“Snack” – In the past, I, like many other people, would use the word “snack” to mean “free” eating—an “eating occasion” that doesn’t count. 🙂 It didn’t matter if I was hungry or not (or so the reasoning went) because it was “just a little taste of something.” While it probably wasn’t really a “sit down meal,” these “feedings” (as my naturally thin sister refers to them) count! Now, I prefer not to use the word “snack” at all because it carries years of meaning from my dieting background. If I DO refer to a “snack,” it typically means sitting down and enjoying a smaller portion of anything when I am at a 0 and just shaving off my hunger—not eating all the way to a 5…like stopping at a “2” or “3” on the hunger scale. True Thin Within “snacking” happens only at a 0 and it does, indeed, “count!” I know this isn’t a “fun” revelation. 🙂
I find it most helpful if I consider every single time food crosses my lips as a “meal.” With Thin Within we come to realize we don’t need that much food to sustain our very efficient bodies. So, if every time food crosses my lips I think of it as a meal (or “feeding”), I am more likely to use more discernment about what I choose. This is a basic boundary for us. (I can see you cringe…But where has NOT having this boundary really gotten us?) In the past, the quantity of food that I now consider a “meal” might have been called a “snack.” This is another reason why I don’t use the word “snack” much any more.
Think About It: If you have been doing Thin Within very long, consider the size of your portions and how they have changed. Is it possible that what you now consider an appropriate-sized meal you might have formerly called “just a snack?” How might this continue to change over time as you refine your hunger numbers?
“Junk Food” – It is popular to believe that some foods are “junk.” When we think of certain foods as “junk” it usually means we have declared those foods as “bad.” While it is true some food choices are better than others to feed my “perfect 0,” when I call something “junk,” I imply that the food is the culprit to my weight and eating issues. The truth is, *I* am the culprit with the way, the why, the when, of my eating. Food is not immoral in any way. It is not the culprit in my eating challenges. Instead of thinking of food as “junk food” (or not), I prefer to categorize foods the way that Thin Within speaks of in the second (Discernment) phase, as “teasers,” “pleasers,” “whole-body pleasers,” and “total rejects.” If I like the way a food tastes, but I feel lethargic after eating it, it might be a total reject or it may be a “teaser.” But I try not to think of it as “junk food.”The problem is typically more with ME and what I will DO with those foods than it is with the foods. (Even with a food that has no nutritional value, I find it helps me to just call it a total reject.)
Think About It: Are you like me? Needing to take responsibility for your eating instead of laying blame with the food? I have found that when I refer to foods as “junk” I beat myself up for eating them…which just sends me into a downward spiral. By referring to them, instead, as “total rejects” or “teasers,” I remind myself how *I* respond to them is what matters.
“Treat” – Ever notice that the foods that are in the “junk food” category are also often those referred to as “treats” as well? Calling something a “treat” sets up whatever-food-it-is as desirable to me. I end up seeing it as a reward. Do I really want to call food a “reward?” If I do that, it definitely lures me to eat outside of 0 and 5 whenever I am deserving of a “reward” and we know that I am always deserving of a reward (supposedly)! If I am happy, I deserve a reward. If I am sad, I deserve a reward. If I worked hard, I deserve a reward. If I run errands, I deserve a reward. If I stay home and vacuum, I deserve a reward. What if we think, instead, of things like “Time alone reading a good book,” or “A long hot bath” as rewards? Consider non-food blessings. 🙂 If I think of food as “treats” then those foods are in my mind as something I get when I am “good.” This sets me up for failure.
Think About It: What are some other non-food ways you can “treat” yourself? Is there any chance that viewing some foods as “treats” is hindering your victory? Do you find that some of the foods that you may have considered “junk food” are the very foods you have also considered “treats?”
