There’s no need to keep that extra weight around. Follow these simple steps to say bye-bye to belly fat.
Are you stuck with a Santa belly from 2015? Sadly, this sign of overindulgence is often one of the unwelcome “leftovers” of the holidays, stretching well into February. Sure, it’s natural to enjoy the social aspects of the season, but no one wants to be left looking like, well, a Macy’s parade inflatable. Or a pudgy Cupid.
But good news: there’s a simple way to lose the bad and gain the good. In other words, lose the fat and gain deeper, long lasting satisfaction—well into 2016 and beyond. A satisfaction that’s spiritually based and inherent within you now. Starting today, you can shrink that Santa belly in just three simple steps, and with it, the sense that you are only a body.
Did I say easy steps? No, simple ones, because easy would mean you wouldn’t have to work at it. (And you do.) Still, the steps are clear if you’re willing to stretch some spiritual muscles. But how?
First: Avoid the material measurements of weight, BMI, chemical reactions and best/worst food lists.
These don’t tell us much about who we really are. Instead, follow the simpler, more spiritual wisdom that has been around for centuries and that many today are finding effective. It has its origin not in food and health theories but in Divine guidance and precepts.
“Eat until you’re satisfied, not until you’re full,” some suggest. This difference—between satisfied and full—is a huge one, as you’ll see when you put it into practice. There’s a time when, if you’re honest, you’ve had enough and you feel it. Quit while you’re ahead, and that Santa belly will begin to shrink. One immediate reward: no more guilt, discomfort, or groaning loudly, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!” Instead, you’ve stretched your self-discipline muscle and it feels good.
Second: Think deeply about that word “satisfaction” and ponder what it means for you.
Exercise your critical thinking muscle. Do you always feel satisfied when you’ve gobbled an overlarge portion of potatoes or pie, or do you sometimes begin to crave more after you’ve finished? If second helpings and overlarge portions could bring you satisfaction, demands for more would quiet down after you’d indulged. You’d then have dominion over ceaseless cravings. You could say “No” to excess and be at peace.
But real satisfaction does not come from material things like food and drink, I’ve found. Instead, it comes with the exercise of your spiritual nature. It comes with expressions of patience, affection, respect for others, and an acceptance of your own goodness and ability. You can list many other spiritual ways of thinking and acting that bring you deep inner satisfaction: practicing forgiveness, compassion, integrity and gratitude. Practicing them “feeds” your craving for more good in your life. And everyone craves good—it’s natural.
Third: Use the spiritual tools already at hand for transformation from the inside out.
You may be a student of holy scriptures, you might be participating in a faith community, or you may set aside regular time for prayer or meditation. These are proven tools for health and wellbeing, as current research shows. Numerous compelling personal stories in the media illustrate these findings.
While helping worshipers into the baptismal font four years ago, Pastor Rick Warren had an epiphany. It came to him how fat they all were—including him! He’d read of the many health problems supposedly caused by obesity, and he cared about his flock. Noted medical experts supported his choice of a proven, more spiritual approach to food and dieting, which the congregation embraced with great success.
Their “Daniel Plan” refers to the Jewish captive Daniel, who was selected with other court favorites for special training by the king of Babylon about 2500 years ago. This ruler commanded a particular dietary regimen for three years to make these protégés fit and healthy. Not wanting to “defile himself” by eating the king’s un-kosher meat and wine, Daniel chose a non-violent, peaceful protest. He requested to be served a simple vegetarian diet that better honored his faith. At the end of ten days, Daniel appeared healthier than his colleagues who’d feasted on the king’s provisions.
Was it the vegetables, per se, that caused the healthier outcome? Or, was it Daniel’s awareness of another source of nutrition and satisfaction than the King’s fancy–or so-called “healthy”–foods? Perhaps the outcome was due to Daniel’s fidelity to a more spiritual viewpoint, one that valued prayer and obedience to the God he worshiped more than the prevalent food-based theories of the time, even those mandated by the ruling authorities.
So, Warren’s congregation decided to follow Daniel’s example and practiced a regimen of “faith, food, fitness, focus and friends,” instead of trendy dieting theories. Reportedly, in just one year his congregation has collectively lost 250,000 pounds of body fat!
In a CBS interview, Pastor Warren said that his congregation believes the added elements of spirituality and a change in the way we think “are the things that will keep people going.”
I can relate to these stories. A few years ago, I put on some extra holiday pounds. (Am I the only one?) I decided to lose the matter-based advice, went beyond the Warren approach and instead followed the three steps listed above.
First, I ate normally until I felt satisfied, not full. Second, I thought deeply about my right to feel satisfied when I awoke with being His likeness, as the Bible puts it. I found a deep satisfaction as I considered that I was created and governed by God, not mere human will-power or personal determination. Third, I prayed–communed with only good, godly ideas–until I felt free from food obsessions and worries, and the feeling that I was battling this alone. The extra body fat soon melted away and has not returned in the years since.
In my experience, true satisfaction rarely comes from material things like food or drink. It comes from a sense of balance, self-respect and obedience to the requirements of good— one name for God—whose love is always close by. When you think about it, Daniel’s successful diet may have had more to do with spirituality than greens. And, the discovery of one’s spiritual nature can be a greater gain than even the loss of a Santa belly.
Photo: Getty Images