Yippee, it’s February!
So, I hate the month of January. Everywhere I look there are diet and fitness ads. They fill me with anxiety and often send me down destructive paths of weight and food obsession. Since I was a little girl, I have been aware of my weight. When I look back at pictures of a healthy, round-faced little girl, I cringe to remember the tormenting I received for being “fat” when by all appearances, I really was not. To make things worse, at home I was often told “You aren’t fat, you’re just pleasantly plump.” You and I both know that this is gentle family speak for “We know you are fat, but other people shouldn’t call you fat because it is mean.” At least that is what I heard in my nine-year-old mind.
My mom dieted. I think everyone’s mom dieted, so I am not claiming to be exceptional in that. It may have been common, but to me it was another gram on the scale that tipped toward disordered thinking regarding food and body image. At nine I started dieting. Not in the eat-sensible and move kind of way, but in the I-will-only-eat-baked-potatoes-all-summer way.
Ridiculous dieting patterns dominated my food landscape for the next 15 years. Then I went through a recovery program at my church that brought to light my sickness and a path toward healing. Eleven years later, I have mostly done well in my battle to eat when I am hungry, stop when full and not eat when I am really not hungry. Except for January.
Every January, I struggle to stay off of the scales. I fight desperately not to second-guess myself when I feel hungry. “Am I eating to satisfy my hunger? Am I just bored? Didn’t I just eat 2 hours ago?” The tailspin begins. The pirates have boarded the ship.
We all have them. We call them gremlins, negative self-talk, the voice of Satan. Whatever you’ve heard them referred to in the past these are the voices and thought patterns that take over and commandeer our lives.
I like to call them mind pirates. Probably because I would rather watch Treasure Island and Swiss Family Robinson than Gremlins, and since it is my blog I figure my analogy preferences can rule.
The mind pirates come in swinging, just attractive enough for me to stop and wonder if they will whisk me away to some treasure-laden pirate den…But you know the never do. The mind pirates just want to steal, kill and destroy.
How to fight these swash-buckling foes, you ask? I turn to things I know to be true to combat the lies they fling at me, accept the reality of where I am, and choose to speak lovingly about myself to myself.
Truth Cannons. At the first sign of the Jolly Roger, read: everyone’s diet plans plastered on social media, I start polishing my truth cannons. The pirates yell “You aren’t good enough unless you are a size 10 or under!” (Yes my pirates know where to set the line so it sounds reasonable, tricky pirates.) I need truth to counter the attack. The truth is that size has nothing to do with worth. I would never impose that standard on anyone else, with so many blessings being poured into my life by women of whose dress-size I have never inquired.
Rapiers of Reality. After the cannons shot from afar, then the attacks come in closer to home. This is where it gets personal, “You are fat, and out of shape. Seriously, look at those arms and we won’t even mention your thighs.” (I know, pirates often sound like snotty teen mean girls.) I need to know where the line of reality is. This isn’t time to counter with ridiculous claims from the other end of the pendulum. The reality is: I am not at my ideal weight, but only by 15 pounds. 15 pounds is not an insurmountable mound of fat, which is what the pirates want me to think. Reality check: eating healthfully and continuing with my sensible exercise routine will most like resolve those 15 pounds in a year or less.
Unguents of Love. Pirates don’t keep up the fight for very long. Either you are easy prey or they run away. When they are gone, I need to regroup and bind up the wounds they have inflicted. Now it is time to speak words of affirmation to recognize the positives about my self and my body that get shoved aside and quickly forgotten in the day to day. I start where I want others to start, with what is inside. I remember that I am a loving person who cares for my family and my church family and my family of friends around the world. I am making an impact for good on the planet, even with my 15 extra pounds. My body, which nurtured and grew and delivered 3 new human lives, is strong. I can race my kids to the car and still have breath to laugh as we pile in. I can run with the shopping cart through the parking lot to get my baby into the van and sheltered from the cold. I can rock him to sleep. I can hold my daughters when they are sad and pestered by their own mind pirates.
We are so much more than our bodies! Our impact on the world has so much more to do with what is inside us, motivating and moving us to make a difference. But our bodies are a precious gift. We need to cherish them and care for them, but we cannot allow voices from the past to negate all the present good because of a few extra pounds!
What mind pirates do you battle? What can you put in your truth cannons to drive them back? What is your reality, and how can you use that recognition to move you forward?
Regardless of where you are or how you struggle, you are a person of inherent worth and immense potential!
Find freedom and refreshment in that truth today!