I have lost over 100 pounds and kept it off. I would like to answer a question I have been asked at least a hundred times: “How did you lose your weight?”
I did it without buying anything or joining any program. I did it without any fad diets, fasting, gimmicks, drugs, herbs or shakes. I lost the weight without a weight loss group and without spending any money on books, tapes, videos or programs. Exercise is important, but I lost 100 pounds without significant exercise.
I grew up skinny. When I graduated from high school I was 6’3″ and weighed 165. I ate whatever I wanted and never gained a pound. That would change.
I began to gain weight in my last year of college. When I married twenty-one years ago I immediately began to gain a noticeable amount of weight. I quickly outgrew all of my clothes.
Frustrated by my weight gain I read books about nutrition. I tried to eat right but always ran into the same problem. Sometimes I would go out and buy large amounts of fruit and vegetables and other healthy foods then I would let them go to waste while I ate chips, ice-cream, fast food, pizza and other high-fat foods. I didn’t have the personal discipline to eat what I knew was right in the right portions. So steadily my weight went up.
Within a few years I weighed 240 pounds and felt discouraged and miserable about my lack of personal discipline and my physical appearance. I felt bad for my wife. She married a thin man and now she was married to a fat man.
A couple years later I went on a reasonable diet for about thirty days and lost 40 pounds. In a few months I gained it back. About a year later I began to run. I ran six days a week for about nine months and dieted for thirty days and lost the same 40 pounds again. Eventually the weight returned and gradually crept upward over the next fifteen years.
Two years ago I fasted for forty days. The purpose of the fast was spiritual but I also wanted to regain self-control. I ate only mints and water for forty days. Of course I lost a noticeable amount of weight. During the fast I lost thirty or forty pounds. As soon as the fast ended I began to eat as before and the weight immediately returned.
Last April (2000) I reached an all-time high. We purchased a bathroom scale for my mother-in-law as a birthday gift. At the party that night we all stood around and weighed ourselves and joked about our weight. When I weighed, the scale read “error.” After I tried a few more times it finally read 300 pounds!
I tried to start running again but at 300 pounds it was hard on my knees and ankles. Even though I ran consistently (though not quickly) for a month there was no change in my weight. I tried to ride my bike more but it seemed to make no significant difference.
In early June I visited the doctor. The nurse who weighed me fumbled with the scales and kept bumping them up higher and higher. I was a little embarrassed and I think she was too. She finally gave up before the scales had actually balanced and scribbled down a weight on the chart. I think she wrote 289. After I had lost an inch in my waist I still weighed 288 so I’m sure she did not weigh me accurately that day. One thing that was well-established was that I was dangerously obese.
I was told that I had dangerously high cholesterol levels in my blood and borderline high blood pressure. The doctor was kind but told me that I really needed to lose at least a little weight. I am a pastor and the doctor was a member of our church.
I was embarrassed by my failure in self-control. I preached to this man every week about the power of God and personal discipline, but I could not control my appetite. It was a frustrating day.
Early in June I took steps to lose the weight and keep it off. I did something that gave me the self-control needed to eat what I knew to be right, in portions that I knew were reasonable consistently for months.
Today I am 6’3″ tall and weigh 195 pounds. I have lost over 100 pounds and I feel better than ever. I have maintained steady weight loss for seven months. I have lost fourteen inches in my waist. I have lost nine inches in my chest. I have lost over four inches. in my neck!
I love to sing and have much greater wind than I have had in years. I have had the delight of buying new clothes that look and feel sharp. I am able to run three or four minutes a mile faster than before without additional training just because of the loss of 100 pounds.
People are shocked who haven’t seen me for a few months. They say I look like a completely different person. It is a wonderful feeling to get up in the morning and look in the mirror without getting depressed.
I want to tell you how I did it without spending a dime on fad diets or unworkable programs that you cannot sustain in real life.
There is one thing I will call the “key” or the “secret” of my weight loss. There are a number of other things I did that resulted in the loss of 100 pounds of lard but I would not have been able to do them consistently if it were not for the “key” thing. I’ll get to that later.
