Transformation of the Day: Lindale lost 87+ pounds with faith, exercise, and practical eating habits. She really poured her heart out and shared with us how she transformed her life after years of battling the pounds, depression, and hopelessness. This woman’s story will inspire you.
The day the toilet came unbolted as I stood, was the day I knew I’d hit rock bottom; my weight had gotten out of control. I tried to pretend that I didn’t hear the loud popping sound of the porcelain coming attached from the linoleum or feel the toilet rock forward. I’d grown accustomed to the habit of lying to myself about how much I weighed and the type of foods I consumed. The dismantled toilet would just be an additional lie.
I was rapidly gaining weight, though I’d convinced myself nothing was wrong. “I don’t eat red meat, I’m ok!” or “I don’t eat at fast food restaurants and only drink diet soda, so I’m ok.” “My clothes are too tight now, but at least I can still wear them. I’m ok.” My all-time favorite lie was, “At least I don’t buy bags of cookies, whole cakes or large tubs of ice cream. I got a handle on this.”
My legs began to hurt so badly I could barely walk, sit, stand, or lay down. I convinced myself it was from the fact that I hadn’t worn a pair of pants since the 7th grade, after being taunted about how ridiculous I looked in a pair of jeans and how bulky my thighs were. I successfully persuaded myself to believe that the cold air had damaged the nerves in my legs, causing excruciating pain. Kansas City winters were harsh, and I walked bare legged many days. I would have rather had frostbitten legs than wear a pair of pants that would’ve revealed my thighs.
For three straight months before the toilet incident, I was eating an entire bag of Thomas plain bagels with two slices of cheddar cheese in the middle, which was 2700 calories alone (mostly eaten after midnight). This excluded the chicken tenders and fries I’d have for lunch, the two Lean Pockets I’d eat at dinner, and yes, I’m a breakfast person. For breakfast, there was always loaded oatmeal, two turkey sausage links, a thick slice of banana nut bread and a diet Mountain Dew. I was ingesting up to or beyond 4000 calories daily. Since the foods I was eating were “low-fat”, I pretended the toll it was taking on my body didn’t exist.
I got to the point where I tried to outsmart myself by freezing the bagels, but I’d wake up out of my sleep, warm a frozen bagel up in the microwave and cram the cheese between the slices. “I’ll walk it off tomorrow.”, I’d say. The lies NEVER ceased.
My sleep-eating began to increase with me adding more food, from jalapeno kettle chips to the cheese bagels. I’d awaken with my kitchen in shambles, crumbs on the countertop… even an open refrigerator door at times, and always a stomachache. I would have to take Pepto-Bismol caplets and wash them down with a Venom energy drink. I couldn’t resist the temptation to binge.
I’d been obese all my life. I weighed a hundred pounds at the age of five, but never until I turned forty-nine had I ever had chest pains. I tricked my mind into thinking that it was just heartburn because I love spicy foods. I lost track of when the lies began and when they ended.
As days drifted into weeks, I’d listen to the jolt of my toilet and feel it rocking each time I sat and stood. My heart would race a little, and I’d privately lower my head in shame. “Was this really happening to me?” I heard myself suddenly say. “Did I just knock the bolts loose on my toilet? I can’t possibly be that big.”
I wondered had I gone back up to weighing over 300 pounds. I was clueless about how much I weighed and hadn’t on a scale in a year. In my late twenties, I weighed a whopping 330 pounds at 5’4″, but had dropped nearly 100 pounds right after turning thirty. I was wearing a 4X and was tired of having to order clothes. I lost weight just by walking and eating less junk food. I began walking everywhere that I wanted to go. I was comfortable weighing 237 lbs and stayed at that weight for over ten years.
I’d fooled myself once more by saying I was born to be “fat”, an undefined curse of God. “I’ll never be anything but ‘fat’.” I repeatedly declared that over my life, especially when I would hear people say, “Not everyone is meant to be small.” I stood on those words as my embankment of life. I was used to the looks of disgust and constant banter about my weight. As a toddler, I donned the nickname of “Pig”, given to me by family. When my maternal grandmother moved back from Louisiana and shouted at the top of her lungs, “From this day forward, you will call that child by her name, and I mean that!”, I was never called “Pig” again. However, the damage was done, and the unsaid name stuck.
When maintenance came to repair the toilet, I hung my head in shame. There was no one to blame but myself. My life was a mess. I hated my job! I worked for a sadistic cardiologist who found joy in assassinating his employees’ character, and his assistant was equally evil. I was applying for other jobs but wasn’t getting a hit. I wasn’t financially stable enough to just quit, and he was a tenured professor, so I didn’t believe filing a complaint would suffice either. I was suffocating in despair. The only thing that gave me comfort was food.
