I asked my mom to share her weight loss testimony with me so that I could post it on my blog. I have also struggled with weight battles, although mine are somewhat different from my mom’s experiences. Someday I may share about mine, but I thought my mom’s story could be an encouragement to others as it has been for me. She also has written a lot about contentment, which I would love to share sometime. It is pretty amazing stuff. However, here’s my mom’s story:
“Ten years ago this year I began a life changing goal. I have struggled with what I would call a food addiction for most of my life. Food had become a source of comfort. I regrettably used food to fill a void when I was lonely or depressed. This had the result of causing me to be more depressed as I hated the way I looked. It became a continuous cycle of overeating and depression. I didn’t realize that this was what I was doing for many years. God gradually showed me that I did not trust him in helping me with my eating habits. I was going to have to relinquish my hold on this part of my life and let God be in control. Now, this was very hard, as I really didn’t think I was telling God that this was the one area that he could not have. I saw myself as being a victim and thought I would be overweight the rest of my life. I didn’t see any way out. I just told myself that it was my metabolism and I really wasn’t overeating. Without realizing it I was lying to myself, to others and most of all to God.
In January of 2005, I finally became sick and tired of looking and feeling the way I did. My health had begun to deteriorate and caused countless trips to the doctor. My knees hurt and I often had to take one step at a time. I got easily winded, whether walking or just going up the stairs and I was tired all the time. Buying clothes had become something I dreaded due to the lack of items in my size. The clothes that I did have were few and made me feel even worse. I felt frumpy and much older than I really was. Tying my tennis shoes had become almost an impossible task as I could hardly bend over. I got winded just going up the stairs. I had a heart cauterization at age 40, had high cholesterol, high blood pressure and was borderline diabetic. To say the least, I didn’t feel well most of the time, physically or emotionally. I spent lots of time at the Dr.’s office with ailments. I even got viruses more often as my immune system was a mess.
On one visit to the Dr. for knee pain, the Dr. asked me if I could just try to lose 15 pounds, that it would really help my knees. He also told me that I scared him and might have a stroke if I kept going like I was. It seemed like an impossible task, though it sounded like a nice idea, I had tried diets before and they never worked. I put that idea on the back shelf. We soon received the news that we were to become grandparents for the first time. I began to wonder how I would ever be able to sit on the floor and play with grandchildren. I wanted to be the kind of grandma who would sit down and play with them, not one who had to sit in a chair all the time. I guess when looking back God used this blessing, the gift of a grandchild, to get me to a place where I could give this all over to Him.
I remember the day I was able to hand this over to God. I was standing in our family room on a cold December day. I began petitioning God, crying out for him to help me. I remember the tears that filled my eyes and ran down my face as I cried out to God to take this burden from me. I think I could put my feet in the exact spot in our family room. I was tired of carrying this burden of weight and depression around. I couldn’t help myself and was unable to control the food I put into my mouth. Food was my friend. I went to the cupboard or fridge when I needed comfort or was lonely. Now, I wasn’t a binge eater, but I was eating the wrong foods, larger portions and eating more often than I should, for at least twenty years. I was also what they called a grazer, eating just a few crackers, a handful of cereal, leftover PB sandwich of my kids when young, food off their plate rather than throw it away… you get the idea. I had slowly put on extra pounds over those years until I found myself at least 70 pounds overweight. It was a slow enough process that I didn’t notice as I should have or maybe it was something I chose not to notice.
During the month of December I became sick. I easily lost several pounds, as I wasn’t able to eat much. It was a blessing in disguise, as I now realize. I was given a jump-start on my weight loss goal and the motivation to continue. I again prayed, asking God to help me know what to eat and how much to eat. I wanted to lose the weight and do it in a healthy way. God brought to remembrance all the things I had read or heard about a healthy eating and I was impressed with a diet that I thought I could live with. This had to be a life change in the way I looked at food and the choices of food that I would consume. I started with what I knew that I liked that was also good for me. I decided to switch to fat free milk and each morning I would have a bowl of oatmeal with Splenda and fat free milk. It was very filling and got me through the morning. For lunch I ate three ounces of the best deli turkey I could afford, a piece of whole wheat bread and an apple. As I lost the weight I added a fat free yogurt cup. For dinner I would have a large serving of vegetables such as peas, broccoli or green beans, a small red potato or half of a sweet potato and a small chicken breast, turkey or fish. Dessert was fruit, my favorite being strawberries when in season. I cut out the bad fats like margarine and mayonnaise and cheese. I gradually removed stuff from our home that were not good choices, the chips, cheese its, and started spending my food budget on healthy snacks like yogurt, apples, raspberries and other fruits. I love Eddie’s fruit bars in the summer.
The pounds gradually fell off and my clothes quickly became too big. If I got tired of eating the same thing, I would tell myself, Manna. I figured if God got angry at the Israelites for complaining about manna, then how dare I complain about eating this wonderful turkey, fruit and chicken. I also had a scripture that I would quote to myself if I got in the mood to eat food items that I shouldn’t. It says “Everything is permissible”_ but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible” –but not everything is constructive. 1 Corinthians 10:23. I realized that I could eat a dessert or put butter on my potato, but that didn’t mean it was a good choice. I learned, with God’s help, to make good choices in what I put into my mouth and how much I ate. I finally understood that food was meant for nourishment, not to fill a void. I have learned to look forward to my oatmeal or turkey or apple and to appreciate food in a whole new way.
I know I could not have done this without God. I praise Him for what he has done in my life. I cannot thank Him enough for allowing me to win my battle with food and being overweight. I also promised God I would use every opportunity to give Him the glory for my losing the weight. Finally, ten months after I had cried out to God, I reached my goal weight and had lost a total of seventy pounds and at least six dress sizes. I remember the first time that I was able to bend over and tie my own shoes and not be out of breath. It put tears in my eyes. I have gradually learned to be content with the food I eat in a way I never thought I could. I can’t say that my battle with food and learning to be content with healthy food is not totally over. I’m sure there will always be a struggle with food at some level, but I am learning to trust God daily to provide what I need to eat healthy on a daily basis.
There will always be holidays, weddings and birthday parties with cake and other high calorie foods just around the corner. I’ve learned I can eat treats like these, but must try to do it in moderation. If we go on vacation and I eat extra foods, I go back to my normal eating as soon as we get home. What I am also learning is to let God provide contentment each day. If I mess up, and I still do when I have a rough time or extra stress in my life, and I eat food to console, I forgive myself and start over the next day and give it back to God. Contentment with the food I eat, and with whom I am in Christ. It’s that daily manna thing. It would be very easy to go back to my old eating habits and start using food as a Band-Aid again. I have to make a choice to ask myself why I want to eat a food I crave, when I am tempted to eat junk foods or rich desserts. It is a choice what I put in my mouth and how much, or if I complain about what there is to eat. I don’t desire to feel like I did when I carried those extra 70 pounds ever again. I feel better than I remember feeling thirty years ago.
My confidence level is better than it was 10 years ago and the best part is I can bend over and pick up my granddaughter without feeling winded. Now, buying clothes is not something I dread anymore, but something I enjoy doing. My new challenge is to be content at another level, as it is so easy to want more clothes than I need or can afford. Learning to be content with the clothes I have and not keep wanting more can at times become a struggle, one I definitely didn’t have when I was a size twenty. I will have to tackle one item of contentment at a time with God’s help and guidance.”