It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
Today's Wild Card author is:
and the book:
Siloam (January 8, 2013)
***Special thanks to Althea Thompson for sending me a review copy.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
After her 155-pound weight loss, Linda quietly began writing again. She was hooked. A blog grew into a talk show on the CTN network and a weekly newspaper column - reaching thousands of readers every week with her message of healthy weight loss. Now Linda speaks with groups around the country and runs a comfort food test kitchen with her family and friends as official “tasters.” To get her latest low-cal comfort recipes, visit www.theskinnybudgetdiet.com.
SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:
Get the strategy that was created in the kitchen of a 300-pound wife and mother who couldn’t afford another expensive weight loss plan. There was no more room in the family budget for ordering diet foods and supplements through the mail, no money to buy ongoing weekly support, and no way to pay for a high-priced weight loss surgery. Linda Goff had to find budget-friendly way to lose half of her body weight and keep it off for good. The Skinny Budget Diet was born.
Read the secrets Linda shared with the Today Show, the Doctors, on the cover of Woman’s World Magazine, the Huffington Post, and Prevention Magazine. Inside this book, she will give you the step-by-step tools that allowed her to lose 155 pounds with sanity instead of starvation. You can eat normal meals with your family, drop the weight, and lower your monthly food budget.
List Price: $16.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Siloam (January 8, 2013)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Wasting Time on a Growing Waist
I WROTE THIS BOOK for you. And throughout these chapters you and I are going to get very close. There will be no such thing as TMI. I am happy to provide “too much information” on every page of this book if it will give you your life back. Want to hear about the roller coasters I couldn’t fit into or the lawn chairs I broke when I weighed three hundred pounds? You got it. I’ll even give you the blow-by-blow of how I shaved my legs every day without the ability to see my feet.
It may not be pretty stuff, but I think it is important for you
to understand that there is no such thing as “too broken” or “too
far gone.” And while I’m not a fan of beating myself up over bad
choices, you can learn from my twenty years of mistakes. I wasted thousands of dollars trying to buy my way out of obesity. It left me with a heavier body, heavier debt, and some heavy lies in my head: “I really shouldn’t eat the rest of these cookies. Oh, go ahead. You are so fat . . . what’s a few more pounds? But what if I can’t find clothes that fit anymore? This little plate of cookies won’t make any difference. You work hard. You deserve a treat.”
I wish I could claim that underlying mental scars or repressed
abuse led to my constant cycle of overeating and guilt. It didn’t. I
could tell you that I was obese because of past pregnancies and
post-baby weight. My youngest son weighed more than twelve
pounds at birth. Twelve pounds! But that wasn’t the reason for my
I ate when I was happy—to celebrate friends and family, to
reward myself after a stressful day of work, even to enjoy my
favorite TV shows. I ate because food tasted good. When I left my
mom’s healthy table and went to college, I gained my “freshman
fifteen” and kept on going. I can’t blame my obesity on a thyroid
problem or even a slow metabolism. I ate myself to morbid obesity through daily, unhealthy choices—each seeming so small and insignificant at the time.
There are as many reasons for overeating as flavors at Baskin-
Robbins. You may have a story that is similar to mine, or your
story may be filled with true sadness. I understand that food can
be an anesthesia to make the world seem less painful or a weapon
to keep the world a safe distance away.
It is not my intention to minimize the underlying causes of obesity. We’ll get into some of these reasons in more detail as we work through this book. At the moment simply understand that your reasons for overeating can no longer be used as excuses to stay obese. Excuses (even excuses that seem valid) won’t make you one pound lighter. They serve no purpose for good.
Two Decades of Weight-Loss “Practice”
“Honey, you have such a pretty face. Have you tried losing weight?” I’m generally not a violent person, but questions like that made me see red. If I could have lifted my foot above my waist, I would have kicked these well-meaning, skinny people in the gut . . . or the ribs . . . or whatever thin people have around their waists in the place of fat. Have I tried losing weight? You can’t be serious!
I had more failed weight-loss plans in my past than candy wrappers on the bottom of my purse. Each one had a price tag. At the time did I understand the science of losing weight? You bet. I was an obese woman living in the United States. As a group we are probably more informed about calories and exercise than the general public. Ironic, isn’t it? I’ve spent hours watching people “sweat
to the oldies” and sculpt “buns of steel.” I have vivid memories of
spreading cream cheese on a bagel while watching Tony Horton
sell his latest exercise plan.
I think the biggest myth going is that obese Americans don’t
understand how they became overweight and have no idea how to
lose it. Here is one lie that I always told myself: “I’m so confused.
