I’ve carried around a lot of weighty baggage … until now.

My first memory related to my weight happened when I was about 9 years old. I remember that I was wearing tan corduroy pants that were snug. I was hanging over the back of our loveseat when a friend of our family walked by. He smacked me in the rear and made a comment about the fact that my butt was getting too big for my britches. That became a defining moment in my life; one that said, “You’re fat.” I equated that to … “You’re not beautiful. You’re not desirable. How could anyone love you?”

In junior high, we had to endure a particular kind of hell at least once a year. We had to step on the scale during gym class. I will never, in this lifetime, understand why that was necessary, nor will I ever forget the horror of having a boy named Paul announce to my entire 7th grade math class that I weighed … wait for it … 121 lbs.! He followed up with, “What a cow!” Honestly, it was the last time I weighed 121 pounds, but I was led to believe that I was – again – fat, ugly, undesirable, and unlovable.

The next year when it was obviously weigh-in day, I stayed in the locker room and sent a message to the teacher that I was “sick.” The phy-ed teacher (who is now a Facebook friend – I wonder if she’ll remember this) came down to check on me. I was too mortified to tell her that the trauma of stepping on the scale in front of my peers was killing me. Instead, I told her the most ludicrous excuse, but the only thing that came to mind on the spot. I said that I drank both orange juice and milk for breakfast and it must have curdled because my stomach was upset and I thought I might throw up. (I’m dying a little right now just telling you all this.) Friends, I was indeed sick, but only because of the fear I had of the scale and being bullied by my peers.

I prayed that God would make me anorexic. (That was dumb, I know that now.)

I spent countless hours reading about stupid fad diets in teen magazines.

I went on my first “paid for” diet as a junior in high school. I remember that I got down to 113 pounds, which was honestly too low for my height. I learned nothing about keeping it off, so … my college 15 was more like my college (30 or so).

I’ve spent more money than I care to admit on diet books, most of which I never read past the “Jump Start” introductory chapter. I’ve only somewhat jokingly told audiences that I used to think I could rub those books on my thighs and they’d disappear—the thighs, not the books.

I’ve been a Weight Watchers lifetime member for years. I learned that I could lose weight and eat as many Skinny Cows as my points would allow. I didn’t learn how to change a single habit, so … you know how this story ends.

Once I turned 40, even the old tricks that often worked to get 10-15 pounds off, didn’t work. My metabolism began changing dramatically. I eventually came to the conclusion that maybe God intended for me to be fat and fluffy my whole life. Some days I could almost convince myself that I was okay with that. I knew which mirrors in my house were the “skinny” mirrors. I knew which angles to take pictures from to hide my extra chins. I swapped my wardrobe out for elastic waists and untucked shirts.

While I’m on the subject of my wardrobe … for 2 years I survived summer with one pair of capris that fit and winter with 1 pair of jeans that I could still squeeze into. “Fit” can be defined as completely miserable to wear if freshly washed, but able to tolerate if they were “broken in” (aka: unwashed). I refused to buy any more clothes, because it would A) require trying ON clothes, and B) mean getting a larger size – by 1 or 2 numbers. Besides, I had a closet FULL of clothes … none of which fit.

I became the master of standing behind my children in photographs, which was becoming a problem, as they were all getting taller than me.

Vicki BeforeMy story took a turn in the early spring of 2013. I led a group of friends (old and new) and family on a tour to Israel. I found that as I climbed the steep stairs down to the spring at Megiddo … and back up again, that I was terribly out of breath and my knees were killing me. As we walked the streets of Jerusalem, I thought I was going to collapse, I was so tired and out of breath. I knew I’d float in the Dead Sea because EVERYONE floats in the Dead Sea, but I was afraid someone would take a picture of me floating—in my swimming suit! I also knew it would be hard to stand back up when I was done floating. My heartbreak came at picture time. You see, I took my mom and my daughter on this trip and I desperately wanted to capture pictures of us together in this holy place, but I didn’t want to see pictures of myself. Nevertheless, pictures were taken (sometimes without my knowledge) and they confirmed what I already knew … though I wasn’t sick, neither was I healthy.

At this point, it was also getting hard to get on stage to speak, because the enemy of my soul used my weight, low self-esteem, and shame to keep me captive and focused on me rather than on what God wanted to do through and in me. Shoot, my overindulgence was giving the enemy the opportunity to destroy my influence.

183845-2948200798-O - Version 2 – Version 3The lies I’d come to believe about myself at age 9 were wrapped around my heart like an albatross and were choking the life out of me. I know that Jesus loves me, finds me beautiful, desirable, and His. My husband feels the same way—his love is unconditional—thick or thin. (See what I did there?) Nevertheless, my obsession with my weight had become an idol in my life; one that I needed to conquer and surrender.

Post-Israel, I began doing research to find a solution, and that’s when I found Take Shape for Life. I can honestly say, I believe this healthy lifestyle program has changed my life forever.

I was connected to a FREE health coach (God bless Gary!) whose support was instrumental to my success. Gary believed in me when I didn’t yet believe in myself. It’s a good thing he was free because there’s no adequate price that could be put on that gift. I learned that the support of a coach is vital to the success of getting healthy for life. It’s a non-negotiable on this journey.

I started on an eating plan that focused on low-glycemic carbohydrates, healthy fats, and proteins. I ate every 3 hours and low and behold, I began losing weight! In fact, I lost 50 pounds in 4 ½ months*.

[Tweet “I’ve carried around a lot of weighty baggage … until now. I’m traveling lighter! #AskMeHow #TSFL”]
Best of all, I learned habits of health that are crucial to me as I make behavioral changes for life.

I’m not going to lie … my journey hasn’t been a straight shot. I hit my goal and then walked through an incredibly stressful journey as I walked my best friend Home during her last days with metastasized breast cancer. During that season, I engaged in some old habits and began believing some old lies, and a little bit of the weight came back on. However, my support team, the program, and the healthy habits I learned through the program didn’t go anywhere. I can tell you that I’m back at my goal weight and have decided to lose a little more this time, so the journey continues.

I also have to tell you how stinkin’ much fun it was to get rid of all of the clothes that didn’t fit … like the entire closet … not because they were all too small, but because they were too big. I recently heard Dave Blanchard tell a story of his wife trying on clothes after losing weight. He described a “spontaneous giggle” that escaped her lips when she came out to model for him. His story resonated because I’d had the same experience! Never in my life had I taken clothes to the dressing room and not felt terrible about myself coming out. Mike, too, heard me release years’ worth of pain in my own spontaneous giggles.

I’ve been in ministry for 13 years now —speaking, writing, and teaching. I love telling people about Jesus, His love for them, and the gift of salvation that He offers. That hasn’t changed and never will.

IMG_6921Two and a half years ago, I also became a Certified Health Coach, and I consider it every bit as lifesaving a ministry as I do my speaking, writing, and teaching. I’ve helped more than 200 people lose over 6000 pounds cumulatively. I’m on a mission to help my friends and family … and their friends and family … and their friends and family become physically, emotionally, and financially healthy. My health is no longer a hindrance to serving God and enjoying the time He’s given me to live.

I intend to spend my life loving beautifully and recklessly. And that weighty baggage I carried for nearly 40 years … well, let’s just say, I’m traveling much lighter these days.

Friends, you know lots of people I don’t know. If you know anyone who would be encouraged by reading my story or who would like a certified health coach, please share this with them. You could be a real life saver!

*Average weight loss for Clients on the Optimal Weight 5&1 Plan with support is 20 pounds.

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