Monday, June 16, 2014

Fitness Fetish


This phrase began a long, difficult, but 
redeemed 
journey through my fitness obsession.






If I don't look like this girl, I need to work harder, right?  Well I didn't want to be last so I guess I needed to work as hard I could in order to achieve this "perfect, fit bod".

This belief is where the 
idol of
FITNESS
began to control my thoughts.

Starting my sophomore year of high school, I knew I would be up against hundreds of other, very athletic women to try out for the high school volleyball teams.  I was following behind the legend of my older brother who had not only been crowned 'Homecoming King' and 'Mr. MC' (Midland Christian) but was also the star athlete and quarterback for the football team.   I walked into high school with pressure (I had placed on myself) to be the starting 'Libero' (back row specialist) for the Varsity team and be in the newspaper for any position I could claim for myself…only then, I thought, would I be content and valued.

This goal was exciting and good at first until it became my ultimate purpose.  My exercise addiction started with this goal and I would practice at 2-a-days for hours and come home and run or workout more.   I thought I hadn't done enough unless my body had burned up every ounce of strength and energy I had that day.

With the cycle of eating very healthy and working out anywhere between 1-5 hours each day for 2 years, my body began to eat itself.  Without realizing it, I had gone from
127 lbs. to 103 lbs.
and was on the verge of destroying my body.



I am convinced I had what is called Female Athlete Triad where you can have:

  • Irregular or absent menstrual cycles
  • Always feeling tired and fatigued
  • Problems sleeping
  • Stress fractures and frequent or recurrent injuries
  • Often restricting food intake
  • Constantly striving to be thin
  • Eating less than needed in an effort to improve performance or physical appearance
  • Cold hands and feet


I figured once I got to college "everything would go back to being balanced and happy again" because the high school pressures wouldn't be upon me anymore.  However, the obsession with working out had become so much a part of my life that I believed "if I miss a day I will be off, depressed or gain weight".  So, the idol of fitness continued into my freshman year and if I ran less than 5 miles a day, I thought I had failed that day.  One of my favorite things to hear was "Lindsay, you look SO GOOD and FIT/SKINNY".  I know most, if not all girls, LOVE this compliment.  The more I heard it, the more I accepted it as my identity.  I was the 
"fit/skinny girl"
...so I had to keep this title or I felt like my identity was being taken from me.


Later in college, however, I had a wake up call.  From beating my body for years with under eating and over working out, my stomach decided it needed to riot and take over.  I was burning so many calories that I started giving into the carbs I had seen as "poison" before.  One handful of cereal...led to another...which led to another.  I wish I was kidding, but I privately or publicly would down an entire cereal box in one sitting almost daily because my body got sick of me not giving it the nutrients it needed.



I now thought I needed to work off MORE than this extra amount I was consuming.  In God's goodness and grace, He sent a trial to help me realize

I was slowly killing myself with my addiction to fitness.

I needed to stop and slow down before it was too late.

I was in a 5K race for my sorority in college and decided I wanted to get the fastest time I possibly could. (If you haven't noticed, I am a 
struggling perfectionist, and God is working on me daily:) )

I got close to the finish line and...."RIP"...I felt it send a tingle down my knee.  I tore cartilage in my knee and soon found out I wouldn't be able to RUN, for months!



My identity in being the:
"fit/skinny girl" 
who ran a lot was no longer.
 I gained a some weight and in my skewed self-image, I saw myself as a failure.  My emotions were everywhere...UP one day, DOWN the next.  I hated what I looked like and hated that I was so controlled by my fitness plan, that now, when I could barely walk without pain, my life seemed to lack purpose.





Where did I go wrong?
 This is where I went wrong:

I lived for a created thing 
(fit body, awards, achieved goals, positions, etc.) 


instead of our Creator.

I moved from standing on a Firm Foundation (God),

 to rocky soil (relying on working out for comfort).
-Matthew 7:24-27



Cheesy but true:
 "with every TEST there is a TESTIMONY

and with every MESS there is a MESSAGE."