I don’t know whether to count calories, carbs, or fat.” That excuse
was a great way to start a heated debate in any crowd and kill my
dieting plans before lunch.
The results of all these failed diet attempts were damaging—not
only physically but also spiritually. I began to truly believe that:
1. Losing weight the “old fashioned way” with diet and
exercise is too hard and takes too long.
2. People who lose weight and keep it off obviously
have more willpower than I do. “Face it, Linda.
There must be something wrong your character. You
are just too weak to lose weight.”
3. Maybe it is God’s plan for me to be this big. After all,
He created each one of us to be unique and different.
I’m supposed to be three hundred pounds.
Most of us are obese because we eat more food than our bodies
can burn, and we’ve been doing it for years. Mystery solved! What’s not as easy to understand is the role that the brain plays in this behavior. I’ve tried to honestly examine the choices I made at three hundred pounds, and the constant dialogue that ran through my brain. I think some of my daily thoughts about food may sound familiar to you. And so I present . . .
Looking at my “Day in the Life of” menu, I don’t know whether
to laugh or cry. It is a true account of the crazy, internal battles of
an obese woman. Being this honest may not be easy for you, but
here is what I learned by writing down my daily menu:
1. I had no idea at the time how many calories I was
eating. If you quizzed me as I was brushing my teeth
before bed, I would have guessed that I’d eaten about
three thousand calories, not a button-popping fivethousand-
plus in just one day. I’d skipped the Coke,
potato chips, ranch dressing, and whipped cream.
That’s healthy, right?
2. Most of my food was coming from restaurants and
not grocery stores. This is an important thing to
realize . . . both in regard to maintaining a healthy
weight and a healthy wallet. More on this later.
3. I often ate while doing other things such as driving,
working, and watching television.
4. Frustration about dieting and weight loss was often
my first thought of the day and the last thing in my
head before falling asleep. So many precious hours
that I gave away to my obesity.
5. My size was changing my life: the clothes I wore, the
people I ate with, and the intimacy I had with my
As I was starting diet number forty-seven (or maybe it was diet
number forty-nine), I caught an interview with NBC weatherman
Al Roker in which he talked about his gastric bypass surgery. It
was a fascinating idea to me. You just make your stomach smaller
and force yourself to eat less food. If you screw up, you throw up.
I was now a woman on a mission, searching the web and reading
every magazine article I could find with details on the procedure.
The before and after pictures for celebrities such as Carnie Wilson, Roseanne Barr, and Al Roker were amazing. They had lost hundreds of pounds in a short amount of time. Gastric bypass surgery was going to be my answer, my quick escape from morbid obesity.
My Gastric Bypass Obsession
I contacted a surgical weight-loss center in 2002 and began the
long, pre-surgical process that included a consultation with a psychologist, an exam with my local doctor, and blood work. My primary physician went over the risks for gastric bypass surgery in great detail, and I’m sure that I smiled and nodded back when she told me that:
1. The procedure has a death rate that some doctors
estimate to be as high as one in one hundred. What
went through my head: “Those are still pretty good
2. The surgery can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies
requiring daily supplements and B12 shots at
least once a week. My thoughts: “Maybe Flintstone
vitamins will come out with B12 in a gummy fruit.
That would be cool.”
3. There is a syndrome called dumping where your
food can move too quickly through the small intestine
causing nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting. Inside
my head: “Did she just say something about a dump?
There was a big disconnect between the information given to
me by my doctor and what I was focused on. When you believe
that gastric bypass is your only ticket out of morbid obesity, the
risks don’t matter. I was willing to live with almost anything to be
thin . . . especially if the solution didn’t require a lot of willpower
on my part.
From all of my research I knew that qualifying for gastric bypass
surgery wasn’t going to be easy. I had to show my insurance company that I was unhealthy enough to need the procedure but healthy enough to live through the surgery. My weight wasn’t a problem. With a BMI (body mass index) between 47 and 48, I met that requirement. A healthy BMI range is between 18.5 and 24.9. I also had to show a history of failed dieting attempts. That was an easy requirement after two decades of being obese.
I was happy (practically giddy) the day I mailed my huge stack
of forms back to the surgical weight-loss center. Clearance from my doctor and psychologist? Check. Blood work proving that I didn’t have thyroid issues? Check. The name and policy number for my insurance company? Check. I was cleared to have the surgery and ready for takeoff.
