Move-it Monday: The F Word

Hey guys! After last week’s post on body image, I almost couldn’t wait to write this week’s follow-up because I’ve got some super-exciting news for you!

I’ve been working hard over the past 6 months or so to develop this little pill you take after you eat. It’s incredible. All you do is swallow it with a full glass of your beverage of choice (water, soda, or even a milkshake, will do), and it automatically transforms any bad fats you might have consumed into lean, hard muscle or long willowy limbs—whichever is your preference, really.

Not only that, but I’ve infused it with special, confidence-boosting qualities that will help you strut your stuff. And, boy, will you have stuff to strut. Because this little pill will give you the body that you’ve always wanted. And all for the low, low price of $19.95.

Plus! If you call in the next 15 minutes, I’ll throw in a bonus packet of self-esteem for FREE. That’s a regular value of, well, it’s actually kind of hard to set a price point high enough for that one.

So, there you have it, folks. For less than $20, you can have the body you always wanted and the confidence to show it off.

YOU’ll NEVER SAY “FAT” AGAIN!

 

 

 

 

Ahem.

 

 

 

 

 

april fool's

Okay, so I might have telegraphed that one a little bit.

But here’s the deal folks: even if such a pill existed, and I could offer it to you (I’m going to be rich!!!), you would need that priceless packet of extra self-esteem something fierce. Because, even with a miracle pill infused with confidence-boosting magical qualities that guaranteed you your ideal body, you would almost assuredly call yourself “fat” again at some point.

Why? Because of how you determined what your ideal body was in the first place. Think about it. How do we know what we want to look like? We see it—on TV, at the movies, in the grocery store checkout lane, at the gym. We think, “If I only had her legs, her abs, her chest, her shoulders…then, oh then, I would never bad-mouth my figure again.”

 

Guess what, ladies. That girl whose waist measurements you’re coveting? Yeah. She has her own body-type Holy Grail. It may be her fellow model or costar in her TV show. It may be her Cross Fit workout buddy or her coworker. Or it may be that retouched, airbrushed, digitally altered image that mocked her during her last drugstore run. But I promise you that she goes home and looks in the mirror and finds thing to criticize.

Proverbs 30:15 and 16 say:

15 There are three things that will not be satisfied,
Four that will not say, “Enough”:
16 [h]Sheol, and the barren womb,
Earth that is never satisfied with water,
And fire that never says, “Enough.”

Well, I have no real desire to add to Scripture, but if I were going to put one more on that list, I’d say: “And a woman trying to have the perfect body.”

I wasn’t fooling you when I said that I could barely wait to write the follow-up to last week’s post because I had the two of these planned together in my head all along. And you, my dear reader-friends, only confirmed my conviction that I needed to write a post about body-bashing.

Here are a couple of comments I received on last week’s post:

“I…will get upset and ask my husband if I look fat in something. I have watched and my husband honestly gets upset by this, not just because it is annoying, but because I think it honestly hurts him. He has said to me before, ‘Stop saying bad things about my wife!’ I feel like I have even done this at times where I have a new dress on and I can see his eyes light up and can tell he just loves it on me, and then I have to go and ruin the moment by asking if I look fat?”

and

“Whenever I complain about my body my husband stops me. He said in his eyes I’m like a beautiful sand castle that’s been built. When I complain it’s like I’m stomping all over that sand castle that’s been so carefully and lovingly built.”

Oh my word, y’all. Even though I had already planned on writing this post, those comments were like a knife twisted in my heart. I cannot tell you how many times I have “stomped my sand castle” to smithereens while my husband stood by in dismay, helpless to stop me because I, in my arrogance and self-obsession, valued my own (negative) opinion of my figure more than his

duct tape

{And, yes, that is my mouth covered in duct tape; some days, it might actually help!}

Proverbs 18:21 says,

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. And those who love it will eat its fruit.

Love “it?” Love what? Death? Life?

The answer is: yes.

If you love the power of life-giving words, you can speak them into your own life and the lives of others and watch them (and you) blossom.

The same goes for death. Mere words can kill dreams, crush spirits, maim souls.

Then why, oh why, do I throw them about so carelessly?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about some self-help, name-it-claim-it hocus-pocus where you can talk yourself into anything, even though I believe words are powerful enough to alter realities and make the impossible at least seem possible (in both good ways and bad).

No, I’m referring to the God-given reality that what we say matters. So much. Just like those commenters noted, I am wounding my husband’s heart when I utter words like “revolting” and “huge” to refer to the body he cherishes. And you (and I) are shaping our little girls’ future realities when they hear us referring to ourselves as “elephants,” “whales,” and “cows.”

