This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series 100 lb Weight Loss Series

The 100 lb weight loss series continues. Learn how to lose weight with this one important word you can say to yourself. If you met me in 2004, you would have had great things to say about me. I was Ultimate Mom. In that position, I learned a simple thing that answered the question of how can I lose weight? how can I lose weight when I am exhausted?

How Can I Lose Weight When I am Exhausted?

In 2004, our three children were 8,6, and 3 years old. We had finished a year of providing foster care for highly needy one-year-old twins, a boy and girl. We were the 8th place they had lived during their 11 months of life. They were petrified, angry, and needy, needy, needy. The little girl was terrified of men, clinging to me and screaming if my husband Mike even entered the room. The little boy was often sick, dazed, and out of sorts.

Both babies needed more love and attention than any one family could pour into them in three lifetimes. When the broken foster care system reunified the babies with their highly dysfunctional birth family, it broke me, too.

Sara Lost 100 lbs - before and after weight lossThe day I said goodbye to this little boy and girl, we sat with their mom on the floor stacking plastic blocks under and on top of an old laundry basket. When the babies realized I was standing up to leave and not gathering their diaper bags and gear because they were meant to stay without me, their demeanor changed immediately. They clung to me fiercely, wailing as their mom pried their baby tight fingers off my shirt. The babies felt I had betrayed them.

I quickly left, attempted to make it less painful, and fled down the two flights of rickety wooden steps to the parking lot.  At my car, I had to use my second hand to hold my shaking first hand steady to fit the key into the lock. I stumbled into the car as quickly as I could and slammed the door. Even still, I could hear the babies sobbing for me inside their apartment upstairs, while I cried for them sitting in my car in the parking lot below.

The searing pain of that scene rattles me still, writing about it years later.

A Mom on the Brink of Exhaustion

After our foster babies were reunited with their birth family, I didn’t realize the depth of my grief and fully depleted exhaustion.  Our family took about a month off from any new foster care placements. Mike and I took a trip to Mexico for our 10 year wedding anniversary.

Then, I felt the best way to move on was to help another child, so I called our placement agency and told them we were ready for another little one.

before picture, 100 pound weight loss

Sara “before” picture – on our trip to Mexico.

The warning signs of exhaustion were there:

  • I was having unexplained stomach pains the doctor couldn’t diagnose.
  • My weight continued to climb.
  • Even my clothing in the highest sizes was getting tight, and regular stores didn’t carry sizes bigger even in the plus size section.

Mike was worried about me and how deeply I grieved after the twins left, so I hid my pain from him. I was afraid he would say we shouldn’t be foster parents anymore because I couldn’t handle it.  As devastating as it was, foster care was also my calling and I fully believed in the value of what we were doing. I knew we were making a difference and I was good at it.

It’s incredibly difficult to say no to requests you feel called to and for which you have talent. Yet if it leads to burn out and depletion, it’s not God’s will for you.  This was something I needed to learn.

Our Next Foster Care Calling

A few weeks later, we received a call from our foster care agency and brought home our next child to love and protect.  God knew, but we didn’t yet, Paul was going to stay forever.

Paul home

Paul was born at just 25 weeks of age weighing not quite 2 pounds when he was born. He came to us at 5 months old and his needs were intense.  Oxygen 24/7.  Therapies: physical, occupational, speech, feeding. Surgeries. Doctor appointments every week. Medications. Leg braces.

I jumped into fully caring for, loving, and advocating for this child, but each day I was more sure it was necessary to make changes for myself. I had my other children to care for and a husband to love.

And what about my own life to live? Who the heck was I? The time had come to do something about this total giving up of myself or I was going to eat myself to a slow death.

How Can I Lose Weight with Weight Loss Counseling?

The time had come – it was time for me to stop saying yes to everyone else and start saying yes to myself.  I had been in therapy several times in my life and believed in the benefits of cognitive behavior therapy. Therapy works if you work it. Yet I hadn’t delved deep enough to talk about my issues with food.Dos and Don't for How to Talk to a Loved One about Weight

I called my insurance company to ask for a referral to a therapist who works with eating disorders. I told the consultant on the phone I was a compulsive overeater. I had never said those words out loud before.

The insurance rep was kind. She asked me if I had ever thrown up after eating. I hadn’t. She assured me this was good. She asked if I struggled with anorexia. I hadn’t. She gently told me this was good news too. The dark truth is there were times I wished I was anorexic instead of a compulsive overeater because at least people with that disorder could be thin. That is how unhealthy my thinking was at the time.

The insurance consultant gave me a list of five therapists who do weight loss counseling and I made phone calls.  By God’s provision, one therapist returned my call. We chatted for a few minutes, something clicked for me, and I set up an appointment with him for the following week. Monday morning at 9:00am became my time.

How Can I lose Weight When I Am Exhausted?

During my time in weight loss counseling, I learned to say an important word.

That word is YES.

I learned I needed to say YES to myself in order to take care of me. This is by far one of the most important things you have to do for yourself on a weight loss journey. You have to put yourself and your health first and say yes to making changes.

A New Start to Weight Loss Counseling

Anyone who has started a new diet knows the mixed feelings of nervousness and hope that ensue. Starting this therapy felt a little like that but on a whole new level. This wasn’t going to be some diet plan. This was going to be much more serious.  This was getting past the how and getting to the why. I was excited. I was doubtful. I was terrified.

Would it, could it actually work?  I was going to find out.

If you, like I was at one time, are asking yourself “how can I lose weight?” then this is a great place to begin. Learning to say yes to making yourself a priority is a must. For many, like me, that includes cognitive behavioral therapy to work through your addictions to food.

Have you used weight loss counseling as part of your weight loss journey? Have you said “yes” to yourself? Share in the comments.

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