Unfortunately my insurance company didn’t agree. My calls to
the surgical weight-loss center became more frequent as the weeks went by. A very patient lady in the admissions department gave me updates about her discussions with my insurance company. Even with gallbladder disease, occasional chest pains, and a scale at three hundred pounds, my insurance company said I didn’t have enough risk factors to justify the surgery. I wasn’t diabetic— yet. I didn’t have high blood pressure or breathing problems—yet. Basically I was too healthy.
From Little Control to Out of Control
The day I received the final no from my insurance company is
one I will never forget. I was crushed. I believed my insurance
company had just sentenced me to a lifetime of morbid obesity. I
was so angry inside I gave up on the idea of ever trying to diet or
exercise. If I needed to be “sick” to qualify for the surgery, fine.
Diabetes is common in my family, so I’ll just keep eating. Maybe
my insurance company will pay for the procedure if I weigh three
hundred fifty pounds. And I’m sure I will get the green light if I
weigh four hundred pounds.
Looking back, my daily plan to add another hundred pounds
was nearly flawless. It could have been called a personal weight-
gain plan. I ignored food labels, lived in the drive-through lane,
and ate whatever was put in front of me. I even stopped going to
the doctor so that I could skip that awkward “let’s get your weight” moment. I went three years without a yearly exam or checkup of any kind.
There are very few “before” pictures of me during this time. I
remember sitting in my car and going through stacks of developed
pictures. Before letting anyone else see the pictures, I would
throw away any photos showing my body (especially from the side). When my boys look back at their childhood photo albums, they are going to wonder if their mother ran off with the circus during this period of their lives. My kids loved disposable cameras and knew that they could take pictures of their dad, the dog, even our half-dead cat, but never, never take a picture of mom.
I was hiding from my appearance, and I honestly have no idea
how much I weighed at my heaviest. I do know that I didn’t fit in
airplane seats, roller-coaster seats, theater seats, or even the seats
at some of my favorite restaurants. How is that for irony? I was
wearing a size 4X, and buying clothes was a horrendous experience.
There are a few things in the world that I’ve always found impossible: folding a fitted sheet, safely clipping my cat’s claws, and finding size 26 clothes that made me “look skinny.” At three hundred pounds, shopping for jeans was an aerobic activity that often left me sweating. I’d walk into the dressing room, turn away from the mirror, and do the dance.
Do you know the one? You start by jumping up and down to
get the denim around your lumpy parts. Follow that up by lying
flat on the ground to get the jeans buttoned. If you are successful
with the first two steps, it’s time for the final challenge. You must
get back on your feet without popping a button or ripping out the
seams in your seat.
It was generally in these dignified moments that I asked myself,
“When did I get this large? What am I going to do when even the
plus size clothes are too small? How did I let myself get this out of control?”
I enjoy living in a small town, but the closest mall is more than
one hour away. I remember being so relieved when a local clothing store expanded their sizes beyond a 3X. It can be terrifying when
your body is too large to wear anything in the store. Forget about
dressing fashionably, I was just worried about dressing at all.
When My Bottom Hit Bottom
The stages of obesity are strangely similar to the stages of grief. If
you’ve struggled with your weight for a long time, you may see
yourself in one of the phases below. Because I’m such an overachiever, I had to hit all five stages before my bottom hit bottom. It was a twenty-year spiral down.
1. Denial: “I’m not obese. I just have a lot of curves.
This can’t be happening . . . not to me. Gaining a few
extra pounds is simply a part of getting older, right?
I don’t have the metabolism I had in high school, but
it’s not like I have a serious problem.”
2. Anger: “It’s not fair. If my spouse (children, friends,
coworkers, and so on) didn’t sit around eating
so many high-calorie foods, I wouldn’t have this
problem. How could anyone lose weight with this
many temptations? They are to blame.” Once we are
in the second stage, we recognize that denial cannot
3. Bargaining: “I know I have a problem. I’m going to
lose the weight but not today. My schedule is just
too hectic, and I’m too stressed out. I’ll start the diet
on Monday.” In this stage we want more time before
confronting the tough work we see ahead of us.
4. Depression: “Why even bother to try anymore?
What is the point of starting another diet? This isn’t
going to work anyway. I might as well eat whatever
I feel like. I’m always going to be fat.” This was
the stage for me where I gave up on weight loss and
exercise completely. I stopped going to the doctor
so I didn’t have to get on the scale, and I started
making fat jokes at my own expense to cover my
5. Acceptance: This is the hour, the minute, the second
when you finally hit bottom. If you’ve ever fought an
addiction and won, acceptance is a moment in time
you will never forget. Mine was a Saturday morning
in March 2007 at about 7:30 a.m. Oh yes, I can be
I think the world has a misconception about acceptance. We
imagine people standing up, dusting off their hands, and working
to fix their problems. There is actually more to it than that.