I have known what to eat and what not to eat for twenty years. I have had a great deal of knowledge and information about nutrition but I didn’t have the self-control to apply what I knew. Self-control was always the missing factor. I knew what was right but could not discipline myself to eat the right things in the right amounts consistently over a period of time in order to lose weight. This battle went on for over half my life.
Since early May I have made some changes that have resulted in consistent weight loss. I have weighed myself every morning since June and almost every day I weigh less. Here is what I have done.
I eat less. There is no secret or mystery here. The reason I was obese is because I ate a lot of food. I love food and I ate it in large portions. I not only ate a lot of food but I ate food that was high in fat. I loved to slather whatever I ate with large amounts of cheese. I ate little or no vegetables and fruit. I loved meat and potatoes, fried chicken, beef. I ate cake, pies, donuts and cookies and rarely paid attention to how much I was eating.
I would often eat little or nothing until late in the day, then I couldn’t ‘t get enough. I would raid the refrigerator when I got home, eat supper later, and then in the evening eat what amounted to another meal often just before getting into bed. I often ate so much that my heart would pound and I would feel stuffed.
Before I changed my eating habits, I would go to lunch and over-eat. When I would return to work I would be too lethargic to work effectively. I commonly ate until I was uncomfortably full.
Back in June I began to eat fruit, raw vegetables and salad. I would chose to eat only the things available to me that I knew did not have any significant amount of fat. I have eaten only the smallest portions of high-fat meat and even then I have taken precautions to eat as little of the fat as possible. I have avoided fat as if it would kill me, because I believe it can.
After I changed my eating habits I was asked to speak at a golf-outing. They offered me a cart but I chose to walk the eighteen holes to save the sponsoring church money and to give me some much-needed exercise. At the end of the day we were treated to big burgers and huge brats. I walked up to the table and didn’t see any low-fat meat, so I took a bun and put a nice big slice of onion, pickle, a red-ripe tomato slice, lettuce and mustard on it. It wasn’t bad. I had some beans and some diet cola. I watched the other guys tank up on burgers and brats and felt glad within that I had not put that fat into my body.
I once heard a man say that the human body is an incredible machine created by God for remarkable things. It should only be given high-quality fuel. I began to treat my body right and from June to August I went from 300 pounds to about 240. I began to tighten my belt more and more every week.
In mid-summer, while speaking at a camp I inured my knee. It was either the result of taking a tumble on a mountain bike or jumping off a high dive in the lake, but I could not run for months. I could barely walk. So exercise was impossible. Still the weight loss continued. I often wonder what my weight loss would have been like if I had been able to consistently exercise.
I haven’t had a cookie or a piece of pie since early June. You would not believe the wonderful desserts that I have refused in that time. (After I reached my goal weight in November I allow myself a reasonable dessert portion almost every day). I have not had a French fry in well over six months. I have allowed myself certain “treats” as a way of rewarding myself for my personal discipline. I often enjoyed a single carefully measured portion of frozen yogurt which is not particularly low calorie, but has little or no fat. I have allowed myself sometimes to buy a little better brand of coffee as a kind of reward.
Since early June I have not had a single meal that I have not eaten a small reasonable portion of food that I know is good for me. If the family is eating a casserole, goulash or spaghetti, I allow myself to eat one cup of it with a salad, fruit, bread, a vegetable and diet soda. I have had a lot of chicken and turkey in small measured portions.
One thing the family has helped me with enormously is, I suppose, a form of informal accountability. Early on I would say; “All I have eaten today is.” and then I would give them the run-down on what I had eaten. I might say’ “All I have eaten today is Coffee, a half-cup of whole wheat cereal with a half cup of skim milk, a banana, an apple, a turkey sandwich and ten pretzels, diet soda, one cup of spaghetti, a half cup of peas, an apple and salad.”
Now it is common for Wesley, our youngest son to say; “Hey, Dad, give us the rundown.” I’m not sure everyone is excited about this little ritual but it does help me, I think. I’m sure it has been helpful to be very conscious of the exact amount of food I put in my mouth from meal to meal.
I believe each of these things is important, but none of them are the “key” thing. I will get to that later.
I arrange my food nicely on my plate and sit down and eat very slowly. I used to eat two or three huge plates of food in 20 minutes. Now I eat one cup of the same food in twenty minutes by taking small bites and chewing them a long time. I still enjoy the good taste of the food for the same amount of time, but I eat much, much less.
