I write this today for my friends who struggle with the incessant need to be skinny. I certainly know this does not apply to everyone, but I also know it is a silent struggle for way too many. You feel like your worth is determined by your size. Our society sends the wrong messages at every turn. Even when you try, it is a message that is very, very hard to escape.

Your worth is not based on skinny.

It’s really, really not. I know it is hard wired into your brain. I know you have grown up believing this at your very core, but it’s not true.  I know you might know this, but do you believe it for YOU? You might tell your friend this, and you want them to know it and believe it and live it and have it nourish their soul. But, can you tell yourself the same thing and believe it?

When I was in grade school, I was one of the chubbier kids in my class and I remember some of the ridicule.  As early as 4th grade I realized that I needed to be skinnier. I have a HORRIBLE memory, but I can distinctly remember praying to God, not to make me perfect, but to make me the size of a girl named Angie Hamlin. I remember it like it was yesterday. I bargained with God, and told him I’d be happy if I could be her size.

This started my worship of skinny.

I remember waking up many, many times with my first thought being “was last night a good or bad night?”  If it was a bad night and I ate too many cookies or chocolate, I would first feel bad about myself, then I would decide how much I would work out that day to make up for the extra calories I had taken in.

I would step on the scale every few days or so and get irritated when it didn’t say what I wanted. “You mean I have worked out 5 hours in 3 days and eaten less than ever and I haven’t lost a single pound?!” Seriously? How is this possible?

I hung onto it for dear life. Being skinny became more important than just about anything else. It was a race I no longer wanted to run, but could not figure out how to finish. It enticed me to do things that I didn’t need to be doing and took the focus off of so many things that were more important. It stole my joy, especially the joy I now find in running. I run now to experience God’s great creation, to appreciate the gift He has given me in a body that can run, to challenge myself, and honestly, to improve my mood.

But I don’t run to be skinny…..most of the time, anyways.

I write this because I know far too many people who are still on this path. Some days, I still find myself on it, but it doesn’t control me like it used to. Here are some steps I have taken to escape.

  1. Accept Yourself As Is: We can all do better. We can all eat better, exercise more, be kinder, love better, give more.   It is good to continually look at our lives and strive to be better. But, that doesn’t mean you are unacceptable today. I always thought that if I got skinny enough, I would be satisfied.  But I still struggle, thinking I could be just 2 pounds smaller. It is so dumb. If you have trained yourself to think this way, it is likely that no matter how thin you get, you will always want more. So, go ahead and start accepting yourself today.  Be done with that once and for all, TODAY.
  2. STEP AWAY FROM YOUR SCALE: I repeat, STEP AWAY FROM YOUR SCALE. I mean this. You can seriously get rid of it. I know some of you weigh yourself every day, maybe even several times a day. I used to do that too. I woke up one day and realized the roller coaster I was riding. My value and then consequently my mood on a certain day were determined by a scale. If it said something I did not like, I would eat my sorrows away and potentially give up on my exercise routine (because clearly I had not lost any weight in the 2 days that I had been working my tail off!). If it said something I did like, I would celebrate with a little treat. I finally decided I no longer wanted my value to be based on some stupid number. Plus, I know if am eating poorly or not. No exercise + a trip to my hidden chocolate stash every night = pants too tight. I get it. I don’t need a scale to tell me that and neither do you.
  3. Realize what you are Worshiping: Skinny is nothing. Where does skinny start? Where does it end? Who defines it? When will it be enough? It is nothing. It is not worth your joy and it is certainly not worth your worship. I know you want to lose weight. I get it, but start by realizing God gave you a temple to NOURISH. Start nourishing your body for the right reasons and you will lose weight.

One of the things I love about being a Christ follower is the example He set. Even though we are very imperfect beings, He still loves us and extended grace to us through the cross. He wants and needs you to extend grace to yourself as well. On this earth, we will never be perfect, always imperfect beings, who have been given grace and who need to extend grace to both ourselves and to our neighbors.

Be grace filled today, my friends. You are so very beautiful just the way you are.

Are there other things you have done to take the focus off of being skinny? If you have, please share them here. I know they will be a big help to everyone.

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