Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Update on my Journey to lose 100 pounds

As many of you know, I have been on a health quest lately. My battle with my weight has been a very difficult and very public one. The difficulties began years ago when I was a child. But the public part began with that infamous barb "Do we have a bigger stage this year" by Simon Cowell on the 5th season premiere of American Idol. Ever since then, my weight has been scrutinized, scoffed at, and mocked. That is the down side. The up side to all of the attention on my weight is that I have been able to be the voice of so many people who struggle in this area.

When I began recording my third full-length album (after True Beauty and It's Christmas), I realized that so many of the songs I was writing and being drawn to were saying things like, "Lift your hands up in the air...I have been set free", "So I can walk through this valley with confidence, knowing You will deliver me", and "My Deliverer set me free from all that held me captive"! It was then that I knew that God was calling me to receive freedom from an area that has held me captive for most of my life. He wanted to set me free from a life-long addiction to food.

I hired a personal trainer (If you follow me on twitter, you are well acquainted with my rantings about Tina). I changed my eating habits. (I don't believe in diets because I've done them all. I believe that whatever you do to lose the weight is what you must do for the rest of your life to keep it off). I began seeing a Christian counselor that specializes in the area of eating disorders. And last but certainly not least, I let God in to this area that, for so long, I've kept hidden from Him (or so I thought).

Since I began doing these things I lost 80lbs. I set a goal to lose 100lbs by the time my album Freedom was released on March 24, 2009. I began filming short videos called "Journey to 100" that chronicled my journey to lose 100lbs. If you have not seen them, here you go!

Video 1: Introduction to my journey

Video 2: Meet my trainer Tina!

Video 3: More info on what I eat

And incase you haven't seen the new is number 4: ZUMBA!!!

As you can see, March 24th came and went (so did April 23rd for that matter)! Now, here is where I will be completely honest. The most difficult part of this journey for me has been dealing with my emotions. I've never done that before. I would always EAT my emotions. That is why working with my counselor is so important. I am learning tools to deal with my emotions in a healthy way. But back in June, I resorted to my old ways of avoiding my emotions with food. I fell into a pit that I felt like I could not claw my way out of! I was still working out. I was just eating anything and everything I desired. You see, my problem is that I binge. There will be periods of time (sometime several weeks) where I will eat nothing but McDonald's, Wendy's, ice-cream, donuts, pie, cake, cookies...basically anything sweet and anything fast food. And let me be clear...I'm not talking about 1 Krispy Kreme donut or 2 scoops of ice cream. It is not uncommon for me to go through an entire carton of ice cream or a dozen donuts in one day. I cringe to think of that and am embarrassed to reveal that publicly, but I want you to know that what I am dealing with is not a slight weight problem. I am a food addict. I would love to say that I will never binge again. But I am realistically saying that I did not today. I will say the same thing tomorrow. And as those days accumulate, I will be free! (And I would really appreciate your prayers in this area).

From that period of bingeing this summer I gained 12lbs! I have since lost those 12lbs and have at this point, lost 80lbs total. Some of my problem has been that I binge. But another problem is that I have hit a plateau. This naturally happens when you have been working out and eating healthy regularly. Your body gets to a certain point and you have to ramp it up to keep losing. In addition to zumba (as you just saw in the 4th video), when my schedule permits I am working out twice a day. Once with Tina or zumba, and once on my own with aerobic dvds or on my treadmill or elliptical.

I hear from many of you who are on this journey with me. Knowing that I am not doing this alone encourages me more than I can express. You understand my struggles. You rejoice with me in my victories. You pray for me during my trials. Please know that I do the same for you.

Many of you have asked, so here are a few tips that have helped me on my journey so far:

1. Don't do this alone! I have a couple of friends on this journey with me. We get together for "Fat Night" (as inspired by Ruby) regularly to talk about how we've been doing, how we've struggled, and to pray with each other.

2. Cardio AND weight training are a must! A few weeks ago there was a guy (trying to sell his book) all over the news spouting false information about cardio workouts not being effective. There has been so much debate on this issue so I will just quickly give my two cents. BOTH ARE IMPORTANT! Cardio does help you burn fat, and keeps your heart healthy. Weight training makes you tone and also helps you lose weight because muscle burns fat.

3. A personal trainer is nice, but you don't NEED one. I love Tina. But not all of you can have a Tina. There are so many great workout videos you can do. Lots of people have exercise equipment collecting dust. Take your clothes off of it, kick in some good high energy music, and go for it. These exercise bands are great for resistance (weight) training. I'm a believer in finding something you enjoy doing because you'll be most likely to stick with it. But while you're looking, and when all else fails, walk around the block, do some squats, push ups, jumping jacks, etc.

