Thursday, July 31, 2014

Something to Believe in...and Then Some

If you know me personally, you know my love for jewelry and gems is authentic. I create and sell because I'm passionate! I joined the Origami Owl (O2) team as a Designer because I truly love this company, their mission and values, and best of all, quality, customizable product line. If you've known me in the past year or two you've probably seen my physical transformation after making a commitment to be healthy. I share this journey with others because I BELIEVE in it. It has worked for my husband, me and friends....These things are not what this blog is about today. 

This morning while spending some quiet time I felt this twinge of conviction. Those who know me, and some who do not, expect some degree of me sharing about my latest jewelry, the latest O2 line, or my excitement about my fitness. Not everyone is as enthusiastic as I am about these things (that's an understatement by the way). Yet I will continue to share because that's who I am. I'm passionate about what I believe in.

Why then is it so hard to share the greatest passion in my life? The biggest transformation I've taken; the greatest blessing to happen to me! It's a personal and sensitive topic but so is weight loss. I am a Christian. I am not just someone who believes that Jesus walked this earth, died to save me, and rose again. I am one of those "Jesus Freak" Christians who are passionate about my changed life I believe what is written in the Bible is true whether politically correct or not. I am doing exactly what the enemy wants and hiding my light under a bushel (think the song, "This Little Light of Mine"). I do this subconsciously as well as consciously.

I have been given this new life. Not just figuratively but authentically. I should be sharing this excitement more. I AM A NEW PERSON since submitting to the God of this universe. The one who created you and me, and masterfully spun things into existence. Surrendering my life to Christ and accepting the Holy Spirit to guide me is something that is so hard to describe to others. It's something you have to know and experience personally to really grasp. It's revolutionary; life changing, empowering, comforting...

I love there is a a revival happening with the Body of Christ. That's Christian speak from us Christian folk as we're all given gifts whether servitude, teaching, etc.., each making up parts of a bigger movement. Being Christ-like to others is one of our missions . I feel like we're stepping out of the legalistic stuffiness of days old into a more authentic relational faith. One that acts and doesn't just speak. There is something stirring in me that wants to bust out and declare, THERE IS PEACE IN CHRIST, HE IS GOD AND THE ONLY ONE CAPABLE OF GIVING YOU ETERNAL LIFE. Whew, I did it. I blurted it right out! I have nothing to personally gain by sharing this truth with others. I love my friends, family, neighbors, acquaintances and I feel bad for ever making Embound, O2, or my journey on the TSFL program seem more important, or valuable than Christ! My humble loving Savior who gave his life for me as prophesied thousands of years prior, who lives, is my strength. He is the reason I move out of depressions, press on in health, and am able to love and forgive others in ways that were impossible for me before.

I'm sure this blog has made some people feel a bit uncomfortable. I really am sorry if it has. I feel uncomfortable too.

"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes" Romans 1:16

Here's a poem I wrote many years ago I thought I'd share here:

Starting New

My scars tell a story
Of who I used to be;
A person who was hurting
Until Jesus set me free.

A void had once echoed
Deep inside my heart
Until one day I cried out
For a fresh new start.

I was tired of being lonely,
And feeling shame inside;
I seemed to have forgotten
It was for my sins that Jesus died.

How could He ever want me?
What value might I have
To a God who is perfect
That He’d want to take my hand?

After I’d repented
And followed my Lord’s lead,
I began to understand
He truly wanted to bless me.

Back then, my eyes were blinded
By sin and Satan’s lies,
Now I understand
All along He’d heard my cries.

Jesus waited hand extended;
All I had to do was give
My life into His keeping
Eternity I’d spend with Him.

Jesus gave me hope
Where I didn’t see a way
Now I feel real joy where there
Was once was grief and shame.

Yes, my scars still tell a story
But it’s conclusion is testimony,
Of my old life I have traded
For salvation and God’s blessings.

By MJ, Melissa J, AMomMJ c. '07

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

80 Pounds Lost, New Hope Gained

Hello, my name is Melissa and I'm successfully overcoming an eating disorder and finding health. I grew up as a healthy, well proportioned child constantly reminded of the starving children in Africa that could benefit from my uneaten food portions. While that didn't help me appreciate my canned green beans and pork chops with Shake and Bake, it did ingrain in me that portions on plate should be fully consumed. I don't fault my mom for this. She was doing what she had been taught to do by her mother--who found it critical one must eat their beets!

Fast forward to puberty. Clothes began to fit differently as my body changed. Rather than recognizing these new curves would one day be appreciated, I looked at it as I was getting fat in places. Combined with a genetic propensity for obesity, social pressure to wear a specific size (regardless of ones body type) and the continued "encouragement" to eat, I became overly conscious of my appearance.

My 8th grade year, after going through some life changing events, I began unhealthy habits, using food as a means of control. I gained weight in spite of my "dieting" efforts. When I reached 16 I was in a size 14P pants and large shirts. I was 131 pounds. I met my now husband then. I knew I didn't want to live as I was for the rest of my life. I stopped using laxatives as a purging method and suffered the results of my body trying to normalize. I put on 70 pounds that one year. I faced judgement about how the weight came on but I was too embarassed to share the real reason I balooned up. By nearly 18 I was enaged to be married and was over 200 pounds. I was happy, and appearance was no longer a primary focus, but the stress of life in those days hindered any motivation to get healthy. While I continued during this time to battle bulimia (no longer with laxatives) it did eventually come to a final stop. I truly feel God has set me free from this. I wanted to be a mom and this was not the example I wanted to set for my kids.

