Over five years ago I embarked on a weight loss journey that led to a loss of over 90 pounds. Part of what made it successful was that I was very public about it. As the pounds shed, I posted a new “favorite” number on Facebook each week and I blogged about the joys and challenges of changing one’s eating habits. I received a lot of encouragement from friends and family, and many tracked my progress by following my blog. I soon discovered, though, that my openness was a double-edged sword as the reality of maintaining my weight loss became an insurmountable task. Sadly, I stopped writing and I withdrew. Of course, to those I encountered on a regular basis, it was obvious that I had gained the weight back, but for me, it was just easier to not talk about it. I was ashamed, not only of the weight gain, but I also realized that I had hinged my worth as a person to my weight loss. When I lost weight, I was a success, but when I gained, I was a failure.
In January 2017 I had a health scare that caused me to take stock of my life and revisit my need to live into the health and wholeness that God desired for me, that others desired for me, and that deep down, I desired for myself. God has blessed me abundantly and given me gifts to be used in ministry, and I want to be able to use those gifts for God’s glory for as many years as possible. After some time of prayer and reflection, in June I attended a seminar at the Bariatric and Metabolic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic and I officially entered the program. Their program is quite thorough; I went through several months of medical and psychological testing as well as nutrition classes.
One of the things I learned is that 95% of the people who lose weight through traditional, non-surgical methods gain the weight back. Yes, 95%! Though I knew that I was not alone in my struggle with my weight, this statistic helped me release the shame of my previous failed attempts. Another thing I learned is that weight loss surgery is a tool – it doesn’t do the work for you, but it aids you in accomplishing the task. I like to think of it this way: consider the task of getting a nail in a wall to hang a picture. You could use the heel of your shoe or you could use a hammer. With either tool you must exert energy, and both will eventually get the nail in the wall, but the hammer is certainly more efficient. For me, considering the amount of weight I need to lose, I determined that weight loss surgery was the best tool to help me accomplish this task.
On February 1, I had gastric bypass surgery. In the months leading up to surgery I lost 27 pounds and since surgery I have lost another 27 pounds, totaling 54. So 54 is my new “favorite” number. Now I recognize that I am once again being public with this information, but I have a different mindset than I did five years ago. My worth as a person is not determined by my weight, but by the very fact that I am created in the image of God, and this same God loves me, claims me and calls me by name. I also share this information openly as a way to invite others to journey with me.
I am very excited and hopeful about this new tool I have been given. I certainly have to do the work and remain committed to following the program if I want to be successful, but I am grateful to God and my medical team for this new lease on life and to my family, friends, and community of faith for their love, prayers and support on this journey.