It’s officially one year that I’ve been free. Free from bondage to food. Free from obsession about eating and my weight. Free from the chains that were wrapped tightly around me. Free from being and feeling overweight. As I came upon my one year anniversary, I felt the Holy Spirit ask me to think about writing a blog post about why this time has been different. If you never read a single blog post I write again, I pray you read this one!
This kind of freedom is a new thing for me, even though Thin Within has been a part of my life for over 11 years. I have started and stopped Thin Within more times than I can count. I would release some weight, backslide, gain some weight, start all over, release some weight, backslide…well, you get the point. In fact, you might know exactly what I’m talking about. But this time is different. This time, there is no backsliding. There is no starting all over again. I am free from the pit of overeating, self-condemnation, feeling uncomfortable in my clothes (and in my own skin), shame, obsessive thoughts about eating and food, comparison with other women, operating in my own efforts, and I am free from excess weight. Praise the Lord, He is so good!
I really began to think about what has made this time different for me. And as I thought and prayed through why this time was so different from my previous attempts to lose weight and find freedom, I came up with a pretty good list of things that I hope will be of some help and encouragement to others. My friends, lasting freedom with food and weight loss isn’t just something we strive for, it’s something we can actually take hold of! Thin Within is the real deal, freedom is really possible and I’m living proof of that. If I can break a lifelong battle with food, and an 11 year roller-coaster relationship with Thin Within, you can find victory too.
1) I was ready. I think we all have times where we begin a new weight loss journey and we think “this is it! This time will be different!” and then 3 months later we’re right back where we started, only 5 lbs. heavier. I grimace over how many times I have I prayed “Oh Lord, please free me from being overweight,” while I was simultaneously eating 3 dozen Oreo cookies. That was my cycle for the longest time. I can’t tell you how many times I wrote “Day 1” in my Thin Within journal. But this time really was different. This time, I felt like I was finally at the end of myself. I wanted to be DONE with this nonsense forever. Not only that, but I was finally ready to put in some hard work. I think God is always ready to put in the hard work on our behalf, but it also requires a little effort on our part to cooperate. We have to work with Him! This time, I was finally ready to put in some daily elbow grease, committed to not giving up or getting lazy or complacent and to actually DO something about this.
2) Actions Follow Beliefs. “See, I am doing a new thing!” (Is 43:19) was a verse that was very hard for be to believe at first. I had tried Thin Within so many times that I thought God couldn’t possibly be doing something new in me. I thought He must have been so stinking sick of my cycle of failure that He had all but given up on helping me. Similarly, I believed that I was a failure and always would be when it came to Thin Within. But I began to pray that God would allow me to change my beliefs about Him and about myself this time around. Slowly, I began to really believe He was doing a new thing in me and I began to change my beliefs about myself. As my beliefs changed, my actions followed. As I began to really believe I was a naturally thin eater, I began to eat like one. As I began to believe God really did want to set me free and that He really was doing a new thing, I started seeing evidence of it everywhere. Changing our beliefs to line up with God’s truth is essential. Because when we believe something to be true, our actions almost always follow.
3) I wasn’t alone. In years past, I kept my Thin Within journey very quiet. Except for my husband, not many people knew I was trying to lose weight. I was too scared of failing and being embarrassed to admit I had not succeeded, yet again. So I never had any accountability or support. It was a pretty lonely journey. But this time was different! I decided to tell my women’s Bible study that I was doing Thin Within so they could pray for me. And I also began coaching with Heidi and participating in the Facebook group. Being able to find support, encouragement, truth and accountability with other people has been such a help! Obviously Heidi is amazing…full of wisdom, encouragement and truth. I can’t say enough good things about coaching with her! But you don’t have to do coaching to find support and encouragement. All you need is to be a little vulnerable and reach out. Tell your sister, mom or a fellow Christian friend. Tell your husband or reach out to one of the many awesome participants in our Facebook group! I know many people are looking for a buddy to lean on in this journey and our Facebook group is full of them!
