How Ever Did You Do It? Part One: Motivation

***Welcome to all of you who have joined us due to the Proverbs 31 Devotion that is running today. Peek around and leave a comment!!!

karene.jpg Todd and me in August 2005

kareneafter.jpg Me now!!!!!! Thanks to God!!!!

“How did you do it?”

If I had a nickel for every time someone asks me that question about my weight loss, I’d be a rich woman.

But when you think about it ladies, it really is a silly question. If I offered a million dollars to anyone who could tell me the two things you need to do in order to lose weight, that cold, hard cash would easily be snatched up. I wouldn’t even need to tell Howie to “Open the case” !

What two things does a woman need to do in order to drop a few (or in my case a hundred) pounds?


Eat less. Move more.

What girlfriends really mean when they ask you that question is, “But how did you motivate yourself to stick to the simple plan?”

Well, during this week of posting on weight loss, let’s start with that million-dollar question. How did you find the motivation to lose weight?

It was the spring of 2005 and I was miserable. At nearly 250 pounds and sporting a size 24, I felt as if I had ruined my body forever. In my teenage and college days, I was one of those gals who consistantly had an annoying 15 or so pounds to lose. My freshman year of college, I did balloon up the scale due to too much “all-you-can-eat” cafeteria foods, but I took that weight off in the summer and came back my sophomore year still just a size or so more than all of the other “pretty and trim” girls—you know, the ones who complained because they couldn’t zip up their size 3 jeans!!!

In adulthood, my weight would flex about 40-50 pounds. I gained some after marriage and then some after each baby. I was able to drop back down after the birth of our second child, but it was short lived. So I just gave up!

Fast forward to that miserable spring.

As a just-turned-forty mom of three, I not only was overweight, but I had several medical conditions that were causing me even more distress including bursitis in my right foot, a torn meniscus in my left knee that would not heal and that made it excruciatingly painful for me to even straighten my leg when I got up from sitting for a long spell or to bend my leg after having slept all night. I had a cholesterol level that was sky-rocketing over 300. I had fatigue all afternoon and sleepless nights. Worst of all, I had an embarrassing little female issue that I thought was due to having birthed two large boys (after delivering Mackenzie by c-section). However, my doctor sweetly told me one day it was due to the enormous amount of stomach weight sitting on my bladder. That is what made me acquire the delightful ailment of female incontinence. (I promptly purchased stock in Poise Pads) Like everything else about my weight, I just chose to make a joke about it stating that my next book was going to be entitled, “I Squeeze When I Sneeze and I Cross When I Cough: Life After 40” (Don’t steal my idea. I’m still planning on writing that book!)

But seriously, it was no laughing matter. I had also begun to have occasional and frightening, tightening chest pains that I was just sure was the precursor to a heart attack. And I had an aunt who had died in her early forties from heart disease. I was the same size as she was when she died.

In addition to all of these medical issues, I received a rude awakening one day. I popped in a dvd in of a skit I had performed at a recent Hearts at Home moms’ conference to watch for review. When the camera panned to my image, I instantly thought….”Who is that fat woman? I thought I played that part.” When a close-up shot came, I gasped when I realized it was me! You see, I had stayed away from cameras for years—just check our Christmas letter photos- the kids or the kids and Todd. No mom. And as for looking at myself in the mirror, well…I feel I had a form of reverse anorexia, as I heard it once referred to in the 90’s. That is where you look in the mirror, and no matter how much weight you gain, you still think to yourself, “Aw…you’re a three time mom approaching middle age. You look fine, darlin’”

Well, my chest pains and my wake up call from viewing that dvd was motivation enough. I knew if I didn’t do something, that my husband would soon be a widower and my kids would finish their growing up years without a mom in their life.

So, what is your motivation? Do you want to be around for your family too? Do you long to shop in the regular section of the ladies clothing department rather than hang around at the “Plus Size” racks? Want to be able to trot up a flight of stairs without huffing and puffing? Have some medical issues that are due to excess pounds? Feel as if you are a bad witness for Christ with a “Glutton” sign posted on your back? Wonder if your hubby is slightly ashamed to be seen with you? Wish you could chase your toddler or throw a ball around with your teen? Tennis anyone?

