My heart is burdened because there are so many of us in the same boat. Why do you think we are at an all-time high of obesity and fad diets available to us? We go from extreme to extreme, thinking one or the other will make us happy, and it's because it's all based on our momentary happiness....Don't like the weight you are? Great! Go on this crazy low calorie diet, take these pills and exercise 3 hours a day, 7 days a week. Now you're burnt out and lost 30 pounds? Great! It's your perogative to eat what you want, when you want, and not feel guilty. The only guilt you should feel is not doing what you want to do....
Seth Godin says, "Your comfort zone is not your safe zone." We tend to think that what is comfortable is good for us and what's safe is comfortable. But we all know that getting pushed outside your comfort zone molds us, helps us rise to the occasion, builds determination and benefits our character. As an exercise therapist, I learned the "Disuse Syndrome." It means you "use it or you lose it." Your body needs exercise and good nutrients to function at it's prime. If we stop taking care of our bodies, it will deteriorate, which is why 99.9% of health ailments, surgeries, and injuries benefit from some form of exercise. Put an arm in a cast and it will heal but it also loses muscle and needs to be strenghtened again or eventually your arm would lose it's function. Our whole body is the same way. We all know what exercise and good eating habits do for us. These habits help us to truly thrive and enjoy life without being at the same risk for depression, diabetes, diseases, and sickness for those at an unhealthy weight, poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. I don't want to continue more in depth on that because I think it's really quite plain, and EXTREMELY well known the benefits of regular exercise and eating healthy; which is concerning that it appears being thin or fat is being made to be purely about happiness.
Here's the problem with basing our decisions and our lifestyles on "happiness." It's not safe. It's unstable and it's fluid. It's turning what we know is best for us and wise, into an enemy of our happiness because it doesn't make us 'feel good' all the time. And then we fall into the trap. We run after our happiness and continually get in a tangled mess, and truth is confusing because in our world truth is subjective.
I feel like this woman touched on two ends of the spectrum. Thin, unhealthy, and miserable, but also fat, unhealthy and happy. I saw the other things that contributed to her unhappiness during her thin years. I really want to give her a hug, in all honesty. But I struggle with her message because I just don't think "fat and happy" is the solution. Now, do I think people who are "fat" should be miserable or unhappy? Certainly not. Do I think running yourself ragged and barely eating are the right ways to be a size 4? Never. I do think that we should be content in whatever stage we are in, while moving towards wholeness for our bodies and our lives. I don't think every woman fits into a size 4 box either. We are all different and need to celebrate those differences. It's about how we are filling our time, our mindset, and what we are continually fueling our bodies with. It's a balance that I am really trying to convey in this post.
One of my clients who has been losing weight without dieting or running ragged.
What's the answer? Or what's my proposal, really? What I propose is summed up into one word; Jesus. When He is the focus of our lives, it's no longer about "my happiness" because it's all about walking with Him and finding our identity in Him. It's about honoring Christ with our schedules, our rest, our food intake. It is a journey for wholeness, with ourselves, and our world. Wholeness comes when we let go of our life to let Jesus steer it. Wholeness with Christ, is a continual renewal and healing of the good gone bad. It's when you are freed from exercise bulimia and can safely get in a 30 minute workout doing something you enjoy, without obsessing over the food you ate while exercising. Wholeness is a daily peace from God and not from a midnight pizza and milkshake. Wholeness is gathering around a table with friends and family to share a nutritious meal, while just loving on the people you are with, instead of burdened by every calorie you are consuming. Wholeness is looking in the mirror, and smiling, realizing that you are beautiful, unique and represent the image of God, His beloved child. Wholeness is modeling for your children that exercise is not confined to a gym and eating healthy is not pre-packaged diet food. Wholeness is balancing work and rest. It's having enough energy to run around with your kids and grandkids without just sitting on the sidelines. Waking up an hour early to pray, exercise, and shower are healthy disciplines that can steer the rest of your day with wisdom, energy, and a clear mind. But it's also taking days off exercise when you've been going 100 miles an hour chasing after kids and keeping up with life. Practicing discipline and balancing rest, as a result of strength from the One who made us, is more than seeking happiness, it's a meaningful life.
So to the woman who is "fat and happy," I say please don't settle for what feels comfortable. Please don't be the spokesperson for "giving up" on being healthy to seek fleeting happiness. Left to our own devices, we all can end up at an unhealthy state, on either end of the "thin or fat" spectrum. I encourage you to be the spokesperson for giving up on your momentary happiness and trade it for lasting joy with Someone who will save your life, and change it more than you thought possible. Freedom doesn't come when we chase after what makes us happy, it comes when we chase after Who makes us whole.