Wednesday, May 25, 2011

In Love With Me

When I was young, I wanted to be a Dallas Cowboy cheerleader. Yet one thing stood between me and the realization of my dream, my weight. My family said I couldn’t help the way I was shaped; all the women on both sides were “big boned” and “hippy”.

Over the years, my love for cheerleading hasn’t waned and if I was truthful, neither has my love for food. In middle school, I tried out for the cheering squad. The coach thought I was good but too “thick” for a uniform. In an attempt to shed my “thickness”, I began to skip breakfast and lunch at school.

I tried out for the high school cheerleading team.  I didn’t make it. Though we did not receive feedback on our tryouts, I assumed I didn’t make the squad for the same reason I didn’t make it that first year of middle school…my weight.  I was determined to lose my thickness. The only way I knew to do this was to simply stop eating.  I didn’t realize my decision had a name or was classified as a disorder. I was already not eating breakfast or lunch on a regular basis and so I simply made the choice to not eat dinner as well.  

This decision would soon alarm my mother who began to comment on my dry skin and dull hair.  Every day I was greeted with, “Did you eat lunch today?”  To avoid lying, I started eating a cookie and a cup of fruit punch for lunch.  I was losing weight but the mirror always said I was fat. My mom began forcing me to eat dinner.  I knew enough not to fight with my mother, so I ate what she placed in front of me.  And bulimia became my friend. It would remain with me throughout high school and part of college.

During my first pregnancy, since I was “no longer eating for one”, I gave myself permission to eat whatever I wanted, as much as I wanted. I soon found myself fifty pounds overweight. I went to the gym. I ate salads. I did everything I could to lose those fifty pounds. Instead of losing them, I added ten more! At this point, I admitted to my husband that I couldn’t do it alone and went to Jenny Craig. I was hopeful, but we were young and penniless so there was no money for me to participate in the program. 

After baby number three and another thirty additional pounds, I made a decision that something must change. I began to read everything I could about nutrition. Coming from a line of great Southern cooks, how food taste is very important to me. But I knew if I wanted a different result, it was time to do some things differently.  I began exercising with Denise Austin on Fit TV and TaeBo tapes twice a day and changing my eating habits. Within four months from the birth of baby number three, I had lost sixty pounds! I looked great.  I felt great.  With twenty pounds to lose, I hit a plateau.

My plateau turned out to be baby number four! After settling into the routine of life with four, I got into strength training and kickboxing.  I loved it so much; I became a kickboxing instructor at a local YMCA in Hampton Roads.  This helped me maintain my weight.  Later I became involved in direct sales, as my business grew, I stopped teaching kickboxing and working out altogether. Before I knew it, ten years had passed and all of the weight I’d lost had return, plus some.

Last year, in 2010, I weighed in at the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. But two significant things caused me to say, no more. 1) My parents are both overweight and using the stairs has become a challenge for them. To the point that we had to move them from their home into a flat so they would no longer have to worry about climbing stairs. I didn’t want that to be me in twenty to thirty years.  2) On a plane ride to Redding, CA, to visit Bethel Church, I struggled to make enough length in my belt to fit comfortably. I looked around the plane and saw people much larger than I and thought, “If I’m having trouble, wow!” While in Redding, Kris Vallotton preached a message entitled, Living from Eternity.  In this message, Kris said, “People who say they hate being fat rarely become thin. “ It was like an arrow in my heart.  He went on to say, “Vision gives pain a purpose.  We become what we behold.  If we always see ourselves as fat, we’ll be fat forever.”

I decided that day in May 2010 that I would be thin. I would be healthy. I would be fit.  I would do it for me. I would do it the right way. I would reward myself with a trip to Ann Taylor when I reached my goal. On June 1, 2010, with more than just a dissatisfaction with where I was, but a vision of a thinner me, I began the process of losing ninety pounds.  Again, I armed myself with nutritional information and began to exercise at home. 

Along the way, I’ve had to break agreement with the lie that I didn’t have any control over my size because of family genetics, that it was too late for me, that I’d always be this way, that I’d never lose the weight, that my metabolism was dead.  I have chosen to agree with the Holy Spirit and His truth about my body and my diet. Food is no longer my comforter. And yes, there are days when I have to choose will I reach for food to comfort me or will I allow the Holy Spirit to fulfill His role and comfort me. 

I’m excited about the transformation in my body.  I’m learning to love whole foods, organic foods and to make dietary choices that are best for me.  People often say, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” I’m not quite sure that I can totally parrot that but I’ve learned to ask myself why are you making this food choice? Is this worth an extra 30 minutes of Jillian Michael’s kicking your butt? Is it worth the extra pound or two it might add to your hips?  Most often the answer is no, but sometimes, I answer yes.

People often ask, “What did you do to lose all that weight?” And I can easily give them a technical answer: I have drastically reduced my simple carbohydrate and refined sugar intake.  I have almost completely eliminated white flour, white sugar, white potatoes and corn (corn based products) from my diet.  I focus on eating grass fed meats, greens, berries, nuts, eggs, and living foods.  I walk three miles a day 4 to 5 times a week and I exercise and strength train for half an hour 5 days a week.” But the real answer is not in the program. The real answer is that I fell in love with me.  Because I love myself, I want to honor my body and the Lord by making the right choices for myself. I’m happy with who I am.  And because of it, I can fulfill the two greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and strength.  Love your neighbor as yourself.”

I’ve found a love that’s greater than life itself. When I look into His eyes, I see acceptance. I see passion. I see love. I see me, the way He sees me.  I am becoming what I am beholding. And that’s the most amazing discovery in my weight loss journey.
©2011 Felicia Murrell YzCounsel Ministries 

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