As some of you may know, I shared a few weeks back that I felt the Lord prompting me to have people share their testimonies on how the Lord has helped them overcome a weight related issue in their life in order to encourage one another! The testimonies I received made me laugh, cry, and praise our Lord! I want to personally take a moment to thank everyone who shared their struggles, their heart, and how the Lord gave them strength to overcome!
I grew up dancing. I loved ballet. Ballet was the thing I was most passionate about, I adored it. Being 8 years old, I was pretty good at what I did, and I decided then that I wanted to be a professional ballerina, move to New York, and dance for the New York City Ballet. I had big dreams.
When I was eleven, my teachers always talked about weight issues in the south. They told us little dancers that in order for us to be accomplished dancers we must be skinny. This was my first exposure to the lifestyle of dancers. They didn't eat well, only eating the bare minimum, and still dancing up to 40-50 hours a week. They were tiny, and fragile. at eleven years old, I decided I needed to be that thin.
Living in a house where food was never an issue, I never struggled with the weight/eating problem. My mom mad sure I had plenty of food to keep me nourished as I danced. as I got older, i struggled with the mindset of a dancer. Only eat so you can dance, but don't indulge. Don't eat that cookie, or your leotard will show it. Nuts and bananas, nuts and bananas. That's it. I never struggled with it until I was fifteen.
Our company did Swan Lake, and a guest choreographer came to town. He was a tyrant. I remember coming home, my feet bleeding, hungry, and yet I had his voice in my head, "at my studio, to girls are all the same. Tiny and perfect". The "don't eat anything" voice also lingered. I ate enough to keep my mom off my back, but I didn't want to. When Swan Lake was over, I stopped ballet for good. I had lost my passion. No drive, just burnt out.
I went through high school always belittling myself. I was never good enough, small enough, skinny enough or had a small/flat enough stomach. Food was the enemy, and our relationship was bad. But I loved food, especially sweets. When I would indulge, I over-did it. I would make myself sick off candy. But i didn't care. Until the next morning, I would try and make myself throw up. God gave me real good gag reflexes, because I could never accomplish my goal.
When i graduated high school, I was tiny. I weighed one hundred 23 pounds, and was still not happy with my body. Little did I know, college was going to be so hard.
College came, an without my moms help, I got really sick. Both mentally and physically. I did not know until 2nd semester that anemia invaded my body, and I needed treatment immediately. I was having super irregular periods, causing this anemia. My doctors were concerned that I needed to get more than iron replacement, but I needed to go on birth control, which I did not like one bit.
Instantly I gained ten pounds. Wow, the "don't eat" voice came back.
I was ridiculous.
I still ate, but I cried all the time about how fat I was.
Then, my cousin (whom I admire so much) wrote this to me :
"Don't look in the mirror and see the little insignificant things the world doesn't even see - see that God made you. You are beautiful, not only because of who you are and what you stand for, but because of the fact that God, Himself, took the time to make you. (nine months in the womb, right?) There is nothing ugly about that. Don't think about weight or cellulite because in the end, none of that matters. Think about your life, your path, your call. Follow Him with all your heart, and no one will be able to say that you were anything but smart, innocent, lovely, couragous, encouraging, positive, and BEAUTIFUL. But even if someone does say something opposite of that, then remember that they must be jealous, blind, or REALLY slow. Nothing in this world can hold you back, don't let them think they can. Don't let rain clouds shadow your day. Don't let words break your heart. Don't let misunderstandings or failures decide your future. Don't let the past cloud your desicions. You are God's daughter.
But I know that words are not enough, and that you have probably encountered too many words, and you aren't sure what to believe. Some people lie, and sometimes it's easier to believe that everyone will lie to you. Well, know that none of us are lying to you when we say you're beautiful... when we say we miss you... when we say we are praying for you... when we remind you that you are HIS. But if you choose to not believe us, we will understand. We're fallible. We do lie. We cheat and steal and do all sorts of horrible things. We are human. But I want to encourage you, for there is Someone who is not like us. The Father is saying all these things too. He shouts them throughout His word, and you can believe Him. Because He doesn't lie or cheat or steal. He is jealous for your love and attention, and the most beautiful thing about giving Him those things is that He rewards it (even though we don't deserve any rewards). We are forgiven every day for the failures that we have every day. We are given grace for every day, and every morning can be new with Him. We don't have to hold onto, live through, or wallow through our past faults and mistakes. THANK GOD.
So, don't believe anything but Him..."
Okay, wake up call. I had been focusing on myself. How nauseating. One person said, "Self is nauseating".
It is. How selfish am I? Why did I focus on what lies the enemy was feeding me.
God is so good.
