Weight Loss and Body Image

Summary: Our body image has a lot to do with how we perceive ourselves. A distorted or negative body image can adversely effect our self-esteem and even our behavior. Learn how God views our body and how we can perceive our body the way God does. (Article follows the advertisements).

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When you look in the mirror, what do you see?  Fat? Ugly? 

What do you feel when you look into the mirror?  Shame? Guilt? Anger? Sadness? 

How do you feel others think about your body?  She’s fat? She’s lost it? He’s terribly out of shape?  How did he let himself get like that?

Do you feel others laugh at you? Has someone body-shamed you with careless or intentional words that embarrasses you? 

Do you feel that others are whispering behind your back about how big you are?  She’s got a pretty face, but, but…

Our body image has a lot to do with how we perceive ourselves. It looks nothing like the women in fashion magazines or the actresses on TV and the movies. I mean, when’s the last time you’ve seen a 240 pound pot-bellied man or woman in a fashion magazine or on TV and the movies? If you are like me, you haven’t. 

You are convinced that only other people are attractive and that your body size or shape is a sign of personal failure.

You feel ashamed, self-conscious, and anxious about your body. 

You feel uncomfortable and awkward in your body.

Body image is the mental representation we create. Body image is subject to all kinds of distortions from internal elements like our emotions, moods, early childhood experiences, attitudes of our parents, and much more. 

Preoccupation with negative or distorted body image is widespread among American women (and, to a lesser extent, among males) and can lead to behavior problems. 

Women especially may sometimes act out in unhealthy ways by drinking or using drugs to mask their pain. Smoking cigarettes may be an attempt to stay thin. A distorted or poor body image may lead to promiscuous behavior to prove to themselves that they’re worthy of love and attention. 

Many suffering from distorted body image compare their bodies with those of movie stars and fashion models. They are held up as idols to be worshiped and adored. There was even a popular Fox television show called American Idol that aired from 2002-2016. The goal was to take unknown singers and turn them into idols like Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Hicks, and many others. 

Comparing our bodies to movie and television stars is unrealistic. They obsess about their bodies vigorously work to keep their bodies in show case condition. They have nutrition coaches that coach them on what to eat, which isn’t much. They have trainers that work on keeping their bodies in top condition. They have make-up artists that make a plain face beautiful. Many are under severe stress to keep up their image which nerve racking. 

Some like Maxim and Sports Illistrated swimsuit cover girl, Ashley Graham, think they are fat. She said, “I am just like any other woman, and I think I am the fattest woman alive.”  

Comparing ourselves with others the media holds out as the ideal body shape is unrealistic and just plain wrong. 

How many of these have full time jobs, take care of children after work,  chauffeur their children to activities, do the laundry, check homework, meet with teachers, fix meals, and load the dishwasher?  

Yet, it’s what we do. We compare ourselves to others including our friends and acquaintances. Doing this makes us miserable and unhappy with our body. It can lead to depression and a poor self-image too.  How we perceive our body determines how we feel about it and ourselves for good or bad. 

If it’s a bad image, it’s like our body is foreign to us.  It’s like I’ve locked the door and misplaced the key. I’m afraid. I don’t feel like anything. Yet, the door belongs to me.  It’s as if someone places a “No Trespassing” sign on the door. But, what’s in the room behind the door belongs to me. 

We are repulsed at seeing ourself, and when others see me, they see fat. We are bound up with a rope with our body. 

Let’s face it. Not many of us have the perfect body or perfect the way Hollywood and New York defines perfect. Sure, there is room for improvement. That room is the biggest room in the house, but the vast majority of us will never reach perfection!  Never!

Our body has been designed by God just for me. He has given us stewardship over it.  We have to decide to look beautiful in it regardless of our shape. But, I have to believe this by faith. God created me and my body. I will honor my body because my body honors the Lord. 

Is there room for improvement? Yes? Do I need to lose weight? Yes. Still, we have to be comfortable and love our body as it is before we start working on improving it. 

If we are overweight, we can lose weight. It’s not going to come off tomorrow, the next day, next week, or maybe even next year. There’s no fairy with a magic wand to wave over us and “presto,” we have a new body.  

It’s going to take time. It’s going to take commitment. It’s going to take acquiring a basic knowledge about nutrition. It’s going to take a decision to begin eating healthy small portions and getting active. 

It’s going to take patience. A lot of patience. The pounds usually roll off fast at first, but then, it’s going to slow down to a loss of a pound or two and maybe even three pounds a week to reach your weight goal. Then after you make your goal, it’s going to take self-discipline to maintain it. 

We are not alone on our journey. The Scripture says, “He who began a good work in you will complete it” (Philippians 1:6).  That’s where God and faith comes in. 

When we look in the mirror, what do we see? Do we see an unhealthy fat body or a healthy body  When I looked in the mirror a few months ago, I saw an unhealthy, out of shape body. But, I don’t see that now. I visualize a healthy body. I can see the end from the beginning. Visualizing a healthy fit body is not a denial of reality, it’s positive thinking!  Mental processing results in real-life improvement. 

Visualizing a healthy body is like emerging as a beautiful butterfly to flit happily through life. Free. Lifted by the wings of God to enjoy my healthy slimmer body I see by faith in the mirror. It’s a vision to see me pleasurably nourishing myself with healthy food. 

I think this is the way God wants us to see ourselves and the way He sees us.  Max Lucado, best selling Christian author and pastor, said, “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way.”

Will there be times we fail? Yes! We have to give ourselves freedom to fail. There’s that pot-luck supper at church, emotional eating, and restaurants where we lose our self-control and eat to much. We have to give ourselves freedom to occasionally fail. Our weight loss does not have to be based on perfection. If it is, we will get discouraged and quit. Weight loss is not based on doing everything right all the time. We are on a journey – a long journey. There will be detours along the way. The key is to not allow slip-ups to sabotage our weight loss efforts. 

We are in a lifelong process of becoming. God is working to change us and to grow us in every aspect of who we are and which includes transforming my body from an unhealthy one to a healthy one. 

Only when God’s love for us goes from information in our head to a deep understanding in our heart, does lasting transformation come about. 

As our understanding of God’s love for us just as we are increases, so will our gratitude increase and give us the desire and motivation to live gladly the life that God has called us into.

That involves moving forward, forgetting our past mistakes of overeating, and living each day to the fullest by enjoying the wonderful, wholesome  food that He gives making us robust and energetic. 

We find the greatest strength to move toward this goal of a healthy body as we acknowledge our weakness and turn to God for help. This does not call for perfectionism. God doesn’t want our life on the treadmill of perfectionism. 

Strive for progress and excellence rather than perfection. Yes, have the highest goals. But, having high goals is not a call to perfectionism. 

Strive for a healthy body and not the perfect body.  A healthy body is the body image we want. It’s realistic, attainable, and possible. 

“As for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV). 

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