I’m sharing my personal story because it may help another hurting person. I lived 40 years with a hole in my heart – not a physical hole but a spiritual hole. As an only child to a single mom, I grew up in the beautiful town of Bentonville, Arkansas. Around age 7, I became increasingly overweight. In 3rd grade my teacher made fun of my weight in front of the entire class. It was embarrassing. In 6th grade, a classmate called me “fat” and I was devastated. It was painful and I felt alone and judged. I had very low self-esteem. So at age 11, I began my quest to lose weight. I was determined. In junior high, I would’t eat breakfast, then eat an apple or carrots for lunch, then go home after school and binge on Little Debbie snack cakes because I was so hungry. My diets included counting calories, no sugar, no dairy, no gluten, low-fat, vegetarian and vegan. I tried Weight Watchers and diet pills. If a celebrity was promoting a diet, I did it. Nothing worked.
In my desperation, I turned to bulimia at 16. I wanted to be accepted. I lost 30 pounds. I was finally “accepted” by my classmates, but I was still hurting and terribly insecure inside. My hair was falling out and my menstrual cycle stopped. I had no energy and full of shame. I did countless sit-ups to lose my belly that was still there because I wanted a “flat tummy” like all the girls I saw in Seventeen magazine. I ran 4 miles a day, 4-5 days a week until I was 21 when my hurting knees begged “Please Stop!” It was a lonely, sad time.
I got married at 19. God through my husband’s love helped me end my eating disorder. But I simply transferred my greed to a new eating disorder – my 25-year focus on “healthy eating” and obsessing on the nutritional content of the food. It was just a different prison cell.
My obsession with exercise continued through my relationships with Richard Simmons and Jane Fonda. I did countless Jazzercise and step aerobics classes and Tae Bo with Billy Blanks. I played hours of VHS exercise tapes with my “instructor friends” Kathy Smith and Denise Austin. In the 1990’s I turned to Pilates, yoga, weight lifting and power walking. I tried every diet program Oprah promoted.
I bought every exercise gadget advertised on the home shopping networks hoping the next great idea would be THE answer. I spent thousands of dollars on gym memberships and home fitness equipment including treadmills, elliptical machines and a Total Gym because I wanted to be thin and “happy” like Christie Brinkley. I also tried liposuctioning my belly roll. Even that was a failure.
With every pregnancy, there was more weight to worry about losing. When I was pregnant with my second child I saw this photo of my little family on a hayride. I didn’t recognize myself. I was so appalled at my weight gain that for the remainder of that pregnancy I only ate plain tuna fish and green beans – both out of a can. With every new baby, I followed another new diet.
I had bookcases full of “healthy” cookbooks that I read more than the Bible. After using my low-carb Marilu Henner & Suzanne Somers’ cookbooks for meal planning, my husband protested our last “healthy Thanksgiving”. Because real sugar was banned, I made tasteless side dishes and sugar-free pumpkin cheesecake (above), and then undercooked the turkey because I was a vegetarian and didn’t know how to cook meat.
I even tried to “Eat Like a Dinosaur” with the Paleo diet while being a vegetarian which is almost comical since there was close to nothing I could eat. Our family even tried The Blood Type Diet. We have 4 different blood types which meant I had to cook four different meals. Then one day I realized Adam and Eve did not take blood tests, and did I really think oranges and avocados were going to “poison” my type O negative blood? I was so desperate for good nutrition that I tried to supplement all the vitamins one website said I needed to be taking. I seriously wondered how I was going to fit that $200/month expense into our budget?
In 2009, God in His mercy and patience sent two beautiful angels into my life – Miley Barcus and Lisa Peters through the Nashville Chocolate Kitchen. I could not fathom how these joy-filled women worked with chocolate every day, ate regular foods and stayed thin and not stressed out and fat like I was at the time. When I asked how they did it, they shared with me the hope of Weigh Down. I bought a few books and materials and took a Weigh Down Basics online class, but I wasn’t ready to give up my beliefs in “healthy” eating.
So I quickly abandoned Weigh Down because the enemy doesn’t want anyone to find Truth and be set free. One of my very last diets was an 80% raw food plan that required spending an hour every day peeling and juicing giant carrots, then more time washing the juicer to make the 6-8 glasses of carrot juice. I chugged those daily along with eating enormous salads. No wonder I developed ulcerative colitis and was bedridden for 3 months and almost died. I then spent 3 more years searching for the Truth that I had already found back in 2009.
