Aaaand I’m back with part two! If you haven’t read part one, you can read that here🙂 Part one is important since I’m very to-the-point in my writing below, and I don’t want it to seem harsh to anyone reading. I shared my struggle with body image and eating in part one, so please check it out if you haven’t already!
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!
Let’s jump right into the more practical stuff…
Stop Weighing Yourself, Start Building Muscle
I can’t emphasize this point enough. So many girls who are self-conscious about their bodies can tell me exactly how many pounds they weigh. They might be perfectly healthy, even skinny, but if the number on the scale is not satisfactory to them, they want to lose weight. Weight can vary based on your height, the time of the month, the time of the day, your personal habits, body fat percentage, and so many other things. If you can, I encourage you to take the scale out of your bathroom, maybe even get rid of it altogether. When I finally broke away from my “daily weigh-in,” my stress levels decreased rapidly. When I stopped focusing on simply “losing weight,” I freed myself to build muscle. And, since muscle weighs much more than fat, my weight increased as I got stronger and more toned. And you know what? Even though the number on the scale can still bother me, the less and less I weigh myself, the more I care about really being healthy.
Psst! Here’s a secret: You might burn calories immediately by doing cardio, but after strength training, your body continues burning a ton of calories to recover. Even if your smartwatch says you only burned 200 calories during that squat set, your body will keep working for you throughout that day and will burn more.
Focus on Eating Healthier Before Eating Less
I tried skipping meals, but I always ended up binging on unhealthy foods later in the day. As a runner, I needed a higher intake of food. I wanted to be healthier, but I didn’t know what to change. If I didn’t eat enough, my performance suffered, I was a complete grouch, and that cookie looked even more appetizing. I’ve found greater success in focusing on quality before quantity. Still get nourishing, filling food you need, but focus on eating healthier, more nourishing food. Look for fresh before fried and take simple steps to make your meals healthier. For me, an easy way to begin was having a salad for lunch a few times a week. Let me know if you’d like to see a post on some healthy food ideas😊
Find Exercise That Makes You Feel Strong
If you find exercise you love, you will be more consistent. Plus, your body needs more than cardio, so find a variety of exercises as well. It’s as simple as that!
Psst! Here’s a secret: Lots of running injuries happen because of muscle weakness. Just scratching the surface, many runners develop shin splints partly because their calves are weak or hip problems because of weak glutes and hamstrings. Strength training will save you a lot of pain in the long run! Besides that, the more muscle you have, the faster your metabolism (which means you’ll burn calories faster!).
Stop Counting Calories, Start Counting Colors
I know. Once you start counting calories, it’s hard to go back. Counting calories is not altogether a bad thing, but it can be another part of the obsession to be skinny. One of the keys to eating well is to eat a variety of food, so look for different colors and textures in your meals. Instead of counting calories, I want you to count colors. And no, Cheetos do not count as your added color. 😊
Psst! Here’s a secret: If you put foods “off-limits,” you may end up wanting it more. So eat that snack you’re craving, just eat moderately. And if you’re struggling to not reach for more of that junk food, portion out a serving and walk away from the pan/bag of food (or put it away).
Take It One Step at a Time
Maybe you’ll eat that entire plate of cookies. Maybe you’ll skip your workout. Maybe you’ll step on the scale and spend 10 minutes in front of the mirror scrutinizing your body, even though you promised yourself you wouldn’t. Friend, be patient with yourself and keep praying for self-control and freedom. You won’t be perfect, and that’s okay. Just make sure your failures don’t mean you give up on your goals.
Evaluate Your Hunger
If you’re not sure if you’re actually hungry, drink some water, chew some gum, and give yourself a few minutes. Avoid snacking guilt by preventing mindless snacking in the first place.
This is another reason to avoid the scale, but these things are helpful to know.
- You weigh more in the morning (sometimes by as much as 3 or 4 pounds for me!)
- You weigh more before your period.
- You weigh differently based on your water intake. If you are dehydrated, your body may retain more water. If you are hydrated, you will (obviously) have more water in you.
