“On a scale from 1-10, how committed are you to these goals?”
I pondered for a few seconds. If I say anything less than 10, what am I doing here?
I was sitting in the office of the personal trainer at the gym I’d just joined the week before. That sentence is nothing short of miraculous. For most of my life, I’ve hated three things: working out, gyms, and running. And here I sat, signing up for personal training, at a gym, to get in shape to run my second 5k.
It all started almost two years ago, when I decided I was tired of not fitting in my clothes and not liking the way I looked. I got back to my goal weight, and have maintained ever since. My success motivated Brian, who as of today, has lost 47 lbs.
That in turn motivated me to start running. And running our first 5K in November made me want to do it again. But since it’s cold outside in the evenings after work, I allowed Brian to convince me to join his gym. After the free fitness test with the personal trainer, I realized that I have a lot of work to do.
My goals now are to run a faster 5K, to strengthen my very weak core, and gain some much needed muscle, which will help my running. And stress relief, since I’ve discovered that the best way to turn off this crazy brain after work is working out for an hour.
But in order to reach my goals, I know now that I have to be willing to invest in them. I’ve failed often enough to know that I have to invest my time, energy, and money. That means working out when I don’t feel like it, paying for good shoes, workout clothes, and now, personal training. Investing in my fitness goals is really an investment in myself – my mental and physical health. And it proves whether or not I’m really committed.
I answered: “Ten.”
Three weeks in, and I’m already seeing results. I’m sore in places I didn’t even knew I had muscles, but my body fat percentage has dropped, and I’m on track to improve my race time. Best of all, I actually look forward to going to the gym.
Did you set health or fitness goals for this year? How would you answer the question my trainer posed?
Cool people can wear heels all day. They wear skinny jeans and blazers or fedoras, they do yoga and eat cupcakes without gaining weight. They get together with friends for brunch. They’re eco-friendly and drive hybrids. People with that “new vintage” look are cool. They look good with heavy bangs, red lipstick, retro outfits. They collect art and vintage dishes. They get manicures and go shopping every week. They’re witty, smart, and popular. Cool people drink soy lattes and eat sushi.
I used to think, “If I was just thinner, I could be cool.” But I’m beginning to realize that some clothes are made for boyish, flat chested figures, and no matter how thin I am, I’m always going to be curvalicious. I used to think, “I could just learn how to apply makeup better, or style my hair better, I’d be cool.” But the truth is, I have no desire to spend hours getting ready in the morning. And regardless of my beauty routine, I’ll probably still have pimples. I used to think, “If only I had more money, I could buy stylish clothes and be cool.” But I’m learning that it’s not what you wear, but how you wear it, and who’s wearing it. Meaning, coolness comes from confidence.
And confidence, that comes from knowing who you are, and being ok with it.
You can’t be confident if you’re trying to be someone else.
I can’t be those cool people. I love desserts too much, for one thing. I’m too clumsy to walk in heels, and I’m inept at fixing my own hair. And even though heavy bangs and red lipstick is popular right now, that look just makes me look like more of a geek than I already do. And it brings back memories of elementary through middle school, when I sported geek poster child bangs.
I may never learn how to make a messy bun. I won’t ever enjoy sushi. I may never dance without looking like a robot having a seizure. I may never get over some awkwardness in social situations. In the words of Emily Freeman, I’ll always be “allergic to small talk.”
But I will be sincere. I will be honest, sometimes to a fault. I will truly care about you.
I will be a geek. My heart will beat faster when I see a new font. I will cry when reading the Harry Potter books. I will also cry when watching America’s Got Talent and Extreme Home Makeovers. I will get goosebumps listening to beautiful singing. My feet will trip over themselves. My glasses will slide down my nose. I will listen to jazz and French music. I will read a good book anywhere and at anytime. I will write, and I will create. I will be emotional and laugh too loud and have a small circle of really, really good friends.
I will be a work in progress, for the rest of my life. I will always be in desperate need of grace.
Today is Geek Pride Day, so for all of you fellow uncool people, are you not at all, somewhat, or very ok with who you are? What about who you’re not?
Sunday night I felt a little down about Brian starting work. Crazy, I know, but what can I say? I’m going to miss having him around! I got ready for bed early, and then a thought occurred to me.
It’s been months since I painted my nails.
Painting my nails is the only thing that keeps me from biting them, and they were all quite short. I broke out my favorite polish, e.l.f. Essential Nail Polish in Fire Coral.
I noticed yesterday that the color matched my strawberries.
The bright red makes me feel confident, pretty, and summery. This shade works well with my skin tone, and once I get a tan, I’m going to take a leap and try this hot pink that came in the three piece set!
Although, I’ve gathered that mint is the IN color this season. I’m tempted to spend $2 on a new color to try.