As I talked this over with a friend, she said something profound that put into words an itch I’ve been trying to scratch for years. She said: “I need my husband to know that I know I’m not perfect.”

In other words, she felt like she was being dishonest if she didn’t verbally acknowledge her flaws. Boy, have I been there. So, so many times.

But you know what’s ironic? By insisting on “honesty,” I am telling lies. I say things like, “I’m fat,” when what I really mean is: “See this piece of cellulite here? I despise it, and I feel like I need to say something about it before you notice it and are repulsed.” It’s almost a compulsion. And it’s so sick and twisted.

I do want to be a compulsively honest person, though—the kind that admits on a daily basis, “I’m not perfect in any area, but by the grace of God, I am being transformed into the image of Christ, and that is something more beautiful than I can even put into words.” How could I trash-talk that?

I shouldn’t be able to, and yet my old companion of self-ridicule reared its ugly head just last night as I was editing pictures for this week’s Wardrobe Wednesday post. It said things like, “Look at how wide your waist looks in that shot. And that flab on the back of your arms? How can you call yourself a fitness instructor?”

Whoa! Seriously? Satan does not play fair, people! And this from the girl who just wrote about how she can look in the mirror and call herself enough because she belongs to a Creator who made her just the way she is on purpose

I never said I had this whole thing figured out, though. I admitted I would struggle and fail. But you want to know the best part? The old me—even though I already knew the truth—would have kept stumbling down that pitted, muddy road of destructive words and thoughts until I might have even deleted all of those pictures. And I would have certainly said something to my husband like, “Ugh. I just feel so big today.”

But this new me that’s being clobbered over the head with this truth right now and is becoming a teensy bit more like Jesus every time I read His word and seek His face in prayer stopped, prayed, and, with His help, forced myself to look at those pictures again through the eyes of my husband (who loved me in my new dress) and my God who gave me that waist and those arms. And, amazingly, even though I could still see the “flaws,” I didn’t hate them anymore. I didn’t delete the pictures. And I decided that I looked healthy—pretty even—in them. I decided that, regardless of how I felt.

So, here are my challenge and my commitment to you:

I will never call myself fat again. (Oh my goodness, I almost want to take those words back, it’s so huge for me). And I will not use other derogatory terms to describe the body I’ve been given. Even in my own head. (I can’t guarantee they won’t pop into my mind, but I commit to fight them with prayer).

Last week, I wrote this sentence:

“But even at my thinnest, I always had the niggling thought that I would be better if I lost another pound or two. That I would be more by being less.”

And then one of my friends texted me this about her own body image struggle: “I was a lot worse in college, but it has definitely gotten better the more The Lord increases and I decrease.”

And I just had to laugh. I can be more by being less! The less I even give myself the option of dwelling on my body (other than in thankfulness for my health), the more I find it easy to like what I see. The less I focus on my faults, the more time I have to praise others.

Oh, Jesus! Less of me, more of Thee!

I feel compelled to acknowledge that I know some of you aren’t at healthy weights. But the truth is that, even if you have excess fat on your body (and most of us do), you do not = FAT. It may be your greatest struggle, but it doesn’t have to define you. And proclaiming it with your mouth or mentally succumbing to it as your default identity will never help you find a healthy, godly balance.

I mean this for every single one of us.

duct tape2

So, will you join me? Will you commit to erasing the word “fat” from your vocabulary and focusing on speaking truth and life into your own reality and those of others as well? It’s so much harder than that sentence makes it sound, but it’s so, so worth it.

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24 thoughts on “Move-it Monday: The F Word

  1. This and the previous post on body imagine deeply resonated with me. I have had a less than stellar view of myself since i was about 14 when puberty struck and I got hips. At that point I wasn’t even up to 100lbs. yet, but I stilll had a cow when I stepped on the scale. I was tiny to say the least. Last fall I hit a point where I was tired of not feeling good about myself, but also not doing anything about it. I had hit my heaviest at 125… which i know some would deem that not very much, but on my 5’3″ frame i wasnt thst weight because of musle. So I joined a gym, got a personal trainer, and signed up for my first half marathon. I am not to the point that I love my body yet…but at least I have stopped complaining about it and started doing something about it. I actually loved my trainer do much, that I have started studying through the American Council on Excercise. I have this dream of owning my own studio someday for women to workout and be encouraged. For them to know about the God that loves them do deeply, to focus on being healthy and active overall, without the pressure and focus of trying to achieve the non existent perfect body!! Anyway, I absolutely love your blog and I thought I’d add in my $0.02 worth … 5 days after the fact.