4) I prepared for battle. I wrote a big long blog post about this several months ago, but my conviction hasn’t wavered at all about this. In fact, it’s just gotten stronger. Our Thin Within journey is a spiritual battle ground. Ultimately Thin Within draws us closer to our Savior and this is a threat to the enemy. The devil fears our freedom, so he will stop at nothing to keep us locked up in chains. He wants those chains wrapped so tightly around us that we couldn’t possibly dream of breaking free. He knows our weak points, he knows what buttons to push, he knows what traps we might fall into and he certainly knows how to distract us. And he is not going to let up (1Peter 5:8). So we’ve got to combat that! We can’t just sit on the sidelines and expect to not deal with this stuff. I began to pray daily against any anything that was trying to come against me and halt my progress. I truly believe that has made all the difference this time around. Daily, I have called upon Jesus’ name to help me fight any opposition I may face in this walk and He has been faithful to help me. Every morning I put on my spiritual armor and I pray that God would give me victory against any stumbling block that satan was trying to put in my way. When we resist the devil, he will flee from us (James 4:7) along with his schemes to keep us stuck in binge eating patterns, emotional eating, unworkable thought patterns, shame, discouragement etc. With the devil at bay, it’s much easier to walk in lasting victory! We are a part of a cosmic battle (Eph 6:12). The sooner you realize this, clothe yourself in God’s spiritual armor and begin praying against the devil, the sooner you’ll break free. It might get harder before it gets easier, but this is a ticket to freedom.
5) Failure isn’t always bad. Sometimes, when we fail, it’s actually a good thing! I had 11 years worth of Thin Within failure under my belt that I finally decided to use as ammunition this time around. Through all of my failures, I have accumulated a vast amount of knowledge about how I operate. I began to be able to see a pattern to my eating cycles, motivations for eating outside of my boundaries, identifying emotions or events that are triggers for me to break my boundaries. This is some seriously rich information! Rather than feel defeated by my past failure, I was able to use it to my advantage. If we are careful to observe our failures, they can yield vital patterns and unworkable beliefs for us to pray about and work through. There is so much fruit in this! Once we are able to identify some of our issues that get wrapped up in our failure, we can begin to pray them away and allow the Lord to restore us. I’ll talk more about this specifically in my next point…
6) Bye bye pride. My downfall has always been pride. In every area of my life, but most certainly in my Thin Within walk. I began to notice that after any tiny amount of success I would have at releasing weight, I would immediately think “ok, I’ve totally got this. I can just do it on my own now, thanks God!” I would turn into Abigail the Achiever (pg.121, Thin Within) and begin to operate in my own efforts. Well we all know how well that goes (not well, for any of you who don’t struggle with this)! All of my past failures, help reveal to me that pride is a major problem in my Thin Within walk. So this time, I began to pray daily against pride and for humility. And God has been so faithful to help me develop a humble heart that yields to Him. This has been great not only for my Thin Within journey, but for life in general! Just like with my spiritual warfare battle, this is something I pray about every. single. day. Remember when I said I was willing to put in some elbow grease this time around? Daily prayer is part of that! If you have been able to identify certain feelings (loneliness, sadness, anxiety) or situations (fighting with your spouse, hard day at work) that cause you to fall into breaking your eating boundaries, are you actively praying about those feelings and situations? Daily prayer against our strongholds is a ticket to freedom.
7) Persistence, not perfection. Anyone who has been around Thin Within long enough has heard Heidi say these words. And they are so so so true! I have learned that this journey isn’t about perfection in maintaining our 0-5 boundaries, it’s about persistence in returning to them whenever we get of track. In the past year that I have released all of my excess weight and found true and lasting freedom, I’ve eaten countless meals outside of my 0-5 boundaries. I remember a particularly bad 4-10 meal I had the day after Christmas haha! I don’t say this to give you license to break your boundaries, but to encourage you that even in failure, God is faithful to us when we are faithful to return to the boundaries He has set for us. I have faltered, stumbled, broken my boundaries, been disobedient, snacked when I shouldn’t have and had whole entire weeks where it seemed like I couldn’t eat a single meal within my 0-5 boundaries. I have been frustrated with myself, discouraged and have often doubted if I was truly changing. But through it all, I have continued to confess my disobedience, observe, correct and accepted God’s grace while returning to my 0-5 boundaries. And God has been faithful to help me release weight. It’s not about if we fall of the horse, because we will all fall; it’s about how long we stay off before getting back on. The sooner we get back on, the closer we are to lasting freedom. I used to fall of the horse and then I’d wallow in defeat for 3 months while eating like crazy. Now, when I make a bad choice, I simply observe, correct and return to 0-5 without wallowing in defeat and shame. My persistence has been rewarded and has kept me on the path to freedom.