My mess and trial of tearing cartilage in my knee ended up drawing me
CLOSER TO THE HEART OF GOD.
  I experienced more internal joy and satisfaction once I learned to turn to God and not to fitness for my ultimate SOURCE and COMFORT.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:1-8 NIV)



God soon taught me more about what it looks like to seek balance in my life.  He gave me this picture of running a race to help me understand what it looks like to have idols in my life versus running toward Him in this life:





What this looks like:

-over-doing -
 (Getting "off track")
 I run too far to the track by doing something too much and becoming obsessed with it.  The idol becomes something I must do daily, or I feel like a failure.  It becomes one of the first things I think about when I wake up and I would chose it over spending time with God or others.

-under-doing- 
(Getting "off track")
 After I wear myself so thin (physically and emotionally) from over-doing for too long,  I end up hating whatever it was I was seeking to satisfy me.  So, I become apathetic, lose motivation and give up.  Running in this direction, I start to struggle more with depression because whatever I thought would bring me joy (apart from Christ), sadly failed to satisfy me.

-middle/balanced- 
(Staying "on the track")
 This is where God wants us, because this leads to life and peace!  You aren't running off to the right/over-doing things or to the left/under-doing things but are fixing your eyes toward the end of the race.  This is when we are fixing our eyes on Jesus and God's Truth and not toward the crowd who yell at us to "do more!" or "do nothing!".

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us
run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 
fixing our eyes on Jesus, 
the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 
(Hebrews 12:1, 2 NIV)



God took my MESS and made it a MESSAGE. He redeemed fitness from being an idol in my life to becoming an avenue for me to worship Him and know Him deeper.  I felt led to use my testimony to help other women who also struggling with finding balance in this area of fitness.  So, I recently finished my Personal Trainer Certification and am looking to use it to help women understand how they can also link their spiritual life to physical exercise.  Below are a few practical ideas of what this looks like for me.





WAYS I LINK MY SPIRITUAL LIFE TO PHYSICAL EXERCISE to PROTECT MYSELF FROM THE ADDICTION OF FITNESS:


1. Remind myself WHY I workout-

  -remember my "body is a temple"
  -it boosts my energy to serve God and others
  -it helps me sleep better
  -it can be super fun
  -it builds my realtionship with God and others
  -I grow stronger so I can serve and play with my husband & friends (and kids   
    someday)


2. While I workout out, I read/listen to something that BUILDS
 my relationship with God-

-Listen to a sermon podcast (Mars Hills Church, Village Church, etc.)
-Listen to an audiobook about growing in your relationship with God
-Listen to music without cussing/sexual impurity (aka I stopped listening to secular rap while I exercised and 'Lecrae' Pandora became my jam)

          
3. Memorize scripture-
        -I write mine on index cards and put them on a ring to flip through them as I     
        workout

    "​​The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace." (Romans 8:6 NIV)


4. Set a limit on how much/often I would workout- 
-I committed to not working out more than 5 times a week
- ​​​A healthy range is to at least workout about 30-45 minutes for 5 days or average about 150 minutes/week.

  “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work. (Exodus 20:8-10 NIV)


5. PRAY-
-Use this time to pray for the world, friends, family, others and yourself.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is ​​​God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)


6. Build relationships with people -
-Use this time to meet for accountability with a trusted friend
-Train for a race with others in order to grow a friendship with them

​​As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17 NIV)

7. Know your BMI and stay in the HEALTHY range-

I've tried many paths (with over-doing or under-doing fitness), 
and they did bring  happiness 
for a short season.  
But, the "race" in any area of life (food, friendships, family, fitness, future plans, finances and having fun) is only satisfying if you are
running toward Christ.

 

Be like Paul:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith." 
-2 Timothy 4:7











Sunday, June 15, 2014

Because Every Girl Has a Foodie in Her...


Lord Jesus, you are good.  You redeem even the darkest, dirtiest parts of our hearts.  You are victorious, and you have proven your power over sin by defeating death.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, that you care about us, Lord.  Thank you that nothing is too small for you and nothing is too big.  Thank you for the victory you've shown me in this area of my life.  I confess that I am quick to think I've done everything on my own, but that could not be further from the truth.  Victory comes from you alone.  All glory be to you, Jesus.  I admit that it is so difficult for me to talk about food and how I've both made it an idol and a demon in my life, when the truth that it is a good gift from you.  You know that though you've provided for me and delivered me in countless ways in this area of my life, it continues to be something I must surrender to you regularly -- sometimes even numerous times throughout the day.  Lord, I come before you humbly and ask that you would speak.  There is no wisdom in me apart from you.  I ask that you would make your truth plain to us about your good gifts and how we can enjoy them as a reflection of your goodness and who you are.  I believe that you are the Maker of all things.  I trust you, Lord, and ask that the Holy Spirit would fill me and write through me in this time.  Amen.

