I began my First Place 4 Health journey in 2012. Our church offered a Christ-centered weight loss program as a small group. I thought it was just what I needed. I had tried to lose weight for years. I started my weight loss journey at the age of 12, when I was 103 lbs. A well-meaning family member told me I was putting on some weight. I had tried so many different diets: low fat, no sugar, one food, specific foods on specific days, and low calories. I even tried some diet aids, one of which was like a caramel that you were supposed to eat and then drink a warm glass of water. I ate the whole box. No matter what the diet, the results were similar–no loss at all or a loss followed by a gain. When the Ridge offered a weight-loss program that was faith-based, I signed up. I could lose weight and grow my faith. I did not realize that I had more than just extra physical pounds to lose; I had some emotional and mental weight with which I also had to deal.
There are a few things you need to do when you start a FP4H Bible study:
Physically: Track your food and exercise.
Mentally: Memorize verses.
Emotionally: Come to the meetings.
Spiritually: Do the study; read the Bible.
Although I said I wanted to lose weight and the Bible study was just what I needed, my list of excuses was a recipe for weigh gain, not weight loss.
- I can’t memorize verses.
- I can’t track my food this way.
- I don’t have time to do the study every day.
- I am tired, busy, not done with the study (I can miss this week’s group).
- I did not want others to know my weight, so I can’t weigh-in in front of people.
- I had too many surgeries, so I couldn’t exercise; I had physical limitations.
- I didn’t like to sweat.
- I worked hard all day; I deserve to eat, or to take a break.
- I have a lot of food allergies and I felt deprived of all the things I could not eat, so I ate what I could (and more of it).
I was self-conscious, felt like a failure, and felt like I would never be able to lose the weight. I compared myself to others and always came up short. So, I started in 2012 with little to no real effort, and three books later I had gained some weight. The group disbanded—another surgery and more weight gain. A new group started, again and my list of excuses kept me from being successful. Four more books, more excuses, more weight gain and this group ended up disbanding. There were more surgeries, depression and weigh gain; I did not see any hope. I had what my dad called the PLOMS (Poor little ole me’s). I felt sorry for myself, but I didn’t do anything about it. I did not want to go anywhere or see anyone. I knew people just saw a fat lady; I was sure people were embarrassed to be seen with me. I became a homebody. If I was home, I didn’t have to think about any of this. I could sit and wallow in self-pity. While I was closing myself off, God kept putting it on my heart that I needed to get back to FP4H. I needed the studies, I needed the community, I needed help!
I talked with a couple of people from my church who had been part of the last FP4H group and asked them if they wanted to try again. They also felt the draw to get back in the studies. We connected with others from the group and I somehow became the group leader. When I restarted, I would love to say I started doing everything I needed To do, but old habits are hard to break and some of the mental and emotional weight had yet to be addressed. I did make some small changes and lost a little weight. We took a break for the Christmas holidays and I came back at my highest recorded weight.
In April 2017, as a group we decided to give God a year. We bought the Give God a Year book, by Carole Lewis, and four Bible studies. One of them was Begin with Christand Romans 12:2 was one of the memory verses. This was my changing point.
I felt God was talking to me directly. I read the part about testing God and I was confused because Jesus said to not put God to the test. I realized God said to me to test His good, pleasing and perfect will for me. I needed to stop conforming to the patterns of the world (diets, excuses, junk food, not moving) and renew my mind (learn verses). I learned this verse and it was amazing how this verse showed up at church in another book as a verse for the day… it seemed to be everywhere, reinforcing what I needed to believe. I took my list of excuses and started chipping away at them:
- I can’t memorize verses: I do know some verses and I must work at memorizing more.
- I can’t track my food this way: I need to try to track my food before I decide I can’t. It is easier than any other way I tried. I can make better choices when I know what I have eaten.
- I don’t have time to do the study every day: 15 min. 20 min. 30 min— I have wasted so much more time playing on the computer, watching unenjoyable things, sitting. I can take that time and give it to God first.
- I am tired, busy, (not done with the study) so I can miss this week’s group: The meetings are at my house; it will be hard for me to miss.
- I did not want others to know my weight, so I can’t weigh-in in front of people: I need to be accountable because on my own, I was not doing so good.
- I had too many surgeries, so I couldn’t exercise. I had physical limitations: I do have limitations, but I can walk, and I can ride a stationary bike.
- I didn’t like to sweat: Sweat is an offering to God, and I can take a shower.
- I worked hard all day; I deserve to eat, or to take a break: I deserve to be healthy, I deserve to make good choices, so I can serve Jesus.
- I have a lot of food allergies and I felt deprived of all the things I could not eat so I ate what I could (and more of it): Because an answer in one of the studies, I wrote down whyand chose the word deprivedand then I looked it up. It means suffering; a severe and damaging lack of basic material and cultural benefits. WOW! That blew my excuse out of the water.
I then started to lose some of the mental weight, and emotional weight; then the physical weight started coming off. It was real weight loss, ½ pound. I knew I was not going to gain back what I lost; it was such a clear feeling.
I have the next study in hand before we finish one because I need them to help me grow spiritually. I finally started to recognize all the ways Jesus had been with me sharing the words of truth, hope, and freedom. The Scriptures that entered my heart and mind helped me grow spiritually and this helped me release weight physically, mentally and emotionally.
I never thought I would lose weight; I am close to my wedding weight (one of my goals). I am down 48 physical pounds, and an immeasurable amount of emotional and mental weight. I believe I will reach my next goal and be able to maintain it. I feel so different. I shared with the group: I want to lose weight, so I can lead people to Jesus. I feel truly blessed to answer the question, “How did you lose all that weight?” I can honestly say to Jesus, no pill, no fad diet, the best plan ever—the Word of God.