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Hilarious, Puzzling, Sad, Exhilarating, Heartbreaking - And All True

The Story of my Struggle with Weight and Weight Loss

I have a serious weight problem. I have struggled with it for most of my life, but I’ve usually thought something like, “I’ll deal with it, eventually.” Or, “That’s just the way God made me, so I’m good with that.”

Photo of me in my desk chair at the start of my public weight loss journey.But I have to admit it – I am morbidly obese. If I don’t do something it will kill me. God did NOT make me morbidly obese, my choices of what to eat and what and when to exercise (or not exercise) were just that, my choices. I have made bad choices and right now I am reaping the consequences of those choices.

I’ve tried several times to get my weight under control, with varying degrees of success, always followed by an extended period of failure. I’ve never publicly shared what my numbers are because I have always been embarrassed and ashamed of those numbers. But since this is my online journal, and I want anyone who reads this journal to know the real me, I am going to share those numbers here.

I’m 5 foot, 9 inches tall, which makes the following numbers that much worse. At my highest point, I tipped the scale at 425 pounds. I ended up in the hospital with congestive heart failure when I was at that weight, which is the only reason I know that weight because I didn’t have a scale that went that high. That was a wake-up call for me and I started walking fairly regularly after I was released from the hospital and I did get my weight down to 310 at one point.

I never did get below that 300 mark, which to me is a major goal. I think 2002 was the last time I was under 300 pounds. so that 300 represents a definite barrier that I want to crush. But as close as I was at 310, I didn’t get any lower and I slowly started walking a little less and then even less until I wasn’t walking at all again. And of course, my weight started creeping upward once again. It hit around 340 and I knew I had to do something.

What I did was something I had never imagined my self doing; I joined a gym. And it felt good working out. The gym had a trainer that helped me set up a basic routine so I at least knew a little bit of what I was doing. I started losing again and was pretty consistent in going to the gym. Then my new stepson, who has to be in absolute peak condition for his job, came to visit us for a week or so, and he started working with me at the gym and really took my workout to another level. And while he was there with me every day, encouraging me, and showing me how to do new things, I did great and my enthusiasm was at an all-time high.

I carried that enthusiasm for a couple of weeks after he had gone back home and then slowly it started to wane. My chronic back pain began to increase and I chose to go to the gym less and less until I had quit going altogether. It is true that I have a chronic back issue, and there are days when the pain is so bad that I can barely move, and I let that excuse take over my life and I quit trying.

I did discover the Whole 30 plan and lifestyle and I read the book It Starts With Food. (I will get a small commission if you purchase that book through my link.) And it did make a big impact on me. I changed my eating habits completely. I did the Whole 30 diet two times in a row, making it a “Whole 60” for me. And the changes were incredible. I lost enough weight to once again hit that 310-pound mark. But I still couldn’t manage to break through that “300 barrier”.

I really enjoyed eating the food on the Whole 30 plan and eating that way showed in my blood test numbers. My blood sugars were down, my cholesterol was down, my headaches practically disappeared. But, as usual, I slowly drifted away from that. My will power just couldn’t seem to keep me on track. Even though I had been feeling great, I just did not continue to do what I knew was right. (And that is going to be a key point, as you will soon see.)

Photo of Flat line alert on heart monitor.And then, on August 31, 2017, I had a serious heart attack. That should have been the wake-up call that I needed to get back on track. But it wasn’t. During my ‘downtime’ resulting from the heart attack, my back issue became worse. Without going into too much detail, the very base of my spine is not attached where and how it is supposed to be and it moves around. It is seriously painful and it soon became the overriding factor in what I did or didn’t do.

Because I was hardly doing any activity, my weight began to rise. A year after my heart attack, I hit 380. That was at least a slap in the face as I absolutely did not want to ever cross the 400-pound mark again. I did begin to adjust what I was eating and even though I still wasn’t all that active, I did begin to take breaks from working at the computer and I would walk around the house. Occasionally I would also ride the incumbent bike that I have in my office, although not nearly as often as I should have.

My weight came back down to around 360 and stayed in that vicinity until about two months ago. Around two months ago I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit in a way that I had only experienced once before in my life. I suddenly saw Light being shone on what my real problem has been. All of my efforts had been just that – my efforts. And my efforts to lose weight have never been enough. And they never will be enough. And I saw with absolute clarity that what I do to my body by eating and exercising, or not exercising, was a spiritual issue for me. Please note, I’m not saying this is the case for everyone, I am only saying that I realized that for me, this was true. I knew what was right for my body, and therefore my health, and I knew what was wrong. And left to my own ‘will power’ I continuously chose what was wrong.

And the Holy Spirit chose this moment of clarity to remind me of James 4:17, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

And there it was. This was a spiritual issue for me. I knew what I should be doing, and I was choosing to not do it. And in my renewed relationship with Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, I knew that what I had was never going to be enough. At that moment I confessed to God that I knew I was choosing to do wrong and I was trying to fix the (for me) sin problem by my own power. I completely surrendered myself to God and asked Him to fill me with the Holy Spirit’s power to attack this weight issue. The Holy Spirit is always enough.

I’ve started walking again. It’s not a lot, but for me, it is a major step forward, and every couple of days I am adding another 100 yards or so. And while I am walking, I am spending that time praying and worshiping God. I know it is not going to be easy, and the Holy Spirit is not some kind of genie that is going to make the weight just go away. But now that I have identified the true issue (for me) I can know that with the Holy Spirit’s power, I can defeat this stranglehold that the enemy has used to crush me for years. There is so much tied up in my weight issue – self-esteem, depression, bad health, shame. It’s been a breeding ground for so many of the enemy’s attacks.