This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you buy something after you click on it, a portion of the proceeds will go towards a good cause! See my complete disclosure in the footer of my site.
One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to fix and eat healthier meals. I didn’t actually get around to changing my eating habits until March, when I cleaned out my closet and got rid of lots of processed and junk foods. Since then, we’ve maintained our habits of buying lots of fresh produce, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits for snacks, and whole grain bread. That’s an accomplishment I’m proud of. We still need to work on eating out less, but hey, we’ve got another six months!
Another of my New Year’s Resolutions was to exercise three times a week. This is where it got tricky. I don’t enjoy exercising. At all. I don’t like sweating for one thing, but my biggest issue is that I usually get bored after three weeks. Hence, I didn’t stick with the 10 minute Pilates solution DVD I mentioned before, and my success with running was also short lived.
Now my goal is to get back to my natural weight. My dietitian sister-in-law talked about that in her guest post about normal eating back in February. I highly recommend reading that post if you’re re-evaluating your healthy eating goals. My natural weight is what I weigh when I am moderately active and eating healthy: it’s where I feel best about myself, when I’m not overindulging or over exercising. It’s a BMI of 22, 132 lbs. I’ve climbed to 145 lbs., so it will take a little doing to get back there.
I’ve tried four different approaches to exercise so far this year. As a result, I’ve learned a few things. First, here are three great tools to keep your exercise routine fresh and exciting, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Tool #1: Lose It! App
I discovered this app about a week ago, and I’ve used it every day since. If you have a smartphone, or use Google Chrome as your computer browser, you can download the app, and it’s free!
In Lose It! you can set fitness goals and record your weight every day. You can also search for and enter what you eat every day to record your nutrition info. Since losing weight is about taking in fewer calories than you expend, it’s got a handy little slider that shows you how many more calories you should have each day, and if you go over. It also subtracts the calories you burn through exercise.
You can also set it up so that it emails you a weekly report. It will generate reports for your food, weight, and exercise trends, chart your progress towards your goals, and allow you to add custom foods and exercises for a really accurate result. Plus, you can add friends who also use the app for some accountability!
Tool #2: Netflix
These days, it seems like almost everyone has Netflix. It’s so convenient and reasonably priced! For $7.99 a month, you get unlimited access to their selection of online DVDs. Did you know that Netflix has a lot of exercise DVDs on Watch Instantly? No need to rent the DVD and wait for it to come in the mail, or pay for the DVD and find out you don’t like it. The variety makes it easy to mix it up and try something new, at minimal cost.
Tool #3: Craig’s List
You can pretty much find anything on Craig’s List. We bought a Wii for $80, gently used, and a Wii Fit Plus with balance board, brand new in the box, for $75. You might have to check back regularily and wait for what you want, but it’s worth it! Look up your city and see what people are selling if you’re looking for an exercise machine or specific workout stuff, like DVDs or weights.
Beyond discovering these tools, I’ve also learned a few tips:
Tip #1: Get Accountability
Seriously! It makes such a difference when you have someone to ask you how it’s going. Right now, Brian and I are both using the Wii Fit Plus. It charts our progress, so we can both see how each other are doing. Similarly we’ve added each other as friends on Lose It, so we can see how well we’re doing on eating healthy.
Tip #2: Start Where You Are
I’ve been lured into exercise routines that promise a fit and toned body in 4 weeks, but I’ve found that I have a much better chance of sticking with something long term if I don’t try to tackle too much, too soon. That Pilates DVD was way above my flexibility level, and it was frustrating not being able to keep up. I should have started with an easier Pilates DVD and worked up to that one.
Tip #3: Embrace Change
When your motivation is flagging, it’s probably a sign that it’s time to try something else. When walking three times a week got boring, I should have switched right away to running, and when that got boring, switched to something else instead of just quitting exercise when I tired of doing the same thing. If you get sick of DVDs, try switching between two or three workouts during the week, like doing Pilates Mondays, yoga on Wednesdays, and a dance workout on Fridays. Mix it up with a class at the YMCA.
Have you found any of the above to be true for you? What do you do when your motivation fizzles out? Share your tips and tools with us in the comments!
It called to you from across the store. That beautiful, pleated, full length skirt. It seemed like a no-brainer. But then, you tried it on. Something was just….wrong. You looked short, frumpy, and squat. What happened? Or you slip into a pair of jeans, and look instantly 10 pounds lighter. You feel like a million bucks. Is it magic?
We talked on Monday about your style personality. Today, lets delve into another crucial aspect of dressing yourself well: your shape.
Exercise won’t change this shape. It’s more of your body’s basic structure. There are four basic types, and they go by various names. I’m going to use the most common: Apple, Pear, Ruler, and Hourglass. Once you know your shape, you can find clothes that fit you better and spare your husband from having to answer that dreaded question again!