I am healthy, and beyond blessed, so why focus on the worldly things?
Sure, its easier said than done, and yes I struggle still with self-image.
But instead of self-image problems, why no focus on how God looks at me. Does he approve of my heart? I am his child, he knit me in my mothers womb.
Thank you for sharing your story with me. I love this website not only because it has recipes for health and the Lord, but because you shared your story of how the Lord redeemed you. I thank you for that.
Thanks for listening to my story.
"My body image story dates all the way back to middle school. It was during those "awkward years" that I started to grow faster than some of my "skinny" classmates. I had always been a strong Christian, so I naturally wanted to take my anger out on my heavenly father. Why was he making these awkward years so hard? It wasn't until now that I realized this was all in his plan.
In 8th grade, I lost a little bit of weight after starting to exercise and take care of myself. I loved my body again! But after transferring to a different school system for high school, I began to gain this weight back. I had stopped worrying about taking care of the body God had given me, and the weight crept on. Trying to make new friends was hard. These kids had been together and formed friendships since elementary school and here I was trying to become a part of their group. I felt so shut out and alone. This struggle ended up leading to depression and quickly turned into an eating disorder, as the chemical imbalance in my body caused me to hardly ever feel hungry. I had visions of kids at school talking about me behind my back and a sense that no one wanted to be known as my friend. Looking back, I know this wasn't the case for each of my peers, as some of them would reach out to me if they found me crying in the bathroom or noticeably upset. My mind was telling me otherwise. I ended up taking medication to fix the chemical imbalance and transferring to a different school where I had friends and family. I was able to relatively enjoy the last few years of high school, but there was still a part of me that wasn't completely at ease until I found Dashing Dish during college. I still had a constant sense of anxiety about what people thought of me and had this constant sense of pressure that was extremely tiring. Katie's testimony on Dashing Dish gave me the sense of peace I was looking for. Knowing that she had struggled with body image and had turned to God, healthy eating and exercise made it so much easier to accept who I was. Who else do we really have to please than God? He is the one that knows what is best for us, and He is in control everyday. Beginning to really trust God in all aspects of my life was what made such a big difference. Coupling that with the endorphins from exercise and the healthy feeling I get from eating appropriately, I am more confident in myself.
In closing, I have to say that no matter how emotionally tiring my teen years were, I wouldn't change them for anything. My parents were so supportive throughout the struggle, and my father reminded me numerous times that God had a special life planned for me. Not a days goes by that I don't remind myself of that saying, and push myself to be the best possible individual that I can be."
"Dashing Dish did not only help me get past my obsessive fitness/health phase. It has encouraged and helped me on my journey to find my relationship with God again. This is the most at ease I have felt in a long time!
"I so appreciate the work you do at Dashing Dish, the recipes and the devotionals have been a blessing to me. I prayed about sending my testimony in as it is a little different I think but I hope it can speak to someone.
I grew up in a Christian home (Dad's a pastor!) so I always knew the love of Jesus, but the words of others always affected me. I still remember my 6th grade teacher saying I was "disgusting" and until a few years ago, it still hurt like the day she said it. When I was 21 I got married, but unfortunately did not prayerfully consider this big decision in my life. He used words and insults to control me and make himself feel better. For two years I heard every day that I was "ugly", "fat", and "worthless". None of those things are true, but after hearing it enough I began to believe it and restricted my eating to try to fit into his image of what I should be. I was too skinny and it was never enough. The words still hurt. When the marriage ended after only 2 years due to his infidelity, I felt guilt (could I have done more?) and shame. I also still heard his painful words every day. I believed his lies and did not think I was worth the trouble of eating well.
One day, my Dad said something that turned my depression around and turned my focus to God and His will for my life. He told me I was his beautiful daughter and he loved me. He knew I deserved better than my failed marriage and the words I was carrying in my heart. Then he said, "If I love you that much, imagine how much God loves you. You are His beautiful daughter too. He doesn't see what you see, He sees your beauty, your heart, and what you can become in Him." he gave me some Scriptures that helped his prove his point. Having a pastor for a Dad is great! :) That day I began to pray and slowly God changed my view of myself. I gained some healthy weight and also perspective. I started following God's lead and let Him show me who I was meant to be. Its someone beautiful, kind, and definitely not worthless. It was a long process. I am 30 now, and 4 years ago I prayerfully considered dating again. I wanted this relationship to be right and God's will for me. Soon after I met my now-fiance who shares my values and has an extremely kind heart. Most importantly, I know that my True Beauty is in my heart and how God sees me. It is sometimes a struggle when I remember those words of the past, but with prayer I know I can overcome.
