When the doctor pronounced my death sentence, it made me take a good, long look at my life. It was the day I decided to live.

The cardiac surgeon and his entourage had sauntered into my room. I’d had an arteriogram and wanted to know the results.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABeen there. Done that. Many times.
He didn’t mince words. “Your body is too big for your heart. Your heart was never meant to be in a 430-pound body. You need to lose weight and do it now.”

He turned and walked out. No one was with me. I placed my hand over my chest just to make sure. Yep, I was alone, just me and my heart.

My father had open heart surgery several years earlier. I remembered how he looked cold and dead when I went to see him in the recovery room. He survived. His heart was repaired with a quadruple bypass.

Mine couldn’t be repaired in any way except to stop food from going into my mouth. Much simpler than open heart surgery but it didn’t seem that way at the time.

It’s interesting how aware I became of my heart when there was a possibility that it could stop at any time. I could be picking up my teenager at high school, watching my daughter sing with her fifth grade honors choir and it would be too much. My heart would stop. Life would end.

I would not be able to see them grow up, graduate high school and college, get married, do all the awesome things I knew they would do. I’d miss their lives. I’d miss their children’s lives.

Worse than all of these things, though, is I’d miss my life. I still had things to do. I had women to coach. I had small groups to lead. I had foster children to raise. I had articles, Bible studies and books to write. I wasn’t done yet. I had visions of the future, didn’t I?

Lose weight?
I’d always said I wanted to lose weight. I mean what morbidly obese person really wants to weigh over 400 pounds? Well, except that one lady on Dr. Phil who wanted to be the world’s largest bride.

No, I wanted to lose weight but I liked to eat, too. I hated to exercise. I wanted to lose weight quick and easy, painless.

I screamed inside. “Why does this have to happen to me?”

I cried. “I don’t deserve this.”

I pleaded with God to be able to wake up and realize this was all a bad dream and I weighed a normal 150 pounds.

I don’t ever remember being in shock before. That day I was in shock. My mouth hung open. My eyes had an expressionless stare. I was going to die. Click here to tweet that.

People came to visit and asked what the doctor said. I laughed, “He is so wise. He says I need to lose weight.” They didn’t think it was funny.

Intentional living
There is more to this story than can be shared in one blog post. The bottom line is today I am on the intentional journey of believing in wholeness, becoming happy and being healthy.

Since that day almost 15 years ago, I have lost 240 pounds.

I owe my life to a rude cardiac surgeon who taught me I really do want all that life has to offer. He helped me understand there are no magic fixes only intentional actions.

I seriously doubt that he ever read the Bible. He just didn’t appear to be that kind of guy. However, I believe he would agree with what Moses told the children of Israel.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, that you and your descendants might live! Choose to love the LORD your God and to obey him and commit yourself to him, for he is your life. Then you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (NLT)

The choice he gave them exists for us today. What is your choice and what will you do about it?

More insights into living on purpose is available in the Healthy Living Manifesto, Gift of Purpose: How to Start Living Your Dreams. Enter your name and email below for your FREE copy.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.