*

Wellp ya'll where to begin?  As women, it's hard enough for us to talk about the things we're struggling with such as loneliness and depression or perfectionism and performance, but rarely do any of us ever even want to admit to ourselves that we're struggling with body image issues and food.  Particularly growing up in church, I remember thinking, "I always hear that we're fearfully and wonderfully made, so I guess girls who really love Jesus don't care at all about what they look like.  I guess they just love the way the Lord made them and never feel insecure.  So even though I feel insecure about my body all the time, I'm just never going to talk about it.  No one can know.  No one can know I am scared of food because of what it might do to my body.  No one can know I look to food for comfort and security.  That is repulsive.  How could anyone ever love me in spite of those things?"

Wowza lemme tell ya, that is the ickiest thought process in the world because it is pushing darkness even deeper into the depths of the pit, but so often that is how we want to live.  We are afraid to confess what we're struggling with because we think if other people find out, we will no longer be lovable or we'll lose all credibility with them.  It is a horrible, awful lie from the pit of hell, but I will be the first one to admit, that is usually my first reaction when I'm struggling with something.  I want to hide.  I'm afraid.  I want to pretend it isn't real.  So I shut my mouth, put a smile on my face, and go about my days like everything is fine, when on the inside, my heart and mind feel as though they're slowly being destroyed.  Maybe that's dramatic -- or maybe it's not.

I want ya'll to take a second and think about a few questions...  Maybe spend time with the Lord processing through these things in prayer.

When was the first time you remember feeling
insecure about your body?
What were your exact thoughts?
Why do you think these things started filling your mind?
What did you do about it?
Have your insecurities ever really gone away?
How have you coped with your insecurities in the past?
How has your view of your body affected 
your relationship with food?
Have you ever felt enslaved to food?  
If so, what did/does that look like for you?
What do you think Jesus would say to you 
about these things?
How might He want to meet you in this place?




To spark your memories, venture with me back in time to first grade -- yep, first grade.  I have this vivid memory of crying myself to sleep one night, which wasn't particularly a rarity, as I was always afraid to fall asleep back in the day (and even now sometimes too, admittedly).  But this particular evening, it had nothing to do with my fears of dragons, small pox, malaria, death, fires, or bad guys.  This particular evening, my heart was broken about my body -- particularly my calves, in fact.

My sweet momma came to check on me, and I distinctly remember asking her, "Do you think we could just cut off part of my calves?"  I remember her shaking her head in shock, "Cait, what?!  Why would you ever want to cut off part of your calves???"

"Well, Courtney and Jill's calves are so much smaller than mine...  Theirs must be prettier than mine... But Mom, just think, it makes perfect sense...  When you want something to be smaller, you just cut it, right?"  Ahhh the simple minds of children...!  "No, no, no, no, Cait!!!!  That is not how it works!!!  And your calves are beautiful!!!"  I'm sure the conversation continued, but that is pretty much all that I remember.  Looking back, I'm torn between loling and being filled with horror.  At six years of age, my heart and mind were caught up in the comparison game.

It's funny actually because at that age usually bigger is better -- sack lunches, Barbie collections, backyards, playgrounds, etc.  Why didn't that same view carry over to our bodies?!  But my mind was sinful from the beginning, so I suppose it only makes sense that I had a distorted view of beauty.  All that being said, I've struggled with insecurities about my body and difficulty with food off and on for just about as long as I can remember.  I've found myself at every point on the spectrum from demonizing food and resenting and fearing its affects on my body to worshipping it and looking to food for comfort, refuge, and security.  I've used food as a means to manipulate what my body looks like and also attempted to find fulfillment in sweet treats to satisfy the emotional emptiness that ultimately only God can provide.




Though I can even now be shocked at how deeply I can find myself feeling enslaved to food and body image, it shouldn't come as a surprise to us that as women we struggle with all things related to food.  Throwback to the garden...