The End! Felt good to write it out :) Thanks again Katie for your wonderful ministry to women. Your devotionals are an inspiration to me!"
"I was just an innocent 9 year old pursuing my favorite sport of gymnastics. God had blessed me with a talent to flip, twirl, and balance. He didn't have planned the mind lies that I would hear from adult coaches who should have known better. At first, I was influenced by what I heard others being called by our coaches. I didn't want to be called the "Pillsbury Dough girl" like my friend or teased that I "ate too much at grandmas." I feared it tremendously! From then on, I became absorbed with body image and weight.
As my body grew and changed the fear became even more real. I was reminded everyday what I looked like in a leotard because I wore one everyday. I wasn't a Christian growing up, so all I knew was the lies of the world. My security was control and perfectionism. This permeated every area of my life, but most specifically to food and (I was already working out 20 hours a week for gymnastics practice) exercise. Fast forward to my freshman year of college, and this is when my addiction for perfection with food really took over my life. I became a slave to food journals and eating only certain things. It was bondage and I was desperate to break free. It was the beginning of my sophomore year of college and I became a Christian. I was SAVED! Shortly after that time, I began to realize that all that I was comparing myself to and all the negative self talk was not from the Lord. HE wanted better for me. He always had, but I needed to believe I was worth it no matter what my body looked like. I needed to be healthy about food choices and quit being a slave to the world and food journals. It was hard to give up my control, but when I did I felt the most beautiful FREEDOM.
Fast forward a few more years, and I was sitting back in the seat of listening to those old lies of not being "skinny enough." I was depressed about my post baby body. I was so mad that I had fallen back to some of my old habits! It was then that I found Dashing Dish back in April 2010. I honestly cannot remember how I found Katie's blog, but it was God designed! I first read her testimony and immediately felt like I could relate and I remember crying feeling like I had some hope to get back to listening to the TRUTHS from the Lord and not the LIES of the enemy in my life. I was oh so weak at the time, but I prayed the Lord would give me strength and slowly I started to mediate on the truths again and cast out the lies. Body acceptance is still a journey for me, but I am so thankful that He continues to redeem me each time I go to Him.
Thank you, Katie at Dashing Dish for listening to God's whispers to share your journey with the world and providing a platform for other women to come to and find TRUTH. God Bless!"
"We should eat to live, not live to eat.
Before today, I could not have told you where that phrase came from even though I have quoted it to myself and to others over the years. I would have thought it originated in America since we are not known for being the most healthy culture when it comes to our views of food.
It surprised me to find on several websites this quote “thou shouldst eat to live; not live to eat” credited to Socrates. My personal conclusion for a long time has been that it is a human condition that influences our misuse of food and not a cultural condition.
If we want to see real change in our eating habits, we probably need to answer the question why do we live to eat?
I am not saying this is the answer to all America’s health problems and views of food. However, answering this question for myself has given me freedom in my life from being an emotional eater. Freedom doesn’t mean that I am not disciplined in my eating because to my friends how I eat may not look like freedom. I know though for me that it is directly related to freedom.
True freedom doesn’t come without discipline. Ironically, freedom comes from overcoming the reasons behind why we are indulging. Because our indulging is bondage. It appears to be freedom, but in reality, it is bondage because we are a slave to our emotions.
There are a slew of other benefits of eating to live we could talk about, and those I have known and enjoyed for years. Recently, those reasons were not enough to motivate me to eat to live. I had to find the root cause of where my healthy eating habits got derailed to get back on track.
What did I find as the cause? My eating habits were (and are) a result of my human condition.
Looking back, I describe this time of emotional eating as a spiritual winter, feeling cold and numb because of life’s pain that has come over the last 5 years. My response to that spiritual winter was emotional eating.
I had never been an emotional eater before that point in my life. I had always had plenty of will power to be disciplined in my eating and remember people saying that to me regularly. During that winter season, I used food to fill the emptiness I was feeling instead of putting my full hope in God.
I won’t describe in detail how I have moved beyond that winter into what I describe now as my spiritual spring. I will tell you that it has been a spiritual journey and wasn’t about motivation, discipline, or education. All the things we think will make us healthier eaters.
We can find many different ways to fill the emptiness besides food. Because of this, I have to continue to focus on God’s truth and seek Him through the pain that life brings. Psalm 25:4-5 says “Show me the right path, O Lord, point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in You.”
It is amazing to be on the other side of that season. To see God’s faithfulness, His grace, His love in my life. My response to all that is to encourage you to seek God in areas of your life where you need to put your hope in Him. Because, He is the one who saves us and all day long we can put our hope in Him."
Thank you again to these amazing women for letting your light shine before men so they will praise our Father in heaven! (Matthew 5:16)