Joy Bianchi

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I have lost 81 pounds in the last 14 months with First Place 4 Health.

I have struggled with weight all of my life, probably like many of you. I can remember the first time I ever realized that I was fat; I was eight or ten, and our family doctor told my mother that I was a little “husky.” I really never lived that one down. In a way, it may have been just one of the first self-fulfilling prophesies that I would choose to believe.

Like many of you, I have experimented with a lot of different “diets” that worked temporarily or didn’t work at all. I have tried programs that called my eating “an addiction” or classified it as a disease. I joined the “no-carb” craze for a bit, and have even tried various “natural” and not-so-natural remedies in a pill.

About one year into the First Place 4 Health program, I had learned a lot, but was still fluctuating in my weight. In desperation, during a conversation with an accountability partner from First Place (Ginny), I revealed that I had been keeping a gastric bypass ad in my wallet for over a year, letting her know that if First Place 4 Health didn’t work, surgery was my next step. She calmly asked me just to put that aside and to dedicate to talking with her on a weekly basis. She also promised me that she was going to be my accountability until I lost weight. In my mind, all I could think was, “Are you nuts, Ginny? If you only knew what you were promising…you might still be calling me five years from now.” Since that night, I’ve learned how important God’s timing is. I put my trust in God and His way for my weight loss that night during that conversation.

t’s much easier for me to say what has changed in my life since First Place 4 Health; it’s a lot harder to really define how. I can tell you that I am a different person, and not just from the outside.

My life before I was in first place:

* I ate whatever, whenever, according to my lust for more. * I didn’t exercise, except to maintain a dangerously high level of stress. * I would look at myself in the mirror and speak only words of hate to myself. * I would “medicate” myself with food, not even realizing how infrequently I was eating out of true hunger. * I was living in a self-fulfilling prophesy of self-hate. * I was using food in place of God for comfort and pleasure. * I was at an uncomfortable, as well as dangerous weight. * I couldn’t go four hours without food, let alone complete a full 24 hour fast. * My life was filled with self-indulgence.

Since I have been in First Place 4 Health for almost 2 years:

* I eat with better and God-fulfilling motives. * I do exercise; in fact, I am leading a toning and stretching class on Wednesday nights. I get up an hour earlier each morning, so that I can spend time in the Word and on a 30 minute walk. * I can look at myself in the mirror and see myself more how God sees me – I can also look in the mirror without speaking words of hate to myself. * I am in the Word daily, and realize first hand an immediate correlation to daily devotions and “in-control” living. * I realize that I will always be dependent on God for help in this area, and that I will probably always depend on others for love and support, as it has been so abundant in First Place 4 Health. * I have realized the important spiritual battle that is going on daily in my life and discovered the biblical plan to overcome strongholds. * I memorize scripture and enjoy it. * Incidentally, I have lost 81 pounds in the last 14 months with First Place 4 Health. * In general, at First Place, among my accountability partners, table members, and other leaders, I feel so unconditionally accepted and loved.

I’d like to quote a quick snip from Love to Eat, Hate to Eat, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, because I think it really encapsulates why First Place is different from Weight Watchers, Atkins, etc. etc.

“My confidence in telling you that you can change is not because I think that I have all the answers. It’s just that I know Someone who does. Sit down, kick your shoes off. Say, “whew, God loves me and with His power, I can change.” Does God want to change you? Yes, of course He does. Don’t settle for some temporary outward change. Rest and rejoice in His promise to you. God has something better for His children; His change is eternal.”