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Why Your Health Makes a Huge Difference to God, Others, and Your Ministry © 2013 Matthew McNutt group.com simplyyouthministry.com All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without prior written permission from the publisher, except where noted in the text and in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. For information, visit group.com/customer-support/permissions. Credits Author: Matthew McNutt Executive Developer: Jason Ostrander Chief Creative Officer: Joani Schultz Editor: Rob Cunningham Cover Art and Production: Veronica Preston Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www. zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™ ISBN 978-1-4707-0263-2 Printed in the U.S.A.
The adventure that is this book—being on The Biggest Loser, losing the weight, struggling through all the emotional ups and downs, wrestling with and discovering what the Bible says about our temples— none of it could have happened without the incredible and unfailing support of my wife, Heather. I cannot thank her enough. I also want to thank the team at Immerse Journal for giving me a platform to write and formulate my thoughts on spiritual and physical health, which paved the way for this book.
PART ONE | THE YOUTH WORKER..........................1 CHAPTER 1: Trying to Be a Loser...............................1 CHAPTER 2: Understanding the Temple.....................9 CHAPTER 3: Can I Be Selfish?.................................19 CHAPTER 4: Temple Maintenance............................25 CHAPTER 5: Worshipful Eating.................................37 CHAPTER 6: Finding Comfort in Food......................47 CHAPTER 7: Inevitable Failure.................................55 CHAPTER 8: Making It Last......................................63 PART TWO | THE YOUTH MINISTRY.......................69 CHAPTER 9: The Obesity Epidemic..........................69 CHAPTER 10: Talking to Kids About Weight and Health......................................................75 CHAPTER 11: Imparting Value to Adolescents..........81 PART THREE | RESOURCES...................................93 ENDNOTES..............................................................104
PART ONE—THE YOUTH WORKER CHAPTER 1: TRYING TO BE A LOSER
The call came just as youth group was beginning. “Matthew McNutt? I work for the casting crew at The Biggest Loser—we love your audition video! We’re moving you to the next stage in the casting process!” So much for focusing on the youth meeting! I have no idea what I taught, what games I led, or who was even there. All I remember is an overwhelming sense of excitement and hope—I couldn’t believe this was happening! I should back up. A couple of months earlier, I had gone to the doctor with concerns over constant pain in my knees and my chest. In all honesty, I was worried I was on the verge of a heart attack. That trip was one humiliation after another. Of course, the nurse weighed me on the scale, and, of course, the scale only went up to 350 pounds—a number I was shocked to find out I had passed. She scribbled it on the chart in giant numerals, “350+++.”
Really? SERIOUSLY? Three pluses? One plus just wouldn’t have done the job?!? It went downhill from there. My knees had started hurting the year before when I led a mission trip to Uganda. According to the doctor, my weight and my general lack of exercise were making it impossible for my knees to recover from the strain they experienced on the trip. On top of that, my chest pain was actually my lungs—I suffer from sleep apnea, and my weight gain had made it that much harder for me to breathe in my sleep. It was my lungs, not my heart, hurting from the incredible workout they got each night from fighting for breath. That was scary. It turns out, though, that sleep apnea is one of the big causes of congestive heart failure and a very real danger, which terrified me even more. Ultimately, the doctor told me I needed to lose weight—for my health, for my three young sons, to be an example for my youth group, and to avoid further complications. He stepped out of the room for a moment and I made the mistake of looking at his notes; in all caps he had made the notation “MORBIDLY OBESE.”
I sat there stunned. I had never thought of myself in those terms. I was overwhelmed with a sense of hopelessness. I had tried losing weight over the years, but I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t know how, I didn’t have time, the diets I tried didn’t work, and even when I struggled with anorexia and an overdependence on diet pills and appetite suppressants in college, I couldn’t manage to keep the weight off—I was stuck in a cycle of extremes. I was either starving the weight off or bingeing myself to destructive levels. I assumed I was just biologically predestined to be obese. I was only 30, supposedly in the prime of my life, but instead I was killing myself and there was nothing I could do about it.
Later that week, my wife and I were watching the season finale of NBC’s second season of The Biggest Loser, the reality weight-loss show. The transformations were incredible! And then came the announcement: They were casting for Season 3, and all I had to do was send in a video! I threw one together, with shots of me with my sons, all the crazy youth ministry footage I could find—me being slimed, snow tubing, screaming, crazy games—whatever I
could dig up to show them I might be fat, but I’m up for the challenges! After I sent in the audition video, I destroyed any trace of it back home—to this day I don’t have a copy. I was so mortified that someone might find it. After all, I knew the chances were slim; hundreds of thousands try out for the handful of slots, and if I didn’t make it, I didn’t want anyone to know I had tried. For me, that tape in the mail represented my last hope. Maybe, just maybe, if I somehow won the “lottery” and ended up on the show with celebrity trainers, time off from work to focus on exercise, limitless resources for healthy food, and the accountability of national TV, then there was a chance. Otherwise, it was over. But then I got that call. And not only did I make it through the next round of casting, I made it through each round until the day came that I was standing out in the California sun, on The Biggest Loser Ranch, watching trainer Bob zip-line in to our cheers. There were cameras everywhere, plus the mansion we would be sleeping in that night—and the massive scale. It was actually happening. I was excited beyond words. The Biggest Loser was going to save my life.
But there was a twist. Fifteen minutes into the show we were faced with a mass elimination. The trainers were told to select teams, and I was one of the ones who didn’t get picked. Every middle school recess humiliation flashed back, only this time it was going to be on national TV. The host stood up in front of us, explaining how we were going to leave the ranch immediately and show America how we could lose the weight on our own—no trainers, no elaborate gym, while working our jobs and living in our communities. It was devastating. I already knew I couldn’t do it on my own—now I would fail in front of 20 million viewers, and more significantly, my home community. I was numb with shock.
ADOPTING A NEW LIFESTYLE
Once the cameras stopped rolling, the executive producer pulled us aside and in no uncertain terms told us there was no way out of the show. Our friends and family were going to see us on TV in the fall, press releases about each of us would be sent to our local news outlets, we would be on the finale, and our results—no matter what they were—were going to be released and out there for everyone to see. He closed
menacingly with this: “For your own sake, you better lose the weight.” Before sending me home, they did do one thing that made a tremendous difference. For three days, off camera, I received a crash course in nutrition, dieting, and exercise from the show doctors and nutritionists. Trainers from local gyms came and taught me to exercise. For the first time in my life, I started pursuing health the right way: through eating appropriately and exercise. At first I did it out of sheer terror—I had to look different when the show started airing. But when the results started piling up—I lost 50 pounds the first month, another 30 pounds the second month, and so on—I started to get confident. I started to realize I could do it on my own. In fact, I had been! And by the time the finale aired, I had lost 176 pounds on my own, without ever working out with the show’s big-name trainers or getting any of the benefits of the ranch. Not only that, I had managed to lose the third-highest number of pounds in show history at that point in time! More importantly, along the way I learned some powerful lessons about spiritual and physical health, and what those lessons mean for those of us called to student ministry. 7
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