Pretty much all my life I was overweight. As a child I was pudgy, but as I grew older my eating habits became worse and worse. My eating habits were just about as bad as they could be. I could (and did) eat a whole pizza by myself without a second thought several times a week. I would snack throughout the day and drink at least one full two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola every day. And exercise was virtually non-existent in my routine.
I was miserable.
People who haven’t been overweight can’t understand the self-consciousness of people who are. I thought continually about how bad I looked. I hated mirrors. I hated shopping for clothes. And when I was around people, all I could think about was how they perceived my looks.
What I hated more than anything else was the fact that I couldn’t change. I would try to start diets but would very quickly fail. I would muster up all kinds of will power, but no matter what diet plan or exercise routine I started, I always ended feeling more helpless and disgraced than before. I knew that the way I was acting was sinful. But no matter how many times I cried out for God to change me, nothing seemed to happen.
I can’t pinpoint one moment of illumination where I began my change, but God began to change something inside of me shortly after college. I joined a gym and began to slowly change the kinds of things that I ate. I substituted a few pieces of chicken and some corn in place of pizza. I started drinking orange juice instead of Coke. But it was the exercise that jump-started my long, slow journey of weight loss.
It took months before I saw any change, but soon some of my friends were noticing. You have no idea what it feels like to have someone notice that you’ve lost weight and tell you. To a person who has been overweight their entire life it’s like having a burden lifted (literally and metaphorically).
Over the course of about two years I lost over 130 pounds. During that time I never once used a weight loss product, and I never saw a doctor. It took months and months of getting up early in the morning five or six days a week and working out at the gym. And it took me changing a lot in my diet. But today I am in a normal weight range.
Don’t get me wrong. I struggle to this day to maintain my weight. I go to the gym at least four times a week, and I still don’t eat completely like I should, but I can’t adequately explain to you how different my life is now than it was a few years ago.
I certainly don’t write to brag. I told you how many times I failed, and I would have continued to fail had God not changed my thinking. I watch stories about people who have dramatic surgeries (sometimes with life-threatening results) in order to lose the same amount of weight that I did. Everyone is different, but I believe that when God affects change in us there is no addiction—be it drugs, alcohol or food—that we cannot overcome.
To those of you who struggle with your weight, I plead with you not to give up faith that God can help you. But His help does not often come in the way of an instant cure; He moves in us over time and changes us slowly. But in the end, when you look back at what He’s brought you through, you’ll see His hand guiding every step of the long process.