Also known as banana or rectangle, ruler shaped people resemble their name. Their hips, shoulders, and waist are about the same width, and they might have a small bust.
Also known as “V”, Apple shaped people are wider in the shoulders and narrower in the waist and hips, with long legs.
Pear shaped people have curvy hips, thighs, and backside and a small waist, medium to small chest, and sloping or narrow shoulders. This is a very common shape among women.
Also known as an “8” shape, people with an hourglass shape have chest and hip measurements that are similar, with a smaller waist and a larger bust.
To determine your shape, you can look in a mirror and try to guess. If you can’t tell, have someone help you take your measurements. You can measure yourself, but you’ll get more accurate results if you get help. Measure across the fullest part of your chest, running the tape measure underneath your arms, with your arms relaxed at your sides for your chest measurement. Measure around the narrowest part of your torso: this is your natural waist. Measure the fullest part of your hips for your hip measurement.
There’s a few variations on these types. You could be:
Short Waisted- the distance between your shoulders and natural waist is shorter than average (right around where your elbow hits is average) and you have longer legs.
Long Waisted- the distance between your shoulders and natural waist is longer than average, and you have shorter legs.
Flaws or Features? I mentioned last Friday that history has perceived different body shapes as “ideal” at different times. Sometimes people automatically associate a particular shape with being overweight, or skinny. This is not the case! Some shapes will allow you to hide extra weight better than others, but that’s not necessarily a good thing, considering that the health risks are still there.
I’m an hourglass, but I certainly haven’t always embraced that. I got my figure pretty early, while all my peers were still relatively flat chested, and it frustrated me that I didn’t look as good in the little tees and tops and other junior sized clothing. I felt fat, and I wanted to be a ruler. But no amount of push-ups or sleeping with my bra on was making my chest any smaller! It was hard to find bras that had big enough cups and small enough bands to fit my rib cage; most department stores didn’t carry my size, and I had to settle for ill fitting bras or pay for the more expensive Victoria Secret ones. It probably wasn’t until after meeting Brian that I began to really accept and appreciate my shape and see that having a big bust and butt could be a good thing.
Like we talked about Friday, a lot of fashion advice is geared towards fixing your “flaws.” I don’t think that having a small bust, or a big bust, or short legs, or thick ankles, really are “flaws,” it’s part of how God made us. We can try to disguise our features to create the illusion of being whatever the ideal shape is at the time, or we can embrace our uniqueness and find out what fits us best, what makes us feel the best, and what we enjoy wearing the most.
What to Wear Feel free to try these suggestions and see what works for you; you definitely don’t have to follow them all the time. Some of my favorite clothes technically aren’t supposed to look good on me. Several of you shared in the comments that the best fashion advice you’ve received was to wear what you love and what fits. Pawsitive Life said that she dislikes fashion that tries to hide flaws, instead of “celebrating the person in the clothes.” I completely agree, so hopefully these help you to celebrate your shape!
Try V necklines. Avoid ruffles on your shoulders and puffed sleeves, which make your shoulders look larger.
Wrap dresses and tops are a great look on you, as well as tops and dresses that tie at the waist.
Wear skirts and dresses to show your long legs to their advantage. A-lines that flare at the bottom will balance your shoulders.
High waisted tops and dresses fit you well.
Go for jackets and sweaters that hit below your waist.
It’s important to note that sometimes suggestions might be contradictory. Some dresses suggested for hourglass figures might have spaghetti straps, and some A-line skirts might have pleats. So please don’t take these too literally! Find what works for YOU!
For more info:
How to Dress To Flatter Any Figure. This article mentions 12 different types, but many of them sound like slight variations on the basic types I’ve mentioned. This article gives examples for each and some suggestions for flattering clothing.
Figure Flatterer on iVillage. This interactive tool is packed with suggestions for what to wear and what to avoid when it comes to jeans, pants, skirts, dresses, jackets, tops, and even accessories. However, it is from the perspective that some features are “bad,” and if you have a certain shape, you can never ever wear certain things, which I don’t buy. With that said, it does have a lot of helpful information.
Stylebakery. This site has some really helpful articles and images, and they’re very down to earth and affordable.
Wendi Braswell. I stumbled across her videos on ehow, and I’ll probably share some more from her. You can find great videos from her on youtube too. Here’s a video about finding jeans to flatter your figure with some really great tips.
After peeling off another too-small shirt I’d squeezed myself partly into, a familiar wave of thoughts crossed my mind: You’re fat. And ugly. Nerdy with a side of Geek.
When I was shopping with my mom and sister last weekend, it seemed that store after store had run out of normal people sizes. I could find fours, twos, and zeros aplenty. And a size I hadn’t seen before: double zeros. Extra-extra small. Who could ever wear that size?! Well, my sister could. That’s who.