Whatever your motivation, I know this to be true. God did not create you to be morbidly obese. Our choices get us there. Nor do I think He created you to be super skinny or a show off with your body. No, we are shooting for lean, strong and healthy so we can serve God and our families and point others to Christ. That’s it. Being able to slip on a pair of jeans that are a size or two—or seven or eight in my case—smaller is a side benefit.

Also, I will not tell you what you should weigh or what size you should be. You know your body. You know when you feel flabby and what size would be a good one for you. I have some friends who are a size 4 and some who are a 16. They each are in great shape, considered healthy at their medical check-ups and look proportioned for their height. (Okay, now you are all praying to miraculously grow taller!!)

Nor can I give personal medical advice to you. I only know that when I lost weight, all of my many medical conditions disappeared WITHOUT ANY MEDICATION!!!!! Not a pill.

So, as we journey through this week together, just start here. What is your motivation? Write it out. List the reasons God would want you to be more healthy and at a lower weight than you are now.

Then, today, eat less and move more. That’s it. We’ll discuss what I ate and how I moved along with other topics later this week.

And to close, if you are up to it, memorize this verse that was key for me as far as motivation is concerned:

Jeremiah 29:11-14 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD; “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “And will bring you back from captivity”

Is food holding you captive? God has the keys to set you free. And He has a wonderful future full of hope prepared for you.

Sweet Bond-Breaking Blessings,


**Please note: While I am excited to be talking about this during this week long series of posts, my life is swamped right now with a possible house sale (please pray!!! It has been on the market for 22 months) writing deadlines, preparing for a graduation commencement address and the upcoming Proverbs 31 Ministries She Speaks Conference not to mention a family that needs me—mostly right now to sit and watch them at the ball diamond. (Baseball season is in full swing with two boys who each play two nights a week—you guessed it—on opposite nights!!! Lots of lawn chair sitting for Kenzie and me. Hubby works afternoon shift and can’t go.) All of this to say….I cannot answer individual emails, although I would LOVE to be able to. My family would not be happy dwelling in a severly neglected house and eating frozen pizza off of paper plates for a week in order for me to do so. (Okay….so one of them does love frozen pizzas, but it ain’t gonna happen J) So, please feel free to leave comments here. Tell us your motivation. Tell us your goals. Talk to each other. Ask questions. Vent. Offer suggestions and encouragement. When I can hop on and leave a comment, I will. Or I’ll attempt to answer the most common questions and comments in my later posts. Really, I will. Good ‘nough? Thanks for understanding!!


  1. Thanks, Karen, for doing this. I really appreciated the scripture — I don’t want to be captive by food anymore!

    My motivations:
    1. I don’t want to get out of breath anymore when I do anything physical.
    2. I want to live to see my grandchildren
    3. I don’t want to see a “Muffin top” shape anymore!
    4. I want to be a good witness

  2. I read your devotion today and was deeply moved by your strength and determination both of which the Lord gave you. I feel as though I am held captive not by a weight problem but by a problem of a burden of working 2 jobs while my husband has been layed off a job for the 3rd time. I am sick and tired also of having to work and I feel I am consumed by the thoughts of possessions that I cannot have and I am feel I am in captivity from having to work all the time to maintain the household. God has a plan for me to prosper but honestly I don’t really feel like I am prospering. I trust his plan for me. I am impatient. Thank you for your words. I am struggling and I am seeking the Lord and asking him to help free me from the feeling of captivity.

  3. Thank you, LORD – that this was the Proverbs 31 devotional today. I am far too overweight and I know it is gluttony and laziness – plus unhealthy and it makes my husband sick of me. I want to change all my old habits and be a person people can turn to for realistic help with their health (I’m a nurse) – plus I lost my Mom just last week and I want her to be proud when she sees me from heaven. She was elderly, but her large size also did not help her lungs. I want to be healthy & strong so I can climb mountains for HIM!!! I will be looking for your blogs on this subject. Way to go, Karen!!

  4. Most people probably don’t think I’m “overweight”, but I know that I’ve gained 15 pounds because of gluttony and I have an issue with self-control when it comes to sweets. I love to bake and this is something fun for my teenage girls and I to do together. but I have got to learn moderation. I am struggling with trying to eat “clean” because when I eat “clean” (natural) I feel soooo good, but it is very hard to be this disciplined. I am hoping that if I keep trying, it will become a habit and not so challenging. I want you all to know that this is something that most of us deal with and we are not alone. Let’s be the BEST that we can be!

