My Story of Freedom from an Unhealthy Relationship with Food

January 1, 2015 § 7 Comments

Happy New Year!

Chris and I are sitting on our couch, watching a movie and relishing the peace that comes with an early bedtime for the babes. We partied hard last night, like all parents of little ones do (…barely made it ’til midnight…) but we did hear fireworks and knew that somewhere a giant ball was dropping. Despite our party animal antics, we’ve still found the time over the past few days to hash out some dreams, make pancakes for breakfast and workout at the Y. In fact, that last one (workout at the Y) is what inspired me to write tonight. This time of year, a lot of people are making new health and fitness goals. Some may have weight loss goals and are starting a new diet. If that’s you, then I have a story to share with you. I believe God sets us free so A) we can be free and B) so we can set others free. I hope (believe) my story will set you free.

I have been an athlete my whole life. I played multiple sports growing up, lettered in varsity swimming and fastpitch in high school, then went onto get a scholarship for fastpitch in college. Although I was always very physically active, I still struggled with the normal woes of body image that many girls do. I started thinking I was fat in 7th grade (12-13yrs old). I stole my parent’s metabolife pills in high school. I used the “infatuation” stage at the beginning of a relationship to curb my appetite and lose weight. I binged at night when I’d get home from partying. I distinctly remember snarfing down a pb&j at midnight while watching the news of Princess Di’s fatal accident unravel. I thought about food all the time. I even threw up my food on a number of occasions…

I went off to Vanguard University and gained the Freshman 15 my first year. I then added a few more pounds my sophomore year. I was 150lbs at my heaviest and couldn’t get ahead of this thing. It was a horrible cycle. I’d overeat, then feel awful. I’d feel awful, then overeat. I couldn’t say “no” to food. Once again, I’d think about it all the time. How I hated it. How I wanted to be skinny. How I wanted to not want to eat all the time!

The summer after my sophomore year I came home fed up. I went to the library and checked out 10-12 books on dieting, calorie counting and meal plans. But, I also prayed. I asked God to help me and one of the books I found while scouring the library shelves was “Rise Above: God Can Set You Free from Your Weight Problems Forever” by Gwen Shamblin. It turned out that “Rise Above” was her follow-up book to “Weigh Down Diet”, which I bought and devoured. (Ha! Devoured… )
Her words made sense to me more than anything else I had read or heard about dieting. She claimed that diets don’t work because they put all the focus on making the food behave vs. having self control. She claimed that our hearts are hungry and sometimes we mistake that for actual hunger. In fact, she boldly proclaimed that we might be so used to overeating and emotional eating that we’ve forgotten what it even feels like to feel true hunger pangs.

What. The. Crap.
It’s like she knew me.
And she kinda did… because she’d been there too.
(I swear I’m not getting compensated from Gwen or her publisher or anyone BUT, she was a huge part of my journey towards freedom so, SHOUT OUT TO YOU, GWEN! WHOOPTY WHOOOOOOOP!!!!!)

I read her book. I highlighted and underlined the crap out of it. Then read it again. And again. And again. Anytime I started to struggle, I’d read the parts I highlighted to get myself back on track. And my problem was breaking bad habits – not bingeing, not purging. Stopping all the unhealthy ways I thought about food… hell, stopping thinking about food altogether. You see, one thing that i still call upon from Weigh Down Diet was when Gwen said that we should only think about food when we’re hungry. We only think about using the bathroom when we have to go, right? So why isn’t it the same with food? Why do we dream about food when we’re not even hungry? RIGHT?!??

So, I’d have a thought about food and I’d ask myself Am I truly hungry? If the answer was no, I’d think about something else… anything else. I had to retrain my thoughts! One day, after class, I was driving home and I knew if I went straight home, I’d binge on the frozen cheese cake bites I’d recently bought. So, I drove to a church and sat in the parking lot until my stomach growled. I’m not even joking. Do I sound crazy? Breaking the bad habits was hard. Changing my thinking patterns was hard. But, I did it. When I wanted to eat (when I wasn’t truly hungry), I’d pray. And God helped me. He honored my efforts and He was always there.

It has been over 10 years since then. I am healthy! I am the size God made me to be. I am happy. I have a healthy body image. I love my body. I love myself.

Do I have a perfect body? Um, according to whom? Do i have flaws? Duh! Do I love food? Yes, but in a respectful way. More so, I love the Provider of the food. I love that He gives us delicious strawberries in the summertime and dark chocolate with sea salt. And scallops and mussels and guacamole and sushi! Okay, I love food too, but it no longer rules me. It has no control over my thoughts. I work out because I love it. (I am one of those weirdos that loves running). I don’t work out to counteract what I eat, because I don’t overeat (too often, anyway). Do I still slip up and overeat? Yep. What do I do then? Move on with grace. I don’t bash myself over the head. I simply start anew again.

I thought it would be hard to write this, but it wasn’t. I believe that God set me free and because of that, I know He can set you free too. If you’re tired and worn out from battling an unhealthy relationship with food, there is hope. You can and will find freedom – and it’s not in a diet, a supplement or a merciless workout regimen.  Remember, it’s an upside-down Kingdom we serve. We don’t play by the rules of the world. Our freedom and healing come from The Lord, then we turn around and share it with the world. So, go ahead and exhale. There is freedom and rest waiting for you. You can enjoy food again. You can stop the cycle of working out to compensate for overeating. Indulge in His goodness. Who the Son sets free is free indeed. Ask Him. Pursue Him. It isn’t easy, but you can overcome this. Your heart is worth the fight.

I will help in anyway I can. If you have any questions, post them in the comments below.
You’re not alone. We’re all in this together.

Xo,
Jenny

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