I can’t recall the date or moment when the scale became insignificant to me. I can’t recall the first situation where I didn’t seek and desire validation from someone else about how I looked. I also don’t remember the moment when my health journey became more about what I can do for others versus how I looked to others. All I know is that it happened.
Somewhere along the journey I stopped measuring and counting. I stopped measuring my waist, measuring my weight, measuring my food, counting my calories, counting my steps and counting my time on the treadmill. I traded the old patterns of perfection, comparison, obsession, fear, shame and guilt for ease, peace, faith, freedom, progress and acceptance. I can’t tell you the exact moment this shift happened, because transformation often times doesn’t happen in a moment - it happens through a process.
Processes takes time. Processes initiate progress through different stages. Each stage of the process builds on the previous one until something new is created. Looking at the end product, it is often hard to imagine all the different stages and steps of the process, but we have to remind ourselves that each step is significant and necessary - no matter how insignificant or unnecessary it may appear or feel. Skipping any step in a process will result in an unstable product that may appear to be whole, but when it’s put through trials and tests it proves to be weak and unstable.
Can you relate to trying to fix your weight by putting your trust in a diet system or the new way of eating? Or perhaps you put all your eggs in the exercise basket? No doubt, you may initially experience success with these approaches, but eventually you will break down and revert back to old patterns. I know because I lived in this place for years - the allure of “doing” a diet to “fix” me. I remember getting fired up for my new, fresh, healthy start every Monday morning. I loved the thought of how in control I was going to be come Monday. I loved the thought of how much willpower and motivation I was going to bring forth to make it happen. You know how the story ends because many of you are living this same pattern over and over and over again with no real progress, only frustration, doubt and failure.
So, part of the process of my personal health journey had to be breaking down the lies and revealing the truth about diets so I could finally free myself from the temptation. Let me be clear. This doesn’t mean I am not currently exposed to the diet temptation because every week there is something new people are doing. What is true for me is this - because I went through the process of unraveling this belief and addressing the root of the temptation - it has absolutely no power over me. I have defeated it. I claim my victory every single day and remain in agreement with the breakthrough! (Side note: Some of you have had great victory in your health, but because you failed to remain in agreement with the victory you have been lured back into the defeating thoughts and behaviors that you were delivered from. This is simply a matter of reclaiming the victory and walking in agreement every moment of every day.)
Part of my process to rid myself of the diet temptation was through revelation. I believe when we seek freedom, God gives us the wisdom we need to shine a light on that which was once in the dark. I slowly built up conviction in my heart (by the grace of God) as I became more and more aware and sensitive of the truth and lies hidden beneath the allure of diets. I had been down the well-beaten path of putting my faith into every new quick-fix diet system that came on the market. I gladly relinquished the responsibility for trusting my own body and my own intuition for a solution someone else provided. I did it over and over and over again. I even took matters into my own hands with a black market approach - binging and purging. In those years of dieting, food and weight obsession, addictive exercise and defeating self-talk, I never felt sustained peace. I never ate with ease. I never felt joy to be alive. I never felt I was enough - even if/when I hit the number on the scale. There was always something missing. I always wanted more. I always felt restricted and trapped even when I had success. I lived self-absorbed in my own obsession. I felt imprisoned. I felt weak.
I also had to get really honest with myself. Honesty revealed that when I dieted to hit a number on the scale, my true intention was rooted in my appearance and it was fueled by pride. I wanted to be thin because I believed then I would be enough. You know, attractive and successful enough that people would want to be friends with me. Beautiful and confident enough that men would want to date me. I wanted to look like I had it all together, without actually having it all together. Actually, I can also recall that I use to have a strong belief (in the lie) that fixing the “outside version of me” would transfer to fixing the “inside version of me”. I believed that somehow reaching the best version of my physical self would address the places inside of me that felt afraid, lonely, rejected, unsure, unloved, unvalidated and insignificant. My decision to diet or binge and purge or excessively exercise or starve myself always came out of desperation, fear and lack. And below those places was another belief that I didn’t even realize was there until I was willing to look deep inside myself. It was a belief that said, “Maybe you will never be enough.”
All of these realizations were uncovered in the process. All of this awareness didn’t instantly fix me - it actually made me feel more broken. But it’s in the broken places that healing happens. It’s in the dust of our lives that God makes us into something new and beautiful. I was willing to be broken, if it meant I could be whole. When my intention and focus switched to “I am committed to being whole and healthy on the inside”, I found another step in the process. This step was the battle between my worldly identity and my God identity. Which one was I going to pursue? Which one was going to guide my life?
I had spent so many years rooting my identity in what the world said was valuable, beautiful and worthy and what other people had said about me and done to me that I had no idea who I was without measuring, comparing, striving or competing. I’ve “looked” the part of being healthy, fit and in-control by superficial worldly standards, but inside I lived in a prison cell shackled to doubt, shame, guilt, obsession, envy, selfishness, jealousy and guilt. I realized that in order to live in the open spaces of freedom and full acceptance of who I am, I could no longer identify with the “I’m not enough” identity. So, I went to the only person who knows me completely and still loves me unconditionally - the only person to whom I will always be enough - Jesus. I had to make a decision that “I am who He says I am.”
