Welcome to the Stewardship Series. In 2019 my focus is on intentionally stewarding the gifts and talents God has entrusted to me. This series will highlight the nine areas of stewardship I identified in my 2019 goals: my physical and spiritual health, my marriage and motherhood, my relationships with friends and family, my home, my time online, and my voice. I pray this series encourages you, as we grow together as stewards.
steward: (n.) a person whose responsibility it is to take care of something (ie. another’s property.)
Warning: incredibly vulnerable post ahead. I’m kicking off this series by telling you about my journey with my weight, and why stewarding my physical health is an area of focus for me this year.
I want to be clear…this is all about ME and does not speak to anyone else’s journey, struggles, or issues with weight, weight loss, diet culture, eating disorders, etc. I know everyone fights their own fight in this area, and my struggles pale in comparison to many. I know you could look at this post, roll your eyes and say “that girl has no clue!” I hope you won’t, but I understand.
I still feel like I need to share this, if only for myself. Sometimes we can’t move forward without looking back on how we got to where we are.
I think my story is not uncommon: as a teen, I thought I was fat, a belief which photographic evidence of the time period would seriously dispute. Hormonal-girl-fun-house-mirror-vision aside, I didn’t really try to do much about what I believed to be true. I ate whatever I wanted and never exercised. My high school always opened up the gym concession stand during lunch, and I recall an entire school year when I ate a Frito chili pie and a soft-serve ice cream cone every. single. day. (Ice cream first, obviously…)
My senior year, a regular breakfast was a six-pack of mini chocolate donuts and a fountain Dr. Pepper from Quik Trip. Then came college, where a whole box of Kraft mac-n-cheese was dinner at least once a week, and needless to say…it all started to catch up. Slowly but surely, the number on the scale started climbing.
I tried Weight Watchers a few times and made half-hearted attempts to exercise, but nothing ever took. The only time I saw a real change in my weight was a 6-month period in 2010 when I couldn’t eat without getting sick, and I lost 20 lbs without trying. That proved not only to be a highly unpleasant weight loss strategy but also an unsustainable one. As soon as the illness went away, the weight came right back.
Around the time I began to recover, my then-boyfriend Dave was killing it in the gym, shedding weight like crazy so he could join the Army. His dedication and discipline amazed me, but I couldn’t relate. When he went off to flight school, I started wedding planning and stress eating. (I worked at a hospital at the time, and oh the stories I could tell about being mistaken for a pregnant patient!) It’s a miracle I fit into my wedding dress.
After we got married and I started eating better (mainly because I wanted to be a supportive wife, and because my usual comfort foods were no longer on the grocery list,) I lost some of the weight and started working out with him on occasion.
For a little while, I was on the right track. Spin classes and yoga in Alabama, along with a running program, Run Your Butt Off, (slightly crude name, but a great program for beginning runners, I highly recommend) when we moved to Hawaii put me in the best shape of my life and on January 30, 2014, I ran a 5k without stopping.
But I didn’t stick with it, and later that summer when I started trying to run again, I began experiencing something odd: weird heart palpitations and black circles crowding in on the edges of my vision. I’d have to lie down in the floor when I got home from a run, just to keep from blacking out.
In the fall of that year I found out I was pregnant, and two months later I was diagnosed with a heart condition, ventricular tachycardia. (I’ll tell you what my cardiologist told me: when you google that, you get some pretty scary information. But apparently there are two types of VT, and I have the less terrifying type.) I’ve apparently had it for a very long time, but probably because my symptoms are triggered by strenuous exertion or spikes in adrenaline, and I was never big on exercise or roller coasters, I didn’t realize it for 30 years.
During pregnancy, I was restricted from any exercise besides walking. Thankfully cutting out caffeine and going on a low-dose blood pressure medication kept things with my heart under control for 41-weeks-and-one-day until Miss Abby made her grand entrance. I’ve stayed on the medication since with minimal symptoms. My doctors say it’s okay, even advisable for me to start exercising again. And while I’ve attempted some weight training here and there, even tried to return to running a few times, I’ve never gotten back to consistent exercise. (It’s hard to determine where fear overlaps with laziness in that equation, to be honest.)
So for the past three years, I’ve seen the scale go down, then up, then back down a little…and now in the past few months, back up. Significantly.
This is a little embarrassing to put out for all the world to read, but at my most recent cardiology check-up, I was sitting only 2 lbs under my 40-weeks-pregnant weight. While my clothes had already begun to notify me that things weren’t great, the number on the scale was a real eye-opener.
So that’s the story of how I entered 2019. But how does this tie into stewardship, the whole point of this blog series?
In several ways:
- I have a family history of high blood pressure, Type-2 diabetes, and Congestive Heart Failure. The risk of those things coming for me in the next 30 years is very real. Keeping my weight down by changing my diet, and keeping my heart healthy through regular exercise are my only tools for mitigating some of that risk.
- God has called me to marriage, motherhood, and ministry. If I want to be able to continue doing the work He’s set before me, I need to take care of the body He gave me to work in.
- Most importantly, what I didn’t share in my “just the facts, ma’am” history is how, more and more every year, God is revealing to me the connection between my physical health and my spiritual health. How He’s highlighted this area, over and over to me as I seek to grow more like Jesus. That’s why my physical and spiritual health are the goals at the top of my list this year. I’ll have more to say on this next week, but it’s become increasingly difficult to ignore the prompting of the Holy Spirit in my life (and believe me, I’ve tried.) It’s saying “you can’t be surrendered to God, you can’t say you’ve given Him everything, if you’re still holding onto THIS thing.”
I mentioned earlier this month that I feel called to the uncomfortable this year. In my day to day food choices, in starting to move my body again, and in sharing the details with you, it seems Uncomfortable has arrived.
I want to be the steward God called me to be, and I know I must start with this.