8) Mind renewal. Renewing my mind has been absolutely vital! I’ve loved seeing all the creative ways people come up with for renewing our minds. Whether you write out truth cards or compile a journal full of Bible verses, use the I Deserve A Donut app or simply pray through a verse God has lead you to, renewing our mind is so very important. I have a journal FULL of things that I use to renew my mind. Some things are just quick little sayings, like “He is equipping me for lasting change” and some things are quotes from the Thin Within book. Some are things Heidi spoke to me during my time coaching with her. Some are Bible verses God has lead me to. I also keep a gratitude list and a running list of things God has allowed me to I’ve accomplish (I made it through an all you can eat buffet and stayed between 0-5! Hallelujah!) in this journal. Any time I feel tempted, discouraged or unsure if I can really do this, I just have to open that journal and pick a few things to read. Instantly, I am in a new mindset. God is so faithful to help us transform ourselves through the renewing of our minds!
9)It’s a daily thing. Have you noticed a general theme here of me praying daily? That’s because it is absolutely vital! I used to pray about my weight loss journey every now and then…mostly when I was feeling particularly burdened. Once a week, twice a week. I’d start out strong and then I would get distracted and lose focus. But the Lord really impressed upon my heart this time that it is essential to seek Him in this area of my life every single day. Can God do a miracle based off of one earnest prayer? Yes! Could He immediately release me from my chains of bondage because of one prayer I prayed? You bet! But is He maybe a bit more interested in me seeking Him over and over again, day after day, so that I draw closer to Him and begin to fellowship more intimately with Him? Probably. If you have been stuck in bondage your entire life to something… I’m sorry, but I think you’re going to have to put in a little daily elbow grease in. Seeking God, reading His Word, renewing your mind with His truth and praying every single day is a ticket to freedom, even more so if you’re doing these things at times when you feel tempted to overeat, snack when you’re not hungry or feeling a trigger emotion (anxiety, sadness, loneliness, stress etc.) so that He may strengthen you (Psalm105:4). Set an alarm on your phone that reminds you to pray, wake up an extra 30 minutes earlier, carve out time after dinner to renew your mind so that you avoid the temptation of dessert if you’re already at a 5. Do whatever you have to do, but seek His face earnestly every single day (John6:27).
10) God first, weight loss second. This might be my last point, but it’s the most important one. Thin Within used to be just a way for me to try and drop a size. It used to just be my go-to method for shedding some extra weight so I could fit into a bridesmaid dress or try and get back into an old pair of jeans. Sure, I’ve always prayed through my journey and tried to honor God. But my real intention and motivation was losing weight. But this time, it’s been about honoring God first. The weight loss has just been a secondary afterthought. I’ve been so focused on getting closer to God, renewing my mind and following Him in obedience, that I’ve hardly even thought much about the weight loss aspect. Yes, of course it’s a motivation and it’s wonderful to know that I have released all my excess weight and dropped a few dress sizes in the process. But that’s not what this is about for me anymore. It’s about drawing closer to my Creator. It’s about getting to know Him more. It’s about allowing His transformative love and power to change my heart and my mind. It’s about seeking humbly after Him and trying to follow Him in obedience through my boundaries. It’s about spending time with the Lord of the universe. Everything else is just a happy afterthought. True freedom is not found in our own efforts, it’s found in drawing closer to the power, love and presence of Jesus Christ.
How about you? Did anything stick out to you as something you might try to implement on your own journey? Do you feel convinced that this time will be different for you? Do you think lasting freedom is really possible? Could you create your own list of what is making this time different for you?