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SO CAN YOU!

00001.jpgBY DAN MCNEIL

 

I Did it, So Can You!

 

By Dan McNeil

November 2008, one week before Thanksgiving I embarked on an adventure that would as of today lead me to 70 pounds of weight loss. Each week I hear from numerous people that I look great and many of them want to know what I am doing or what diet plan I used. After some prayer and consideration, I am going to share with the world all of my weight loss secrets. The truth is these secrets are not really secrets at all.

Before I get into how I lost weight and how I plan on maintaining my weight loss, I am going to share why I lost weight.

My health has always been good. Even though I have suffered some joint pain, mostly in my knees and foot, I haven’t suffered any other real health problems. Even while living at an obese weight I have been blessed with what most consider good health.

In the past I have tried many diets and exercise programs to take off the pounds. My goal was to simply look better and possibly have more energy. All of these diet plans worked while I was on them. As soon as I would make some real progress, I would find myself at a party or picnic and then back to eating and eating and again eating. I could not get myself interested or fired up about going back on the diet plans, so I would continue on with my lifestyle of unhealthy eating.

I can’t even count the number of times I have asked God to help me lose weight. Each time I would ask Him for help, I would start the day with a sensible meal and continue from there down the slippery slope of unhealthy eating. By the end of the day I end up repenting and trying again the next day, only to repeat this pattern each and every day tried. So what is different this time?

There are several things that started this train in motion. First was the announcement in August 2008 that I was going to become a grandfather. The news was somewhat shocking but at the same time so wonderful and joyous that I couldn’t contain myself. I shared with everyone I knew, and didn’t know.

After about a month, some reality sunk in. Once my grandson is born, he is going to have a young grandfather in his 40’s whom he will run into the ground while playing. Of course there is no way any adult even in perfect condition is ever going to keep up with a child, I had no fighting chance.

Next was the fact I was also going to have a new sonin-law who enjoys the outdoors and hunting. I really wanted to participate in these activities with him for many years to come. Even though my health is good, I have to ask myself, how long can I live weighing this much and continue in good health?

I started to seek God concerning this. I again started to pray and ask God to help me lose weight. This again just brought me to that endless loop of starting off good in the morning and ending up eating everything in sight by the end of the day. It just didn’t seem like God was helping me or taking any interest in my losing weight.

Then a week before Thanksgiving the revelation came. While praying to God, not even thinking of losing weight, I was thanking Him for how great things are. Thinks like the call on my life is starting to be realized. I was going to have a beautiful grandson and new son-in-law. It just seemed everything was going perfect and I was on top of the world.

God stopped me and said, “it’s time to make changes again”.
I knew exactly what He wanted me to do. I have to change the way I eat.

Our Heavenly Father is so loving that He didn’t condemn me, but showed me in a loving way that I have an eating disorder. He showed me that I have a food addiction. Just as any other substance addiction, once you start with just a little, you tend to increase and increase until it over takes you. Food was doing this to me. Only difference between this and most addictions is that I need to eat to survive. You cannot quit food.

I asked God to remove this addiction and He said no, “My grace is sufficient for you”.

I have heard those words before. Paul when asking the Lord to remove the thorn in his flesh said those very words to him. 2nd Corinthians 12:9
It was then I knew I would have to live with this addiction all of my life. I also knew that I would have to overcome this addition and show God’s strength, or greatness in my weakness.

The decision was now mine. I had a choice to make. Continue to live eating the way I do, destroying my body, the temple of the Holy Spirit, or change my eating habits, taking better care of my body, worshipping Him and living as a testimony to God’s grace toward us.

I bowed before Him and with resolve, chose to live for the God of my salvation.

It is important to understand why we do things often before we go and do them. If we are serving someone or something greater than ourselves, we find that doing the very difficult can become much easier. God is the greatest of all of the greatest. In making this sacrifice for Him, I find that even with this being as difficult as it is, all things are possible to him who trust in the Lord.

Now that I have established that I am going to have to sacrifice and fight my flesh in order to worship God, I need to understand what it is I can do to make the changes I need to make.

Since I realize God’s grace is a huge part of my weight loss, I decided to take it in steps and create realistic goals. Knowing the holidays were coming up, my initial goal was to lose 1 pound a week, with the hopes of just maintaining my weight throughout Thanksgiving and Christmas. This seemed like a tough enough battle.

To understand how this is possible I first had to understand myself. Since this was a change I needed to make for the rest of my life, I need to be able to live with this change. One thing I knew right away is that I hate exercising.
All of my life, mostly in my younger years, I have been involved in some sort of sports. I have played soccer, lifted weights, swam, studied martial arts, biked, coached soccer, and played various other sports here and there.

