Jan 16, 2022 08:00am
Losing Weight But Gaining Strength

For the first time in forever, my New Year’s resolution for 2022 resolution was not weight loss. Over the last two years, I have lost 80 pounds, and my doctor and I feel comfortable with my current weight of 170. That may still seem heavy to you, but at age 74, I need a little meat on my big bones to keep this old face of mine from the facial wrinkles that age me even more!

My highest recorded weight was 249.8 in December of 2019 just before Covid hit, and I probably weighted more than that during those stay-at-home days, but I didn’t want to see the number on the scales. After returning to work, I began watching what I ate and lost a few pounds, but until I retired in November 2020, I was never serious about it. What was it about retirement that caused me to say, “It’s now or never”?

Well, it’s not like I hadn’t dieted before . . . Overeaters Anonymous, Christian-based diets like The Weigh Down Workshop, a supervised program called Medifast, during which I lost 70 pounds then promptly gained them back and more! 

So what was different this time?

At my age and after a lifetime of struggle, I had to make life changes now or I never would, and it had to be something I could live with

So I came up with my own eight-part plan that finally worked:

• Counting calories. I stayed within 1,500 calories a day (350 for each meal, a 200- calorie morning snack, a 150-calorie afternoon snack and a 100-calorie evening snack). Your plan may be different, and that’s perfectly fine, but you must have one because “to fail to plan is to plan to fail.”

• Writing everything down. I came up with a form I filled out every day. I wrote down everything I ate and calculated the calories for each food and serving. (You can easily find that information with an internet search.)

• Giving myself some leeway. Did I occasionally go over my calorie count? Of course. There were even a few days I allowed myself a day off from filling out the form, like holidays and special events, but then I went right back on the plan the next day. 

I also allowed myself one bite of whatever I craved no more than once or twice a day. If I only took that one bite, I didn’t write it down; but if I ate more than one, I had to count it. It was a rare but special treat for myself. 

• Pumping up the exercise. I’m an older woman with a bad knee and shoulder, so I didn’t train for a marathon, but I did work some extra “moves” into my day. I looked up exercises to do sitting in a chair, came up with a routine, and added them to my calorie sheet to work twice a day. Walking outside is the best exercise, but equipment is the next best thing. I’ve had a stationary bike and treadmill for years, which I looked at every day, but that’s about all I did! So I started slow (five minutes at a time) and worked up to a longer routine. Listening to music and watching TV helped the time pass, and I especially liked watching a movie on DVD while exercising . . . it was a great incentive!

• Finding a diet buddy — Mine was Celia Broom, whom I met on a medical missions trip to Ghana where she served as a missionary. Accountability looks like this for us: We check our weight and log it on the first and fifteenth of the month. When we’re having a rough day (dieting or otherwise) we encourage each other to keep going, point each other to God, and remind each other that He’s “got this!” It’s obviously God who changes our hearts, because we’re never down or discouraged on the same day, and we praise Him for that.

• Making sure everything in your closet fits. At the beginning of my diet plan, I tried on all the clothes in my closet and kept what fit, donating the few that were too big. I kept some of them that were too small and put them in boxes labeled “try on at 220”, try on at 200”, etc. As I got to those weights, I tried on the boxed-up clothes to determine if they were keepers or throwaways. Trying on that last box of clothes when I reached my goal weight was a feeling I’ll never forget!

•  Including God in your plan. I confessed to God my emotional and binge eating plus the sin of running to food instead of Him for comfort and peace. I gave Him my food issues, which were a substitute for Him, and said, “Lord, I’m doing it again. So take charge of my food consumption for the day.” God doesn’t want the food, of course, but I know He wants me put it in his hands. Failing to allow God to partner with me in the past was my downfall.

• Knowing that the struggle isn’t over after weight loss. I had tried many diets in the past, but the weight came back. Now I eat sensibly and weigh regularly. If the scales show 175, I return to the plan that worked, likely because I created it. Of course, I still have bad habits to break, like my drug of choice, Diet Dr. Pepper, which I need to exchange for water instead. I’m still a work in progress!

Long ago, God changed my life through His salvation and my acceptance of the grace He freely gives through His Son Jesus. He has never left my side even when I’ve left Him, and He never will. I don’t have a magic solution for “the battle of the bulge,” but I do have a Savior who promises to help in life’s valleys. It won’t be easy and it won’t be overnight, but be patient, persistent, and prayerful and you’ll reach your goal!

“Whatsoever your hand finds to do (including losing weight), do it with all thy might . . . ” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

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