Friday, January 14, 2011

The Chewing Tobacco Diet

A chewing tobacco habit helped me lose weight.
This is me before the weight loss.

Wait! It's not what you're thinking. I'll explain.

I'm a teacher. One morning as class was starting, I noticed one of my teenage students walk past with a big wad of something stuffed in his lower lip. "John, wait!" I called as I stared intently at the bulge. "What's that in your mouth?"

His eyes grew big, and he stammered, "Uh … uh … "

"Are you chewing tobacco?"

"Yes, Ma'am," he said as he looked down, shuffling his feet, his hands clenched in his pockets.

John was my favorite student, a boy with a heart as big as Texas and as tender as a teddy bear's. He had confided in me weeks earlier that he felt God calling him to be a preacher. But I had watched him struggle, trying to be like the other boys in the class. He wanted to be cool, but the Holy Spirit wouldn't let him. While the other boys sinned with relish, John was     tormented by his struggles and ashamed of his stumbling. Trying to live in two worlds wasn't working for him.

"Miss Gail, I know it's wrong to dip, but I only do it every once in a while. And all the other guys do it!"

I had to bite my tongue to keep from saying what I thought: If they jumped off the cliff, would you jump, too? Instead, I prayed, "God, please show me how to help this young man. He's going to do great things for you, but he's headed down the wrong roads. Show me how I can be helpful."
Kicking the habit

Over the next weeks, I caught him with a "pinch" in his lip several times and always called him on it. He finally broke down and told me, "Miss Gail, I just love to dip. I love the taste of it, and I love to spit. I know it's wrong and everything, but I've tried to stop and I just can't." His pleading almost convinced me there was no hope.

His honesty poignantly expressed the struggle going on in my own life. Like him, I was addicted—not to tobacco, but to overeating. I was 100 pounds overweight.

God, please show me how to break my own addiction so I can help John, I prayed silently as we stood face to face. Then I had an idea …

"John, give me your chewing tobacco." I commanded.

He looked at me with shock. "What for?"

"Just give it to me. I'll explain later," I said, holding out my hand. Reluctantly, he placed it in my palm with a puzzled look on his face.

That night, I set the pack of chewing tobacco on my kitchen counter and prayed, "God, I know you can help me overcome my addiction. I don't know how. But I'm asking you to do it for me, so that John will see your power to help and believe it for himself."

The chewing tobacco on my kitchen counter daily reminded me to pray, "God, please do for me what I cannot do for myself." When I was tempted to overeat, I prayed, "Help me, God!" He answered every prayer.

Not my willpower, but God's

For the first time, I realized that when I'd tried to lose weight in the past, I'd depended on my own willpower. It never worked for long. I had just wanted to lose weight—I didn't want to change. But this time, God changed me. He gave me the strength to plan ahead by having good foods to eat, and to prepare lunches so I wouldn't hit the fast-food places. I also learned to love foods that I had previously shunned. The weight came off slowly but steadily, and I began to look and feel like a new woman.
To date, I have lost a total of 85 pounds and six dress sizes. It's been amazing to see God change life-long habits and reshape my mind and body.

Naturally, friends and family who visited my kitchen were curious about the pack of chewing tobacco on the counter. I had plenty of opportunities to share John's dipping problem and my prayers that we'd overcome our addictions.

In the past I'd never understood the verse, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Phil. 4:13, NASB). But that verse became very real during the months that God began to work in me. To date, I have lost a total of 85 pounds and six dress sizes. I can honestly say I have not struggled, or suffered, or felt sorry for myself as I had in the past. It's been amazing to see God work in me to change life-long habits and reshape my mind and body. When people ask me how I did it, I tell them about God's power.
Me - after losing 90 pounds! 

When John noticed I was shrinking, I told him how his struggle had spurred me on to seek God's help for my own addiction. I recounted how his pack of chewing tobacco played a part in my weight loss. He smiled from ear to ear, but then hung his head and asked me to keep praying for him. I assured him I would.

My prayer is that he will not take as many years to realize this simple truth that I am learning: "I will glory in my weakness, for when I am weak, He is made strong." I still keep his pack of chewing tobacco in my kitchen as a reminder to pray for us daily.

Gail G. Golden is a writer living in Port St. John, Florida.Copyright © 2007 by the author or Christianity Today International/Today's Christian magazine.
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I'm linking to Spiritual Sundays
and the Totally Tuesday Blog Hop


  1. Wow, Gail, I'm amazed. God does work in mysterious ways. What a "tricky" title you gave this post. I'll bet everyone who comes to Spiritual Sundays reads it. LOL
    Thank you so much for sharing your secret with us. I think it will be helpful to lots of other people.

  2. Gail...what a wonderful testimony of god's power and grace!
    PS thanks for the comments on the wedding...and as a matter of fact...the pink lady IS for sale:)

  3. Gail - this is a wonderful testimony of relying not upon our own strength, but Christ's. Congratulations on your weight loss!


  4. Wow, Gail--this story is amazing!! And the weight loss is fantastic--and your title blew me away!!!

  5. What a great story, goes to show we never know who or how we will be influenced. Blessings to you and John!

  6. Gail, my first encounter with you! You are great inspiration. I too struggle in this area. But, it is "self" inflicted and I realize victory will not be gained alone with "self". Only through HIM. Thanks for sharing your wonderful story. Following to read your story. :)

  7. Hi again, Gail. To answer your question about how to grab a button for the Spiritual Sundays blog, I'm not sure which one you want. There are several choices. The two long shaped ones have a code if you click at the bottom of them. The others you can save as pictures and then add the pictures to the sidebar with the url ( linked to it. I'm glad you are sharing with us and glad you want to put our button on your sidebar. I hope this information helps.

  8. What a wonderful story! I'm trusting the outcome for John will be good also. God is at work! Congratulations on your victory.

  9. I would like to follow your blog but your "Followers" thingy on the sidebar isn't working:(

    I'll check back another time.

  10. Your title reached out and grabbed me, lol. I didn't know what to expect.This is a great story. Thanks for inspiring all of us.

    P.S. We need a sequel, How is John doing?
    Have a blessed Sunday, Annette

  11. Hi again. Glad to see the S.S. button here, but I clicked on it and it didn't take me there. You might want to check it out and make sure where it says Link that it has the url there. Where it says Link just put
    Have a wonderful day.

  12. I LOVE this story. Thanks so much for sharing it. Not only was God getting you on the track that you could do it with Christ-power...not your own power that survived on whether you would "will" to do it or not, but you were also doing it to try and help somebody else in the process. That is just awesome! Thanks for the success story. Inspirational! :-) Enjoyed my visit.

  13. Gail,
    This is a terrific testimony! And a struggle many of us can relate to one degree or another. I also love how you were doing it to help your student, too.

  14. What a wonderful and inspiring post today. With God all things are possible.

  15. You look simply lovely and are an inspiration to this young man and many others. You go girl!!

  16. Hello!

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    Check out my "retail therapy" giveaways and enter a few, there are some great products to win. Also - if you do giveaways - join my March Madness Giveaway Hop!

    I also have a fantastic weekly blog hop.



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