4. You know my theory on diets. But in case you missed it, I'll just say this: whatever you do, make it something you can do for the rest of your life. Diets work. Until you hit your goal and stop. Then the second you eat a biscuit...BAM...all the weight comes right back (and usually then some)! I know you want to lose it quickly, but wouldn't it be better to lose it slowly and keep it off? Try incorporating more water, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat (chicken and fish) into your diet. And try to limit white products (white bread, white rice, white flour, sugar, etc.).

5. Learn to deal with the things that cause you to turn to unhealthy food. If you are able to work with a counselor, do! Changing your eating and exercise habits are important but you have to dig up the root if you want to experience true freedom.

6. Read things that will help you on your journey: I recommend Fat Chance by Julie Hadden (available December 1), Lose it for Life by Stephen Arterburn (there is a workbook, devotional, and more), and I talk a lot about my weight in Idoleyes - My New Perspective on Faith, Fat, and Fame. (And I haven't read it yet, but I'm sure Ruby Gettinger's Ruby's Diary - Reflections On All I've Lost and Gained is inspiring! Should get mine in the mail next week!)

7. When you fall (notice I said "when" not "if"), GET UP! It is a trick from the enemy to make you feel shame and defeat. Wallowing in that will only keep you down. I have been living on the scripture that happens to be the Women of Faith theme scripture this year: "The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is His faithfulness; His mercies begin afresh each morning." (Lamentations 3:22-23 NLT)

Now is your chance to ask me questions. Nothing is off limits (except how much I weigh! Not quite ready to reveal that yet!) I'll compile your questions and post another blog soon with answers.

We can do this together y'all! The journey won't be easy, but it will be worth it!

Jesus came to set us free! See...
"God's Spirit is on Me; He's chosen me to preach the Message of good news to the poor, sent Me to announce pardon to prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the burdened and battered free, to announce, "This is God's year to act!"..."You've just heard Scripture make history. It came true just now in this place." (Luke 4:18-21 MSG)



  1. Thank you for your words of advice, my daughter follows you on twitter and I am hoping that she will read this and see that it is ok to fall and still be able to get up. Thank you for being a true role model for my girls. You are a true inspiration to our family. God has blessed you with a wonderful voice and not just for singing.

  2. Thank you so much for being real. You are SUCH an inspiration. God Bless!

  3. Because I have a heart condition and cant do Aerobics and Running.. can you recomment exercises like for stomach and booty.... I dont need to lose any weight--just tone my jiggles....

    I am soooooo proud of you Disa.. and I will always be backing you up....

  4. Disa,
    thanks for this post. weight is a struggle of mine, as well. your public battle, including struggles & successes, makes it easier to keep journeying when all i want to do is quit!

  5. Thank you so much Mandisa! You are truly an inspiration. I am struggling to get on any type of program and stay on it! I get discouraged very easy! I am a pastor's wife and I have many struggles that I am working on right now! You give me hope and I truly thank you for that. I am following you on Twitter. I am embarrassed to say, that never having watched a single episode of American Idol, I had no idea who you were. Have been listening to your music and realized that some of your songs have been the very songs I blasted on the car radio...Shackles is a favorite! Please keep blogging and inspire me and others! You are precious and in my prayers daily. I am a TN girl too!

    God Bless!

  6. Thank you for all that you have shared with those that read your blog here and on twitter!!! Also, I was wondering about how you found your Christian Counselor?

  7. You Rock!!! You look fabulous!! My son and I are in love with your music!!! I just can't help loving and respecting anyone who chooses daily to be authentic and real. You do that well!!!

  8. Dear Mandisa,
    I have been following your journey on twitter and praying for you. I am a life coach and work with young women who are struggling with the way that they are "acting out" their emotions. We use horses along with the life coaching and have seen God work in women's lives daily. Keep on keeping on and remember that you are doing temple maintenance(what we call it)! Visit our website at Blessings,Nanette

  9. Disa,
    I know I am posting again.... sorry.... I have struggled with food habits--but in the opposite direction... For years, I would make myself throw up after every meal..... or either just not eat for days. I wanted to be skinny so badly.... and when i got upset or depressed..... I wanted to be skinny even more. Back in 1992-during a bad marriage--I dropped down to like 81 pds. My dr wanted to send me to a camp.... Well, I got delivered--I realize it was a total God thing-- but from time to time--I fight that spirit again.. and I understand how you feel--it is sooooooo hard.. So, I am in this battle with you.... its a day by day battle. I'll ptay for you and you pray for me--deal? I am soooo proud of you.. and Mandisa--thank you for being real and Open.....

