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When I turned 39 a few years back, I realized that I weighed more than I did at the height of either of my pregnancies. Not getting any younger, the old biological clock was ticking away fast at my metabolism. 40 was quickly creeping up on me (and has since come and gone), and I knew that both time and gravity would soon take an unimaginable hold that sets up like concrete. In order to keep any dignity, I was going to have to lose weight or face life as the female version of Jabba the Hut.

I had tried all sorts of diets throughout my life, having fought a constant battle with the bulge since my early teens.  Anything would work, nothing would work for good.  To compound matters, I had no real motivation to lose weight other than a failed marriage, two extremely busy young teenagers, and a job description that held no genuine interest for me. Battling depression seemed a full time job, so could I really handle undertaking weight loss as a second career?

In June ‘05, from a very surprising venue, motivation for weight loss welled up before me. A family friend was diagnosed with cancer, and her prognosis was bleak at best. Assisting in a total “home makeover” to enhance the final days of this precious spirit, I came face to face with people from my deep past - and I was ashamed of what I represented to them.  

Looking back, I expect I felt I was painting a picture of myself (for the “friends of history“) that would indicate that I cared more about others than I did for myself. In reality, the picture I was painting was just the opposite.  And what a horrible statement my life and attitude must have been!  

I examined my friend, the woman afflicted by cancer, who had been such a precious friend for so many years.  What she would give to have the strength to take care of herself and exercise! Then I looked at myself - blessed with health and energy - I had chosen to disregard my own blessings, and instead embrace obesity. How can a person truly love and care about another unless they first love themselves? They can’t.  

So then, what was my purpose at the home makeover? If I didn’t care for myself, then I couldn’t possibly genuinely care about my friend. So then ... was the purpose of my presence at the home makeover for personal gain? Was I there for a selfish reason?  

Why exactly WAS I there?

It was during the 2 weeks that I helped in small ways to refurbish my friend’s home that I realized how shallow I was being, and self-centered my weight issues had become. I decided during that period of time I actually do love myself, and care enough for myself to tackle the weighty issues at hand. And foot, and rear end, and chin, and everywhere else the fat cells had plumped up so nicely.

Spontaneously, I began cutting back on carbs, sugars, and fat intake - while stoically refusing to give up all of any of them. And amazingly, I had a steady decline in my weight. I began the summer of 2005 weighing in at a whopping 223 pounds, and nicely filling in all available space within size 20 pants. However, 7 months later, still too busy (or perhaps too lazy) to take on much of an exercise program, I dropped weight sufficiently to decently fill out a size 10 jeans, and squeeze uncomfortably into a size 9 skirt, and the occasional “should be loose-fitting but aren’t quite yet” size 8 dress pants.  If I would motivate myself to actually exercise, even if just 10 to 15 minutes a day, I know I would feel better - and those squeezably uncomfortable single digit clothes would feel quite wonderful when adorning me in public places.

This customized “diet” is one that doesn’t leave me feeling at all deprived, and is now a new way of life for me. I am able to enjoy sugar-free candies (even chocolates), frozen fat-free, sugar-free Cool-Whip as an ice cream substitute, and occasionally even a lovely slice of 6-carb cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory. I can have all the meat in the world, but low fat selections are the most prudent choices for me. My splurge - cheese. I refuse to feel deprived, and I’ve been losing weight while munching on various blocks of cheeses, so that’s something I intend to continue. It’s amazing how great and satisfying a Granny Smith apple tastes when coupled with a slice of sharp cheddar cheese! I gave up rice and potatoes, but when slathered with a dollop of cheese, cauliflower makes a great replacement. Sweet potatoes liberally sprinkled with cinnamon and Splenda, and a pat of make-believe butter is a wonderful side dish to any piece of steak. I can do this forever!

I had to learn that dieting doesn’t stop after the first three letters. I also had to learn that in order for me to truly love my friends and family, it’s a God ordained requirement that I love me, too. Sadness over watching and hearing bits and pieces about a dying friend does not give me license to die at my own hand. How selfish to make that decision, when so many people long to live but are denied the opportunity to live long.  

And depression? That’s not a good reason to leave my family behind - a frightening path I was headed towards by taking one bite at a time.  I love chips & salsa - I eat them.  I love bacon - I eat it.  I love frozen desserts - I eat them. The trick is... I just eat them a little differently now than I used to.  

My friend has now passed away. I catch myself sometimes, wanting to see her head on Sundays at church. Sometimes I could just make myself believe it’s there, other times I realize it’s just a fantasy. But her husband and children are there, and I know they’ve carried her spirit with them on their journey. Rarely a day goes by that she doesn’t drift across my mind, a haunting spirit reminding me of the grace of God, and the blessings of my own health that should never be taken for granted.

Her suffering, her patience, her time here on earth has blessed so many lives. Who knew that she would bless mine so much? This weight loss, I wholly and entirely dedicate to her. Without her even being aware of it, she was the inspiration for my weight loss, and for my renewed interest in living the life that God is blessing me with in so many ways, every ... single ... day.

God bless you, Wendy. You stayed strong and fought hard. You are missed...and I love you ~


Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Shopgirl1960 wrote Oct 2, 2008
    • Wow,what a great story! I HAD to save it!

      Thank you SO much for sharing !!!!


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      M2pjulie wrote Oct 2, 2008
    • Thank you Della!


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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Inakika wrote Oct 2, 2008
    • Julie,
      I’ll bet that ex-husband of yours is kicking himself over how good you look! :)

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Feathermaye wrote Oct 2, 2008
    • Thanks for sharing your journey to inner strength and personal motivation. I consider you very lucky to have identified the need for change, both inside and out.

      I have struggled with my weight most of my life. Recent events have thrown me off-track again, but not so far that I don’t see the way back. I appreciate the reminder you’ve given me with your story that only I can do it, and that it needs to be done.

            Report  Reply

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Dee Dee Shaw wrote Oct 2, 2008
    • Julie,
      So many of the details of your story hit home for me. Weighing more than I did at the height of my first two pregnancies, having the failing health of others cause me to rethink how I am taking care of my own health.
      I still have about 6 lbs and some tummy flab to lose, but I KNOW that adding in moderate exercise would get me there. I just haven’t been able to motivate myself... but I am now! :)
      I used to use all the artificial sweeteners, and restrict my carbs in an unhealthy way (ketosis) but found that was worse for my health than being overweight. And I plateaued about 15 lbs from my goal. The headaches that plagued me went away when I found the culprits were in the foods I was eating. I did find a system that works for me, and I don’t have to deprive myself.
      Being in single digit clothes hasn’t motivated me to get to my ideal, knowing I am going to Cancun next month with my hunny hasn’t motivated me - but your post did. Thanks! I am going to push myself to get out of bed 15 mins earlier, and not just settle for doing a few crunches before I drag myself out of bed.  

      Sharing Hope,

      Dee Dee

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Gwendolyn007 wrote Oct 2, 2008
    • Wow! Your story is so amazing & you were lucky to have such an awesome friend in Wendy!!
      Thanks so much for sharing your success & how you got there.

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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      M2pjulie wrote Oct 3, 2008
    • I raise my eyes towards Heaven and give thanks, yet again, to (and for) Wendy. She is truly a special woman, and I use the present tense because although she has left us in body, clearly her spirit continues to inspire and motivate people to do their best for themselves and for others, just as she always did. I miss her.  

      THANK YOU for allowing me to learn that my journey has touched you. Good luck to each of you! ~ Julie

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