Lent is NOT a Diet

I was raised in a non-denominational church. Lent was not something we practiced, and not something I knew of until my late teens. I have grown to appreciate the beauty of this season, but the idea of Lent, of “giving up” something for spiritual discipline, initially appealed to me for all the wrong reasons.

The first person I knew to give up anything for Lent was my sister. She gave up French fries. I remember thinking first that she was SO spiritual, much more sacrificial than me. My second thought was, “Wow, I bet a person could get skinny doing this Lent thing.”

So that’s how it began. I liked the spiritual purity of it, and I liked the fact that weight loss may be an “unintentional” side effect. Lent became a way for me to combine my diet goals with my spiritual goals. Fasting has been a spiritual discipline for thousands of years, but thanks to diet culture and my insecurities, all I could think was how nice it would be to serve God AND get skinny. Under the guise of spiritual purity, I could accomplish something that would appeal to my poor body image.

Looking back I can see how much of a contradiction that is. To “sacrifice” for Christ in order to achieve the body of my dreams. It’s kinda laughable, actually. And of course it never happened. I never followed through, I became discouraged by my failings, and I ended up berating myself for my lack of spirituality and self-discipline.

I don’t think that’s the point of Lent. Continue reading “Lent is NOT a Diet”

In Search Of My Goal Weight

“What do you want to change about your body?”

The question must have been standard for the personal trainer asking me, because he asked so nonchalantly, like it was just an everyday conversation topic.

For me, though, it gave me pause. I thought, and I thought, and I thought. A word kept floating in and out of my conscious mind, but I had a hard time grasping it.

“Nothing… nothing… nothing…” the word flickered in and out, like broken lights on an old restaurant sign.

But I couldn’t say it.

It would sound weird to say that out loud. I had signed up for a free consultation, and I thought maybe I’d learn how to properly lift weights. I wasn’t prepared to think about my body’s deficiencies.

But maybe that’s what these sessions are about, I thought. That’s the point of this meeting for most people, right? Maybe it would be stupid to say it out loud? Am I supposed to want to change something? Do I LOOK like I should change something? I mean, I’ve had 3 kids, but I kinda like my curves and my strong thick thighs (and for that matter, so does my husband). I practice yoga because I feel strong and solid, not insecure and unsafe in my body like I did for so many years. I run because I love to get my heart rate up. It cleanses my mind and soothes my soul. It’s a dopamine driver.

So I sat there. And I made up something about wanting toned arms (I’ve never particularly cared one way or other about my arms). He made me weigh and check my body fat. That only further intensified my thought that maybe there WAS something wrong that I should change, and that brief flicker of “NOTHING,” – the thought that there was nothing I wanted to change about my body -that was quickly popping out of my subconscious into real life… faded away and died out.

By the end of our conversation, I realized that I had allowed myself to believe I needed to change something about my body.

It seemed so innocent, so out of nowhere. Just one free consultation with a trainer. But after years of progress and learning to respect the body I’m in, it happened in an instant. I started believing the lie again.

The messages are everywhere. It’s easy to get caught up in it – the quest to look better. Thinner, more toned, younger. It’s easy to idolize it, to make that the goal. Your life will be better if you lose weight.

“When I reach my goal weight, I’ll…” fill in the blank. Have you ever thought that before?

At some point in the last few years I stopped dreaming about the mythical goal weight and started living in the present. I stopped working out and eating for a number and I started living for mental stability and freedom. I gained freedom from rules and guidelines that never make me feel good enough, and I won freedom to eat what fuels ME, not anyone else.

Today, if you asked me what I wanted to change about my body, I would grab onto that floating word with all my strength and not let it go.

NOTHING. I am so much more than a number. I am so much more than a size. I contribute so much more to life than a physical image.

If you are caught in the trap of believing that your life will begin when you reach your goal weight, it’s time to get a new perspective. For me, I didn’t need to change my body. But I needed to change my perspective. That is what brought me the most healing.

It is possible for you to find freedom. Contact me. Let’s work on true, sustainable health – from the inside out.

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Your Diet Is Holding You Captive (And How to Break Free)

Do you resonate with the following scenario?

“Wow. I’m doing so good right now. I haven’t had sugar in like, 12 hours.”

“Crap, there’s a donut. Don’t look at it. Ignore the donut. You don’t need the donut. Think of  how BAD it is for you.”

Ignores donut. A few hours later…

“Oooh, I could really go for that Reese’s peanut butter cup sitting right there. It sounds soooo good.”

A few minutes later…

“Well, it’s only around ___ calories. If I have that, then I just won’t have the apple I was planning on having for a snack. Yeah, that works, I’ll do that.”

An hour later.

“I totally screwed up. I’m so weak. I hate that I can’t have willpower. Ugh, I’ll never look the way I want to look. Bathing suit season is only a few months away. I’m going to be the fat friend again. Guess I’ll go find that donut.”

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“Just one bite”

This was me, almost my entire life. Good foods, bad foods. Restriction, permission. Guilt, shame, pride. Negative self talk.

Dieting completely screwed up my ability to trust my body.

Dieting taught me to be legalistic and judgmental with myself.

Dieting taught me to punish myself with exercise.

Dieting taught me to obsess over numbers… the scale, the size, the label, the amount.

Dieting taught me to say no, even when my stomach was growling.

Do you relate? Continue reading “Your Diet Is Holding You Captive (And How to Break Free)”

Why Diets Never Worked For Me

Diets. I hate the D word. They started in high school. I went on my first antidepressant my sophomore year and gained 30 pounds in under two years. It was devastating and embarrassing. I used food to cope with unhealthy emotions. Once I could drive, I hopped in my 1990 baby blue Chevy Caprice and hit up Sonic happy hour for cheddar peppers and slushes. I stocked up on sour watermelon candy at Target and late night Whataburger taquitos. I never felt full, but I loved the dopamine high the food would give me. I knew food had a pull on me I couldn’t escape.

So I tried South Beach, the Zone, and finally, Atkins. The latter helped me lose the “Zoloft weight” and gave me new confidence. But restriction made me bitter. I developed PTSD from salads. I made the act of eating a moral decision – there are good foods and bad foods. Fattening and non. Healthy or not. And I let the shame of indulgence give me value, just as I allowed my size or the number on the tag of my jeans give me value. Continue reading “Why Diets Never Worked For Me”

My Skinny Shorts Lie

Confession: my skinny shorts don’t make me feel skinny.

Ten years ago, I went on Weight Watchers and lost 20 pounds. I met the man of my dreams in these red shorts from the Gap, feeling more confident than I had in a long time. Maybe ever. I sported a nice tan from spending hours each day at my parents’ pool, and I wore bangs for the first time since childhood, channeling my inner Katy Perry, minus the girl-kissing. The physical attraction I felt for him on that first meeting was mutual. He told me later that he noticed my toned and tanned legs before anything else.

 

 

 

One decade and two babies later, the shorts still fit, as does the dress I wore on our first date. Though I’m not as toned or tanned, I should feel as confident in them now as I did then, right?

Wrong.

Continue reading “My Skinny Shorts Lie”