I had tried just about everything to lose weight from the time my high school nurse expressed shock that I weighed 128 pounds as a freshman. I already got lots of exercise being on the track team, but I added more working out to my schedule. I also went on a very low calorie diet, eating dry toast and having lettuce with lemon juice dressing. I quickly lost 13 pounds; I regained it even faster.
Every year of high school I tried to lose the weight and ended up heavier than before. Then I went to college and entered a world where eating had no built-in controls. I gained the Freshman 15 in a matter of months. I know I don’t look particularly heavy in that photo, but my extra 30 pounds had become a very weighty issue in my life. I jumped at the chance to take a weight loss class in college. The instructor was really nice and the weekly weigh-ins motivated me. I became a walking caloric encyclopedia. At meals, my friends would ask me for the calorie counts of foods and I knew them. I lost the Freshman 15, but I was very despondent about something our instructor had said. She told the class that people like us would never be able to eat hamburgers, pizza, or ice cream.
The following year I read the books, Thin Within and Diets Don’t Work. I became convinced that dieting had resulted in my weight gain and that I could be at my ideal weight without counting calories or restricting certain foods. Within a very short period of time, eating anything I wanted according to hunger and fullness enabled me to lose another 13 pounds. I was ecstatic, but not for long.
Although I never again returned to my freshman weight high, I also was unable to maintain my ideal weight. I couldn’t understand it. I knew that if I ate according to hunger and fullness, I didn’t have a weight problem. I just couldn’t seem to restrict myself to eating when I was hungry and stopping myself when I was satisfied. This was particularly upsetting to me as a future psychologist. I wondered how I would be able to help others make behavior changes when I couldn’t make them myself.
In graduate school, I began lifting weights and briefly tried dieting with my friends again, but to no avail. When I met my future husband, I became more committed to exercise and when we got married I weighed what I wanted to. The problem was that maintaining it was a constant battle. My weight bounced up and down like crazy. The only thing crazier were the thoughts bouncing around my head. I would get up in the morning, weigh myself, and decide that I would be “good” all day. By mid-morning, I had already blown it, so I would commit to eating like a rabbit at lunch. When I blew that, I would promise to do well at dinner. When that didn’t work, I would spend the evening ruminating about my fat and my lack of self-control.
One day I saw the article title, “Can God Make You Thin?” on a Woman’s Day Magazine in the grocery store checkout. I had to know the answer to that, so I bought the magazine and read the article. I was so excited to read that men and women were combining the Thin Within hunger/fullness philosophy with a reliance on God and were losing weight for good. I ordered materials and offered a class at church. At first I quickly lost weight. Then as the months wore on, I had the same disappointing results. I would eat when I wasn’t hungry or until I was stuffed.
As the class facilitator, I was quite embarrassed that I couldn’t succeed. I would dedicate myself to eating extra slowly and reading my Bible before and after eating. But to no avail. The weight was not only not coming off, it was coming back on. After confessing my sin of gluttony and worshiping the idol of food countless times, and after praying about the problem over and over, I don’t know what finally led me to quit. But that’s what I did. I stood in my kitchen, looked up at God, and said, “I can’t do this! I quit! If you want me to lose weight, you’re going to have to do it, because I’m done.”
For the life of me, I cannot recall how I ate after that. But I do not remember always sitting down, eating slowly, eliminating distractions, only eating when hungry or until satisfied. I really meant that I was done. Three months later I finally weighed myself to discover that I was at my ideal weight. I had no idea how I arrived at that comfortable number. I do suspect, however, that God removed my weight problem without giving me a clue how it was done so that when people ask, “How do you stay so thin?” I couldn’t give them the Melanie Plan. God took away that weighty issue and I remained at my ideal weight for five years when I had another crisis that is a story for another time.
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)