The day was sunny. Hot. Hanging with a friend at the zoo, we were huffing, dragging our children via Radio Flyer Wagon, up a hill. My friend and I were not overweight by any means, but here we were, struggling. We laughed at ourselves, at our weakened state. I turned to my friend, exasperated. “Skinny doesn’t mean anything.” We cracked up and continued on. That was one of the first times that I realized I wanted my life to be more than about how much I weigh.
As a twenty something, my favorite thing to do was rock climb. A strategic sport, it’s one that used my mind, my body, my soul, and my spirit. I had to have endurance and focus, and to know when to walk away. I worked hard and it showed. But, the SAHM life does little to maintain those muscles. I still love to climb when I get the chance, but those opportunities are rare and when I get them, the truth always comes out.
Skinny does not equal strong.
My heaviest was before I had children. Soon into marriage, I gained weight and after seeing 169 on the scale, I decided to do something. I read Dr. Phil’s weight loss book and after about 4-5 months went down to 145. For my 5’4″ frame, that made a big difference. As I learned more, reading In Defense of Food, and French Women Don’t Get Fat, I applied the knowledge that made sense to my daily life and continued to lose weight. The better I ate, the thinner I became, which was great but I soon realized another fact:
Skinny does not equal happy.
Yes, I was glad to shop for smaller clothes. I was excited to find that I had gone down a size, but the joy was temporary. My self worth didn’t expand as my middle evaporated.
Skinny does not equal worthy.
The thinner (or larger) I’ve become, the more I’ve realized what a god I made out of how much I weigh. Yes, I agree that changing lifestyles and habits for health is essential. Eating better, and exercising more will naturally transform a person’s shape and they will feel the positive effects. But, losing weight does not bring healing for the heart. It does not produce self-worth. It does not create a more meaningful life. Thin doesn’t mean that you’re more stronger or more beautiful or more talented or more capable and even confident enough to take the kinds of risks that build self-esteem.
Skinny does not equal perfected.
Let’s just take that god off the shelf now, shall we?
Can we remove the power that we’ve given over to Skinny? Can we apologize to our own bodies for the harsh ways that we’ve treated it? Can we look at ourselves and ask for the eyes that God has when He sees us? Instead of standing in the mirror, judging ourselves for what we are not, what if we are open to discover who we really are? What if we give ourselves permission to say what we like, even love about our bodies, no matter what number comes up on the scale?
What if we chose to speak kindly to the body that carries us around this hurtful, beautiful, discouraging, God-loved world?
Maybe, if we offered grace to ourselves, we might offer grace to others.
Mother Teresa once said that “Love begins at home. . . “ but what if, instead, love started inside our own skin?
Skinny does not equal lovable.
Can I tell you something?
I never weigh myself. Ever. At all. Because I don’t want my emotions to revolve around a number. I want my heart, mind, soul and body to be centered on what I value: Family, friends, taking good risks, learning new things, walking with Jesus. I want my heart to be able to see the world around me without the fog of what my weight should be (or what I, someone else, or the government thinks it should be.) Am I loving others? Am I telling the truth? Am I taking responsibility for my life and the ones that God has gifted me with? Skinny means nothing if I am not doing these things. Skinny is not the point.
My main goal, health wise is to listen to my body. I pay attention to how my jeans fit (and currently they are not fitting well. Time for more fruit.), how I feel after I eat something, and what I am capable of doing. These days, my goals have nothing to do with how much I weigh but rather what I want to do with my life.
I want to love God and love others. And, scale the occasional wall when I can.
What does Skinny mean to you?