  10. I am on this journey with you. As of today, I have lost 58 lbs. For months I had been struggling with a plateau and was just beginning to come out of it but my dad had a stroke in Feb of this year. But when that stroke came I KNEW I would gain weight since I was under such stress. And I did - somewhere around 15 lbs. To be honest I was happy that it wasn't more! My dad is home now but requires someone with him at all times. I share these duties with my brother. It's so hard being there - definitely not a diet friendly house so I struggle everyday to stay away from the Cheetos but I am winning. The weight loss has started again!

    Good luck on your journey. I am a twitter follower too.

  11. Forgot to post this link. It's to another blog where a woman writes about her struggles with bingeing. It was so interesting I went back to the beginning to get the whole story

    My question, totally off topic from weightloss though: In CCM, how important is it to write your own songs?

  12. Mandisa: You are so encouraging. Thank you for being authentic and vulnerable. I have prayed for you many times...that God would give you victory, peace, and favor. You inspire me today to push aside the SlimFast and pour out my hurting heart to the God who is determined to set me free. Bless you Sister!

  13. You are in GOOD SHAPE to Zumba like that! Oh, it kills me! You looked great in that video, Mandisa! You are an inspiration! I am going to suit up and go tomorrow. I'll have to catch on sooner or later! So glad I found your blog.

  14. Praying 1Peter 5:8-11. Thanks for Lamentations 3 which is also a great chapter to pray. I appreciate you and your journey.

  15. The fact that you can DO Zumba and not risk taking people out while dancing? Means you are SO better than I am! You are always an inspiration... Our Daddy knows that your music pulled my butt outta the pit... and now your words are putting that same butt back on track.. off to the Y for me. (Cannot wait to see ya at WOF.. you and Anita R in one weekend? better than chocolate)

  16. I have been delivered from addiction of a different sort (I'll leave it unsaid here out of respect for you and your readers). But the pull of addiction is the same no matter which type we choose. When I chose to be open about my addiction with my close friends, church, and my wife, it seemed to take the power out of the enemy's hands and I began to see true breakthrough, as in James 5:16- "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." It wasn't always easy after that, but I've been 3+ years on the wagon. My question is (finally!) have you felt that your openess has made you stronger?
    (And PS, I'm jammin' to your latest album. Love it! God truly is my Deliverer!)

  17. Wow Disa! You totally made me cry with that last blog entry. I have always known that you are brave but you have truly proved it by opening yourself up to everyone about your weight loss journey. I think that this was the first time that I truly felt that I am not going through this by myself. It is good to know that there is someone out there who really does understand what it is like to struggle and have slips when getting rid of excess weight. I mean of course people tell you that they understand and then turn around and offer you some of the most fattening things in the world to eat. I found that the only time that I really felt like could actually lose weight and keep it off was when I was at weight watchers while I was attending grad school. That is what taught me that you do not have to diet but simply change your eating habits which was something that was actually easy to do. Now that I know that, I just have to make sure I am able to stick with it. You are right about not doing it by yourself as well. I had more success when I was getting up going to the track and working out with my roommate (she is a size 2) every morning. I thought that I would be uncomfortable working out with her everyday but she was and still is the most caring person when it comes to me trying to lose weight. Turns out she used to be a size 12 and dropped down to a 2. You could have knocked me over with a feather when she said that. Now I am back to trying it on my own so we will see what happens. Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for being SO willing to put yourself out there and for being so encouraging to others.

    Praying for your continued success and happiness!

  18. Disa...I have been following your blog, Twitter and Facebook for a while, and have been so proud of you since I first saw you on Idol. I too have struggled with my weight all of my adult life (I am now 36). I am now doing Crossfit and Paleo/Zone with a trainer and have lost 35 pounds this past year (minus 2 months for an unrelated surgery), and I am also recording a CD project with Mark Kenoly and Kingdom Voice Productions. I tell you all of that because our journeys have been so similar in theme that I am honestly surprised at times by what you write because it mirrors what is happening in my own life. I'm not a sweets and fast food eater, I'm just an EATER PERIOD! I can cook it AND eat it. In fact, when my husband and I married we both gained 60 pounds each! My husband has lost 35 pounds also, and we have come to the same realization: that this is a lifestyle for us now, and not a diet at all. So keep it up girlfriend! We'll be working out hard and eating well right along with you!

  19. I just caught you on twitter and cried reading this!! You've insipred me to start working on my weight, not because I need to look like Barbie. But because I need to be a healthier me!

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