If I had a dollar for every time I said I was starting over on something, I’d have, I don’t know…a lot of dollars. And if I had a dollar for every time I started a health journey over, I’d have enough dollars to buy some really nice Spanx.
And yet, here I am again, starting over on a health journey. Again.
Every time I do this, I swear it’s not a diet. I promise myself it’s going to be a lifestyle change. I vow it will be the final time I need a reset because I will take care of myself from here on out. I look myself in the eye and tell myself I am worth it; that I am worthy of the love I am showing myself by taking care of my health. I pray to God, repenting of the sin of treating my body, his creation, like a dumping ground. I ask for forgiveness for making food an idol; the thing I run to for comfort instead of my Heavenly Father. I jump in with both feet, both hands, both chins, and I make changes needed to become the healthiest version of myself.
So what is my problem? Why am I carrying more weight than I’ve ever carried in my entire life? Why are my hormones out of control? Why is my skin a mess?
I could give the laundry list of health issues I have working against me losing weight. I could speak of health issues I have because I haven’t lost the weight. I could talk about menopause. I could give all the reasons and all the excuses. Sometimes I feel like it’s such a vicious cycle I want nothing more than to throw up my hands and pour a glass of red wine. Or white.
The reality is I have never, in my entire life, had a healthy relationship with my body. Growing up, I was tiny. I was petite and muscular and adorable, but I never saw myself as such. I lived my life in constant fear of gaining weight because my mom was overweight. I remember learning about the food pyramid in elementary school (the old version with bread on the bottom row) and keeping copies in my room and on the fridge in order to track what I was eating. I believed if I could control my diet and keep it within the pyramid, I would be alright.
Something in me never allowed me to see myself as beautiful. Was it boys who made rude comments? Maybe, but kids are just kids, right? Was it comparison to other girls? Maybe, but I knew I wasn’t much smaller or bigger than girls I thought were much prettier than me. Was it teen magazines making an ideal out of waif models in the 1990s? Possibly, but I also accepted my bone structure alone would never allow me to look like Kate Moss.
I don’t have one particular answer as to why I couldn’t grasp the idea of loving myself or, more specifically, my body. What I do know, however, is that I am not alone. I know it is more common that not for women to have some sort of body dysmorphia. I know the rate of eating disorders for women is so much higher than any of us want to admit. But I also see more and more women coming into a place of loving comfort with their body; a friendship with the casing carrying around their heart and soul…and I want that.
I want to take care of myself because I am worthy of love. I want to treat myself with love because I am valuable. I want to look at my body, as she is, and remember her strength and resilience. She has done amazing things! I am proud of her, and she deserves to be celebrated. I want to treat her like the friend she is instead of some separate thing to be hated and abused.
So here I go, starting over, again. It’s a health journey and not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. Actually, no; it’s a mindset change. Actually, no. I don’t want to label it. I’m just learning some new ways of living that include speaking to myself with gentle love. I’m learning to feed myself what I need, when I need it, but not hate myself when I mess up. I’m learning to lean into Jesus instead of food. Again.