I’m reminded today that 10 years ago God tapped me on the shoulder and asked me to write my first book, my weight loss memoir. I’d been on a transformation journey, being thrilled about losing the next pound, and getting down to the next size. I hadn’t calculated how much I’d lost from my highest weight of 430 pounds. That’s when I figured out I had lost 250 pounds!

Teresa Shields Parker in 2004 weighing 430 pounds. Teresa after losing 250 pounds.

After I published Sweet Grace, God asked me to coach. I told Him, I couldn’t because “I know every excuse in the book for not losing weight.” He said, “That’s exactly why I want you to coach. You’ve used every excuse in the book and one by one you’ve allowed Me to help you overcome them.”

God showed me that my new book, Sweet Excuses, is something I unknowingly prophesied then. For years, I used excuses to avoid doing what I knew He wanted me to do. The issue wasn’t that I didn’t hear from God. It was that I heard, but didn’t do what He said.

God Rescued Me

When I look back over my life I see where I went wrong and where God rescued me. “He stooped down to lift me out of danger from the desolate pit I was in, out of the muddy mess I had fallen into. Now He’s lifted me up into a firm, secure place and steadied me while I walk along His ascending path” (Psalms 40:2 TPT). I’m so glad He did.

God first told me what He wanted me to do to get healthy back in 1977. I was doing my morning Bible reading and came upon a story in Matthew 17 where a father brought his son to Jesus to have a demon cast out. The disciples had tried and couldn’t. So, Jesus cast the demon out of the boy. Then the disciples asked Him why they couldn’t do it.

“He said to them, ‘Because of your meager faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you’” (Matthew 17:20 NASB).

The minute I read that, I picked up my pen and started writing. “Jesus, I have a mountain of weight on my body and a little bit of faith. How can this mountain be moved?” To help you understand, I had gone over 200 pounds for the first time in my life. The weight had come on so quickly, I was afraid of what might happen if I didn’t get it under control.

God Answered Me

God answered me. I knew it was God because it was not anything I had ever thought of before. He said, “Stop eating sugar. Eat more meats, fruits, and vegetables. And stop eating so much bread.” Basically what He was telling me was that I was someone who was too sweet, or at least everything I ate had sugar in it. Since I couldn’t stop with just a little, I needed to stop. Period.

I wrote down what He said along with my very flippant answer. “Nice plan, God. If I did that I would lose weight, but I can’t do that.”

I took what He said as a suggestion that I could follow or not follow. I didn’t take it as something that if I didn’t do it, I would be sinning. In John 10:27 NASB, Jesus said,  “My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” I was one of His sheep. I heard His voice. He knew me, but I didn’t do the most important thing.

What Overeating Did to Me

I did not follow what He said. The God of the universe told me how to lose weight and I said, “I can’t do that.” I really meant I don’t want to do that and I don’t want to know how to do that.

Fast forward to 1999 when my continual overeating of foods made with sugar and flour caught up with me. Until that time, my health was fine even though doctors would always want me to go on a diet. As far as co-morbidities, I didn’t have any. All of a sudden I had diabetes, high blood pressure, heart issues, and could barely walk.

Then I found myself in the hospital. The rude cardiac surgeon walked in and told me I didn’t need open heart surgery. I had congestive heart failure and I’d be dead in five years if I didn’t lose at least 100 pounds and keep it off. Then, he turned and walked out of the room.

Fix Me, God

This was the first time anyone had told me my life was in my hands. Up until that point I pretty much blamed God for my weight gain. I’d tell Him, “You made me this way, God. Fix me.” It was a demand prayer that I do not recommend.

I didn’t like that expiration date, but I did what to live and be around for my children and husband. The problem was I didn’t want to have to stop eating sugar. Even though I’d sworn off all diets, I went back on one that had worked for me to lose weight. I lost 100 pounds and kept it off for about six months. The doctor was pleased with me, so what did I do?

I gradually started eating sweets again and the pounds began to attach themselves to my body again. I saw what I was doing and felt ashamed. However, it still didn’t stop me. When the holidays came, any aspect of a diet went out the window. I once again hated what I was doing, but I couldn’t stop.

Do What God Says First

Throughout the years when I’d get desperate and ashamed, I’d cry out to God again. He’d tell me the same thing. He was very consistent. He’d also give me that answer when I’d pray about my life’s purpose. It made no sense to me that losing weight was related to my purpose.

