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 one...here 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)