'All We Like Sheep': God Uses Weight Loss to Take Me to Greener Pasture
Well, I never thought I would say this. In fact, I hesitate to actually write the words, but in fairness, I must be honest with you.
I like exercise.
There, I said it. I can’t believe it and I’m not proud of it, but there it is in black and white. All of the folks at Mercy Weight Management told me this day would come but I didn’t believe them.
To be more specific, I don’t like exercising so much as I love the way I feel afterwards. For the rest of the day and usually well into the next, I feel like I have more energy. I feel somehow more balanced and in control. It makes no sense to the old me.
I have been working out with my trainer once a week doing both strength training and cardio. I walk on the treadmill at home twice a week for extra cardio. Now I am also swimming with the trainer once a week. Swimming is a lot harder than I remember it! While my shape is definitely more hydrodynamic (think orca), I suppose my hair and beard don’t help me slide through the water. In fact, it feels more like a controlled drowning. Anyway, I am doing 250 meters in the pool after my strength training and then again later in the week.
As a result of all this, the most mind-blowing thing occurred last week. I bought exercise equipment for myself. I found that waiting a week to strength train had me itching for it. I needed something for in between. I can go to the gym in between my appointments with the trainer, but my life doesn’t always afford me the time. I picked up a set of dumbbells that stack or nest together to save space. My son came down to my game room to see me using them, then went and got the rest of the family. It blew their mind!
Amazing Changes Come with Losing Even 50 Pounds
When I look back at all the changes over the past 20 weeks or so, it is pretty staggering. When I started OPTIFAST, I was at my heaviest. I had trouble making it through the grocery shopping. I couldn’t go anywhere or do anything without getting worn out. Even regular household chores became huge challenges because I would just get tired and out of breath.
Since then I have been able to take my family on outings – to the Lake Erie islands and a Renaissance festival. Even a simple trip to the mall was a pleasure. I can walk around and take my time without having to look for a bench to rest.
My clothes fit better. I have gone down almost two full sizes in my jeans. I have gone down one size in my shirts. I have even had to drill new holes in my belt because it wouldn’t go small enough!
Along with the personal trainer, I started seeing a counselor as a result of my weight-loss journey. I enjoy having the outlet and being able to vent when I need to; in fact, it has resulted in some things that have removed a great deal of stress from my life.
Now, five months later, I realize I have only lost about 50 pounds. But I went from being miserable (though I wouldn’t admit it then) to being functional. Heck, beyond functional! I’m lifting weights, swimming and walking!
It’s amazing how I beat myself up over the weight because in my overachieving eyes, it doesn’t seem like a tremendous amount of weight. I can’t argue with the facts, though, and the facts are that in five months I have turned my life around. Instead of heading deeper in the hole of being heavy, I am now digging my way out.
I Can Savor Food Once More
Perhaps as a result of my progress, I have been transitioned off the full fast portion of OPTIFAST. That’s right, I get real food again! It was daunting at first. I was given and have been following a 1,500-calorie meal plan. I was really afraid it would kill my weight loss. It seemed like too much! The first day I had a bagel thin – you know, the little thin bagel slices. I chose whole wheat, of course. I put a slice of tomato and a piece of low fat cheese on it, topped with a healthy shot of Tabasco sauce.
It was like heaven! I so enjoyed the crispy toasted bagel. Forget sausage and egg. Low-fat cheese and tomato was about the best combo ever. I had some grapefruit slices along with it and felt like a pig! For lunch, it was about five ounces of chicken, a hard boiled egg, half a cup of steamed cauliflower and an apple. I was so stuffed I needed to wait till later to eat the apple. Dinner was a grilled salmon patty, a cup of brown rice and some steamed veggies.
I know it seems like a meager diet, but to me this is absolutely wonderful. Even better, I lost 2.5 pounds this week! I am easing back into making food choices for myself and I couldn’t be happier. I am still critical of how far I’ve come and how far I have left to go, but there is definitely a sense now of having momentum in the right direction.
God Has Treated Me Like a Sheep, and I'm Grateful
When I think of the chain of events that brought me to Mercy Weight Management and the OPTIFAST program, I am stunned at how lucky I was to arrive there. I truly believe God has a plan for all of us. Very often we spend a good portion of our life trying to figure it out. I believe He worked through the people around me to bring me to this point.
I still am not sure what role the car accident, my neck injury, my struggle with weight, my search for support, and my struggle with friends and family play. We are often told that God never gives us more than we can handle. We are tested, sent through the fire to be made into gold – not for His benefit, but for ours.
You see, man is a stubborn animal. You may have heard the axiom before about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is knowing something. Wisdom is the ability to actually use it. We are stubborn. I know what I was doing wasn’t good for me. I know what I had to do to fix it. I know I should have had more physical exercise.
So, being stubborn, we (okay I) tend to not exercise wisdom when it comes to things. We have to be put in situations that causes us to listen to what we know is right and then change our behavior.
I’m not sure if I shared this before, but one of my favorite lines from the Bible is from Psalm 23:2, “He makes me to lie down in green pastures.”
I hear that and envision a gentle hand placing a lamb in the grass. Few people get the real meaning of the passage. In Biblical times, as in present day anywhere shepherds are present, a shepherd tended the flock of sheep. Sheep tend to move around in a group but there are always a couple that like to wander. The shepherd takes the flock to water and to grass to graze and to safety to sleep, but there is always one or two stupid sheep that insist on running off. If they stayed with the shepherd, they would have all their needs met, but they run off.
Now, when this happens, the shepherd has to go off and try to find this sheep, and bring it back to the flock. After three or four times with the same sheep running off, they do something to remedy the problem. They break the sheep’s leg. It’s uncomfortable for the sheep, but in the long term it heals rather quickly. As a result, the sheep that wanders off now has to work to stay with the group. No more wandering for the troublemaker.
So you see, at least in my interpretation, what that passage is saying is, “God loves you so much that when you act dumb and endanger yourself, he will do whatever it takes so that you stay where he wants you.” No, He doesn’t want to do this; He knows it hurts you. But He also knows that getting eaten by a wolf, or starving, or dying of thirst would be much worse.
I wandered all over the hills of excess and the valleys of self despair. Then, God came along and broke my leg (okay, in my case, it was my neck, but you get the idea.) I was forced to confront my weight loss. I was made to lie down in this awesome green pasture, and I couldn’t be happier about it. If it is the price I had to pay to get here and have my eyes opened, it was worth it.
I will check in with you every so often, just to tell you how I’m doing on my journey. I have a long road ahead but I couldn’t have had a better start. My thanks to the incredible blessing Mercy Weight Management has been to me. To all of the people there I say thank you for giving me a gift that has literally changed my life. I will be forever grateful.