I wanted God to bestow purpose on me, but He wanted me to follow what He had already told me to do in order to fulfill the purpose He had for me. He wanted to shave off my rough edges. He wanted me to surrender to Him out of pure love, trust, and surrender.

He never forced me to follow Him. However, when I would pray He would remind me of the last thing He had told me to do that I hadn’t done. I now know until I did that, it was no use praying for anything else.

Do What God Says First

Throughout the years when I’d get desperate and ashamed, I’d cry out to God again. He’d tell me the same thing. He was very consistent. He’d also give me the same answer when I’d pray about my life’s purpose. It made no sense that losing weight was related to my purpose.

I wanted God to bestow purpose on me, but He wanted me to follow what He had already told me to do in order to fulfill the purpose He had for me. He wanted to shave off my rough edges. He wanted me to surrender to Him out of pure love, trust, and surrender.

He never forced me to follow Him. However, whenever I prayed, He would remind me of the last thing He had told me to do that I hadn’t done. I now know until I did that, it was no use praying for anything else.

Life Change Can Happen Anywhere

Around 2009 I went to a meeting conducted by a mentor of mine. I knew he would share his story about being a long-time sober alcoholic. So, I was barely listening to what he said. Right in the middle of his talk his words unexpectedly changed my life.

“Alcohol is one molecule away from sugar. Alcohol is liquid sugar.” When he said that, all of the pieces of my life came together like a magnetic puzzle. I saw all the times I had gone to foods made with sugar to soothe my raw emotions. I saw every diet I went on and lost weight only to gain it all back plus more when I started eating sugar again.

I asked. “Can someone be addicted to sugar like others are addicted to alcohol?” He looked me right in the eyes and said, “You can be addicted to anything that controls you.”

My Moment of Surrender

That was it. I knew if no one else in the world was a sugar addict, I was one. I remembered what God told me in 1977. I finally realized that God meant I needed to stop eating foods that contain sugar, not just for a short time, but forever.

On my way home I had to pull over and stop. I repented, cried, mourned, and prayed for God’s forgiveness. Then, I surrendered sugar to Him. I told Him I was willing to give it up, but I needed help to figure out the how. I asked Him to bring someone alongside me who knew the way. Thankfully, my mentor began a habit-change group. Through him, God taught me how to change my habits for good.

By 2013, God had helped me lose 250 pounds and has been helping me keep it off. Writing the book about my journey, morphed into starting a coaching group, writing six more books, and starting a podcast. I had no idea that losing weight was tied to the purpose God designed for me.

Habit Change is Not a Diet

In my coaching group, I teach habit change similar to what I learned but geared completely toward food issues. In the group members can take my Journey to Transformation course and 24 other courses. I do weekly calls and answer any questions in the group. What I don’t do is talk about a diet. I encourage each member to work with God to decide which bad habit He wants them to stop and which good habit He wants them to start.

Going on a transformation journey is not easy. We need God’s help every step of the way. I don’t tell clients what to do and not do. I coach them to pull out of themselves what they already know they should do but are having a hard time doing.

We work on root issues that keep us from trusting God and losing weight. Many of these are learned habits from childhood. God is so good to come alongside and help us when we are open to His direction.

Everything I have learned on this journey has come at the hand of God. One of my biggest realizations is that He doesn’t expect me to power my way through life trying to fix everything myself. He comes will help me and give me the strength to do what I couldn’t do one second before.

God’s Grace Is Strength

It’s His grace-strength in action when we take our hands off of the problem we are facing and let His strength take over. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 MSG, God says, “My grace is enough; it’s all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:10 AMP adds to that. “When I am weak in human strength, then I am strong, truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength.” Before that time it’s one step forward and two steps back. I have to let God give me the grace-strength I need to keep trusting Him.

If we listen to God and do what He wants us to do instead of what we want, He will trust us with the assignment He has for us. His goal for us is to be totally surrendered to Him.

Just for You

For more on this subject, check out episode 165 of Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast, Coming Out of Shame. Go here: https://teresashieldsparker.com/podcast/.

Overcomers Academy doors are open now still at the current rate. It may go up in 2023. Join now and your rate will never change as long as you are in the group. Go here: https://teresashieldsparker.com/overcomers/.

I’m looking forward to seeing you in the group!

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach, podcaster and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds and kept it off since 2013.

Her books include: "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor"; "Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds"; "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, more information on both is available under the weight loss tab. Don't miss her weekly podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, where she shares tips from her personal journey of losing weight and discovering healthy living. Find that under the podcast tab and anywhere you find podcasts.