Confessions of a Missionary: I Choose Protein Shakes over Brussel Sprouts

My self-serve donut replacement
My self-serve donut replacement

At the beginning of every year it’s a long-standing tradition that I go on a diet.  The combination of holiday eating, missions conferences, and lack of proper exercise almost always result in being overweight following Christmas.  So every January I turn to my trusty VLC (Very Low Calorie) diet for two weeks…partly to lose weight, and also to help me break bad eating habits.

The VLC Diet of January 2013
The VLC Diet of January 2013

Basically a VLC diet means drinking meal-replacement shakes for two meals each day (Breakfast and Lunch) then adding protein shakes for snacks.  This is done for two weeks (sort of like a physical detox of the body) so that a person can get used to eating healthy snacks and meals.

Every year the trusted VLC diet always did it’s job by helping me lose weight, but by March almost all of that weight (or even more) had been put back on!  This was confusing since I continued eating healthy (for the most part) but couldn’t seem to keep the weight off.  I’ve since learned the reason why, a VLC diet isn’t something you can continue as a healthy eating habit.

Diets like this are awesome in the short term but are never meant to be the normal way of eating; some people may actually live off meal replacement shakes, but they are definitely the exception to the rule.  Instead of looking for a diet that shed pounds quickly in two weeks, it was necessary to find a sustainable eating style I could continue doing.

This desire led me to start a diet focused on fresh greens and vegetables, along with meat for protein.  To be honest I was skeptical about this kind of eating since I’ve always hated vegetables (unless you count french-fries) but decided to give it two weeks.

It’s been one week today and I have to admit things have gone better than expected.  There was some concern when brussel sprouts were on the menu for dinner, and a bit more concern when leftover brussel sprouts appeared during lunch the next day, but there is no denying a diet with fresh foods has given me a lot more energy than the VLC option.  And this eating plan has led to weight loss at the same time.

Like lots of people I look for quick fixes to the problems of life but most of the time those fast working plans don’t really help since soon we are worse off than before.  It’s better to choose something that moves slower and forces us to do hard things (like eat brussel sprouts) but in the long run will help a lot more.

As the 2014 year begins I have a lot of decisions to make…most of them can be broken down to a Protein Shake (quick easy response) or Brussel Sprouts (tough response that helps in the long run).  The sad truth is last year I chose the protein shake over fresh veggies almost every time, and consistently paid for it.

So as you come to the hard decisions of life do yourself a favor and eat the brussel sprouts…just make sure you have a large glass of water to wash them down.

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John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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