Being involved in these sports allowed me to eat large quantities of food and either maintain or even lose weight. The problem is, once you hit your mid 40’s, not many sport teams are knocking down your door asking you to play with them.

In addition, I have a very busy lifestyle. This allows me very little time to exercise or participate in individual sports such as martial arts or biking. Knowing I wasn’t going to be getting much exercise, I needed to put together a plan that would enable me to live a busy life and still lose weight.
Another thing I had to learn is that it will be totally impossible for me to live on salads and eat lots of fruits and veggies the rest of my life. I simply do not like those kinds of foods much. I rather eat junk foods. Burgers, fries, pasta, ice cream and stuff like that.

This presents a huge problem. I needed to find a way to improve my intake of healthy foods and reduce my intake of unhealthy foods. Keeping in mind I am not only losing weight as an act of worship to my Lord, but also improving the healthiness of what I eat.

I started to think of what foods I like. I needed foods that were lower in fat, carbohydrates and calories. I found there were quite a few foods I liked and even ate regularly that fit these requirements. Green beans, fish, chicken, turkey and several others. I also had to ask myself being completely honest, can I give up eating cheeseburgers, pasta and ice cream the rest of my life? The answer is no. I needed a way to fit these kinds of foods into my diet.

Last thing I needed to understand about myself is how much I eat. My portions were simply out of control. Especially when it came to eating things like breads, pastas and ice cream. Unhealthy foods at very unhealthy quantities. This might be the hardest of my battles.

Now that I understand what foods I can eat, or want to eat. And the goal of wanting to lose 1 maybe 2 pounds tops a week, I need to have a plan in order to do this. I needed a plan that again fits who I am. I am not a very organized person who keeps records. I needed a way of knowing what I am eating, what I should be eating and how I can eat to benefit my body and please the Lord.

Since I am not good at organization or following diet plans that require list or meal plans, I decided to simply do a basic calorie count. I went online and found a BMI calculator. I needed to know where I was starting.

My first BMI calculation was ugly. As I thought, it came back saying I was obese. Actually, I was very obese. This was enough to almost cause depression and say I quit even before I get started. Since I resolved to go with God and worship Him, I fought through that first battle.

Next I calculated how many calories I burn each day at that weight. I estimated my exercise level as pretty lethargic in order to give myself a bit of a cushion because I spend many days sitting at a desk during work.

From there, knowing that in order to lose 1 pound of weight you need to burn 3500 calories more than you take in, I simply did the math. My daily calorie burn x 7= my weekly calorie burn. My weekly calorie burn – 3500= 1 pound loss/ week. 1 pound loss/week / 7 = my daily calorie intake requirements to lose 1 pound per week.

Armed with that number, I needed to fit into my day what I will eat. To track how much I eat, I would just keep a rough mental record of the number of calories each meal.

Each day I decided to seek God not to ask Him what to do, but to thank Him for His grace and mercy. Turning my asking for something around to giving Him praise and worship instead.

The first few days weren’t all that hard. I did find quickly I would get very hungry between breakfast and lunch. I again did some math and this wasn’t hard to understand. I eat breakfast around 4:30 am, and have lunch around 11:30 am if everything stays on schedule. That is 6 hours between meals. I needed to divide that 6 hours in half in order to prevent me from feeling like I am starving. I still eat the same amount of food and I still get hungry, but it is a manageable hunger.

How I did this was slightly reduce my breakfast calories and add a low fat, low calorie snack. I found a fat free yogurt or a pack of instant oatmeal works best for me. My goal was to have a low carbohydrate, low fat, low sugar breakfast, and still manage to achieve about 300-400 calories before lunch.

It didn’t take me long to understand that while working in order to be able to focus on work I would need to eat more often, reducing hunger. This really isn’t hard to do. All I needed was to know how many calories I planned on eating, and divide it by the number of meals I felt I needed to eat.

It wasn’t long and I started to see results. One pound lost here, one pound lost there. After a few weeks I was down a few pounds. When looking at the massive amount I needed to lose, it feels like this will take forever. Taking a moment and thinking over the amount of time it was going to take, versus the amount of time I will spend living for Christ, the time it would take to lose weight didn’t matter. I was going to spend the rest of my life eating healthier so it won’t matter how long it takes to lose weight.

I did set some goals. Usually 5 to 10 pound goals in order to gauge progress and to re-evaluate my daily caloric intake requirements. As you lose weight, you require less food. Unless you increase exercise, in which I will at some point. With my time limitations, and the fact I didn’t want to go to the gym looking like the fattest guy there, I have put this off just a bit.

