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250 Pound Man

250 pounds was too much for me.

This year, in 2011, I lost 50 pounds in 8 months. I have been asked to tell my story. While this story is not quite theology, this is the venue I have, so here is where I post this story.

If you are looking to shed a few pounds, I hope that my experience is encouraging. The method I used was fairly easy and it worked for me.

Big Belly

Here I am at 250 lbs.

For about ten years—My Decade of Gain—I had to upsize my shirts several times; I switched to the four-in-hand knot because my neckties were not long enough for both the half-Windsor and my chubby neck; and I learned to completely exhale when I scrunched over to tie my shoes. In March of 2009, I could still do push-ups (only a couple of them, to be sure, but at 250 each they were impressive push-ups) and I could run pretty well (for ten or twenty seconds) but I was getting unhappy with my weight.

On the other hand, I knew that Scripture speaks somewhat favorably of fat and fatness so I was unwilling to condemn “a little extra stored up for the winter”.

Ge 45:18  And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

De 32:14  Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat; and thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape.

Ps 63:5  My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:

While I could not embrace the goal of being ultra-lean, I was getting convinced that the “little extra” I had “stored up for the winter” was more like a whole bunch gathered for perpetuity. My body was building greater barns to bestow all this extra (Lu 12:18) They say round is a shape; but it was not the one I wanted to be in. On my 6’1” frame, 250 pounds was too much for me. So I decided that I would try to do something.

I definitely did NOT want to be hungry. I didn’t quite say “I’d rather die than endure a starvation diet”, but my thinking was somewhat toward that direction. I wasn’t a big fan of sugar, sweets, and soft drinks; but fatty foods and starchy foods, ah, I was a big fan of them! I positively refused to join some expensive diet plan. Actually, my refusal was less a function of my domineering will as it was of the first principle of economics: scarcity of resources. Like the fox who despised the sour grapes, I turned up my nose at what was unreachable.

In my defense, however, I would point out that these unaffordable measures have a reputation of being ineffective. My entire vast armchair expertise in diet and nutrition saw (and still sees) the failures of typical diet plans as a natural result of their incorrect understanding of the human body. They fail so miserably because they provide insufficient remedies or, in some cases, the wrong remedies.

Grass-fed cattle are lean; but, when a cattleman wants to fatten cattle, he feeds them starchy grains. Like the diet the cattle finisher provides, our government’s food pyramid is built upon a fat foundation of cheap starches. For year’s our nation has been experiencing population growth of the sort that is measured in pounds and inches. I see a connection. Consequently, about the last thing I wanted to do was adopt an anemic diet of milk toast. The very last thing I wanted to do was adopt a scanty and anemic diet of just a wee bit of milk toast.

Oversized Shirt

At only 185 lbs., I don't completely fill up my shirt anymore.

I had long distrusted processed foods. There are convincing arguments condemning Nutrasweet, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, and other chemically engineered foods, as dangerous things that create long-term health problems. Ironically, these are the “solutions” many diets recommend.

One the other hand, the idea of whole foods seems reasonable (a rule of thumb suggests itself: “If God made it, it’s good; if man made it, it’s not so good”); but these days whole foods tend to be the most expensive. Atkins was appealing (I love meat!) and South Beach sounded healthy. But I didn’t like the rigidity, complexity, commercialism of either. I also worried about the theology of a nutritional outlook that seemed to demonize bread. God gave bread-like manna to our forbearers in the desert and our Savior calls himself the Bread of Life. Given God’s apparent endorsement of bread, I cannot share the opinion that some have that it is inherently unhealthy.

So my first approach was the one-plate-a-meal diet plan combined with the walk-two-miles-a-day exercise plan. I ate a bit less and walked every day. I eliminated most added sugars, ate fewer starches, chose whole wheat over just plain wheat bread, and added more fresh fruits and vegetables. In the first six months, I lost 15 pounds; in the next 12 months, I lost nothing. I still weighed 235 pounds. I needed a better approach.