Friday 28 January 2022

Finally on the Path to being Fit and Free

I’ve been seeking fitness and freedom for quite some years now. Back at the beginning of 2015, I started to use the hashtag #FitandFree because that was my aim for the year. I thought I was finally going to conquer my weight demons and manage to lose lots of weight, however, it didn’t happen and yet again I became demotivated and remained unhappy in my body.

A 35 Year Journey

My issues with my weight started when I was about 13, or that was when I became aware that I had a problem that I felt needed solving. I remember going to the doctor for help and he told me to write a food diary and then halve it. That was the start of a very painful and prolonged journey of self-hate for the last 35 years. I look back now and I wasn’t even particularly big, yes, a little bigger than some classmates, but absolutely fine.

By the time I left secondary school, I had lost some weight (through attending Weight Watchers classes with my mum) and I was around a size 12/14 I thought I looked amazing and I felt amazing but soon some weight went back on and the first suit I bought at age 16 was a size 16. By the time I headed to University at 18, I was a size 18 and I can remember that I thought that was the most humongous and gross size there ever was, I even cut the labels out of my clothes as I was so ashamed and didn’t want my new friends to know. Little did I know what was to come.

How I'd love those 18-year-old curves again

Even at university when I should have been focusing on studying and enjoying my life as a young adult I can remember going to various weight lossfollowclubs to try and shift some weight, so I could feel ‘normal’, the same as everyone else. Counting calories, recording food, drinking grapefruit juice before I ate, stepping on the scales, checking out food plan points – it was like an obsession.

By age 21 I was down to a size 16 when I met my now-husband and between then and getting married at age 28, I headed upwards to a size 20/22. When you are young you think you have years ahead to ‘sort yourself out’ and I recall weight loss being fairly easy. Cut back and restrict calories and then I could drop 1/2 stone in a week. I look back now and wonder why I never carried through and got to a healthy weight, but I was carrying so much emotional baggage and every time it threatened to resurface, I’d eat and stuff it back down and that sense of shame would grow a little stronger.

Food – my False Idol

The rejection I felt as a child carried through and was reinforced by new situations that life threw at me and I had no resilience and no idea of how to deal with my emotions or these situations. So I ate, as food always comforted me, it never let me down and it was a wonderful smokescreen to stop me from looking too in-depth at where things were going wrong.

I can’t reveal too much as so much of what happened to me isn’t just my story and thus I can’t break confidence but I am so glad I found Jesus. That is what has saved me. Having a personal and loving relationship with God is what makes a difference in my everyday life. It is what sustains me and keeps me going. Reading that, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I have lost several stones of weight and that I am now considered a healthy weight, but no, alas I am still morbidly obese.

On my wedding day in my size 22 dress

However, I don’t have to be at my target weight (I don’t actually have a target weight) to be saved, to find success in my journey. Jesus has redeemed me and I have learnt to accept (moving the knowledge from my head to my heart) that He adores me and He won’t love me anymore when I am eight stone lighter. He also wouldn’t love me any less if I got eight stone heavier.

In the two decades that I have known Jesus and accepted Him as the Lord and Saviour of my life, He has been working on me and I have had a desire to work for Him. I had no clear picture of what that meant, but He has been revealing snippets to me as the years have gone past. When our family moved to East Sussex in the summer of 2013 I had a clear understanding that God wanted me to slow down and just be for a bitfollow. I heard the phrase ‘fit for purpose’ and I believe that it was from God. For quite some years I took that phrase to mean that I needed to lose weight to address health issues and then He could use me. I berated myself each time a diet failed or I got demotivated and stopped going to the gym. Since living here I have started Slimming World around five times and been a member of different gyms on at least six occasions. I’ve also attended a fitness club and tried to do the Couch to 5K. I’m not being a defeatist when I say that all of these attempts failed.

Only God can Work a Miracle

Why did they fail? I think, probably, because I was trying to win in my own steed. A few years back I realised I needed to submit my food and more importantly my fears to God, so He could work on me to help me. But then I continued to battle and kept taking back all the things I had left at the foot of the cross and I made them all my problem again. Fearful that I’d be hungry, fearful of the saggy skin I thought I’d be left with, fearful of intimacy issues, fearful of missing out and fearful of the opportunities that may come my way if I was slimmer and healthier and able to do anything I pleased as my body could take the strain.

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

But fear can not enter where there is faith. So, I’ve been working on my relationship with Jesus and developing that faith. I’m very proud of the hard work I have put into this process. The determination and dedication I have shown to becoming a better person, to healing my emotional issues and to being available for God has been immense. It hasn’t always been easy but I am so happy to have been through the fiery furnace and to now see my character more in line with Jesus. Of course, there is work still to be done, we’re never quite the finished project but I feel as if I have made leaps and bounds forward and that is thanks to God.

Handing over my Fears & Relying on Him

So, now, at last, I feel able to be brave and to hand any final fears over to God as I exercise my faith and start to cut back on what I eat. I don’t need to overindulgence and overcompensate for unhappiness elsewhere in my life, I am ready to fully submit and to change; to be who Christ truly wants me to be.

I am very much looking forward to starting my new job in March at least 3kg lighter and then going on holiday in October with my family and being 25kg down. That means losing 2.5Kg each month for the next 10 months, which is about 5lb a month so hopefully attainable.

Earlier today I was thinking about hope, as well as faith and being reminded that I don’t have to despair of this weight loss journey that has taken 35 years so far. There is no need for me to be exasperated with myself and to assume I’ll give up or fail, just because I have before. I now have the hope of Jesus and I need to allow Him to sustain me. The only stiving I must do is in my pursuit of Him and my relationship with Him.

Jesus has restored and redeemed me. I learned on my bible study course this morning that Jesus moved women from shame to honour and that is what He has done for me. Thank you, Jesus, that by Your blood I am saved and I can live another day to serve You and love You. Amen.