Oprah

Why We Have to Put Down the Bat and Love the Body God Gave Us

Originally I was going to write today about mentoring because it's National Mentoring Month but that's just going to wait till next week. This blog is something I wrote last Thursday after having quite a few revelations about loving the body God gave us. This isn't a hard article to write, but it's definitely a season I'm in right now so it's very raw and real, but I know in order for it to inspire others, I can't wait for it to go into a book "someday." Here goes...

So last week I had a therapy appointment where we talked about weight. Being out east over Christmas where I grew up made the old insecurity surface a little and I wanted to get to the root of it.

For those of you that haven't followed my blog or read my book, I was not a skinny kid. I was that kid who always struggled with my weight. I was on so many diets to fix the surface starting at age 8 that I can't keep track. No matter how hard I worked on the surface, the weight came back on. I felt shame every time it happened.

Eventually, I got worn down from diets. So I took up running and became fanatical about everything I put in my body on top of the running. Of course the weight dropped off. But it didn't fix the inside. Around the age of 23 when I was working at the White House, I joined a Weight Watchers group one last time because I felt like I was in good shape and wanted to get some more of the weight off. (I felt good). Then I found out that I was still 20 pounds from goal weight and was happy and wanted to just get lifetime. They said no, more weight to lose. I walked away. 

For years before recovery, every time I'd go see my family, I'd crash diet so I could "look skinny." This time thank God, I didn't have to do that. But it didn't mean the fear of other people's judgement didn't come up, because this time I wasn't in my "stick" phase. There was a difference this time though - I was relying on God's strength in my weakness (physical, mental and emotional).

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So I told my therapist about this picture from our visit to Philadelphia over Christmas. Now if you've ever struggled with your weight, eating disorder, disordered eating, or body dysmorphia you know that we always see ourselves different than anyone else. No matter what our size we see an extreme. Whatever you see, I see something entirely worse. haha

I'm in my comfy clothes and slippers about to get in a packed car with my husband and two teenagers...for ten hours. It's not glamour day.

But somehow of all the pictures we took that day, this was the one I focused on. Not only that, I zoomed in and screenshot a close-up. Real nice. What I didn't realize at the time was that doing that saved it in my brain as a way to beat myself up for not being good enough. As my therapist and I discussed the image, I got to the feeling within. Disgust. Really? That's not very nice Meredith.

As an outside observer who finally got that out, I asked myself this: Do I not know I am a child of God? 

A few other pictures came to memory. There was the one from the South Bend Tribune with a literal full page spread of me running. I told her, "that was the one that sent me to treatment." That voice,  "You are still fat, still a failure," had overpowered me then and today it would not. Thank God. 

I told her about two other images from when I was maybe 13? On one of my thin tracks during my years of dieting, for years I'd see those pictures when I went home wondering why I couldn't ever get back to that. (Yup, just about pre-mid puberty me, right.)  Both of those images haunted me for so long and thankfully we were taking that power away in the moment.

Flash forward. I'm 38 years old now. I wonder now what was the great appeal of being skinny? And isn't it all relative to each person? As we dove deeper I realized I had a belief. "Well, skinny people are successful in life." (Wow) Everyone wants what they have, but not me. (It is amazing what you find when you get beneath the surface.)

What's funny is this article titled, "Why We Need to Stop Perpetuating the Weight-Loss Myth" by Liz Black came across my news feed shortly after this session and she commented on the shame that came up for her with Oprah's commercial. DITTO!

Same for me. 

After reading the article, I felt more fired up to spread the message that we need to embrace how our bodies are made more than ever. I saw the comments on my page and the author's page and thought - we are NOT alone in this.

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So I say today, who gets to say you are not okay at this moment WHATEVER your weight? Who gets to decide that? And who are we giving all our power to stand tall (weight and ALL) away to?

Why have we let the world of weight-loss and those who carry "less" weight make us believe we are "less-than" human beings because we carry some weight?

If you aren't on WW today or don't want to be, what was your experience? Did you see that and think, "Ew! That is so not the answer to being my best self!" 

Weight Watchers of old, how much time did we spend growing up on the scale at the meetings? How many times did we sit there hearing people share their victory weight-loss, feeling ashamed because we hadn't lost a pound? How many of us know today we were just trying to fix on the outside - our pain on the inside? How many of us wish someone had just seen our pain on the insides then? 

