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My Story: Finding a Healthy Lifestyle
March 25, 2016
Hi all. Sorry I haven't posted much, but I have been busy colleging as well as writing this blog post. Recently, I have felt this tugging on my heart from God to share a personal struggle of mine…here…on the blog. Crazy, right? As someone who enjoys talking to people one on one, it’s terrifying to share something so incredibly personal to so many people all at once. But, here I am. Here goes nothing.
Before I begin, though, I want to be make a couple of things clear: 1.) What I am about to share is not a result of anything anyone has said or done to me, and 2.) I am not a registered dietitian or a health expert—everything I am about to say is my own personal opinion and experience.
I remember the first time I felt fat. I was in 7th grade and I remember crying as I read the number on the scale and from that point on I was determined to be skinnier. I began working out at the YMCA and doing Taekwondo. I fell in love with both. As an incredibly shy Jr. Higher, Taekwondo was the perfect outlet. I learned to be competitive and stand up for myself. Granted, it took a while, but I did learn. I began to eat better to balance my working out habits and the pounds began to fall off—it was great! For the first time in my life I had healthy eating habits coupled with regular exercise and I was happy.
In High School, I began to run with my mom three times a week and loved the time to get outside and spend time with my mom. I ate healthily about eighty percent of the time, I was a healthy weight, and I was exercising regularly. After a year, I fell out of running, ate more sweets, and gained back a little bit of weight. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to cause insecurity to seep back into my life. I began to run again and cut out all sweets in my attempts to get skinny, but in the process, I fell away from what it really, truly means to live a healthy lifestyle. I began to eat less and workout more, and I would become anxious if I could not workout or eat healthy food. I began labeling food as “good” and “bad” and would avoid any “bad” food at all costs. If I did eat bad food, I would become angry, frustrated, and anxious. I even began to avoid situations in which I wouldn’t be able to workout or eat healthy food. I faked my way through life. On the outside, I would pretend to be happy and at peace; but really, pride, control, fear, and anxiety had a grip on my heart. I pushed people and God out and made myself the center of my life.
Me during my senior year of high school
Guys. This is not the way to spend your life. Food was meant to be enjoyable.
I mean...look at those pancakes!
Exercise was meant to be enjoyable.
Like doing Taekwondo with friends!
Neither are meant to be the cause of anxiety or fear. Both are meant to be ways in which to enjoy the body God has given us. It is so hard though, in a world that bombards us with the ideas that you must be doing cardio a certain number of days a week for a certain amount of time or you must go on this detox or diet to lose those last few stubborn pounds—then, and only then will you be happy. I mean, look at how happy the people on Instagram, Facebook, TV, etc. look as they strike a pose and show off their new and “better” bodies. It all looks shiny and easy and glamorous.
Well, it’s not.
Don’t get me wrong. Having a nice body is not wrong. Being confident with your body is not wrong. What I’m saying is that living a healthy lifestyle is not a quick one week detox or a thirty day diet plan or running a couple miles a day. Yes, those can be a part of a healthy lifestyle, but that’s it…they’re only a part of a healthy lifestyle.
When I was in that place of insecurity and fear, I wasn’t sure how I’d ever get out. I felt trapped. But, in God’s mercy, He came to me and spoke truth into my life as I stared at the scale and read the number of a crazy low weight, and I was afraid. I was afraid because even though I had reached my goal of being “skinny” I was not happy and I was not healthy. In that moment, I realized I had been controlling my own life and relying on myself for everything. What’s even more amazing to me, is that even though I was terrified, God was gentle. He was kind. He was loving. He spoke to me with compassion and love, “Is this really what you wanted? Do you want to be in control of your life?”
No, this is not what I wanted and no, I didn't want to control my life.
I tried to be the healthiest person I could be and I became the unhealthiest I had ever been. I have been on both spectrums, overweight and underweight—and guess what? I wasn’t happy on either side. As I look back, I am ashamed of all the time I spent away from friends and family because I was afraid of being fat—I’ll never be able to get that time back. However, I realize the longer I spend dwelling on my shame and guilt, the longer the enemy has control of my heart and there is no way I am allowing him in again. So, here I am. Confessing to all of you my imperfections and sin—and it is oh so liberating.
In God alone I found confidence. In Him I found assurance. In Him I found security.
The past couple of years have been a time of recovery, both physically and mentally. There are still days when I feel insecure and can become wrapped up in my physical appearance or the size of my clothes, but in those times, I have been able to realize that these words are not of Him and should be discarded immediately. Instead of fearing food, I have embraced it and look at it as fuel to keep my body healthy and happy. Instead of relying on exercise to be the determiner of what I eat or don’t eat, I use it as a way of becoming stronger and of glorifying God with the body He has given me. How amazing is it that He provides us with this body to lift heavy weights, run long distances, walk, do the splits, do pull ups—just moving our body! And also, how amazing is it that He provides us with the goodness of food to fuel all of the exercise we are able to do (more on all of that another time…I don’t want to rant more than I need to)! He is a good and gracious God.
I would encourage anyone that is in the midst of insecurity, fear, or shame associated with food and exercise to know there is a way out and you are not alone. There are so many people out there willing to come along side of you and help you recover.
To those of you who struggle to live a healthy lifestyle, I would encourage you to answer this question: Why do I want to live a healthy lifestyle? If your answer comes out of a place of fear or insecurity, I would ask you to reevalute your reasoning.
To both groups of people, I would suggest reading the following bloggers. They helped me broaden my view of health, wellness, and food, and I'm sure they will help you as well.
Thanks for taking time to read this blog post! I love all of you dearly and am so thankful for your love and support. Please know I am open to answering any questions you may have regarding this post--I would love to talk to you!