Get the Body God Planned for You
- 2008 12 Jul
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Dr. Gregory Jantz's new book, The Body God Designed: How to Love the Body You’ve Got While You Get the Body You Want, (Siloam, 2008).
Pressure to live up to our culture’s current idea of a perfect body can leave you feeling bad about what you see in the mirror. You may think that if you could only get a thinner waist, thicker hair, longer legs, a shorter nose, a smaller rear end, or a bigger chest, you’ll feel better because you’ll look better.
But what if your perfect body is simply the one God created you to have – the unique design He planned for you before you were even born? What if you don’t have to agonize over your body and work hard trying to change it?
You can have the perfect body for you if you accept the body God planned for you and focus on taking care of it well. Here’s how:
Accept the body you have. Instead of fighting against God’s design, decide to operate within it to discover all the beauty and functionality God has placed there. Realize that, even though the shape of your legs or the size of your nose may not fit society’s highest standard of beauty right now, that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with you. Understand that what needs to change isn’t your body itself, but your perception of your body. Embrace the reality that your body is nothing less than a temple for the Holy Spirit – a receptacle for God’s presence. Since God has chosen to honor your body by dwelling within it, choose to respect it yourself.
List what you like and dislike about your body. Make two lists: “Things I Really Don’t Like About My Body” and “Things About My Body I’m Not Totally Disappointed With.” On each list, write down what parts of your body are in their original condition (the way God made you), and what parts you’ve changed. Next to what you’ve listed for body parts in their original condition, write, “Blessings from God.” Next to what you’ve listed for body parts you’ve modified in some way, write, “I’m committing these to God.” Keep your lists to use in your personal prayer times.
Celebrate your uniqueness. You only have to think about the huge variety of beautiful flowers God has created to know that God seems to enjoy diversity. Recognize that He has created you to be distinctively unique among all the many people He’s made. Appreciate the fact that you’re one of a kind, and your body has been designed just for you – no one else. God knows you intimately; even better than you know yourself. So stop wasting your time and energy trying to change your body to be like other people’s bodies and start discovering more about your own God-given body.
Be honest about the current state of your body. Give yourself a reality check. For example, are you trying to squeeze into clothes that don’t really fit your body’s current size? If so, get rid of all clothes (including underwear) that don’t fit.
Be honest about your current lifestyle. Evaluate how often you incorporate exercise into your life: Do you walk short distances, or drive everywhere? Do you use stairs whenever you can, or do you look for elevators or escalators? Do you spend time regularly outdoors, or do you spend most of your free time in front of the television or computer? Consider how much sleep you’re getting on a regular basis: Do you usually wake up feeling refreshed, or do you have trouble maintaining your energy during the day because of insomnia at night? Think about what you eat: Are your meals nutritious, or are you more concerned about eating for convenience than maintaining a healthy diet?
Become physically active. Get your body moving as often as you can. Realize that sedentary lifestyles usually develop through the many little decisions people make each day, but you can gradually develop an active lifestyle by changing the many small daily decisions you make. God has designed your body to be physically active, and you can’t achieve a healthy body without incorporating regular exercise into your life. Find ways to increase your physical activity, such as by: walking more, playing more (running around with your kids or dog, engaging in a sport, etc.), doing your household chores more quickly and energetically, and working outside in your yard more often. Ask God to show you creative ways you can naturally increase your physical activity each day. Start an exercise program (after checking with your doctor) to build your strength and stamina slowly and steadily. Plan your program around goals that are specific, measurable, and realistic. Start seeing yourself as an active person rather than a sedentary one.
Choose food wisely. Look inside your refrigerator, freezer, pantry, and anywhere else you store food at home. Pull out all the packaged, processed foods you currently have. Then investigate their ingredients. Take note of how many calories they contain, as well as how much fat, sodium, and sugar. Figure what the correct portion size is for each food, and compare that to how much you usually eat in one serving. Next, use your information as the basis for making healthier choices with your diet. Avoid packaged, processed foods as much as possible, since they’re high in calories but low in nutrition. Instead, eat whole foods as often as you can – foods that are complete in and of themselves, like any raw fruit or vegetable. Try to give up snacking and eat only at mealtime. Go to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s homepage (www.MyPyramid.gov) to figure out your daily caloric goals and how many servings of the various proteins, grains, dairy, vegetables, and fruits you should be consuming each day. Eat lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and dairy products. Include lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts in your diet. Stay away from saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar as much as possible. Pay attention to what you drink as well as what you eat, since many beverages are packed with calories. Take a multivitamin and multimineral supplement daily. To track your current eating patterns, write down what you eat every day for about a week. Then use the knowledge you gain to change the way you regularly eat.