Simply put I have consistently eaten a lot less food and I have eaten food that has little or no fat in it. It has helped me to look at fat as something that will kill me.
My family is a major motivation for me to avoid fat. I want to live long enough to watch them grow up and bring grandchildren into my life. I don’t mind going to heaven, but I would like to be a dad to my family while they need me so much now. They are a powerful motivation not to eat things that are likely to shorten my life.
These disciplines are not profound secrets. They are things I have known for years but I have not been able to do them. They are probably helpful ideas and I never would have lost the weight without them, but they are not the “Key” or the “secret.”
The “secret” is what has allowed me to have this unusual self-control that I have never before had. I have had complete self-control over my eating now for over six months. That is something I have never had before.
I am a Christian and a pastor. I have often spoken about self-control. The Bible teaches that self-control is something God gives. I have often wondered about why I don’t have it. The Bible says self-control is one of the fruits of the Spirit. The Spirit of God lives in every believer. If He is given control, He will bring self-control. The Bible sometimes calls this temperance.
Early one morning I got up and looked in the mirror like I do every morning. I felt discouraged and defeated. That morning I leaned up against the door of the bathroom closet and fervently prayed to God for the personal discipline to eat what was right. The scriptures speak frequently about “crying out to God.” That is what I did that morning. I cried out to God in desperation and he heard my cry.
I firmly believe I experienced what I like to call a “forward thrust” in personal sanctification that morning early in June as an answer to prayer. I have had this experience before in my life in a couple other areas. After struggling for years and working to make progress and having limited success and frequent failure there came a time of profound forward progress that I could not take credit for myself, almost like God gave freedom I did not have before.
My grandfather was a smoker. At one point in his life he lost the desire altogether and just threw them away and never picked them up again. He believed it was a miracle and an answer to prayer. There were other areas of Christian obedience where I’m sure my grandpa struggled until he died. But in an instant God gave him freedom from smoking.
I think that is what happened to me when I cried out to God early that morning in June. I had looked at myself in the mirror and I was so discouraged and defeated. I began to pray to God that he would please give me discipline that I did not possess. Later I found entries in my journal where I had been praying the same prayer.
I found this interesting entry in my journal. It was a prayer written a month and a half before on April 24, 2000: “I need to train myself to eat smaller portions and include healthier foods. I don’t want to be glutton, I want to weigh what I should and look and feel trim and fit and I want to extend my life, Lord willing, because I have an important work to do here on earth, especially with the children.”
On the 12th of April I had written this prayer in my journal: “I need help to bring my eating habits under control. I weigh nearly 300 pounds and I need to lose one hundred pounds. Help me to discipline myself and gain victory in this area, Lord, so I will live long enough to train my children to walk with you.”
This little pamphlet is written out of gratitude to God and in obedience to Him. I believe he delivered me from the sin of gluttony and He gave me self-control. I humble myself every day and thank Him because I know if He had not done a special work in my heart I would still be in bondage to gluttony and I would still be obese. I would still be locked in a frustrating cycle that was threatening to end my life.
I believe God wants to work in your life to give you freedom from sin and the effects of sin, not only in this life, but in eternity. The Bible says; “These things have I written unto you that you may know that you have eternal life.” God wants us to have eternal life and know that we have eternal life. He wants us to have victory over sinful, damaging, dangerous habits in this life.
The secret of freedom from sin is so simple most people miss it altogether. To be saved and delivered from the punishment for sin we need to cry out to God. The Bible says; “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
For you to have daily victory over sin you need to call on the name of the Lord. Admit your sin, whatever it is and cry out to God for forgiveness and for deliverance. Discipline yourself unto Godliness, but cry out to him for deliverance at the same time. Over the years you will make progress, but God may choose to give you a wonderful “forward thrust” which results in victory over sin if you cry out to Him.
I’m glad I did. He is still working in me to give me the grace to walk in daily obedience to him. I could never do it without Him. My confidence and hope is not in me, but in the Lord Jesus who saved me and is delivering me from bondage to sin. I am claiming Philippians 1:5; “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”