It’s amazing how distorted my thinking can be sometimes… in the name of self-discipline, of course.
Body image and the number on the scale is an example of that distorted thinking.
This one was a tough one for me to admit here, honesty time, but I hope and pray it inspires and encourages others toward Jesus.
In the name of good stewardship of my ‘temple,’ being disciplined, and a competent and capable athlete, body image became an ultimate thing for me.
I’ve written about this so many times, and have come a long way thanks to Almighty God, but this time, everything in me has shifted.
Looking back, I see clearly.
I think my near obsession started when I broke my foot in high school. By the grace and coolness of God, I was on a path for collegiate track and field. I had found a knack for hurdles and I was super passionate about it.
But when I broke my foot, I began thinking about how I needed to change my habits if I wanted to recover well and stay strong. I started monitoring what I ate, prioritizing exercise however I could do it. My mom bought me a scuba sleeve thing for my cast so I could swim! I made many friends at the YMCA because I was the girl on crutches who hobbled around the upper body machines. Wowzers.
When I arrived at Georgia Southern and began training with the team, my injury persisted.
3 years of surgeries and rehabilitation. One season of actual competition, not even in my event! Hurdles were out of the question because of my now prone-to-injury-three-screws foot. Major bummer.
These were the years my obsession with my body started growing. College sports are competitive; we were on specific diets and working out every day of the week but Sunday. Expectations were put on me that I had never experienced before. But since I always felt like I was “coming from behind” because of my injury, I threw myself into body management, an idol that snuck in because it was what was expected of me as a collegiate runner.
Certain foods were moralized, being ‘bad’ and off-limits, because I couldn’t run off the extra, and I needed to stay in the best shape I could, even being on crutches after or walking in the boot because of the pain. I desperately wanted to compete and be a part of the team.
The number on the scale became the measure.
Measure of how I was doing, measure of how strong my will was, measure of how much I wanted to succeed, measure of how good I could be. And the interesting thing is, in that environment, it’s normal! Of course, coaches want their athletes to perform well, to succeed, and to stay strong; body composition is good information to know.
It wasn’t until I graduated from college and got married: I still believe the number on the scale is the dictator of those things.
It consumed my mind, wrestling with what health culture deemed “best” to eat versus enjoying what God provided for me, overexercising to control what I was putting in, hyperawareness of how I appeared to others, and the number of the scale.
It took a lot of heart breaking (in God’s gracious, loving way) to change my mindset. It took a great deal of crying out and surrendering my will to find true freedom. I taste it, and it is good. He is good.
God helped me uncover the lies I was believing.
The lie that to be loved one needs to have a certain type of body. The lie that to be accepted one needs to eat a particular diet. The lie that health looks the same for everyone. The lie that being good, whole, and healthy means weighing X, exercising like Y, and prioritizing Z.
When all that became clear to me, the pressure began to lift.
But, there was one more thing: the scale. An average household item.
For a long time, the scale’s number held the power to determine my attitude, my thoughts, my priorities.
I allowed a number to inform me if I was good enough — a number that changes frequently, a number that has no connection to how God loves me, or how I adore Him.
For those of you who have battled or currently battle with this, you know how difficult it can be to believe God’s Truth over something I feel or the world says.
But His Truth is our lifeline. What He says in the Bible, and to us personally, is our guidepost, our firm foundation to walk, run, and play on.
What I know now? I don’t need that number.
That number doesn’t help me love Jesus more. It doesn’t help produce fruit of God’s Spirit in my life. It doesn’t strengthen me to choose faith instead of fear.
What does the number do? It takes me down to a playing field that I don’t even want to be on. It causes me to live looking at myself instead of looking at God. And, it invites all kinds of temptation to compare myself to other children of God in a way that God is not pleased with or glorified by.
And that’s our life goal, isn’t it? I know I want it to be my single-minded devotion: to love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. To know Him personally and to make His greatness, love, and mercy known. And to love everyone around me as if they were family, because in Christ, they are.
If I’m stuck on a number that really doesn’t add value to my life or my eternity, it needs to go.
If the number on the scale is stopping you from freedom, joy, confidence, and hope in life? Take it to Jesus. Ask Him to change your heart, and then be ready when He does, haha, because He will.
The scale is going in the attic. Because it’s not helpful to me, and it’s a hindrance to my heart being completely filled with God. Sure, I’ll always be an active person who genuinely loves salad. I’ll adventure with my husband and friends, and take care of myself, but not because a number on a scale tells me I should be more or less.
But because it’s a joy to maintain, embrace, and give from how God tailor-made me.
I’d love to talk with you, email me firstname.lastname@example.org. :)