I remember looking at a picture of me and thinking “Who is that girl?” The picture had been captured from a really fun time so why did I feel so sad, so…disgusted. I realized I looked like someone I didn’t recognize and I had become someone I didn’t know.
I put the picture in the back of my head and kept living life. I’m a mom of two beautifully smart girls, have an awesome husband, love my faith and the church where I attend and serve as a leader and enjoy my full time job of being an elementary school teacher. I would do the daily tasks that were required of me like cooking dinner, washing clothes, going to work and taking care of all of those things that women do, which is a lot!
One day I pulled “that” picture back up. I thought about how recently I didn’t have the stamina I used to, how tired I was and how I was beginning to get pretty grumpy which was not my nature. I then had a thought come into my mind so clearly I knew it was very real. The thought was “If you don’t get this weight off, you will not be here much longer.” I was shocked but I recognized that still small voice and knew it was true. I had to make a change but how?
I had tried several times before to lose weight. I had been to the doctor and gotten diet pills, gone to the health food store and taken all natural pills, walked, done an app or two that would work for a couple of months only to no avail. I was a yo-yo…up and down, up and down with my weight and my health. So I turned to the one place that never fails me, my knees.
One night when all of my family was asleep I quietly knelt down to say my bedtime prayers. I admitted in my prayers that I had a problem, an addiction, per say, and that I needed help. I apologized for my weakness and asked for strength beyond my own and for what I needed to do. I pled with the Lord to help me. I had to stay here on earth. I had to be here for my girls, for my family, for my friends, my church and my school. I just had to, but I didn’t know how. I asked what to do. After closing my prayer I heard two very quiet words but they burned in my heart and I knew I had gotten my answer. The words I heard were “Weight Watchers.”
That Sunday I felt that I needed to go to my Bishop. I needed to confide in him my weakness and get counsel for help and strength. As hard as it was to come out and admit I had a problem I knew I was taking the right steps, the steps to recovery and good health. I felt that my will power was to walk into his office and into my first Weight Watchers meeting. After that, my power would come from on high as I did all I could to follow Him and His will for me. After leaving I knew that my weaknesses would be turned into strengths, it wouldn’t be easy but would be worth it.
That week at work I saw a friend at a shower who had been attending Weight Watchers and asked if I could contact her later to see where I needed to go and when I needed to be there. She shared the information with me that evening and the next week I attended my first meeting on June 25, 2013. I was worried about the money since our family didn’t have the extra. I had confided in a friend what I was doing and told her I was going to go the next week when I had the money. She told me “no way!” gave me the money and told me to pay it forward. I will forever be thankful for her kindness because I wonder if I would have lost myself during that next week. I’ve learned that our weaknesses will be played on if we let them go on longer than needed and entice us to lose our drive. So, I had the money in hand, got into my car and drove to my meeting.
I walked into the room feeling embarrassed and very apprehensive but then a very friendly face welcomed me. I looked around and saw other people who looked just like me, people who were reaching out for help to better themselves. I stood in the line waiting to be privately weighed in and get all the information I needed. Again, everyone was cheerful and happy and made me feel so welcome. When I got on the scale I was stunned. I had not weighed myself before and couldn’t believe where I had allowed myself to get. Growing up my dad was morbidly obese and I promised I would never let myself go there and here I was; the same place my dad had been up until the day he passed away. I had a long road ahead of me but I knew I had been given strength to move forward.
I left that meeting feeling empowered. I received tools I needed to help me make good choices in eating and support from my leader and newly found friends. I had over 110 pounds that I was going to have to lose but was told just to focus on the first 5%. That was doable. I went to the store and bought healthy foods. I came home and cut up fruits and veggies and put them in the refrigerator where it would be easy to see. I slowly emptied our home of all the junk and promoted healthy eating for my family. I did everything I was supposed to do. I worked hard all week knowing I was going to have to get back on that scale again and be accountable to myself and not wanting to disappoint my leader and new friends. I prayed and prayed for strength. I prayed to help me overcome my desires and appetites with foods that would be filling and healthy.
