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An interview with Teena Henson, Gilmer, Texas

Teena Henson, gained public attention in 2014 through reports from CNN, Huffington Post, Medical Daily and other news outlets because of her amazing weight loss. While most accounts mention the faith component of her story, we here at Faith & Fitness Magazine knew Teena has much more to share. Her faith in God from the beginning days of her transformation through to today shapes her physical and spiritual fitness. Here (over the next 7 pages) is the rest of her story.

Magazine cover design by Ben Lanning, Cruisebook Source. Series of photos shot at Anytime Fitness by Kris Spelce.

Click/tap on the numbers below to read all the pages of our interview with Teena.

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Faith & Fitness Magazine: Teena for those who aren’t yet familiar with your story from coverage by other media, please recount what God has done in your life since 2011.

Teena Henson: My story begins in 2011 when I was driving down a street in my hometown. An advertisement came on the radio for Anytime Fitness. I remember saying out loud “God I wish you would put one of those here.” A couple of weeks later I heard that very thing was about to happen. They were opening a gym and it was only going to be five minutes from my home. It was God’s answer to that prayer and it was like he was saying, “Okay here it is. Now what are you going to do with it?”

I joined Anytime two weeks before they even opened the doors. It was a gutted out building with no equipment. I just knew this was the time and place for me and I needed to be here. They opened for business in March of 2011 and I started my journey toward a healthier and fun filled life. It took stepping out in faith that I could do what would be required to get where I needed to be. It takes faith even today to keep me going . I knew God had the faith in me or the prayer would not have been answered.

 

At that time I was age 52, so it goes to show you no one is ever too old to begin again. I was brought up believing that God never puts you on a path without taking that walk with you.  We walked, ran, cried, laughed, and sweated for two years and nine months to lose half my body weight. After five years I am down from a body weight of 332 pounds to 157 pounds for a total of 175 pounds lost from one answered prayer, discipline, and a lot of faith.

Click/tap on the numbers below to read all the pages of our interview with Teena.

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Faith & Fitness Magazine: Your story has inspired so many people because it defies the odds. You go from hopeless to confident in a way that many desire but few succeed. What made the difference? What made it last? Is self-resolve and determination all it takes?

Teena Henson: The difference for me was that I knew if I did not change I probably would not still be here or would have major health issues. Also, my Mom was my biggest supporter. She had been after me for years (as mother’s do) to do something about my health “aka weight”. We decided this was what I needed. She encouraged me all along the way. Unfortunately she became ill into the first year I started at the gym. She did get to see me lose 100 pounds. before she passed away. My determination has lasted because I know my mom is watching me every day from heaven and smiling and I truly do not want to be the person I was in 2011.

I won’t downplay it – It takes a tremendous amount of hard work and discipline. A support team is a key component for me.  My family, friends old and new, and the walking/running group from church all have had a part in my success. Having God in your corner is a major plus but at the end of the day it comes down to the one looking back at you in the mirror. Just take it one step and one day at a time.

Click/tap on the numbers below to read all the pages of our interview with Teena.

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Faith & Fitness Magazine: Body weight and physical appearance are interpreted through a wide range of variables and subjective views. Everyone defines her or his “optimal” range differently from the very lax, “don’t worry about it” to the rigidly strict, “I must be hyper vigilant” and everything in between. How did you let God get engaged in this area of your life? Help our readers see the difference between self-control extremes and God-guided balance.

Teena Henson: I believe God created each of us with this special little item called a brain. With that brain comes choice.

I was in the group some label as extremely large or obese, but I know in my heart God only saw me as his child that he needed to help. He gave me the choice the day that gym came to town as to whether I wanted to help him help me or to just shut the door he had opened.

I still have to be vigilant on my exercise and food choices but I have learned to balance it all out and enjoy life as I go.

Click/tap on the numbers below to read all the pages of our interview with Teena.

