From Overweight and Oppressed to Physically Fit and Free

This is my own weight loss story. I was prompted to write about it after a comment posted on an article in the Blessing Blocker series. I know my story will inspire you to start, continue or complete your physical fitness goals.

Shon Before
I am five feet two inches tall and prior to any of my children being born my highest weight was 186 pounds. I know that many people would be ecstatic about weighing that much, but this is my story and this was not a healthy weight for me. I was not morbidly obese, but I was bound as bound as those people are. My disposition in life has always been sunny. I’m a natural optimist. However after age 16, I lost control of my weight.

In much of the black community, there’s nothing wrong with being healthy. In fact the first time I met my future mother-in-law, that was one of the first things she said about me, “She’s healthy!” Even though I enjoyed that time in my life, my being overweight still caused a sense of insecurity—I hid it well. To add insult to injury, my family members constantly teased me about my weight. I had two female cousins and two sisters who were all slim—I was the fat one.

Determined not to be a fat bride, I slimmed to a size 10 for my wedding. And you know what?! One of my aunts said while hugging me on my wedding day, “You’re gonna have to go on a diet girl!” I thought, “Are you kidding?! I’ve been on a diet for the last year!!” C’mon, it was my wedding day for crying out loud!

As hard as I had worked (or so I thought), by my third year of marriage I reached 186 pounds. I was mortified. There was something in me that always self-sabotaged. I cried, ate and complained to my husband (who by the way is one of those disgusting magic metabolism people!) because I now had size six-teens in my closet. I needed to find out why I hadn’t fully committed. Why did I really want to lose weight? Did I just want to be skinny? Am I that weak and superficial?

Finally, I started walking everyday—rain or shine. My husband went with me when he could. I thought I was doing pretty well. Then, I got pregnant! It wasn’t until after the birth of my second child that I really got my mind right. You see, I had never consulted with God on this topic. I didn’t let Him in at all. I took pills, went on all kinds of weird diets and exercised. Humans are by nature selfish and superficial. It is not until we realize the potential, purpose and resolve that we have in our minds and spirits that we can do dynamic things.
Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
—Romans 12:2 AMP
This scripture changed my life! My mind had to be changed. I had to prove it to myself. Was it God’s perfect will that I be overweight and unhealthy? What kind of mother would I be to not take care of my body and place a burden of worry on my children? I thought about my body really being God’s temple—the place where His Spirit was dwelling. I read about the temple in the Old Testament and how it was cared for and kept. The Law also had many requirements for how God’s people were to keep their bodies. If it were that important to God then, wouldn’t it still be now?
You realize, don't you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? No one will get by with vandalizing God's temple, you can be sure of that.—1 Corinthians 3:16-17 The Message
The more I continued to let poor food choices and a lack of physical fitness dominate my life, the more I vandalized God’s temple! I was trampling the grace of God and defiling His temple. I can’t confess that by His stripes I’m healed when I am abusing my body with food (the same as with drugs or sex). My flesh was out of control where food and fitness were concerned.

I prayed and asked God to help me for the first time in all of my weight loss efforts. This time I was serious. I knew I needed His help. I was also dealing with some anger and depression residue from the death of my first child. I told Him that if He would tell me what to do, I would do it. At first, all I had to do was fast and pray. I did not exercise. It was like a mental and spiritual detoxification. I had no diet books, no gym membership or medication. I had given my heart and body to God.

There came a point after five or six months that I added in a moderate exercise routine. It consisted of walking and more praying. I had one of those neat baby straps; so I strapped my baby on my chest, and he slept while I walked. My goal was to weigh 120 pounds by the time he was one year old. I did not reach that goal.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.—Galatians 6:9
I was doing a good thing for myself, my husband, my children and God. I couldn’t afford to give up! So what if I didn’t get there in a year. With safe weight loss at one pound a week over the course of a year I would have only lost fifty-two pounds. I was trying to lose sixty-six. So actually, it took the correct amount of time—about 16 months (Hey, I had to go through the holidays!). Every so often God would tell me to stop eating or drinking something, or He would introduce me to some new exercise routine. Years fell off my life. My confidence and energy returned. That was nearly seven years ago. And as I said earlier, I was always a happy person—just not as happy as I was supposed to be. This time it was real. I wasn’t hiding anything.

