It started in June 2010. I was attending the Prayer Quake conference in Phoenix. On the morning of the second day, a man I didn’t know said he had a word for me from God. This is what he said:
“Steve, you say you love Me yet you don’t love yourself. You will never be able to fully love others until you start truly loving yourself as much as I love you, and by the looks of your body, my temple, you do not love yourself. You really need to learn how to love ‘you’ as much I love you. Then you will be able to truly love others for me.”
Wow. I had no idea what to say as the gentleman hugged me for God and then walked away. I began to ask God if this was from Him or if this was a very rude person who has issues with overweight people. Later that morning and throughout that day, God made it clear that it was a message from Him.
First, God spoke through another conversation I was part of, about Israel defiling the temple of God and needing to restore it. Later, I had it come up again in my own devotional readings. Yes, you guessed it: Israel’s King had defiled the temple by putting in Asherah poles.
So by now, I realized I had an issue to deal with. Taking care of me! I began to ask God for his help in knowing where to start and for his strength to be able to stick with it. It was then God led me to an endocrinologist named Dr. Chung.
The first thing Dr. Chung told me to do was journal everything I put in my mouth. That sounded simple enough. To my surprise and horror, I filled three pages in one day. If I didn’t realize it before I did now: I was in serious trouble. I was living to eat. Eating had become my coping mechanism. I would need God’s help to change.
By this time, my diabetes was out of control. My A1C was 13. My average sugar reading was around 225. I was taking 100 units of Lantus insulin a day plus five oral medications. My weight was in the 345-pound range. I felt awful.
So the journey began — or rather, my Temple Restoration project, with God as my guide and source for strength.
I started to cut down on how much I ate, keeping my food journal to a half-page each day. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to realize that I needed to make some life changes, not just go on a diet. What made it more difficult was that we would be traveling from September 2010 through the first week of November 2010. After three months (from August to November), my insulin was reduced to 80 units a day and I had lost 24 pounds. By November 9, 2010, I weighed 321 pounds.
Then God gave me an extra source of help. I found a free app and website to track food intake called SparkPeople. The tools they provide were just the tools that I needed to help me change my life as the Temple Restoration continued.
From November 13, 2010 to March 30, 2011 — just four months — the results were amazing. I’ve lost 83 pounds total since August 2010. My doctor took me off one of my diabetic medications completely, and I was down to 17 units of Lantus insulin a day. (My goal was to be off insulin by the end of April 2011.) Each day starts with my restoration workout, both physical and spiritual. I’m eating much healthier and I’m also walking every evening. I still have another 80 to 90 pounds to go to reach my goal weight, but I know with God’s help and strength, it will be realized.
Through it all, I pray that God is glorified and for others who are challenged to start or continue their own restoration project. Start loving yourself as much as God loves you.
Loving Me and Restoring My Temple
As of June 21, 2011, I will have been on this Temple Restoration journey for a year. For the first month and a half I was trying to do it with little results. It was only after my first endocrinologist appointment that I began to understand just how messed up I was, not just physically but mentally and emotionally. You see, I am an emotional eater. I use it to cope with stress and other difficulties, but I also use it to celebrate victories and to have quality family time. And when it was all said and done, I would feel so guilty for eating that I would eat again to comfort myself. (The refrigerator became my therapist.)
Sounds crazy, I know, but that is the vicious cycle I was in.
All the while I would blame my medicines for my weight gain. In reality, a portion of my weight gain was due to my meds, but 80 percent was me and my dysfunction. As best as I can remember, it all started while in college. I never admitted I had a problem but I did. I know that you can’t live in the past, but one can learn from it and grow. That is what I’ve chosen to do. In short, I am a foodaholic. I lived to eat when I should be eating to live.
It was only after my encounter at Prayer Quake, where I was confronted with God’s truth about me and my lack of love for myself, that I realized I needed to make some radical changes in my life. I would have to rely on God for strength and a daily renewed purpose. That is where the Temple Restoration came in. I realized I had defiled His temple/my body because I wasn’t loving me enough to take care of my life and my health, the greatest gifts God had given me. I knew I had to make changes and that I needed His help.
We Americans tend to look for the easiest and quickest way to accomplish everything, and the same is true when it comes to our health. We want to be in good health and have our cake, too. We look for the “magic pill” that will allow us to keep on doing what we enjoy but still make us into a better person. I wanted to find a quick and easy fix to get me off my insulin and other meds. I begged God to heal me yet I was unwilling to do anything to change my destructive habits.
I have news for you: There is no magic pill or quick fix. It takes determination, discipline, and a desire to care for yourself. The great part is that, as I made my effort, God met me halfway and provided the strength and purpose I needed to make the changes. I’m not on a diet: I’m making life changes!
The day God directed me to SparkPeople was the day that my restoration kicked into another level. It helped me learn more about the foods I ate and their nutritional value for my body. It helped me see that just 10 minutes of activity here and there will add up and make a difference in your health: parking farther from the store and walking, taking the stairs when possible, just getting yourself moving more than you do now.
When I started out, I was doing 10 to 15 minutes of exercise or walking. Over the past year, I have discovered that I am looking for more and more ways to move. I am now walking 3 to 4 miles each morning. That has required me to rise earlier, but I really enjoy walking. I am currently walking at a pace of a mile every 13 minutes. And I still find myself looking for ways to move during the day. Beginning in August, I will start to train for my first half marathon.
OK, I realize some readers will think I am judging others. That couldn’t be further from the truth. My heart is crying out, longing to see people love themselves as God loves them. I like the phrase in the scriptures that says we are to love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves (Matthew 19:19; 23:39, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14 and James 2:8). Now, I’m not promoting an unholy pride but a love that longs to care for one’s self. The question that I was asked was, How can I truly love others if I don’t truly love myself? Ouch!!! No, I’m not perfect and I still need to continue working on this.
Luckily, my wife, Debbie, has being on the same lifestyle journey with me — without her, it would have been a lot harder. Together we have dropped 260 pounds. (Editor’s note: Read Debra’s story here.)
My weight-loss in pictures (May 2008 to June 2012). Click to enlarge.