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Keeping it off Keeping it off
August 24, 2012

“This time it’s going to be different! This year I am going to keep my New Year’s resolution. I’m going to lose this weight and get healthy this time around.” I spoke these “self-motivating” words to myself back in January 2010. I needed some motivation because I began that year at 300 lbs and gaining, the heaviest I’ve been since high school. My weight and over-eating were quickly spinning out of control. Clearly, I was not honoring the Lord with my body nor taking care of myself. As a result, I was starting to suffer from the consequences of my unhealthy lifestyle. At my yearly medical checkup, I found out that my cholesterol was high and that my blood pressure was on the rise. To make things worse, my doctor explained that if I did not make a change I was eventually going to develop diabetes. I was walking down a dangerous path and desperately needed a lifestyle change, not another quick fix solution to weight loss.

I've always struggled with my weight. It’s been a never-ending cycle of losing the weight and regaining the weight. I lost weight in college, but put it back on; I lost weight for my wedding, but put it all back on. And so, the thought of trying to lose weight again was just depressing. I did not think I could keep it off. I had a decision to make: either continue with my unhealthy lifestyle, or make a change. I decided on the latter. Ijoined a gym and committed to exercising and eating better. I lost 25lbs during that time, lowering my weight to 275 lbs. But old habits die hard, life started to kick in. Family and church-life started to get busier and more stressful. As a result, my commitment to going to the gym and eating better were quickly phasing out of view. I was to the point where I was just wanted to give up altogether. But now, I could not afford to give up because of my health issues. However, something had to give.

In November 2010, I began an exercise program called “P90X.”Some nights I was up at midnight getting my workout in. I followed a diet plan and got my overeating under control. As a pastor, I began to grow in my understanding of just how important health and fitness was to my physical and spiritual life. A pastor friend said, “Obesity will destroy you, incapacitate you, zap you of energy.” This was true in my life until I started to fight against my obesity. I had to take personal responsibility for how I treated the body the Lord had given to me. I now believe that being healthy is being a “good steward” of the body I have been given. All ministers need to begood stewards of their bodies. We don’t just need the spiritual disciplines, but also physical disciplines, regular exercise and healthy eating. I’m embracing exercise and healthy eating as means of God’s grace for the wellbeing of my life and my longevity in ministry.

This has been a long year and a half journey to changing my lifestyle. I currently weigh 191lbs, just six pounds away from my goal weight. I'm in the best shape of my life and planning on running a half marathon next year. My cholesterol and blood pressure are down and I am no longer in any danger of developing diabetes. People actually call me FIT. It’s been a long journey, but I committed and I succeeded.

Alex Shipman has been pastor at The Village Church in Huntsville, Alabama since 2007. He has a Master of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC.

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