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, 'Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'  And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but God said, 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'  But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked.  And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths."
-Genesis 3:1-7

This passage always amazes me because it reveals the fall of man and our struggle with sin so clearly.  The serpent approached Eve and made her doubt the authority of both God's Word and His character.  He lied to her, caused her to question the Lord, and deceived her into believing she knows what is best.  "Does God really love me?  Is He trying to withhold good from me?  He doesn't want me to be wise.  I can know what is best.  If that is what I want, it must be best.  I can be like God.  Heck, I could probably do a better job than Him.  I've lived for quite some time now.  I'm basically all-knowing..."From beginning to end, the Bible nails the human condition over and over and over again.  

We question the Lord, fall captive to lies, and choose to put our trust in created things rather than the good, perfect, holy, loving Creator himself.  We choose the serpent over the Sovereign Lord.  How?  How do we fall captive death?  What is the method of his madness?  Satan uses many things to cause us to fall into sin.  But at the beginning, he used doubt, pride, and food.  He used food, ya'll, which is an incredible, blessed, glorious gift to man from God.  But the serpent used it to cause Eve to reject God and assert herself as the authority over her life.  Thus we should not be surprised that he likes to use it even now as a way to distract us and draw us away from our perfect Father in heaven.  




How often do we see this in our own life?  I know for myself, countless times I have chosen what is delightful to the eyes -- food, fame, the approval of others, skinny arms, money, dresses, alcohol, success -- over the Lord.  We think, "I know that technically the Lord is supposed to satisfy me, but even if the He really can satisfy the deep needs of my heart, this _____ will be immediate.  It's right before my very eyes.  I can be satisfied instantly."

But the reality is that we're never fully satisfied.  We're always left wanting more.  Think about it.  Have you ever had just one, really great cookie and said to yourself, "Wow.  That was so satisfying.  I never need another cookie as long as I live."  Heck no!!!!!  I know for me personally, I can't ever have one cookie without wanting another.  I'm never satisfied.  The truth is there is absolutely nothing wrong with cookies!  I love cookies.  Actually, I'm more of an ice cream girl, myself.  But I have found in my own heart that often times I am looking for something more in food than it can actually give me.  I'm looking for my emotional emptiness to be filled.  Lindsay once told me that when we look to food to fill our hearts with comfort, we're looking to something that is broken to fix something that is broken.  That statement is filled with so much truth and carries over to just about every area of our lives.  Similarly when we refuse to eat certain things, so our bodies will look a certain way in order to fill our need for approval (from ourselves or others), we're looking to something that is broken to fix something that is broken.

Tim Chester, a writer and church-planter in the UK, has written some incredible articles on this topic, which the Lord has used to change my way of thinking about food and body image.  Below is a little snippet from his book A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table.




"Before the fall, food was the way we expressed our obedience and trust in God. We obeyed God by eating from any tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  At the fall, food was the way we expressed our disobedience and mistrust of God. It was an attempt to live life without God (expressed through taking forbidden food). We are embodied persons, and so sin affects our bodies. No sooner did Adam and Eve rebel against God than they felt ashamed of their bodies. Sin distorts all of our relationships, including our relationships with food. Here are four ways:

1. We use food for control instead of looking to God's greatness.
My Mexican friend Alejandro is horrified at the way Americans eat food on the move. We’re so busy trying to be in control that many of us treat food as fuel. As a result we strip food of its identity as a gift, its “gift-ness.” It becomes mere utility. We disregard its rich variety and amazing tastes. Denying that food is a gift allows us commune, and express gratitude is written out of our schedules so we can get on with achieving our own goals. We’re too busy proving ourselves or managing our lives without God to stop and express our dependence.

Food is meant to express our dependence on God, but we use food to express our independence from God. For my anorexic friend, food became a way of exercising control. In a scary world full of many things she couldn’t control, she could at least control what went in her mouth. But, as she herself put it, this practice quickly escalated and became out of control. Anorexia is for some a way to exercise self-sovereignty instead of trusting the sovereignty of God.

2. We use food for image instead of looking to God's glory.
Food became a means of salvation and deification now, just as it was in the garden of Eden. Satan tells Eve that she and Adam will become like God if they eat the forbidden fruit. Our concern for self-image is an attempt to be godlike. We want to be worshiped. We are concerned with our glory instead of living for God’s glory. We are controlled by the opinion of others instead of recognizing God as the glorious one whose opinion is the one that truly matters.

