53. My Transformation

53. My Transformation

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Shaping the New You


Living a healthy lifestyle will only deprive you
of poor health, lethargy, and fat.
 ~Jill Johnson

Oprah talks about that “ah ha moment,” something that changes you forever. Mine came when my mother-in-law sent me pictures that she’d taken at Christmas. The first two were of my beautiful sons opening Christmas gifts. The third one was of my husband standing next to an old, heavy-set woman. At first I thought who is that old lady? No one had visited besides my in-laws, and then it hit me like someone had poured a bucket of ice water over me. I was that fat, old lady. I was posed in the picture eating a double helping of peanut butter pie. My first thought was, boy, I could really go for a piece of that pie. My second thought was, gee, I look terrible. I sank in my chair and burst into tears. Something needed to be done.

Throughout my life I had gone through transformations. In high school I was average looking, didn’t really stand out, but something happened in my mid-20s. I had a nice shape and a somewhat pretty face. I noticed that men were attracted to me. I certainly wasn’t a super model by any means, but I felt good about myself when I looked in the mirror.

Then came marriage, two children mixed with aging, and weight gain. I didn’t feel desirable anymore. All I felt was disgust and a dislike for who I’d become. I knew what to do but instead of doing it, I turned to food. There is no magic pill when it comes to losing weight. And it certainly isn’t going to happen in a few weeks. It takes time and patience. It’s hard work.

For some crazy reason I’ve always enjoyed running. I’m not a long distance runner, probably two or three miles a day. I also know about resistance weight training. I also know what foods to put into my body: the whole grains, fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken, and the good fats found in walnuts and olive oil. My problem was pulling it all together.

After my “ah ha moment” I developed a healthy weight loss plan. The days I don’t have to work I’m on the treadmill at 7:30 a.m. I don’t even think about it. I just do it. The days I have to work, I’m on the treadmill at 3:30 p.m. I do 300 sit-ups a day. And every other day I lift free weights for about 20 minutes. A few nights a week, there’s tennis and basketball with the kids.

I also found a connection between God and food while I turned my body into something healthy that I could be proud of again. One day for a split second in the grocery store I was tempted to pile my cart with desserts and ice cream. But it quickly passed and I found myself drawn toward the greens and reds in the vegetable aisle. I felt close to God. It was like he was telling me, “I made all this food for you. Please don’t turn your back on it; please, don’t fill your body with junk. Make yourself healthy.” I shoved some broccoli into a bag and piled several sweet potatoes in my cart. It gave me a deep appreciation for God. I feel like He’s the finest cook in the world, and whenever I choose a salad over processed food I’m complimenting the chef.

Pulling all of this together was not easy. I had to exercise five to six days a week, make sure the fridge was loaded with healthy food, and most importantly, break old patterns. The worst part for me was not being able to snack at night. There are a few nights a week that I will allow myself a mini bag of popcorn and one low-fat, low-sugar treat, but most nights I don’t snack. At first I felt depressed. It was like I lost my best friend. I mean, who doesn’t want their best buddy, the chocolate chip ice cream bar, along when watching their favorite TV show? But I wouldn’t allow myself to go there, and if I couldn’t control my urges then I just wouldn’t watch TV. I learned two important things: food is not my best friend—I am—and sometimes you must give up something to get something better in return. Slowly the weight started to drop, and as more came off, I not only looked better, but felt better, too.

When I made the commitment to lose weight, I also made a commitment to write a romance novel. I’ve not only been struggling with my weight for the last 10 years but wanted to write, as well, so I combined the two goals. With every couple of chapters I wrote it seemed like another five pounds dropped off. By the time I was finished with the book and sent it to a publisher, I had reached my goal of losing 25 pounds. I believe that doing what I always wanted to do, writing the book, distracted me from overeating.

I remember the day I went into the store and traded my stretch pants for some cute, little white shorts. I caught a glimpse of my new figure in the mirror and started to cry. I was so proud of myself for all the hard work.

Next, came the stares. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a happily married woman, but attention from the opposite sex is flattering. One day as I was walking up my driveway, a fellow in a red pickup truck slowed down and said to his friend, “That girl is hot!” At first I didn’t know who he was referring to. I looked around to see if one of my friends had stopped by. Then it dawned on me, he was talking about me. I couldn’t contain my smile.

I have now entered maintenance mode. I weigh myself once a week. I choose healthy foods over junk foods. I exercise five or six days a week. If it’s someone’s birthday or I’m at a party, I’ll indulge, but the difference is I will only have one piece of cake instead of three or four. If I’ve had French fries the night before, the next day I get right back on track. It’s all in moderation.

Some people ask how I find the time. I made time to sit on the couch and eat; now I’ve replaced that habit with healthy eating and exercising. I also feel that every time I take care of myself, it’s my way of thanking God for giving me a healthy and reliable body. It’s my gift back to Him, and a gift I’m teaching my children, to take care of themselves.

As for my romance life with my husband, I finally feel desirable again. Things over the past few months have really started to heat up in our bedroom. And I’m not saying that because our air conditioner is on the blink again.

~Terri L. Knight

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