Last December I was in a bad place.
I weighed over 230 pounds and I had tried everything. From Atkins to Weight Watchers to Green Tea pills, I had dieted myself to death. I was discouraged and worn out. Even though I had been overweight for some time, I had always had a pretty positive body image. I’m a pretty confident girl, so I just wore my weight well.
But it was getting more and more difficult to feel confident. I had plantar fasciitis and severe stomach issues. I was out of shape. I was buying “fat” clothes – lots of sweaters and throw over pieces that could easily be pulled around my stomach. I dreaded summer, because there weren’t many layers to wear and cover what I was trying to hide.
Are you ready to be shocked? Brady and I would order two large pizzas and eat them ourselves. We would buy bags and bags of junk food and consume them during movie nights. Our family ate fast food at least twice, if not three times a week. Sometimes four. I would live from one meal to the next, desperate about food. I loved fried food, sweet food, fat food…I loved it all.
And there was NO WAY I was going to deprive myself of the things I loved most. Whenever I would diet, I made sure I could “cheat” sometimes. Because how in the world would I give up the things that gave me such pleasure?
Just before the New Year, my husband felt called to a spiritual fast and he asked me to join him. This had nothing to do with weight and everything to do with us wanting to hear from God. It was a difficult decision – I went into it fighting and screaming (read the blog post about this process here: http://www.abrokenbeauty.blogspot.com/2014/02/day-25.html ) but I knew it was what we were supposed to do.
We fasted for 40 days – myself on juice and Brady on merely water. But surprising things began to happen – things we didn’t expect.
First, we realized we were addicted to food. When you fast, you are suddenly thrown into this weird outcast world. Everything in the US revolves around food: every gathering, every get together, every family holiday. Finding your way in this world is tricky. It wasn’t uncomfortable for us, but it was often uncomfortable for the people around us. Food is our crutch – our self esteem to lean on in awkward situations. When that is ripped from you, you feel pretty naked. And it forces you to deal with yourself in very real ways.
When you aren’t eating, you do a lot more – you are much more active. And you have lots of time to think because you aren’t preparing meals, eating meals, and cleaning up after meals. We realized that food had become an idol – that it had taken first place in our lives. It was keeping us from living full lives – the lives God had intended for us to live.
I had to confront a lot of addictions in my life. And about halfway through the fast, while I wa lying in the bathtub, God clearly asked me this question,
“AM I ALL YOU NEED OR WHAT?”
It was a mind-blowing, humbling question. I was complaining about missing bread and cheese and candy – and arguing with God about how I couldn’t live without my favorite foods. But the longer I lived without those things, the more I realized I really didn’t need them.
Brady and I sat down with our daughter, Kayden, and talked about life after the fast. As a family, we decided to clean out our cupboards and make decisions about food while we were still fasting – not while we were standing in the grocery store excited to enjoy our next family event.
We did lots of research and watched several documentaries. Among them were http://www.fatsickandnearlydead.com/ and http://www.hungryforchange.tv/ We learned more about what was good for our bodies and how we could achieve the best life. During the rest of the fast, we made shopping lists, collected recipes, and restocked the kitchen. We joined http://www.planetfitness.com/ and began working out, doing cardio and lifting weights. As a family, we resolved to live differently.
We lost some weight during the fast, but the bulk of what happened occurred after the fast was over. It was amazing the way our taste buds changed having detoxed our bodies. Before the fast, I never ate vegetables (ask my mom) or much anything that involved green. Now I eat almost all of them. Before the fast, I couldn’t eat eggs because of stomach issues. Now I eat them regularly. Before the fast, I had pain in my feet and all over my body. Now I have no pain and haven’t been sick since January. I am less tired, more energized, and I feel amazing.
Before the fast I craved all the wrong things. Now, I crave NONE of those things. I am not lying. There has not been one day that I want McDonald’s fries or a Wendy’s hamburger. I don’t want candy or Diet Coke (which, by the way, I used to consume at least 2-3 two liters a DAY). I am happy and satisfied because my body is happy and satisfied.
It’s really been miraculous.
For all practicality purposes and all those who have messaged me or asked about our journey, here is a list of the choices we made. Please keep in mind that our plan may not be perfect for YOUR family – you have to make your own decisions. But this is a good place to start.
Wisehart Family Journey:
- All natural and organic foods – we cannot always afford entirely organic, so we buy natural when we can’t buy organic.
- No processed foods – we check the ingredients carefully – all ingredients need to be natural or organic. Usually that means four ingredients or less on the label.
- No high fructose corn syrup or GMOs
- We eat all meat, but portions are important – We still eat red meat, but in small amounts. If God created it, we eat it. 🙂
- No fast food – this is an obvious choice because fast food isn’t natural OR organic, but it was important that we said this out loud. We DO eat Chipotle and if we HAVE to in a pinch, we’ll eat Subway.
- Restaurants or people’s homes – we realize with my husband being a pastor we will be eating out or in other’s homes. When faced with these situations, we just make the best choices. Salad, veggies, fruits, meats – even though they may not be organic, they are still REAL food.
- LOTS OF ACTIVITY – as we lose the weight, we are more active. We have always loved adventure – but now we have the ability to DO IT. During this radical lifestyle change, we discovered we love bicycling. That led to a 142 weekend mile ride this fall. Our family is outside more than ever, and although we love an occasional movie or television show, we are living a much healthier lifestyle
- We stay away from sugar – we have substituted all our sugars with Agave, honey, and Maple Syrup. Stevia is also a good replacement. We don’t eat many baked goods unless they are clean (non processed, natural or organic). But we DO eat organic dark chocolate and it is super yummy. Did I mention I love organic dark chocolate? I can say it again.
- We do it as a family – although we do allow our daughter to make her own choices outside of our home. This was an important decision we made as a couple. We don’t want Kayden to feel resentful or rebel from all this when she is older. So when Kayden is with friends or at school she can choose candy or cookies. But it has been awesome watching her make positive choices on her own because she’s walked the journey with us.
I know many of you have your own opinions about food and what your family does and doesn’t eat. It is your own conviction and this is ours. We don’t expect anyone to follow our plan the same way. But with this radical transformation have come floods of questions – because this is something I believe we all face. Since the fast, I have not counted one calorie. Because I have grown to understand my body and have let go of the idol food became.
When God asked me if HE was all I needed, it really took me to my knees. If there is something I am not willing to give up for Him, then it is an idol. And that was what food had become in my life. It was as if I had stuffed my ears with food and I couldn’t hear what God was trying to say.
The other day, Kayden walked into the living room and sat down on a chair. She said, “This is where it all started, Mom.”
I was confused. I said, “What, honey?”
“I sat here when you told me about the fast. And it changed our lives, didn’t it, Mom?”
I know that this transformation has changed our lives, and many days I wonder what it saved us from – heart disease, cancer, obesity. But most of all, I think about what I was modeling for my own child. What kind of future was I setting her up to face? But now, as we are eating to live instead of living to eat, I can’t guarantee I will be the perfect parent, but I know I’m leading her down a better path.
I would love to talk with any of you more about our journey and how God has radically transformed our lives. I am 61 pounds lighter, but more importantly, I am living a very different life than I was almost a year ago. And I firmly believe the same thing can happen for you.