  2. Beautiful post!

    I just realized in the past year or two that my Mom has the same body image issues as all other women – I am SO glad she never uttered a word of anything of the sort when I was growing up – who knows how much extra body image issues she saved me from? I need to be careful to do the same for Ali.

    1. Thanks, Rachel! And my mom was the same way. She never complained, never referenced it…nothing. Makes me wonder why it was such an issue for me from such an early age (other than that whole being-a-female thing).

      But I do know it’s bothered to gain some weight as she’s gotten older, and she makes mildly derogatory comments now (nothing terrible), so at least I know she’s human.

      But I think you put it really well when you said, “Who knows??”

      With a mama who focused on it, I’m sure it could have been much, much worse.

  3. A few years ago, I saw a long-forgotten picture of myself as a child. I was truly astonished to see a picture of a perfectly normal girl, not the hideously fat child I always thought I was. I realized that from a VERY young age, my image of myself had been seriously flawed.

    On a related note, I used to have a very bad habit of calling myself “stupid,” because that’s how I’ve always felt. Then one day a good friend kindly told me I should never call myself names, especially in front of my children. I was unconsciously teaching my kids that they had a stupid mother! I was grateful for this advice, and stopped that habit immediately.

    The point of both of these examples is….even if you can’t do it for yourself YET, stop putting yourself down for the sake of your children. Your children love you and think you are perfect, and want to be exactly like you! They will not love themselves, if you WILL NOT LET THEM LOVE YOU AS YOU ARE! And, yes, I am yelling this at myself, too!!!
    Judy

    1. Yup, it’s a sobering thought to think that the words I say can so greatly affect my children. I will say that the body-bashing never happens around them…”just” my husband. But that’s too much already.

  4. I almost had an heart attack by reading that title, Abbie 😉 Since last Monday (after reading the post), I have started with my new positive attitude. I am training but I am also enjoying a nice meal with my boyfriend and…I have hidden the scale 🙂

    1. Ha! Yes, scary title! : )

      And GOOD for you, hiding that scale! That’s got to be the greatest idea ever (outside of just chunking it :)).

  5. thank you for your wonderful insight ….I have struggled with this for a while now …when I was younger I was lucky to have one of those metabolisms where I could eat whatever I wanted and not gain a pound. It changed when I started having babies and then now as I’m getting older things have slowed down. For awhile I was too focused on losing weight and it started to consume me so much that it was affecting my family and my mental health ….i just wasn’t happy and one day I finally realized that i have so much to be grateful for and no reason to not be happy, i have so many wonderful gifts around me.as long as I’m healthy and happy that’s what matters. I’ve earned this body good or bad and I have 3 amazing children to show for it! I’m truly blessed and I know that if I do my part The Lord will do the rest. Im so grateful to be a woman fluff and all. Thank you for sharing! I enjoy your blog and also very grateful you helped me work off the carrot cake I enjoyed yesterday!!

  6. Abbie- I so want to do this. This word comes into my mind probably over 50 times a day. Every time I see a photo, pass a mirror, try on clothes..well, you get the idea. But I want to live a life of gratitude and focus on the good. Focus on the fact that I’m healthy, strong and fairly fit. Focus on my family and the beauty of the world..all gifts from God. So I’m going to join you and also make it a matter of prayer. I can commit to stop saying the F word but I want to stop thinking it too..and I think this will take time AND prayer. And I know He will help me with this cause if I commit to it myself. Thanks so much Abbie!

    1. Oh, Dade! I’m going to pray for you (and me) girl! With God all things are possible…even banishing this ugliness from our mouths and minds!

  7. In the past five years, I have been on a journey: a journey to stay alive so that I can see my children grow up. Over these five years, I have lost over 110 pounds. I know what body struggle is. I can shop in “normal people” stores, and people tell me I look so much better now. But do you want to know the terrible thing? In my head, I’m still the hefty girl. That’s how I see myself. Sometimes, when I catch my reflection in the mirror a split-second before I realize it’s me, I think, “hey, that person looks ok.” I’m not thin. I’ll never be thin, and I am at peace with that. Because as long as the first thing that comes to mind when I see myself in the mirror isn’t, “Even God can’t love me like this,” then I know I have made incredible progress.

    1. Wow, Karen. I see you so seldom in person that I didn’t even know that part of your personal journey (that’s amazing! Way to GO!). But, man, is the mental/emotional part of all this the hardest or what??