“Healthy Eating“ – What IS “healthy eating?” It is most helpful to me to consider it “Living within God’s parameters.” Or eating according to physical need (empty) and physical satisfaction. Eating whole-body pleasers when my body needs food is my idea of “healthy eating.” It is important to note that my whole-body pleasers may be different from everyoneelse’s! This is NOT a one-size-fits-all approach! Healthy eating isn’t about which foods, but why (because of physical need) and when (when I am hungry). To think of “healthy eating” this way is definitely not the norm. Usually when we think of “healthy eating” we think of people who eat fruits, veggies, and lean meat and it isn’t about being hungry or not. I have known people who do not “eat healthy” even when they choose foods that seem more nutritionally dense. They still over-eat and don’t have a healthy relationship with food. Maybe you know some whole food connoisseurs or vegans who struggle with their weight just like others who eat primarily “junk food.” This really isn’t about the food, but about why we eat.
Think About It: What does healthy eating really look like for you? Is it what you choose to eat? Or is it when (hungry)? Or how much (enough to satisfy only)? Or a combination? What if you were to select only fruits and vegetables and lean meats, but eat for emotional reasons without regard to physical cues–would that be “eating healthy?” If you grab for the pita crisps instead of the Oreos when you just had a fight with your daughter is that “Healthy Eating?”
“Healthy Food” – This is like the other phrases that describe food, like “treat” or “junk food.” The problem with “healthy food” is it, again, seems to indicate that if I fix the food, then it is good to eat it…even if I don’t NEED food at that time. Sure, some foods are more nutritionally dense…more nutrition “bang” for energy “buck” and other foods are more “energy dense”…a lot less nutrition for the amount of energy consumed. But food is really inert, neutral, amoral. It isn’t the food that is healthy so much as how I relate to it. Is it “healthy” to eat a large salad when I am not hungry? I guess every person has to make this decision for herself, but the answer for me as a faithful Thin Within participant and veteran…NO. Eating anything when I don’t need to eat it isn’t healthy. It becomes recreational eating again! Categorizing foods into “healthy food” and “junk food” keeps me from owning my need to scrutinize the why and when of my eating choices. I have found it much more helpful to consider foods as teasers, pleasers, whole-body pleasers and total rejects for the reasons I shared above. I also have found that if I set up a category of “healthy food,” then if I want to be “healthy” I end up trying to force myself to enjoy those foods. While I am all for expanding our culinary horizons and venturing out into new tastes and textures, if I don’t like something and eat it just because it is a “healthy food” then I am setting myself up for a fall.
Think About It: What are whole-body pleaser foods or meals for you? Would it be helpful to you and support your godly goals to consider food this way instead of “healthy food?” Or as “beneficial foods?” I am not advising not to care about nutritional value, certainly, but giving an eye to nutrition and an eye to how foods make you feel might help you not try to force yourself to eat only foods that have certain nutritional content…so often that backfires! Or is that just me? 🙂
“Sort of Hungry” – Hunger/satisfied signals exist on a continuum. But I try to stay away from speaking about being “sort of hungry,” because I have found that if I do this, it “sort of” justifies “sort of” eating! 🙂 In fact, there are even times when I need to strip the hunger scale back to simple terms: “Hungry” or “NOT Hungry.” If you are experiencing limited success with your 0 to 5 eating, consider if you are possibly pre-empting “hungry” by entertaining the idea that being “sort of hungry” justifies eating.
Think About It: Do you find yourself eating when you are “sort of hungry” or “a little bit hungry?” Is that working for you? If you are not seeing the physical results you think you should be seeing, maybe honing in on a true zero … completely empty… will be helpful.
“Kind of Full” – If I am “Kind of Full,” that means that I think I “still have room” for more food. Maybe I need to see if my body is satisfied with less food, rather than if I can get away with more! (If you have a history of restricting, I am not speaking to you. Please know that God wants you to eat what you NEED to sustain good health!) Again, for me personally, it has helped to go to “bare bones” with my terminology with the hunger scale. Instead of looking at “AM I at a 5? Or is this only a 4 and I still have room for more food?” I need to look at “HUNGRY” or “NOT Hungry.” “Kind of Full” is definitely in the “Not Hungry” category. If I am NOT HUNGRY it is time to stop eating. Getting rid of “Kind of Full” helps me be faithful to the boundaries that God has set for me.
