There is nothing extra ordinary about my story; just like you, my story is made up of a series of trials, errors, and victories.
I was an unhealthy woman, confined to a wheelchair and desperate to lose weight. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would replace baggy sweaters and stretchy pants with fitted sweaters and skinny jeans. When I began to write my weight loss story, I had no idea it would turn into a story of self discovery, freedom, and determination. Because I failed so many times in the past, I didn’t expect to lose a bunch of weight, and I certainly didn’t expect to keep it off–but here I am, 110 pounds lighter, and I’ve kept it off for nearly years.
MY CHILDHOOD– NOT TOO OVER WEIGHT
Growing up, I wasn’t grossly over weight, but I wasn’t a skinny-mini either. If I had to give a definition of myself at this stage, I guess I would say pudgy. During this chapter of my story I didn’t give much thought about my weight. My mother did her best to make sure I ate healthy foods; junk food was very rarely on the menu, and soda’s and sugary soft drinks were never allowed. Don’t get me wrong. Just because Mom didn’t allow it, didn’t mean I didn’t eat it. I loved my candy and sugary treats the same as any other kid my age, and I ate my fair share when Mom wasn’t around to tell me no.
As a child, weight wasn’t my concern; but the limp caused by a birth defect was. I was born with congenital hip dysplasia, a fancy word that means I was born without hip sockets. I was placed in the hospital a few months after I was born.
The doctors attempted to correct my right hip by taking bone from my femur and using it to build a socket. I was placed in a cast and remained in the hospital until sometime after my second birthday.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will always hurt me.”
Medically, the surgery was successful; after extensive therapy, I was able to walk. The doctors told my parents I would be able to lead a normal, happy childhood. Happy, yes. Normal, not so much. The surgery caused one leg to be quite a bit shorter than the other, leaving me with a very conspicuous limp. And then there was the constant physical pain and emotional stress.
In school, I was teased. I was called names like “Waddle, Waddle, Penguin”, and kids used to call out things like, “weebles wobble, but they don’t fall down.” I was ridiculed in gym class because I was always much clumsier than everyone else. I couldn’t run very well; therefore, I was much slower than the rest of the class. Classmates would stand near the wall and make quacking noises as they waited for me to finish running laps. I was called slow and lazy by a high school gym teacher. And if all this wasn’t horrible enough, I started gaining weight because food brought me comfort. I ate when I was stressed. I ate when I was sad. I ate when I was happy. And then I would scold myself for eating too much, which caused me to eat even more. I was trapped in a vicious cycle that kept spiraling wildly out of control.
I was never able to wear the kinds of clothes other girls my age were wearing because they just didn’t fit. At the age of 16, I was wearing a size 22W. By the time I graduated high school, I was wearing a size 22W-24W.
COLLEGE AND SMALL VICTORIES
I went off to college in 1982; this was a happy time in my life. Everything was brand new. I made many new friends, I discovered my love of teaching, and I was able to finally begin losing weight. Because my dorm was located on one end of the campus and most of my classes, the library, and the student center were on the opposite side, I was doing a ton of walking. I didn’t always like the food they served in the cafeteria, so I ate salad and steamed vegetables most of the time. I managed to drop two dress sizes. The victory was short lived because I still managed to have a stash of candies, cookies, and chips hidden in my room.
BACK ON THE ROLLER COASTER AGAIN
After graduation, I moved back home for a little over a year., and I slowly began gaining weight again. I didn’t do much walking. I sort of tried to watch what I ate, but going out for late night snacks after church every Sunday didn’t help. After I gained the pounds I had lost, they stayed and I kept gaining and gaining. By the time I was married in October of 1987, I was back to the same size I had been before college. I bought a size 22W wedding dress because that was the biggest size they had; however, it was not big enough. The store seamstress had to sew in two 6” panels in order for it to fit.
UP, UP, AND NOT SO AWAY
Life was good; I had a new husband, a new job, and a new apartment to decorate. And for a short while, my weight remained steady. And then my husband lost his job. The stress caused by the constant conflict between us was overwhelming, so I began gaining weight rather quickly. I kept gaining and gaining. My husband found a job, which took away the financial stress. However, he took a job which required him to work the second shift. He worked a lot of double shifts, so many times he was getting home just as I was leaving for work. I dreaded going home to an empty apartment every night, and I was lonely. So, what do you do when you are lonely? You make new friends. During the first year of our marriage, junk food and television became my new best friends. They remained my constant companions through the “thick and not so thin.”
Added to loneliness was heart ache and fear; my father was diagnosed with cancer, and he was dying. My “new best friends” and I spent a lot more time together, causing me to gain even more weight.
AND BABY MAKES THREE
My husband and I made the greatest discovery on Labor Day of 1988; we discovered I was pregnant. Of course I didn’t lose weight during my pregnancy, but I did make healthier food choices. Junk food and I went our separate ways–for a while at least.
