Ok, so I’m not there yet. But I’m on the way.
70 pounds gone. Officially. As of this morning.
But, more significantly, I finally crossed over 200 mark, back down into the 100’s.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit that. Ok, it’s a lot embarrassing. Not a little. But the occasion is significant that I almost cannot not write about it. I remember, quite vividly, the day I first went over that 200 mark. And the weight of despondency that ensued.
One of the reasons I am compelled to write here is that this has been/is such a tremendous fight. A bloody war. And I feel like, today, I have won a significant war. I’ve taken a hill. I am celebrating.
But another reason is that I have discovered some things along the way, that might help someone who is fighting this same war. You are out there, and you are not alone. You are not the only one.
A little over a year ago, I found myself on a flight to LA. The first leg was a little Delta commuter flight. I settled into the seat and grabbed the seat belt, only to discover–I couldn’t latch it. It wouldn’t fit. I was horrifically mortified. I wasn’t about to ask for a seatbelt extender, so I kind of hid the buckles as best I could, using the book I’d brought to read. It was a terrible experience.
I didn’t get into that situation overnight. And nobody put me into that situation. It was all me. My foolishness. My poor choices. My sin, even. I hesitate to use that word, because I do not want to discourage anyone, but, for me, sin is the right word.
Food had become my place of safety. It became what satisfied the deep ache in both my mind and soul. I would hurt; I would eat; I would “feel” better. Temporarily. As in, instantaneously, for about an hour. It was my drug.
Before food took its place, it was alcohol. Alcohol eliminated the ache. And, when drunk, I didn’t think, and I liked that. When drunk, I didn’t remember, and I liked that. But it never lasted. There is much truth to Proverbs 23:31-32. By God’s grace, the pull to drink subsided. It is still there–if someone were to sit a six-pack in front of me tonight, I would probably drink the whole thing. It’s another type of battle; one that I fight every time I attend a work dinner. Every time I am plagued by despair. Every time hope seems to be gone. But I know the consequences. And so I fight.
But food–food makes such a good substitute for alcohol. It’s socially acceptable. There is no DUI involved. And, when consumed in large quantities, the effects are eerily similar.
The “loss” of alcohol (and, as odd as it sounds, it was a loss of sorts) led to the consuming of more food, which led to the gaining of weight. The gaining of weight exacerbated the already-long-present despair further. It didn’t cause the despair–no, that was caused by other things. Hard things. Grievous things. But it agitated it.
Other things came into play. 3 Antidepressants. 2 Anti-anxiety meds. 1 Sleeping med. There is a place for all three of these things. Don’t hear me say that there isn’t. They did help me, to an extent. But they quickly became alcohol to me, because they numbed the pain. The let me sleep. And sleep is sometimes a tough thing. And, I had a doctor who was quick to prescribe, without ever really listening to me. It was the perfect storm.
And then I got on that plane. And, thank you God, something clicked. And it wasn’t my seatbelt.
I’m a fairly disciplined person. I like order. I like routine. And there is an element of discipline involved in getting healthy physically, mentally and spiritually. All three take action. Active decisiveness. In the realm of physical wellness, I had lost significant amounts of weight before. I knew what it takes. I just had to do it. And keep doing it.
This work hasn’t been about “looking good” I don’t think. I don’t really care about that too terribly much. Sure, no one sets out saying “Hey, I think I’ll be obese.”, but pure vanity hasn’t been the impetus to this war. Not really. I have no dreams or wishes or false hopes that anyone will ever again love me or want to marry the mess that I have made of my life. I’ve given those up. I don’t see that happening.
No, this is much more about this: I want to be physically well, so I can work hard. And, I work hard, so I can be physically well.
There are things I know I am to do–parenting tasks, work tasks, care for others tasks. I can’t do those, if I am miserably unfit, unwell, energy-less. I can’t. And neither can you. Being well physically allows me to better do the things I am supposed to do. I am not my own. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 teaches me that. I glorify God, when I am doing what I can to be physically well.
Also, being well physically helps keep other health issues that plague me at bay. That is not nothing. Also, I sleep better. Sleep is a hard thing for me, for many reasons. But I’ve found that, if I push myself to the point of exhaustion each day, I fall asleep easier. I may not stay asleep, but at least I fall asleep. That is a significant skirmish won.
I know that’s a lot of words. But weight gain is a complicated thing. And, weight loss is a fight. It’s a hellish battle. But it is doable, friend. It is. I promise you. It takes a little routine. It takes some discipline. And, it takes God’s grace. A whole lot of God’s grace. And mercy.
But, I love this line from a recent article over at DesiringGod.org: “The good gift of weight-loss comes by God’s grace, but it also requires my own sweat and tears.”