Think About It: Do you push to see how much food you can eat before you have pushed too far? Or are you happy with eating until you know you are not hungry any more and call it good? Again, if you are not seeing the physical results that you think you should be seeing, you may want to evaluate this. One strategy that has been helpful for me (when I do it!) is to have a boundary of always leaving some (even just a bite or two) of food on my plate. Sometimes, this gets fed to the family dog, but I find that it helps to cure me of my tendency to be greedy! (But builds bad begging habits in my dog!)
How About You?
Are you willing to eliminate these words or phrases from your vocabulary to see if that might help you move closer to the victory that you desire? What other words or phrases do you find might be like “little foxes,” hindering your realization of the victory that you know is yours?
Would it be weird to tell you that this post was inspired by the movie Finding Nemo? When you have a two year old, inspiration comes from all sorts of random places.
In the movie, Nemo and his aquarium friends are trying to find ways to get Nemo out of the aquarium and into the ocean to find his father. One plan they come up with is throwing a rock into the filter to make it stop working. Their plan worked (the second time of trying) and the aquarium was soon filled with slimy, green goo. When I saw this part in the movie, I started thinking about the importance of having a filter in our mind, keeping out the junk and keeping in the pure.
Heidi has talked so much about the importance of renewing our minds in order to change the way we look at food, our bodies, dieting, etc. When we renew our minds, we are recognizing the lies and replacing those lies with truth. There’s another important part to this: filtering out the junk.
How is your filter functioning? Is there a rock stuck in it? Do you let nasty, disgusting things pass through?
What do you allow into your mind? What are you focusing on? What do you see with your eyes?
Are you standing guard over your mind?
Can you handle watching shows that encourage dieting and excessive exercise like The Biggest Loser? Can you flip through a copy of a fitness or dieting magazine at the doctor’s office waiting room? Or do those types of things stir up anxiety inside of your mind? Are you tempted to buy that new, bestselling dieting book, thinking, “This could be the one!”?
What are you reading? What are you watching? What are you listening to?
Is it time to get the rock out of the filter?
Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life. Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil. Proverbs 4:23-27
I will set nothing wicked before my eyes. Psalm 101:3a
I’ve been watching The Biggest Loser for years. Since the Lord has been doing so much in my life this year, I didn’t want to hinder progress by watching a show that might tempt me to even think about dieting. So I prayed and asked Him if it would be alright if I watched it. He gave me peace to watch it. I won’t go into the reasons of why I like to watch the show (that’s for another post), but this is just an example of something that could trip us up if we aren’t carefully watching over our mind and heart.
The same sort of thing happened with a Prevention magazine in the waiting room at my chiropractor’s office. I used to find the articles interesting, but the last time I opened the pages I found myself appalled by the magazine. I had no peace reading it so I put it down immediately.
What about those innocent conversations with friends about the latest dieting fad? I used to be sucked into those conversations. I would ask questions. I would even buy the book. My curiosity was spiked. But now I do all I can to exit out of those conversations or avoid them altogether. God has brought me so far; I’m not interested in allowing any of that back into my mind. It wasn’t easy at first, but the more time I spent pouring God’s truth into my mind, the more junk was cleaned out. I want my mind’s filter to dissolve every lie.
It’s been really important for me to filter out anything that could trip me up because in the past I would take those kinds of things mentioned above and obsess. And when I say obsess, I mean OBSESS! I would buy the diet book and read (consume) it back to front, looking and searching for that final answer to help me lose weight, feel better, be healthy, etc. And then I would talk about it and think about it and talk about it and think about it… And I would talk with my husband about it and he would get so tired of hearing me talk about food. Good thing he is a very patient man! It was like reading, watching, and talking about dieting was my ‘fix’. In fact, the Lord clearly told me that one time. That was one of those “ouch” moments of truth. It was my drug. But praise God because He freed me from all of that! I chose to stop looking at those things and instead I looked to Him. He became my focus. I looked to His word for truth. He has been so faithful! He brought me out of that miry, gooey pit! Praise God!
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. Psalm 40:2
How about you?
How is your filter functioning? Does it need some maintenance? I want to encourage you to pour God’s truth into your mind. Watch over the doors of your mind. Stand guard over every single thing you hear, see, and think about. If you are not sure about something, ask the Lord. He will clearly show you.
