I am reading Jon Acuff's book, "Start". It is about not settling for average. Pushing past the fear that speaks to all of us, convincing us to not dream too big, live too boldly, or shine too brightly. Fear has always been an issue for me. I am just now realizing that fear is an issue for most people.(wait, you mean I am not unique after all?!) I was so busy comparing my insides with your outsides, all I could see was that they didn't match. Had I been smart enough to realize that wasn't a fair scale, I might have dared to look a little deeper. What I missed was that while most people's outsides look put together and confident, their insides are often as messy as mine. Riddled with the insecurity and questions. But what if I am not good enough, liked enough, smart enough? What if I don't fit in. What if I don't have what it takes?
A little over a year ago I was shopping for homeowners and car insurance. I got quotes from 8 different companies, then sat on the decision for 4 months because I was so scared to make the wrong decision. Really? Wow. It's insurance. Look at the numbers. Pick one. Move on. I wouldn't. I was overwhelmed by the fear of making the wrong choice. I read somewhere not long after that (Thank you, God) that some of us treat decisions as if they were moral issues. WOW. That was so true for me. Decisions are choices, nothing more. If I make the wrong one, I can readjust and move forward. My identity, or moral compass, will not be altered by paying too much for homeowners insurance. In Acuff''s book he says it this way, "No matter what fear and doubt tell you, your identity is not at stake with the decisions you make and the actions you take as you learn.....You were you before you walked in the building. You'll be you when you walk out. Only more awesome." I love that. He is so right.
So how does this tie into nutrition, exercise and weight loss? Well, for me it brings up the issue of my all or nothing thinking, and how often it sabotages me. Maybe I am the only one who has tied self worth to my eating or my success on the scale. Or given up and jumped off the "diet" because I ate a cookie. Eating and exercise is just like every other decision I face every day. It is not a moral issue. I am not a failure as a person because I ate a candy bar. Was that the wisest choice considering I am still trying to loose weight? No. Has my character or integrity taken a hit. No. Will it now take me a little longer to loose the 20 pounds I still have left. Yes, a little. Do I suck as a person now? No. Ok, so that may seem a little silly, but seriously the emotions that are generated from that cyclical pattern of negative thinking and self sabotage are strong. I can actually convince myself that I am a failure because I ate what I shouldn't have or I didn't exercise. Talk about pressure. Geez. All too often in the past, I have let one indulgence lead me down the path that tells me I have blown it. I should just give up. I will never be successful. Who I am is not altered by what I eat or how often I exercise. Popeye had it going on with his, "I yam who I yam". (mmmmm....yams. Sorry, I am easily distracted) Is it possible for me to be a happier version of me because of what I eat or how often I exercise...absolutely. But that is because I am taking care of my body, feeding it healthy food and challenging it. I am giving it what it needs to function at it's best. The by product of taking good care of my body is having more energy, more balanced hormones and a brighter outlook.I can feel better because of good choices, but I am not a better or worse person because of what I eat or don't eat.
I haven't worked out in over a week because I pulled a muscle in my leg. I was running a lap at the gym a few weeks ago and tripped (graceful I am not). I hyperextended the part of my hamstring way up near my glute....so yeah, it's like I pulled a butt muscle. Who does that? Really? A pulled butt muscle? Yeah, that is me all over. So ANYHOW, I digress....I haven't been working out, and my eating hasn't been great. Those old tapes start playing....I am fat. I am a failure. I will NEVER loose all the weight I need to. I will never reach my goals. That thinking is trying to sneak back in. When I take a minute to really think through it....I know none of it is true. I am still overweight, still have around 20 pounds to go...but truth is, the 40 pounds I have lost are still gone. I am still a size 8, instead of the size 18 that I was. I have taken liberties with my eating, but it hasn't been all horrible; I am still getting a lot of nutrition in. I have lost 2/3rds of the weight I need to loose. I've gone from only being able to jog a half a block, to jogging a half marathon. That isn't failing. But if I gave in to my feelings, I would be focused on what a failure I am, and be convinced that I will never reach my goals. What I choose to focus on is important. Phillipians 4:8 (from The Message): "Summing it up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things that are true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious,-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not to curse."
How do you see yourself? Do you tie your worth to performance? Do you feel like a failure when your food choices aren't perfect? You are not how much you weigh. You are not defined by your choices in food or exercise. Who would you see if you looked at yourself without that self imposed filter? Can you even see past your weight to see who God created you to be?