Sunday, December 11, 2011

My Story (Written October 2011)

Okay, if you follow me on Facebook then you have seen this but I figured it was a good place to start.  It was written in October.  I don't know how often I will blog but Mom finally convinced me it was necessary.  Who am I to say that my story can't be used by God to change people.  I am willing and He is more than able.

I have now been on this journey to health and fitness for a year.  I am in general a very reflective person but holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. all usually make that especially true.  So I thought I would write down my story of the past year and some things that God has taught me about himself and about myself.
                It all started last year in September.  I tell most people that I just woke up one morning and thought, “I think I will go join a gym.”  That is pretty close to the truth but it really happened like this.  I was in the midst of taking 15 hours of history classes so that I could student teach the following semester.  Like any typical college students I did most of my work at night and stayed up playing on my computer researching or writing.  One night during the last night of September I started looking at gym websites because I felt a nudge to join a gym.  I checked out several in the area but landed on the Rush because it was close and it was open 24 hours.  I clicked on the trial membership button hoping that just meant that I could go workout for two weeks to try it out and be left alone until I decided to join.  That was not the case as I was emailed the next day to set up an appointment to meet with the sales staff.  I made an appointment but immediately started coming up with excuses of why I couldn’t go.  I finally emailed the guy and made up something of why I couldn’t come.  We moved the appointment to September 30th.  This one I kept and this was the divine appointment God had set up for me.
                Have you ever been terrified to even walk in a door?  I care very much what people think of me.  Even people I don’t know.  I know that people look at fat people and assume that we are slobs, lazy, and uneducated.  I mean after all, no intelligent person would let themselves weight 350 pounds.  I go into any first impression meeting trying to figure out how to counteract these assumptions.  Going into a gym is a lot worse because almost everyone there is healthy or at least looks healthy.  I was blessed however, by meeting a young woman named Katie.  When I sat down to meet with the sales guy he had Katie come join us as we talked about my goals and what I was looking for.  She then took me around and showed me some exercises.  I am all about heart and I feel connections with people very strongly and very quickly (this is a blessing and a curse).  I felt this with Katie.  She had eyes that didn’t look at me with shame or condemnation and she was knowledgeable.  This combined with my inability to say no to things led me to not only sign a two year contract but to buy some training sessions.  You have to understand that if I had not bought these sessions I would not have succeeded.  Hannah plus a treadmill would not have equaled success.  He knew what was coming down the road and knew that I needed support and accountability there in that building where I intended to be completely left alone and isolated.
                Training is incredibly difficult.  It isn’t just the physical aspect that is hard and painful but the mental aspect, most days, is my more difficult challenge.  It really didn’t help any that my second training session resulted in me passing out for like 5 minutes.  Lucky for me I never hit the floor as I just kind leaned up against a machine but I woke up to Katie terrified and the fitness manager getting ready to call an ambulance.  This is what happens when you don’t prepare for a hard workout by eating or drinking.  One of my biggest fears in the gym is throwing up so I hadn’t eaten anything.  I have not made that mistake again.  I continued to work out with Katie for the next month or so and then she got promoted to fitness manager for our club.  I was devastated.  You have to understand that this partnership for me was like a cancer patient with a trusted doctor.  Here I am dying more and more every day.  Just destroying my body and this person is sent to save me.  For that to be taken from me in my mind was a disaster.  Also, my number one issue in life is that I depend on people more than God.  I am aware of this problem and I battle it in every single relationship I enter into.  I have a bad habit of getting very angry with God and blaming Him any time I lose someone.  So here I was in the same situation again.  Honestly, I fell apart that day when I got home and really thought that was the end of my journey already.  One more failed attempt.  Thank God I was wrong and it was all God that I was wrong.
