From an early age, I started having issues with self-image. I’d look in the mirror and often think, “Why can’t I look like ___?” I compared myself to all my friends who, most of the time, were a lot skinnier than I was. As an adult, I have had moments when I looked in the mirror and asked myself, “How did you let this happen?” or, “Why haven’t you done anything yet?”

Why do you feel your weight/health got out of hand?

I just neglected it my whole life. I’ve always been overweight, and just in the last few years (since marrying my wonderful husband) I have realized what a detriment to my health and my children’s health being overweight is.

What was the turning point for you in making the decision to lead a healthier life?

It was about two years into our marriage. I was sad watching all my friends get married and immediately start families. I wanted that. When I mentioned how badly I wanted a family to my husband, he told me it was probably better if I lost weight first. Did that hurt? Yes. Was he right? Yes. Having a child when you’re 100+ lbs overweight is NOT healthy by any means. The health risks skyrocket if you are obese. I did not want those risks. I wanted to have happy, healthy pregnancies so that I can be a happy and healthy mother.

What has God done in your heart to make you ready for a life change?

That’s an easy one. It happened during nightly devotions with my husband. Our study mentioned things a husband needs to work on. Well, obviously that sprouted some discussion, and I started naming things that I, as a wife, need to work on. God was really working in me, because the next thing I knew I blurted out, “I don’t believe in myself.” BAM! Let the waterworks commence because that’s a heavy thing to admit. I had always wondered why I had so much trouble sticking with anything, and there it was. I don’t believe in myself. Admitting that, as hard as it was, really gave me a new sense of purpose, a new drive. My husband consoled and encouraged me.

“He believes in me, so why can’t I believe in myself?” I thought. It was a powerful night, and I woke up feeling refreshed and ready to face the world the next morning.

What has worked to get you to a healthier state?

I joined Weight Watchers Online. I loved it when I was consistent with it. I had so much motivation. But then I stopped Weight Watchers for a time and picked up a book called “Trim Healthy Mama” (THM). I love the recipes in it and the fact that it has been proven by so many people to work wonders on health. I have started back on Weight Watchers and am using THM principles as well.

Oh! That’s another thing that has helped me — EXERCISING. I love exercising now. I used to think of it as a chore and a pain in the you-know-what. Now? I love it. Working out with a buddy really helps with accountability as well. Having someone to say, “Hey, you need to workout. Let’s go!” really helps. Most days it’s my husband or a friend who keeps me on track; however, sometimes it works the other way around, and I’m motivating them to go.

What lies have you believed about yourself pertaining to your inner/outer beauty and your self-worth?

For years, I believed I needed to be a size two in order to be considered beautiful in the eyes of any man. Of course, when I met my husband, that changed. He loves me just the way I am. But we both wanted to be healthier.

As far as inner beauty is concerned, my mom brought me up to know that inner beauty is having a kind and compassionate personality. I believe I am beautiful on the inside whether or not the world sees me as beautiful on the outside. As far as self-worth goes, I have believed for years that you are only worth something if you are beautiful, strive for higher education and get a well-paying job. Well, obviously that’s not true. There are still days when I feel worthless, but my husband tries to tell me that I am worth something. I get a sense of self-worth whenever I do something that betters my family, any time I help someone and am selfless.

Do you believe the devil plays a part in your struggle?

Oh yes. Beyond a shadow of a doubt. There are days when I hear that little voice telling me over and over that I will never succeed, that I’m only meant to fail. I have no doubt that is the devil.

How can God make you victorious in this aspect of your life?

He can help me see my worth. He can help me see the reason I am doing this. He can guide me on my path and make me really believe in myself. Most of all, He can help me stop listening when the devil tells me all I’m good at is failing. Only God can help me get over the obstacles in my mind and help me see the roadblocks the devil has placed before me.

What would you like to see when you look into the mirror?

I’d just like to see myself as beautiful — like my husband sees me, like God sees me. A song that is good for this is “Beautiful” by Bethany Dillon. She sings about how she’s tired of fighting all the people in the world, tired of fighting the mirror. She just wants to be seen as beautiful. Then she realizes that God sees her as beautiful, and that makes her beautiful.

I just want to look in the mirror and know that I am doing everything for my family that I can and know in my heart that I am beautiful in the eyes of God and my husband.

What kind of woman do you want to be, and how does your health/fitness fit into that equation?

I want to be the kind of woman who is selfless but still takes care of herself. I want to be able to help people in need. I want to be as good a mom to my two daughters as my mom is to me and my siblings.

I want to be the woman who people look at and say, “There goes one of the most spiritual and compassionate women I know.” I want to be able to be there for my friends and family whenever they need me. If I’m not healthy, I can’t always be there for my family. If I am not in shape, how can I take care of my children? How can I chase my toddler around while caring for my infant?

How can your health and fitness glorify God?

I will be a walking testimony. I will have overcome a lot of obstacles when I lose this weight — a lot of self-doubt, a generous amount of depression and a pile of woes. Only God can help me through what I am facing. It will help to have my husband and friends along for the ride, but God is the only one who can really help me. He will give me the strength I need to conquer this, and all the glory will go to Him.