Acceptance is when you are willing to put your trust in something
beyond yourself. It is an attitude that “I will do whatever it takes,
no matter how hard, because I can’t live like this anymore. I will
no longer value pride over health. I need help, and I’m not going to be afraid to ask for it.”
For the first fifteen years of my obesity I bounced from anger
(when a weight-loss plan didn’t work) back to bargaining (before I started the next diet). After being told no to gastric bypass surgery
by my insurance company, I finally slid into the depression stage. I gave up on weight loss and ate whatever was in front of me.
When I travel and speak with groups, I get these questions more
than any other: What happened in 2007? Why did you lose the
weight? That question makes me sweat! For more than a year I
gave the safe, comfortable answer that I wanted to be healthier
and set a good example for my children. And while that is true, it
wasn’t a part of my “bottom hitting bottom” moment.
I’m going to be honest here because I believe it is important for
other married people to understand that they aren’t alone. One
weekend in March of 2007 it became clear to me that the awesome man I married couldn’t pretend to find me attractive anymore. Our intimacy was precious to me, and we were losing it. I was daring him to find me attractive at two hundred pounds, two hundred fifty pounds . . . OK, how about three hundred pounds? It was like my weight was a third person lying in our bed between us. I saw a day coming when we would live together “just as friends,” and it broke my heart.
I have to stop for a moment and tell you a little bit about my
husband. When we said our marriage vows in 1992, the man was
serious. I never worried for one minute that he would cheat on me
or want a divorce. Every day he told me he loved me. It was just a
problem that there seemed to be a lot more of me to love every day.
I don’t believe that wives should torture themselves trying to
look like models. Let’s be honest. Even a supermodel doesn’t really look like a supermodel when you take away the hour of expert makeup and the magic of Photoshop. I do think we owe it to our spouses, however, to take care of ourselves. At three hundred pounds I stopped getting haircuts, considered makeup a waste of time, and avoided mirrors like the plague. Men are visual. God created them that way, and I can only imagine how tired my husband must have been seeing me in baggy sweatpants every day.
I think my “bottom smacking” moment went back to those
marriage vows we had said to each other fifteen years earlier. My
husband promised to love me in sickness and in health, but I was
choosing sickness over health. It wasn’t fair to him. My out-of-control eating habits and lack of exercise were hurting my marriage and slowly killing me. I was ready to lose weight like a grown-up.
Does this mean that I lost 155 pounds for my husband? No. I
didn’t lose the weight for him. I lost the weight for us. I think if
my only motivation had been to make my husband happy, my diet
wouldn’t have lasted a week. This is at the core of why we can’t nag, badger, or beg our spouses to be healthier. A guilt trip or mean comments from my husband would have sent me to the nearest buffet line with a battle cry of, “You think I’m fat? I’ll show you fat!”
Your parents may be worried sick about your growing size. Your
spouse may be secretly throwing away your snacks. Your kids may dream of having a parent who is active and involved. That alone won’t be enough. A healthier you is a gift to those who love you, but it is a gift that must be given of your own free will. Has your bottom touched bottom?
From Willpower to “Thy Will ” Power
“I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed,
you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”1
I did a little bit of research about the mustard seed. It is generally
about three millimeters in diameter and is one of the smallest
seeds on the planet. What I found interesting is that the tiny mustard seed can grow to be one of the largest plants in the garden. But in March of 2007 all I knew about mustard was that it tasted great on a hot dog.
Looking back, the mustard seed really was the perfect symbol
for where I was at in my head. Because of so many past diet failures I had almost no faith that I would ever lose weight. I had
almost no faith that God would listen to my prayers. I had almost
no faith that He could give me the strength to try again . . . almost.
It turns out that the three millimeters of faith that I had in my
heart was enough. Actually it was more than enough.
To say that I probably didn’t look my best on that day in March
of 2007 would be an understatement. I want you to give you clear
picture of my “before” photo—no touch-ups. It was early on a
Saturday morning, so you have to picture an obese woman with
her hair standing straight up, not a lot of clothes on, and teeth that
probably needed to be brushed. My eyes were practically swollen
shut from my tears, and an occasional snot-bubble is not outside
the realm of possibility. I looked rough. God didn’t care.
He listened to me make an ugly, honest confession. I had allowed
food to be my god. It had become my comforter and my crutch.
And if you’ve struggled with your weight or with any addiction,
you know that it can be an angry and unforgiving god. The very
day I cried out and prayed for help, God (with the big, capital G)
gave me a no-thank-you muscle I never had before.