This is a picture of me taken at my baby shower. Yes, it is silly, but it shows how big I had gotten. Sure, much of the weight gain was due to normal pregnancy gain, but my body wasn’t healthy. My blood pressure was sky high and water retention was through the roof. After giving birth, I did lose some weight, and my blood pressure returned to normal. I lost all the “baby” weight, plus an additional 36 pounds. And I was able to keep it off for a while.
A BREAKTHROUGH OF SORTS
Encouraged by the small amount of weight I had lost and kept off after pregnancy, I decided to get serious about losing weight. That’s when I stumbled upon a book, called, Free To Be Thin, written by Neva Coyle.
I didn’t necessarily lose a lot of weight; that’s okay because I obtained something much more valuable. I finally grasped the fact, God had chosen me. I was loved by Him, and that made me special–not in and of myself, but through Him. I was finally beginning to accept my worth as a daughter of the King.This was the point where I began to allow God to teach me how to deal with anger, fear, jealousy, loneliness, frustration, and shame. God began to heal me from the inside out–one step at a time. Weight loss didn’t come until much later in my life, but this was a start.
“For He CHOSE us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In LOVE, He predestined us for ADOPTION to sonship through JESUS CHRIST in accordance with His pleasure and will.” Ephesians 1:4-5
LIFE GOES ON
After all of that, you would think I would have had immediate success. Well, I didn’t. Over the years, whenever I walked into a doctor’s office for a yearly checkup or for a simple sinus infection, the discussion inevitably turned to my weight and the need for me to lose it. Each doctor had a preferred method for weight loss, so I was totally confused. So many methods, so much advice—eat high protein, consume low protein meals, stay away from carbs, eat carbs, get rid of fat in your diet, use butter, don’t use butter, and the list goes on. Sometimes I lost weight, but most of the time I gained. Needless to say, I grew quite discouraged.
The year, 2010, proved to be one of the most stressful and trying times in my life; family issues, which rocked the very foundation of my being, complications from hip surgery, and loss of a job were among the top contenders. There were times I didn’t have the words to pray, so I just cried. And then there were times I didn’t even have the strength to cry. Emotional tensions set off all kinds of eating sessions. I gained weight like no other time in my life. That year, I experienced emotional and physical pain like never before. It felt as though my life was thrust into a perpetual downward spiral, with no hope of ever stopping. I was one hot mess! And if all that wasn’t enough, I was busy beating myself up because I wasn’t trusting God enough–because I didn’t believe the scriptures enough–because I wasn’t being like Job enough. After all, I taught God’s Word to others; I should know better. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.
“Likewise the Spirit also helps our weaknesses: for we do not know what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning which cannot be uttered.” Romans 8:26
BODY FALLING APART
At the age of 46, I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, all the aches and pains of carrying around the equivalent weight of an extra person on a daily basis, and a multitude of other health issues related to obesity, all of which were being treated with medication and costing lots of money. Many of my friends recommended weight loss surgery. Although there are numerous documented cases where weight loss surgery alleviated many painful, debilitating, and life threatening conditions impacting the health of people suffering with obesity, it is not right for everyone. I chose not to go that route. I felt Jesus had another way for me to go; I just didn’t know what it was. Then one day in church, I overheard some ladies talking about traditional cooking. I asked them about it, and that’s when things began to CHANGE.
BUTTER, CHEESE, EGGS, & RED MEAT–OH MY
At first I was overwhelmed, but my friend, Becky, whom I have since lovingly dubbed my “healthy food guru”, gave me a piece of sage advice: start small, and do what you can. That made a lot of sense to me. The first thing I did was to replace my low fat foods with nutrient dense whole fat foods. I started eating whole eggs instead of just egg whites, and my friend, Becky, introduced me to raw cheese. I began making my own yogurt from whole milk. My house began to smell like a bakery because I was always making fresh bread with organic flour and the whey from my yogurt. I added leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and beet greens to my diet. I’m not really a fish eater, but fresh, wild caught cod was added to our menu. Other foods included cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. Grass fed, hormone free meats found their way to the table, and home made bone broth became a staple in the kitchen. I experienced coconut oil for the first time, and most recently, I have begun to enjoy avocados. The list is endless, but the main thing is I filled my diet with lots of unprocessed whole foods. I have learned healthy doesn’t have to be boring.
As a result of the changes I made in my dietary choices, I began to drop the pounds. I still eat chocolate and ice cream if I want; the difference is these are once in a while treats for me instead of common every day occurrences. I haven’t given up on home made desserts either. I love to bake, and occasionally a sweet treat will find its way to the dessert table. I do not deprive myself of anything; moderation has been the key to my success.
I have kept the weight off for nearly three years now. No more diets. No more “diet” food. Now I eat what I love; I have energy and stamina to do things I never thought were possible, and I simply feel good about myself. I haven’t arrived at where I want to be, but I am well on my way.