  5. I’ve been a Proverbs 31 reader for some time & love it.

    Over the last 10 years, I’ve put 200 lbs on my 5?2? frame. In those 10 years, I’ve dieted & lost, dieted & lost, but always put all my weight back on PLUS MORE.
    My husband & step son can & do eat anything & everything without gaining weight. I feel so deprived when they eat ice cream & I have to settle for carrot sticks! I know how to lose, I just can’t seem to keep it off & I’ll be the first to admit I HAVE NO WILL POWER!

    I’m currently home from work recovering from surgery, & the Lord is definitely speaking to me about my weight and other issues in my marriage.

    I want to lose weight, but I’m afraid of failig AGAIN & the prospect of regaining not only what I take off but putting on MORE.

    Praying for help,

  6. Count me in…

    My motivation?

    Better health, both physically and spiritually. I’ve let myself go in the physical and have recently begun to shed a few pounds. And while my goal may not seem like much, (I’d like to lose a total of 20 lbs.), there is a history of heart disease in our family and my cholesterol is borderline high. I also suffer from acid reflux.

    Thank you for doing this. I can’t wait to check in with you periodically.


  7. Karen, THANK YOU so much for being willing to share your information with us. So many times, people want to sell their information to make money, not to help others. I had my 7th child 8 months ago and I have struggled so much this last time with getting the weight off. I lost all of my baby weight two months after he was born, however, my husband and I decided that it was time for an IUD, ever since getting it, I have skyrocketed with my weight. I weigh more now than I did 9 months pregnant! I have had all kinds of tests run and the only thing they can figure out is that the IUD is releasing hormones that my body does not care for. I have cut my calories way down and I have started exercising regularly, but instead of weight loss, I have weight gain. After reading your testimony, I am seeking the Lord and asking Him to help me with this. I am encouraged that you are willing to offer support and encouragement to us who are seriously struggling with this! Thank you again!

  8. Wow–I truly appreciate and understand what people are going through. I too, was asked the question: “How did you do it?” many, many times. It’s been almost 2 years now since I’ve lost about 40 lbs. or so. It’s not close to the amazing amount some people have lost, but I feel great. I also didn’t realize how chubby I had gotten since I gained a little here and a little there. That is, I didn’t realize it until AFTER looking at my wedding photos. I’m not very tall, 5’3, so at 160 lbs I was too big. I wish I looked the way I do now for my wedding photos, but they’re a reminder of how far I’ve come. I’m glad I had a fantastic time on my wedding, but as I look at the album, I can’t help but wonder, ‘what was I thinking?”!
    I’ve tried everything to lose weight in the past. I never had a really huge weight problem growing up, but in college I gained the weight. It wasn’t until I read Joyce Meyer’s book ‘Lose Weight Feel Great’ that I decided to do something about it. She wrote something in the book that I had NEVER before tried….asking God to help me! People talk about willpower and all that. I didn’t have it and never will. I asked God to help me when I felt like I couldn’t continue and guess what?–He has! I do my part and HE never fails to do His! For almost 2 years now I’ve been getting up bright and early 5-6 days a week to exercise.
    For those of you who are struggling, please know there are MANY, MANY people who are going through and have gone through just what you’re going through. You can do it! God will not fail you. You just need to do your part….don’t give up….He is waiting to walk this journey in your life with you. Find a form of exercise you actually enjoy (yes, I said enjoy) and start with that. It may be dancing, kickboxing, yoga, swimming, pilates, belly dancing, I don’t care, but try out a bunch of different avenues. Most importantly, have FUN! Exercise does NOT have to be torture! God bless!!

  9. I read your devotional today on Proverbs 31and for me it was not a conicidence. I have gained so much weight in the last 3 years, I am currently at my highest weight (260) and I am very unhappy with myself. Mostly because I know that I am not doing God’s will for my life. Any encouragement, verses, tips you can share regarding your journey would be greatly appreciated! I will be praying for you and your family as you reach your goals as well.
    Thank you!

  10. Yes, I am interested in the week you have planned, whether it happens this week or the next. I will pray for your schedule and house issues, hoping by today your proposal is complete.