When it got cold, I worked out indoors using fitness tapes and television programs. God helped me. And those same relatives who called me fat for years were now saying I was too skinny! Go figure?! Another lesson—you can’t please people, so quit trying. Live your life to please God.  This is when I was inspired to become a fitness instructor. The seeds were being sown into be during my own journey.

Now that is what I do. I often tell people that God has made me into the me that I’ve always wanted to be. Nearly everyday, I’m sowing health, life and fitness into others. Remember that whatever God has done in you, He wants to do through you! As I teach fitness, I believe that the life and vitality of God is surging through my body. I bring His life and enthusiasm to every class. It’s keeping His temple alive and well so that I can continue sharing my testimony.

I believe in you and so does God. Ask Him to help you in your weight loss and fitness goals. He promised to bless all the work of your hands—that includes your efforts to get healthy! I know He’ll give you the perfect plan that will take you from being overweight and oppressed to physically fit and free! The following is the confession I wrote to encourage a reader to reach her goals. Confess it over your life and write me with your success stories!
My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19); therefore, I refuse to abuse it by overeating. God is working in me to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). I will ensure that the vessel He works through is physically, mentally and spiritually fit to do His work (Daniel 1:3-5, 8, 15). Lord, you said in Mark 11:23 that I will have whatever I say. I confess that every organ and tissue of my body is functioning perfectly. My blood pressure, body fat and blood sugar are all at healthy levels. I have self control (Proverbs 25:28; 2 Peter 1:6). I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13); I overcome every temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). Whatever I do prospers, so I am prospering in my body as I commit to treat it as holy to the Lord (Psalm 1:3). I will live long on the earth in excellent health (Psalms 91:16; 92:14). This is the will of God for my life (Jeremiah 29:11).

Be blessed friends and have the perfect day everyday!
Shon After

—Shon Stevens is a writer and professional fitness instructor. Shon lives in Texas with her husband and two children.

Psalm 138:8
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  1. Hi there Shorrita :-) I am going to use your testimony on my facebook. All glory to God for our weight loss :-)

    I started fasting a meal a day a year ago. I said a simple prayer BEFORE this happened. \\"Lord help me in my self-control in everything. Amen\\".

    Within a week although it was not conscious I dropped a meal during the day and instead I did bible study and ministered on facebook. Often the time would run over my normal mealtime and I wouldn\\\'t feel hungry. Praise the Lord. I know now that I was comfort eating out of long time habit. The scripture you posted Shoritta \\"no longer conform but be renewed\\" was the scripture put on my heart. In Jesus we are born into new life and that means the old MUST pass away.

    God knows I am not drawn towards copious exercise yet not consciously I seek to walk from my car instead of parking the car right outside the store. I love to walk in my compound here in Bahrain and now a lovely park has been built ideal for walking amongst God\\\'s beauty :-)

    My weight originally was 173lbs and now I am at 149 lbs which is a weight loss of 52.8lbs. My husband\\\'s compliment (he too has a metabolism like your husband\\\'s) said it all and has been worth every bite not taken. He said \\"I am so proud of the way you look now and your determination to maintain your weight - looking good :-).\\"

    We broke up for a year and half when my husband strayed and now I see it as a huge blessing, a wake up call that helped me to find the beautiful ME again that God saw all the time. Praise His Holy and Wonderful Name.

    God is going on to do even greater things in me and it has been put on my heart today to address this issue of weight amongst the leaders in our church and to put this on facebook for my sisters and brothers in Christ, just as it was put on your heart Shoritta, through your testimony here to many.

    God led me to you today through this wonderful vehicle to spread the Gospel - the internet :-). You can find me under Susan Avril Hughes on facebook should you wish to connect. God Bless, Susan