I felt too embarrassed to leave the dressing room. I compared myself and found myself lacking. If only I had smaller upper arms. If only I had smaller boobs. Then….
Then what? I’d be beautiful? Loved? Accepted?
I know better than that. But sometimes I forget.
As I sat on the bed that evening, looking through the pictures from the week, another wave of self-depreciating thoughts washed over me. I decided to be brutally honest.
“Babe,” I snuggled up to Brian. “I’ve felt really, really, ugly and unattractive all day. I just need to know that you still love me and you think I’m beautiful.”
Brian is good at making me feel loved. His reassurances helped. Then the next day, I read a post from Without Adornment, “Self, You are Beautiful,” and I realized, “I’m not alone.” Her post led me to Jill’s I Am Beautiful Project.I love how God brings you just what you need at just the right time!
“Contrary to what the world claims, Beauty does not diminish with time; Beauty deepens and increases…true beauty comes from a depth of soul that can only be attained through living many years well.” –Stasi Eldrege fromCaptivating
“The Lord delights in those who fear Him,
Who put their hope in His unfailing love.”
I need to be reminded. Often.
And so do you.
Since I have no finished craft projects to show you as the result of my spring break, I wanted to show you the results of the shopping that my mom, sister, and I did instead. It wasn’t easy to take any of the pictures in this post. For one, because I don’t have a tripod or someone to take the picture for me, and two, I couldn’t get very good lighting on most of them. But aside from the mechanics, I had a hard time not being critical of how I looked. I had to be reminded of God’s opinion of me. I had to silence those if only and not enough voices.
Note: The items I bought are in bold, the rest are things I already had.
I love this shirt. It’s very light and flowing, and gray is one of my favorite colors. It too was on sale, and I think it was worth the $30 I spent on it. It will also look good with pink, and I wore it earlier this week with a bright yellow tank. So there’s a few outfits with it I can make, just by switching the tank.
Pink has really grown on me lately! Especially pink with gray. This shirt is so soft and silky, and it has a nice swing to it. I’m having trouble coming up with other outfits, unfortunately. I bought this before reading about coming up with three outfits you can wear with it before buying it.
This sweater was on sale for $11! It’s become one of my all-time favorite things to wear. It’s kinda interesting, because it is super long in the front!
See what I mean? But in the back it’s a normal length. So I often tie the front, and that keeps it from getting caught on things.
Retro dress from Goodwill
Belt, I don’t remember
Along with all the fancy shops we went to, I took mom and Evi to my Goodwill, and I found this dress. No else seemed to think it was as awesome as I did. I mean, look at the color! It’s gorgeous! And it pretty much fits me! Compared to my other project dress, this one’s not bad.
You all had great suggestions for my other dress. Once I get my sewing machine figured out, I will let you know how it goes. What do you suggest for this dress? I’m thinking making it shorter. I do love the sleeves, but I might have to make them shorter.
Over and over, I have to tell God the same thing I said to Brian,“I just need to know that you still love me and you think I’m beautiful.”
What about you? What helps you silence those voices?
Special announcement: I’m in the final stages of tweaking my new blog design! I hope to have it up and running within the next few days, so maybe next time you’re here, things will look a little different!
Also, because of the wonderful comments and questions I’ve received after Wednesday’s post, I’ve got a few more fashion posts in the works for us fashionably challenged people. Let me know if you have any specific questions you’d like answered, and I’ll work them in!
Too often, we compare ourselves to other women, real or Photoshopped magazine models, and we look in the mirror and find ourselves lacking. I know that several of you have expressed that the posts last week were a blessing to you. I think at some level, we all struggle with our appearance.
A while ago, I went to get my hair cut.I almost didn’t go – I was suffering through the worst acne breakout I’d had since eighth grade, I was sick of my dry skin and the fact that my lips would be chapped no matter how much chapstick I put on. My jeans were tighter than I wanted to admit to myself. My hair was dry and brittle and boring. I really wanted to just wallow at home in my “ugliness” and not go out in public more than I had too.
But I went. Only one hairdresser had been able to come to work that day, she was trying to answer the constantly ringing phone and manage the waiting line of grumpy people while cutting customer’s hair. People were frustrated that they couldn’t get their hair cut right then, and would have to wait half an hour or more, and their favorite stylist was sick. They were rude and snarky to her, but she stayed polite and accommodating, handling their comments with a sense of humor.
I also notice how she treated each of the two ladies in line before me. They were both elderly ladies, they’d had their hair cut thousands of times before. The stylist complemented each woman on some aspect of her hair, suggested a new way to cut or style it, and even styled one woman’s hair for no extra charge. Under the stylist’s affirming words and skilled hands, they forgot their waiting to-do lists, their age, their financial issues; they sat straighter, they laughed, their eyes sparkled.
