By JOYCE AINSWORTH
Who are you? Several years ago, my daughter’s wedding pictures and this question became the catalyst that ignited a burning desire in my heart for real and lasting life change. I had waited with anticipation to receive the wedding pictures from the photographer. As I began looking through the pictures I found my sweet daughter just as lovely as I imagined and my husband as handsome as I had expected, but I found myself gazing into the eyes of the woman in that picture wondering, who are you? That could not possibly be me!
People say a picture is worth a thousand words and I agree. A picture also reveals truth, just like the scales do. For many years I avoided the truth, like so many of us have a tendency to do. All my life my “Family Heritage” has been that my family members are all overweight. I have used all the excuses in the book of why being overweight was unavoidable and acceptable for me. I have also tried every diet and weight loss program that was ever created with no real or long-term success. I kept asking myself the question: How could a Christian struggle with this bondage of being overweight?
Pictures also have a way of telling us the truth about our emotional wellness by giving us a glimpse into our souls—those deep hidden places that we rarely let others view. At this point, the realization hit me that I was in a terrible and deep bondage, and the smile on my face was covering up a heart and soul that was crying out for help. It was a silent cry that others could not hear or see, but on that day the Lord whispered across my soul, and for the first time in a long time I not only could see, but I felt the chains of bondage that were wrapped so tightly around me and knew in that moment that I was allowing food to strangle the life out of me. Frustrated, depressed, and defeated is where I lived. Along with the excessive weight, I had high blood pressure and a multitude of other health issues. I was so miserable, discontented, and unhappy that all I could do was continue to stare into the eyes of the woman in that picture feeling hopeless and defeated. In Jeremiah 33:3, the Lord says call unto me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things you do not know; this has become my Life verse. In that moment, I cried out in shear desperation to the Lord for answers.
Our God is faithful, and in the coming days He led me to, and I started attending, a “First Place 4 Health” church. FP4H is a Christ Centered Healthy Living Program that teaches about balance in all areas of your life. FP4H taught me about real “Life Change” in the spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical areas of my life. I weighed in at 339 pounds my first session. I had much to lose, but this time—with God’s help—I was determined not to give up. Five years and 192 pounds later, I finally experienced the joy of crossing the finish line to my healthy weight goal of 147 pounds. I had come to realize that real change had to affect all areas of my life, not just what I weighed.
In a world that is going haywire, we can still achieve and find real balance. When we depend on Him, He becomes Life! Being healthy and living a healthy lifestyle is a process. I began to realize that being overweight is a problem of the flesh with a spiritual solution. This was not really about the numbers on my scale or what clothing size I was wearing; it was about the battle that was raging in my mind. I realized that I knew “how” to lose weight, but what I had really been missing all these years was the “want to.” Now the body had wanted to, but the mind never did and the truth is what had been going into my mind had been guiding my behavior. My motto now is “Change your Mind, Change your Body, Change your Life!”
I can honestly say that God has radically changed my life over the last few years. What I could not do, God has done through me as I surrendered to Him. My weight was the outward sign of deeper problems in my life. The most important thing I have gained is Freedom from the bondage of overeating. I am no longer enslaved to the power of food! No more diets or weight loss plans; I have learned that balance is necessary in all parts of my life. This is not a diet but a “Lifestyle Change.” We have to choose to change, and once that decision is made we have to take steps to ensure success at every step of the journey. I call it “setting myself up” for success! There are steps we must take and FP4H was the “tool” that was used in my life. And yes I still eat fried catfish and barbeque on occasion because this is not a diet but a “lifestyle”. True weight loss and life change will never be fast or easy, but it is truly possible by the power of Christ!
Joyce Ainsworth is the author of Food, Freedom and Finish Lines! She speaks at seminars, conferences, and other events throughout the Country as well as teaches FP4H classes for her home church in Brandon Mississippi as well as at other churches in her area. She is the Networking Leader for Mississippi and the FP4H Regional Team Leader in the Southern States.