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I remember the day I graduated high school. I was a trim size 6 and 11% body fat (nearly all of which was supported by my bra). I weighed 145 pounds and my doctor told me that with my 5’2″ frame I should weigh around 115. I had heard from various people who mattered to me that it was important to watch what I ate because my genes predisposed me to getting very large and they gently but consistently pushed me to stay thin so that I could stay healthy. I never understood that skinny is not healthy.
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My Secret Life
What no one saw was that I had wavered back and forth for two years already between anorexia and bulimia, trying to feel good about myself and to get everyone to stop commenting so much on what I was eating. I would starve myself for months, and when someone started to notice that, I would start eating and taking pills and purging. I lived in this cycle for nearly twelve years. I was thin, but never healthy. Never. I strove for skinny, not understanding that skinny is not healthy.
And then, I wasn’t skinny any more. I became overweight and unhealthy. And then obese and unhealthy. And then morbidly obese and unhealthy. On my 19th birthday I weighed 199 pounds. I remember looking at the scale in shock and crying. My best friend picked me up, told me I couldn’t be sad on my birthday, and took me out for a dinner filled with trans fat and empty calories to help soothe my sad heart.
I had started to gain weight in response to a personal trauma that I tried to fix with comfort food. It didn’t work, but my body to this day carries the reminder of that trauma because it still carries that weight. My body was most definitely suffering, but my mind and my heart were suffering even more.
From Defeat to Victory
I have since had God gloriously deliver me from that trauma and heal my broken heart. I have been on a journey to heal my broken body so that my external self reflects my healthy, joy filled, whole internal self. When I became pregnant with our first child, I left my eating disorder in the past once and for all because I valued her little life so greatly. I wish I could say it was because I had begun to value myself, but that part of my victory came later.
Even now I have to check my mental responses to food and remind myself that it is not my master. Neither is a number on the scale or even a favorite pair of jeans. God is the only Lord of my life and I refuse to make food, weight, size, health, or fitness an idol ever again.
Choosing Healthy Each Day (Psst: Skinny is Not Healthy!)
What does that mean for me today? Well, I have stopped dieting. I eat a very healthy, whole food oriented menu that is satisfying and delicious. I spent more than five years reading and researching about food and body types and what was going to heal my body from the extreme damage done by a decade of disordered abuse.
When I finally found what was working and began to heal, I didn’t lose anything. I kept telling myself I would be content with a healthy body, even if it was morbidly obese. However, I struggled to be content and I was determined not to associate health with size/weight. I began to learn about valuing myself, no matter what I looked like. Skinny is not healthy; loving yourself is.
The Tools I Use to Maintain Health
One day a friend told me about this book called Trim Healthy Mama by Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett. I avoided reading it for six months because I was never going into the diet addiction phase again; to me, that was swapping one eating disorder for another. However, as I watched her family get healthier and healthier, I became curious enough to get a copy of the book. I’m now down thirty pounds and have been stalled for a season on weight loss, even though I’m still shedding inches.
And I feel great! But more importantly, I feel free. Being bound by food is no longer a part of who I am!
I also began giving my body the supplements it needed. I had always shied away from that investment before, but as I began to love myself I realized it was okay to invest in myself. So I started taking the best multivitamin, probiotics, and omegas I could get my hands on. I love me, and that’s not selfish. It’s actually very healthy. I love me, whether I’m skinny or not.
I also added another key element for health: exercise. But a different kind than I had ever tried before. I am now a “T-Tapper!” T-Tapp was designed long before I ever started working out, but for some reason I’d never heard of it.
Perfect for me with its 18 minute routine (hard to find time to work out with six kiddos!), lack of pressure on my knees, and no weights (so I can do it anywhere I have the time), it’s pretty awesome. I’ve worked on learning the proper form for each move, and as I learn my results grow. But I’ve seen people I know get great results on healing their bodies, not just their shape, and I want those same results.
Have a Healthy Why
Why am I doing all of this? Not because I need it for my self-esteem or for my husband to love me and find me attractive. Not because I have some inner compulsion. That’s not who I am any more.
But because, as you can see in my photo, I have six (update: now eight!) precious children that I want to have the energy to play with and keep up with. I want to show them what healthy living looks like and give them a foundation that they can build their futures on. It’s my God-given responsibility as their mother to disciple them – to teach them to steward the life God has given them body, soul, and spirit. This is part of it.
Do You Struggle With the Believing that Skinny Is Not Healthy?
Why am I sharing all of this with you? Because I know there are other women who have been lied to and told that skinny is healthy. Skinny is not healthy!!! Maybe you’ve believed that self-deprivation is the only way you’ll really be beautiful, that starvation is the only way you can look gorgeous. Or maybe you eat because you can’t seem to help yourself and you feel like a failure every time you’re done. Or maybe you think about your next meal all day long, and miss being able to just live.
Maybe you’ve never felt any of this, but you are overweight and feel like there is no hope. Maybe you look in the mirror and wish you could love what you see. Let me tell, you sweet sister, there is always hope with God. He is able to heal you, inside and out. You are beautiful and lovely and worth loving EXACTLY the way you are. Stop hearing the lies. Please, if you’re on this journey, let me know! I’d love to pray for you and encourage you.
Also, talk to a friend. Saying out loud that you are struggling with this is a BIG first step. After that, eat something healthy. Treat your body to a meal of nourishing food. Invest in yourself. Go for a walk. But most importantly, believe that you are valuable enough to treat well — not because you are skinny, but because God has made you precious.