Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Amy Parham's book, 10 Lessons from a Former Fat Girl: Living with Less of You and More of Life, (Harvest House Publishers, 2011).

Being overweight can be exhausting and embarrassing, harming your health and limiting your activities. If you’re overweight, you know how much your excess weight interferes with your ability to live the healthy life God wants you to enjoy. However, like many others, you may be struggling to get fit because you’ve been eating for emotional reasons rather than practical ones.

Losing weight and keeping it off for good involves more than just the physical work necessary to shed pounds. You’ll need to understand the reasons why you’ve been eating in unhealthy ways, and make the changes necessary to relate to food the way God intends. Going from being fat to being fit will involve sacrifices and hard work, but God will empower you every step of the way if you trust Him.

Here’s how you can go from being fat to being fit:

Turn to God to fill the emptiness inside you. It’s a normal part of the human condition in this fallen world to feel empty inside. Everyone feels an urge to fill their emptiness with something or someone – from work to a romantic relationship – but God alone is able to fill the empty places in people’s souls. If you’re eating for emotional reasons, you may be attempting to fill your emptiness with food. Since God loves you deeply and wants only the best for you, you don’t need to turn to food to try to find fulfillment. Ask God to help you overcome temptations to try to fill your emptiness with anything except a relationship with Him. Commit yourself to pursuing God wholeheartedly and following His guidance in every part of your life.

Follow healthy weight loss principles. Eat foods rich in nutrients – like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains – to give your body the fuel it needs, while avoiding junk foods that don’t contain many nutrients for the calories that they contain. Limit your portions at snacks and meals. Keep track of how many calories you consume daily. Drink plenty of water. Never skip breakfast. Try to eat something every three to four hours while you’re awake. At every meal and snack, combine protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Change the way you think about food. Reflect on the ways you think about food, and notice unhealthy attitudes that can sabotage your efforts to lose weight. Then challenge those unhealthy thoughts. For example, if you think that you need to eat some candy to get through the afternoon each day, question whether or not that thought reflects actual truth. Ask God to help you replace your unhealthy thoughts with healthy ones that reflect biblical truth. So if you’ve previously thought that you can’t give up candy, replace that thought with the truth that you can do all things through your relationship with Jesus, who strengthens you. When something triggers an unhealthy thought that tempts you to eat unhealthy food or eat too much, distract yourself with another activity to clear your mind.

Look to people instead of food to meet your relationship needs. Food is powerless to give you any real love; the best it can do is give you temporary feelings of comfort. So stop trying to satisfy your heart’s longings through eating. Instead, pursue closer relationships with God and the people in your life. When you need comfort, spend time with God in prayer rather than eating in unhealthy ways. If self-consciousness about your weight has limited how much you interact with people, pray for the courage to accept social invitations and embrace closer relationships with people.