By Mary Godbold, CK Fall 2016 I always said I would never do Clean Kitchen. I wasn't gaining weight from the food I ate, so I didn't see the point. (Many of you may roll your eyes at that or hate me for it, but don't give up on me yet.) I was thoroughly enjoying ice cream 4 nights a week, other desserts whenever I wanted them and a huge bowl of plain spaghetti noodles as an afternoon snack almost every day. But then for some reason, that I didn't know at the time, I signed up for the Clean Kitchen 12 Week Challenge. Many of my friends asked me, “Why are you doing this?” and “What's the point? You don't need to lose weight.” I didn't even know why I was signing up when I did it. So, when it came time to answer the “why” question, I really had to think about it. I'm a follower of Jesus and I work in ministry, so I tend to relate many of my thoughts and actions and many of the things I learn to my relationship with God, which led me to my why--to be a good steward of the body I've been given. This perspective led me to learn some things that apply to many other aspects of my life. I like to think about food like this now: I think of the “bad” foods kind of like sin (Don't hear me wrong--choosing to eat bad foods and sinning DO NOT equate.) Both may seem good at the time or seem satisfying at the time, but they have lasting negative effects on more than just our physical health and the satisfaction from both sugary foods and sin are very temporary. “Good” foods, on the other hand, have lasting positive effects on more than just our physical health, and for me, it has to be a conscious choice to choose the good foods over the bad. Now, when I choose these whole foods, I'm reminded of the daily choices I have to make to choose joy, grace, love, forgiveness, and so many other things that draw me closer to God, creation, other people and myself, rather than the choices I could make that take me farther away from those things. Clean Kitchen not only had a lot to do with the way I eat, but also with my heart, mind and soul. There's other reasons I'm glad I chose to do Clean Kitchen, too. I feel better than I ever have. I didn't realize before Clean Kitchen how bad I actually felt, and I didn't realize that I didn't feel as good as I thought I did. I didn't realize there could be a difference in how I slept, in my energy I had during the day, or even what my skin was like because of the food I was eating. My workouts are now better than they were, and I'm stronger than I was when I started Clean Kitchen. I'm also thankful for the Clean Kitchen Challenge because the food choices I'm making now are (hopefully) helping to prevent the high cholesterol and heart disease that run in my family. I know I'm pretty young, but at some point, I needed to start thinking about those things! I lost about 10 pounds and a few inches here and there and I have some clothes that fit a little better, but that's not what's most important to me in my Clean Kitchen journey (which is far from over). What's most important to me is that I learned to be a better steward of the body that God gave me--to be thankful for it, to be amazed that it can lift more weight and run faster than it could 12 weeks ago, to respect it, and to fill it with good things so that I'm reminded to make choices that allow my life to be a better example of grace and love.