Since I worked at a medical center, I had access to scales. One early spring afternoon, while visiting another department at work, I mustered up enough courage to get on a scale. The curiosity of how much I weighed had gotten the best of me. I stared straight ahead at the tan bubbly wall before me and deeply inhaled the antiseptic odor in the atmosphere. I heard a toilet flush, but I never looked to see who was, not even when I heard the faucet come on and off, the screech of the paper towel dispenser or the opening and closing of the door. I then quickly dropped my head as if a hand was pushing it down. I weighed 266 pounds, which was 34 pounds less than what I weighed four years prior while attending graduate school in New York, but 30 pounds more than what I weighed before I started working at the medical center.
“Fat ass!” is what I called myself. I loathed the word “fat” and all the mean, stereotypical thinking and hatred associated with it. I’d been fat all my life. Being fat was my life, my truth, my description. Was it my destiny too? I’d always thought being obese a curse from God. I wasn’t angry with God, but felt he chose me as one of those people that was, “meant to be big, because everyone couldn’t be thin.” In the corners of my mind, that life analogy was unacceptable. After I saw my weight, I decided to get my blood pressure taken, and it was 156/102. Tears formed in my eyes.
I felt hopeless and lost after weighing myself and getting my blood pressure read. On the way home that afternoon, I sat on the bus staring out of the window in a somber state, trying to connect the jagged pieces of my life. When I stepped inside my apartment, I was greeted by the sweet smell of fresh roses and warm sun rays beamed through my window. I could hear an inflight plane above the building. I cracked a smile… I survived another workday.
I prayed that afternoon and asked God to help me lose weight.” It was a rather short prayer that ended with “Let Thy will be done. Not mine, but Your will.”. I was raised by my preaching, great-grandmother, who instilled in me that prayer is the key to life. I sunk my heart in God’s hands, and there was nothing else left for me to do.
Two weeks later, I sat at my desk and noticed something strange happening that day. People were whispering, office doors were closed, eye contact had lessened, and rumors of organizational restructure had been circulating for weeks. They said the cardiologist would be relocating, and things would be better. Suddenly, a human resources representative showed up in my office with a sheet of paper. She was a young, thin blond who wore a ponytail on top of her head, resembling Barbara Eden in “I Dream of Jeannie.” She was dressed in all black with silver accessories, precisely the way I dress the majority of the time. She sat down and looked at me with an emotionless face.
“Lindale, we regret to tell you, your contract will not be renewed. We are doing away with your position.”
“Did I do something wrong?” For some reason, I was crying, but I was already filled with despair from previous months.
“No, you did nothing.” The blond answered. “There are changes being made, and unfortunately, today will be your last day, but you will continue to receive a paycheck on up to July 1st.” I realized it was April 30th.
I stood up, gathered my belongings, and handed over my badge, office keys, and company credit card. I stopped decorating my workstation in 2006 when I relocated to Madrid, Spain, to become an English teacher. I bounced around so much after that, and it just seemed absurd to permanently settle in to anywhere, so the only thing I had to grab was my purse. I was escorted out of the building by the Jeannie look-alike. She even sat at the bus stop with me and waited for it to arrive, and didn’t move until it pulled off.
“What will I do now, Lord?” I prayed as the bus was leaving the medical center. Then I heard His voice, just as clear as I did when I heard Jeannie letting me go. “You’ll lose the weight.”
I thought of my prayer from the previous two weeks. I’d sworn that when I lost the weight, it wouldn’t be via any type of surgeries, shakes, weight loss organizations, teas, fad diets, etc. It would HAVE TO BE by the grace of God only. I still had income coming in, so I could heal both mentally and physically.
When I arrived home, I dropped my purse, grabbed a large plastic bag, and immediately began to fill it with all the unhealthy foods that sat inside my refrigerator and cabinets. After 10 minutes, the bag was filled with half-full ice cream cartons, opened bags of chicken strips, steak fries, and buffalo wings. In the bag went boxes of cinnamon graham crackers, bags of assorted bagels, pop tarts, frozen pizzas, lean pockets, wheat thins, and anything else I viewed as a binge food. I was going to do this and this time I wouldn’t quit.
I set an attainable goal, which was to be under two-hundred pounds, a weight I hadn’t been since I was fourteen-years-old. I wanted to live in the glory of ONEderland (anything under two-hundred).
I picked up the bag of food and discarded it in an outside dumpster, because I’d been guilty of digging food back out of the trash and eating it in the past. As I tossed the bag, the words, “The race is not given to the swift or the strong but they that endure to the end.“, came to mind.
The next morning, before the sunrise, I got dressed to start walking. I committed myself to 10,000 steps a day, seven days a week. I didn’t have any exercise clothes, so I threw on a jean skirt, a white t-shirt and a pair of black Nike tennis shoes. I walked and listened to gospel music daily. On days that it rained, or it was too warm to walk outside, I’d go to the gym inside my apartment building and walk on the treadmill for forty-five minutes… in a skirt. No one ever laughed or made me feel uncomfortable.
