Monday, October 3, 2011

Where True Weight Loss Begins

Last week I shared about how disenchanted weight loss became for me once I had lost my extra weight. I exchanged that physical weight for the heavy load of fear and bitterness that now clung to me like spandex. Eventually I traded the bitterness towards others (for liking me only when I was skinny) for a hatred toward myself.

Unfortunately, the weight loss program I succeeded with, while certainly great at delivering the results I wanted (i.e. weight loss), definitely left me with some extra baggage in lieu of the fat it took away. Essentially, the program followed the basic principles of Intuitive Eating. Personally, I love this approach to weight loss because I think it is both effective and maintainable. The problem was that the program I followed combined the Intuitive Eating approach with a Christian worldview in a very destructive sort of way.

For instance, one of the main tenets of the program centered around eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. That, in and of itself, is a very sensible idea. But then when you combine that idea with the concept of sin, saying that “if you eat when you are not actually hungry or you overeat, you are sinning against God”, well, that creates a whole host of new problems. Now, if I overate, I no longer felt miserable about myself, but I also felt miserable about God, as I imagined him scowling down from his Charmin-y throne, shaking his head and wagging his finger at me. Suddenly, my spirituality was linked directly to the scale…and that, my friends, is NOT a good thing.

Whether I believed weight loss made me acceptable to my earthly father or my heavenly Father, I always found myself trying to earn love through my appearance. And that’s a concept, whether you are a Christian or not, that I think a lot of people can relate to. Weight loss is about someone or something other than ourselves.

About two and a half years ago, my fear of weight gain (yes, we’re talking almost 15 years after I actually lost my weight) had reached another frantic peak. I remember being out in Ohio visiting my parents with our 3 children and heavily-pregnant with our fourth. My mind was a flurry of worry about losing the “baby weight” I was gaining during my pregnancy, a constant chalkboard-scratching agitation in the background my mind. I’d had three children already and every time I had managed to lose the extra weight from my pregnancy within about 6 months. But still I worried till my nerves were frayed and I was short-tempered with my family.

Then, one day on a drive by myself, I found the quiet I needed to confront my fear. Arms hung over the steering wheel, tears streamed down my cheeks as I poured my worries out in a fumbling prayer: “What if I can’t do this,” I whimpered. “What if I just can’t lose the weight this time and I’m fat again? What if that sly little fat girl finds her way back into my life again? What will I do?”

I’m not one who gets many revelations from God. Honestly, I wish I got more. Looking back in my life, I can think of perhaps three or four different times when I felt certain that God had spoken something to me. No, not audibly (though I would love one of those sometime). These are simply thoughts given to my mind from a wisdom source far deeper than my own.

That day, God told me, “Maile, you are a delight to me right now and you were a delight to me as an overweight 16-year-old. If you never lost a pound, it wouldn’t matter to me because I simply cannot love you more than I already do. You are always acceptable to me.”

And that is the thought I want to convey to you today. No matter what size you are or intense your struggle with food is or fearful you are about your body…you are acceptable. You are loved. And that, I believe, is where true weight loss begins.


  1. Wow, Maile. Just wow.

    I wonder what it would be if we all lived as if we believed this was true every minute . . . It is so true, and yet, I so easily forget. Thank you for the reminder, and for tying this to weight and appearance. I need that.

  2. Andi, I, too, wonder how different life would be if we could just let this concept sink into the deepest part of us and really BELIEVE it. Thanks for sharing today.

  3. Nicely done, Maile. Insightful post!

  4. When I lost my weight I never thought about what it would be like to gain it back. I thought "whew, I can take a break from deprivation and GUILTING myself all the time". And, I did, and then I gained it back thus guilting myself for gaining it back! What a vicious cycle as well.
    I can definitely see the patterns in your life to please your earth father with weight loss, and then your heavenly father with weight loss. Either would love you and you would be acceptable to either no matter what!
    I think about "I could look pretty if I lost weight" even though I know I'm pretty as me, right now! My biggest issue right now is looking and feeling healthy, and well, neither of that is present in my life right now. But, I did join the Y again, and the boy and I are planning to sign up for weight watchers online tonight...just after we enjoy the toll house cookies I just baked :)

  5. Brenda, I think you bring up a great point about the cycle of dieting--guilt and deprivation then relief, only to have it begin again. That idea was brought to my attention in the book "Intuitive Eating" (which I highly recommend) and that's a topic I definitely want to discuss in the future. I always appreciate your thoughts, Brenda; thanks for sharing!

  6. "You are a delight to me". Lovely! Something I have to remember on a daily basis. Thanks for that reminder. :)

  7. thank you for this post- beautiful and true on so many levels, and much needed for me to read tonight...

  8. I'll definitely check that book out - thanks!