When to Lose the Weight
That’s my husband I was texting last week. And yes, I know that I misspelled “they’re.” Autocorrect, where were you on that one?
He would rather have a bag of beef jerky. And I didn't throw out the cupcakes...until the next day when I had just one more. It was no longer fluffy and moist, but hey, the frosting was still good!
I had been eating two cupcakes a day since my daughter's birthday, and at that point it was out of habit rather than enjoyment. In addition to making a four-layer superhero cake for my daughter's birthday, a sweet family member had also made a whole batch of gluten-free cupcakes (I was the only proclaimed gluten-free party attender).
It was such a thoughtful and delicious gesture I gave myself a daily cupcake allowance to properly enjoy the gift!
The first day was all thanksgiving and no remorse. But on day four, they started getting stale as most good foods do, the excitement had lost its luster, yet I STILL ate them. At this point I thought to myself, “Who am I? Gollum, hoarding his precious sweetsies?”
Why was I still eating them?
Part of me questioned whether the title for this post was too click-bait-y, but the cupcake eating got me thinking about how to determine when to let go of a weight, something that's holding me down.
While these daily decisions absolutely can lead to physical weight gain over time, it's the mental weight that feels the heaviest and typically translates to unhealthy external actions.
If I can get to the root of why I hold on to comfortable habits even when they no longer benefit me, then remembering my reasoning will help me cut off emotional ties and let go so I can rise up.
I picture taking away an anchor so a balloon can lift from the ground. And for a better metaphor, I would like to think that we are not simple helium balloons at the mercy of the changing winds, but hot air balloons with an inner fire and wise Guide steering the course.
The following set of questions can be used as a template not just for eating habits, but to lose weight in many areas of life, such when to give away that jacket taking up room in your closet, or when to release a hurtful relationship for the time being. I hope that me talking out my process may also help you figure out what in your life needs to go so you can rise up, too.
Step One: Awareness
Life is too short (and difficult enough) to carry around heavy burdens. But let me distinguish between temporary afflictions and self-afflictions. Temporary suffering is that which comes our way for a short time, like lifting weights in the gym. When we rely on the Lord's power, it makes us stronger. It leads to a weight of eternal glory that we can stand upon. Self-afflictions are when we choose to carry those weights outside of the gym into our everyday life, making everything just a little bit tougher. It is weight that we choose to carry unnecessarily.
What is the weight that needs to go?
It can be sneaky, hiding in plain sight. For me, it starts with an awareness that something is holding me back. For me and the cupcakes, I noticed a sugar crash two hours later, something I did not need after having a night of sub-par sleep. In the cycle of change below, we will equate awareness with contemplation, which comes after pre-contemplation, or before you even knew it was an issue. Awareness is a big step in the transformation process!
Is It Time? Questions to Ask:
1. Is it causing me to sin?
"And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire." Mark 9:43
Not that we want to cut off a body part, but some temptations can be so comfortable as to feel as if it were an integral part of our life. Eating a cupcake is no sin, but eventually it felt like I was disobeying what I knew to be good for me, turning away from my conscience, and my Father, too. One telltale sign for me is if I’m spending a lot of time rationalizing and justifying my decision instead of simply walking away from it and making a clean cut. In the end, it's not worth holding on to if this small thing is going to weigh me down and keep me from abundant life with the Lord.
2. Is it beneficial?
"'All things are lawful for me,' but not all things are helpful. 'All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.'" 1 Corinthians 6:12
In Christ, we are free to enjoy all of God's creation, but it no longer becomes beneficial when we are consumed by what is intended to be consumed by us. Have your cake and eat it too, but don't let the cake have you!
3. Will this help me rise up tomorrow?
"Wisdom helps us make choices today that we will be happy with later." Joyce Meyer as quoted in the Bible in One Year
Since we are always growing upward, let us consider if this choice will keep us going in the direction we want to go. When I'm tired, I'm living in the moment and want my needs met now. But even then I can look ahead and trust that there is always a way out of temptation, there is grace for today, and Jesus is coming soon. A good rule of thumb is to ask, "will I be happy with this decision tomorrow?"
4. Is it relevant to my goals?
Over time, the cupcakes became stale. Not every goal strategy will be evergreen, and must be tossed or adapted to fit the current state of being. This is another way of extending our view to the long-term. A habit might start out for the best, but if it no longer serves the Kingdom plan then it's okay to let it go. Sometimes I need to let something die to allow for something better to live.
5. What do I want to gain?
By spending time eating cupcakes that I neither needed or no longer wanted, I was robbing myself of time spent elsewhere. Sometimes when I am stressed, I make decisions out of poverty rather than abundance, so I steal to get what I think I need. I forget that Jesus tells me not to worry about what to eat or drink, which can free me up to focus on my higher desires. Not having to worry about my survival frees me up to pursue the loftier God-given dreams, whether they be as small as getting up early to fit in a morning walk or as big as writing a book. Instead of focusing on losing, shifting attention to what I can gain can be more productive.
6. Is it uplifting for others?
"Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear." Ephesians 4:29
Since we are all connected to one another in the body of Christ, I don't make my decisions on a dessert (spelling intended 😉) island. What if my daily cupcake habit rubs off on my daughter and she thinks she deserves a cupcake every day and feels empty when they are all gone? I want her to be strong in the Lord and not feel like she has to depend on other things to make her happy, but can thoroughly enjoy them as gifts.
If you have a small pair of hand weights, try and carry them around for as long as you can.
When you needed to put them down, why? To get dressed, open doors, make some eggs?
This exercise represents the weight we take outside of the training ground of daily trials and holds us back from doing what we want or need to do. As you do it, may it bring awareness to something else in your life you can lose.
"Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." Matthew 10:39
What about you? Are you ready to lose the weight?
What is that weight for you?
Once you are ready, what is your next step?