Discard fad diets. Fad diets actually sabotage your efforts to lose weight because they don’t work with the way your body naturally processes food. Your body needs a wide variety of foods – not just a few – to function well, so stop trying to eat just grapefruit and rice cakes and eat lots of different foods. Your body needs fat, so forget about focusing just on fat-free foods and instead learn the difference between good fats (like omega fatty acids) and bad fats (like trans fats and saturated fats). Realize that, while you may lose weight on a diet in the short term, you’ll likely gain it back after you go off the diet. What does work for the long term is changing your lifestyle choices slowly over time. Dieting for a while and then stopping may actually slow down your body’s metabolism, causing you to gain more weight than before. Instead of dieting, just start making healthier food choices and eat those foods in moderation, sustaining your new habits. Ask God to give you the strength you need to change your whole lifestyle rather than just go on a diet.
Eat for health. Decide to eat only to fuel your body, instead of for other reasons like to try to meet emotional needs. Inform yourself of the correct serving sizes and try to stay within them. When you’ve eaten more than you should, admit it to yourself, confess your gluttony to God, and pray for the self-control you need. Don’t eat mindlessly, such as polishing off a bag of chips while watching television. Keep in mind that everything you eat contains calories that will make a real impact on your health. Strive to eat only what contributes to your body’s health, not what detracts from it. Be informed and intentional about what you eat, how much you eat, and when you eat. Turn to God – not food – for comfort. Stop using food to cope with stress or to make you feel good about yourself. Realize that if your food has become your comforter, it has become an idol in your life. Only God can truly meet your need for comfort; food is powerless to do more than cause a temporary good feeling. So break your patterns of eating comfort food. Write down what types of food you eat for comfort, and when you usually eat them (such as consuming a bowl of ice cream after work). Then ask God to help you give up eating for comfort, return food to its proper place in your life, and turn to Him alone with your emotional needs.
Manage stress well. Respond to life’s stresses wisely so stress doesn’t harm your health. Don’t use food, alcohol, or drugs to try to numb yourself from the stress you feel. Write down whatever is causing you stress; then pray about your list, trusting that God can handle everything on it. Avoid stress triggers as much as possible, such as minimizing your contact with a difficult person in your life. Change the way you respond to stressful situations you can’t avoid. Get rid of unrealistic expectations that are causing you stress. Choose to dwell on positive thoughts rather than on negative thoughts. Stop worrying and pray about your concerns instead. Exercise regularly. Talk over what’s bothering you with some trustworthy friends. Journal your thoughts. Breathe deeply and stretch your muscles. Engage in some creative activities to release stress. Pray about each issue that’s currently causing you stress, asking God to help you overcome each one. Then pray for God’s peace, then rest in the confidence that He is at work in your life.
Age well. Accept the fact that your body will keep aging as long as you’re alive. Don’t fight against the natural aging process God has designed; aging isn’t a crisis. Look in the mirror and notice what’s changed about your body in the last year, five years, and ten years. Consider honestly how you feel about your body right now. Write a letter to God in which you express acceptance for your age and place your trust in Him for both now and the future. Realize that, despite how much society may disdain age, in God’s eyes there’s great value to it. Know that God will continue to fulfill His great purpose for your life, no matter what your age. Ask God to show you how your body’s aging process can bring you wisdom and draw you closer to Him.
Keep going. Continue to make better choices for your physical, spiritual, mental, emotional, and relational health. Since all these aspects of your health are connected, improvements in one realm will strengthen all the others.
Adapted from The Body God Designed: How to Love the Body You’ve Got While You Get the Body You Want, copyright 2007 by Gregory Jantz, Ph.D with Ann McMurray. Published by Siloam, a division of Strang Communications, Lake Mary, Fl., www.siloam.com.
Gregory Jantz, Ph.D., is a certified eating disorder specialist, a certified chemical dependency counselor, a nationally certified psychologist, and a licensed mental health counselor. Author of more than 16 books and a popular speaker, Dr. Jantz brings his whole-person vision of hope to audiences around the United States through speaking, seminars, conferences, radio, and television.