Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Journey to Health Part 1~

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I'm saying goodbye to 200's!!  What does that mean? Well, normally a girl wouldn't share her weight but when she just looses 75 pounds and finally gets to no longer say she weighs 200 then she tells!!  And this is my story......

Truth is I have always struggled with a lack of confidence. I have had low self esteem and battled with depression. I have always hated the way I look and just never seemed to care about my image. As the years passed my image reflected those thoughts. Not entirely, as I do believe true beauty comes deep within which is something I strive for and long for. But I also witness on more occasions than I could count of people going on a diet to change this or that about them only to witness them land right back where they were before they started. I myself have tried varies things occasionally but half heartedly as well. Mainly, I would do it for reasons that weren't concrete which landed me right back at square one. I was extremely active with the children when the were young; by the time we played, did chores, errands etc.etc. I was tired. I believed I was living sacrificially by putting myself last. I didn't have time to take care of me or my needs, my kids were the utmost importance. I believed that lie and many other lies such as:
I believed  when I hurt my back I was truly unable to do anything about myself.
I believed the lie that image equated to dieting.
I believed I wasn't worth looking good and Mike loved me unconditionally.
I believed that I ate healthy and was active so it didn't matter.
I believed I wouldn't get heavier than what I really was.
I believed LIES.  Because of the lack of knowledge or I should say the lack of interest to learn about a healthy lifestyle I did what I always did when  overwhelmed, and that was avoided the topic and the situation.

     On May 5th, 2015 I was rushed to the ER, after visiting one of my pain management doctors  with extreme high blood pressure. In fact, I was there for a scheduled pain injection, but they couldn't administer the injection because my blood pressure was 200/122.  The doctor went to call the ambulance but I begged him to let my husband, who was waiting in the waiting room,  just drive me since it was within 10 minutes from where his office was. He compromised only after calling the hospital to warn them I was coming, and making my husband promise him he would deliver me to the hospital. OF course Mike was scared for me and he did exactly that.  That afternoon  I was rushed to the ER.  Upon arriving I was whisked back to a room immediately and administered IV's and all of these things. IT was happening so fast! I had several nurses and two doctors working on me. My blood pressure was 217/148. They couldn't believe that I had not had a stroke.  When I saw the look of fear in their professional, medical faces I became scared. I even made a joke to try and lessen what really was happening that the quickest way through triage is high blood pressure. I didn't even have to wait in the waiting room.  I think we can learn to simply overlook something if it makes us unhappy. We can be blinded by things that can hurt us, never having a desire to change because it seems the easier thing to do is to look away.  Our emotions can be so deeply rooted that we aren't aware of their roots or how they effect us. When the doctors said I would need to go on blood pressure medicine I literally cried. I didn't want to have conditions I would need to treat daily with medicine. When my mom died, and we started cleaning up her bedroom, we nearly took a garbage bag of medicine to the police department to expose of them! I have had that image, along with other family members mistreating or abusing drugs and I just never wanted to walk down this path.  I begged the doctor to let me try and fix my blood pressure by changing my diet and exercise regimen.  I tried to reason with him (like I knew and He didn't) that I had high blood pressure probably because of the chronic back pain I suffered daily. At this point I was several years into herniated discs in my lower back & sciatica down my right leg. In addition, I was having heart palpitation and dizzy spells but I couldn't tell the doctor that!! The doctor wasn't convinced. HE explained the blood pressure and pain is like a cycle, yes pain causes the high blood pressure but high blood pressure can keep me from healing properly due to the improper blood flow. That evening was the beginning of a wake up call for me. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to change me quite yet. It scared me and I did make some changes, and I DID START taking the stupid pills.  I believe we often need several things to happen in our lives to really shed the blinders from our eyes. I continued to see the pain management doctor once I got my blood pressure under control but then we moved. Before we moved to Tennessee I barely could walk. Often times I would need one of my sons, or both of them, or my husband to help me get to where I needed to go. I couldn't bend my back, lift my legs and many days I cried out in pain. I herniated my first disc back in 1999 and required surgery. When I herniated another disc in November of 2011, I never had peace about having the surgery this time around. I truly believed God was going to heal my back and I needed to wait on him. In the meanwhile, I herniated another disc possibly a second. I never had those medically diagnosed which would have required an MRI, but I recognized the pain all too well!! I KNEW! In the course of the 4.5 years while in Nebraska I got three different opinions all suggesting surgery. One doctor said if I didn't have the surgery I would risk becoming paralyzed. I was debilitated most days with the excruciating pain. I walked with a limp due to the sciatica in my leg.  The doctor was concerned about nerve damage. My pain management doctor, prior to looking at my MRI said that he didn't usually recommend surgery that often times given time and proper exercise the disc and realign itself. After looking at the MRI and himself, recommended surgery but agreed to do the injection so long as they worked for the first year. My first injection lasted 6 weeks. It never took the pain away entirely, but minimized it to where I could at least function. The second one lasted 2 weeks, and the third one was a double shot that sustained me until I moved.  The shots helped some but never completely and only for a short time prior to the next shot. Because the shots weren't helping like the doctor thought, he then suggested the surgery once again. I explained to him I was moving and would seek treatment once I moved. I  needed to find a different method of helping me through this time.
    I found a doctor who didn't believe in surgeries but all he did is over medicate. Once again I was on two different times of medicine. One to help the pain and one to help with the sciatica.  I was discouraged because I had been on different times of pain medicine for 4 years now. I started taking prescription narcotics but hated how I felt on them. So I compromised with prescription pain meds. I also found an acupuncturist and started with acupuncture treatment for awhile.  By this time I had done physical therapy, acupuncture, pain management (shot injections) and several doctors later. People would ask if I had seen a chiropractor but that practice was completely out of the question. When I had my first herniated disc I had a traumatic experience with a chiropractor and so I wrote that off as any option for treatment.  I continued to pray for God's healing. I was so blessed on days I could move. I believed that what we pray for, God will answer to those who remain in him and in HIS perfect timing. However, our answers may not look like His answers or to the extent of what we ask for them to be given to us either. God is a sovereign God, so I knew that by praying for a healing the answer may just come in the form of having the strength to live every day in the amount of pain I endured. I also would tell others that when I died and went to heaven I was going to leap, jump, do backbends and dance before the Lord!!  Oh to have no more pain and suffering!! One of the many times during my acupuncture treatment I remember laying there after the acupuncturist had left the room. It was dark, quite, and it was relaxing. As I lay there quietly I whispered to the Lord and asked him how much longer I would need to endure such pain? My prayer during that time was to have strength to be a light even in the pain. I wanted desperately for others to see Jesus in me and trust that if he was walking me through this I was not alone. As I asked the question I waited. and waited... and then in a still small voice I heard God whisper to my spirit that HE was the ULTIMATE PHYSICAN.  Tears streamed down my face because in that moment I had the peace I needed to walk this journey. I knew God was calling me to trust him and wait for his timing and I knew in faith that he would heal my back!