                Katie told me that she knew just who she wanted to take over training me and that this person was like me and she thought we would be a good fit.  I chose to trust her and give this woman a chance.  I started training with Amy in November.  She was wonderful.  We got to take the training to different levels and she knew how to push me at the same time as encouraging me.  That is a lot harder than it looks. She was not afraid to be bold and speak the truth and I found another ally in this battle.  But even more than the training relationship, we developed a friendship.  I found out that her and her family attended Faith Promise Church.  I have been struggling with going to church for several years now.  When you are damaged by a church like I was, it takes a lot of time to get over it.  Some days I still don’t feel over it.  However, during all this time I have felt a constant pull to this church.  They are current and use technology and media to reach people.  It is always growing and they have a 11:45 service!  She invited me to go with them and so I did.  I have found a new church home and part of my relationship with God that had been missing.  It was like a piece of my heart being restitched.  I got the privilege of working out with Amy for about 9 months.  During this time I started spinning regularly and fell in love with it.  I also began jogging.  For me this was unbelievable!  Amy showed me how big of a role fear was playing in my life.  It was a time where I recognized a problem but still didn’t know how to deal with it.
                About a month ago I started working out with Meredith.  This transition, though abrupt, was a lot smoother than the first one.  I got to know Meredith through spin class.  She is my favorite instructor.  For me, I want an instructor who is engaged with the participants, who can correct in the middle of class, who cares about the little things, and who works with passion and dedication.  All of these things applied to her.  She got to know me and we had a very cordial relationship.  She became another part of my support team.  I even got to train with her once when Amy was on vacation.  Now she is my trainer soul mate.  I like so much about her as a person as well as a trainer.  She loves her children fiercely.  She is a wealth of encouragement and is one of those people who ooze compassion and kindness. She is a lot like me because she wants to help everyone and carries their problems on her back.   I had learned all of this and on the training end I was confident in her abilities.  I was still nervous because I had to prove myself and how strong I was.  I was still terrified though to do some things.  I still didn’t trust myself to let go in some aspects of certain exercises.  A couple of weeks ago our gym was remodeled and we got a Ring of Fire.  This monstrosity of a machine involves a lot of pulleys and harness type contraptions where you use your body as weight or leverage.  It forces you to let go and trust yourself.  My biggest issue was about to be dealt with.  Sure enough the first day of training when the gym reopened Meredith had me on that thing.  Though she was patient with me and my fear, she was still determined that I was going to do the exercises.  She told me even if we were there all day I would do it.  It was so hard but I was able to do it and felt some of that fear slipping away.  It wasn’t so much that I trusted myself because my body has always tried to kill me.  It was that I trusted her.  She said my body could handle it.  Her with her many years of experience training, her with her sessions with me and knowing my limitations, and mostly her confidence and trust in me.  Knowing that she knew I could do it, made me know I could do it.
For most of this entire journey I have had several other women who have been counselors and advisors to me.  God continues to surround me with support.  They come in all kinds of people.  I don’t know their spiritual conditions.   I don’t know if they all have a relationship with Jesus.  I try everyday when I am there to let Jesus work through me.  I try to allow Him to show up.  I want them to see Him.  He is the reason for my success.  Proverbs 11:14 “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure.”  God has surrounded me with advisers.  I have had three different trainers and two different fitness managers.  The only one I haven’t told you about yet is Christy.  She has been around me for almost the whole journey.  She has a tremendous amount of wisdom and knowledge about nutrition and fitness.  She is my go to girl with random questions.  She calls me “all-star” and makes me feel like a million bucks every time she speaks to me.  She helps me remember to fight the mental battle just as much as my physical battle.  These women have been my greatest source of encouragement and support walking around with flesh on.  They each bring different things to the table that have combined to get me where I am today.  They even bought me spin shoes.  I honestly can’t imagine my life without them.  God has used them to show me how important preparation, discipline, and knowledge are in all aspects of life, especially my walk with Him.  I had gotten away from spending time with him and all of my books were fiction.  I wasn’t growing and learning.  I wasn’t seeking him.  I was just expecting Him to show up when I needed him and then to go away again.  That isn’t how this thing works.  He wants all of me.  He wants surrender to him and his purposes.  He wants me to seek hard after him.