When I sat in the chair, she didn’t criticize my hair like I’d done. She commented on it’s thickness, it’s color, and how flattering the cut was. One of the customers chimed in, exclaiming over my highlights. “Wouldn’t it be nice to be so young again, with such thick hair, and pink cheeks?” The stylist said. I left feeling lighter, not just because my hair was shorter. I felt freer, and so much better about myself. I had that same sparkle in my eyes that the other ladies that had their hair cut had. She made us feel beautiful. Not just by cutting our hair well. The stylist brought out the beauty that was already there.
My Hope For You
I hope that the guest posts last week had a similar effect on you: revealing the beauty that was already there. I hope that you, along with me,
recognized that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, and God doesn’t make junk, and maybe learned some helpful ways to encourage a healthy body image from Audra’s post.
I hope you recognized some lies from Satan that have crept into your thinking from Elissa’s story about battling anorexia, and maybe gained some hope that God really can do what seems impossible.
I hope Anita’s definition of normal eating freed you and convicted you of possible disordered eating in your life, and encouraged you to find your natural weight.
I hope you realized that you are beautiful, just as you are.
I have so enjoyed reading those posts, reflecting on them, and I so appreciate your outpouring of love and thanks through the comments. Thank you so much for joining us last week!
If you’d like to refer back to these posts at any time, they are labeled under “healthy body image” and “My body God’s temple” in the cloud of labels on the right sidebar.
P.S. The winner of the CSN Stores giveaway is yet to be calculated. I’ve had a busy weekend, and a lot of entries to count. By Wednesday, I’ll let you know! Thanks for your patience!
I was honored when Emily asked me to write for her blog for National Eating Disorders Awareness week. To introduce myself, I am Emily’s sister-in-law, Anita Conley. I am also a Registered Dietitian, licensed in the state of Florida. In my path to become a dietitian, I had experiences counseling students at Iowa State who have suffered from eating disorders. I also have had my own issues with food, eating, and my body image.
There is much that I could say on the subject of eating disorders. Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa are the most well-known, but they only comprise of about half of all eating disorders.Anorexia Nervosa is characterized by refusal to maintain a minimally normal body weight, intense fear of gaining weight, body image distortion and amenorrhea (absence of 3 or more consecutive periods). This can be accomplished by restricting or binge eating and purging.
Bulimia Nervosa is characterized by repeated episodes of binge eating followed by inappropriate compensatory methods such as purging (self-induced vomiting or misuse of laxatives, diuretics, or enemas) or nonpurging (fasting or engaging in excessive exercise).
Some others are Orthorexia Nervosa, Pregorexia, Diabulimia, Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder, Drunkorexia, Binge Eating Disorder, and Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.
Orthorexia Nervosa is essentially an unhealthy obsession with correct eating with the belief they are following a perfected diet and proud of it.
Pregorexia is when pregnant women who exercise to excess and reduce calories in an effort to control pregnancy weight gain.
Diabulimia refers to when people with type 1 diabetes deliberately decrease or withhold their insulin injection in order to lose weight.
Nocturnal Sleep-Related Eating Disorder occurs when a person goes on eating binges at night and awakens the next morning with little or no memory of it.
Drunkorexia is when a person restricts food intake to increase alcohol intake without gaining weight. This is most common on college campuses.
Binge Eating Disorder is characterized by eating much more quickly than usual, eating until uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food – even if not hungry, eating alone and secretively due to embarrassment over the amount of food eaten, and feeling disgusted, guilty, embarrassed or depressed after eating.
Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified is kind of a catch-all diagnosis for people with disordered eating and thinking to make sure those who do not fall under the diagnoses for anorexia and bulimia. Most of the previously discussed eating disorders fall into this category.
(Information from Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy 11th ed., and How To Recognize Less-Familiar Eating Disorders from November 2010 edition of Today’s Dietitian)
I think overall there is a lot we know about eating disorders. They are considered a major mental illness and they often have numerous underlying causes. Eating disorders are nothing to mess around with because they can and do cause early death.
The more I have been reading about eating disorders recently, the more it makes me convinced that we need to spend a LOT more time talking about what is NORMAL eating. One of the assignments in my nutrition counseling class was to develop our own philosophy of normal eating. What I came up with follows.
My Philosophy of Normal Eating
My definition of normal eating is very complex. Normal eating is eating when you are hungry and stopping before you are stuffed. Normal eating is eating two, three, or more meals a day with or without snacks in between. Normal eating is eating until you are overfull some days, and then eating very little on other days. Normal eating is when you plan out your meals so they are balanced most days, but some days you grab whatever is most convenient regardless of the nutritional value. Normal eating is enjoying what you are eating whether it is a “fattening” piece of pie or a “healthy” vegetable or anything else in between. Normal eating is being conscious of what you are eating but not being obsessed with it.