Now, what about those days where food is unavoidable?
If you remember I started this right before Thanksgiving. There is no way to avoid feasting on that holiday. Deserts are plentiful and so are breads, potatoes and stuffing. Knowing this holiday was coming, I knew I would have a tough fight on my hands.

One thing I realized is I was going to over eat that day. What I had to do is somewhat control how much I over eat, and fight off a food addiction in the process. My first plan was to ask God to cancel Thanksgiving. Somehow I didn’t think that would work.

On my mind was the words, My grace is sufficient. I knew what that meant. God is not going to remove the addiction, or my flesh, so I was going to have to stand firm in and worship God even in affliction.

Much to my own surprise, I managed to not really over eat and to continue on with good portions. I did eat some desert, just not much. I did eat all of the other foods, just very limited. I fought through and managed to only eat what was right and in amounts pleasing to the Lord. God’s grace did prevail.

I also knew that in order to gain a pound I would have to eat 3500 additional calories. Since Thanksgiving was one day, the odds of that were slim. What ended up being the result of the holiday was I actually lost a pound. I was able without even counting one day to manage to stay focused enough to realize a pound of weight loss on a holiday that nearly everyone gains weight. This was very encouraging to me.

So far everything sounds fantastic. It sounds like I am in control of my flesh and have over come a serous addiction. In some ways I have come into control of my flesh. In other ways I have a long way to go. When you find yourself into a situation of affliction, you quickly find out you may have many additional weaknesses.

While cutting back on portions and roughly tracking calories, I found I tend to pad my numbers a bit.

Rounding numbers makes it easy for me to track. Also you don’t always know exactly how many calories a food you ate contains. So for this, I have to estimate, and from there I tend to round up in order to ensure I haven’t eaten too many.

There is one huge problem with this. The problem is this can cause you to under eat. The one thing I have learned is that your body has a built in mechanism that tries to prevent you from starving to death. If you don’t eat enough calories, your metabolism shuts down and tries to save energy. Also, since muscle burns more calories than fat, you body will start reducing muscle mass in order to reserve energy and continue allowing fat to be stored.

The result is either stagnant weight loss or even some weight gain. I have experienced this several times. Once you start seeing this, your mind starts telling you, eat less. But your body wants more. You get into a battle between your mind and body. About the best thing you can do is eat. The problem with me is I am fighting to control the flesh and my food addiction. This means I somehow have to give into the flesh, feed it, yet control it. This is not easy.

Once this takes place I find I have another weakness. An obsessive behavior disorder. I will start to obsess over what I have eaten and tracking the calories I need versus the calories I have taken in. I tend to jump on the scale, several times a day tracking my weight. None of this has any positive affect, either in myself or in my relationship with my wife. It drives her nuts. I have since learned that when going through these times, I need to keep it to myself, and fight that battle. I am slowly getting better at it.

A key to fighting these huge battles in our lives is knowing who we are in Christ and who He is in us. We must continually remember He loves us and accepts us just as we are. He doesn’t condemn us. He is all loving and all compassionate and all forgiving. When we fail, He is there to forgive us and set us free to continue on.

We cannot hold our past failures up causing them to become a roadblock to our future successes. A failure that took place even one moment ago is a past failure. We must leave that in the past and know that God is always moving forward.

Losing weight is not easy. Especially if you have an addiction or eating disorder. In doing so, you will discover you may have other battles to fight as well. Many of these are life long. Others once defeated will never be an issue again. God has given us His grace and through His grace we can overcome to the Glory of our risen King.

About the Author

Dan considers himself to be the most blessed man on earth. Along with his beautiful bride, Janice, Dan oversees Life Abundant Ministries, in Steelton, PA as well as Congregational Care for Life Center Ministries International in Harrisburg, PA. Dan feels his purpose in life is to help others achieve their purpose and live the dreams God has given them.

A huge part of Dan’s blessing is his extensive education and experiences in ministry and helping others. Dan has recently earned his Professional Coaching Certification from Coaches Institute International. Dan also holds a Masters and Doctorate Degrees in Missionary Ministries, from Victory Bible College, as well as a Christian Counseling Certification from the Sarasota Academy of Christian Counseling.
Even with all of that education, talent and skill, Dan is the first to tell you that without faith in God and His guidance, we will wonder through life struggling to fulfill our destiny.

Along with those degrees and certifications, Dan also has many additional certifications in a variety of subjects including electronics, effective communications, leadership and influence, emergency management, and many technical and computer related certifications. Dan is also a musician and worship leader with more than 30 years experience.

For more information on Dan and to contact him, visit Http://www.lifeabundantministries.org

 

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