      Praising God for the progress you have already made and praying for continued truth revealed in your life.

  8. I have been wanting to comment since last weeks post, but I’ve been out of town and didn’t feel up to typing all that is on my heart from my iphone 🙂
    You don’t know how much these words you have written confirm exactly what the LORD has been speaking to me! I am soooo very thankful that you decided to share!

    At the first of Feb, I decided I needed to lose those last pesky 10 lbs that would get me back to pre-baby weight. So, I started exercising more and really watching what I eat. I started to see my body transforming, but it seemed like the criticism in my head (stupid Satan) only increased. Well, my stomach was flatter, but it still has a little bulge. Every time I would look in the mirror, I wouldn’t see the improvements, only the remaining flaws. Or every time I would step on the scale, I would only see how far I had to go instead of how far I had come. I have never been “totally happy” with my body even when I was at my slimmest. I could ALWAYS find something I wanted to change.

    Well, the LORD really started convicting my heart on this. And I started reading a book, “You are not what you weigh” by Lisa Bevere. (AWESOME, BTW for any woman who shares these struggles!!) And through both of these things (and your blog posts :), my eyes are being opened and the veil is being lifted. I have realized that in criticizing my body, I am criticizing (even hating) the LORD’s creation. Because He created me in my mother’s womb. When I think about it like that, it grieves my heart. Would I look at one of my kids and point out all of their flaws every time I looked at them?? NO WAY! But, every time I looked in the mirror, that’s what I was doing. And the Lord doesn’t see me any different than he sees my kids (or anyone for that matter). We are all his beautiful creation!

    Also, I realized I have been guility of idol worship….yep! Those images in my head of what I desire to look like, the thinner, more muscular arms, more tones abs version of me or that girl I saw in that fitness magazine….those are all idols that I have let dominate my thinking and put an image of myself that is false or that conforms to the image of this world instead of listening to what the Lord says about me…that I am beautiful, worthy & made in his image. Ouch, that one stings a little. I don’t bow down to a golden calf, but it doesn’t matter. In my heart, I was bowing down to a false image that the world says is perfect.

    Lastly, I want to change for my daughter. I don’t want her to hear negative comments about my body and assume that she is somehow flawed too. She sees me as beautiful and perfect and if she constantly hears me complain about my body then she will begin to believe those things and then realize that maybe she is “fat” too. Ugggghhh! I want her to be the most beautiful, confident, God-loving version of herself that the Lord has made her to be! I don’t want Satan to use the words that I say and the negative self-image that I struggle with to be a struggle she has to fight. I want to overcome and raise her in that confidence!

    So, all of that to say that these are just the few things that the Lord has just recently laid on my heart. I am no where close! I am only beginning the journey. But with the Lord’s help, I will get there. And it is soooo true…I need more of HIM and less of me. I am starting by confessing scripture when Satan brings those self-hate thoughts:
    Psalm 139:14 “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.
    Proverbs 31:30 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”
    And I am with you on the promise to remove the “f” word from my vocabulary. I am turning over a new leaf! Abbie, thank you for your encouragement in my journey!

    1. Leigh Anne, your comments always do my heart good.

      You know, in both of my posts, I meant to include a part about idolatry and how body image can become an idol so very quickly, but they were already so long, and that’s kind of a post all its own.

      But I totally agree!

      I will be praying for you, sweet friend!

  9. I will try to do this. I am so guilty of looking in the mirror, quickly becoming disgusted and saying something bad about my own body. I desperately needed this reminder today, that Christ lives in me and I am continually being molded into the woman God wants me to be.

    But please…keep reminding me to not say the “f” word. 😉

  10. WOW. You have no idea what great timing it is. Last night before I went to bed I was “researching” diet plans and trying to find the one that would make me FEEL better as fast as possible. I want the $19.95 pill that will fix my self esteem right now!
    Thanks for speaking the truth in love from God’s word. This was a blessing I needed today.

  11. I’ll join! Though I need a bit of help, I can’t think of a good word for what happens when you are pregnant (I know it’s not fat, just baby support, but I can’t think of a word that best explains why I continue to bump into things!) My husband hates me using that word but I can’t think of anything better!

    1. Bahaha! I know what you mean! What about “girth?” Is that a better word? It certainly doesn’t look or sound better, does it?
      “Fluff?” “Baby love?” Surely there must be something that sounds like what it is: health and happiness for you little one. Congrats!

I love hearing from you guys!