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Amy Parham

Have you ever fought the temptation to dive into a bowl (or gallon) of ice cream to escape your problems? I can relate. Before I became a contestant on The Biggest Loser in 2008, running to "ice cream land" was a normal practice for me. I used it to numb the pain of my husband’s business failure. I used it to escape from the reality of having a child diagnosed with autism. It was my drug of choice to momentarily hide from a life that seemed just too hard to face alone. Food became my friend, my comfort, and my medication. However, that “friend” eventually became my worst enemy as I ballooned to a whopping 229 pounds.

When the casting call for The Biggest Loser came to Atlanta, I decided to go. Dragging my husband along with me, I was chosen (out of 300,000 people) to be on Season 6 of the show. But I had made a decision that – with or without the show – I desperately needed to make some changes. I realized that people already know that they need to eat less and exercise more. So why aren’t we all healthy? Because there are some mental and spiritual lessons that we must learn in order to transform from “fat” to “fit.” Here are a few essentials that I learned on my journey to becoming a “former fat girl.”

We All Have an Empty Place

We are all created with an empty place, a God shaped hole, inside of us. Our faith in God is the only thing that will adequately fill it. However, when life seems out of control, we try to shove all kinds of things in there to fill it up. Some of us use drugs, some alcohol, some sex, and (like me) some food. But during these out-of-control moments, we have to fill our hole with God. Pushing Him out during times of desperation and emptiness makes the hole bigger. When our faith grows, the hole is filled. Most importantly, the substitution of other inadequate “comforters” becomes less desirable.

Amy Parham

Food is Fuel

Women across the country frequently tell me that they are “emotional eaters.” This means food has become their drug habit. When they are happy, they eat. When they are sad, they eat. When they are stressed, they eat. They use food to enhance or soften the blow of their emotions. I had to learn a hard lesson: Food is for fueling my body – not my emotions. Our bodies, like cars, need fuel to run properly. We have to eat to live, eat often, and eat the right kind of food to live well. Food, in itself, is not bad. But the way we think about food, and respond to our emotional emptiness, can be disastrous.

I didn’t understand this truth early in my weight-loss journey. However, the more weight I lost (and I lost more than 100 pounds), the more I realized that I had to deal with the fat girl that lived on the inside of me. What a wake-up call that was! One of the ways I did this was by searching deep inside my soul and figuring out why I was overweight to begin with. It’s a shame that, while most of us know that diet and exercise are the keys to weight loss, not many of us know the importance of dealing with the root of the problem – Why did I become overweight?

What is Required?

No matter how difficult it may be, we must peel back the layers of pain, bitterness, unforgiveness, shame, guilt, and other negative emotions that keep us fat. Losing weight is not only about reducing the physical pounds that hold us back. It’s also about releasing the people and things that weigh down our heart.

I cannot promise you a get-fit-quick program. Nor can I recommend any pills, potions, or magic fairy dust that you can buy now to change your life by tomorrow. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The road to losing physical weight will be tough. It requires the courage to expose vulnerable layers pertaining to your past and present circumstances. But it is possible. As the English writer Arnold Bennett once stated: “Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” However, in the midst of it all, God wants to become your friend, medicine, comforter, security blanket, and emotional crutch. c