Last month, I wrote a blog post about what God has done so far this year in bringing change in my eating. At the end of the post, I shared that I am pregnant. I wanted to share a bit about what the Lord has been teaching me about what it looks like to be a Thin Within (aka “normal” eater) during pregnancy. For those of you who aren’t pregnant, I have something to share with you as well, so please keep reading!
As I shared in my previous post, in the middle of this journey of returning to normal eating, I found out I was pregnant with my second child. The Lord had already given me victory over a major stronghold food had over me, and was in the process of helping me overcome the diet mentality.
It’s been a huge blessing to be going through this part of this journey pregnant because it has forced me to not focus on weight or body image. It’s completely normal and necessary to gain weight throughout pregnancy. So that really freed my mind to just focus on eating 0-5 and to grow closer to the Lord in this area of my life. With my first pregnancy, I never weighed myself. Each time I was weighed at a prenatal appointment, I made sure to let them know that I didn’t want to know my weight (and this was before I was eating 0-5). It wasn’t until the very end that I asked about weight gain because I was just curious. And so far, I’ve done the same with this pregnancy.
Halfway through my 2nd pregnancy!
Weight gain during pregnancy can be attributed to so many things, but I am a firm believer that if you are eating 0-5 (as a normal eater) that it’s really genetics and other factors that come into play. Years ago, I read a book by Denise Austin (exercise guru) and she said that with both of her pregnancies that she gained 50 pounds. She’s a very fit lady and very conscientious of what she eats. If she can gain that amount of weight during pregnancy, then that just proves right there that there are factors out of our control that lead to weight gain beyond just the weight of baby. But this isn’t an excuse to just throw in the towel and eat, but hopefully it’s a good illustration that weight gain is a natural occurrence during pregnancy.
During the first few weeks after I found out I was pregnant, I was out of town visiting family. I was still at a point in this journey where I wasn’t completely delighting in my boundaries, so I found myself giving myself the “pregnant” excuse to eat. But the Lord quickly got my attention and showed me that He has created our bodies to eat 0-5 no matter what, even during pregnancy! So I reigned myself in and realized that it really didn’t take as much extra food as I had hoped.
Here’s the thing—I think a lot of women use pregnancy as an excuse to eat with abandon. But really, 0-5 still applies. You don’t even need to worry if you are getting those extra [insert “magic” number] calories a day. All that is required is listening to our body and honoring our hunger. It’s really so simple.
Here is what it says about pregnancy and eating 0-5 in Thin Within (page 79):
“A common belief that can lead to rationalizing is that any amount of weight gain is acceptable during pregnancy, despite abundant medical evidence to the contrary. To apply the Thin Within Keys to Conscious Eating during this special time might seem inappropriate, but we have had many women use the Thin Within tools when they were pregnant. We have found that 0 to 5 eating uniformly results in less weight gain, fewer blood pressure and diabetes problems, more comfortable and enjoyable pregnancies, and happier mothers, babies, and obstetricians. What a wonderful time to honor your body, God’s temple.”
About 7 weeks into pregnancy I started to feel “yucky”. Call it morning sickness, call it “feeling gross”, call it whatever you want, but I felt really weird at times. I found that if I waited too long to eat that it would make me feel worse. So I had to find the fine line between 0 and “eat now!” It was tricky, but I did my best. I just wanted to be so careful that I didn’t use that as an excuse just to eat for the sake of eating. I really wanted to honor God and stay within my 0-5 boundaries.
I’ve also noticed that I’ve had to tweak how I would normally eat. Like, I eat 2 breakfasts. Maybe I’m part Hobbit; I call it Breakfast #1 and Breakfast #2. I’m finding I cannot eat too much for Breakfast #1, otherwise I feel weird. About 1-1/2 to 2 hours later I am hungry again, so I will eat Breakfast #2. For other meals, it’s helped to use a small plate or bowl for portions because I really cannot eat too much (and actually, I would use those same plates and bowls anyway). As I am eating 0-5, I am surprised at how little food I actually need, even pregnant.