I knew I couldn’t rely on exercise alone, and since I’d thrown most of my food away, I could start from scratch. In the first few weeks, I ate just a thousand calories a day. I cut sweets from my diet entirely and ate fresh fruits, steamed vegetables, lean turkey, and chicken. I limited my consumption of starches, like bread, potatoes, rice, and pasta. I ate them only two or three times a week. I continued to eat oatmeal for breakfast, but with just fresh blueberries and no butter. Some mornings, I’d eat egg white omelets with spinach or turkey bacon and dry wheat toast. I ate at the same time every day.
I stopped eating dinner after I realized that eating three meals a day, and two snacks continued to give me a stomach ache. I stopped eating at 3:00 PM. A month into the journey and had lost thirteen pounds. For the first six weeks, I lost three pounds a week, and then the weight loss began to slow down. I knew my body was getting comfortable with my routine, so I increased my calorie intake to 1200 calories and started lifting weights.
Each morning as I exercised, and had long talks with God. I had some internal healing to do. I’d been depressed and suicidal for over thirty years. Somehow, I knew being small wouldn’t make me happy. I needed to get my mind right. Mental health is just as important as physical health. I’d already been seeing a therapist, who was referred to me by some friends. Typically, I’d never stayed with a therapist for more than a few months but had been with Mary, a seasoned therapist who cared about me, for a few years. The weight loss was becoming noticeable, which became a topic of discussion in a few sessions.
“Why do you want to lose weight?” She asked during one session.
I didn’t hesitate to answer her, “I am unhealthy, and it’s time. I don’t feel as well as I should, and my legs really hurt.”
“This isn’t to be accepted by your father, is it?”
I’d been estranged from my father for ten years. Our relationship was full of turbulence. His other five children are built athletic with skin so pale they could pass for white. They were the children he paraded around, gave his last name to, allowed his name to be on their birth certificate. I assured her I was losing weight for myself, not to impress or be accepted by others, doing that will only set a person up for failure.
In seven months, I’d lost sixty-five pounds, but I still weighed over two-hundred. I was beginning to feel confident, so confident I purchased a pair of distressed jeans and two pairs of exercise leggings. I’d gone from a size 24/26 to a size 18.
When I snapped the selfie wearing jeans and put a photo on Facebook of me wearing the jeans and a black off the shoulder sweater, my comments blew up. People always believed I didn’t wear pants due to religious reasons, but that wasn’t it at all. They said things like, “You’re giving me life.”, “Well, look at you!” and “That’s what I’m talking about!” I loved it.
I continued to strive for my goal of being under two-hundred pounds, but what I didn’t expect was the discouraging words from people I thought were my friends. I sent a former co-worker a text with a picture of me in it, and she wrote back, “You look sick in the face and need to eat some food.” I told her a REAL friend would NEVER say such things. Others would say, “That’s enough.”, “Stop losing weight!” or “You need to eat a whole damn pizza.” I couldn’t let their words cause me to stumble, especially since they never uttered a word when I was at my largest.
I turned fifty-years-old, nine months into my weight loss journey, I celebrated by bleaching my already short hair blonde. I was fifty, which meant I believed I could do, say, and eat whatever I wanted, and I did. I gained an astounding ten pounds in two weeks. I felt so disappointed but knew I’d come too far to give up. Plus, I never stopped exercising, or I may have gained more. I felt guilty for a brief moment, but then “got back on the wagon”.
Four weeks past my birthday, after hours of prayer, weight loss plateaus, birthday weight gain and loss, gym injuries, and therapy sessions, I stood on the scale, and I weighed 199 pounds. It took me ten consistent months to get to ONEderland. I took it off slow, so I wouldn’t gain it back fast.
I wanted to lose more, so I kept going. I increased the intensity of my workouts. I began walking 15000 steps a day (which was easy since I take public transportation) and strength training for 15-20 minutes a day. I walked everywhere all the time. I even began taking the steps to my seventh-floor apartment. I also became a vegan, which was not impossible for me since I barely ate meat anyway, but giving up all dairy challenged me. I loved cheese and making a hot pan of cornbread to go with my collard greens, my beans, or cabbage. I read that there were foods to replace dairy, like almond or coconut milk for ice cream, or a banana in cornbread mix to substitute the egg! I was sold!
After nearly two years, I’m down to 179 pounds and wear a size 9/10 (sometimes an 8). Because I exercised from the very beginning, I’m solid and can wear smaller clothes. I believe one of my most joyous moments was the first day I shopped for clothes outside of the “Plus” department. Another one was overhearing a co-worker at my new job describe me to someone who was expecting me to come to their department and retrieve a package. I heard her say, “She’s light brown, with blonde hair and FIT.” The “A” had been replaced by an “I.” I endured to the end!