Today we still take the fruit—or deny ourselves the cake—to become godlike, people with bodies others will worship and serve. The tragic irony is that Adam and Eve were already like God, having been made in his image. But we attempt to remake ourselves through food into a form that others will worship.

3. We use food for identity instead of looking to God's grace.
For some food is aspirational. We use it to express the image or lifestyle to which we aspire. Organic and whole-food produce—these are the things that prove you’re enlightened and politically aware. Or maybe it’s steaks and burgers—they make you feel like a true man. Or maybe it’s pot roasts and home-baked apple pie like your grandmother made—they make you a traditional, all-American mom. Or maybe it’s cordon bleu and haute cuisine—they make you an urban and urbane sophisticate. Others manipulate food to prove themselves through their looks by obsessing about their calorie intake. We use or misuse food to form our identity instead of finding our identity in Christ. We use food to achieve identity instead of receiving it by grace.

The first thing that happens when Adam and Eve eat the fruit is that they feel shame (Genesis 3:7). Still today our attempts at self-salvation through food lead to shame. They generate body-image problems. Slimming programs can offer a kind of points-based religion. Salvation comes through being accepted by others, and a beautiful body is the means by which we save ourselves. Food is rated, so your progress toward salvation can be scored. Your life is assessed when you stand on the scales. Weight loss equals righteousness; weight gain equals condemnation.

4. We use food for refuge instead of looking to God's goodness.
We often use food as an escape instead of finding refuge in God. We self-medicate with food. We become priests bringing offerings of chocolate to ourselves. We find comfort in sugar, salt, and fat instead of the living God. The result is ill-health and weight gain. Some people then try to manage this through dieting, bulimia, or anorexia.

Life without God is an empty life, and we cannot fill that emptiness with food. We miss the opportunity to turn to God. We want to live by bread alone. We find true refuge in the comfort of God and true satisfaction in the goodness of God. Neither eating to live (food as fuel) nor living to eat (food as salvation) is right. We’re to eat to the glory of God and live to the glory of God. We're to gratefully receive food in all its wonderful variety as a gift from God as eating continues to express our dependence on him and our submission to his good reign."


Wow.  That is so convicting to me every time I read it -- every single category.  I have used controlling what I eat or don't eat to exercise sovereignty and control over my life, instead of trusting in God's goodness.  I have sought glory for myself in what I look like and used food -- or lack thereof -- to manipulate my body into looking a certain way.  I have used food for an escape instead of finding refuge in the Lord.  What is the hope in all of this?




Our hope is always found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that God did not leave us alone to save ourselves nor sanctify ourselves.  

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ -- by grace you have been saved -- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved through faith.  And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." -Ephesians 2:4-10

God, in His rich mercy, love, and grace made a way for us to be forgiven of all of our sins and free from sin's power over our lives forever.  Our Father made a way for us to be made right with Him again through Jesus.  He sent His one and only son to live a perfect life on earth.  Jesus never sinned, always trusted God, always glorified God.  He never looked to the things of this world to satisfy Himself.  He didn't need the things of this world because He was perfectly united with the Father, who filled Him with everything He needed for life.  He lived the perfect life we never could and took on the punishment for our sins.  He took on the punishment I deserve for my idolatry.  He took upon Himself all of my pain, all of my guilt, all of my shame.  He took on every morning I've stood on the scale and sought my value in the number -- not in the Lord.  He took on every night I've attempted to numb my feelings of depression in a plate of cookies and a tub of ice cream.  He took on my fears and my anxiety, my anger and my bitterness.  He took them all upon Himself because He knew we would never be able to bear the weight of it all.  He loves us that much.  He died in our place, and three days afterward, He rose from death.  He endured the cross, disregarding its shame, shamed death and even the enemy himself.  For nothing can withstand the power of God.  Jesus made a way for us to have a perfect relationship with God.  He made a way for us to experience life in the way that God intended.  