Here is the best way I can describe it. When an obese person
sees something delicious on a plate, the “must have it” meter is off the charts. A piece of warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream would be an eighteen for me on a scale of one to ten. It was impossible to resist. On the Saturday I asked God to carry me, my “must have it” meter for the foods I loved was immediately dialed down. The food still looked delicious, but I didn’t feel as if I would die if I simply said, “No, thank you.”
That feeling of strength has never left me. It gave my soul the
courage to try again even after two decades of failure. It gave my
brain the opportunity to put the science of weight loss into action.
God took my faith (the size of a mustard seed) and moved a mountain; a 155-pound mountain of fat to be exact.
If you can take away just one thing from my story, I hope it is
this. God is still in the miracle business. I learned in a very real
way that God has plans for us. Plans to prosper us and not to harm
us. Plans to give us hope and a future.2 The Father who created you and can count every hair on your head is not a deadbeat dad.
We’re going to talk about the role that faith and support can
play for you, but our first hour class is science. Don’t worry. You
won’t need a periodic table of the elements or a Bunsen burner. In
the next chapter I want to give you some basic facts about how
our bodies work, use calories, and store fuel. There is a measurement tool called the body mass index and my own creation called a brain mass index. Both can be eye opening.
House Call With Rita Hancock, MD
House Call With Rita Hancock, MD
Question:_ I have a long list of diets in my past. Many of them
were all about restrictions and what foods I could and couldn’t
eat. Do you ever wonder what God thinks about our constant
Dr. Hancock: I think it breaks God’s heart to see us suffer
with the consequences of obesity, but I also think it breaks
His heart to see us chronically diet and fail. Our failures just
compound the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness that
lead to emotional eating. Plus, dieting fuels our obsession
with food. It makes us want the food we think we shouldn’t
eat even more. It’s a vicious, self-defeating cycle.
Because each of us is so different (for example, for some of
us restricting dieting backfires), I don’t believe God would advocate
a single, one-size-fits-all diet for all Christians. No doubt
God would give each of us an individualized diet if we lived
in an ideal world where we could hear His instructions clearly.
Unfortunately we don’t live in an ideal world. Being that
we’re all unique, individual creations, and being that we’re all
imperfect, God gave us only general guidelines to follow in
Scripture. Let’s look at those general guidelines here:
1. You shouldn’t be gluttonous (Prov. 23:2, 20–21).
2. You shouldn’t worry about or think too much
about what you will eat (Matt. 6:25).
3. You can eat any type of food (Mark 7:15–19).
4. You should eat to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
Let’s take a minute to talk about each of these scriptures
specifically. First, think about the meaning of gluttony. Generally
most would agree that it means, “overeating.” But how
much is too much? Are you gluttonous if you eat twenty
cookies? Most would say yes. How about if you eat two
cookies? And can you be gluttonous in ways other than
eating? The exact definition of gluttony can be hard to pin
down, if you ask me.
Second, do you worry too much about food and eating?
A long time ago I was in bondage to food. I was either on a
diet or off a diet, as if I was on a dieting roller coaster. My first
thought in the morning was either, “Feed me!” or “I hope I
don’t overeat today,” depending on which part of the roller
coaster I was on.
I most definitely thought about food more than I thought
about God. In fact, my obsessive thoughts about food actually
drove a wedge between God and me. That’s why I think it was
Eventually, by the grace of God and using methods I discuss
further in The Eden Diet, I was able to break free from this
bondage and reestablish the right pecking order. Jesus was
Lord over me, and I was lord over the food.
Third, Scripture says you can eat any type of food. Notice
that God didn’t say carrot sticks are morally superior
to cheesecake. At the same rate Paul pointed out that just
because something is allowable, it isn’t necessarily advisable.
People with fat-clogged arteries ought to avoid eating more
than a few bites of cheesecake, lest they have heart attacks and
die. The point is, you must use common sense and eat potentially
unhealthy food in small amounts, especially if you’re
trying to lose weight or if you have unique medical needs that
require you to follow a strict diet.
Fourth, you should eat with an attitude of thankfulness
and reverence to God. Eating with the proper attitude, that is,
without anxiety and guilt, leads to greater satisfaction with the
eating experience so that less food equals more joy.
Rita Hancock, MD, is a Christian physician with Ivy League nutrition training and studies of obese psychology. She draws upon her faith and her personal success overcoming
childhood-onset obesity to help those in bondage to food, eating, and dieting. To learn more about
Dr. Hancock’s work or purchase The Eden Diet or other resources developed by Dr. Hancock, visit her
website at www.theedendiet.com.