How I Got to 311 Pounds
My Family - December 2011
I sat in the doctor's office waiting for what seemed like my 1,000th appointment. I was tired, my body hurt, and I was so sick of being ill. I couldn't remember the last time I had a good night's sleep that lasted for more than a few hours. My body was quite literally attacking itself, and I still had no answers. All the different medications just weren't working, and I quite literally felt like I was falling apart. I felt rather hopeless that today's visit would offer anything new. Probably the same old thing: you just need to lose weight.... Why did they always make it sound so simple? Did they think that somehow over the last 25 years I had missed the fact that I was fat? It just wasn't that simple, and I knew even as I sat there that a diet was just not the cure. If it was, then all those costly programs I had participated in over the years would have worked.
A slender, handsome young nurse called out my name to check me in. Great, I thought to myself, maybe I won't have to get on the scale THIS time. No such chance. "Please step on the scale, Crystal," he requested. I took in a deep breath and stepped on. Every muscle in my face cringed. The number ping ponged around until it landed on THE number. Tears filled my eyes as I stared down. 311 lbs. What? Was that right? How DID I get here? I had promised myself I would NEVER be one of those people; I would never get into the 300's. Yet, there I was. Surely the visit could not get worse then this.
A few minutes later I was sitting before the doctor running through my list of complaints and getting ready to hear the results of my latest blood work. I had pushed my emotions aside about my weight. I would deal with that later the same way I dealt with all of my emotions: I would bury them. The doctor scrunched up her nose as she quickly reviewed the paperwork and then looked me in the eyes. "Mrs. Coates, it appears we have still been unsuccessful at helping regulate your hormones. Some of these labs also now indicate that we have a problem with your liver. We will need to do some further testing, but your liver seems to be showing some of the early signs of failure." The rest of the visit was a blur. I couldn't sleep, my hormones were a mess, I had high blood pressure, I battled consistent painful infections, and now I had learned my liver had had enough. I hit rock bottom, and all I could think was, "How did I end up here?" All I remember next was sitting in my car crying, weeping and talking with God.
So, how did I get to that point?
I really had known for quite a long time that the problem lay within my head and heart, but I truly did not understand how to fix it. Call it an eating disorder, an addiction or whatever you want to. In the end it is a deep, dark pit that I was wallowing at the bottom of. I wasn't in denial, and I had never been one to blame fast food chains or genetics on my weight problem. But, I had not hit bottom either until that day. And by the grace of God, He alone knew what it would take to wake me up. Ironically, it was facing the very issue that had gotten me there to begin with: pain. As sad and humbled as I am to admit it, I did not know how to handle pain, and so I turned to the one thing I understood could bring me comfort: food.
I can remember exactly when it began. I was 5 years old. A series of events occurred that culminated in my being molested and left me feeling alone, terrified, and in mental torment. I can remember sneaking into the kitchen cupboard and grabbing a package of pudding cups, running into my room, hiding in my closet, and consuming the entire package. I felt some sense of power, and man did they taste great! And for a few minutes everything seemed to be better…until it wasn't again. So began my love affair with food. And so one choice at a time I ate my way to 311 lbs.
I had to get really honest with myself and spent a lot of time really thinking about just what I was doing and the
I just never believed or learned that despite whatever my feelings were or whatever I went through, I was going to be okay. In fact, I had allowed others to convince me of the exact opposite. I wouldn't be okay, I would never be good enough, I could never be loved, and I could not possibly handle whatever pain came. I believed I was a failure. And for the next 26 years I would allow God to heal every other area of my life, but not this one. Not until this year.
This year I am learning how God can once again create beauty from ashes. I am learning how to feel whatever feelings I have and remember that with God carrying me through I will be okay. I know that sounds simple, and I would have told you I understood that before, but I was lying to myself. I am learning that I don't have to protect myself from the world or hide because I need to run from the possibility of pain. In fact, I don't have to fear pain at all. I have finally seen, truly seen, how there is no pain that God cannot both carry you through and redeem! And lastly, I am starting to see the beauty that God has made me to be. It is not only ok to be myself, but it brings God joy. No longer am I trying to prove my value or worth. God gave that to me, and no other earthly opinion matters. For when you begin to see who God has made you to be and all the power He has given to those who believe, you can't miss the freedom that is there for you to have in abundance. And today I am FREE! There will be times that I will struggle. The good Lord knows how prone my heart is to wander, but never again will I go back to the depths of that pit. Freedom is far too sweet, and no food on Earth is worth what I have endured. Finally, food is just food, and God is my God.
Me with My Girls - March 2012