         In September of 2016, I had went away on a girls weekend trip to one of the cabins in Gatlinburg. We had an amazing time and it was much needed. Afterwards, I looked at one of the pictures that was taken and for the first time my eyes were opened to how heavy I had become. I think it also had to do with how inspired I was with one of my friends that was with us that weekend who had just lost a ton of weight herself and was checking off her list of goals she wanted to achieve. I was so inspired by her! I hated the way I looked, I hated that I didn't care or pretended to care, I hated that I felt ugly and unattractive and I focused on the outward beauty of everything I wasn't. Every flaw I have and just everything I hate about myself. I really beat myself up for a few days. And then I decided to weigh myself!

     I really never got into a practice of weighing myself. I guess I didn't really 'notice' how heavy I had become. I knew I was heavy and I didn't want some number to tell me just how heavy I was. SO I avoided it!!  When I got on that scale I weighed 275 pounds,  almost 300 pounds!!! I starred at the scale for a long time hoping it would move. How could I have let myself get this way? I blamed the back pain, I blamed how ugly I was and the attitude of not caring, I blamed it on my lack of sleep, my inconsistent eating habits, my medicine, anything I could think of. I think the tears came quicker than I anticipated. I didn't know it then but that day was my break through. I was so sad that I looked the way I did. I was so mad that I pretended to not care when in fact it was embarrassing to look this way I didn't have the discipline, support or encouragement to change so I didn't. I was angry that I could have such low confidence and such low self esteem that I would just ignore this. I was ashamed, I felt guilty, I felt heartbroken. I never meant to get this heavy! I really didn't even know what to do. Anytime I think back to a change that could have brought some confidence, I think back to something I have never shared with a single soul. I think of my teeth. I have very bad teeth. They are crooked, stained and I have a huge overbite. We grew up very poor and so my mom couldn't afford to get braces for me. But one day I remember her telling me that if I would behave and be good that she was going to take me and see if she could work out an arrangement to pay for braces herself. I was so hopeful, so excited. I hated that everyone looked at me and wondered why my teeth were the way there were. I hated that I had no control to fix them. I hated that they didn't look as nice as every other persons teeth. I never felt worthy enough to have something fixed on me that was imperfect. We went to the doctor and I just always remember how embarrassing it would be when I would open my mouth and the look on faces when they would see my mouth. It mortified me. They took a mold of my teeth and explained to my mom the procedure and what it would look like to get the braces. She agreed to it and I was to come back to get my braces in a few weeks. I couldn't believe it. I would look in the mirror and just imagine being able to smile with straight teeth. I was so filled with hope and wonder, I counted down the days for that appointment. The day came and my mom and I had gotten into a big fight. We fought a lot so this wasn't anything out of the unusual. The words she said that day destroyed my self esteem.  I was heartbroken. I was deemed unworthy of having something fixed on me to make me look better. What was the point? I believed I was ugly anyways so I had to pretend it didn't bother me and I pushed it down.  I did not get braces that day or any day. In fact when I became an adult, I had kids at a young age so every time they needed something, our money went towards them and that was where the lie grew that I had to take care of them and not selfishly take away from the kids. We never could afford it, in fact I finally got the courage to go to an orthodontist as an adult to see the course of action. The ortho looked at my mouth and gasped out loud and said my teeth were AWFUL! IT would need to take a miracle to fix them. I believed I was not worth that. And I never went back! The guilt came when I started having back trouble and the money that needed to be spent on that. I believed that the money I could have used to fix my teeth was the money I had to spend to make myself better. Oh the lies we believe and still believe!!