And to be honest, I cannot share all of this without admitting that I find myself wondering what it will be like after pregnancy. Will it take a long time to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight? Will I be tempted to diet? Will I feel pressure to be a certain size by a certain time? Will I have time to exercise?
I lost my first pre-pregnancy weight fairly quickly. Unfortunately, the weight loss was sped up by being sick and in the hospital for almost a week due to a burst appendix and surgery, 6 months after my first child was born. But I don’t look at that as a fair way of getting back to pre-pregnancy weight. And thankfully we only have one appendix, so that won’t be a reoccurrence.
I do know this:I can trust God!
His ways are perfect! At the core of every human being we are a normal eater. I can trust Him that if I honor Him by eating 0-5 and eating within my boundaries, that I will release any weight that is needed to get back to my God-given size. I don’t need a diet. I don’t get a strict exercise regime. I can listen to the Lord and honor my hunger signals that He has given me.
How about you?
Maybe you aren’t pregnant, but maybe you struggled with overeating when you were pregnant. Or maybe it’s that pregnancy weight you are hoping to release since you had your last child. Can I encourage you that eating 0-5 will help you release that weight? There’s no magic formula, no gimmicks—just pure and simple waiting for 0 and eating to a satisfied 5. The Lord has set up a perfect way to release baby weight and get back to our God-given size and weight. Isn’t that awesome!? All of His ways are perfect!
Maybe you are years past your pregnancy years, are waiting to have children, or maybe you are a man reading this. Do you find yourself making excuses to eat? Do you have weight you would like to release? Is there something in your life that is tempting you to throw in the towel and just [over]eat? Are you willing to admit those excuses are only getting in your way of finding peace with food and finding freedom with the Lord’s help?
What can you do today to stop making those excuses?
I am traveling with my husband this week and so it is with great pleasure that I get to keep sharing blog posts written especially for you all but BY you! People who are in our blog community here, commenting along with you, in the trenches along with you. This author has a powerful challenge for us! Then, tomorrow, Christina will share some valuable insights for pregnancy (and beyond!). ~ Hugs, Heidi
A few years ago, I competed in a women’s triathlon. When a competitor arrived for the event, a volunteer would write two things on her calf. On the outside of the calf, the volunteer wrote the competitor’s race number. On the back of the calf, the volunteer wrote the woman’s age. As I competed that day, whenever I would race behind a woman, I noted her age and her figure. Was she thinner than me, or bigger? Older and younger? I wanted to be thinner than the other women, and younger, too. I hated to realize that many times, I was neither.
Suddenly, I felt a firm conviction from the Lord. “You’ve set a standard for your life that did not come from Me.” Having a perfect figure had always been so important to me; but apparently, not for God. As a child, I was a normal weight, but was pushed into dieting at a young age. I wonder now if it was because I developed early, and the extra curves made everyone uncomfortable. Either way, I knew my body was the problem in my family, and I needed to “fix” it. When I wanted to eat normal food, instead of diet food, I had to sneak it. I felt guilty about my appetite. I also felt doomed, because I wanted more. More food, more approval, more love, and more of anything than filled the aching hole in my heart.
When bullies at school targeted me, they made fun of my body. Humiliated daily, I retreated further into both shame and striving. If only I were perfect, I thought, the bullies would stop. I made it my mission to eliminate anything that made me a target for cruelty. I wanted, above all, to fit in. To be perfect, and perfectly acceptable.
Believing the lie that perfection is a good and obtainable standard is like staring into the eyes of a snake. I’ve read that some snakes hypnotize their prey this way, rendering them immobile before the poisonous strike. Overeating became a way for me to “break the trance” of perfection. It allowed me to give up the fight temporarily. But God calls me to give up the fight forever. He is asking me to love peace not perfection.
Surrendering to God by living within my 0-5 boundaries also means surrendering my attempts to insulate myself from pain. God never promised to spare me from reality; He did, however, promise to redeem it. To have the peace of surrender, I must accept the pain and uncertainty of imperfections. I must, actually, accept myself.
And that’s a race I’m just starting.