  11. I’m thankful that you are doing these posts, Karen. I’m 7 months pregnant right now, so it will be awhile before I can seriously work on getting my extra weight off, but even though I have the excuse of pregnancy, I’m not happy with how food is an idol for me.

    The hardest part of all of this is not the losing the weight, it is figuring out how to live a lifestyle where it stays off. I’ve lost and regained the same 40 pounds so many times I’ve lost count. Weight loss is painful and hard work and I get so easily burned out. Then my all or nothing personality kicks in and the pounds start coming back on and I feel so defeated.

    When you are done with this series on how to lose the weight, would you be willing to write some on how you maintain it?

    Thanks! ~Becky

  12. Thank you Karen for your words of encouragement! I have reverse anorexia mirror syndrome too. I look in the mirror and think, “oh you look fine! You’ve been grieving your son’s death and you’ve had 2 more babies! You look fine darlin!” But somehow when I see a photo or video I am aghast!

    As I pray and ponder this morning, I believe God would want me to be more healthy because:

    1. My body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. That should be enough motivation! I am currently reading the Old testament in 1 Kings – and I am in awe of the Temple. Solomon’s quest to build the temple. His preparations, the recruitment and construction, the furnishings of the interior and exterior, bringing the Ark of the Covenant to the temple, and Solomon’s prayer, celebration, and week long sacrificial dedication. All of this to honor the LORD and house His Ark.

    2 Chronicles 7:1-10 “When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the LORD filled the Temple.” In the new testament church, I am the temple of the Holy Spirit! My body! I can just imagine fire, flashing down from Heaven – as I choose to bless my body with health or make poor choices for wellness.

    2. Gluttony is sin. I desire to please God and obey His whispers in my heart. I desire to choose wellness. But often, and especially after the attack of the taco-dip at yesterday’s Memorial Day picnic …

    I embrace Paul’s words in Romans 7:14-10 (NLT). Struggling with Sin:

    “So the trouble is not with the law, for it is spiritual and good. The trouble is with me, for I am all too human, a slave to sin. 15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 But if I know that what I am doing is wrong, this shows that I agree that the law is good. 17 So I am not the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it. 18 And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[a] I want to do what is right, but I can’t. 19 I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. 20 But if I do what I don’t want to do, I am not really the one doing wrong; it is sin living in me that does it.”

    3. My family. Be able to live life fuller. Play on the ground and run in the grass with my kiddos.

    4. Babies. Be blessed with more babies, healthy pregnancies, no gestational diabetes, and overall health.

    5. Shrink. Wear my skinny clothes and feel better about my body. Stay youthful and healthy.

    6. Ministry. I want to be used to the fullest by Jesus.

    I will be working on memorizing the scripture. I’ve never focused on the end of this verse: being saved from captivity – and that is exactly what I need!

    To eating less and moving more!

    Happy Tuesday.

    (I am linking your posts this week to my wellness blog and I’m excited for what you have to come!)

  13. I read your post today in my email I need to lose 100-150lbs. It is an idol. I am headed to dire health consequences. Had a family late in life and hubby is older. I need to be around for my kiddo’s. I hide from life and I never used to do that. I was outside and active. I am hungry for your wisdom. I know only someone who has been where I am can understand. I am the diet nutrition queen I know what to eat I just can not keep my head and heart in the game. I am easily discouraged. Please share more. I really need this to change my life forever.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing from your heart and posting on this very personal topic. I agree with the other posters, this is very timely for me as well.

    You hit the nail on the head for me ESPECIALLY when you said: “Feel as if you are a bad witness for Christ with a “Glutton” sign posted on your back?” I feel really bad that every single day I am confessing to God what a poor steward I am of my body.

    I appreciate your example and look forward to reading more about your weight loss journey.

  15. I truly know that God had a wonderful purpose for me reading this today. I am so sick of how I look and feel. I want to do something about it so badly – but just can’t stick with anything. I am on every medication there is for every condition that is brought on because of excessive weight. The only think that I am not is diabetic. I lost my husband last year through a very sad divorce. One I certainly did not want – but he said he didn’t love me any more and was blaming it mostly on my weight. Talk about a real self-esteem crusher! But, now for me and my children and grandchildren, I will become determined to drop these 125 lbs. But, I can only do it with the Lord’s help – eating is one of my greatest pleasures – OK it is actually my only pleasure right now. That is going to change.

