Chris and Kristen Fields, co-founders of H.E.A.L. Mississippi (Healthy Eating Active Living)

Plan to exercise self-control


     When thinking on what to write for this month, self-control dropped into my spirit. Being at the top of the new year, my wife and I were setting our goals, and practicing more self-control/discipline was at the top of our resolutions. We were good for about a week, and then we quickly found ourselves encapsulated by poor discipline/self-control again.


     Self-control/discipline is hard, and when we think about the fruits of the Spirit, self-control seems to be the least popular. We all want more love, patience, kindness, goodness, etc., but in order to practice any of the other fruits, self-control is a must.


     Self-control comes best served as surrendered control to Christ, which sounds contradictory because if we give up control then it’s not self-control. Right? Wrong. He is our self-control.


     Once we accept Jesus, His seeds of love, joy, peace, patience and self-control are implanted in us to be watered, nurtured and harvested until He calls us home. We are new creatures created in His image for His good work, and in order to gain true self-control in Him, we must surrender our control.


     Seeing that we all live different lives, true self-control looks different in all of us. For my wife and me, it looks like going to bed earlier so we can wake up earlier and devote more time to Christ. But if you are reading for tips on health and wellness, then it probably looks like doing what is required to live a healthier life.


     We like to blame life for our inefficiencies and inconsistencies when the truth is, it’s poor planning, failed execution, or we still haven’t developed our only intrinsic motivation needed (see last month’s article). In order to be successful at anything, planning is required. If we fail to plan, we’ve planned to fail — and it takes proper planning, execution and motivation to stick with the plan.


     But with so much information at our disposal, without help, it’s hard to know exactly what we need to do. Here are some tips on picking a healthy lifestyle change that you can stick with for life:


Tip 1: Variety is key

When selecting a lifestyle change, it’s important to maintain variety. A lot of dietary plans encourage eliminating food groups. Everything we eat, with the exception of a few things (i.e. donuts), has some nutritional value that we need. There are some nutrients we need in larger quantities and some we need in smaller quantities.

The same goes for selecting an exercise routine. Cardio is good and strength training is also. We all have heard that muscle weighs more than fat, so if we are trying to decrease those three digits on the scale, we tend to think we need to stay away from building muscle. Truth is, muscle does weigh more than fat, meaning five pounds of muscle takes up less space in our body than five pounds of fat. We burn fat and build muscle, and it takes months and months and months of strength/resistance training to build enough muscle naturally to tip the scales.

Tip 2: Set goals

When making healthy lifestyle changes, it’s important to set attainable goals, or goals that we know we can reach, so we don’t set ourselves up for failure. One to two pounds a week is healthy weight loss, and your body will trend that way. You might lose four pounds one week and zero pounds the next, but understand that you’ve still accomplished one to two pounds per week. It all balances out in the end. Another example is if you drink three to five sodas every day, it’s important to wean yourself off slowly in order to be successful, unless Jesus delivers you from sodas.

Tip 3: Develop self-control/discipline

Nothing is going to happen overnight. Nothing is going to happen in two weeks or maybe even two months. But consistency is key, and in order to stay consistent, we need discipline. Changes take place internally first and then externally. It takes discipline to set plans and goals and stick to those plans and goals. Jesus is our strength, and His plans are for us to prosper and be in good health, even as our soul prospers (3 John 1:2).


Chris Fields is the founder and executive director of H.E.A.L. Mississippi and a graduate in kinesiology with advance studies in nutrition. He serves as a clinical exercise physiologist/CPT and is credentialed in Exercise Is Medicine through American College of Sports Medicine.