My name is Karen Perera and I am a new creation. I have been set free. I never realized that I was in a prison. I was a prisoner to food, to my obesity. I thought I had it all together when in reality I was laughing on the outside and dying on the inside. No one would have ever known how desperately unhappy I was. I was so fun to be around, laughing all the time, making jokes about my weight (trying to beat others to the punch, trying to prevent them from laughing at me so I would laugh at myself). Food or the thought of food dictated every waking moment of my day. I would wake to the thoughts of breakfast and what the day held for me. If I was going to work, there was definitely a trip through a drive thru on the way in, taking advantage of the buy one get one free deals (“after all, that was a good deal right?”). It would be very unusual to not have some sort of food going into the mouth at all times during the day. If we had a luncheon at work, I would eat publicly with the others and then find a way to hoard the leftovers back to my office where I could be alone with the food, or I’d sneak it into a napkin and go to the bathroom where no one would see me. All through-out the day, even in meetings, I’d be planning the next meal, the next snack…making up a grocery list (even though I had just been at the grocery store the night before)…reading recipes, talking about recipes, talking about what I had for dinner last night…oh yeah, and talking about that new diet I was going to start ‘next week’. If I had all of the money that I have spent over the years on diet programs, diet food, gym equipment, hypnosis, etc I could probably retire today. Each one ending in failure, most of the time bigger than I was before and if I had lost weight, I would gain it back and more very quickly. My pulse quickened at the thought of food, at the smell of food.
I had been overweight for as long as I can remember. Everywhere I went, everything I did was somehow impacted by my weight. If we went out to eat..could I fit in the booth, what if I had to go to the bathroom…could I fit between the seats to get there? What was the waiter thinking as I ordered my food? If I heard laughter, “were they laughing at me?” If we went to the mall, I just walked through the stores with my family, knowing there was not anything in most of the stores that I could even dream of fitting in to and most aisles were so narrow…hard to squeeze through, knocking things off the rack as I went by. Going on a trip should be fun, right? Not when you have to wedge your way into a seat on an airplane, unable to put the tray down because there wasn’t room…knowing the person beside you was upset because you were taking up their seat as well as yours. Always trying to get an aisle seat so you could get up to go to the bathroom if you had to, knowing that you would never ask someone to get up so you could get by…not to mention barely fitting into the bathroom if you could get there. I remember the 1st time the seat belt didn’t fit on a flight. I was so devastated, too ashamed to ask for the extender so I pretended to buckle up, hiding the seat belt below my shirt…surely it wouldn’t matter, right? Well, it was the most turbulent flight I have ever been on; I remember bouncing up once and almost hitting my head on the luggage rack above. I swore to God that if I survived that I would lose weight…I meant it for that moment but the promise was quickly broken once we were safely on the ground and the food was calling.
I have broken chairs in people’s homes when sitting down, once again laughing out loud amidst their explanations that the chair had been broken, that they had meant to move it out of the kitchen…etc. etc. Demoralized, never again invited back to that home.
I missed out on so much of my children’s lives because I didn’t want them to be embarrassed by their mom. I remember going to the circus and wedging into a seat and coming home with bruises on my sides and legs…Such pain but it only drove me further into my love affair with food. Food gave me comfort, I thought.
Nine years ago my husband died and then a year after that my youngest son left for college and I was all alone, the silence at the house was deafening. I no longer had to ‘hide’ my eating; it began a nightly feeding festival that would start from the moment I walked in the door until I would finally pass out each night. Food and TV…that made up my night. I went to work, I went to church where I had been the music director for 25 years, and still felt empty. I would always run home to food. I looked up and I weighed over 300 pounds, had high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome…and was in no way controlling my diet. I was ok with just taking more medication so I could eat whatever I wanted.
Fifteen years ago, a friend had told me about Weigh Down and had given me one audiolesson. I listened in my car, thought it was kind of a cool concept and that was the end of that. I remember coming home from church one Sunday 3 years ago, so desperate, so hopeless, so miserable. Tired of being fat, but knowing that there was no way that I would ever be able to do it. I was a failure. My employer had just started offering its employees coverage for the gastric bypass surgery, and I made the decision that afternoon that I was going to call in the morning to make an appointment to have the surgery. I made this decision despite the fact that I had previously watched someone who had had the surgery, and the misery she went through, because she still wanted to eat. She ended up almost killing herself because when she did overeat (more than a shot glass full of food) she was in incredible pain, many times landing in the hospital. I thought that would all be worth it if it would make me thin. But then, I had a fleeting memory of Weigh Down. I called my old friend, who I hadn’t talked to in years, to see if she knew if it still was in existence. She said yes and gave me the website!