Normal eating is tasting the food you put in your mouth and savoring it. Normal eating is sometimes eating emotionally. Normal eating is also aware of when you are eating emotionally and does not let it last for an extended time. Normal eating is eating what you are hungry for when you are hungry for it. Normal eating does not deny or limit “goodies” because they do not have the nutritional value that “healthy” food does. Normal eating is trying new foods, but not finishing them if you truly do not like them. Normal eating also incorporates a healthy amount of physical activity most days of the week. Overall, normal eating adapts to your needs without controlling your life.
As I read this over four years after writing it, I am somewhat convicted. In my own life, I have embraced some disordered eating patterns. As a dietitian, this is surprisingly easy – I know as much about calories as anyone (just ask my boyfriend about my mental calorie counting) and how to “trick” the body into feeling full with less calories. This is something I have even taught my patients when consulted for weight loss education.
Disordered eating includes restricting foods, eating compulsively, and in a way which is externally regulated. In contrast, normal eating is enjoyable, deliberate and internally regulated. Internal regulation of food intake means that a person eats when they are hungry and stops when they are full or satisfied. External regulation is when we ignore the signals our body gives about hunger and fullness – this especially happens when we put ourselves on diets. The deliberate portion of normal eating cannot be ignored. This means that time and thought is put into making healthy choices and/or choices that will satisfy your hunger. Normal eating can help you reach the weight that you are meant to be at – but this may be different from your ideal.
Normal eating is enjoying what you eat! Image source.
The lure of disordered eating is hard to resist and it is everywhere we look in our society. Due to my health and the body type I was born with, I have been fighting with my weight for as long as I can remember. I have a headache all day every day, and have for close to 8 years now. I have to make sure I eat when I am hungry because if I ignore my hunger, it makes the headache worse. To top that off, one of my daily medications causes increased appetite. I have gained at least 10 pounds since I started taking the medication almost a year ago. I have tried ignoring my hunger, which just caused the headaches to get worse, and I have tried always filling up on low calorie snacks like popcorn and carrots to help satisfy myself. And just to make matters more fun, I get exercise-induced headaches so I have been struggling to exercise for about a year and a half now. I find myself looking in the mirror and not liking what I see. But when I start thinking this, I am convicted by the verse in Psalms that declares
“I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (139:14)
God created us with bodies of different shapes and sizes. Our society has a ridiculous obsession with thinness. We have idolized it to the point that even in the health community it is believed that thinness is equated with health. There have been several studies conducted revealing that even among health professionals (doctors, nurses, dietitians) people who are obese are thought to be fat and lazy and have no willpower.
I have talked to many of these patients, and I would not classify any of them as such. Most have tried everything they can think of to lose weight. About 50% of people who fall in the overweight or obese category have none of the much talked about complications of their weight (high blood pressure, high blood sugars, high blood cholesterol levels), yet we constantly have news headlines about the cost of the obesity epidemic. In my personal and professional opinion, I think we would do well to be much more accepting of people of all shapes and sizes and not focus on the numbers on the scale, but on overall health.
A book that I highly recommend if you are interested in learning more about normal eating and getting away from disordered eating patterns is “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole & Elyse Resch. This book changed the way that I viewed eating and nutrition, and in writing this entry it reminded me I need to pick up this book and read it again for myself.
Elissa Savov believed in the Lord Jesus to be her Savior when she was about four years old. She is blessed with two wonderful Christian parents who nurtured her spiritual growth throughout her life, and two younger sisters who were her best friends, and three younger brothers. Elissa graduated from Simpson College with a Bachelor of Arts in Music, where she completed a four year program in three years. Her first year of college she met her future husband, Naiden Savov. They got married the summer before their last year of college and Elissa became pregnant soon after their wedding. Two days before graduation her precious little Aviela Savov was born. Elissa enjoys singing, spending time with family, and finding joy in her Savior, Jesus Christ.
I have the best sisters in the world and they, as well as my entire family, have given me such love and support throughout my life. I have indeed been anorexic. When Emily asked me to write something, I of course agreed, but had no idea how to go about doing it. What would I say? I have asked God for wisdom, and I will share with you my story of my battle, and freedom. If any of you reading this suffer from anorexia, I desire that these words will be from God and will give you hope. I know what you have experienced, at least to some degree, and I know that God is more powerful than anything.
My anorexia started the second semester of my freshman year of college. I had always been a rather thin girl, but suddenly I was obsessed with being the most thin girl I could ever meet that wasn’t literally skin and bones. God had just brought a wonderful man into my life as my new boyfriend, and somehow, I just knew if I was going to be pretty enough for him, I needed to be really, really, really thin, because extremely thin equaled very beautiful in my warped thinking.