  16. I will keep this short and sweet. Your words ministered to me. To many areas of my life. Not just the 40 pounds I need to lose. All the way to some heart issues I needed to tend to as well. Thank you.
    I look forward to maybe getting to meet you at the She Speaks Conference. I will be there—with ears tuned!

  17. I will be 50 in two weeks, and I have gained 20 lbs in the last few years. I haven’t been eating healthy and hardly exercising, although I try to take my dog for a walk once or twice a week. I know I am using food for a reward (like at work, for working hard for two or three hours, then I will eat something like a small bag of chips or a candy bar for a ‘reward’) I also find I turn to food when I get stressed out or upset with my husband. He doesn’t come out and say anything, but I know he would like me to be back to my normal size. I am 5’10” and now weigh 173. It is a size 14 mainly, but some 16’s and some 12’s. I would like to be back to 155 and a size 10-12. I just don’t know why I can’t get myself motivated to do it.

  18. Karen,
    You will be inspiring women everywhere with this, what an amazing blessing from God you are!

    I too am on a weightloss journey. Make it a family affair, try new recipes together, see how it draws you all closer and how your family will cheer for you when you loose each 5 pounds – it is a great feeling. I have made my own cheerleading team with friends and family.

    If we don’t finish up what’s on our childs plate (because you hate to waste food – I know all the excuses), we can save several hundreds of calories with just that one change.

    We all can do it! I am just starting my journey (2 months ago). We can do this together ladies. Our God is loving and all powerful. He believes we are worth it, and we are!

    My motivation, yes selfishly to get out of the plus sizes, but also when I wanted to do more ministry and was too tired, I realized that I can not do what God fashioned me to do with my life when I’m tired all the time.

    Good Luck, I will be praying for you all!

  19. Thank you Karen for this timely message. I’ve been allowing food to be my idol for far to long….Today I prayed that God would replace this idol in my life and I would follow your simple plan. My son is getting married in 11 days and I’m dreading the pictures, but I will use them as a reminder that this year was the beginning of putting food in it’s proper place. Like my husband I will view food a source of fuel for life vs living for food! I thank God for his timing in todays devotional!

  20. Great post, so time appropriate for me. Although I am on no medications I know the potential that can come if I don’t loose the weight. And I have a lot to lose. I see health issues in my parents and want to avoid them. My life motto has seemed to be “I do what I shouldn’t and don’t do what I should”. I, too, avoided the pictures. A friend and I felt like we had the opposite of Anorexia. We looked in a mirror and thought we looked okay and then a picture would reveal this other woman. Last night I had my husband take pictures of me and put them on the fridge—hopefully that will stop me from opening when I shouldn’t. I have allowed too many legitimate reasons to become excuses. Next month is the big 50—I’m just praying that “I can do all things in Christ Jesus” gets me through. It’s time to stop giving into pleasure eating and focus on eating for good health and nutrition.

  21. This was so timely for me! It’s 4:41 a.m. and in less than 12 hours I have to have an abdominal CT to check a possible hernia. I’m up, and haven’t slept well, because of chronic heartburn from reflux, a condition I developed 8 years ago the FIRST time I weighed nearly as much as I do now. I’m just under my highest weight ever, which was 257 pounds, last Wednesday, I weighed 250. This fact, along with the the two clothes sizes smaller I am now than I was the first time I saw this weight, make me believe, as you say in your devotional, that it’s not as bad as it seems.

    I came here restless and worried hoping God had something planned for me to read today that could encourage me. He’s used the Proverbs 31 devotionals more than once to do that. I can see today He’s encouraging me to do what I already know I can do – because I lost 85 pounds 4 years ago the exact “old fashioned” way you mentioned – ate less, moved more. Simple – yet sometimes so hard to do. Just like you, I also saw my medical conditions go away – high blood sugar, high cholesterol, constant heartburn, reflux that woke me up 5 out of seven nights, IBS – all with no medication except for an every other daily dose of a prescription heartburn medication since reflux can cause some very nasty issues, even if you don’t feel it.

    Re-losing this weight will probably not help a hernia, that’s most likely something I’ll need to have repaired, but nothing is more important than being healthy and being here for my kids. Thanks for the timely devotional. I pray for your goals this week to be within easy reach, and look forward to the rest of your weekly trek through your weight loss journey.

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