RYAN'S STORY -
When Kris and I got married, we committed to having open, honest, and safe conversations regarding our weight. Both of Kris’ parents are severely overweight as well as her brother and numerous other extended family members. My dad’s family is also obese, and for them it has become something to joke about. Now, I am sure that internally they struggle with the idea of being so heavy, but outwardly, they laugh it off.
As we entered marriage, we saw the consequences that our family members were wrestling with. In an attempt to set clear boundaries we agreed to keeping our health as an area that we would hold one another accountable for. In reality, that did not actually happen. We would at times bring it up, but the practice of keeping each other on-point was lip service, at best.
Upon reaching the age of 27, my metabolism really changed. I had generally been a lean guy, but was not disciplined about my eating or exercise. Each winter I would gain some weight, and then it would fall off again come Spring. At age 27, that did not happen. That began a slow creep upward in my weight. As I was applying for Life Insurance a few years ago, I found that my blood pressure and cholesterol levels were such that the rate I was initially quoted was drastically altered, to the point of needing to change the parameters of my coverage. About a year later I had my annual physical, and again was told that my numbers were high. The doctor gave me counsel to follow a diet plan in hopes that I could get it under control without medication. Again, I did nothing. I think, in hindsight, by doing something about it, I was admitting that there was a problem. I wasn’t ready for that.
Another two years passed and I had reached my highest weight to date. I was self-conscious about my belly. Well had been going for two rounds and I wanted badly to get into the third round, as my name was not drawn in the second round. The third group ended up being a Staff Spouse group, so I was not able to take part, but Kris was. She changed so much over the course of the 12-weeks. I was so proud of her! She would come home excited about what she was learning, and I was jealous. I wanted to be a support for her, but wished I was in it.
My turn came in Well Group 4. I was very nervous going into it. I wasn’t sure I could handle the workload. I wasn’t certain I was willing to make the changes to my eating habits that I knew were coming. I was committed to giving it my best shot.
I approached Well, with a desire to lose weight and to generally begin the long road toward a more healthy lifestyle. Regarding exercise, my life since high school has been marked by seasons of sports and hobbies, but I’ve never really excelled in anything that I did. I certainly never grew to truly embrace exercise as a part of my daily life, it was more of an experimental approach. Trying to figure out what I liked and didn’t like. The same is true of my eating habits. I prided myself in being an explorer of different kinds of foods. I also made dessert a regular part of my meals. I would crave sweets after eating. As we began to discuss the concept of “surrendered wellness” I was forced to examine all of these areas of my life. I didn’t like what I found: a sense of entitlement, an “I’ll start that later” mentality, a desire to cheat or to cut corners. It was ugly. My heart in coming to Well was really for selfish gain. Coming into Well, not once did I consider that I should engage God in this journey.
As the focus of each week presented a new area to surrender, I began to view my exercise, eating, etc. with a new goal. “What will best honor God in this decision?” This was a question that I wrestled with. As I examined and surrendered I began to hear things that my body had likely been telling me for a very long time, but I had not the ability to listen. In drinking such vast quantities of water, I realized that I had often had a dull ache in my kidneys. That has gone away. In over indulging in sodas and other sugary desserts, I would ride a wave of energy and then crash. Swaying between persistence and sloth. Through the Sleep 14 I learned of the need to really rest, and the benefits of becoming an early riser. In my previous thinking, I would view each of these as an exercise in legalism. If I really was free in Christ, then that would allow me these simply pleasures. As I’ve learned to hear my body, and focused my heart on God rather than fleeting pleasures, I now have TRUE freedom.
Our first two memory verses did a great job at setting the table for me for my Well journey.
“Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
1 Corinthians 10:31
I still love desserts, but I am learning to be measured in how and when I enjoy them. For the first time in my life I am craving exercise. I have seen changes in my physical appearance and I feel better! Most of all, I am learning to include these areas of wellness as acts of worship to a God that purchased me at a high price! I am grateful for this experience, and prayerful that this journey will continue! Thank you to my coaches. The Lord has used you in a tremendous way in my life, and in the life of my wife. For that I will never be able to fully express my gratitude. May the Lord bless you, as you make disciples.