I was blessed to be born into a large, extended family that enjoys getting together to celebrate special events. Good food is always in abundance and is the center of every family function, whether happy or sad. I learned at a very young age that food makes the happy times better and the sad times more bearable. My father died when I was a child and I learned to hide my pain and sadness with food and candy. This was a pattern that continued throughout my life, and when the pain of being overweight, rejected, and left out became unbearable, I turned to food. I have always struggled with weight, but put on a happy face, and pretended that I didn’t care, that I didn’t hear the comments of the other kids, or didn’t mind being the last one picked for the team. I hid my pain quite well, and focused on helping others instead of myself.
My life took a downward spiral in 2003 when I lost a job of 15 years. This was an extremely devastating time in my life. Suddenly, I found myself unemployed and moved 200 miles away from home to take another job. This loss was followed very closely by the death of my grandfather and then a few months later, the death of my beloved friend. My new job ended with a budget cut, I faced unemployment once again, and went back to college at age 42. When I graduated, I could hardly walk across the stage to receive my diploma. During this time, I coped the only way I knew how: I turned to food to help me through it. As a result, I gained approximately 100 pounds as a way of building a protective layer around my heart so that no one or nothing could hurt me again. I began to suffer severe physical pain and was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and was told that I would end up in a wheelchair. They were right, and before long, I was 428 pounds and depended on a walker or wheel chair to get around. I could no longer participate in life’s activities and was forced to become a spectator while people around me lived their life. I was in intense physical and emotional pain, considering selling my house to live in Assisted Living because I could no longer take care of myself, and was ready to give up. I had to sit on a chair by the sink to wash my dishes or brush my teeth. I could not walk to my mailbox, or go into the drug store to pick up a prescription. I could only shop at stores that had mobility carts, and I went to work dressed in clothing that looked more like a tent than a blouse. I weighed 428 whopping pounds at my heaviest (March 1, 2011)
Then I was blessed with a miracle! After my grandmother died, my sister told me that she was having bariatric surgery, and my doctor informed me that he didn’t know what else he could do for my RA, I decided that I didn’t want to live like this anymore and I decided to change my life. In addition to overeating, I had developed a sugar addiction and was consuming over 2 liters of soda each day. I emptied the bottles into the sink, dumped the sugar bowl in the trash, and began to count calories. I started eating eggs and dry toast or oatmeal for breakfast and replaced my fast-food lunches with a can of low-calorie soup or fruit and yogurt. I began eating pork, chicken or stir fry for dinner with A LOT of vegetables. Soon the pounds were just melting away, all without surgery, diet pills, any specific diet plan, or even exercise until a few months ago due to the immobility. The key for me was finding a plan that I could live with for the rest of my life. I have never once considered this a “diet”, but rather a way of life. People go on and off diets all the time; it’s pretty hard to quit “life”!
Today I am 276 pounds lighter, 14 jean sizes smaller, and no longer need a wheelchair, walker, or cane to get around. My medication requirements have been reduced dramatically, and I no longer live in constant, physical and emotional pain. I am a walking, talking miracle, and have been given a 2nd chance at life with nothing more than a lot of God power and will power! I am a brand new person, have so much energy, and am now a participant in life, rather than just watching it pass me by. I am blessed beyond measure and can’t wait to see what the future holds for me!
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