I logged onto Weighdown.com and started watching testimonies, reading other people’s stories and cried and cried because their stories were just like mine. I found people who had felt the same devastation, the same humiliation I had felt all of my life but were now set free. They were thin, beautiful and full of so much joy…it was incredible. Could this be true? Could this be real? I called the next day, started into a class and it was amazing. From the very first class, the voices that had always been in my head started to disappear…”what are you going to eat, what are you going to cook, what are you going to buy at the grocery store” –the never ending voice started to quiet as I was going through the Weigh Down classes. I was able to turn off the TV and enjoy the quiet instead of trying to drown out the voices. The weight was melting off…people at work and church were calling me the ‘incredible shrinking woman’. And the day actually came when I was able to go to the “normal side” of the clothing store. I had never been there except when I was shopping with someone else. Oh my goodness, I could finally buy “normal clothes”! And that was not even the greatest thing…the peace, the peace that I was starting to feel was so beautiful, so incredible!! I could go home and not even turn on the TV, just be content doing the lessons, listening to music or just watching the beautiful sunset – time with God! The world became beautiful instead of a place that just “didn’t fit” and a potential embarrassing situation in the making.
And now?? I am so full of joy, so in awe of everything around me. The sights, the sounds, the beauty of God’s creation. I am ½ the person I was on the outside but my heart is 10 times bigger because it’s so full of joy and love and peace and patience…all of the gifts that you are given when you surrender your will and your love (obsession…addiction) for food and turn to God to fill you up. I now run and play with my grandchildren, fly to Chicago to spend time with my son and we walk and walk the streets of Chicago, go to performances, go to dinner and just enjoy our time together. I am no longer embarrassed for him to be around me. It is so incredible. Do I miss that love relationship with food? No, because I actually get to enjoy it. I get to eat brownies, ice cream, mashed potatoes or whatever sounds good; and the difference is, I actually taste it..I am able to savor the flavors and savor the conversations that I get to have because I am no longer focused on the food. I am looking up and seeing the world around me.
It has been the easiest and hardest thing I’ve ever done; and it has been an incredible journey to this new creation and I know I am not done yet. God keeps peeling away the layers not only of fat but of loneliness, of insecurity, of anger, of depression. He is healing my heart which in the end was what was so broken. I kept trying to fill my empty, hurting heart with food because in the moment it would make me feel better but within minutes left me with disgust, disappointment, and a helpless, hopeless feeling. But no longer! I am stronger! Because I now know the answer! I listen for the true signs of physical hunger, and if I “feel a hunger” but there are no physical signs, I know that is my Spiritual Hunger and so I turn to God for the “fuel” I need to keep going to fill that hole in my heart. I no longer have high blood pressure, diabetes, or any of the other diseases that I had brought upon myself. My doctor calls me her “poster child” because she never gets to take people off of medications. I save incredible amounts of money not only on food, but on prescriptions and doctor visits, not to mention the thousands I saved not having the bypass surgery! I am free, free at last and I love each day and every new adventure that God gives me and praise Him for giving me the keys to walk out of that self-inflicted prison cell.
When I first met Karen Perera in Sept 2008, she had already lost 90 pounds with the Weighdown program. In our system she had weighed 257lbs on 6/7/05. In 2008 she weighed 168.9lbs with diet alone and no exercise. At the time she was on a diabetic medication, metformin 1000mg twice a day, a blood pressure and a cholesterol medication. At the time, her diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol were under control. She worked more on her diet. I started decreasing down her blood pressure medication. 1 year later at her return visit in September 2009 she weighed 158lbs. her diabetes had resolved, HgA1C was 5.4% and normal, blood pressure. At that visit we stopped her diabetic medication, blood pressure medication and cholesterol medication. Now from our last visit in February 2011 her diabetes is still not apparent but her blood pressure has increased, requiring medication. Her weight has gone down to 149lbs. She still is not taking any cholesterol medication. I have been amazed by Karen and this program. This reinforces the doctors teaching that controlling consumption has a great impact on weight loss, sometimes before starting exercise. Both together will show the most benefit. There have been studies done that show that making a lifestyle choice NOT a diet will work for weight loss and sustained weight loss, as evidence by Karen.
Sharon Rubin, MD
Duke Primary Care