Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Self-Hatred as a Tool for Weight Loss

I'm not saying I was ever anorexic.  I've always been a healthy weight.  But it doesn't take an eating disorder for a girl to have disordered eating.

From my early twenties until I became pregnant with Caroline, I became increasingly obsessed with my weight and caloric intake.  My college roommates were equally obsessive, and it felt normal.  I'd meet friends for dinner and have only a Diet Coke, lying that I'd already eaten.  My face tingled with anxiety at party invitations, because parties serve delicious calories.  I searched for online "thinspiration," (can I really admit this?), which is photo groups of beautiful, underfed, otherwise perfect girls -- photos I hoped would stab me with an envy sharper than my hunger.

I felt pride -- sickening, twisted pride -- that I could exist the weeks leading up to a beach trip on scarce amounts of food, meticulously calculating just how little I must eat to reach target weight. I felt superior for the willpower to starve myself towards a goal.  I felt "healthy" because I always stayed within one pound of the lowest healthy weight recommended for my height.

I know. 
It wasn't healthy thinking.

Beth Moore was right when she said pride is this strange and simultaneous mixture of both self-grandiosity and crushing insecurity.  
How do ego and self-hatred dance so lustfully together?

Me and newborn Caroline...
when God began to change my
restrictive eating
In the past few years, though, things have changed.
The more I believe God's love for me, the more unable I am to run an inner dialogue scathing enough to scare me from food.   The bigger I realize God is, the more humbled I am to live for Him.  And if I'm living for the Ultimate Purpose, how much energy can I waste worshiping all the ideal body could bring me?

It's not about my personal body.  I'm part of the body of Christ.  And my spiritual health is far more crucial than my attractiveness.

Okay... so now I'm about to confuse you.
I'm about to seemingly contradict myself.

Yes, I'm thrilled that weight no longer consumes me.  But I'm not happy with every single one of the fifteen pounds I gained.  So I'm trying to lose some of them.

I don't want to starve myself.
I don't want to bow down to the scale.
But I've never successfully lost weight through healthy, moderate plans.  Only through dramatic self-scathing.

Which brings me to my question:

How do you successfully lose weight without using self-hatred as a motivator?

Perhaps I'm discovering an answer.

See, the self-hatred, as well as the accompanying ironic arrogance... they're all built on lies.  Lies saying I was worthless, or that I was oh-so-important and therefore must look fabulous.  Lies saying it's worthwhile to spend every ounce of energy on personal appearance, at the expense of spiritual health, joy, relationships.

My new plan for weight loss is this: truth.
You'll understand what I mean in a second.

Here's the plan: I'm keeping record of all the things I eat each day.
That's it.
If I gorge myself, I have to record how much I ate of every.stinking.thing, truthfully.
As long as I do that, I haven't fallen off the plan... regardless of how much I overate.

Because what I want is to...

  1. Know the truth of what I'm eating. Have full awareness.
  2. Know the truth of God's value for me.  It's not failure that I pigged out at a wedding this weekend. It was glorious fun.  It's not failure that my husband took me on a date Sunday night after I'd planned to eat lighter that evening.  I should feel free to enjoy him.  But at least I've recorded all that I've eaten, and if it was too rich, perhaps seeing it written out will cause me to snack less tomorrow.

I'm done with the lies that pull me from all God has for me.

So how's this plan working?
Well, I've very slowly lost several pounds.  And I may plateau soon.  I'm okay with that.

The goal is no longer some unrealistic ideal.
It's simply to eat more reasonably.
That's a practical goal that doesn't interfere with all God has for me.


Rebecca Rainer said...

This new attitude with be healthy for your daughters to see as they grow too. You're as pretty inside as you are outside...which is saying LOTS about your inner beauty.

Alli and Korey said...

LOVE this blog enty! As i struggle w losing my baby weight its hard to not feel that self hate. Three babies in 3 years has done a number on my body, but yet i am trying to praise God for a body that was capable of growing and birthing 3 of his miracles. And slowly i am learing to love the look of a my belly again, not bc its flat and toned but bc it looks like a baby once lived there and that is beautiful. Healthy and strong are my goals now and not just skinny. Very inspiring post, thanks rachel!!!

Deidre said...

Have you read Made to Crave? I have not, but bought it last week and it is in my pile. :) It has been recommended to me by a couple of people who deal with weight on both extremes.

Jaclyn said...

Great post! I once had an unhealthy outlook on food. I used to think it was the enemy, but I now know it is needed in order to fuel my body! I workout daily, drink my Shakeology daily, and eat clean. Does that mean I never have a "treat"? Absolutely not! I just care for my body as the temple of the Holy Spirit, because that is what it is. I eat all day long, but I eat the right things more than I eat the wrong things. And I stay active so that my body gets the exercise it needs. Keep up the good work!

Lori said...

This is a great new attitude you are embracing! i too struggle with that blasted number on the scale. But in recent months, as I strive to eat better and move more, I haven't seen much movement in the number, BUT I feel better, and I know I'm doing better thing for my body. Keep at it! God is really doing a deeper work than you realize! Blessings!

Emily said...

I linked here through goodmorning girls and just wanted to share settingcaptivesfree.com they have free online Bible classes about issues many Christians struggle with. I have completed the Lord's Table and been greatly blessed by the biblical teachings. I just want to encourage you to check into the course In His Image I think it would be an encouragement to you! Blessings :)

Lunamoth said...

I have fought this battle from all sides. Bulimia was my "drug of choice" for years until I got pregnant and was "sharing" a body....then afterwards I couldn't. But that didn't kill the "demon" inside. So...for a time I did what you are doing--although it can become and obsession of it's own. And IT WORKED...but not alone. I work out with weights twice a week and have shaped my body...so that the number on the scale means almost nothing now because muscle weighs more than fat and is shapelier! But my clothing size is 3 down from before. And here is where I rest. I enjoy food within reason but it's not my "god". And neither is the scale (I won't own one). I don't keep snack food in the house regularly but I do treat myself to a milkshake when I want one! I will pray that you find the balance so that you can be free of this bondage. I don't know if I will ever be completely rid of the horrid self-inspection, but I know that God is in the "delivery" business!

RACHEL said...

I love hearing from all of you. So many of you seem to be saying that you're learning to love your body as a tool God gave you to live for Him... rather than being a slave to your body and the control you hope to have over it.

Sweet surrender... it's one of the themes of any joyful life in Christ. You all bless me with your comments.

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