This is not a dieting success story. I’m not a weight-loss wiz-kid.  I do have a “before” picture, but as of this writing I’m still 6.9 lbs. from a significant goal – and that one is probably far from “final.”

No, when it comes to weight loss, this is not the blog post I thought I’d write:

I’m slow. At age 55, I’ve been at this seriously for four and a half years. I get the Turtle Award.

I’m not here to promote a philosophy, method, author, or product. What worked for me may not work for you. No magic tricks here.

I’m not privy to The Bible’s Key to Your Weight Loss Secrets. Those were never revealed to me nor did the Lord lead me to write devotions on the beauty of Brussels sprouts.

In my version of my story I would be creating 4 star meals that are simple, healthy, and delicious. I would be the model of consistency and self-control. I would show up to the trendy exercise classes in neon-colored leggings with coordinated tank top and have defined upper arms that are the envy of, well, every woman who knows exactly what “flap” means. Since my version never happened, I guess God must have had something different in mind.

When God writes our story, it’s always far better than anything we could imagine. Why should we be surprised?  Over the last several years, I’ve learned a few things that might encourage those of you who struggle with their weight. (And I think they are way better than Brussels sprouts!)

Consistency is important, but it wasn’t the daily habit of weighing and measuring food that I needed. I’ve been more consistent with daily Bible reading, devotions, prayer, and a commitment to making this a priority. I learned that taking advantage of the means of grace the Lord has already given was more important than searching out a new diet plan. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” reads Psalm 19:7. When I asked the Lord to help me lose weight, I didn’t expect him to help me learn to love his word more. What a delight! I pray that you too are feasting on God’s word each day!

Contentment is probably as underrated as consistency is. While we are all about the latest and the greatest, what usually works are the simplest things. As much as I love to eat, and cook, and bake, (and did I mention eat?) I’ve learned to love eating fewer things. This reduces the amount of decisions I have to make, and it keeps my kitchen tasks pared down. For a self-professed “foodie,” I had to learn to be content with less. Is this possible? Of course! Paul reminds us that even he needed to learn the lesson of contentment “in whatever situation (he) found himself” (Philippians 4:11). If you’re learning to be content, you’re in good company!

One of the most surprising aspects of my journey has been the shift in my thinking. I started out wanting to look a certain way. Now, however, I’ve traded “skinny” for “strong.” Becoming a strength athlete has led me to value inner changes instead of outward appearances. At first, I thought all I had to do was find some kind of exercise program, put in some time at the Y, and bingo: me, the cute leggings… But God had other plans. I know we all like to point to our favorite “unattainable” example of womanhood, The Proverbs 31 Woman, as some sort of impossible standard. Lately though, I’ve grown to have a new appreciation for her. In verse 17 we read “She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong.” Strength is a good thing! The Bible has all kinds of positive things to say about strength. There may be things that stand in the way of achieving this, but, if possible, it’s something we can all benefit from. While on this earth, I desire to glorify God and enjoy him as much as I can. I want to be a useful servant in his kingdom. I want to be a good steward of the physical body he has given me and that means keeping it in good working order. Our Proverbs 31 Woman was on to something!

When I weighed 300 pounds, I just wanted to look better in my clothes and not be embarrassed to be in a picture. I never wanted to be “an inspiration” because that word makes me nervous. Don’t look at me—look at the God who made heaven and earth, who saw fit to take a scared, middle-aged woman, and show her she was capable of more than she ever thought. Look at Jesus Christ who paid her debt and gently taught her to live in freedom.

Dearest sister in Christ: If you are reading this and are frustrated, sad, or discouraged and want to make a change, I want to encourage you. Read and meditate again on Psalm 19. Ask the Lord, “my rock and my redeemer” (v.14), to show you what needs to change. May you desire his words that are “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (v. 10). Finally, may you be like the “strong man” (or woman!) who “runs its course with joy” (v.5).  I’ll be there on the sidelines, cheering you on!

About the Author:

Renee Mathis

Renee is passionate about teaching. She loves nothing more than to gather around God’s word with the women of Christ Church in Katy, Texas. She also teaches high-school writing and literature at PREP classes, a homeschool tutorial, as well as mentoring Classical Christian teachers through the CiRCE Institute, and serving on the advisory board of Covenant College. She and her husband Steve have 5 children and 7 grandchildren and Renee’s suitcase is always ready for the next trip. Closer to home you can find her baking, weightlifting, or trying one of Houston’s new restaurants.