Losing weight is hard. This Scripture gave her an idea...
I strode down the bike path along the Mississippi. Stormed down, to be more accurate. Being by the water wasn’t going to relieve my stress. Not today.
“What am I supposed to do now?” I yelled.
I was so frustrated, I was actually yelling at God. Good thing my friends from Bible study weren’t around to hear me. Good thing no one was.
I would have shaken my fist at God too if it weren’t for the nasty gash on my right wrist. I’d tripped and fallen outside my office building a few days earlier and cut myself on a landscaping rock, badly enough that I ended up in the ER.
The ER doctor closed the wound with a line of butterfly bandages. Then he fitted an unwieldy brace on my wrist.
“How am I going to swim with this thing on?” I asked. He shook his head. “You aren’t.” I tried to flex my wrist and winced. “Can I still use the machines at the gym?” The doctor didn’t even look up from writing his notes. “Nope.”
“I can ride my bike, though, right?”
“Nope. No pressure on your wrist for four to six weeks.”
Clearly, the doctor didn’t understand. But I expected more of God. “Don’t you understand?” I demanded now. “I have to exercise! How else am I going to keep the weight off?”
I’d lost 100 pounds in the past year. No pills, juice cleanses or support groups. I’d done it on my own the old-fashioned way—dieting and exercise.
Hard work was behind all my accomplishments, from raising my family to advancing in my career at the Rock Island Arsenal. I’d started in the purchasing department fresh out of high school and worked my way up to a job in management.
The long hours and stress took a toll on me. Eating became my stress buster. My weight went up. So did my blood pressure, and I had to go on medication. I could no longer handle the stairs to my third-floor office. Everywhere I went, I parked in the spot closest to the door—I couldn’t walk far without getting totally winded. I had to buy clothes at specialty stores for plus-sized women.
I needed to tackle my weight problem. But there was always something that seemed more pressing. Or maybe I just thought I couldn’t do it.
A year earlier my doctor had freaked at my blood work. “Gail, you’re borderline diabetic and your cholesterol numbers are through the roof. You’ve got to lose weight and get in shape now.”
“I don’t have time,” I said. “Dieting and exercise take planning, and I already have enough to plan with my daughter getting married next year.”
“You’d better make time,” she said. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when you’re going to have a heart attack.” A heart
attack? I was only 55! Now I was freaking out. I had to live to see Erin walk down the aisle. To see my six-year-old granddaughter grow up.
I took a deep breath. “Okay. Just tell me what to do.” My doctor recommended a fitness app that would count calories and track the food I ate and the exercise I did every day. I downloaded the app to my phone as soon as I got home. I entered my height,current weight and goal weight, and it gave me the number of calories I could consume each day to meet my goal of losing 100 pounds.
Its database had the nutritional information for all kinds of foods. There was even a pie chart (no pun intended!) breaking down the calories I ate by category—fat, protein, carbohydrates—so I could catch myself if I was overindulging.
I set about dieting the same way I’d furthered my career, with discipline and determination. I logged all my meals in the app. Keeping track made me aware of every single bite I took. I ate less and enjoyed it more. The weight came off.
Next, exercise. I’d joined the YMCA, but after three months I still hadn’t gone. All those machines and equipment! The other people—fit people—were even more intimidating. I couldn’t stand the thought of them staring at me while I flailed around.
Then I got an e-mail from the Y offering five free sessions with a personal trainer. What did I have to lose, except some more weight? I met with a trainer named Jake. At first, our sessions were torture. My body hadn’t moved like that in years. Every muscle ached.
Jake’s positive attitude was like a magnet. I kept going back. And I began to see results. We came up with a schedule: three days of weight training a week, three days of swimming, one day of biking. Now I could enter my exercise numbers into my trusty app along with my nutritional data.
I hit my goal. As hard as losing the weight was, though, keeping it off was even harder. The less you weigh, the fewer calories you’re allowed. I found that I had to be even more determined and disciplined.
But taking charge of my body was worth it. My doctor was thrilled with my blood work. I could no longer be considered diabetic. My cholesterol was normal.
The day of my daughter’s wedding came. Erin was the most beautiful bride you ever saw. She shone with happiness. She wasn’t the only one. For the first time in years, I wasn’t self-conscious about getting my picture taken. It felt incredible to wear a sequined outfit in a regular size, not to have to suck my stomach in, to stand proudly beside my husband instead of behind him.
Now I stood by the river, having words with God. At Bible study, we prayed for people facing cancer, job loss, grief. My weight problem seemed trivial by comparison. But to have a whole year of hard work erased in one freak fall...I felt betrayed.
“Why aren’t you looking out for me, Lord?” I asked. I gazed off across the river, waiting for a sign. Or maybe for lightning to strike, considering the tone I’d used.
An enormous brown bird swooped into view. I’d heard that ospreys nested along the Mississippi but I’d never seen one on the hunt. With a gracefulness that belied its size, it skimmed the surface of the river. Then it struck, snatching a fish up in its outstretched talons and streaking into the sky.
It reminded me of something. A verse we’d discussed recently in Bible study, Matthew 6:26: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet our heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”
If God saw to the needs of birds, surely I could trust him to take care of me, to provide what I needed when I needed it.
With a spring in my step, I headed for my car. That’s when it hit me. I couldn’t swim, bike or lift weights, but I could walk.
And I did, every day until my wrist healed. In fact, two years later, walking is a key part of my workout regimen, and part of the reason I’ve been able to maintain my weight. So is realizing that I’m not doing it all on my own.
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