 127:1–2, Solomon says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep”.
Our modern lives keep us busy achieving. Or perhaps it feels more like surviving. Sleep is often the first thing to suffer when we are short on time. One study of people who got four fewer hours of sleep found on average they consumed 600 additional calories the following day.
When our ambitions are fully aligned with God, our souls will be at rest. When we are not too busy proving ourselves we can make time for seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Adequate sleep is a bioproduct of trust in God, and weight loss is a bioproduct of good sleep.
3. Weigh Yourself Daily
Getting in the habit of weighing yourself daily can boost your weight loss and confidence in Jesus. A study showed that those who weighed themselves daily, lost six pounds more over six months, than those who weighed themselves less often.
Weighing yourself daily is also an exercise in finding your value as God’s child, rather than the number on the scale. Write out Psalm 139:14 and post it by your scale. Your weight may change, but your worth does not.
Psalm 139:14 says, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
4. Get Morning Sunlight
Ecclesiastes 11:7 tells us, “Light is sweet, and it pleases the eyes to see the sun.”
A simple habit of getting ten to fifteen minutes of sunlight each morning can boost vitamin D levels and aid in weight loss. In the Bible, light is often used as a metaphor for truth. Getting your morning sunshine can be the perfect time to meditate on the truth of God’s word.
5. Practice Mindfulness
A study found that mindfulness was effective in reducing obesity-related behaviors. Our thoughts and feelings are connected to our eating habits. Make it a daily habit to pause and consider what’s making you feel anxious. Instead of eating your feelings, express them to God in prayer and gratitude.
Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
6. Walk Daily
The fitness industry markets to us with dramatic before and after photos and six-pack abs. As Christians, we know our bodies were created by God and are on loan to us. Our motivation for staying fit is not the praise of people, but so we have the strength and energy to live out God’s will.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
Besides having positive effects on mental health, a study found those who walked daily lost an average of 10% of their body weight after six months.
7. Pack a Lunch
1 Corinthians 10: 31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
Research tells us those who eat home-cooked meals more often, have a 28% lowered risk of obesity. Packing your lunch is a simple habit that can transform your health, for the glory of God. I like to cook extra at dinner and bring it for lunch the next day or eat a big salad with grilled chicken.
8. Keep a Food Journal
Proverbs 7:2-3 says “Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.”
Studies tell us those who keep a food journal lose more and keep it off better than those who don’t. The Bible tells us there is wisdom in writing down what’s important. Keeping a food journal is a wise habit for long-term weight loss.
I leave you with this prayer from 3 John 1:2, for your daily habits, weight loss, and health: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
You may also enjoy these articles about weight loss and self-worth that are rooted in the truth of the Bible.