This post is going to be a bit different. It's something that has been on my heart and something that I have experienced both positively and negatively. After talking with someone at the 5K I ran on Friday night I realized just how much this is on my heart and decided I needed to write it all out. **Disclaimer: There will be some references to my faith (so if that offends you then you may want to quit reading but I hope you will read the whole way through). I also had great parents who never fed me the negativity to lead to a poor self image- I have a dad who sets a great example and loves me no matter what my body size is.
For my whole life I have struggled with the image of myself- really though what I was dealing with was the image of what I thought I should be. This myth was pushed on me by tv, movies, magazines, even the people who I went to school with. I never struggled with an eating disorder but I know plenty who have. I did struggle with comforting myself with food. When things happened I would turn to those fried foods, chocolate, fattening foods to fill that empty hole that was left. So, I guess in a sense I did struggle with an eating disorder- just the opposite kind of what you would expect. I compared myself to the people who appeared on my screen, co-workers, friends, even family members and I always found myself selling myself short. I got frustrated when I would try to lose weight and nothing would happen (more on that in a later post- probably much later). Then in 2004 I met someone and he told me I was beautiful and you know what- I believed him. So, when my heart was broken a few months later- I hid and went to the opposite end of the spectrum. I buried my grief in time at the gym, changing my eating habits, and basically took myself down to where I thought I would be happy and then I would feel beautiful. But, as always, life got in the way and through a span of 2-3 years I regained every single one of those 30 lbs I lost and found myself back in the same state of questioning and turmoil I had been in before. Throughout the last 5 years I have gone up and down, yo-yo'd my way through several "diets" and given up when I should have kept on. And through it all- beautiful was not a word in my self describing vocabulary.
So, what makes this time different? I'm not really sure I can put my finger on it. I think part of it is that I have FINALLY realized that it's a lifestyle. Being diagnosed with high blood pressure was a huge wake up call for me. Having to change my diet because of the kidney stones was another one. I also have a doctor who looked at me and said, "THIS (with a number) is around where I want you. I don't want you to go too much lower or you will look sick. Your bone structure is such that this would be a good place for you to land and maintain." That number was doable- not too far off where I was a few years ago. Someone telling me that I didn't have to be on the low end of my numbers and that it's okay that I don't look like the media's perception of beauty was what I needed.
So, what brought me to this post today- the realization that I needed to hear it and read it myself. The understanding that where I am in my job puts me in a position where I am seeing young girls struggle with this every day- even at the preschool age. The knowledge that I need to do something about it- just not sure what. and this- this song that I heard this week and my heart ached because to hear this- even now, at age 37- reminds me that God created me the way I am. Psalm 139 says that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He knew my body structure, my dna, my struggles and successes even before I was a thought in the hearts of my mom and dad. So, if you have stuck with me through this long post- I would love to hear your thoughts, your struggles, your tips on fighting the myths out there.
Oh- and I have realized that for ME (and not for everyone)- true beauty comes from the inside out, from having a heart that has a passion for the lost, for the hurting, and for sharing with others where their true beauty comes from. It comes from a heart for God that seeks him in all I say and do, to look for Him and how He is working in my life- even while I am running and exercising. To recognize that He has given me my body and I need to honor Him with the choices I make with it. So, am I beautiful- maybe not by the world's standards but by His standards I am stunningly beautiful and THAT is enough for me.