Let me meddle for a moment…ok more than just a moment. Staying in shape and eating healthy is something we must seriously consider within our pastoral lives. Not just as examples to our parishioners but also because we can and will live longer more active lives for God if we do so!
In our culture today it is very common to just go and grab a quick bite to eat because we are so busy. When we eat out all of the time we quickly realize that pastors on a tight budget have to be very selective in where we eat. Most likely the healthier places to eat are undoubtedly more expensive. So much of the time, out of convenience, we will hit the local McDonalds or the Burger King or another fast food chain that offers convenience and quantity over quality. Don’t get me wrong a good burger and fries once in a while is great to grab but it shouldn’t become our staple diet on a daily basis.
I must confess that I too struggle with this issue. I have not always been healthy. I have often succumbed to the fast food junky lifestyle. In my world, the Christmas season is one of our busiest times. Often times we find ourselves at the end of our day hungry and running through the drive-thru window at a local fast food chain. Because of this habit, largely out of necessity and busy-ness, many pastors face health issues such as diabetes, heart issues and a slew of other complications. We struggle through sleeping issues because of being overweight. We struggle through back problems and pinched nerves. We find eventually that the quality of life is, in a nutshell, miserable all because our eating habits have taken us down these sedentary roads of crisis.
Did you know that gluttony is a sin? As a pastor I’m sure you do. I’ve been convicted of this issue in my own life. It wasn’t that I intentionally wanted to become a glutton and gorge myself, but stress eating is a crux of mine. Truth be told we minister to many people who find themselves in crisis situations. We counsel individuals and couples through difficult situations. We have to sometimes confront immoral sin in the church. We deal with our stress differently. Some internalize it. Some blow up in anger, anguish, tears…etc. So eating through stress with our comfort foods leads us down the road of obesity and health issues.
Secondly, if we have children and we live on a tight/fixed income we never want to waste the food that we purchase, and so when our children only eat a certain portion and we’ve prepared more we graze because we are frugal with our resources. It’s almost a great depression era mentality in which we never ever ever throw out food but rather consume it all. This may not be an issue with some of you, you don’t have a problem discarding excess food, while there are others of us who cannot see food left on the plates go to waste.
Regardless of where you are on this spectrum it’s important to consider your health, weight and life choices when it comes to the foods that we eat.
Q: I’m overweight and experiencing health issues now in my life how do I lose the weight and get healthy again?
A: It took a considerable amount of time to gain the weight that you are now carrying. In so saying it will also take some considerable amount of time to lose that excess weight, so don’t think it’s impossible and don’t get frustrated when you begin to get serious about your fitness/health. Consult your doctor, get a checkup and perhaps even setup an appointment with a nutritionist in your area. You must recognize that you may not, at the onset, be ready to engage in extreme physical exercise. So don’t just start jogging or take a tough physical course at the local YMCA/fitness center. Check with your doctor first.
What do I mean by setting goals? Start off small. After you’ve seen your doctor/nutritionist then begin setting goals slowly. You’ve heard of baby steps? Make baby step goals that are a challenge yet not overwhelming. Make a commitment to walk a couple miles a day. Make a commitment to avoid the fast foot drive-thru windows. Be determined to eat better. Avoid the heavy starched foods and the sugary sweets. Lay off the Soda/Pop (I know that hurts doesn’t it?). Carbonated sodas are not good for us. Not only the sugars in the regular sodas add to the fat in our bodies but the acids in these drinks lead to other problems in our health down the road. Make the attempt to first cut way back on your intake of Soda/Pop. Even cutting back can have some positive effects on the body. Don’t buy the gimmick that Diet soda is better for you either. Do some research and notice that excess of these diet drinks can actually be worse for you.
Lastly, don’t consider gastric bypass to be your only way out of this weight issue. It helps some, but eating habits have to be long term. Surgery is not the answer it is only a part of the solution for some who are extremely obese. Getting healthy has to involve some sort of exercise coupled with better eating habits. Just remember if it’s seems too easy perhaps it is and will not help you in the long term in the goal of keeping off the weight and staying healthy.
-Just a few thoughts today to all of you pastors out there!