Growing up, I was always thin and fit. So, what happened?
Well, there was that one time in high school when I thought I was fat. I was so “fat” in fact, that I covered my body with bulky overalls. I wore them almost every day to cover my perceived disfigurement. The only thing they did for my frame, was make it look larger than I actually was.
Before the age of sixteen, I was told almost daily by someone or another that I was “skinny.” Bullies in 7th grade often told me I looked like a boy. I was teased relentlessly. Truth is, I did have a boyish figure long after all of my friends had gained curves. I felt ugly and I believed every negative thing said about me. It didn’t matter who said it. I found it easier to believe the lies, rather than the truth that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
For me, body image equated into personal value. I had to be thin but not “skinny.” And God forbid I should ever become (GASP!) “fat.” I’ve since learned that there are worse things I could be.
Throughout my twenties I was in daily diet mode. Even at my height of 5’ 9”, 132 pounds was too fat. Then I joined a gym when I turned thirty. In my early 30’s my weight fluctuated between 150-160. My Body Mass Index was 22%. Nothing on my body jiggled. My muscles were toned and I was in the best shape of my life, but Lyme Disease was lurking within my body and the fatigue I felt daily was overwhelming. Even so, I pushed through in order to try and stay healthy. Doctors told me my symptoms were all in my head. My weight yo-yo’ed without explanation. My thyroid was non-functional but I didn’t know it yet.
Then came my 40’s and with that decade came a correct diagnosis for the overwhelming pain and fatigue I experienced from sun up to sunset. I had Stage III Lyme Disease and it was negatively affecting everything regarding my health.
Every. Single. Thing.
Every muscle, tendon, ligament, organ, and ability was severely challenged. My brain was swollen. I could barely move without help, and soon I couldn’t do any of the things I had once been able to freely accomplish.
I felt my body had betrayed me as it packed on the pounds. No longer was I capable of weight lifting or strenuous aerobics. Starting well before the diagnosis, within just a few years I went from a size 8/10 to an 18/20. I hated myself for it and shame began to engulf me.
See, I based my worth and value in numbers. Numbers that have nothing to do with who or Whose I am. Numbers on a scale and clothing label didn’t have power to define me, but I didn’t know that.
I didn’t love myself at a size 8, or 18. I believed the lies.
Then, something beautiful happened.
A man loved me so much that he married me knowing I was very sick. When I gained weight, he loved me through it, in spite of it. His love convinced me of my value. He still found me sexy and gorgeous in spite of the excess flab on my once fit body.
Here I am, fixin’ to turn 60 years old in August. I’m working out again and eating like I love this temple God has given to house my soul within. I’ve changed the way I speak about myself. Now, I talk about me as I would a trusted friend. I’ve stopped the destructive patterns of giving up. Even though I didn’t see progress for a long time, with the encouragement of dear friends, I’ve kept going.
It’s paying off!
Body image is a delicate thing. Society tells women false things about beauty. Unless you’re a certain size you’re often deemed as unintelligent, lazy, ugly, and/or careless. The truth is so far from that! Even top models are plastered with makeup and photo shopped into a phony sense of perfection before they are “good enough” to grace the glossy pages of your favorite fashion magazine.
I just want to be healthy again, in every way. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. So, I’m going for it but this time it’s not to gain acceptance, love, value, or self-worth. I already possess those things.
By simply believing and accepting what God says about me.
The Bible has a lot to say about who you are, and it’s paramount that you believe these truths. If you don’t, the world will tell you lies upon lies about who you are, how much you’re worth, and who you “should” be.
Here’s just one of the magnificent truths you can take for your own and hold onto:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
This is going to be a lifelong journey. It won’t end when I reach my goal weight. I’m making lifestyle changes, reapplying what I once knew, as well as learning new ways of gaining my personal fitness and health back. It’s freeing and I’m enjoying this way of being.
With God’s help, I am conquering this area of weakness in my life. When I am weak, He is showing up and He is strong!
Below is an image of how “fat” I was in high school. May God help us to see ourselves as He sees us and that we can believe and receive how much He loves us.