Many people believe that obesity is just a byproduct of a weak will. They think that overweight people should just stop eating so much, exercise more, and their problems would eventually be solved. There was a point when I thought this, too. But in the past few years of coaching, I have realized that obesity is not simply a lack of will power. It goes so much deeper than that.
In hearing the personal stories and witnessing dozens of women shed years of hurt through personal revelations, I now believe that obesity is a byproduct of a hurting soul. Of course, there are countless ways for a soul to be scarred, ravaged and wounded. The world is a hurting place. Unfortunately, food brings an emotional release and temporary soothing to all that hurt. It affords an escape from the pain, even if just for a few seconds.
Food is everywhere. It makes for an easy escape. What’s worse, we have man-made, chemical-ridden, toxic “food” (or food-like products) filling the aisles of every grocery store. Stamped with bold health claims, half-truths, and skewed research, they tell you that this “zero calorie” creamer or that “low-fat” meat substitute is healthy for you when in fact, it’s full of chemicals and fake ingredients that your body has no idea what to do with. And while the corporations get richer, the people get fatter.
You know the saying: majority rules. As more and more of society heads in one direction, the majority then becomes the “norm”. And the “norm” starts to convince the rest of us that their way is the best way.
But what if the majority of us are overweight, unhealthy, and dying?
This can’t be the best way.
I’ve spoken with many obese women who are well aware of their obesity being a serious problem and my heart goes out to them. I’ve also met plenty of women who insist they are totally fine with being obese. They have convinced themselves that “big is beautiful” and refuse to call themselves “obese” (even if they are 200+ pounds overweight). Instead, they affectionately refer to themselves as “big” and make jokes about having more to love and more cushion for the pushin’. Like it’s some sort of gift to be drowning in excess fat.
Now let me get one thing straight right now: true beauty is from within. This post is not about being “skinny” because that makes you beautiful. DO YOU HEAR ME?! I am not saying that being thin, fit, ripped, or any other form of bodily health can bring you true and lasting joy. No, true joy stems from a place much deeper and I’ve already shared my source for securing that inner joy. A joy that no one, and no thing (be it life or death), can take from me!
But what I am saying is that big is not beautiful. To say “I’m big and I’m proud” is like saying “I live in a garbage dump and I’m proud of my home! Because hey, death and decay is beautiful!” No one should look in the mirror, see their obesity, and say to themselves, “yeah! My extremely fat body is awesome!”. That belief can only be one of two things: complete stupidity (since we all know that obesity is anything but awesome) or what is far more likely: a coping mechanism for when you have lost all hope that things will ever change and are resigned to making the best of what life has handed you.
But what if you could hand it back?
What if you could stop lying to yourself, stop making excuses, stop feeling like a constant failure? What if you could finally see a light at the end of the tunnel? A glimmer of hope that spurs you on to put one foot in front of the other; left, right, left, right. Crawling, then walking, then running, then sprinting to the finish line?
I have shared before how I allowed lies to deceive me for years. I believed ridiculous half-truths that had me throwing up my hands and just accepting my current body as my lot in life, whether I liked it or not. I blamed genetics for my body shape instead of realizing my full potential. I cried in the change room when I slipped on my first pair of size 2 pants — not because I was happy but because I was struck with how many years I had spent lying to myself. In the same way many obese women refer to themselves lovingly as “big”, I soothed myself with adjectives like “curvy” and “big-boned” (to which I’m not!).
I am all for positivity. Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that we all look in the mirror and tell ourselves how much we suck. But there is a difference between encouraging ourselves through positive thinking and harming ourselves through unrealistic thinking.
It is positive thinking to say: I am worthy of success. I am fully capable of being healthy and strong. I have beauty to offer this world that goes far deeper than the shape of my body.
But it is harmful thinking to say: Even though I’m obese and studies show that I will die years before my time; even though I am robbing my children of a future with me; my body is beautiful!
Death is not beautiful. It’s ugly and sad and unfair to those left behind.
Standing on the sidelines of your life is not beautiful. It leaves you missing out on the amazing life-enriching experiences that God has for you.
Missing out on your children’s children is not beautiful. It robs them of the joy they would have found in knowing you.
The emotional baggage that leads us to overeat and soothe ourselves through food is not beautiful.
The deep scars of past hurts have the potential to shape us into something stronger and more beautiful than ever before. But left untouched and unhealed, they are traumatic and damaging.
A mistreated body is not beautiful. Whether skinny or fat, heart disease is not beautiful. Losing your limbs to diabetes is not beautiful. Organ failure is not beautiful. Take it from my obese grandmother, who died at 65, without ever meeting most of her great-grandchildren, as her organs shut down and refused to take the abuse any longer. When the power shut off and the breathing tubes slowed, she took her last breath into an overwhelmed and ravaged body and I promise you, death was not beautiful.
I get it. You’ve tried. Every diet. Every fad. But instead of seeing each failure as another sign you’ll never change, why not turn it on its head and see it as one more opportunity for you to hand back the life you’ve walked into and say, “no, this is not the life I want. And with this failure, I’m one step closer to finding the life I am meant to have. I’m not giving up!”
You can’t do it alone but you can get there.
Making excuses to hide your guilt and shame is anything but beautiful. It’s robbing you of your very lifeblood. On the other hand, refusing to believe that your lot in life is a miserable and overweight body — that takes honesty. And honesty is beautiful!
Admitting you need help is beautiful. Having the humility to reach out is beautiful. Perseverance is beautiful. Learning to use food for sustenance and not escapism is beautiful. Loving life and being around to enjoy it; that’s beautiful!
You got this!