Lisa Kilgore was in college when she realized her “freshman 15” might be something more. When she reached her late 30s and was well over 200 pounds, she decided it was time to make a change that would not only affect the numbers on the scale, but also affect her heart and mind.
4word: Has weight gain been something you’ve struggled with your whole life?
Lisa: It certainly feels like it. But it was actually when I was in college that the struggle became real and I started gaining weight. My “freshman 15” turned out to be closer to 25-30 pounds. While I did manage to lose this weight my junior year of college and keep it off for couple years, I then entered the workforce, encountering an entirely new kind of stress. I am an accountant and followed the path of many who start out at one of the big accounting firms to “put in their time” so to speak. This time meant many long hours and late nights, which included either ordering in dinner or picking up take-out on my way home.
I formed many unhealthy habits that became a way of life. Food became a comfort while dealing with the stresses of life. The weight started creeping on pound by pound. Before I knew it, I reached my 30s and had crept over 200 pounds . . . and it just kept going from there. At some point, I realized I would have over 100 pounds to lose in order to get to a healthy weight. Just the thought of tackling that was overwhelming and felt impossible, so for the longest time, I didn’t even try to tackle it. Instead, the burden just constantly weighed on me (no pun intended).
4word: At what point did you realize that dieting alone was not going to be enough to make a life change?
Lisa: In many ways, I have known for years that food was a bigger issue for me, and to fix the issue was going to require a change of heart. I had learned back in college that food could be an addiction and idol in one’s life. But because of convenience and frankly my love of food, I chose to ignore this for quite some time. I did try dieting a few times and would always gain the weight back and more. I would start to listen to the negative self-talk from the enemy that would say, “You are going to fail in the end, so why even try?”
At the same time, I saw myself heading down the path of diabetes and possibly other health issues. I struggled to play with my nephews or climb a flight of stairs without getting winded. God slowly worked on my heart, convicting me that I needed to take care of my body because it was His temple. While He can use us wherever we are in life, I felt like I could be of more service to Him if I was healthy. So as I started to come to the conclusion that being healthy was important to me, I knew a true sacrifice and lifestyle change was going to be the only way to get healthy permanently.
4word: What steps did you take to ensure that you’d not only lose the weight but also set yourself up for success in keeping the weight off?
Lisa: God truly was working on my heart bit by bit for probably a year leading up to the point I officially “started” my journey. (Frankly, the only reason it took so long was because I was fighting it along the way, hesitant to make the sacrifices necessary.) During that time, I had researched several programs and found that Weight Watchers would be the best to fit for me, as I could still treat myself while learning portion control and balance. It seemed like a way of life I could maintain. Weight Watchers also offered coaching via weekly phone calls, which I thought would provide some much needed one-on-one accountability. So I signed up for the online and coaching program just in time to catch their January 2015 promotional rate. Even still, I was skeptical that I could do this.
In February of 2015, I attended the IF:Gathering (a women’s conference live streamed around the world), where we studied the book of Joshua. At the end of the conference, we had read the story of how God brought the Israelites across the Jordan River and they built a memorial with stones. We were asked to write on a stone what the “impossible” was in our life where we needed God to intervene. I wrote “Trust God to help me get healthy.” And as I prayed that day, I finally relinquished this battle with food to God, asking Him to fight for me because I couldn’t do it on my own. One of the scriptures that rang true for me that day was:
“Keep this book of law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9
In order to continue feeding my spirit and ensuring that this was a permanent mental change, I also began reading a book recommended by a friend who had lost weight called Made to Crave – Satisfying your Deepest Desire with God Not Food by Lysa TerKeurst. This book highlighted many scriptures that became tools throughout my days especially during times I may have been struggling. I would put these scriptures in my phone so that I would have them at my fingertips whenever I needed them. By feeding on His word and praying especially in those times of temptation, I was able to be more and more victorious over each little battle and find peace with my new lifestyle.
4word: What role has mentorship played in your weight loss journey?
Lisa: In the fall of 2014 before I started this journey, I actually participated in the 4word Mentor Program. As I mentee, I was encouraged to set goals in three different areas – career, spiritual, and personal. One of the personal goals I set was to find the best plan for me to get healthy again. My mentor was actually in another state so all of our sessions were over the phone. Over the course of this mentorship, she helped me flesh out various options and programs that would fit best in my life and provide the accountability that I needed. Her prayers over me at the end of each call would often bring me to tears as she saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. God definitely used her as a catalyst to help move me in the right direction so that I would be ready to make a real change. I am so grateful!
4word: What advice would you give to someone who wants to make a change this year and start a healthier lifestyle?
Lisa: Nothing is impossible with God, so look to Him for your strength and self-control. Your own willpower can only sustain you for so long. One of the biggest lessons God taught me was that He gave me His Spirit and one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control, so I don’t have to rely on my own self-control. If we have taken on Christ in our life, His power is within us.
As His Word says in 1 Corinthians 12:9-10, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Ultimately, you must decide in your head and your heart to commit to a healthy lifestyle. Choose a plan you can maintain that will fit your schedule – not a quick fix. Be aware and accept that the struggle doesn’t just go away (or at least it hasn’t for me). The easier you make this journey on yourself, the more likely you’ll keep it up. Make the focus your health rather than a number on the scale. Take it one day at a time and celebrate each victory. Measure your success by the improvements you have made rather than the numbers. The numbers will come. And most importantly, pray for Him to guide your steps. He is faithful and He will do it.
Lisa: I have lost a total of 120 pounds now in a little less than two years, and I feel great! Actually, I feel better physically than I ever remember feeling! I am healthier, stronger, and more confident. I can climb a flight of stairs easily now. I can jump on the trampoline with my nephews now. I even do Zumba and love it! Sometimes I look at myself and I don’t even recognize this person I’ve become. I am so grateful for the support system that walked beside me along the way – my family, close friends, church family, small group, coworkers, 4word mentor, personal trainer and Weight Watchers coach. And most importantly, I give praise to God who brought me here.
What do you struggle with in your life that is maybe preventing you from living the life God wants for you? For some of you, Lisa’s journey may have resonated with you, as you are also dealing with the battle to lose weight. Others may be wrestling with other obstacles. No matter what you’re up against, we hope that Lisa’s story inspires you to give up control to God and let Him work in you to bring you to a place of peace and victory!
If you’d like to talk more with Lisa about her weight loss journey, she’d love to hear from you!
You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The 4word: Mentor Program has touched the lives of professional Christian women across the country. If you think you could benefit from having a mentorship, click this link to submit your application for the upcoming session of the 4word: Mentor Program. Applications are due Friday!
Lisa was born and raised in the Dallas area. She graduated from Harding University in Searcy, AR with a BBA in Accounting and is a certified public accountant licensed in the state of Texas. Currently, Lisa works as a Real Estate Controller at Behringer, a commercial real estate investment company in Addison, TX.
Lisa has had a seventeen year career in accounting most of which has been in the real estate industry. She began her career with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, worked for a multifamily community developer for a couple years and spent four years in the mortgage lending industry before joining Behringer ten years ago.
Lisa is a daughter, sister, aunt, and friend who loves her family and friends deeply. She is passionate about letting God use her story to encourage and inspire others.