Disclaimer: Of course, y’all know I’m not a trained dietitian or fitness instructor. I’m a teen like you. Take my advice like you would take a friend’s advice. If you are struggling with an eating disorder, please get help!
I looked in the mirror and despised everything I saw. I had gained weight, and to me, that was unacceptable. And yet, I would bury my guilt in another brownie an hour later. Then back to the mirror I would go, guiltily taking a measuring tape to my waist and stepping on the scale again. I look back at photos of myself and I look perfectly healthy and normal, not overweight at all, but my weight was constantly on my mind. Not weighing myself for more than a day felt unbearable, but after every weigh-in, I always felt awful about myself. If I reached an “acceptable” weight, I wanted to weigh less. If I gained even an ounce, I wondered what I did wrong and what I could do to lose it. Checking photos to see if I looked overweight, comparing myself to every girl who walked by, obsessing over how many calories were in each serving of food I ate…
But no, I’ve never been diagnosed with an eating disorder. I never made myself throw up my food. I never skipped an entire day of meals. But even though I didn’t have an eating disorder, I certainly had a problem. My relationship with food was unhealthy.
I got a question for the podcast a bit ago, and it got me thinking.
“How can I have a healthy relationship with weight loss/ dieting whilst balancing that with verses about being “fearfully wonderfully made,” “temple of the Holy Spirit,” etc…?”
This issue plagued me for years. As I start writing this, I want to really offer something substantial because as I’ve talked to a number of girls and women, I’ve seen how common this struggle is. My story is not at all unusual. In fact, when I asked about this topic in a poll on Instagram, over 90% of the respondents voted for me to cover this topic. I had too many thoughts for just one conversation on the podcast, though, so I thought I’d open the topic by writing out my thoughts. You can expect part two of this post tomorrow, and I hope to also write a post soon for you girls who have friends with eating disorders.
Of course, I don’t have it perfect today, but I’ve discovered that Jesus can help me with my eating habits and body insecurities as well.
I share this part of my life not to gain pity, but to show you girls that you are. not. alone. Just because you don’t have an “eating disorder” officially, doesn’t mean you don’t struggle. This obsession with weight, fitness, and appearance can distract you from what’s important and rob you of joy. It can make fun experiences painful. I look back at old photos and sometimes all I can remember about the experiences is my old weight or how insecure I felt at the time.
Some of you, on the other hand, may actually have an eating disorder. And even though I’m not a professional, I’ve seen friends and co-workers waste away from E.Ds, pushing everyone aside while they shroud themselves in a lonely, never-ending struggle. It breaks my heart, and from the many conversations I’ve had with these precious girls, I know how deep those lies can go.
So before I get into practical tips, I want to pause. If you were here in the same room as me, I’d look into your beautiful eyes and tell you three words that I believe with all my heart.
YOU. ARE. VALUABLE.
Even when you let yourself down, Jesus says you’re valuable. And no, me telling you that won’t make you really believe it. But it’s true, and God can help you believe it. Begin by looking to Jesus, who went through pain that filled Him with such dread that He sweat blood beforehand. And He did it to save us; broken, sinful people we are.
Even when you hate every part of your body, God says you are made in His image and are valuable to Him.
I have practical tips to share, but first, I want you to attack any negative attitudes toward food and exercise at the root. Ask yourself one, simple question.
Why does being “fat” (or “skinny,” for some of you out there) scare you so much?
Do you feel that you will be judged by other people? Do you feel that you will no longer be loved?
Maybe you lost weight and received more attention. Maybe you think that’s why you finally got asked out. Maybe people gave you trouble for cleaning your plate the other night. Maybe you used to look different, and now everyone says you had a “glow-up” and you don’t want to lose their favor.
I’ve thought all of those things before. So if you relate to any of those thoughts, you’re not the only one.
Dear, dear sister. Those pounds you gained or lost do not define your value.
Eating right and getting exercise is good and necessary, but we need to change our reasons for being healthy. Obsession with food, the starve-and-binge cycle, the feeling to have to “earn” every meal by the number of calories burned per day… these are not healthy, and they are fueled by lies rooted deep in our hearts.
We believe we must earn the love of God and others. We feel that we must be perfect. We believe that God is not enough to satisfy our deepest longings.
Suggested: Satisfaction for Your Deepest Desires
So what do we do about it? Here’s how to start.
Pray. Right here, right now. Ask God to give you self-control, to help you eat and exercise in moderation. Ask God to help you not put your value in your appearance, but do everything for His glory. Ask Him to free you, to change your heart.
I’m 100% serious. It’s OK, I can wait. 😊 Because friends, I never had any lasting change in my mindset until I started praying about it. God can help you change your focus, knock down your idol of self, and cling to Christ.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post at about noon. I have A LOT of practical advice to share with you that has been key for me in actually changing my mindset.
P.S. If you feel relate to this post and feel stuck in this never-ending cycle, shoot me an email or DM. I’ll try to respond as soon as I can. I want to actually be there for you girls, and as you saw in this post, I relate to this struggle 100%. I’m here if you need a judgement-free zone to share your struggles and questions:). And talk to the people around you that you trust – there are probably amazing, loving people who will support you if you ask for help!
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