I walked into my second meeting and stood on the scale. With wide eyes I looked at my leader and she looked up at me and grinned a huge grin. She quietly wrote down my total and handed me my little green book. I looked and saw -3.6!! I had lost weight and felt so happy!! I was honestly floating on air and as I walked to my table I said prayers of gratitude for the strength my Heavenly Father had given me. When I shared what I had lost everyone clapped and cheered, I felt like I was unstoppable!!
I began walking over the summer while I was out of school and continuing with my Weight Watchers meetings and tracking everything that went into my mouth. I was doing so good and although I had not lost much, I was losing! I was learning how to overcome those foods that I had always turned to and see there was always an alternative.
Sweets have always been my downfall. I ate them when I was stressed. I ate them when I was happy. I ate them when I was bored. I ate them when I would receive them from my sweet little students as gifts. I ate them at baby showers, parties and staff meetings. If they were there, I would eat them. I learned very quickly that as I ate fresh fruit those cravings left, so needless to say I had every fresh and frozen fruit imaginable in my home. I realized that as I ate the fruit I didn’t even think about the sweets. I continued to lose the weight but also got an added energy back that I hadn’t felt in years. I was feeling healthier and happier and again was so thankful for my Weight Watchers meetings that taught me how to eat and how to handle situations so I wouldn’t slip back into my old ways.
I noticed over time I had begun substituting healthier foods in other areas and also eating less. I started eating on smaller plates and would fill it with veggies. I tracked my points and would eat healthy snacks throughout the day so I wouldn’t be starving by the time I would get home in the evenings and eat something that wouldn’t be worth it at the end of the day. I planned out my lunches at night and would pack them so I wouldn’t be rushing around in the morning and throw something foolish in my lunchbox that I would regret later. I would think as I went to the grocery store each week and make healthy choices to put in my cart. I felt good mentally for being able to make these changes. I could feel myself shrinking in size yet growing. I was growing spiritually, mentally and physically. This was truly a journey I was on and the road was a happy and healthy one.
August came and it was time to go back to work. My colleagues were seeing the difference in me and asked what I was doing to lose weight. I shared with them my story and they all wanted in! I talked to my Weight Watchers leader and we were able to organize an “At Work” program for 22 staff members. I felt this was my way to be able to start paying it forward as my friend had requested. When our 19 week period had ended we had lost over 450 pounds collectively. Our staff had begun to eat healthy, be better examples to the children and our families, be better examples to those in our community, begin an exercise program after school and just be a happier and healthier staff. It felt good to know that I was indeed turning my weaknesses into strengths by being able to help others by promoting good health and exercise.
I decided I wanted to run throughout my walks. I downloaded a free app and began to try to run. I was barely able to walk when I first started exercising and now I wanted to run!?! The first time I ran I did a total of 28 seconds and was so out of breath I had to stop for a few minutes just to catch my breath. I continued to overcome and push myself to do a little more each time. Each time I would fervently pray to help me and sometimes I would look around because I almost felt that someone was there helping me. Each time I went a little longer. Throughout this time I got bronchitis, had sick children and everything else that could try to stop me, but it didn’t! I continued to pray and ask for strength to be healthy and every time I was given the power I needed to continue. With perseverance, hard work, tears and a lot of sweat I was finally able to run 3 miles without stopping! I cried when I was finished; cried with tears of gratitude, tears of happiness, tears of accomplishment, tears of pure joy.
It has been 64 weeks now since I started my journey. I have honestly grown in so many ways; spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically. I have become more compassionate for those around me with weaknesses. I look at weaknesses differently and know that we all have them and just need to take our strengths to uplift those that surround us. I have lost 95.2 pounds so far and only have 17 pounds to go until my goal of reaching Lifetime with Weight Watchers. I have learned that no problem is too big to overcome when you place your hand and faith in that of our Father in Heaven. I have learned that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ all things are possible because He knew we would all have weaknesses and not be able to overcome them without Him.
I know that through our Savior Jesus Christ all things are possible and that if we humbly turn to Him, He will help us overcome our weaknesses. Then, he provides us opportunities to help and strengthen others. Although this was a hard journey and I am sure it will be a lifelong journey, I would not trade it for anything. I am a better person for having experienced the storm for now I see a very beautiful rainbow.
Written by: Regina Hovis
This article appeared first on Real Imprints.