Like many women, Rev. Theresa S. Thames grew up on the Southern comforts of rich, home-cooked meals. However, food became a source of discomfort and by the time she was 33, the young New Jersey resident was 447 lbs. Rev. Thames shared with BlackDoctor.org her inspiring story of choosing freedom and the first step that changed her life.
It’s a vicious cycle, a cycle that I learned at a very young age growing up in Southern Mississippi. If you’re hungry, eat. If you’re tired, eat. If there is a reason to celebrate, eat. If you are sad and depressed, eat. I learned that life revolves around feelings and food. Thus, I had come to believe that food was the balm to soothe all of the issues of my heart and soul. Unfortunately, I was enslaved in the vicious cycle of feeling and eating with no way to break free.
By the time I was 14 years old I weighed 280 lbs. By the time I was 33 years old I was 447 lbs. Nevertheless, I carried my weight with pride and always made certain that I was stylishly dressed. I flippantly blamed my Southern roots and “big bones” for my voluptuous size. However, the truth was that I was trapped in the vicious cycle and had mastered the art of feeling and eating.
If I were to be completely honest, I was not happy. I was miserable, afraid, depressed and dying. I had eaten my way through an abusive marriage, a demanding career, an emotional divorce, the death of my sister, the death of my father, the death of my ex-husband, years of grief, and the realities of single motherhood. I was literally eating my life away.
A glimpse of freedom came into my life when I mistakenly landed on the GirlTrek: Healthy Black Women and Girls Facebook page. This page showed images of smiling Black women taking charge of their health through walking. I “liked” the page and read the posts. I then entered a simple competition and won a t-shirt. The winning of this t-shirt was not happenstance, but a divine connection and intervention. One of the founders of GirlTrek, Vanessa Garrison, emailed me and asked me to join the movement. GirlTrek saved my life.