Legend has it that pastors have one of the highest obesity rates of any profession. No kidding. I was the literal embodiment of this stat. Within my first two years of ministry, I packed on 40 pounds. Trust me, it was a lot easier to accomplish than it sounds.
I have been on a mission to lose weight for a year and a half. My life has traditionally followed a distinct pattern: try to lose weight, fail miserably, and eat my feelings as if the cure is at the bottom of the pot of pasta.
But by God’s grace (and I mean BY GOD’S GRACE – this is a miracle), I have dropped 70 pounds. While I have learned multiple tricks and disciplines over this time, a few of them are quite specific to the role of pastor.
Schedule coffee meet ups, not meals
Most pastors are meeting up with people constantly. Lunch appointments are easy times to exhale support for your people while inhaling all things Chipotle.
It is much harder to order healthy things when you’re at a restaurant than it is to pack it at home. My biggest compromises have occurred while eating out; on the other hand, my most controlled days are when I am planning out my meals on my own.
When possible, make your face-to-face meet ups over coffee so you can order low-calorie to help your goals.
And no, you shouldn’t get that white-chocolate-and-caramel-double-shot-Frappucino with whip. Be a hero; get a black coffee.
Have a game plan for church functions
Odds are your church has many expressions of deliciousness. The second you commit to eat better is the very moment you realize that when God’s people come together, so does the food. It’s wonderful – and agonizing.
As I see it, there are two approaches to eating during social times. The first is to avoid eating anything altogether. This is a good defense mechanism for those who will want to attack the assortment of food after one single taste. Be preemptive and lock it down.
The second method is to allow yourself to have just a nibble here and there. Although this is dangerous, sometimes just having a taste releases the pressure of the stare down you’re having with the tantalizing delectables.
As you may have guessed, the latter is my approach.
It’s all about knowing how you operate.Before going into a calorie-infested situation, determine which of these methods is you and stick to it.For added help, bring a better alternative so you can eat along with the rest – even if it means your portion is less than exciting.
Find your craving escape
Around 2:00 in the afternoon, I have visions of leaving the office and devouring one of everything in Panera’s pastry display. If you’re anything like me, there’s a time of day when you are most susceptible.
To counter this time of intense craving, you have to find a break-in-case-of-emergency healthy alternative. For me, apple cinnamon tea is my lifeline. Sure, my coworkers comment how it makes the office smell like a craft store, but it is one of the few things I enjoy in life that doesn’t involve sugar.
Whether it’s light popcorn, diet soda, veggie straws, or fistfuls of kale, find something that will relieve your office craving in a low-calorie fashion.
Drink tons of water
Nobody wants to be the “I bring my thermos everywhere” person, but it certainly has its perks. Drinking water has many benefits, such as curbing appetite, burning calories, and giving you a hand-to-mouth activity when you are on the verge of “bored eating.” For an added bonus, the double-digit trips to the bathroom are a great form of exercise!
But let’s be real, water doesn’t taste good. If it did, we would call it iced tea. Adapt some tricks to sprucing it up so it doesn’t taste like liquid nothing. I use lemon and calorie-free flavor additives to counter such an awful thing as plain water.
They say you ought to drink as many ounces as half your body weight. It’s ambitious, but you’ll feel better when you do.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those super-disciplined types who decide to do something and then make it happen. That has not been – and will probably not ever be – my experience.
Even in my journey to get healthy, there have been highs and lows, ranging from backsliding, discouragement, and sincerely missing food. I have been far from perfect with my diet. But for once in my life, I’ve stuck to something.
If God can help a notorious quitter like myself get healthy, He can do the same for you. Do some research; learn some tricks; and when you fall off the wagon, get right back on it.
Jonny Radcliff the Student Ministry Director at Storehouse Church, the Delaware Valley Area Coordinator at National Network of Youth Ministries, and a co-host of the J3 Youth Ministry Podcast. He lives near Philly with his wife and the three little monsters that they rear. His near ten years of youth ministry have been spent in Indiana and Pennsylvania. He is a graduate of Liberty University and Grace Theological Seminary. GO BIRDS!
NNYM - www.nnym.org
J3 - www.j3youthministry.com
NNYM - www.nnym.org
J3 - www.j3youthministry.com