Hunger Within states, “When we are assaulted in this spiritual battle and tempted to give way to despair and old patterns of thinking and behaving, we must remind ourselves that God has provided his spiritual armor to equip us for holy action.”
How About You?
” Abstain from sinful desires that wage war against your soul.”
~ 1 Peter 2:11
“If you had only known on this day what would bring you peace.”
~ Luke 19:42
What desires are stirring your discontent and anger? And what choices could you make, just for today, that would bring you peace?
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom. Song of Solomon 2:15
…A taste of the spaghetti sauce while it is simmering…”SooOOOOooo good!,” …it requires another taste and just one more!
…A french fry (or two…or six!) from a family member’s “Happy Meal”…”Ooh! I need me some of these!”
…Just one more handful of popcorn at the movies…”Ok, well, maybe one more….”
While it is certainly true that Solomon probably didn’t have these scenarios in mind when he penned the request to “Catch for us the foxes that ruin the vineyards,” there is definitely an interesting principle that we can draw from the biblical context of the verse.
Small foxes can ruin a wonderfully good thing.
Do you find that you aren’t quite experiencing the physical results that you feel you should be as you apply yourself to eating between physical hunger and satisfaction? While it is my deepest heart’s desire to convey that this journey is about SO much more than food and weight, the fact does remain–at least in part–most of us chose to connect with Thin Within in the first place because we felt that we could/should be a smaller size than we were (I know this isn’t true of everyone…many of you hope to be willing to eat what God calls you to eat instead of restricting).
It IS true that God may be teaching you personally that HIS desire for you is to be content at a certain size instead of something as small as you had hoped, but if the size that you think you are supposed to accept contributes to extreme health problems, perhaps there is still yet work to do. If you aren’t seeing some progress in letting go of the physical weight, I want to suggest that you evaluate:
Are there little foxes ruining this vineyard?
It takes a lot of work to get a vineyard to produce! The worst thing to a vineyard owner is to put all that time, money, and effort into having a producing vineyard only to have the little foxes ruin it all. Charles Wesley is credited to have said:
Spoil vines – foxes do this many ways, by gnawing and breaking the little branches and leaves, by digging holes in the vineyards, and so spoiling the roots. Tender grapes – Which are easily spoiled, if great care be not used to prevent it.
I realized that the little foxes running amok in my life and my attempts to adhere to the principles and boundaries that God has led me to embrace (0 to 5 eating) were a problem for me. I had waited for my definitive hunger signal at one particular lunchtime. I eagerly put left over Mexican food in the oven to heat up. Even as I set the timer for 15 minutes, I realized that my hunger was INCESSANT! I reached for small fox #1…a few chips. “Yum!” Then small fox #2…A cookie. “Yes, perfect!” Small fox #3…A bite of frosting from the jar…”That will do.”
All three foxes had dashed through before the meal emerged from the oven. By the time my leftovers were heated, I wasn’t hungry any longer and the amount of food that I had placed in the oven was based on my eating it from hunger to satisfaction…not from whatever-hunger-number-I-was-at-currently to a 5. Meaning, by eating the amount I had prepared, I was almost assuredly overeating! Being a “veteran” Thin Withinner I had put a fist sized portion in the oven, but only now I needed to be honest…there was a “three-finger sized” amount of space left in my stomach!
This didn’t happen just once before I became aware of the little foxes, either. It happened numerous times…each time with the justification of “Well, I am hungry!'” The truth is, if all of those little bites were going to be a part of my meal—used to satisfy my hunger—they needed to be considered. The portion I was yet waiting on from the oven might not even be necessary at all!
Having shared this with some of my coaching clients who have lamented that they wonder about their physical results not being quite what they had hoped, they have approached their eating with additional vigilance. You know what has happened? You guessed it. The physical changes are happening once again.
How About You?
On your way to your God-given natural size, every so often you might have to re-evaluate, refine, hone in on what is going on. Is it possible that you could benefit from evaluating if the little foxes are ruining your hard work? They can be quite subtle and we tend to justify and minimize them. Consider this thought, though…When we justify them not only do those small bites here and there represent energy that we are consuming that our body may not need, but might it also be adding a little bit of hardening to our hearts spiritually speaking? Maybe we can ask God to make us sensitive to His leading so that we get rid of the little foxes and welcome His Presence as the good Vinedresser that He is into our Vineyard!