When by His grace, we place our faith in Jesus, He forgives us of all of our sins -- past, present, and future.  He clothes us in His very righteousness.  He adopts us into His family and commits to us forever and ever.  He makes us His own.  He gives us life and life abundantly.  He gives us victory over sin.  He gives us the Holy Spirit who comes to live inside our hearts and fill us with His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  He imparts to us His power and life.  He keeps us.  He sanctifies us, and He will be with us forever.  Thus whatever we're facing, there is power in the name of Jesus.  He hears.  He sees.  He cares.  He is not disgusted with us.  He love us.  He enjoys us.  He is so good that He delights in us.  He does not only want to forgive us of our sins, but He wants to set us free from any and all sin in our lives.  He wants to make us like Christ.  

We can be completely honest before the Lord about where we are at and with what precisely we are struggling.  He already knows, and His grace abounds to us in all trials.  The most intimate moments in my relationship with God are always when I am completely honest with Him about what is going in my heart.  He always receives us with love.  He is so true to His character.  




"We know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.  For one who has died has been set free from sin.  Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we also will live with Him.  We know that death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God.  So you must also consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus." -Romans 6:6-11

Whether you're struggling with finding your value in what you look like or feeling like a slave to what you eat or don't eat, I want to encourage you to ask the Lord why it is you're finding yourself in that spot and how Christ can meet you there.  For me, I know that when I'm seeking my value and worth in my appearance, I'm not believing that the Lord is a good maker.  I'm not believing that God loves me so much that He would not only send His one and only Son for me, but He will also be with me and provide for me.  By His grace, His standards are not my standards.  Thank you, Jesus.  He has made me lovable despite what the number on the scale says.  He would love me whether I weighed 120 pounds or 200.  He loves me whether or not I only eat salads or BigMacs and french fries.  But likewise, He knows my heart.  He knows my motives.  Am I eating a certain way to add glory to myself?  Or am I eating in a healthy manner to honor the Lord with the body He's given me?  Am I delighting in food as the satisfaction of my soul?  Or am I enjoying a good gift God has given me and is it causing me to worship the Giver?




The truth over our lives, by the grace of God is this, God has given us power over our choices.  We have been blessed with both bodies and food.  They are good gifts, but they are not meant to consume us.  We were made for more than defeat.  We were made to be united with the Lord and experience perfect unity and satisfaction in Him.  We eat at least three times a day, am I right?  Thus if the Lord has graciously allowed food and body image to be a part of our sanctification, at least three times throughout the day, God has set aside time for us to surrender ourselves wholly to Him, to ask the Holy Spirit to empower us to believe His truth over our feelings, to rely on Him for victory in our lives, and to trust Him to be our source of comfort and security.

*

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?  You are not your own, for you were bought with a price.  So glorify God with in your body." -1 Corinthians 6:19-20

"But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.  For when I am weak, then I am strong."  -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.  You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.  I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." -John 14:15-18

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Struggling with Food



"Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels." -Liars

False. I've tried it, millions of women have,
 and nothing taste worse than striving for a body type that isn't natural.




Truth.

Did you know that 80% more women began having disordered eating or an eating disorder after media was introduced into their culture.  I confess that I was in this percentage.  My struggle with food has been a long, tiring, frustrating, defeating road that I have traveled since I was a Junior in high school.  I am now almost 25 years old and look back at how this struggle has scarred me and how oblivious I was to the scary reality that 
 food controlled my life.  

It all started with the influence of media in my life.  Before reading "Shape" (or other popular health magazines) and becoming plugged into social media (tv, Facebook, movies, etc.) I had no idea my body wasn't what my culture decided was "the standard of beauty".  This standard demanded that I should look like the models on the cover of these magazines, be as skinny as possible, eat less than I burned that day and eat nothing with fat or carbs in it…Really?  All this led to depression, loneliness, fear of being fat, losing hair, looking malnourished, losing friendships and spiritual bondage

I struggled with this for years, food was a means to control painful feelings, my body, and unhealthy relationships with guys.  

I needed control and desired perfection in my life, I used food to attempt to get there.
I was scared of eating too much because I feared feeling out of control or fat.
I feared not eating enough because I couldn't stay awake.
I feared eating enough because I wanted to be "better & more than average".

" You worship whatever you worry about…"

Do you find yourself worshiping food and/or body image?

My struggle was eating too little in the beginning; however, there is another side of this coin where food (rather than God) became a source of comfort and contentment for me.  Both overeating and under-eating can become an idol and neither will ever satisfy you.


