Inevitably, at the start of each New Year, many of us scramble to find a diet, fitness plan, or quick fix weight loss program that we are determined to stick with, making the resolve that this time it’s going to work. This year it’s going to be different.
A few are successful, but most are not . With a prognosis of grim results observed from our past, (past behavior is a predictor of future behavior), we put ourselves into a “false hope syndrome” and in the end we feel worse, not better, and our pocket books are drained by yet another failed attempt at dieting.
We focus on the body so much and we believe that achieving mastery over it will bring the happiness and satisfaction we crave. Indeed there is much benefit to living healthy and physically active lifestyles. However, when we focus on weight loss as being the means to the end, we are sadly going about it the wrong way, joining others in the rat race of chasing yet another diet program that offers the fix we are after.
At the start of a New Year, making goals and resolutions is great. It gives us hope and drives us towards making positive changes in our behavior. Losing weight and achieving health and fitness is a noble goal we all can aspire towards. But to be successful and turn that weight loss into an habitual pattern of an altered lifestyle, we may need to consider how to lose weight from the inside out.
Oh yes! It bears repeating: We may need to consider how to lose weight from the inside out. We didn’t gain all of our excess weight by being emotionally and spiritually healthy! There are a myriad of reasons why our nation has an epidemic of obesity occurring. What’s yours? This is a good place to start in the journey of weight loss. First define what brought on the excess weight in the first place. We can’t change what we don’t acknowledge. Once you have figured this out, you have something to work with and most likely you have some soul care to implement, rather than behavioral change.
In the realm of wholeness, we are spirit, soul, and body. The body is our lowest realm of existence. Thankfully we will receive new bodies when we pass from the flesh and move into eternity.  On the other hand, it is our soul, which comprises the mind, will, and emotions, that drives the bus and steers our behaviors in one direction or another. Scripture teaches that “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45 NKJV). With over 450 million individuals suffering from a mental health disorder, with depression, anxiety, and unstable moods topping the list , it is quite telling of the health of one’s soul by the words he or she puts forth. Until we can get our emotional health in order, or rather, learn how to nourish our souls, we are in grave danger for negative outcomes. Stated like this, it seems silly to distract ourselves with a diet to lose weight, while ignoring the heart behind it.
Our soul on the other hand can be managed by the beckoning needs of our flesh, or the whisper of our spirit. We can respond to the appeal for immediate gratification or we can discipline ourselves by what we know in our heart is best. It’s not easy. Jesus teaches us to be on the alert because the “spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). Therefore if we are not feeding our spirit, it is obvious which of the two will rule. Scripture teaches that we can’t live off of bread alone. Real living is when we press into the realm of our creator, and feed off of His bread, the Word of God. (Deut. 8:3 NKJV).
With our spirit man as the highest level of existence, this would be the place to start, and a noble goal for the New Year. Feed the spirit. Get to know your Creator. Learn about His blueprint for living life and relating to others. Find out about the love He has for you and the gifts that are there for the taking. When we walk according to the Spirit, our flesh no longer rules. (Gal 5:16). This leads to a healthier soul, and in turn, a healthier body.
Change directions this New Year. Don’t go on another diet. Instead, consider how you might feed the spirit, nourish the soul, and then, lose weight from the inside out.
 A systematic review of commercial and self-help weight loss interventions showed at best 3.2% weight loss maintained after 1 year and at worse, most gaining back 50% or more of lost weight after 1-2 years. Tsai, A. G., & Wadden, T. A. (2005). Systematic review: An evaluation of major commercial weight loss programs in the United States. Annals of Internal Medicine, 142(1), 56-66.
 World Health Organization (2013). Investing in Mental Health. http://www.who.int/mental_health/publications/financing/investing_in_mh_2013/en/