The Skin We’re In
Tearfully frustrated… I remember stepping off the scale and feeling like something was wrong with me. I was bad or unworthy or maybe even a little bit messed up. As a pre-teen entering puberty, my feelings may have been hormonally charged, but regardless, I felt the weight of this very real struggle with food and body image.
Gratefully, it didn’t go far enough to turn into an obsession, and in fact, I am not sure if my weight was ever high enough to be considered overweight by medical standards. But, as a young girl, I was uncomfortable in my own skin. I wanted out – out of these discouraging, limiting feelings and beliefs. I knew they weren’t right or truth. But, I also wasn’t exactly sure what to do with them.
In my many years as a counselor, I have met so many individuals with a similar story. The details were a bit different, but the longing for body confidence that beams from the inside out is so real. Sadly, some can recall being put on a diet or struggling with food since childhood. Many people can share feelings of frustration, defeat, and negative internal dialog that causes constant angst. For some, it has turned into a lifetime battle that they can’t get out of their mind or their heart.
Lose Weight and Feel Great?
The diet industry claims to have the answers. They wrap up these formulas, facts, research, eating plans, exercises, and specials tricks into neat and tidy packages – books, programs, and supplements. Our culture continues to flash us with perfectly shaped bodies and air-brushed pictures on tv, social media, ads and every other place, causing a deep discontent and inner longing to love the way we look.
There is a $60+ BILLION dollar diet industry committed to telling us how we can obtain an ideal weight and “feel great”, but obviously, with two-thirds of the population overweight or obese, an increase in eating disorders, and millions of women (and men) walking around feeling uncomfortable in their own skin, these diets are not only ineffective, but I believe are contributing to the continued yo-yo dieting cycle.
There is one thing that diets can’t address. They give us plans, how-tos, and even some creative solutions, but there is one thing that those dusty diet books on your bookshelf cannot do: They cannot change your mind.
That incredibly difficult season as a pre-teen was the start of God doing something great in my life. He sparked an interest in me to learn about health and nutrition. My family actually began making some small, but meaningful changes at home, and that, along with getting taller and changing hormones, I began to see some noticeable differences in my weight and appearance.
Slowly, I gained more confidence and a little less dislike of my body. But the battle wasn’t entirely over.
Lay Aside Every Weight
Looking back, I see a message that God weaved all through my teenage years as I was learning to become comfortable with my body and to value it the way God intended.
My Heavenly Father, with such tenderness and care, taught me the importance of filling up on good, truth, and life and dispelling bad, lies and the idol of perfection. Every time my weight or appearance would begin to take over my thought life, there was less truth being poured in. And it was those times when I would become hyper-attentive to how I looked, what I ate, and how people saw me.
Our minds are amazing and what we choose to think on determines where we go. We can soar, shrink back or stay stuck.
The promise God made to Joshua applies to us as well in ANY area of our lives:
“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” — Joshua 1:8 (NIV)
Filling our minds with truth and then acting according to it leads to success – every single time! So often we don’t apply this concept to weight or health. Instead, we seek out the latest diet trend or what “worked” for our friend, expecting the 6-week meal plan or how-to formula to “fix it.”
Eat the Good
In order to take our health to the next level, or manage our weight in a way that glorifies God, it requires filling up on everything good.
Paul charges us in Philippians:
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” — Philippians 4:8 (NKJV)
I love how the New King James Version uses the word “meditate”. It means much more than simply thinking a good thought and implores us to meditate only on the things that are favorable, exceptional and positive.
Having counseled hundreds of individuals and knowing how my own mind works, it is so easy to allow one negative thought or critical comment, or even what was meant to be a harmless jest turn into the crazy negative dialog in our mind. These thoughts take up valuable time each day and are no good! They do nothing to help us take responsibility, make smart choices, see beauty or look beyond the mirror. And, if we are not careful, they chain us up until we feel stuck in a prison of hopelessness.
BUT, that is not okay with God. He hates to see us stuck! In 2 Corinthians 10:5, He gives us the solution, “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
Are you discouraged about your weight? If you’re disappointed with your health, lacking the energy to fully flow in your gifts, or tired of the negative body talk manipulating your daily thoughts, your only hope for sustainable change begins with YOUR mind.
It Ain’t Easy, But It’s Worth It
I know, I know. We all want an easy diet plan that will get us to our goal! Mind work takes time, attention, and getting out of all the noise around us to actually notice the talk going on in our head. But, if a 6-week meal plan was all we really needed to get us to our goals, we wouldn’t have a health crisis in our country. Neither would we hear complaints of fatigue and lack of energy, and we wouldn’t have body image issues.
There is absolutely a need to make smart food, exercise, hydration, and sleep choices each day – no doubt! But, I truly believe that pumping our heart and minds with so much truth that the lies are dispelled, is at the core of the issue.
Over many years, God in His tender loving mercy has helped me see a different perspective on dieting, healthy living, and celebrating my body – the one and only body I will ever have! When we change our perspective, it changes everything else.
If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
– Dr. Wayne Dyer
Revelations of Healthy Living
As I began seeing diets for what they really were – false promises – I began to discover a healthy lifestyle through the lens of truth. Let’s take a look together:
- Diets focus on behaviors, but a healthy lifestyle focuses on a way of living and thinking that after time, becomes natural.
- Diets focus on good food, bad food, toxic food, and cleansing food. A healthy lifestyle wipes out the thought that our morality is attached to food choices and instead looks at how to honor God all day, every day.
- Diets can be turned on and off. A healthy lifestyle is a sustainable way of living each day that doesn’t involve stopping, starting over, beginning again, failing or falling off the wagon.
- Diets teach rules, but a healthy lifestyle includes boundaries and grace.
- Diets drain us, requiring us to perform and follow a standard. A healthy lifestyle is freeing, allowing us to find strategies and tools that work with our routines, structure, and patterns.
My search for a healthy lifestyle isn’t uncommon. In fact, there are millions of people who are looking for solutions but in all the wrong places. A diet won’t bring lasting change. It begins with filling your mind and heart with truth. That one step changes everything.
So, what’s the play call?
Find 2-4 scriptures that speak life and truth to where you are in your health.
Write them down and make them visible in your home, office, bathroom, kitchen and car.
Meditate on them day and night.
“For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8, NKJV)