As I look back on my journey, I distinctly remember when I first realized that I struggled with food and weight. I was standing in front of the mirror in my parent’s bedroom, staring intensely at my body’s reflection with displeasure and shame. I hated what I saw, and the condemning thoughts against my body swarmed my mind. From this point onwards, I was continually ashamed of my body. I think I was eight at the time.
The not-so-surprising truth is that I was overweight because I ate incessantly–when I was bored, I ate. When I was sad, I ate. When I was angry, I ate. Food was both my reward and consolation for life events; food acted as a distraction from the everyday, and as a form of entertainment when bored. The obvious result was weight gain that steadily accumulated over the years.
And as I continued to gain weight, I became more and more obsessed with my weight and appearance. I couldn’t pass a mirror without the same condemning thoughts that I first had in front of my parent’s bedroom mirror again confronting me. I loathed what I had become, and almost all there was about me. And I always thought, if only I could stop eating and lose weight—that would solve my problems.
I wanted to change, but I never succeeded. I attempted extreme diets and regimented exercise plans, but nothing changed. I was a dedicated athlete that played multiple varsity sports, but this did not help either. All weight loss attempts eventually ended in failure, and over time I believed more and more that I was a failure. My self-image was dismal, and it truly affected every area of life. It is incredible to look back and see how food and body image controlled me.
The foundation for change began in my late teens. I had recently recommitted myself to Christ and there was a newfound joy that emanated in life. I still struggled with food and weight, but there was a new outlook of hope and joy that came in Christ.
During this season, my mom bought Thin Again for a family friend. Before the book was gifted, it sat on our kitchen table. One evening I was sitting there, and I saw the book and sensed the Holy Spirit say, “Read this.” I fought the idea for a long while, for I assumed Thin Again was filled with clichés and weight-loss antidotes for women. Besides, I thought, my mother had bought this for another person. It wouldn’t be right to take this from him. Still, there was the nagging sensation that the book was for me.
Once I began Thin Again, I realized that my perception of the book was embarrassingly misguided. Thin Again taught me to look at my relation to food and weight in a new light. What caught my attention was the way that the author, Judy Halliday, does not merely focus on changing habits in order to lose weight (though it certainly spoke on those subjects), but the primary focus was on exposing why we eat and believe what we believe about food and ourselves, and then allowing God’s healing hand, truth, and power to bring long-lasting change.
The good news is that I have lost weight since reading Thin Again, and I am a much healthier person than I was in youth and teens. But the greatest benefit has not been a better body and weight loss; rather, the greatest benefit is that food no longer dominates me. I do not live for food, nor do I obsess over losing weight and having a perfect body. I am at peace with who I am in Christ, and I can enjoy food as God intended. Food no longer holds sway over me. And if I do gain weight for whatever reason, it does not destroy me, for I am finally comfortable in my own skin. There is a confidence that whether I gain or lose weight, my body does not define me. The condemning thoughts that I had as a young boy are no more. The corollary result of these changes is that maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle is much easier. It almost feels natural.
For these reasons and more, I am forever grateful for what God has done through Thin Within ministries and what God continues to do through them. I have recommended it time and time again because I know that its message is true, and its principles work.
Kevin O’Farrell lives in Southern California with his lovely wife and cat. Kevin works in software and has his Masters in Theology. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys reading, cooking, and playing soccer.It has been eight years since reading Thin Again.
How About You?
Can you identify with Kevin’s journey? Kevin had previously allowed his struggle and size to define him. God changed that and caused him to evaluate what he believed about himself, God and eating. Have you evaluated this? What can you do today to replace the lies you have believed with truth? (The book that Kevin read has been published by many names over the years. The most recent name is Hunger Within.)