As I drove home, my tears flowed.
Instead of the man’s compliment boosting my delicate ego, he had punctured it. I was devastated.
In fact, the effect of this man’s words hurt me so much that I couldn’t even tell John about it for a couple of weeks.
In southern Africa, among many of the Black African population, particularly of the women that I interact with, it would be common to receive the man’s praise with grace, inner delight and sweet satisfaction. But, I’m not South African. I’m American. As a result, I felt the sting of that cultural divide. His words stung me instead of blessing me, when he said, “You’re fatter than when I last saw you. You look very good.”
I had just delivered multiple sets of tables and chairs to his wife’s preschool. The couple was incredibly grateful for the gift that would serve as a significant jumpstart to their school program. Thus, to reflect his joy and satisfaction, he gushed with compliments including the one about my weight. I wish I could have received his praise with a similar level of appreciation. However, I couldn’t.
It was true. I had gained weight in the past couple of years and most recently in April and May when I couldn’t work out due to being very sick with a severe bronchial condition. I cannot pinpoint how all the weight happened, but it did. And I was not happy about it. And I didn’t really know what to do. I don’t drink coffee, soda, or alcohol. I don’t eat candy. I don’t eat junk food. With John being a vegetarian, we eat very healthy as a family. I also am careful with sugar. I had seen my doctor and done tests and everything was normal. It seemed like weight just went on, and there wasn’t anything I could do to manage it. I was very discouraged.
I was also worried. I would be coming to the United States for a seven month home assignment in June. For many missionaries, a United States visit often means eating more food and thus gaining more weight. I really didn’t want that to happen.
After a couple of months of being in the States, an invitation came through my home church’s worship pastor, Jay McKenney, to try the 21 Day Fix. I researched it and determined it might be a good tool to help me. I wanted a program where I could exercise. For me, working out is a great stress reliever. Second, I wanted a program where I could eat real food. I wanted to be able to prepare my food in such a way that I wasn’t eating something separate from my family. In addition, I needed something which I could replicate once I returned to South Africa. If I could only do the plan in the US, then it wouldn’t be for me.
So, at the end of August, I jumped into the 21 Day Fix with both feet and all of the conviction I could muster!
Was I scared?
I had never done anything like this before in my life. Not. Ever.
Yet, I was determined. John was incredibly supportive and encouraged me every single step, lunge, surrender-move, crunch, and jump of the way. Honestly, I needed his exhortations to keep going and to do this for myself. I also was part of a team of people who provided daily confidence boosts and empathetic support. I wasn’t alone.
Over time, the weight and inches decreased. I kept at it. Every. Single. Day.
Today marks a significant milestone. I have completed my third round of the 21 Day Fix. After nine weeks of sticking with the program, I am grateful to write that I have lost 19.5 pounds and decreased the girth (what a word!) in my waist, chest, hips, thighs, and calves by 22.75 inches!
Why have I chosen to write about this? Is it to brag or to boast?
I’m writing this blog post for a few different reasons. First, by putting this out there, it keeps me accountable. The 21 Day Fix could just be a 21 day deal and then I could return to old habits. That’s not why I participated. I wanted it to lead to life long change and to transform my eating habits and guide my portion control. Second, I want to model to my family that healthy food habits are important for overall health. As many of you know, I’ve had breast cancer. It rocked my world in 2012. There is a link between being overweight and having an increased risk of breast cancer. I’ve learned that I cannot necessarily stop cancer from coming, but I want to do whatever I can to keep it at bay by doing what I can to eliminate unnecessary weight. Last of all, I’m writing this blog to encourage anyone who would cringe and then cry, like I did, if some one said to them, “You’re fatter than when I last saw you.” I just want you to know that if some one like me can put in the time, conviction, and effort and be transformed, you can too! If you want to know more, and you know me, send me an email or message me. I’ll be happy to tell you more!
So! Am I done now?
Actually, I’ll never be done. The 21 Day Fix was a jumpstart and a guide to developing a great game plan for healthy living. For me, it’s a 365 Day deal now.
When I return to South Africa in January, my goal is to be as healthy and strong as I possibly can be so that I can keep living, loving and ministering there for the honor and praise of my God. I’m grateful I can!