I’ve Lost a Super Model and Then Some!

During my weight loss journey, I have often searched for comparisons to the amount of weight I’ve shed. For example, 20 pounds equals an automobile tire; 90 pounds equals a newborn calf; 118 pounds equals an entire set of Encyclopedia Britannica. Wow! Does that bring back memories? Who has a set of encyclopedias anymore?!?

One thing struck me, however, as I reviewed the chart: 117 pounds equals the average supermodel (and she’s 5’ 11”!). I’ve lost a whole person – albeit a very thin person – but I have lost a whole person and then some! The last two weeks I have shed just one pound each week and this week I’ve shed two, bringing my total to 125. Yes, I have shed 125 pounds! It seems rather hard to fathom.

This week also marked the 6-month anniversary of my surgery. I didn’t take measurements before starting the process, but on my 2-month anniversary (April 1) I began measuring my waist, hips, bust, thigh, calf and upper arms. In the last four months, I have lost 40 inches! I can’t even begin to imagine the total number of inches I’ve lost since I entered the bariatric program last July.

Last week I finally started going through my closets to get rid of my “fat” (or “fatter”) clothes. Starting with blazers, jackets and outerwear, I purposely tried on each item and stood in front of the mirror so I could get a visual. It was quite emotional as I literally wrapped some of the jackets around me. I’m still processing and unpacking some of that emotion – perhaps that will be the subject of a future blog post – but those visuals certainly keep me motivated.

On this journey toward health and wholeness, I am recognizing that the transformation is both inward and outward and that I am in a process of living into all that God has created and called me to be. I want to lose another 45 pounds by January 2019 when I travel to Liberia on a mission trip. The program is called Farmer to Farmer and it is a mission of the East Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church. Farmer to Farmer partners with the United Methodist Church in Harrisburg, Liberia to teach sustainable farming, as well as support a sewing school and preschool. They are also working to build an Ag Tech school. Traveling to Africa has always been a dream of mine and this trip will allow me to share the gospel and use my teaching skills to make a difference in the lives of others. It will also aid in broadening my understanding of humanity and global situations through a theological lens.

I appreciate your prayers for me over the last several months and I ask for your continued prayers as our mission team is gathered and begins preparation for the trip.

Should you wish to support my trip beyond prayers, here is a link to One Mission, a marketplace website that allows one to purchase with a purpose or make a donation.

I am grateful for all the support I’ve received from so many people over the last six months. I cannot wait to see what the next six months hold.

Until next time, peace …

125 ribbon6 month post-op, 8-3-186 month post-op side, 8-3-18

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There is Success in Routine

John Maxwell once said, “You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” I firmly believe there is success in routine. After a month of (good!) craziness that disrupted my daily exercise and eating, I’ve been back in my regular routine for almost two weeks and it’s been wonderful! I spent 7 hours and 45 minutes exercising in the pool this week which was glorious! And it has paid off. For the last four weeks I have shed two pounds each week – certainly nothing to balk at! – but this week I shed six pounds, bringing my total to 121. Yippee!celebrate

For those who have been following my Psalm memorization, yes, this means I bypassed Psalm 119. Another reason to rejoice! Not that it’s a bad psalm, but 176 verses are a tad much to memorize, don’t you think?!

This week’s weight loss also brings me to another milestone. I am at my lowest weight in 25 years – my college graduation weight. I went searching through pictures today and was only able to find one from my college graduation. It’s not the best picture of me (quite honestly, I look constipated!), but I created a side-by-side for comparison. I have about 20 pounds to go to get to my high school graduation weight.

As I continue the journey I recognize that “my help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121: 2).

          Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills—
from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved;
he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper;
the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil;
he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep
your going out and your coming in
from this time on and forevermore.

25 years, college graduation, then and now

Until next time, peace …

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No News is Good News

They (whoever “they” are) say that no news is good news and, for me and this journey, that is basically true. It’s been four weeks since I have posted updates about my weight loss. The month of June was CRAZY! There was Licensing School and its follow up at the beginning of the month. Then there was a week at Annual Conference. And last week I was on a mission trip in Indianapolis with 52 youth and adults from the Firelands District. To say that June was busy is an understatement! All of that “busy”ness and time away can cause challenges with eating and exercise. I missed my time in the pool, but all things considered, I fared pretty well. I continued to shed weight throughout the month bringing my new favorite number to 115 as of this morning’s weigh-in!

The biggest challenge in June, though, was trying to fulfill my commitment to memorize a Psalm each week. It started out well, but I didn’t make it the last three weeks. I take consolation in the fact that even though I didn’t memorize Psalms 107, 109, 111 and 113, I did spend time reading and reflecting on them, knowing that “the Lord is gracious and merciful” (Psalm 111:4a).

So this week I will “get back on the wagon” with this discipline and memorize Psalm 115: 1 – 9 (not all 18 verses).

Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
    for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
Why should the nations say,
    “Where is their God?”

Our God is in the heavens;
    he does whatever he pleases.
Their idols are silver and gold,
    the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak;
    eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear;
    noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel;
    feet, but do not walk;
    they make no sound in their throats.
Those who make them are like them;
    so are all who trust in them.

O Israel, trust in the Lord!
    He is their help and their shield.

The pictures below, taken a few days ago, show my five-month post-op progress.

