Going on a journey to health and wholeness? How will you get there? What is the most important thing you need to take with you?

Let me just suggest for starters, the most important thing you can take on any journey is grace, even if it doesn’t stop you from eating yourself into oblivion. There is nothing greater than grace. The potential for success is so much greater with grace on board. Let me explain.

1 large pants cropThere are two approaches to taking a trip. Some people start out without knowing where they are headed with very little preparation. Others, plan every detail, make reservations ahead and plan every detail.

I know people who approach weight loss both ways. Some who really don’t have a problem with food can gain a few pounds and simply cut back on how much they eat.

I have a problem with food. I readily admit it. One doesn’t have once weighed over 400 pounds without having some kind of issue with food. It was always difficult to mitigate my food intake with any real positive results. I mean I’d lose weight, but I’d always gain it back, until five years ago.

I’ve heard all kinds of excuses for weight gain—genetic, pyschological, metabolic, disease-related. The bottom line is if you are morbidly obese there is something wrong with why you eat what you do, when you eat and how much you do.

If you have a lot of weight to lose you’ve probably tried every diet out there. And you know, diets do not work. They are short-term fixes for a long-term problem. The only thing that works is to learn how to change your lifestyle to reprogram yourself—body, soul and spirit—to maintain optimal health.

To do that, you will need to throw everything out the window you’ve ever learned about cooking, dealing with your emotions and taking advantage of God’s eternal patience with you.

Just because God is not yelling at you and is extending every amount of grace1 towards you, does not mean you are not missing out on a whole lot of the abundance He has planned for your life.

He gives you grace and freedom to choose, but that doesn’t mean you get to experience the fullness you could if you tapped into the Source completely by following Him unquestionably.

If you really want to go on a journey to health and wholeness, you will have to make some difficult choices, which will involve planned preparation. You will have to change some family traditions.

You will have to stop eating some things that have become part of your identity. You will have to say no to some things in order to embrace the new healthy you. It doesn’t magically happen one day. It happens by intentional choices.

When you make the choices that lead to life, you will be instrumental in changing family traditions to not rely on food to deliver the feelings of love, comfort, connection, nurture and provision.

You will rely on the good old-fashioned ideas of togetherness, fun and laughter of shared times and memories. It will not be easy. How do you do that without great-grandma’s oatmeal cake?

You will learn to embrace your new healthy identity. One day you will look at a picture of yourself as a super, morbidly obese person and not recognize her any more.

You will look at yourself in the mirror and begin to get to get acquainted with the new healthy person smiling at you. That, as fun as it may sound, is not easy. Who are you now without the extra protection of hundreds of pounds of weight?

You will easily say no to what are now your favorite foods because you do not want to be held in the vice grip they currently have on your life. You will do anything to not be bound and chained to your mountain of flesh any longer.

The ease at which those words roll off your tongue, though, become hard when you have to turn down that favorite rich dessert. What will you do while everyone else eats your favorite food?

In her book Made to Crave Lysa TerKeurst says, “Nothing tastes as good as peace feels.” For my life, I say, “Nothing tastes as good as freedom feels.” Nothing.

Seriously, you cannot force me to eat something I know will throw me back in the tailspin of food addiction, an unhealthy lifestyle and extreme obesity.

God’s sweet grace provides us with the freedom to go our own way, make our own self-centered choices based entirely on what our bodies crave. He doesn’t force Himself on us, but the choice is clear. Serve God or serve something else.

For years, I served processed sugar and flour even though I called myself a child of the king. I know if I died I would go to heaven.

In the last five years, I’ve begun to understand that doing things God’s way, living the way He instructed me to live provides me a life full beyond comparison.

I knew He wanted me to stop eating sugar. It seemed impossible until I came to the end of myself and He was the only place to turn. I started taking one cautious step after another and His grace met me there.

As I kept walking, His sweet grace, the same grace that allowed me to make the choice to stay bound and shackled to processed sugar, became the wind at my back moving me forward. He gave me freedom and when I finally made the right choice, all of heaven came to my aid.

This is the feeling I can’t totally describe. It’s the feeling that comes when you have set your mind to do what you know God wants you do. It’s the feeling that comes when you can walk into His presence without the hindrance of a mound of sugar standing between you and the God of the universe.

It’s the feeling that any time you want you can crawl up into His lap and rest in peace and freedom.

Yes, I’ve tasted the sweet grace of freedom and it is heavenly. Why would I want anything else? Why would you?

1 Ephesians 1:7-8

Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.

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.