The day you pushed a wheelbarrow full of fat out on stage to illustrate the 67 pounds you had lost, I cheered for you. I too, had struggled with emotional eating and weight gain as a young woman and knew how hard it is to control eating when it seems to fill an insatiable hole. It brings so much comfort, yet so much shame. In my case, I was never larger than a size fourteen because I was bulimic for almost sixteen years. I thought I was a pathetic loser. I believed a lot of lies back then and they were my undoing.
I will never forget watching you running on your treadmill and saying over and over: “I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.”
When you gained the weight back, I was sad. I had hoped that you would show others how to lose weight and keep it off permanently. By then, I had found the answer, but the world watched as you clearly demonstrated that you had not. Then, you “made the connection” and I was hopeful. It seemed that your trainer’s philosophy was leading you toward lasting change. But, I had my doubts as I watched your video. In it, you allowed your viewers a sneak peak at your new lifestyle. I will never forget watching you running on your treadmill and saying over and over: “I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.” I knew you had not made a real connection. I said to myself, “It’s just a matter of time and she will gain the weight back because she has not changed her thinking.” What you needed to be saying was, “I LOVE this. I LOVE how exercise makes me feel!”
The years passed and your size went up and down. Then, this last year – because you clearly could not ignore what everyone was saying – you decided to talk about your weight gain once again. In the months since your struggle was the news story of the week, your body hasn’t seemed to change. I so wish someone would allow you to read this letter, because I know the secret to lasting weight loss. The truth is that it’s no secret at all. And, it has nothing whatsoever to do with dieting. To gain permanent and lasting victory over emotional eating, you have to change your thinking.
When I was in my endless battle, I believed that I could not control me eating. I believed I was weak and out of control…therefore, I was! My entire focus was on food and exercise. Then, in the midst of my challenge with bulimia, I started to experience debilitating panic attacks. At first they occurred only occasionally, but within a year I could not leave the house without a hefty dose of Valium. I began to think that I was losing my mind and some days convinced I was dying. Medical doctors found nothing wrong with me and psychologists offered me drugs for depression which actually increased my symptoms. In my darkest hour, I cried out to God. I did not grow up in a family of faith, but somehow knew that my only hope was in Him. God in His faithfulness, allowed me to find Him and I came to have a personal relationship with Him by believing the scripture that says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. I began to understand God’s plan to forgive and renew me as I read verse 17 which goes on to say, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
I discovered that in addition to the physical changes, something amazing and supernatural had happened - my mind had been renewed.
Shortly after dedicating my life to God, I found inspiration in the Bible that says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and a sound mind.” I began to tell myself this verse – over and over and over again – sometimes 30 times a day. Over the course of six months, my panic attacks began to occur less frequently and when they did come, they were less severe. Within 12 months, they were completely gone. After some study about the human brain, I realized that I had literally reprogrammed my neuron pathways, which drove my negative behavior. I also discovered that in addition to the physical changes in my brain, something amazing and supernatural had happened. I was intrigued by the Bible verse that says: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I realized that is exactly what had happened – my mind had been renewed. I came to understand the powerful teaching in the Bible passage: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” The word of God is like a precision surgical knife which you can turn on yourself. It is able to cut out the lies you believe and replace them with God’s powerful, life-changing truth.
I realized that if renewing my mind could happen in the area of my panic attacks, it could also be renewed and impact my emotional eating and bulimia. It did. I stopped telling myself that I was out of control and unable to stop eating. Instead, I said things like: “I am easily satisfied. I cannot stand being full. I can eat just one bite of chocolate and be satiated. I crave healthy food. I feel sick when I eat junk food. I am in control of all my choices. I crave exercise.” Within several months, I found a new strength. I wasn’t “cured” overnight – but month after month – year after year – I gave myself new messages.
Today, in my "50+ years", I’ve maintained a size six to eight for many years. I’ve coached tens of thousands toward healthier lifestyles and they tell me again and again that my teaching on renewing the mind and my “healthy self-talk” CDs have made the biggest difference in their journey toward victory. When one of my clients, Kathleen called me a few years ago to order a new CD, she told me she had literally worn it out…and in the process lost over 100 pounds!
Show them the better way and encourage them to ...
Oprah, I encourage you to try something new. You already know how to lose weight – burn more calories than you eat. But, you still don’t know how to get yourself to actually do it consistently – for a lifetime. You can influence so many who have tried and failed, just like you. This time, show them the better way and encourage them to change their thinking first. It’s been written:
Watch your thoughts…they become your words. Watch your words…they become your actions. Watch your actions…they become your habits. Watch your habits….they become your character. Watch your character…it determines your destiny.
Also by Danna Demetre: Mirror, Mirror.
Danna Demetre is a popular author and speaker who has many years experience as a registered nurse and fitness professional. She wrote the best-selling book: SCALE DOWN…a Realistic Guide to Balancing Body, Soul & Spirit which now includes DVDs, CDs and a small group curriculum and more recently, CHANGE YOUR HABITS…CHANGE YOUR LIFE; God’s Proven Plan for Healthy Living. For more information, visit her website at: www.DannaDemetre.com