In Thin Within we refer to “phases”…it isn’t just a one-size-fits-all, do-this-and-presto! sort of experience. The phases that are considered a part of Thin Within in the published material are 1.) The Freedom Phase 2.) The Discernment Phase 3.) The Mastery Phase. This may not paint the complete picture for all participants, however. Here is how one participant, who previously struggled with binge-eating, describes the phases during her own journey so far.
My Phases of Thin Within
1. Eating for hunger: Freedom. When I was first introduced to the Thin Within material, I was exhilarated. No weighing and measuring? I can eat sweets in moderation instead of bingeing on them? Really? I thought I was addicted to sweets and had to avoid them for the rest of my life. I tried to wait for hunger but unwisely let myself get too hungry. I wasn’t eating enough. I ended up replicating the starve/binge pattern that I had developed with my eating over the years. But it was an introduction, and I had hope that this approach could work for me. I just didn’t know how to work it.
2. Eating for satisfaction: Binge-free. With support from Heidi, I moved into phase 2. I started focusing more on eating for satisfaction. The binges stopped abruptly. It was a miracle. But I was still relying on calorie counting and meal patterns (three meals and two snacks) to help me feel safe and to regulate my overall food intake. I was able to have some flexibility around these old rules, but was afraid (and felt unable) to totally cast them off. I was on the path to freedom and incredibly grateful not to be bingeing. In my old mindset, this would have been “in recovery,” but I wanted more. I was on the path to freedom, but not there yet. I didn’t want to be self-regulating my food. I wanted to let go and let God more, but again, felt stymied. I didn’t know what to do to get to the next level (sounds like a video game, doesn’t it?)
3. Discernment: letting go of food restrictions. Phases two and three have been interwoven for me. At first, I was afraid that I couldn’t eat sweets in moderation, so I had only small amounts of sweets and that worked great. Then I tested my limits by eating pop tarts for breakfast and having bread sticks for a snack. I didn’t binge, but I did learn that “everything is permissible, not everything is beneficial” because the more I relied on eating sweets and highly refined carbohydrates, the more sweets and highly refined carbohydrates my body craved, and it felt wrong. I downsized my sweet intake back to where it had been originally: sweets as treats, rather than as staples, and that feels a lot better.
4. Mastery: Freedom in Christ. A whole new level of letting go. This is a prediction rather than a review. I’m not sure about this. I don’t know where I’m going. But I have hope. I’m not bingeing or restricting. I’ve been binge-free for over six months. I’ve learned that my body does not want sweets and highly refined carbohydrates in anything but small amounts. With phases 2 and 3 under my belt, I now feel more ready to let go in the way I tried to do when I started trying to implement Thin Within. Perhaps I’ve come full circle, but maybe it’s a spiral rather than a circle. Now I have freedom in Christ: I am less in charge and have to be more open to the Spirit’s leading. Maybe my meals will be regular and predictable, maybe they won’t be. God is in charge. Until now, I have relied on counting calories as a way to reduce my anxiety – not all of the time, but much of the time. Now I want to turn to God to reassure me that he won’t steer me wrong. One challenge here is that feeling of chaos is almost intolerable to me. I want to trust God, but my ongoing struggle has been not trusting God. So putting myself back in God’s loving arms on a moment-by-moment or at least on an as-needed basis is my directive right now. I am ok. God is with me.
How About You?
Can you identify with this person’s struggle? What phase are you in? What might it take for you to press forward to the next phase? What is God’s Spirit testifying to your heart right now?
It’s so true about TW being in phases. It’s like God is gently helping us overcome little by little until it’s one huge victory.
I didn’t really understand the phases. I’m so thankful for this post re: the phases. I was feeling pretty defeated that I hadn’t really gotten it yet.
Oh, Beth. Please don’t ever feel that way. Tell yourself the truth which…I can honestly tell you…we go in and out of “phases” naturally. Sometimes it is a progression, but sometimes, it is forward and back again. We may experience the freedom of mastery, only to find we are back at the “freedom phase” all over again wondering where our discernment and freedom really went? It feels sometimes like we are back in kindergarten. I really don’t feel like this journey is linear at all. It is more like a snorkeling adventure! We dive down when we want to experience and explore, but we come up again…and go along the surface for a bit…and then plunge down deep again. And so on! It is an adventure all right!
This was very helpful for me! 😉 I’m reaffirmed that this God’s plan for my health. Eating 0-5 and making healthy choices over all. Eating small amounts of sweets. Tonight I passed up a butter horn roll. My dear husband offered me his half. But I just felt that the Holy Spirit in me was saying not tonight. Plus we had just had dinner. I was not hungry. Maybe if I get hungry later I will have my organic cereal for a snack with my almond milk. So fun being led by the Holy Spirit and follow his plan for my life. It truly is freeing. Knowing that I can have sweets and other treats as long as I feel in my heart God is saying yes my child you may have that Is so freeing. God is teaching me self control that is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. So wonderful to have a personal counselor always with me. 🙂
2 Timothy 1:7
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.
2 Peter 1:6
And in [exercising] knowledge [develop] self-control, and in [exercising] self-control [develop] steadfastness (patience, endurance), and in [exercising] steadfastness [develop] godliness (piety),
Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].
Jamie, I love the way you put this. God IS always with us personally “coaching” and “counseling” us regarding “Spirit-led” eating! I love it!
This post has been so helpful to me. I think I’m in Phase 1. I’m going to be ok with this right now. What I’ve learned about myself as I’ve started on this TW path is that I’ve been very unhealthy in my approach to food and weight loss. And here I was all the time I was not “dieting” but just “choosing to be healthy” 🙂 I realize now that I really have been on a constant diet and have issues (major issues) with restrictive eating and I am a binge eater. ugh. But God is greater than all these bad eating habits and I can trust to walk in the freedom that He gives! And so here I am, humbled and in Phase 1, just trying to figure out this freedom.
Thanks, Heidi! 🙂