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Debbie Watkins

When you have a lot of weight to lose, it is very, very easy to just give up. I know this personally. I started my journey with well over 100 pounds to lose…

The first thing I learned is that First Place 4 Health is a Christian weight loss program that is much more than just a weight loss program. It teaches you to live in the real world and make smart choices in real life that lead to a healthier you, both physically and spiritually.

When I started First Place 4 Health, I had serious knee and foot problems. I could not walk without extreme pain. I did not take my morning or afternoon break at work, because it hurt too much to walk from my office at the front of the store to the break room in the back of the store. During my first session, I just concentrated on eating healthy to lose weight. I did lose 25 pounds, which made walking easier and a lot less painful. But in my head, the word exercise was floating around and I knew I needed to do something about it.

By my second session, I decided I could walk around my neighborhood. My middle son, Tim, who still lives at home, would go with me. My neighborhood has a name.  It is called Sunny Hills. It is not always sunny in my neighborhood, but it is always hilly. At first, I was very slow and could barely make it up the hills. Tim would walk to the top of a hill and then turn around and come back to meet me about halfway up, all the while light-heartily teasing me with, “Mom, are you going to make it?” and “Mom, are you sure you can do this?”  Well, I did do it and it got easier and my knees hurt less and less.

During that second session, I also increased my everyday vocabulary. I added words like whole grain and fiber. These were not actually new words, but I did learn how to use them better. I learned that just because a package says wheat crackers or wheat bread, for instance, did not necessarily mean that was a whole grain product.  I learned to read the ingredients on the label and make wiser choices.

I also learned that what I do affects more than just me. I already told you how when I walk, Tim walks with me. One day I came home from work and my husband, Robert, was in the kitchen. He says, “I ate some of those wheat stick things you have in the cabinet.”  Before I could say anything, he adds “They were pretty good tasting and I did not eat very many of them, but I felt full.” I told him that was because they were whole grain. I estimated that he had eaten maybe 100 calories, two grams of fiber and 1.5 grams of fat. I knew that were there a bag of potato chips in the cabinet instead of the wheat sticks, he would have eaten a minimum of four ounces, which would have been 600 calories and 40 grams of fat!  I did not eat any of those wheat sticks, but they made me feel good. It also makes me feel good when Tim eats bananas or grapes or a bowl of my high-fiber whole grain cereal, instead of the junk food he used to always eat.

Our weekly Bible study gives us spiritual guidance and encouragement as we progress through our journey.  When people ask me about our program, they always ask “Do you have to memorize Bible verses?” We are encouraged to learn our Bible verses and there is a very good reason for this.

I have a seven year-old grandson. Two years ago, when Eric was five, he decided one Sunday morning that he was going to take a toy to Sunday school. He went into the kitchen to tell his mommy about his plans. She promptly reminded him that he was not allowed to take a toy to Sunday school.  She told him that he could bring it and leave it in the car.  My usually non-argumentative grandson became quite upset and protested. His mother very calmly, but very firmly, told him “Now Eric, you know that you cannot take a toy to Sunday school.”  Eric opened his mouth and started “But I want…” he stopped in mid-sentence, turned around and walked out of the room.  As he was leaving, he was talking to himself.  His mom, like us moms do, was listening closely to what her child was saying.  This is what he said, “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God.”  She recognized this as Philippians 2:14 and part of 15, which is one of the many verses Eric has learned during his young life.

I trust that none of us will ever be upset because we want to take a toy to Sunday school.  But, I know that each one of us will face difficult situations where we will need to make wise choices.

If, like my precious little Eric, we learn our Bible verses, God’s Word will always be in our heart, ready to enter our head to give us guidance, comfort, and the much needed strength to make the right decisions.

My list of favorite Bible verses grows and changes as I grow and change. My very first favorite First Place 4 Health Bible verse, and it is still near the top of my list, is Galatians 6:9 “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

When you have a lot of weight to lose, it is very, very easy to just give up. I know this personally. I started my journey with well over 100 pounds to lose, because in the past I had just given up.  So far, I have lost over 70 pounds; however, I still have a long way to go to reach goal weight. But, I know I am not doing this alone.  I have the support and encouragement of my First Place 4 Health family.  Even more importantly, I know I do not have to rely on my own strength, which is, in fact, very weak but my strength comes from God. With God all things are possible, even weight loss!

To me First Place 4 Health means NOT GIVING UP.

Debbie Watkins

Searcy, AR