Remove the Blinders

This may seem like one of those articles that is done and redone to a point that is boring. How many times can you read an individual’s story about weight loss or weight gain? It’s tiring, right! I hope that mine will be a little bit different, but I will leave that up to you.

I have a very up and down story with food, eating habits, and health. Growing up I was healthy. My mom cooked good meals and made sure that we had all our food groups. I didn’t think twice about the food I ate. I was a healthy and happy child. When we moved to a new town the middle of my freshman year, I found myself wanting to fit in and I was willing to do just about anything.

I changed the way I dressed and talked. I tried to be more outgoing and I even auditioned or tried out for clubs, cheerleading, sports, choirs. I did it all.

While sitting in math class one morning, I remember wearing a long peach dress that had flowers on it. This dress was pretty modest, but had a slit up one side that went up to my knee. So, when I sat in my desk the dress would fall and expose that one part of my leg. There was a boy, not really of any importance to me, but he made a comment that stuck with me. He said, “She’s a little chubby….” to one of the other guys in class.

Ok, I know that it was high school and boys are pretty stupid during that stage of life, but the way I saw myself was vulnerable. I was trying to hard to be liked and pretty, but they thought I was chubby. Can I just tell you I was anything but chubby. I was a size 5! This didn’t matter to me and nothing any of my friends or parents said would change the way I saw myself in the mirror from that day on.

That is when my battle with food began. I saw food as an enemy that wanted to make me ugly. It was my nemesis. I would fight it every day. I stopped eating. I told myself I only need enough to keep me going. So, I would eat salad without dressing. I would throw away the lunches my mom would make me and I would only drink water. When she made dinner, I would sneak the food into my room and hide it in a paper bag under my bed. When I was around people and they would make a comment about me not eating and how thin I was getting, I would get so mad and eat something to please them, but then I would feel so guilty for eating it and go work out for an hour or two just so I could burn the calories I just ate.

Here’s the thing…no matter how much weight I lost, I still saw this fat teenager in the mirror. I hated what I saw. I would go into my room at night and lay on the floor to knock out 500 crunches every night before I could go to sleep.

I had a huge problem with food. I needed it, but I didn’t want it and I was killing myself without it. My mom noticed the weight loss. I am sure my friends voiced their concern to her as well, but one day she found the hidden food and that’s when the ultimatum was made. I was either to start eating or I would be sent to a hospital where I could get help. I hated her for presenting these terms, but I know that it was because she was scared and loved me.

I didn’t want to leave my friends and family and feel shamed. I wanted to be normal. I wanted to be healthy. I started to see a counselor at school and accountability partners were set in place that would report back to my counselor and parents on my habits. It took a long time, but I started to gain weight back and begin to be a healthier version of myself. It takes everything in me to fight the urge to hate food a lot of days, but I have another problem with food now. I love the bad for you stuff.

After I had my children, I was in survival mode. You moms know exactly what I am saying. My children were small and they didn’t sleep. It was all I could do to heat up a hot dog and eat it for dinner. I had no energy or time to make delicious and healthy meals. I wanted sleep. I had extreme weight gain after my second child. I ate whatever made me happy. I didn’t think about carbs or sugars. I thought convenience and feelings. I found myself on the opposite end of the food spectrum now. I liked all the bad things too much.

I struggled with an up and down battle with my weight for the last fourteen years. I would take a stand for myself and start a workout program only to find myself back to an emotional binge or just giving up because I was tired and it was hard. I quit when I couldn’t see results in the hard work it took every day. I never had a full length mirror in the house because it reminded me of all the times I tried to be healthy and failed.

So, what’s different about now?

I lost a lot of who I was while raising family and supporting my husband. Part of why I struggled so much with sticking with healthy is because I didn’t know who I was and why I needed to fight for me. Shortly before Christmas, I just couldn’t deal with this feeling of not knowing who I really am. I became angry. Angry at myself, my husband, my children. I wasn’t comfortable with myself or how I fit in anything. I wasn’t comfortable with life or putting aside what mattered to me because it wouldn’t fit in with how my family saw me or what they wanted to do.

That anger drove me to pray about making changes in my life. I realized that I had put so much before the health of myself and I could no longer do this. I knew that changes were going to be a must and it would not make everyone happy in my family, but I needed to find myself and the first step was with my health.

I, again, started to slowly work out. I don’t have a gym membership, so I looked up some things I could do at home that wouldn’t be too hard at first. I needed something that would build my strength and endurance. I made a plan and printed it out. I need checklists. They keep me motivated. Then I started to change the way I ate. No more junk would be bought for our home. I make meals with all real and raw ingredients. No processed food. I cut a lot of sugar and starches from my diet and focused more on protein and wholeness. I now drink more water than anything, but when I need something extra, I reward myself with a fizzy zero calorie drink.

I don’t starve and the food I make is delicious. The family even loves it.

I am only beginning, but I am journaling this journey and I asked God to take the blinders off so that I can see the results of my hard word and dedication. I am a month in, and I can honestly say that I feel better and look better. I am finding myself again and my happy. I hope to do a follow up article with before and after pictures for you in a few months.

Can I just encourage you to take just one step toward health and freedom? Maybe it’s drinking more water today and going for a fifteen minute walk tomorrow. Progress is progress, and you don’t get anywhere without taking the first step. We were meant to live a healthy life and be full of happiness.

Lord. I ask that you reach into the lives of those who are struggling to make a change in their life to better their health. This decision isn’t always easy, and we often feel defeated when we can’t see change. Remove anything that hinders us from seeing the good change for better health and keep us on the right track. Thank you. Amen.

Tara DeMaris

Tara is the founder and president of Titus II Woman Ministries as well as a contributing writer and speaker. She is the wife to David, seventeen years, and the mother to their four children. Together, they make their home in South Dakota. She is a graduate of Crown College and most passionate about reaching the hearts of women globally through mentorship, friendship and God’s Word. “Make history with God and He will make history through you.”

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