Friday, August 24, 2012

Weight Loss & Me

This is one defining area of my life that, well, frankly is a major struggle.

When I finished high school I was a svelte 125-130 pound young lady. I went to college and put on the “freshman 10”. Then I got married and put on another 10. Then there were two children which I never totally lost that baby-induced-gain.

I’ve joined Weight Watchers three times (currently a member today). Used various fad diets. Read at least a dozen books on nutrition and weight loss. Then there’s the motivational books and other soul searching, inspirational studies.

See how I tried to hide
my fat in this photo! Sigh.
It is now 30 years or so that I’ve been more than 20 pounds overweight. The up and down struggle has been enormous. It’s emotional. It’s hard. It’s overwhelming. It’s spiritual. I’m ashamed about it, too.

Yet, I’m so grateful. Being the Christian that I am I see this as THE central part of my life which God has used to shape me (no, not a pun) into the person I am today.

The Labor That Has Become an Adventure

Losing weight is work for some of us. I am one of those “us.” But about 10 or so years ago I had a paradigm shift. I was the organist at a church which had two services. This meant I could never be a part of Sunday Bible classes. 

One day I realized I was starving for God’s nurturing and I decided to do something about it. I knew I still needed to stay at the church I was at but I couldn’t get the spiritual food I needed. I had a schedule dilemma.

I decided to find someone on television and chose Joyce Meyer. I first discovered Joyce in 1979 or ’80. She was on the radio in the area where I lived. I didn’t know her name. What I did know: She was gruff, rough, and funny. She was also honest, transparent, and, even though she sounded like she was pointing a finger at everyone around her, she spoke truth. So I listened.

Then we moved and I lost touch.

When I began my television search for a teacher I recognized her voice. She was broadcasting under the TV show name “Life In the Word.” I was blown away. That gruff, rough, finger-pointing woman was still speaking the truth. The honesty, transparency and willingness to share openly was still there. But the finger-pointing was gone. The roughness was softened. The gruff was a little there but I believe that is simply the nature of her voice that God blessed her with.

I was blown away! You see, Joyce is one of those teachers today who had possibly one of the most messed up beginnings anyone could have. If it was lousy, she experienced it - pretty much! Abuse, abandonment, betrayal, bad habits, bad attitudes, paranoia, ... you name it ... she possibly experienced it. Yet, she was a Christian at an early age. 

When she gave in to the loving, caring, gently-molding hands of her Creator, the transformation began. God took the ashes of her devastated life and slowly built a beautiful creature. The good news for all those who have ever listened to Joyce is: She paid attention all along the journey. God gave her the ability to share any and everything with her students. Those of us who’ve listened have grown from her mistakes and learned from them.

So, my journey began under her tutelage. About five or six years into that I came to want more. Don’t get me wrong. She’s a great teacher and I’m so very grateful I stumbled upon her, But my needs changed.

That’s when I discovered Chip Ingram and the Life in the Word group.

God is so cool. He designs each of us with a special ability. Joyce’s ability was revealing the mind games we battle everyday just to have attitudes that honor God. Attitudes that impact how we deal with the good and the bad things in our lives. Thoughts that impact every decision we make, very step we take. I had a lot of selfish, self-focused, self-indulged attitudes that kept me eating emotionally and doing things which kept me overweight.

As I worked through those issues I realized I perceived God as very convenient. He was available and loved me. He could hug me. He could coddle me. He could and does indulge me. However, I realized that was my image of God. Not His image of Him.

Yes, I had made God in my own image. So, I began to ask Him to reveal Himself to me. Really. Not inside my convenient, manageable box but as His universal-controlling, expansive, overwhelming wondrous personage that no box can hold. 

He led me to Chip whose ability and design is to help Christians learn to live, well, like Christians. To become the image of God. To understand His expansiveness. To perceive that which evades our perception.

What I’ve Learned, Am Learning

I’ve begun to learn how enormous God is. So much larger than my puny problems. Truly. His perspective has shown me there are many matters that contribute to my stress and my selfish indulgences that He already has a solution for. They are a speck - a nano-speck from His perspective. 

He’s revealed truths about me in His Word. He’s gently shown me truths about food that had me bound in slavery. Jesus said “You will know the Truth. And the Truth will set you free.” I can vouch for that statement.

Epiphany 1:

There is a Scripture in 2 Corinthians that tells us to take every thought captive to the teachings of Christ. I used to think that meant we were to defend what we believe and always stand ready to speak up against false teachings. 

Then one day I spoke with a friend about going to get some comfort food. Blam! Up from inside me bubbles up the words “I am your Comforter.” Yep. That was God’s Holy Spirit reminding me of His rightful place in my food fight. You see, Jesus’ gave us another gift when He returned from death. He gave us the Holy Spirit. 

One of the rolls the Holy Spirit plays in our lives is that as Comforter. He’s always there for every Christian offering peace, comfort, and confidence. Who needs food?!? 

Yet, I still struggled. 

Epiphany 2:

These were worth the sneaking!
Choco-Oatmeal Munchies.
Best chocolate chip cookies I know.
By now I’m listening to Chip Ingram who points out that if you want to change something in your life. And it is some deep-rooted behavior - you can’t do it alone. You need a community or group of other people working toward the same goal. I’d already proven this statement to be true through my church experiences. Now it was time to join Weight Watchers ... again.

I will always be struggling with my weight. Anyone who will sneak chocolate chip cookies out of the freezer to indulge herself at the age of 10 (or so) will probably always struggle with eating temptations. 

And God made it easy for me to join Weight Watchers. He brought into my company someone else who knew about their workplace program. We started one. 

Epiphany 3:

About 10 to 12 pounds later I begin to plateau. Now, I had learned that my weight loss might be slow due to a medication I take so I was empowered to be patiently determined to take off 60 pounds.

But then there was another deep-rooted attitude that I discovered. 

I was reading 1 Corinthians when Paul tells us that “everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.” simple enough, right? Then, BLAM! “Food is for the stomach ... you should not be a slave to food.”

That may be the most powerful revelation I’ve had recently. My whole life has been driven by food. 

I mentioned sneaking the chocolate chip cookies. I ate so much one Thanksgiving that I had a stomach ache for an entire day! After getting married I would be thinking about the next meal (you know, you have to plan and be ready!) while eating the current meal. Then when I had children, I was planning their meals, their school lunches ... menus, grocery lists.

My routine, my thoughts, my finances – all were governed by food. I’d feel insecure if I didn’t have enough food stocked in the pantry and refrigerator. I’d also have to throw out a lot of spoiled food that I never used but had bought “just in case...”

This revelation has been the greatest breakthrough in this weight loss struggle. I said “No More!”  and the following weigh-in I’d dropped nearly three pounds. 

I still have about 40 pounds to go. But I’ll be sharing on this blog when I reach my goal.

Closing

Well, I’ve rambled enough today. This is interesting to me. In fact, it is therapeutic. Maybe someone else will benefit from my story. If so, I welcome comments, questions. I love to chat!

JSue .. because I can!

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