My first body conscious memory was in second grade. I can tell you I weighed 52.5 pounds. I can tell you that because I was a gymnast. In order to make team and remain competitive, I weighed in weekly. And in second grade, I was exactly 52.5 pouds. According to coach Angela, I was a little “over size.” My mom was given strict guidelines: no Twinkies or Ding Dongs for this little girl. Lunch was half a tuna salad sandwich, a couple slices of pineapple and a thermos of water in my brown paper sack. At eight years old I had a keen sense of awareness of the power of that scale.
Off to middle school. That's where the new boy, Jacob, joined us in seventh grade. When my girlfriends asked him what he thought of Jenny Nicks (that's me), his response was, She's cute, but she’s chubby. I remember fronting out like I didn't care, saying he was ugly anyways. There it was, more awareness that my body was not “skinny”, but according to the new boy on the block, it was fat.
High School was good times for this extroverted butterfly. Student body elections and cheer squads were my jam. I hung in the inner circle and the prettiest girls on campus were my crew. Summer vacation before my senior year, we loaded up in Julie’s Jeep and headed straight for the sand and surf of our favorite San Diego beach boardwalk. Six of us girls lay lathered in baby oil, with sun-in sprayed through our hair. A couple of long haired surf hotties strolled by us, voting, "10, 10, 9, 10, 9, 7", they hollered. That was their rating system as they passed our row laying on the sand near the boardwalk. And yes, you guessed it. I was the seven on the end. My friends were great and acted like they didn’t even hear. But we all heard. Now you know what a skinny girl knows about fat.
It’s been over twenty years since I’ve heard any external criticism about my body. In my early twenties I learned to manage my weight. But it hasn’t been that long since the internal voice spoke up. That all came to a head seven years ago. You can’t outrun your fork forever. You can’t starve yourself during the day to binge on one big meal at night. You can’t survive on bites, licks and tastes of your kids' ice cream cones from Chik-fil-a and crusts from their PB&J and continue to feel good from the inside out. Your mind can’t handle the ongoing obsession of the scale or the overwhelming feeling of deprivation forever.
We were made to consume food. But food is not made to consume us.
We need food. But we need more than that to satisfy what’s really going on. It doesn’t matter what the outside reveals if the inside is starved of strength. Seven years ago I became a health coach. I don’t coach you to have a perfect body. I coach for you to have internal strength. I love people’s progress. And that is always the line in between where we go deeper than what is seen at first.
When things start getting out of control externally that’s a good indication things are out of control internally.
When the craving is in our soul and doesn’t really come from hunger, food will never satisfy. We were made to consume food. In fact the same creator who made our bodies to function, to be strong and to do hard things made food to repair, rejuvenate and restore us. Food is not bad, it is when we use food to numb and escape that we get into trouble. We need food. But what we need more is the hope of God to satisfy what’s really going on. Your body, the scale, your daily eating regimen is not going to be perfect. Perfection is for the after-life. But while we are still here, we can agree to embrace the love God has for us. We can begin a journey to love ourselves and decide to direct our misguided cravings to the one who is capable of changing it all.
So, if you are struggling with your health today, if your mental state feels off and you are plagued with stress, low energy and overall BLEH...ask yourself. “Are the foods I’m eating and the habits I'm creating contributing to this?” If yes, then try a different approach. Pick a plan. There are many out there. I’d love for you to try mine. It gave me the proper nutrition and the structure of habits that have made a big difference in my perspective of the scale and the convenience of making healthy habits a daily part of my rhythm for restoration.
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