                So that brings me to now.  I have lost 79 pounds this year.  Not my goal, but a great amount nonetheless.  An amount that I am very proud of.  But what I am even more pleased with is the work God has done in me on the inside.  This year has been the second hardest period of my life.  I spent  2 to 3 years dealing with a deep depression and all kinds of related issues.  I dwelt in darkness and pits that were so dark and deep I couldn’t see death right in front of my face.  I had no hope for a future or any happiness.  God got me through that time and showed me a future.  He showed me that I didn’t need a person to be happy.  That was the major lesson of that time.  This last year has been about trust.  To prove that this journey could not have been done without him, he had me do it in a time of no job, almost no income, and no time.  He chose this year to flip the motivation and desire switch in my heart and soul.  It didn’t matter that I had none of those things.  I had Him and he was (and is) driving me.  Thoughts and issues gain so much power in the dark.  Would you believe that for so many years I refused to admit that my weight affected me?  When I was going to counseling I refused to talk about my weight with my counselor.  I told her it had nothing to do with my problems.  It stayed in the dark though it was completely visible for everyone to see.  No more!  With this motivation, God illuminated my heart and showed me where it has.  How it has made me work harder and longer to be loved and appreciated because I thought that is what I had to do to earn love.  My struggle no longer stays in the dark.  It is not only visible but it is known.  I know what I am dealing with and God is showing me broken wall by broken wall how it has imprisoned me these many years.
                That is what God has shown me about me.  He has shown me more about himself.  Here are some things:
1.)    Romans 8:1 “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I have spent a lot of my life being ashamed.  I have felt like I didn’t live up to the expectations of others because of my weight.  When I talk to people about my struggles I can see condemnation in their eyes.  It made me stop talking to people about what I struggle with.  It made me want to lie.  How was your day?  Fine (Horrible, please love me).  Did you go to church?  Yes (Nope).  How was your eating this week?  Pretty good (Please don’t ask specifics!)  God has shown me over the past year that this is not him.  He loves me for me.  He died for 350 pound Hannah.  He loves me and has a plan for my future that I can’t even comprehend.  He is breaking down my desire to cover up and keep stuff in the dark.  He is light and he is truth.  In Him and in his Truth, I am set free.
2.)    Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  I can’t see the future.  I don’t know what God has for me out there.  About a month ago I was living in a pit that I hadn’t been in in years.  Do you know what it is like to gain victory over something for several years and then for it to come back with an intensity that is like it never left?  It is scary.  I was terrified that I was where was back in college.  The place where I didn’t want to live and where I had no hope.  I was not losing weight, I had no teaching job, I had barely any hours at work, I still had no husband or children, I lived with my parents, and some other random stuff.  I saw no light.  I told no one this stuff and tried to act like everything was okay.  I went back to keeping things in the dark.  After crying and talking with my parents, I surrendered all of this junk to Christ and admitted that while I only see this, God sees where I am going.  He knows why I am working at Lifeway and not at a school.  He knows why I am still not married.  He knows why my weight loss is weird and inconsistent.  I trust Him.  Just like I did an exercise because Meredith believed I could do it, I decided to walk my life because God believed I could do it and had a plan for it.  He trusts me with the plan he has for me and I have to walk it.  He is working for my good, not to destroy my dreams.
3.)    2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and of timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”  Along with 1 John 4:8 “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment” God is driving out my fear with love.  His love is giving me peace and peace is driving out the fear and anxiousness I feel.  Part of what is showing me this is the love of my trainers.  Katie, Amy, Meredith, and Christy want the best for me and my life.  They have a love for me and a hope for me and that helps drive out my fear.  So much more does God love me and his love is so consuming there is no room for fear.  It tries to creep up on me but I am getting better at recognizing it and bringing it to God.  He is freeing me from a prison I never knew existed.
4.)    Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again.”  My journey is not over.  I have a long way to go.  120 more pounds in the physical fitness journey.  But in my spiritual journey I have a lot to work on.  God is working in me right now.  I feel a building in my spirit.  I feel like he is doing a mighty work.  I just have to continue to be yielded to him.  I have to keep standing in him.  As long as I stand in Him, he will continue to give me the strength to walk this road and when I can’t he will be there.  This isn’t over and I don’t want it to be over.  I want to be the woman God created me to be.  I am working on it .  After all, He isn’t finished with me yet.

Thanks for taking the time to read this ramble of a story.  I write what is in my heart and this is what I have been thinking about over the past few days.  The bottom lines are these:  God is not finished with my transformation yet, and I am not just talking about my physical transformation.  God uses the strangest things and the most eclectic use of people to get you where he wants you.  God gives you the support you need when you need it.  God died for me (and you) so that we could live in freedom, not bondage.  Trust Him!  Don’t know this God?  Ask.  He loves you and so do I!

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