But then again, how many of us know that we wouldn't be who we are today, knowing that diets weren't the answer then and they aren't now? Truly, we wouldn't know they don't work if we hadn't done them so many times. That's a good thing.

 Do we have to be healthy for ourselves? Yes. We need to eat well, exercise, get sleep and all that good stuff - but a goal weight doesn't have to be attached to it. We can be healthy to just BE healthy and live our best lives. Maybe if we did it more for God and less for what society is telling us to do, we might have a little more peace about it. Maybe if we thought about it more in the terms of being healthy for life, rather than skinny for Facebook we'd feel better about it.

Maybe if we looked in the mirror and said, "I love you," instead of avoiding it or criticizing ourselves - we might feel better about ourselves. 

Maybe if we stopped giving everyone else the right to tell us we're fat and embraced our size, we'd not give so much power to the haters. Brenee Brown talks about Teddy Roosevelt's quote, "The Man in the Arena" in a talk here.  She reminds us that unless someone is in the arena with us (and gets the struggle) they don't get to have a say. If we seek support or help, yes. But they don't get an automatic vote because they say it. We have to know in our hearts that is someone else judging something they don't know. That's someone else judging us from the outside. That's someone else's fear of weight themselves. That's their stuff, not ours. And really, don't we have enough insecurities around weight to navigate before we give power away to someone else's issues with it? Think about the last time someone else sized you up or worse, said something about your weight to your face - were you immediately defeated? It's hard not to be. But they aren't in the arena. They don't get the walk, so they don't get to talk. Even if they HAVE been in that arena, we each have our own story in that arena. No one has it "right."

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Today, I am finally coming to the place of embracing my body as God created me to be. I've got my Dad's broad face, a tummy with rolls (I said it!) and hips. My husband reminds me that I have a great butt and it's helped me judge myself less. lol  I do not judge myself by a number on the scale or the back of my pants. I'm also learning to look and the mirror and say, "You are beautiful" instead of looking at my distorted view of a picture. 

I am not living today for the approval of man, especially not the ones who don't get this weight struggle. They don't get a vote because they haven't been in the arena. God gives me power where I am weak and I am weak when it comes to wanting to be thin or thinking I have to be. But only God gets to say I'm worthy because I am HIS. NO ONE else gets to tie my worth to my weight; not even me. 

We are not LESS than because we carry it. So look us up and down if you want because in your eyes we're "big." Say what you want to yourself or to someone else but you do not get a vote when it comes to our weight. NO more. We're taking our personal power back, and don't need Oprah to tell us where to find it. We already know with God we've got what we need and in HIS time and HIS care we will be GIVEN the power to be strengthened by the Spirit in our body. We CAN leave the results to Him.

 We will not be the victims of that weight-attacking voice in our head. We will not be the victim of the world's attachment of good enough to thin. We will strive to love ourselves EXACTLY as we are right now - COMPLETELY loved by the God who created us. Thank you LORD!

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And seriously - if you are constantly trying to lose weight or going on diets - please consider the message you are sending to the next generation. Do you want that daughter or young girl you influence in your life to believe that she has to get her body right to be good enough for the world? Wouldn't you want them to know they are loved just as they are?

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The Reflection for You

I have decided not to do a video today because my words were better expressed in writing and this woman did a much better job of getting the message across in her Ted Talk than I can right now. So take a few minutes to watch it when you can. It is GOOD.

Listen to these two songs below too. The first one I just heard, made me choke up and the second is for you to share either with that little girl in your life, or that little girl you need to forgive - in you.

Last, but not least for those who want to devote some time in the Word about this...

And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:38-39 NLT



Why We Have to Do What's Right for Ourselves in the Battle with our Weight

Every year it happens. Right before Christmas and the first month of the new year. If we aren't careful, we can begin to believe the hype about ourselves. It's time to "finally" lose the weight. Or, as some of us like to hear it, "You aren't good enough yet," or "You can't do _____ until you lose the weight." It's an Unhealthy Voice that gets old as it repeats itself every year. This time it's exacerbated by Oprah and her Weight Watchers charge. 