     Laying there that night I thought of the changes in my past and how changes in my life were more like let downs in my life, more negative than they were positive. How was I going to make a change and it be beneficial and lasting verses some next diet and not lasting. How could I really make a difference? That day I realized how much I did care, how much shame I had, How I longed to radiate Christ love but how I hated how ugly I was or how ugly I felt. How could I radiate Christ when I didn't even love myself!?? I cried!  I was depressed for several days. I knew I needed to do something but didn't know how? I still was in a great deal of pain and didn't have much of an active life.
     Several months passed, I did what I always did and I just avoided it! I knew I was sad, I knew I was depressed but I think it really came down to did I think I was worth it? I didn't want to face the hard reality of that answer! Like I said several months passed and I started thinking about what I would be fasting for the January. The last few years I give something up for the month of January as a way of tithing the first part of the year back to the Lord.  I was trying to consider what would work. In light of what I had just gone through I felt the best thing I could give up was sugar. I wanted to see what difference it would have on my body, and I needed something that would really help me lean into the Lord. During this time, the boys had revealed they were ready to move out so I felt I was losing my boys. Mike had started working on the road which was the first time our marriage had been apart like this. I felt abandoned, unworthy and unloved! My heart ached. We were walking out a few other difficult things as well.  Not only did I decide to give up sugar but I decided to fast face book as well. IT wasn't long after that decision that I felt God was calling me to give up anything that distracted me because I needed to lean on him.  I spiraled into a mild case of depression and God needed to do some work in me.  I had no idea who my identity was. I sacrificed my whole life to be a mother and wife and now what was I going to be? Yes, I still had my daughter at home but my family was breaking up and I was struggling with dealing with this. What was I going to do? How was I going to let the boys go? How was I going to walk this valley, and walk it alone? So for the month of January I gave up sugar and social media!

     I leaned into God during that month. I cried myself to sleep at night and poured over scriptures and bible studies by day.   God began to sift in me somethings that He no longer wanted me to carry, and it was painful. It began with the lies of my self worth and identity. I was beautiful because I was made in the image of Christ. I was worthy because I was a daughter of the king. My identity wasn't lost because I was a believer in Christ. As I focused on Christ and waited to answer some of the prayers we needed answered, I noticed I began to feel better. One day I cried out to GOD to show me what HE wanted me to do and how I could get healthy! I no longer wanted to struggle to walk, struggle to breath, struggle to keep up and be active. I wanted to be used by God to do what he had set forth for me to do and I didn't want the excuse of me being to heavy, or being unhealthy to get in the way. I notice my reasoning for getting healthy no longer included vain things but that I genuinely wanted to be used by God! How could I use weight loss to bring your name glory? I was desperate!!!

     AT the end of January I decided to weigh myself. I didn't go off sugar as a diet, I went off sugar so that every time I thought of it, it would remind me to pray and seek the Lord so I never felt it necessary to weigh myself. I had lost weight!! And I felt better about myself and then the answer came to me! I would stay off sugar for the next month as more of a diet to see if I continued to have changes and how I would feel. The first time was for the fasting, this time I was going to see if I could loose anymore weight. One day I was reading my bible and praying and I felt the Lord say that IT WAS TIME.  I asked God to reveal to me what that meant. The time had come that I was going to walk out a healing!!  Not that God needs us to do anything for him, but I do believe at times he requires our actions because we are co-heirs with him; and faith requires us to move our feet.  I believed he was calling me into a journey of health.  My back wasn't the only thing God was going to heal, he was going to bring healing to my health! In fact, he was going to use my journey to become healthy as a platform to speak into lives about God and how He is still in the business of healing and performing miracles!

     Not everyone wants to know that but everyone is curious at some time or another how people loose weight. I begged God to use me and show him glory and this was how HE was going to do it!  I was excited but nervous! I tried weight watchers for a time.. lost 20 pounds but gained it back. I ran a few 5K's one summer and while doing that lost some weight but gained it back. I just didn't want to say I was losing weight for the Lord and then gain it back. I was worried about the credibility that I could loose by doing that! That was the opposite of what I wanted to do!


Below are several pictures from last year transformation!!