Girls think guys want them to be skinny, but after discussing this topic with my husband, he assures me that quality "men want to see women at a healthy weight". Super skinny, taken too far, is not attractive. In their minds, healthy weight and eating habits often represent confidence and discipline, two very attractive qualities to men. If you find yourself wanting to change your body so that men will notice you, you may want to rethink your motives.  

I don't have many pictures documented in the brink of my struggle or I would show them; however, here this is the reality I was living for too many years:


"Look happy, confident &  popular on the OUTSIDE….hide the depression, anxiety, control addiction on the INSIDE." 
-Self


I had no idea I had manipulated my body with food to look as if I had 0% fat on my bones.  That's what media told me was "beautiful"…media's definition of "beauty" was killing me slowly.







If you Google “skinny definition” on Webster's what will pop up is the following:

Adjective: (of a person or part of their body) Unattractively thin.
1. resembling skin: membranous
2a. lacking sufficient flesh: very thin: emaciated
2b. lacking usual or desirable bulk, quantity, qualities or significance.


So how did our culture take this word and use it to represent a goal, or rather set “skinny” as a bar to be attained? Or more simply stated, why do millions of women and men want to be associated with the word “skinny”?




normal eating vs. disordered eating
  • normal- eat because you're hungry, accept body shape/size, eat in response to hunger/satiety
  • dieting- count calories, skip meals or types of foods (good and bad foods), follow diet plan.  Dieting is a gateway for eating disorder and is the most common behavior that will lead to an eating disorder.
  • subclinical eating disorder- occasionally taking diet pills, preoccupied with food/body, some loss of control around food (compulsive behavior) count calories strictly.
  • clinical eating disorder- anorexia nervosa, binge eating


  • *

    One of the most liberating things I realized in the midst of my eating disorder was that I was not alone in this struggle with food.  I later found out that 90% of females battle with disordered eating and 60-70% of people with eating disorders have anxiety disorders. 

    Experience freedom!

    God doesn't leave us stranded in figuring out how to find freedom in the battles we face.  He clearly states in His Word  to take up the 
    shield of FAITH 
    and the 
    sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  
    With these two pieces of armor, we are ready for the daily battle against disordered eating and unhealthy body image.


    the armor of God:
     10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.    
     (Ephesians 6:10-17)

    *

    Applying this Truth means that you apply the "R.E.E.D" acronym that I had talked about in the previous blog titled, "Desiring Worldly Fun".



    Apply this simple acronym to your everyday life, and watch yourself find freedom in Christ through His powerful Word.  



    R.E.E.D.

    R-ecognize
    -Your Emotions!  Ask God to show you what emotions you are feeling and why.

    E-xpress
    Your Emotions to God!  He already knows them.
    Example- "I am tired of drinking and messing up with my boyfriend.  I feel so defeated by this, but Lord, I want to follow You and not my sin."
    E-valuate
    Your emotions in Light of God's Word!
    "Are my emotions in charge?  What do they reflect about my beliefs about God?"

    D-ecide
    To replace your thinking and behavior with God's Truth.
    "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit 
    of the Lord is, there is freedom."-2 Corinthians 3:17 

    BEAUTY
    Lie:
    "We have to look a certain way to be beautiful and if we don’t look that way we won't be as valuable to others.  We constantly need to worry about our appearance because that is what really matters.  If I don't have a certain body type, I will be unattractive and undesirable."
    Truth:
    Psalm 139:14 says we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  We are God’s masterpieces.  We were fashioned by him and absolutely beautiful because our Creator can NOT make mistakes.
    According to 1 Samuel 16:7 God does not care much about our outward appearance, He is concerned with our heart.


    You are all together BEAUTIFUL, my darling; there is no flaw in you. Song of Solomon 4:7 

    *


    Below is a video a few friends and I did for "Project Illuminate"  to encourage women that they are not alone in their battle with unhealthy body image and insecurities.  "Project Illuminate" is a call to value, worth and freedom. Women today live in a battle of insecurity from body image, but you're not alone and the battle is already won - walk in the Light.

    video


    If you are looking for a tool to help you assess where you are on the spectrum with healthy vs. disordered eating, this website will help!:
    http://www.eat-26.com 


    (The Eating Attitudes Test (EAT-26) is probably the most widely used standardized 
    self-report measure of symptoms and concerns characteristic of eating disorders.)