Digging a Grave with a Fork (Part 2)
"Well Stephen, since our bodies belong to God and we are to take care of them, how did you answer the question for yourself regarding how much you should weigh?" Friends, I'm happy to honestly share specific information about myself and encourage you to be honest with yourself on this important subject. At age 16 I weighed 160 pounds and was thin at 6 feet tall. By age 20 I had filled out my frame and weighed 190 pounds. Since then my weight has stayed in the 180 - 200 pound range. If my weight creeps up to 200, I can tell by the way my pants fit! I've made a pledge to myself to never buy pants with a waist size of greater than 34 inches. That's my current size and I will remain there. What do I do if the scale reads 200 or if my pants start getting too snug? I cut back on the amount of food I eat! Eliminating or minimizing sweets helps a lot and stopping eating before I'm full helps too. I don't increase my level of exercise (though that would help, too) since I normally get 2 to 3 hours of cardiovascular exercise each week, which is good for my health and also burns calories.

Now some might say: "Stephen, I know you, and I've seen you eat a lot at one sitting! In fact, you always eat a lot at fellowship meals or preachers' meetings. How do you not gain weight?" Metabolism may be one component, but more importantly: I don't eat a ton at every meal. There are some days every week that I don't even eat lunch. I can live on 2 meals a day with no problems. A light breakfast in the morning and a decent dinner in the evening is all I consume some days. I rarely eat snacks between meals on any day (that habit alone dooms many waistlines). I stay busy during the day and just keep working through the lunch hour some days. Dinner time arrives before I know it and it sure tastes good when I haven't eaten for 10 or more hours! I realize that if I ate until I felt very full at most meals, I would soon eclipse the 200 pound mark and begin looking like the two-thirds of Americans who are either overweight or obese. But I don't want to go down that road, so I won't let myself. When I eat is a choice, what I eat is a choice, and how much I eat is a choice (you make those choices, too). I get on a scale regularly to help make sure I'm making decent choices when it comes to how much I eat. I encourage you to do the same. There is plenty of good information available regarding what to eat. I think most people know what healthy food is, they simply prefer the taste of junk food (which is unfortunate since 500 calories worth of Little Debbie snack cakes is not nearly as good for the body as 500 calories of fruits and veggies)! And regarding when you eat, make sure you eat because you're hungry, not just because you're bored or are used to eating at a certain time.

Those of you who are well aware of obesity charts and BMI (Body Mass Index) assessments, might say: "Stephen, even at 190 pounds you are overweight!" According to the charts, you are correct. But, the charts don't take into account muscle mass. Don't get my wrong, I'm not a body builder (not even close), but I have above average muscle mass for my height and age. Personally, I feel comfortable in the 180 - 200 pound range. I believe I am a good steward in that range at my height. I believe I can honor God in that range, even while occasionally eating until I'm stuffed. If I weighed more than 200 pounds, at some point it would start to take a toll on me physically. Many Americans suffer from all sorts of health problems directly related to being overweight (e.g., diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, joint problems, breathing difficulties, sleep problems, low energy levels, etc.). When one weighs significantly more than he should, it generally affects his quality of life in a negative way, and it is certain he is not being the best steward of the body given to him by God. People who are obese and then lose a significant amount of weight can always tell a difference in how they feel (they feel more energized!). Our bodies are naturally more sluggish if we are carrying around a lot of unnecessary weight. Although being overweight won't always send a person to an early grave, it certainly won't extend his years of service to God either. Sadly, there are many who are obese and severely obese who take little consideration for their health at the dinner table. As they shovel in more food than their bodies need day after day, I can't help but wonder: Are they digging an early grave with their forks?

We will continue addressing this theme in our next lesson.