04/06/2015 04:35 pm ET Updated Jun 06, 2015

It Is Never Too Late

My favorite quote is, "It is never too late to be what you might have been." I made a decision for a radical change by selecting to have weight loss surgery and start living the life I always desired. Here is my story...

Most of my life I viewed myself as unattractive because of my weight. I was a dark chocolate skinned, overweight girl who held this belief of being unattractive during my childhood, teens and adulthood, and it was imbedded in my heart because I did not have anyone to challenge my belief.

Through individual counseling, I discovered my weight issues developed in childhood due to the traumatic memories of being sexually abused at 10 years old. Not only were the memories of sexual abuse horrific but one year while I was in the 5th grade, our class was studying bar graphs. Our teacher decided to graph our classroom's weight. Being overweight and a shy girl I had no idea how this would affect me. My weight was recorded at 140 pounds and I was the heaviest person in the room. I remember one of the boys chuckling as he stated, "Linda is heavier than our teacher." This statement hurt me deeply and it reinforced how I viewed myself. I could not express the depth of my hurt from his comment.

Next, when feelings of hurt, shame, guilt from my negative experiences emerged, I overate to numb them. I muffled the feelings of emotional pain, anger, depression and hopelessness. So for 45 years, ice cream, cheeseburgers, pizza, potato chips, soda brought me comfort and peace. As I kept overeating I did not notice gradually my weight was increasing to 180, 200 until one day it was over 300 pounds. Living life with all this excess weight was killing me spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. In addition to the huge weight increase, I accepted the lie that I was meant to be overweight and I could not do anything to change it.

However, an epiphany came to me in September 1998, when I became a born-again believer in Jesus Christ. I learned that the God in heaven loved me and was concerned about every aspect of my life. Through this revelation and my relationship with Jesus Christ, I desired every aspect of me to be restored including my wounded spirit from decades of abuse and my weight. My change was a sloooooooooooooow process that came little by little. There were many times of frustration, grieving and wanting to give up. During this process I told myself more lies and made excuses for 30 years that I will start tomorrow.

However, my tomorrow came in 2010 when I turned 50 years old. My heart stirred with the thought, "One day you will die but how and when are you going to start living?" The time had arrived to embark on this journey to be the woman God created me to be. First, my thinking changed from "why?" into "why not?" The kickoff came when I celebrated my 50th birthday. I gathered a few, close women friends and we had a luncheon at a local mansion in town. Next year, I flew to San Diego, California, and visited Coronado which appeared to be one of the cleanest cities I'd ever visited. I spent time at Coronado Beach, sitting on the sand and listening to the rushing roars of the waves. In 2013 on my birthday, I flew to Orlando, Florida, and enjoyed live music at BB King's Place. The Florida trip ended with a visit to Daytona Beach and touring the home of Mary McLeod Bethune, who is one of my inspirations. Although turning 50 plus opened to eyes to the possibility of real change, there was one big boulder which needed to be moved... my weight.

In 2014 I began to research bariatric surgery because I had tried different weight loss methods but none of them worked for me. I read about women who had the surgery. I read articles from weight loss organizations and their recommendations. Then, the time came when I contacted a local medical facility in Springfield which performs bariatric surgery. I learned before a person starts the process; there is much preparation, which begins with a 10-hour teaching module on different types of surgery, medical costs, testimonies from others, changing eating habits and exercising. Weight loss surgery is NO quick fix to obesity. After passing the modules, I had to have a psychological evaluation to discover my motivation to have the surgery and would I be a good candidate. I was.

Next, I started preparing for weight loss surgery in fall of 2014. Currently, I meet once a month with a nutritionist and physical therapist. The nutritionist teaches me structured eating and to plan my eating times. She does not advocate giving up foods I love to eat but to modify how much I eat. I am reading food labels and incorporating portion size. Secondly, I meet with a physical therapist who instructs me to develop regular exercise routine as well as increase the intensity which is difficult since I have not regularly exercised for over 20 years. Now, I am planning my meals as well as trying to maintain a five day a week workout. Change is not easy, but it will be worth it. Being a 55 and fabulous woman reminds me again, "It is never too late to be who God created me to be."