As we began our adoption journey, and 3 children later, I reached the heaviest weight I would see on my scale, 233 lbs. I had a BMI of 44.5. I was morbidly obese. People who don't know obesity might assume those this overweight are lazy or unmotivated. I'm sure I appeared that way. Neither was actually true for me. It took more effort  to get anything done than it would for most. I was constantly tired! Going up and down stairs had my heart working hard. I enjoyed walking but would get out of breath at any inclination. The stress of moving would make me cranky and on edge. I could justify that blizzard from Dairy Queen each night. I worked hard and that sweet treat tasted awesome! I was killing myself slowly with food. I was put on xenical then phentramine for weight loss with no good results.

As time went on, I began to have increasing issues with my stomach and hormones. My weight affected my hormone production. Because of the problems that resulted from this, I ended up having a hysterectomy. It's similar issues that have caused infertility in obese woman. My stomach size combined with stress was creating problems with gastritis and acid reflux. Nothing over the counter worked so I was put on prescription mediation.

In these days I was not disappointed in my appearance, rather my performance--or lack thereof. Maybe being discontent about the way my body looked would have been motivation to lose weight. Bulimia wasn't about losing weight for me. I used binging and purging as a means to control things in my past that were out of my control. Knowing this has helped me overcome. Perhaps that issue of control is still there; it's just now I'm choosing health as a means to deal with it.

HOW DID I DO IT? This is the number one question I've been asked. I'd love to say I found it in me to exercise and eat right. Nope, that's not how it started at all. I watched a friend of mine who was also morbidly obese get healthy. I listened to her and another friend tell me about the health program they did. I was totally skeptical. So much so it bothered me! Weight loss shouldn't happen so quickly, right? Then I had another friend start the same program and begin to lose weight. I recall really reflecting on my life and the direction it was headed. My reality was the fact I have 3 kids I don't want to leave motherless, an awesome husband, and as much as I was in denial about my poor health, I was slowly killing myself. I was only 35 and had already forfeited my uterus and was on the verge of getting surgery on my stomach area to relieve the discomfort the extra fat was putting on me. Not to mention the stress around my ribs. If this is what 35 looked like for me, what would 45 look like? 55? Would I see 65? I want to know my grandkids and great-grandkids!

I talked to my husband and told him I'd like to start the program and give it just 1 month and go from there. The first phase of the program included meal replacements that cost money. I wasn't sure how we'd afford the extra expense, but I came to the reality, I wasn't sure how I could afford NOT to do this. Since I wasn't buying snacks and other meals for myself, most of this money wasn't even an issue. I didn't require nearly as many trips to the doctor or medication refills so I saved money that way too.

The first week on the program was tough. My body was getting used to not having sugars like it used to. After about 4 days I felt an increase in energy. I drank my water as I was supposed to and followed plan. It was really that easy. This program taught me in baby steps all the while the weight flew off! Portioned meals in phase 1 meant I didn't have to calorie count or add points. I learned what a proper lean and green meal should be. I have always accepted my optional snack the program allows so I eat a total of 7 times per day; every 2-3 hours. Eating smaller meals frequently helps keep my blood sugar regulated. I don't feel over full but don't feel hungry. Eating a good share of protein helps with muscle retention and lower carbs helped my tummy shrink 13". As the weight came off I began to find joy in this journey of health. I read labels, eat more naturally, still eat smaller portions frequently so I don't get tempted to binge. I get this crazy desire to go for walks and even hike hills. I feel more alert and alive than I ever have. My husband was so inspired, he too joined the program and has lost over 70 pounds. The impact this has had on our marriage and family has been so great he has chosen to become a health coach to help others reclaim health for themselves.

As I write, I am 153 pounds at 5' 1". I am in a smaller size than I was 30 pounds ago! This is because I retained my muscle mass with this program. I have lost 13" in my waistline, 12" off  my hips, 7" off my thighs, 11.5" off my chest, and 3" off my upper arms. I went from a size 20 to an 8 in just one year.

If you are thinking dramatic weight loss and health are unobtainable, I understand. I was there too. I can testify to what this program has done for me, many around me, and offer you more information. There IS hope. It's not too late. I've had the honor of meeting so many men and women who have lost over 100 pounds without any surgery. I didn't realize it was possible to feel as good as I do. It is! This program isn't about just loosing weight. It's an optimal health program that anyone can benefit from.

I'm finding things I can do that many take for granted. I can wrap a regular bath towel around my body, cross my legs, sit with my knees to my chest and still be able to breathe... My romantic life has improved, I can walk longer distances, wear my choice in clothing, I sleep better, am less stressed out and cranky, my hygiene is easier to keep up...

And in case you're wondering, YES, this program allows you to consume chocolate!

If you are interested in reclaiming your health too, I would love to recommend you to my health coach for a free, no-pressure, no obligation health assessment to see if this program is a good fit for you.  You can find Bryan on Facebook  and connect with him via private message.