I would like to introduce you to Tina Cochran who I recently met in a Christian group on Linkedin. She is a certified health coach and obesity survivor who uses her unique combination of education, experience and empathy to help hurting women create a better life. This is her story how God helped her through her struggles of obesity and control to get her to where she is today.
Sometimes rock bottom comes with a crash and the trauma of your life falling apart. It’s large, noisy, and messy. But sometimes rock bottom arrives as a simple statement that makes you realize things can no longer stay the way they are. I had lived with chaos and drama for so long it seemed normal. It took one powerful comment from my son to show me I had reached rock bottom.
My son Anthony has autism and as such, being tactful is not always his best skill. In the fall of 2008, then 10 years old, he looked at me and said “Mommy, you need to go on The Biggest Loser.” The words hit me hard with a realization that he was worried about me and knew I needed to change. The over 250 pounds I was carrying on my 5 ft. 4 in. frame was no longer something I could ignore or hide.
At his insistence, the NBC show, The Biggest Loser, became part of our weekly schedule. Every week he would watch the show and I would hide my tears as I sunk deep into the hopelessness of obesity and the over-scheduled life I was living. I continued to make excuses and justifications why I couldn’t do anything about my weight. His direct comment crashed into those excuses and held them against rock bottom. I began to realize that I was no longer going to be able to ignore or hide from an attempt to do something.
In November of 2008, I started a weight loss program. The plan was simple, I would try this “diet” for a week or so and when it didn’t work, I would then focus on finding a way to convince myself and my son that my body would always be this way, and it really wasn’t a problem.
I am grateful to report that I was wrong and God used this program to help me lose over 100 pounds and keep it off. What started out as a solution to accepting that things would never change actually became a catalyst for a change I never imagined.
Over the past few years, I have learned the truth of who I am. As the pounds melted away, a woman I didn’t know began to appear. This woman was strong and confident in her worth and had a heart to serve. Eventually I joined the company that designed my weight loss program and became a certified health coach.
By telling this story, my fear is that you will see it as another weight loss success story and miss the real transformation. While hitting rock bottom regarding my weight began my journey, it is actually not the most important change that has happened for me. When I was released from my corporate job in July 2009, I became a full-time coach. At the time I thought my journey was complete. I believed I had built myself up from the depths of obesity, stress, and depression to health, peace, and happiness.
What I didn’t realize was that Joy was waiting around the next corner, and it would require another visit to rock bottom. At first life was happy and exciting. But eventually I developed an obsession with business and marketing that drove me to work endless hours, never enjoying life or my family. I was constantly chasing better ways to make more money and grow my business. Founding a nonprofit organization only added to the stress and anxiety I felt every day. My relationship with my family suffered (especially my husband), and I woke up every day in a state of panic. While I was keeping my body a size eight and telling the world I was at peace and happy, in my heart I knew it was a lie.
I felt like a fraud.
The strength and confidence I found during my weight loss journey eroded until I found myself once again feeling hopeless to change. I was actually living at rock bottom, just in a prettier package. It took a tornado to break my heart wide open and motivate me to change. I live near Joplin, Missouri. In May of 2011, an F-5 tornado tore the town to pieces. I followed the destruction on social media and my heart broke more with every passing day. God had given me a gift of empathy and my heart filled to capacity with the pain around me. In my personal life, the stress of chasing my business, building a nonprofit, and pleasing my family became overwhelming. I spent many days and nights in tears, begging God to take my life and bring me home. On the outside my life looked like it was growing and becoming more successful every day. However, inside I was dying and falling apart.
For the next six months I struggled to find a solution, something that would make the pain go away. Finally I ran out of strength to search and collapsed in despair. It was only then that I heard the still, small voice. “Stop studying business and study Me.” God’s voice was quiet, but insistent. It brought my spinning mind to a halt.
“But how will I make a living, God?” I asked. “You won’t. You will make a life,” was the only answer He would give. “Get to know Me, who I am, and who I created you to be. Bring all your focus and energy on searching for Me. When you find Me, you will find all that you need. Trust Me, I will provide. I created you for a very special purpose. It’s time for you to be set apart and learn all I have to teach you.”
With much fear and trembling, I put my business books away and opened my Bible. I began a search for who God was and what He wanted from me. This search led me to a life I never could have imagined. It has also led me through periods of brokenness I never would have chosen. The pain of coming face to face with the mistakes of my past choices and the things I have done that have not honored my loving Father have been beyond anything I thought I could survive. Through it all, God has gently and lovingly held my hand and reminded me that His plans for me are good. It has not always been pretty and it has never been easy, but it has been worth it. Not only have I survived, I have begun to thrive.
Rock bottom is a beautiful place. I know this beyond a shadow of a doubt because rock bottom is the place where you find the strength to surrender yourself completely to the One who created you. It’s not until you come completely to the end of yourself that you can truly begin to live. The most beautiful part is that by creating a life with rock bottom as the foundation, you find true Joy.
To find out more about Tina and how she can help you, please check out her website at www.TinaCochran.com.