I just watched the ad of why she joined. Good ad. She's inspiring. But the message I think has a tone of shame to it - which so many of us need to shake. It says to me, "You've got to lose the weight to be who you are." My question is - why can't you be who you are and embrace who you are no matter what your weight in this very moment? 

I read a quote from Oprah the other day on this whole thing. "Weight Watchers gave me the tools to begin to make the lasting shift that I and so many of us who are struggling with weight have longed for." Now, I'm not hating on WW. It helped me and countless others lose the weight many times. But did it make me keep the weight off for life? No. Unlike Oprah, I never found what I "longed for" in a weight-loss program or tools. I found it in my relationship with God because there is one thing that always stands. There is nothing, absolutely nothing outside of us that can feel the depth of fulfillment we long for to fill that God-shaped hole in our hearts. No diet. No weight-loss. No nothing. It's meant for one thing and that's God. If I'm attaching my longing to a diet, then I'm in trouble. That's putting a lot of pressure on a program and my own self-will to reach a goal and pushing God out of the equation.

I don't just say this because I've struggled with my weight my whole life or because I've done Weight Watchers. Lord knows a lot of us could write about this. I say it also because I've been on the other side of that corporate machine behind the weight-loss industry.

I worked at the senior level as a consultant for one of the major lifestyle brands to help them build a behavior modification program. I have seen up close and personal that when it comes down to it - the weight-loss industry is still big business. It's still about the bottom line.

I brought an approach to this company that involved the inner journey and the spiritual aspects, because their leader was FOR it - which is why I said yes. Members loved it. Soon after the program kicked off though the company got bought out, and so went the message that it wasn't just about weight loss, workouts and food. It broke my heart. But it also helped me realize that God had a different plan. I tell you this because I got to see up close an impact on many women that no matter how appealing something looks and how much weight-loss you are promised, YOU have to look out for yourself. YOU have to remember that corporate America is always going to try and sell you - whether it's diets, clothes, alcohol, or cigarettes. You have to claim your own health by your own choices. Be careful of letting the bottom line of a major corporation trying to stay relevant have an influence on your approach to health. 

For those of you who have struggled and came into recovery of your battle with diets, I know these ads are a huge trigger. They are for me! Finally you are getting a place of making peace with yourself and your body. It's been a long journey but maybe you are starting to let go of thinking a diet will fix everything. Then this happens. WW comes out with guns blazing and Oprah of all people to tell you, "Nope, it's still about your weight." Man, it reminds me of when I went to treatment.

The trigger was seeing myself in an article in our local paper and I heard the Unhealthy Voice loudly say, "It's your weight dummy. You are still NOT good enough." I can imagine that's there for many of you hearing this message. The force is strong.

This is where the rubber meets the road. We either dive in and give our power away to an industry that says we aren't good enough or we step back and realize that it's not our deal anymore. That is okay if that's you. You aren't alone. I'm right there with you.

Oprah is indeed inspiring but we have to do what's right for ourselves in the battle with our weight. If you've finally tamed that beast that tells you you aren't good enough until you lose the weight, don't let it scare you. You can still accept and love yourself right where you are. Even better - you can STILL get healthy and make good choices. You just don't have to give it all away (including your money) to a diet. You know what to do already. Trust what you know. And if you've ever been addicted to food, to the rush of diets or overexercise, you get me as I say all this. You know it's not healthy to jump on the weight loss train. You know it's like a long black train coming for you and I'm here to tell you that you CAN choose the light.

There is light. There is hope. Watch my video below to hear more...

Here are the POWER VERSES from the video I wanted to reference:

Psalm 73:26, "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

2 Corinthians 12:7-10, "  Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

2 Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

Here are a few articles that might help you that I've seen lately:

"I Will Not Diet in 2016" by Rhonda Burrows

"Oprah's Weight Watchers rescue requires more than will power", Tara Lachapelle from Crain's Chicago Business (Interesting info and her commercial of "Why")

"How to Break the Cycle of Weight-Loss Defeat", by Braxton Cosby, D.P.T.

"Spiritual Warfare in Weight Loss: Stolen Peace", By Kimberly Taylor, C.W.C.

"Understanding your Hunger Hormones", Susan B. Dopart, MS, RD, CDE