Yes. A thousand times, yes. I’ve not shed tears, but I certainly have sweat. A lot. And, the reason I’ve probably not shed tears is because I’ve sweat so much that there probably aren’t any tears. It takes work. But it is work worth doing. I promise you.
I’m going to tell you what works. Sure, there are lots of different opinions out there. I’m a researcher. I’ve researched them all. And, I’ve found, there is only one thing that works: Sustainable math.
Weight is lost by one thing and one thing only: Calories expended must be greater than calories consumed. That’s it. A healthy amount of calories must be consumed each day. Not too little, but definitely not too much. I hurt, I reach for food, I consume far too many calories in a day. And then I sit on my butt and do little to burn those calories. And then, I gain weight.
So, I’m going to share with you the tools I use in order to keep these two things in balance–calories and exercise. And then a couple of bonuses.
MyFitnessPal : You can use the app version, or the website, for this calorie tracking tool. Easy to use. I input everything I eat, and it calculates how many calories I have consumed and their nutritional value. Fantastic database of food–I never find anything to eat that isn’t in there (at least, here in America). When I’ve reached 1200 calories for the day, I stop eating. It takes discipline, yes. But if I don’t know how much I am consuming in a day, I won’t know when to stop. My willpower is too weak to stop when I am full. I’ll eat until I am comatose. Having a running tally of what I’ve eaten puts an end to that.
FitBit : This gadget is what really keeps me motivated, more than staying under my caloric goal. The FitBit is so nerdy and awesome and provides me with all the stats my heart desires–steps walked, miles covered, calories burned, floors climbed. It will even measure your sleep, though I stopped using that feature because it was too discouraging. But that might be helpful to someone else. The FitBit requires a bit of financial commitment, but I promise you, it is so well-worth it. My current goal is to put in over 10,000 steps in a day, and 5+ miles a day. You can set your goals anywhere that makes sense to you. When you achieve them, your FitBit lets you know. So cool.
MapMyWalk : This app uses geolocation or something like that to track your routes when you are out walking or jogging. I mainly use it to feed my love of more nerdy stats. For instance, today I received notification that I logged my 200th workout on MapMyWalk. That’s pretty cool. I also know that in those 200 workouts, I’ve walked 563.26 miles. That is so nerdily cool.
Aria Scale : Not necessary, but so helpful. This wi-fi scale adds a level of accountability. You weigh, and it sends the info directly to your computer. No escaping the reality of where you are at. Sure, you could choose not to weigh. But, if you are serious at all, you are going to weigh. Many people say you should only weigh once a week. That doesn’t work for me. I weigh every day. If I’m going the wrong direction, I’m motivated to work harder. If I am stagnant, I’m motivated to work harder. If I have made progress, I am encouraged to keep going.
Humor: You can’t fight this battle without a good sense of humor. There is much funny in this life. If we can laugh at our own ridiculousness, the work load is eased a bit somehow. For example, I am so un-graceful and un-coordinated. Me, walking, is fodder for much hilarity. Me, doing 3 Burpees a day–my latest goal–is downright hysterical. Laugh, much.
Support: A year or so ago, I started a FB page–a place where women could discuss both personal and spiritual disciplines together. I was leery at first, but it has been a wonderful thing. 150+ members, it, too, is a place of much laughter. But also a place where folks can, hopefully, be encouraged. Not just on health matters, but on the daily disciplines that make up our lives. Feel free to check it out here.
Carrots: I am a goal setter. I must have a carrot in front of me, just like a horse. It’s how I am wired. Set goals. Make them attainable but challenging. Then work. Hard. My next goals are 100 pounds gone total and a half-marathon in October. Try DayZeroProject to get started with goal setting.
Overall Disciplines: When you become disciplined in one area of life, it seems easier to become disciplined in others. Financial, Daily responsibilities, time management, health tasks–these are all, actually, interwoven. And, running throughout them is the overarching discipline of Spiritual Formation. Scripture work. Real prayer. Worship, alone and corporately. Caring for others. These are vital. Vital.
Getting healthy, physically–and in your mind, and in your soul–takes work, folks. It takes concentrated, committed work. But it also takes something else, above all the work: God’s grace. His grace. Because, I can be the most physically fit person on this planet, and yet be the most broken, the most messed up, the most wrecked person at the very same time.
No, true well-ness, the penetrating, soul-deep, lasting well-ness–that comes from recognizing who God is, and acting accordingly. I could walk 12,789 miles, and I would be still be broken, without God. Without forgiveness for my many sins. Without the cross. Without grace.
Please, feel free to contact me, if you have questions. About anything here. At any time. But especially about God’s grace. I would be honored and privileged to speak with you.