Until next time, peace …

5 month post-op, 7-3-185 month post-op side, 7-3-18

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Moving in the Right Direction

After last week’s brief stall, I am pleased to report that I shed 4 pounds this week, bringing my total to 107 (27 before surgery, 80 since surgery February 1).

Following my resolve to memorize Psalms based on my current “favorite number,” this week my focus will be Psalm 107. As I read through this and surrounding psalms, I began to wonder if this was the best decision. Quite honestly, I wish I had lost 5 pounds this week because Psalm 108 has only 13 verses. Psalm 107, however, has 43! Eek! I know that I cannot realistically memorize all those verses in the next several days, especially since I have Annual Conference this week. (For my non-United Methodist friends, Annual Conference is a time when clergy and lay leadership from local congregations in our region gather for several days of worship, celebrations of ministry, and to tend to the business of the church). So I am going to memorize the first stanza of Psalm 107 – nine verses. That’s certainly manageable.

I continue to give thanks to God for renewed health and energy, and for God’s grace, mercy and steadfast love in all things.

Until next time, peace …

Psalm 107: 1 – 9

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
    those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
    from the east and from the west,
    from the north and from the south.

Some wandered in desert wastes,
    finding no way to an inhabited town;
hungry and thirsty,
    their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress;
he led them by a straight way,
    until they reached an inhabited town.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wonderful works to humankind.
For he satisfies the thirsty,
    and the hungry he fills with good things.

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No Loss, No Gain

So this is the first week since my surgery on February 1 that I did not lose any weight. The good news is that I didn’t gain any weight either! So, as of Friday, June 1, my weight loss remains at 103 pounds. Still not too shabby for four months post op!

Last week was no ordinary week for me. I have the privilege of serving as the Dean of the East Ohio Conference UMC Clergy Licensing School and our school was in session at the University of Mount Union last week. Our schedule during Licensing School is pretty intense with our days starting at 7:00 a.m. and not ending until after 9:00 p.m. It was a great week with a wonderful new class of gifted clergy! Of course, being away, though, my routine was altered. I didn’t get to the pool and the menu for the week was not completely within my control. The food at Mount Union is always very good, but I needed to supplement with protein bars and shakes. And admittedly, I snacked a bit more on protein bars (particularly late at night to stay awake!) than I probably should have. All in all, though, I think I did pretty well.

Another positive aspect of staying at 103 pounds is that it gave me more time to memorize Psalm 103. During the busy week I didn’t have as much time to devote to that discipline as I had planned.

I am back at the pool this week and anticipate a new “favorite number” on Friday.

Until then, peace …

100 pound ribbon

Wearing the 100-pound ribbon given to my by my dear friend, Elizabeth

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Singing Praises

Over the last week as I anticipated hitting the 100-pound mark on this weight loss journey, I’ve been meditating on Psalm 100. It is a psalm I memorized as a child in Bible Club and I found myself reciting it again and again in the last several days (in the King James Version I learned, of course!).

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

This Spring I led a short-term Disciple class on the Psalms at my church, so the psalms have been a focus in recent weeks. One of my personal take-aways from the class was that I need to memorize more psalms. Over the last few days as I reflected on ways to mark my potential 100-pound loss, I decided that each week I will memorize the psalm that correlates with my current weight loss until I get to 150 pounds. Now those who are familiar with scripture may wonder what I will do if there is a weekly weigh-in that reveals my weight loss as 119 pounds! That would be quite an undertaking as there are 176 verses in that psalm! But I am committed to memorizing the psalms and I’ll take it as it comes … and maybe pray that my weekly weigh-ins go from 118 to 120!

So this coming week I am memorizing Psalm 103 (from the New Revised Standard Version instead of King James now).

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust.

15 As for mortals, their days are like grass;
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.

19 The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
obedient to his spoken word.
21 Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
his ministers that do his will.
22 Bless the Lord, all his works,
in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.

This psalm is a thanksgiving for God’s goodness and I am indeed singing praises that my weight loss total is now 103!

Until next time, peace …

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Ninety-nine and Counting …

The title says it all. As of my official weigh-in on Friday, my new favorite number is 99. It’s a bit surreal, quite honestly. When I stepped onto the scale on Friday morning, I knew I would be close to the 100-pound mark, but I was actually somewhat relieved that it wasn’t 100. I wasn’t quite ready for that, emotionally anyway. I’m doing a lot of reflection and introspection this week to give my emotions some time to catch up with my body.

I continue to work at my water exercise regimen with both cardio and strength training most mornings. Last week I was in the pool six days! I love the water! I want to go every day and I am generally awake and ready before the alarm goes off. It seems so odd for me to say that. Until a few months ago, I was not a morning person; the snooze button and I were very good friends! But I am committed to health and wholeness and I am amazed at the transformation that is taking place. My medical team was quite pleased with my progress, too, when I went to my 3-month post-op appointment on May 8.

Each day I log my workouts on my fitbit app and at the end of the week I get a report. The report for last week said, “You worked out 7 hours, 37 minutes this week.” I held my phone in my hand, dumbfounded. Who IS this person?!?!

So I am preparing for the century mark. I haven’t quite decided how I will celebrate. I plan to create a mosaic piece of art to mark this milestone. I thought about making a list of 100 things for which I am grateful, but that seems tedious. And I will surely do another picture with 100 pounds of something; I’m just not sure yet what that will be. I am open to suggestions, dear blog readers. Leave a comment or e-mail me your thoughts.

Ninety-nine and counting … Until next time, peace …

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