Now I know some of you may not understand this, some may think I’m nuts, and some of you will know exactly what I’m talking about. But I want everyone who happens to read this to know what is going on in my life. And I’ll be updating this every couple of weeks or so, sharing victories – and setbacks. I know it’s not going to be easy but I have confidence and I want to share my experience with anyone who cares to follow along.

So today, October 7, 2019, I am starting my public journey of weight loss at 355 pounds. Come along for the journey if you’d like. And if you are the praying kind, I’d certainly appreciate your prayers. And I’d definitely welcome encouragement at any time from anyone.

Grace and peace, y’all…

22 Comments

  1. Byron on October 7, 2019 at 12:29 pm

    Yeah!! Good for you!

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 3:13 pm

      Thanks, Byron. I’m sure you and I will be talking more about this in the coming weeks and months. It’s good to have a friend and a brother like you standing with me.

  2. Jan on October 7, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Great article and I can relate to so much of what you’ve been through, Paul. I’m proud that you are writing about it and that your faith is so important to you. Looking forward to some great results, and even better, some great feelings.

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 3:15 pm

      Thank you, Jan. This is a new area of my faith journey and I am finding that it is impacting every part of my life in ways I had not even considered before.

  3. Connie on October 7, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Awesome! I’ve battled the rise and fall for years. It is definitely a spiritual battle for me! I would love to encourage you anyway I can!

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks, Connie! I may be talking with Gregg and Peter about the possibility of some kind of on-going small group/support group for those of us who struggle similarly.

  4. Tim Bonn on October 7, 2019 at 1:32 pm

    I don’t think you’re nuts, Paul Timmy. My weight has fluctuated most of my adult life. I weighed 180 when I got married, stretched over my 6’3″ frame…1 year later I was at 280…it climbed another 100 pounds by the time I was 40, mostly from my sedentary lifestyle. That’s when I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I lost 86# in 3 months. Diet, exercise. 294 was still way too much. I never made it under 217. Now I’m back to 270. Back to the gym and trying to eat healthier. Trying. Not giving up. Praying for you, my friend, that you won’t give up, either.

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 3:20 pm

      Thanks, Tim! I’ll pray for you as well. We’re going to surprise some folks at the 45th reunion. (Wow, how did we get to 45th? It was just yesterday…)

      • Tim Bonn on October 7, 2019 at 3:30 pm

        Oh…it’s DEFINITELY going to be a surprise…in more ways than one…

        • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 3:39 pm

          Now I’m intrigued. If you want to, message me…

  5. Debbie T on October 7, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    I will be praying for you!

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 3:21 pm

      Thank you, Debbie! I truly appreciate it.

  6. Curt on October 7, 2019 at 2:38 pm

    Way to go Paul! Praying for you.

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 3:36 pm

      Thanks, Curt. I don’t know if I’ve ever let you know the impact that you had on my life. Not too many people believed in me back in ’77, ’78, but you did. Your invitation to join the soccer team really impressed me, and even though a lot of the guys didn’t think I could cut it. But you had faith in me and I knew I didn’t want to let you down. I ran for the first time in my life and I was up to running 5 miles a day. First time in my life that I was actually in shape and looking forward to being a part of a team. Of course, then I stepped in that hole at the field we had to use and sprained my ankle and missed the season. I wish I had known what being on a team was about and had stayed connected to the team even though I was hurt. But I didn’t and of course, things went downhill from there in a hurry.
      But, 40+ years too late, thank you for believing in me when no one else did. I’m sorry I blew that.

  7. Barry on October 7, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    Thank you for your honesty and openness. This is a very important first step. Be assured of my daily prayers. If there is anything I can do to encourage and help you please get in touch.

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 3:37 pm

      Thanks, Barry! Maybe you can chase me around the village in the mule! LOL!

  8. Vicki on October 7, 2019 at 4:39 pm

    Paul, the struggle is so real and I can truly identify with. I am so proud of you as you have been and continue to be transparent in this journey! We pray for you as you live life with a new focus. YOU GOT THIS, BROTHER!
    We are always here for you!

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 4:43 pm

      Thank you, Vicki! I know I can always count on you. And you can always count on us. We love y’all so much!
      Always praying!

  9. Janice on October 7, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Way to go! It took such courage to share about this. My eating was an addiction. Celebrate Recovery was a great help. I had to fix the wound to quit stuffing food in that wound. If I can help in any way holler! I want you to succeed.

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 7, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      Thank you, Janice! I truly appreciate that. I may be involved in starting a support group of some kind, and if so, I know I’ll want to hear more about Celebrate Recovery.

  10. MaryCarol Wilson on October 29, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    When you first wrote this, Paul, I was in Ohio visiting my cousin for a week & determined to lose some if that last 20-30 lbs I have as my goal. I know as you do, it is a constant struggle. TV commercials are all about food, being diabetic you have to eat to keep insulin levels where they should be. I see you walking & know I should be doing the same but can always find an excuse not to. We have a wonderful space to walk in with God’s beauty & creation all around us! I admire your honesty & have had a Holy Spirit awakening only once when God told me it was time to quit my job which in a very real way was a bad habit I did every day. It was time to out an end to it & He made me aware of it. The rest was up to me. I did it & it was the biggest change of my life. Just as the Holy Spirit has you in the palm of His hand, He had me. I am so happy & proud of the changes you are accomplishing! I will be cheerleading & praying you on in this journey as I continue to struggle with my journey in this battle!! May God continually bless you with health, happiness, peace & love!! Take care of yourselves & each other! Looking forward to breaking bread or crackers with you this evening as we send the Mercers off on their ling awaited journey of retirement!! Love & prayers, mcw

    • Paul T. Oyler on October 29, 2019 at 2:13 pm

      Thank you, MaryCarol! I’ll be praying for you, as well. If I can help in any way, let me know.

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