Regular readers have followed me through my 55 lb.weight loss. Using Nutri-System, I finished 2012 thinner than I have been since our second child was born in 1992. I was only seven pounds from my goal weight, and excited to set another goal. For those not familiar with Nutri-System (NS), the plan doesn't contain any "magic" formula. NS consists of nutritionally balanced, portion-controlled, low-glycemic index meals and snacks. It's really nothing that hasn't been around since my mother was watching Jack Lalanne in the 1960's, it's just more conveniently packaged. After a year, I knew the plan inside and out and knew I could recreate it on my own.
And I was right - I could buy all the right ingredients, cook the right meals, but I slowly began to "fudge" on the portion size, or eat the wrong things "just this once". After all, it took me 20 years to gain those pounds, I wasn't going to gain them back over one cupcake. And I was right - I only gained back 25 of them. I knew I needed to get back on NS, but I fought with myself over giving up control - I should be able to do this on my own, I should be able to make the right choices . . . I don't need the "crutch" of NS. Then God began to speak to me about the manna He provided for the Israelites in the dessert.
"The Israelites said to them [Moses and Aaron], “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” - Exodus 16:3When the Israelites found their food restricted as they traveled, they began to whine for their old life where they "ate all the food they wanted." They conveniently forgot that in that old life they were slaves to the Egyptians. I was seeing NS as a restriction and longing for the days when I ate everything I wanted, even though I was a slave to food and miserable.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day.” Exodus 16:4Nutri-System is the manna God has provided me - my nutritional needs are met, and with it I will never be hungry. "...in the morning you will be filled with bread." - v. 11
"This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need." - v. 16 Notice, he said "need", not want.
"Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” - v. 19 Part of food "addiction" is the feeling that I may not get enough. Never in my life, not even for a day, have I not had abundant food available. I have never had to wonder where my next meal was coming from. Yet, a food addicted brain says I have to finish this piece of pie, even though I'm full, because who knows when I will get the chance to eat pie again? But God says I am not to worry about food for tomorrow - just be thankful for today's provision and trust for tomorrow's.
"The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan." - v. 35Forty years! And I'm whining about a year? Healthy eating and exercise are not temporary things. They are habits for life. In 40 years, I will be 92-years-old. Perhaps then I will eat all the cupcakes I want. If I return to eating the way I was pre-2012, I don't stand a chance of living to 92.
"The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” - Numbers 11:4Once again the Israelites are whining about what they have to eat. They want what they used to have. So God gives it to them. He gives them meat "until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it" (v. 20). God allowed me to go back to some of my former habits - He doesn't force me to accept his gift - and I was miserable. My new clothes that I was so excited to buy were uncomfortable. I didn't like the reflection in the mirror again.
God is once again making "manna" deliveries to our house via the Fed-Ex guy, and the pounds are once again coming off. I don't claim that Nutri-System is the answer for everyone who struggles with their weight, or that I will continue to eat it for forty years, but I do believe it is God's "manna" for me right now.