I must start by sharing this happy realization. A few months ago, Heidi recorded a long winded 40-45 minute conversation with me about breaking free from dieting. The Lord has delivered me so far from dieting now that I can barely remember the details of how I broke free! Now, that’s freedom. But, I will use my journal to help me remember my steps because I want to encourage any of you who are still stuck, or partially stuck, in diet land to break free and leave it behind.
I was prepped from an early age to diet. I watched my mother and her friends diet, jazzercise, jog and talk about what they should and shouldn’t eat. While I did not follow an official diet until I was 31 years old, I knew that I should never eat chicken skin, fried food, chips, candy, ice cream, cream sauces, etc, etc. I knew the “rules” without following a particular plan. But, eventually I was tired of my extra 30 pounds, post-baby weight included, and I joined a popular dieting program. My type- A self jumped in with both feet and thus began my obsession with my weight, food, exercise and clothing size.
My mind became full of rules – about exercise and food – and I became obsessed. When I look back, I can’t believe the time that I wasted planning meals and workouts – and all of the attention I put on my body and not on the people who really mattered. I am the saddest when I remember hanging out with my kids and, while I looked like I was paying attention to them, my mind was really in food and workout planning mode. I thought I was happy when I was skinny, but I am now so thankful that I had health issues that caused me to gain weight and then forced me to stop exercising. God met me in that fearful place and revealed to me that I could live a life in freedom with Him. I am not exaggerating when I say that the first Thin Within workbook truly brought me to Christ and helped me to really understand who Christ is and what he did and continues to do for believers. I started to sense that freedom from dieting and exercising was possible, but the lies of the world kept pulling me back. It took almost 2 years for me to really see the Truth and to really commit to this way of life. And I am not looking back!
The breaking of my diet chains was multifaceted, but the most important part was prayer. I prayed every day, starting last January, to be set free from the bondage of dieting, over-exercising and body image issues. Then, in February, when I realized that had some heart issues that were contrary to godliness, I prayed Psalm 51:10: Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me. Let me stress, I prayed this every day, multiple times a day.
And then I found the “God is doing a new thing bible study” in March and began focusing on the renewing of my mind. I took notes and studied the scripture and made scripture cards. With daily study and prayer, the Truths of God’s word and character and love moved from my mind to my heart. And within a few months, I knew that I would never, could never, diet again. I wanted my mind and heart set on my Creator and Lord, my Abba, my Savior, my Healer, and not on the size of my clothes.
Do I backslide? Sure. Sometimes I try on an old dress and hope it fits. Sometimes I eat too much at dinner. Sometimes I think about carbs vs. proteins. Sometimes I think I should run a few more miles. But then quickly, and it happens faster and faster these days, I remember the Truths in the Bible and the freedom, peace and joy that I feel when I live in God’s boundaries and on His path. I can then leave the worldliness behind and focus on Him. I put on His armor (Ephesians 6:10-17) and let Him fight my spiritual battles.
Friends, if you have put trust and faith in diets or workout plans, you are not alone. It is what our culture asks of its people, especially women. But you can break the mold, you can live in freedom. I, who used to be obsessed with counting every morsel that I ate and evaluating its nutritional value, drank a milkshake for lunch last week! A full fat butter pecan ice cream milkshake! But, since I have the freedom to drink milkshakes any day of the year (although this was my first in over a decade), I only drank 2/3 of it. I was satiated. It was enough. God’s love and grace is more than enough for each of us – they are sweeter and more satisfying than any dessert imaginable.
~ Carrie (Not South Africa) 🙂
What About You?
Do the chains of dieting still hold you fast? Do you believe that God can call you to freedom without the use of a diet or restrictive eating plan and rigorous exercise that is harder on your body than you know you should do? Will you consider possibly renewing your mind with truth? God never intended for food to torment us or for our avoidance of it to become an obsession. Let us know how we can pray for you.