I want you to understand that what you are searching for - the freedom you desperately want is a process. I created my Healthy Edge program for women out of the process I went through to find my own personal healing and wholeness that yes, resulted in releasing over 25 pounds but that weight is simply an outward manifestation of the emotional weight I released on the inside. Women approach me all the time who want me to boil down what I have done to get my results into a five minute pep talk that includes what I eat for breakfast and how they can drink wine every day and still get results. My healthy body, mind and spirit didn’t happen in an “event”, it happened because I prepared my mind and heart for the journey. I committed myself to the process without expectations of how long it would take or how messy it would get. I created safe boundaries with thoughts, people, food and exercise to nurture my healing, growth and results. And guess what? I am still in the process. I am still uncovering, healing and growing.
Let’s talk a moment about expectations. Many women I talk to about my process to freedom bring their expectations and place them down in front of me as if to say, “this is what it needs to look like or this is not going to work for me.” Although these women are intrigued by the journey and want the freedom I live everyday on the inside and outside, there is a hesitancy when they hear that the process might get messy, emotional, confusing or uncomfortable. It’s at that moment, their hearts and minds close and they decide, “this just isn’t going to work for me”. They are okay with the process I describe as long as it’s comfortable and without pain. But ladies, some of the greatest things in life bear us the most pain. Berlyn was born with no drugs in my mid-wife’s office/birthing room. It was no doubt painful, but it was the best gift of pain I have ever been through. I have actually experienced worst pain than labor and childbirth.
For many, including myself, far worse are the emotional pains of loss, betrayal, rejection and disappointment. These pains don’t just go away after sixteen hours of labor. These pains linger and haunt us. These are the pains that we hold on the inside while we slap a smile on our face for the world. These are the pains we try to numb and shove down with food, alcohol, shopping, relationships, achievements, a dress size, pain pills, etc. And although I am still walking through some pain in my season of life right now, I have no doubt that walking through it will serve me more than running away from it. Do you believe that? I can see other disappointments and pains of my past that have manifested into inner strength, wisdom, faith, trust, patience and joy I would have never discovered in any other way than walking through the pain. And sometimes through the pain is where we discover our passion and purpose for living. Is it worth it? I say yes. What do you say?
Sometimes we have to go through the pain of bondage to enjoy the gift of freedom. We have to go through the pain of rejection to appreciate acceptance. We have to go through the pain of obsession and torment to fully appreciate the gift of peace. I lived on both sides of all of these places. I know that you may be living on the wrong side of the tracks with very little hope that you can cross over to the other side. Let me give you some hope. My journey to the other side truly started when I became more concerned with what God thinks about me than what I think about me. I started to claim the freedom that had always been available to me when I made a decision to let other people off the hook for my happiness, validation and worthiness. Real progress began when I rooted my identity in the truth that God so loved me (and you) that He gave his only son, Jesus, to die on the cross so I could live free from all bondage and temptation. My identity is built on the foundation that this earthly life is nothing compared to the eternal life that is coming - where there will be no pain and no tears and everything that has been lost and broken will be redeemed and restored! With a foundation like this, the number on the scale and counting calories truly becomes insignificant. What is your foundation?
The greatest enemy of our progress in our health is familiarity. We all have predictable thought patterns and behaviors - even if they are pitiful - they are familiar. They are comfortable. We cannot come into our greatest potential in any area of our lives by being committed to extraordinary results and our comfort zone at the same time. We cannot live out our purpose and calling and expect to be comfortable at the same time. It doesn’t happen. You will have to choose.
My prayer is the realization that our ability to love and be loved is not based on our percentage body fat. Getting healthy, losing weight and being physically fit are not what our self-worth is hinged on. Our value as a human being doesn’t ebb and flow with the number on the scale or size pants we wear. This is the foundation of the The Healthy Edge journey. For real freedom, you will have to address the thought patterns and mindsets behind the behaviors otherwise even if you achieve the number or the dress size, you won’t experience the inner victory you thought you would. Then you will find yourself spending your energy and focus trying to keep those outward results while simultaneously sacrificing your peace. Ultimately, you will miss the whole point of the gift of your health.
A healthy body is not so we are superior to other people. It is not so we deserve to be loved and treated well. A healthy body is not to represent to the world that we are in control and have it all together, because deep down none of us have it all together and we definitely aren’t in ultimate control of what happens. It’s also not for our own self-seeking obsession with perfection. It’s not for other people to envy us or compare themselves to us.
A healthy body is the vehicle for our purpose and calling. It is how we show up and experience the world every day. It is the temple that God’s spirit dwells in for those of us who believe in Jesus. Our health requires our participation and taking personal responsibility. It is a process that will refine us, challenge us and strengthen us for the work we have to do. I believe that if we do our part that God will do his part. God leaves space for our decisions. Health is one of these areas. Aside from healing from diseases and conditions that I believe God can do - our personal health is a partnership. Praying to be a size 4 or to not get diabetes while eating processed foods, drinking sodas, living on caffeine and drinking a bottle of wine a night isn’t going to do anything but divert the attention and blame away from yourself to an outside source while your health suffers.
Are you ready to commit to the process of health? Are you “in” even when your expectations are not initially met? Are you willing to go through the uncertainty and messiness for the gift of peace and freedom? It’s time for many of you to let go of seeking instant gratification and validation and begin the process of trusting that loving yourself through healthy thoughts, words, food, relationships and movement will be worth every step of the journey. I would be honored to support you through this process. If you would like to talk to me personally, please schedule a free coaching session and we can talk about your current health reality and together create a game plan for your journey to freedom!