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?