In 2012 I was at my all-time lowest point spiritually. I was angry at everyone around me. My marriage was not happy. I was depressed and withdrew from everyone. I only wanted to focus on myself and what made me happy. But I wasn’t happy. I was having panic attacks. My heart became hardened. I returned to my eating disorder I had laid down 25 years prior. My life was out of control. It was a spirit of darkness. I felt no hope. I didn’t care. It was a dangerous place for the enemy to work in my heart.
After a few months of this misery, I heard God’s voice in my heart. He told me, “He deserved better from me. My husband deserved better from me. My three children deserved better from me.” Then God gave me a verse that I continue to hear daily in my mind, “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Proverbs 14:1.
I knew I had to change. I knew I MUST change.Then God brought to my mind the teachings of Weigh Down and Gwen Shamblin. In my heart of hearts, I knew Weigh Down works! I searched my closet for my Weigh Down books and materials and discovered a book I had not read. It was Rise Above by Gwen Shamblin. That book changed everything.
I realized the problem wasn’t everyone else. The problem was me. Through God, I started working on my own heart, my own greed, lusts, anger, pride, selfishness and more. Suddenly, my marriage improved. I started not only liking my husband again but being totally in love with him. As I became a more loving mother, my kids started being obedient. I learned to forgive again. I was released from the web of anger that I allowed to control my life. My depression lifted. My anger turned to joy. My anxiety turned to peace. My hardened heart softened. Layers of pain started peeling off.
The most important Truth I learned through Weigh Down about losing weight or overcoming any stronghold is that it IS a spiritual battle. We are NOT victims. The enemy wants us so absorbed in self and fear that we are no good for anyone else, especially for the purposes God has planned for our lives. We cannot overcome with our own strength, however. Gwen Shamblin teaches that our loving God wants us to turn to Him, not a created thing, not a person and not a feeling. Just like you plug in your phone every day, you have to plug into God every day, every hour. I also learned that our generous God gave us a variety of foods to enjoy because He’s a good God, but food cannot be our focus or our fix. It’s just fuel, not to stress over, but to give us energy to work for our families and His Kingdom.
All of those wasted years of time and money the enemy had me focused on myself and how I looked. I spent years in confusion searching for the answers on how to lose weight and be “healthy.” Other diets only offered temporary fixes. I tried all of them. Weigh Down is the ONLY solution for permanent weight loss because it addresses how to deal with the human emotion, life’s heartaches and hurdles by finding your connection with God – the reason we all exist. Weigh Down’s central message, “You fall in love with what you focus on” was revolutionary to me. I learned that satan wanted me to be food-focused, inhaling my food fast or binge. If I don’t feel peace when I’m eating, in a panic, rushed on anything for that matter, then I’m not waiting on God. This is true for any idol focus that is not Godly or His plan for my life. I was given life to serve God’s agenda, not my own, not caught up in idols. It’s arrogant for me to think otherwise.
To my surprise following Weigh Down, I lost 20 pounds in 3 months without dieting, without bulimia, without arduous exercise! I could eat any variety of foods within hunger and fullness. I could eat chocolate again. I could eat pizza without peeling off the “fatty” cheese. I stopped my giant salad binges. Food is no longer a pull. I can have a full refrigerator and pantry and not feel the need to eat when I am not hungry. I listen to God’s internal controls of hunger and fullness and what my body is calling for to eat. I thought I would never lose the excess weight after my 5 full-term pregnancies which included losing two babies at birth to brittle bone disease. God never gave up on me.
So back to where I first started, if you are just trying to find the answer on how to lose weight, please trust me because I have literally tried it all.You don’t have to keep searching. Weigh Down works! It is THE answer to a whole new life free from dieting.
I can’t believe I’m going to be 50 this year! I feel great, I have a beautiful marriage and I weigh less than I did when Chuck and I got married 30 years ago! No more dieting. No more over-exercising. No more bulimia. No more anxiety about parties or holiday eating occasions. No more worrying about gaining my weight back. No more obsessing about “me”.
Gwen Shamblin through Weigh Down taught me how to get over myself and focus on God’s will for my life. All those wasted years of worry because I wanted acceptance. I am free from the prison of self-focus! When you turn to God for your hurting heart, instead of another person, thing, entertainment or worldly ways, you will discover true joy and peace. It’s truly a beautiful place to be!