I don’t know if my biggest nightmare was the fact that I discovered my weight actually was 430 pounds or if it was that I was going to die if I didn’t lose weight and keep it off. I just know those two things colliding made it my worst nightmare.

This pic was taken in about 1995. I was not at the height of my weight yet. We were trying to get the cat in the pix. Needless to say it didn’t work, but it made for a fun picture. Things would go south several years later. You can’t miss who I am. I’m the biggest one in there also trying to corral my daughter.

Twenty Years Ago

It was the summer of 1999. My daughter was turning nine. The year prior had been difficult and full of stress. I had been blindsided by a church where I had been working tirelessly.

We had brought a mentally and behavorially challenged teenager into our functional family making it quite dysfunctional. Needing more space to accommodate the new member of our family, we had moved to a larger home with better yard for him to roam.

In addition, I had taken on a work from home job to help make ends meet. It’s no wonder that I was stressed to the max with running a household with three children, one of which could erupt in rage at any moment, and husband who was dutifully working his 8-5 job.

Heart Attack Waiting to Happen

When I started having issues with breathing and even small tasks such as cooking or standing for any period of time at all, I knew it was time to see my doctor.

She was always honest with me and would tell me the dangers of overeating. I tuned her out, though, like Charlie Brown would do his teacher. “Wah, Wah, Wah,” was all I heard.

This day, though, I could tell she was more than just concerned. “Our blood pressure is up. Your breathing is labored. I have made an immediate appointment for an echocardiogram and then an appointment with a cardiologist. I want you to go over there right now.”

I was already on medicine for high blood pressure so the fact that was elevated was cause for alarm by itself. But other factors, including my extreme weight, let her know I was a heart attack waiting to happen.

Bam, I’m In the Hospital

I can’t remember the exact sequence of events that landed me in the hospital, but all of a sudden, I found myself there with threats of open heart surgery spoken over me by the cardiac surgeon.

The angiogram was the first thing on the list. That’s where they go into your heart with a tiny camera threaded through the vein in your groin so they can see what’s going on in your heart.

Prior to doing that procedure, they wheeled me down to a huge freight elevator scale and weighed me. It’s a bit embarrassing thinking about it now. I knew I was over 250 pounds because that’s where my own scale stopped. I was mortified to find out I weighed 430 pounds.

The surgeon had already told me that he expected to find a faulty mitral valve. Instead he found a perfectly good heart valve that was overtaxed by the body it was in. The term he used was congestive heart failure.

God’s Grace and Mercy

I was hanging by a very thin thread of God’s grace and mercy. It was the only explanation I was still alive. I had had several scary incidents already and at least one trip by ambulance to the ER.

If you’ve been reading this series on Spiritual Weight Loss then you know I’ve already admitted I have a bit of a stubborn and rebellious streak. We all do to some extent. Where foods I ate were concerned, though, my stubborn rebellion was ballistic. It knew no bounds.

This day, though, was a real come to Jesus day for me. This was the day two of my worst nightmares came true.

First, I weighed over 400 pounds. I swore that would never happen to me. But how could it not when I had no shut-off valve regarding the foods I ate?

Second, perhaps the clincher, though, was that the srugeon told me in no uncertain terms that I only had five years to live if I didn’t lose weight AND keep it off. The keep it off part was what got me. I knew I could lose weight, it was just that I always put it back on. 

Food Was My Recreation

It wasn’t just me, though, most everyone I knew with a weight issue had that same problem. We just loved our comfort foods too much. As a matter of fact, I had programmed myself to believe that I would rather die fat and happy than die not eating the foods I loved.

Part of that was because food was my main recreation. It was what I did for fun. Eating out was a treat. Going to a friend’s for supper was a fun night out. Attending a church potluck was a highlight. Family reunions were what I looked forward to every year for the great dishes that would be served.

That day I began the journey to change my world view from centering on food to centering on God. I’d been on every diet program imaginable and lost weight on them. I knew how to lose weight.

I Felt Nothing

Knowledge was not and never has been my problem. My problem was emotional, mental and very, very spiritual. I believed the only way I had to fix myself and my emotions was by eating. If I was angry, tired, stressed, ashamed, afraid, lonely I ate. I ate to numb my emotions.

When I did that I numbed all emotions even love, joy, peace and happiness. I felt nothing and thought that was for the best.

That day God got my attention and the ball began rolling in the right direction. Conviction set in. I still had not figured out all the pieces, but I accepted where I was and acknowledged I needed a dream to get me to the next stage of my journey. I needed to learn how to want to do what God wanted me to do.

My dream, though, my dream was to see my children grow up and have families of their own. My dream was to be there to see that happen. My dream was to make more great memories with them laughing and caring and loving together with my husband. My dreams were what I hung onto and what would motivate me to finally lose over 250 pounds.

This is really stage one of the Success Path to Transformation. We have to accept we have a problem before we can commit to changing it. A big part of finding our wanter is having a dream of what can happen when we follow God instead of ourselves and our desires.

Overcomers Academy

Losing weight is more spiritual than it is physical. It’s not enough to just know who God is, we must be willing to experience Him working in our lives in all His fullness.

I’ve been a Christian weight loss coach for over five years and a life coach for longer than that. In June 2019 I opened my all new Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy. It includes 24 courses and over 175 video lessons to help you on your journey. These are lessons that are designed to reach every part of you body, soul and spirit.

We take a very spiritual, but also very practical look at our issues and I help guide you through to victory. In our private Facebook group we do a video lesson each week. The group helps with direction, encouragement and support as we tackle the difficult issues of sugar and comfort food addiction.

In our live monthly video calls I answer any questions and coach you through issues that come up. This call alone is worth exponentially more than the monthly fee. All the information is on the page however the group is currently not open. You can read all about it, though, and sign up on the waitlist to be notified when we open again. Go HERE.

In the meantime, if you want one-on-one coaching, go HERE for availability.

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.