Have you ever thought that if you could only be “skinny” then ____ (insert problem) would be better? Maybe you’ve imagined that losing weight or toning up would be the “fairy dust” that would propel you to excel in life and love. In our modern world being thin is truly the gold standard. And, apart from moving to a remote island, that message is pretty inescapable. It’s no wonder that half of the women in the US are trying to lose weight at any given time. We want to be better, we want to be thinner, but do we know WHY?
THE SKINNY FIX
When life goes awry, how do you fix it? When things don’t go quite as planned, who and what do you blame. Me, I often felt that I was being held back because of my dress size or because my skin was anything but clear. I obsessively tried to fix any and everything that was “wrong” with me to no avail.
You see, when we are on the lookout for flaws, flaws are all we will find. When we are hunting down the cause of our troubles, our flaws are an easy target.
“Skinny” and “fat” can easily become metaphors for “happy” and “sad”. It is easy to get signals crossed when we are steeped in a society that equates physical beauty and thinness with self-confidence, happiness, romance, and health. But that is certainly not the case.
At my thinnest, I was my unhealthiest. At a size zero, I had no reproductive function and my doctors were puzzled by my gastrointestinal issues. When I gained 15 pounds in an effort to become pregnant, those health issues went away. No coincidence.
Preferred problems. Sounds odd, right? But, when we think about it, there are some problems we prefer over others. Namely, problems that we think we know how to solve are generally better than those we have no idea how to address. Some challenges are easier than others and some struggles are familiar, almost comfortable.
Let’s take diet and exercise as an example. I work as a nutrition coach. While the vast majority of my clients come to me for food related help, they often have other struggles in their lives such as depression, anxiety, dissatisfaction with their career, or relationship troubles. They are very aware that a change is needed in other areas of their lives but they just don’t know where to start.
So, they focus on food. For someone who’s been on numerous diets (successful or not), diets are familiar. And, truthfully, diets are relatively comfortable compared to more intense interpersonal, emotional challenges. They know the ups and downs, the celebrations and heartaches of trying to “fix” their bodies and food. So, they hone in there.
The first step in untwisting our desire to be skinny “NOW!” is to separate our desire for thinness from our desire for happiness, groundedness, and more control. But wait a minute, these are the very things we want to create but feel inept to do so…
The answer lies in seeking God for those things that only He can provide. While self-help books and therapy sessions can assist, no earthly tool can replace the magnificent work that God can do when He is asked. When we ask for help (Matthew 7:7-12) with honesty and humility, when we stay connected to The Vine (John 15:1-17), when we seek Him first (Matthew 6:33), He will answer. It’s not always in the way we expect but always in the way that we need.
LET PEACE DO ITS WORK
When we get to the heart of the matter of our weight loss ambitions and allow God to do a work, peace, joy, and balance will flow. The irony is that this place is the optimal mental and spiritual state for reaching our ideal body weight. When we are content with our worth and value in Christ, the desperate grasping for skinny stops.
How we eat becomes more about how we can fuel our purpose and honor our temple and less about reaching some celestial number on the scale. As food restrictions and labels fade, eating within our body’s hunger and fullness signals gets easier. Exercise can now be about enjoyment and movement and we may actually start to look forward to it.
This shift in thinking has created the environment for natural weight loss. It feels backward but this is actually the “forward” way and may be why you have failed to make long-term changes in the past. Don’t be disappointed, be relieved that this time can be different!
If you find yourself putting so much emphasis on body weight that it detracts from your quality of life, then there is a good chance that you are looking for weight loss to do more for you than weight loss can offer. By uncovering what being “skinny” really means to you, you are better able to address the challenges beneath the surface.
As we give those deeper desires to God, He can heal those broken places. The wholeness that comes from relying on Him will help us reach our healthiest, happiest body weight with no strings attached.