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Faith & Fitness Magazine: Four words are often used to describe the complex aspects of an individual’s physical and spiritual daily experience: longing, knowing, seeing and being. It’s a gradual evolution that happens on an imperceptible level. How did these words evolve in their meaning for you?

Teena Henson: For me the longing, knowing, seeing, and being while overweight can be combined into two words “self-loathing”. I knew and know my family and friends love me and will always be there for me but I had to learn to love myself.

When I was so overweight the feeling of,  “No one really wants me to be around me in public because of my embarrassing size” lingered in the back of my mind. I was the one at parties that sat along the wall out of the way and watched everyone else have fun. I was the one that thought I better not ‘do that’ because I might break the furniture. I was the one that never went to movies because I couldn’t fit in the seat.

I could go on and on but I don’t have to because now [longing, knowing, seeing and being mean] I go to the movies with my friends. I go out to eat and mingle at parties. I have gone indoor skydiving, competed in seventeen 5k races, one half-marathon, line dancing, riding horses, rock wall climbing and I’ve para-sailed.  The adventures are just beginning. The “self-loathing” feeling has been replaced with “joy”.

Click/tap on the numbers below to read all the pages of our interview with Teena.

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Faith & Fitness Magazine: In the February/March 2017 issue we invite Faith & Fitness Magazine readers to make two lists. The heading for one list is “Fantasyland” and the heading for the other is “Bigger than life”.  Help them get started. What would you put under each?

Teena Henson: OK, let me list four fantasy attitudes that are self-defeating and then after I list the four ‘bigger than life’ qualities that give me strength I’ll describe how they play out in my life.

 

T

FANTASYLAND

 

1. Losing 20 pounds in 1 month

2. Losing weight without proper nutrition and exercise

3. Thinking you can lose weight without support

4. Setting a goal to become a model or superstar in sports

BIGGER THAN LIFE

 

1. Patience

2. Balance

3. Accountability

4. Set small attainable realistic goals

It takes time to lose weight. A great deal of patience is needed. I had to realize I did not put all my weight on overnight and it wasn’t going to come off overnight. God doesn’t just spring an event into our lives, he leads us slowly to where he has always planned for us to be since the day we were born. Figuring out how to balance clean eating and exercise has helped me along the path to a healthier life. My support-team is a vital part of my journey as they help me keep to the discipline and accountability needed for me to stay on track.  My small attainable goals like, “I’m not going to eat out today” are met on a daily basis and I am continually setting new ones.

Click/tap on the numbers below to read all the pages of our interview with Teena.

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Faith & Fitness Magazine: Reality (physically and spiritually) is where we find ourselves today. What are the best ways you’ve found to turn away from and forever leave behind the “Fantasyland” and pursue God for the “Bigger Than Life”?

Teena Henson: The best way to leave the “Fantasyland” and go for the “Bigger than Life” each day for me is to always remember where I was in 2011 and to never go back there. Once I stepped into the light, living in the dark is an impossibility.

I haven’t loved every second of my journey. I have had ups and downs, but I believe that what God has in store for me every day since that ad on the radio is beginning to emerge.

My “Bigger than Life” step is to keep going on my healthy journey and hopefully inspire others to start their own journeys. It is never too late.

 

 

Click/tap on the numbers below to read all the pages of our interview with Teena.

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Faith & Fitness Magazine: How have the changes in your life and your growing relationship with God shaped the way God is able to use you in the lives of others? What opportunities do you see God opening for you in 2017 and further into the future?

Teena Henson: I truly believe that my prayer in the car set me on a path to getting into shape physically as well as mentally. I hope that my story and the way I lead my life everyday can inspire others. I want to share with others how through hard work and faith that a healthy life can be achieved.

God opens doors you just have to be receptive to recognizing them and step through with faith and to close the door behind you. Look forward to what God has in store for you. I did!

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.


This is the cover story for the February/March 2017 issue of Faith & Fitness Magazine. Cover design by Ben Lanning.

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