Health

HeartHABITS FOR HOLY HEALTH
by Dagan Sharpe

No doubt the weight loss industry is huge, and obviously controlling our weight is important and vital to good health, but amid all the other diets, I thought I’d share how my renewed faith helped me regain my health.

Although I enjoyed good health the majority of my life, all that came to an abrupt end soon after I graduated college, married and entered the workforce. I found my once active lifestyle was much more sedentary and as a result, my eating habits began catching up with me little by little and pound by pound. After my first child was born, the weight gain was definitely showing and by the time of my second child – I was fifty pounds heavier than I should be. I even began to have symptoms of what a doctor diagnosed as exercise induced asthma, which was completely a foreign concept to me for I had never had such an issue.

To be completely transparent, I have to admit that the neglect to my body included much more than overeating. It also included eating too many foods filled with preservatives, sugar, trans fats, cholesterol and low nutrition. I also enjoyed heavy beers and rich wines. Combine this with little to no exercise, stressful jobs and misaligned priorities, it’s not surprising I was overweight.

However, things soon worsened when blood work revealed my triglycerides and HDL/LDL levels were at dangerous levels. In fact, I was warned by doctors that if I didn’t correct these numbers, and my lifestyle, I was at serious risk of having a stroke within five years!

This was enough to get my attention, but where does my faith in Jesus fit in to all this? Although I vividly recall accepting Jesus as a Christian when I was eight years old, I slowly began drifting over the years away from regular church attendance and fellowship and began living instead more by the world’s standards than by the Word’s standards. As a result, my health, my work-life, my family life and my spiritual life were coming to a cataclysmic crossroad, or collision point. God was giving me a clear choice, it was either His way, or my way.

Thankfully, one night, I reached my breaking point, fell to my knees and surrendered my life entirely to Him. I began taking my walk with God seriously. I dusted off the shelved Bible my wife had recently given me and began seeking answers and direction for my life. As a family, we eagerly began attending church regularly and joined an adult Bible study class. I also joined a small group of men who met weekly for even deeper study, but more importantly, it was where accountability and honest sharing could take place among Godly minded men. In addition, I began sourcing biblically grounded preachers I could continue to learn from in the form of books and podcasts, and every morning was devoted to my personal prayer time with my Lord – a process continued to this day.

As a result, I began to learn and clarify my biblical role as a husband, father, and man of God, and the bad habits I once had, began falling away, one by one. The desire for them simply faded and new desires, Godly desires, took their place. I am still amazed by the natural ease of this transformation and clearly look back on it as verification of the Spirit’s work in and through me, for it had nothing to do with my own self-discipline, or will-power (1 Corinthians 4:20).

This peaceful internal strength also served as the fuel behind my perseverance and commitment to daily exercise. What started out as an arduous three days a week routine, soon increased to four days a week and then to five days a week. I also began eating more fish and a vegetarian based diet, including uncooked fruits and vegetables.

Lastly, as a personal conviction, I was led to stop drinking completely in that I realized it was offering absolutely no benefit to my life. Within a few months, and less than a year, my blood work showed my triglycerides and HDL/LDL levels as normal, my body fat in healthy ranges, and the excess fifty pounds gone! I was also successfully competing in triathlons – and the exercise induced asthma? That was gone too! Although I do take fish oil and niacin supplements, all of this has occurred without the aid of any medication. As a side, I am not against medicine, but my wife and I decided to first try to treat my various symptoms holistically, which thankfully worked.

The battle for good health doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does take commitment and can be won when we apply three simple truths as we declare W.A.R. for victorious health.

1. Worship. When we keep God first in our life, study His Word and obey His commands, we place ourselves in a position of victory by knowing He strengthens us, and we are not our own (Matthew 6:33). We have a commitment to be good stewards of all His gifts, including our body.

2. Activity. Stay active and exercise regularly. We all know this to be a key contributor to good health. Therefore, we must work to keep it as a primary and consistent discipline in our lives (1 Timothy 4:8).

3. Restraint. This tends to be hardest area for most of us, but showing restraint and avoiding those things we know aren’t good for us, even though they may bring temporary satisfaction, is crucial to maintaining good health. If it’s not constructive to our life, it’s typically destructive (Proverbs 25:28).

Clearly, there are still trials and temptations to be faced and we will even stumble at times, but when we actively seek God’s will and have a repentant heart, He will prove faithful in leading us through every valley (Psalms 23:4).

In closing, I can testify God stands ready to strengthens us and carry our daily burdens (Matthew 11:29), but we must choose to stop living for ourselves and surrender our life to Him. He will help us in every area of life, including weight loss, because He loves us and cares for us in every way. He desires His children to be healthy and strong (3 John 1:2), and to enjoy life the way He designed it to be – serving Him by serving others and proclaiming His Good News to all the world (Mark 16:15). If good health can help us do this even longer, what areas in our life can we begin improving today?

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