After surrendering sugar and learning how to go forward, I began losing weight and keeping it off. I was finally headed in the right direction and had processed and dealt with many things that had held me back on my journey.
Then, I hit what felt like a brick wall.
What Am I Doing Wrong?
I was at the 200 mark and I so wanted to go into "onederland." I had been steadily losing weight, but when I would see 199, I would panic. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong.
I was exercising. I was eating all the right things and none of the wrong things, but I just couldn't stay at 199. The next day I'd be back to 200 and I would feel myself internally breathe a sigh of relief.
It felt a lot like the Romans 7:19 conundrum. "The good I desire to do, I do not do, but the evil I do not want is what I do."
If though I understood there was something there, I could not figure out what was holding me back. I thought, Maybe I am at a plateau? Maybe I'm eating too little, and my body thinks it's in starvation mode? Maybe I'm eating too much, and I need to cut back? Maybe I need to add more vegetables?
I tried many things, but nothing worked.
I shared this at with the meeting of my peers and mentor. The members all gave me input, but nothing was registering.
Then as he had a habit of doing, my mentor asked me a question, which at first seemed totally unrelated to what I had just shared.
"Where did you learn your relationship with food?" The question invaded my mind.
Not for a second did I wonder whether or not I had a relationship with food. I knew I did, and I knew I learned it from my loving grandma, who fed us with every kind of food we wanted, including every type of dessert. We could eat as much as we wanted whenever we wanted it.
I preferred her more lavish food style to my mother's three-square meals with fruit for dessert version. What kid wouldn't want to be able to eat as much dessert as they wanted any time they wanted?
I equated the kind of foods Grandma prepared with comfort and love. When I was away from her and felt overwhelmed, sad, angry, lonely, fearful, worried, stressed or just plain old frustrated, I would make something Grandma would have made and eat that.
It was my comfort food. It would comfort me for a while until the sugar high wore off. Then, I needed more to get the same feeling. Still, fresh-baked oatmeal cookies always seemed to wrap me in Grandma's arms even if she wasn't there.
Emotion Versus Truth
In reality, this way of coping wasn't comforting at all. It was very discomforting. It had caused to gain weight and then struggle through learning how to lose the weight. Now, those same thoughts of comfort were threatening to ruin my healthy living journey.
To not eat or cook those foods felt like I would be abandoning my culture and dishonoring Grandma. It took me a while to process what was happening in my head and heart.
To believe Grandma's foods, which were my favorites, had been harming me, saddened me. I knew she didn't aim to hurt me. She fed me out of love. However, the little girl in me was emotionally attached to those comfort foods, which I equated with extreme love.
While the adult me knew I couldn't eat all of those foods in the quantities I had consumed them in the past and be healthy, the emotional part of me was still stuck back baking cookies with Grandma.
All of sudden God revealed the truth to me. Grandma's cooking was the wall. Grandma wasn't the barrier, but her cooking was. I had equated the two. They had become enmeshed in my heart. Could I separate them? Could I still hold a place in my heart for Grandma if I turned my back on the things she cooked?
I couldn't imagine never again having hot rolls, chocolate pie, brownies, Mamaw's oatmeal cake or myriads of other special dishes.
The emotional wall of cultural foods was vivid in my mind. They emanated from Grandma's kitchen. After sharing what I had discovered, my mentor asked, "What would your grandmother say to you if she knew certain foods were causing you to ruin your health?"
I knew she would tell me to give them up. Many times she would say to me, "Honey, you would feel so much better if you would lose some weight." However, about five minutes later, she would say, "I baked a batch of oatmeal cookies. They're in the cabinet. Eat as many as you want." The second message always drowned out the first.
I clearly saw the disconnect between these two statements. I also realized she never saw it. She was a large woman, but never as large as I had gotten. She ate what she needed, but she also worked hard. It never once crossed her mind that certain foods could be addictive.
During the group meeting, I let those foods go and I embraced more of what my mother had been trying to teach me. Part of me didn't want to agree she had been trying to teach me a better way than Grandma.
Grandma was my person. Mom was just someone who had problems for most of my growing-up years. Clearly, though, it was true. Mom had the better way.
I forgave myself for not learning the lessons of limited, practical balance meals my mother had been trying to teach me. I said a prayer of thanks for how she tried to take care of us.
I forgave Grandma. This was hard. She was my person. The adult me understood, though, that I could not go forward and reach any of my goals without conquering this issue. The little girl me was still hanging on to those wonderful feelings of love and comfort.
Now that Grandma was gone it seemed the only part of that left was those comfort foods, but they would kill me if I went back to them. I had to work with the Holy Spirit to conquer this difficulty.
I said out loud, "Holy Spirit, I forgive Grandma for feeding me wonderful foods which would become addictive to me. I forgive her for making me feel food equals love and comfort. I understand she would be sad to know what these types of food did to me. I know she did not mean to hurt me."
Then, I renounced the lie that the Holy Spirit would comfort me in a way that would be harmful to me. I asked, "Holy Spirit, what is Your truth?"
I really didn't hear or sense words. I simply felt love and peace invade my being, like being swaddled in a warm, secure blanket. I understood, for the first time, this is what real comfort feels like.
It's not an overfull feeling, which leads to damaging my body. It is a peace like only the Holy Spirit, who is the only true Comforter, brings.
Strength to Overcome
I realized a huge truth here. It's the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ within me, who gives me the strength I need to overcome my difficulties.
"I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance. I know what it means to lack and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I'm trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find the strength of Christ's explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty" (Phil. 4:11-13, TPT).
That strength is His Spirit within us. When we rely on the Him to comfort us, to teach us what to do and how to go forward, our lives will fall into place.
Emotions Carry Weight
This incident showed me how heavy emotional baggage really is. I had already given up eating sugar long before. But this was a final severing of those emotional ties with the foods I loved. Within a month, I had dropped another five pounds and moved toward losing the rest of the weight I wanted to lose and then working at keeping it off.
There were many other issues like this that I had to confront as I went forward on my journey. Some of them threatened to ruin all the efforts I had put in so far.
I learned that emotional traumas, faulty mindsets and spiritual lies do add weight to our bodies, and not just in the form of eating too much. My body actually wants to hold on to weight at certain times until I am able to work through whatever is going on.
We must allow God to help us identify and heal those areas that tend to wreak havoc in our bodies.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of five books and two study guides, including her latest, Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy, and her No. 1 best-seller, Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds. She is also a blogger, spiritual weight loss coach (check out her coaching group, Overcomers Academy) and speaker at TeresaShieldsParker.com.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Great Resources to help you excel in 2019! #1 John Eckhardt's "Prayers That..." 6-Book Bundle. Prayer helps you overcome anything life throws at you. Get a FREE Bonus with this bundle. #2 Learn to walk in the fullness of your purpose and destiny by living each day with Holy Spirit. Buy a set of Life in the Spirit, get a second set FREE.