Looking back, I cannot tell how these thought patterns developed! Satan must have been working so subtly. My boyfriend began noticing my poor eating habits developing and he encouraged me to be healthy and told me he hoped I wasn’t eating so little because of him. I assured him it wasn’t, and that I just wanted to be healthy. The strange thing was, I was assured of this in my mind as well. The thinner I could be, the more beautiful and the more healthy.I was too blinded by lies to see the truth.
For the rest of that college semester my daily diet consisted of approximately a bowl of cereal for breakfast and maybe toast, two bananas, and a 6-inch sub sandwich. I would exercise every day. That summer I perfected my anorexia. My summer was packed with activities that kept me so busy I was hardly home. I ate at most five grams of fat a day. I ate so slowly that I would honestly become “full” before I had finished my food.
In a way, I thought I had become strong. Food was no temptation for me as it is for most people. I could turn down anything. It could not rule my life. Little did I realize that I was letting something far worse rule my life. My Mom was getting worried and threatened to take me to a doctor. Going to a doctor was the last thing I wanted to do. I was terribly frightened of changing my way of eating. I was terrified of gaining weight. I thought I was healthy, but something nagged at me that what I was doing was not a Godly way of life. By the end of the summer I weighed 103 pounds and I was 5 feet 6 inches tall.
I cannot say when this would have changed, had God not used my boyfriend to bring me out of that ugly pit. Sophomore year of college came and so did his birthday. I had been asking him what he wanted for a while and he told me he would think about it. Finally he told me his birthday wish was for me to get up to 120 lbs. My immediate response was, “What else do you want?” He told me very seriously that was the only thing he wanted. His mom used to smoke and when he asked her one year for his birthday for her to stop, she quit, cold turkey. He said smoking was a stronger addiction than anorexia. He said if I really cared about him, and believed in God, I would do this.
What he did not understand, however, was that he was not asking me to quit an addiction. He was asking me to give up my sense of worth, security, and self-esteem. To get up to 120 pounds seemed ludicrous and suicidal in my mind. I felt like that would be killing myself. In a way, it really was; my old, sinful self that I had allowed too much control in my spiritual, and therefore physical life.
Paul said in Gal. 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
God was asking me to let go of myself, my identity, my security, and find my self-esteem in Him alone. I resisted at first, but God worked on me and with my boyfriend’s help, I started on to a better lifestyle of eating and exercising. I had to realize that self-esteem apart from God is not just empty, but sinful. We have nothing in ourselves in which to find security and worth. I was finding my worth as a person apart from God, in my appearance. I had a false confidence in myself because I was so thin. Breaking the chains of anorexia left me weak and scared, bewildered, and unsure, and running to God to embrace me and console me, telling me I was His child, and that is what gives me beauty and worth.
It was no easy battle. Eating right again brought with it many painful effects. It would have been much easier reverting back to eating barely anything and avoiding the physical pain. I am still dealing with some of the health effects of anorexia. However, I thank God, that He has blessed me by freeing me from the grip of anorexia. I am now married to the man that was my boyfriend, and God has blessed us with a beautiful baby girl! God is so good! I would never go back to the anorexic way of life. My eyes are not focused on myself now, but rather my family and my God. I desire to live and be healthy for both!
Elissa, Nick, and Aviela
A Few Statistics:
Anorexia nervosa– “Anorexia nervosa involves an aversion to food that leads to a state of starvation and emaciation. It is a very serious illness that some doctors believe is an entirely different condition from bulimia and should be not be diagnosed as a simple eating disorder.”
The death rate associated with anorexia is approximately 12 times higher than the death rate of ALL causes of mortality for females ages 15-24 years old.
About 20% of people suffering from Anorexia will prematurely die from health complications related to their eating disorder. This includes suicide and heart problems.
Among adolescents, Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness.
95% of people with eating disorders are between ages 12-25.
50% of girls between ages 11 and 13 believe they are overweight.
80% of 13 -year-olds have tried to lose weight.
Up to 30% of patients with eating disorders never recover.
It has been estimated that suicide accounts for as many as half the deaths in Anorexia, with studies showing up to one-fifth of people with Anorexia attempting suicide.
The statistics above are shocking! Anorexia nervosa is becoming more and more prevalent and is claiming more and more lives. This disease is so dangerous because it is psychological. There is no tangible prescription or cure.
Why the great prevalence of this disease? While the causes of anorexia in each individual certainly vary, I firmly believe the United States’ immoral culture is much to blame for the majority of the cases. The sex industry is ranked first or second in the entire nation. Everywhere, in media, magazines, movies, and even subtly among peers, schoolmates, etc. culture tells women they must be sexy or they’ve failed as a woman and the world cannot use them. Women, like all people want to be wanted, and most think they’ve nowhere to turn but to the world to find acceptance.
