At the beginning of my weight-loss journey I boldly said to my class, “I will never give up Half & Half.” Although the coffee seemed a necessary requirement for daily survival, the added condiments racked up calories. In 2008, my pastor challenged us: “Give up a luxury for forty days.” The forty days has spiritual significance; it symbolizes following the temptation of Christ who denied himself during His time spent in the desert.
My church focus provided the holy motivation needed as others joined in giving upsomething too. I gave up my precious four cups of caffeinated goodness. No coincidence that around the same time I learned consuming low-fat dairy products helped with weight loss. When the forty days ended, I savored my cup of coffee with one-half cup of steamed skim milk instead of Half & Half. The Lord blessed me with a bonus. I cut the fat from my diet and I increased my dairy intake.
Over the course of my wellness journey, I experienced more self-control after I abstained from something for an extended period-of-time.
ü In 2009, I gave up alcohol for the summer, hit my 100-pounds-lost threshold, and recognized alcohol lessens my self-control.
ü In 2011, I improved my blood pressure when I removed caffeine for the last time. Today,I enjoy a cup of decaffeinated coffee periodically, with skim milk, of course. I’m shameful when I brag that my blood pressure is consistently below 110/65. After the initial withdrawal, my body no longer requires the caffeine.
ü In 2012, I recognized my non-existent Sabbath. Weekly, I unplug from email with a twenty-four hour fast from my laptop.
ü In 2014, I removed crackers from the house. I binge with crackers when under emotional stress. When I started writing my book Restored: Forever Free from Obesity due out later in 2017, I realized the crackers needed to leave the house. However, crackers are still on the never give up list.
ü In 2016 and 2017, my accountability partner and I started the year with a twenty-one-day Ultimate Daniel Fast, eliminating all animal products, sweeteners, leavened breads, refined or processed foods, and solid fats. Water was our only beverage. I welcomed meats and breads when I broke my fast. The long term result: I consume a minimal amount of sugar and prefer less processed foods.
Abstinence and fasting helped me understand hunger—physical and spiritual. When my mind and body yearned for the off-limit item, in silence I asserted, “God, I want You.” With each denial, my spiritual life deepened and my self-control strengthened.
Consider denying yourself something for forty days. Pray and ask God to reveal the food or habit you will never give up? Give up and give God the glory.
This excerpt is from Helen Baratta’s current book project, Restored: Forever Free from Obesity, due out later in 2017. Helen is Director of Development and oversees FP4H Virtual Groups. Click here to read her Blessed Big Loser success story.