What Eating More Has Taught Me About Faith

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Shawn Akers

Diana Anderson-Tyler's husband prays for her eating habits. Diana says it has made all the difference for her.

I’m sure it’s not every day that you see weight gain associated with increased wisdom, but ever since my first battle with (and victory over!) anorexia, the Lord has used my passion for fitness to show me things I wouldn’t otherwise see in my normal, day-to-day activities. Workouts and a healthy lifestyle have provided a trove of teaching material for the Holy Spirit. I am continuously amazed by how He uses something as seemingly mundane as barbells, box jumps, snatches or sprints to move me to praise and to ponder.

Over the last two weeks, I’ve noticed a trend in my physical fitness: I keep hitting PR’s, aka “personal records.” (I’m not trying to sound boastful, by any means—this is purely an observation!) From front squats to deadlifts to Tabata intervals and timed runs, everything has improved, and the only change in the past few months has been the number on the scale.

For the past year and a half, I’ve been incorporating more strength training into my weekly workout schedule. While I did become stronger in just a matter of months, my energy in high-intensity workouts was lagging; I would get dizzy and feel drained halfway through them. My weight hovered between 110 and 112lbs (I’m nearly 5’5″).

My trainer, my husband and perhaps the most influential voice in my life, my mother, all encouraged me to gain weight, which, for a woman who has battled an eating disorder on and off for 12 years, is easier said than done.

Ben (my husband) has had a morning reminder set in his phone for several years now, and it simply reads this: “Pray for Diana.” It specifically reminds him to pray for my eating habits. I can’t tell you how powerful those three little words have been.

In the months following our marriage, my weight plummeted from 116 to 104 as the stress of moving to San Antonio and opening a new business took its toll. In late 2012, my weight finally reached 108. More progress was made between 2014 and 2015 when I steadily maintained 112, but something inside me cringed when I contemplated surpassing it. I fluctuated between 110 and 112, still feeling sluggish and frustrated with my performance in the gym. I’d hit a plateau and was loathe to consider that my still-low weight could be the culprit.

Nothing remarkable happened. I didn’t read an eye-opening book or attend a motivational conference. No group of friends or family members held an intervention.

For no other reason than God’s faithfulness to my loved ones’ prayers, one day I looked at food through a different lens. Out of the blue, I decided that I was going to control it, and not the other way around. I decided I wanted to progress in the gym and feel more focused and energized outside of it. That, as they say, was that.

Eating more gave me the fuel I needed to push through tough strength sessions and CrossFit WODs. More calories, chiefly from protein and fats, helped my muscles rebuild and recover faster. This combination—optimal workouts and adequate recovery—has led me to PR’s in every area, from my 400-meter and 800-meter run times to my one-rep max deadlift, front squat, back squat, strict press and bench press.

At present, I weigh 118 pounds, a very healthy weight for my height and frame. I feel fantastic during workouts, no longer lightheaded, nor exhausted the rest of the day. My moods are better. I’m more focused during my writing sessions and late-night (self-assigned) reading homework. All of this is due to a “simple” increase in daily nutrients.

I placed “simple” in quotation marks because upping my calories hasn’t been simple in the slightest (just ask my mom or husband!). Time and space don’t permit me to detail the ins and outs of my eating disorder, but suffice it to say, the fact that I have been okay—even ecstatic—with passing the 115-pound mark is nothing short of amazing. Ben and I give all glory to God for showing me that just as our souls need His life-giving Word for spiritual strength, so our bodies need a sufficient amount of food for physical strength.

Again, that revelation seems so simple, so obvious and elementary; everyone knows food produces strength and energy. However, when I further considered the above sentiment, that God’s Word has the equivalent effect on our souls as food has on our bodies, I couldn’t help but wonder how many in the church are spiritually anorexic.

How many people who profess Christ are neglecting to feed themselves Scripture just as I deprived myself of food? How many Christians who appear fit or fat on the outside are emaciated and malnourished on the inside?

We must devote time to our Bibles if we want to grow stronger as warriors on this battlefield called Earth. We must regularly partake of the “living and active,” divinely inspired, inerrant Word of the Lord if we want to secure victory, experience peace and prevent invisible, insidious diseases from seeping into our psyches. 

What good are strong arms and a slender waist if our spirits are weak and our minds self-centered?

What good is a fast half marathon time or an impressive deadlift if spiritually we’re standing on sand?

What good is a perfect plateful of colorful vegetables and heart-healthy fats if we’re consuming filth with our eyes and ears?

Being a healthy weight is not to be downplayed. As three-part beings, we are to value and tend to our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit. That being said, I think it would behoove us to reflect upon the words of the apostle Paul:

“For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable in all things, holding promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timo. 4:8, MEV).

May we be inspired to prioritize our spiritual health over our physical and to pursue godliness above all other things.

May we crave the richness of God’s grace-filled precepts and eternal truths above the ephemeral pleasures of this world.

What’s something God has shown or taught you through your own fitness journey? Please comment below or tweet me @dandersontyler. I would love to hear from you! {eoa}

Diana Anderson-Tyler is the author of Creation House’s Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Total FitnessPerfect Fit: Weekly Wisdom and Workouts for Women of Faith and Fitness, and her latest book, Immeasurable: Diving into the Depths of God’s Love. Her popular website can be found at dianadeadlifts.comand she is the owner and a coach at CrossFit 925.

For the original article, visit dianadeadlifts.com.

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