What they don’t realize is, all the world wants us for is to use us. The world cares nothing for our souls, our character, or our personality. The world only wants to use us to further its wickedness, and it will do all it can to fool us into thinking that brings happiness. The poor victims of anorexia are starving themselves thinking this will bring them happiness, but in reality they are destroying themselves and are so far from happiness.
Those immoral actresses, Victoria Secret models, and the rest have sold their souls and given their bodies to be no more than instruments of lust. This is surely not a hopeful, satisfying state. The women who are depressed because they aren’t perfect according the world have no hope, and the women whom the world calls perfect have no hope, either.
The world and all that’s in it cannot give hope! The world and all that’s in it cannot give you worth! The world and all its philosophies and lies cannot give you peace or love! There is only One who can, and that One is your Creator, the God of the universe. He already demonstrated His love for you by sending His Son Jesus Christ to conquer sin, in your life and someday all the world. Jesus paid for your sin, and He offers you forgiveness and love –a place in His arms of hope and security!
To God, His daughters are the most beautiful women in all the world. His word says, “Who can find a virtuous woman? Her price is far above rubies” (Prov. 31:10). He says a woman who adorns herself with “the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit” is “of great price in the sight of God” (1Peter 3:4). “God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).
God loves you! If you are the victim of anorexia and if you struggle with the messages the world tells you about your appearance, there is great hope in God! Stop believing lies!
“The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
I have found it to be so in my own life, I pray you will too!
Do you find yourself sometimes believing Satan’s lies? How do you discern lies from the truth? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Audra is a THRIVE-at home wife of nearly 11 years and mom to two little boys, two and under. She is making the adjustment from being in the workforce to being at home. You can find her blogging atRediscovering Domesticity.
What a multi-faceted topic. I am so thankful that Emily is tackling this tough issue and is bringing more awareness to it. I am humbled that she asked me to write a guest post for her!
Have I suffered with an eating disorder? Thankfully, no. But I have seen the potential in me and it is scary.
Let me tell you a little about my story. Cliff notes version.
Diagnosed with thyroid issues at age 10 (Graves disease) – struggled to keep weight on
Radiation to kill thyroid at age 14 – while regulating things, I gained 40 pounds in just a few months.
Kept extra weight on into college. Basic lifestyle changes allowed me to lose the weight. Got as low as 87 pounds in college despite eating normally – very physical job.
After marriage, slowly put on weight over the years – stayed about 20 pounds over my goal weight.
Had 2 babies. Highest weight pregnant was over 160 pounds (I’m only 4’11”).
Current weight – 110 – my goal weight. With breastfeeding and chasing 2 littles, I am struggling to keep the weight on at the moment.
Ok. It wasn’t until after my first child and severe depression and anxiety issues (thank you, thyroid) that I started really having issues with my appearance. I hated how I looked and avoided pictures. I was tempted to do some more extreme dieting. The only thing that stopped me was breastfeeding. If I cut calories, my supply would drop. I am thankful for that connection! It kept me eating until I was in a more healthy mental state.
God doesn’t want us to be struggling with eating disorders and with self image. God doesn’t make junk. He created us all in His image.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
As we seek help to heal, we need to take steps toward our own healing. This goes for healing from eating disorders, depression, and many other issues.
1. Spend time each day thanking God for who He made us to be. It may sound empty and hollow at first, but thank Him anyway. He can change your heart.
2. Look in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful. God made me. He loves me. He knew me before the world began. He has numbered even the hairs on my head. He loves me. I am beautiful.”
3. Start opening our hearts to receive love. Refusing to accept the love that God freely gives is offensive to Him. Refusing to receive the love our spouse, children, parents, friends, and family freely give is a slap in the face. Imagine telling someone you love them and having them refuse that love – by refusing to accept the love of others, we are telling them that they really don’t know what they are talking about. That they are wrong. As uncomfortable as it can be to receive love from others, it is rude and hurtful to not receive it. It takes time.
4. Realize that we are setting an example for others. For our friends. For our family. For our CHILDREN. What do we want others to learn from us? Personally, I want my children to learn how much they are loved. How much they are worth. How fantastic they are. I don’t want them to learn my insecurities.
5. Pray for a change of heart. Pray that God show you how HE sees you.
There is an awesome movement happening – Operation Beautiful. The premise is simple. Leave an encouraging note somewhere that another woman may seem. We are bombarded in every direction with messages that tear us down. Let’s start building each other up. Let another woman know she is beautiful. You never know now much she may need to hear it that day.
So, is healing a process? Most certainly. Does it take time? Sure does. Will there be bad days? Yup. Is it worth the pain and humiliation to seek help? More than you can possibly imagine.
Have you struggled with eating disorders? Do you know someone who is struggling?