There is Always Hope!
Today we are joined by a wonderful woman. I am sharing these stories because these are the faces of New Feminism: women, in real life, dealing with real problems, who show amazing courage, tenacity and strength.This story is about body image, weight loss, health, and your intrinsic value. Jen is the woman who introduced me to the book Eat to Live. She is inspiring, kind, faith-filled and a great friend. So many women struggle with these issues, and I asked Jen to share her story to, above all, give you hope...
"Most women I know struggle with their appearance in some form or another, from weight to skin, from hair color to feet sizes. But I wish we could all see ourselves through God’s eyes, and know how incredibly beautiful we are, in fact! He finds us all to be His STUNNING creations, no matter how heavy or thin, how smooth or rough our complexions, with gray hair or not, and with feet big and small!
I share my journey now with you, not to dwell on my imperfections but to give hope to any of you who may be feeling hopeless.
I have struggled my whole life with my weight. From an early age, I was a chubby kid who got teased and was very self-conscious about the way I looked. I had been on diets from the age of 11 on. The more I dieted, the more I went up and down, in fairly drastic ways, with my weight, with the set point getting higher and higher as the years went by. It started at some point to feel hopeless and I began to just think of myself as always being fat, from being limited in my activities, and resigned to always looking heavy and unhealthy. All the while, I had a close personal relationship with the Lord, and was a faithful Catholic and Christian. I just couldn’t pull it together in this area.
At the age of 42, I had to have a hysterectomy, which I was unhappy about because I had hopes of more children, though the chances were slim. It was one of those moment in my life where I did some serious self-evaluation and was not happy with where I was, especially with my weight and its effect on my health. At that point, I was more than 150 pounds overweight, on thyroid and hypertension medications, as well as medication for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I made a decision to dig in and do whatever it takes to lose weight and be more healthy. I turned it over to the Lord, again, prayed, lined up my support network of family and friends to encourage me, took a lot of deep breaths, and began. What follows from that point is an ongoing journey of discovery, about myself and about nutrition.
I started out doing what I knew had worked somewhat before, which was low carb, high protein dieting. What I did differently this time was to make myself exercise, consistently and intensely. For me, that was a big step, because I swallowed my pride, joined a gym, and had a trainer work with me to get going with a program. It was humiliating b/c I was often the biggest, most out of shape person there. I hurt EVERYWHERE for weeks, and every time I went to the gym, would feel completely beat, to the core, physically exhausted. Lots of ice packs, and heat packs! I began to think of it, with the encouragement of my husband, like a part-time job, and was spending 4 hours/day at the gym, often doing 2 water aerobics classes combined with my workout regimen on the gym floor. Well, slowly, my shape began to change, and I was losing weight. Not rapidly. 30-40 pounds came off before anyone even noticed, which was hard. But then, people started noticing regularly, and that became a big encouragement to me.
While this was going on, I began to do lots of reading about nutrition, and at some point along the way, I read a book, The China Study, which seriously challenged all my ideas about what was healthy and what was not. This led to other books such as Eat To Live, and most recently, WHOLE, Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. I completely changed the way that I ate, going from a very animal product based high protein low carb diet, to a completely whole foods, plant based way of eating. This has been tweaked, continually, as I continue, even to this day, to read about nutrition. Over the course of 5 years, I lost 150 pounds, and am still striving to lose another 30 lbs. I haven’t had meat or any animal products in 3 years. I started a Facebook page called Jen’s Journey to Health, where I began to have a following, and where I have been able to encourage others who are struggling in this area. The focus for me is not on weight loss so much anymore, as it is HEALTH. I still struggle with self-control over portions, and am again battling consistent exercise, as my schedule has changed the last 2 years, and I no longer have access to a gym. But, I feel like I now have the knowledge, the tools and the ability to conquer this battle.
Through it all, I have had the support of so many people who have loved me, at ANY size that I have been. And, I know that the Lord has certainly done so. I have always known that my value lies in that, NOT my weight, or my looks, but in the very fact that the Lord loves me, for WHO I am. He loves me no matter how imperfect I may be, either physically or emotionally or spiritually. At the same time, because He loves me so dearly, He knows how much happier I am being less overweight, with the ability to be more active. I feel like He led me here, as a gift to me. Thank you, Lord!"
Thank you, Jen! Thank you especially for opening up and sharing your story with all of us! You are such a great witness that God can work in our lives but we do have to be committed and put up our own effort too. Yet, He makes our efforts so much more fruitful! There is always hope!
(If you would like to check it out, here is the link to Jen's Facebook page: Jen's Journey to Health)
your friendly new feminist,
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Well, that’s my view of it and I welcome yours! (Please comment below! And please use initials or first name or even pseudonym instead of simply “anonymous” so we can have some way to distinguish each person in the discussion. Thank You!)
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