Psst! Here’s a secret: My weight fluctuated by about 10lb over the last year, due to muscle loss/gain after an injury and fat loss/gain as well. I am actually more strong, healthy, and fast at my heavier weight, but it’s easy to let that number get to my head. It’s OK if your weight changes during the year!
Find People Who Encourage You
Don’t keep your struggle in the dark. When you have wholesome people around you, you can more easily change your focus from becoming skinny to becoming healthy. Find people who can help you keep a watch over your mental health and eating habits. Find people who will stick by you, who will encourage you to eat well but also enjoy a delicious donut with you for breakfast too. At the same time, avoid the social media accounts that fuel your discontent, unhealthy habits, and envy. Monitor the time you spend around friends who are obsessed with calorie counts, weight numbers, and talking about what they eat.
A silly picture, but my brother and mom really help me to keep my focus right 😊
Get Your Focus Off of Food, and Focus on Living and Serving Instead
LIFE IS NOT ABOUT FOOD. That 5 pounds you lost or 5 pounds you gained should not define your happiness. It’s just not worth obsessing over. Find ways to be healthy, and then step away from the mirror, ignore the calorie count on your watch, and enjoy life. Eat a delicious salad and go on a walk in the sun with your family. Eat a cookie and lean back on the couch with your best girlfriends to watch your favorite show. Live life.
Instead of scrutinizing yourself in the mirror, write notes on Post-Its to your siblings to stick on it. Instead of making yourself a low-calorie meal out of guilt, make a healthy, delicious lunch to share and enjoy it over a refreshing conversation with your family. Instead of worrying about running fast to burn the right number of calories, invite your little sister to join you, even if it’s at a slower pace.
When we obsess over food and self-image in the mirror, we lose sight of what is REALLY important.
I’m praying for you!
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!
If you liked this post and would like to see more like it, sign up for my email list . Also, be sure to like, comment, and share!! If you haven’t checked out my podcast, check it out here or on Spotify! Love you guys! ❤
Related: Working Out for Beginners: Starting and Staying Consistent
Last Week’s Post: Dear Rachel… (an open letter to myself)
9 thoughts on “Eating, Fitness, and Body Image: How I Finally Found Freedom, pt. 2”
What an AMAZING post, Rachel! You said everything I’ve ever wanted expressed, in such a perfect way. This two-part set of posts has been just wonderful, and I love how you shared your personal experiences and showed that what the world sometimes calls “ugly” or “heavy” can actually be normal! (Plus I loved that you advocated finding an exercise that actually makes you feel good! 😆 I just discovered weighted jump ropes in the last several months and I’ve been loving it!!)
All in all, just amazing, my friend! This is definitely your gifting; to share encouragement and truth to build up girls around you. God bless you for your work! 🤗
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Oh friend, this comment means so much. Thank you!!
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Oh, I’m glad! Absolutely!
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I’m glad “I saw” this post before it came out. Haha! Good thoughts. I appreciate the part of having “wholesome” folks you trust around you. It all comes down to friendship. Who is a friend? Two souls united as one; a walking sunshine. What is friendship? A safe space to be you; speaking up when things are going bad & feel like giving up. Over the years, being an introvert and often times preferring books to people, I realized I needed friends in life. No man is an island. Even today, I’m still learning that even having that “one” buddy, oh boy, it can “save” your life. I do not have many friends, I have worthwhile friends.
I pray for anyone who is going through this and other unknown difficulty, that God would draw nigh to them, know they are loved in Christ and accepted in Him as Christ’s identity in us who believe in Him, will become a total reality.
Wonderful writing, Rachel. Thank you!
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So true. Thanks for the comment and encouragement!!
Thank you for writing about this, Rachel! I will probably need to re-read it a few times, because this is something I struggle with. I would really appreciate it if you could pray for me about this, if you have the time.
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aw, so glad it was encouraging to you. Really, you are not the only one struggling with this!! And of course I will pray for you!! In fact, I prayed for u just now:) 😘😘
Thank you so much! ❤❤❤ I can’t tell you how much that means to me!
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