Once upon a time I made the mistake of allowing myself to over eat and I let my weight balloon up. It was a slow process that I barely noticed. Over the course of 4 years my weight went from 195 pounds to nearly 300 pounds. There were a wide variety of reasons why I allowed this to happen, but they don’t matter. What mattered was, I let myself balloon up and was irresponsible with my diet, my exercise and my weight. Over the course of the next 5 years I worked my weight back down to where I was before I ballooned up like a blimp. I learned that weight loss is a case study in repentance.
One day I woke up and it hit me. “I weigh 300 pounds and I have to buy size 44 pants.” I knew that I had to make serious changes to my life. I love to eat. I love good food, I love junk food, I love snacks, I love soda. The list goes on and on. However at that moment when I saw that I weighed 300 pounds, I knew that my diet was ruining my body. My eating was destroying my body, me and my ability to find happiness with my life. I wondered why attractive girls avoided me like the plague. At that moment I knew that I was the problem in my life and I had to do something about it.
I immediately stopped eating a huge baked potato every day. I also cut out my favorite vice in the world: chocolate whole milk. I also stopped eating all of my food on my plate at restaurants. Over the next year my weight dropped down to 230 pounds. I am a big and tall man. I have wide shoulders and big muscles. I carry 230 pounds fairly well. At 230 pounds, I was able to get back into the dating game with attractive women. I still didn’t have as much success that I would have liked.
I spent the next few years yo-yoing around 230 pounds. Sometimes I would drop down to 215 but other times I would shoot back up to 250. It all just depended on how much personal resolve I put into keeping the weight off. 2 years ago, I finally decided to make more serious changes to my diet. I gave up drinking soda. Before I would have a soda every day at lunch and maybe another soda with dinner or whenever I felt like it. I also decided to give up fries. I love eating a good burger with fries and a coke. It is one of life’s great pleasures. I still indulge in a soda every week or so and eat fries once a week or so. I also decided to eat a big salad every night at dinner instead of carbs as a side dish.
Over the course of the next 2 years, I was able to get my weight down to 180 pounds. As a tall man at 6’3 my BMI is 22.5, very much in the normal range of the BMI scale. It was a long process but I worked hard and I got my weight under control.
What does losing weight have to do with repentance? A lot. First of all, being a glutton is a sin. It is listed in the 7 Deadly Sins. We try to pretend that gluttony isn’t a sin, but it is. So when I was overeating and indulging on my favorite foods constantly I was sinning. The Apostle Paul said that our bodies are temples:
Know ye not that ye are the a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
If any man a defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for
the temple of God is b holy, which temple ye are. (1 Corinthians 3:16-17).
In other words I was literally profaning a sacred place, my body, with my gluttony. It took me years of sin and poor discipline to heavily damage my body and it took me years of discipline and hard work to get back to a normal weight. It was a long process of changing myself and going from making poor lifestyle choices to making good lifestyle choices.
Repentance is a process. It is taking the things about us that are bad and fixing them. Repentance requires us to self examine ourselves and see what we are doing wrong and making permanent life changes to correct our problems. Many times repentance is a long process that requires years of effort to make necessary changes in our lives.
Many members of the Mormon church still take an almost childish view of repentance. Many members of the church still have the notion of repentance as praying and saying sorry to Heavenly Father and expecting Heavenly Father to just forgive us like small child getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar says sorry in the hopes that his parents will not punish him. Many single adults in the church think of repentance in terms of their dating lives. When many members of the LDS church engage in inappropriate sexual activity, they go to their bishop, cry a little about what they did, say they are sorry and expect the bishop to tell them to pray a lot, don’t take the sacrament for a few months and read the Miracle of Forgiveness. It’s really an adult and more complicated version of the child saying sorry and doing extra chores at home as punishment for getting caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
There are lots of important life lessons from losing lots of weight. First of all, I learned that I had to tell myself “NO” a lot. Whenever I see my favorite foods, I want them. I want to pound down the soda, have fries with everything or have a doughnut every morning. I have to tell myself “NO” constantly. I can’t just indulge my personal food desires.
The next thing I learned is I can’t ever go back. I know that if I start to over eat my body will quickly pack on the pounds and my whole life will suffer for it. I know that I have to make a conscious decision either to look good and have a good dating life or I can eat whatever I want, when I want. I have to accept that I can’t have it all. I can’t have a good dating life and eat what I want when I want. I just can’t do it.
Next I had to accept serious life consequences to my life decisions. I wasted many years of my life as a fat pig. In these years I was irrelevant in the dating market due to my poor lifestyle choices. Also my body changed. My body developed lots of fat cells. Once the body develops fat cells they don’t go away. My body now is much better at storing fat than if I never became obese. If I ever slip up with my diet, my weight will rise much faster than people who never were obese. I have to accept the wasted years and the changed body. I can never fully undo the damage I did to myself by being a glutton and I have to live with the consequences.
Many times when we truly repent of our sins we see that we cause ourselves serious damage that we can’t remove even after forgiveness. Think of the girl who was sexually promiscuous and loses her ability to pair bond with her husband. No amount of repentance will undo that damage in her life. With many of our sins, even after repenting we still have to live with the consequences.
I learned that repenting of the sin of gluttony is a long process. I spent years sinning by being a glutton and I had to spend years repenting of it. It wasn’t saying sorry and having my sin magically disappear. I couldn’t pray about it, ask Heavenly Father for forgiveness and have all my excess weight magically fall off. Repenting of the sin of gluttony didn’t work like that. It was a long process of self examination and self change requiring years of daily effort.
I learned that if resisting sin and Satan was a college program, resisting gluttony would be like taking a remedial course in sin resistance. After getting in shape and making myself attractive to desirable women, I learned that resisting sexual sin is like taking a graduate course in sin resistance. When highly attractive women want you to commit sexual sin with them, it is a lot harder to resist than drinking too much soda. Resisting sexual temptation is like a taking a graduate course in resisting sin and temptation. Hearing a fat guy talk about resisting sexual sin and temptation becomes laughable when he cannot control his amount of food consumption. It also becomes laughable when some fat guy talks about how he never struggles with sexual sin with women. You want to tell him, “because you never have an opportunity to commit sin with desirable women. You haven’t passed remedial sin resisting class.”
I learned that being fat or obese is a personal marker. I know that fat or obese men have poor self control. They choose to take the easy way out in life more often than not and that you cannot rely on them. I learned that fat women have poor lifestyle habit, are lazy and are very self entitled. After repenting of the sin of gluttony I now see that it is a sin where people literally mark themselves as sinners.
When we look at modern America and in the Mormon church, we see that lots of us need to seriously repent of our sins. It took most of us many years of sinning to become fat or obese and will take us years of repentance to become healthy again. If as a church we cannot control our food consumption, then we cannot resist any of Satan’s stronger temptations. Weight loss is a case study in repentance and I highly recommend all fat or obese people use the repentance process and overcome the sin of gluttony.