Monthly Archives: December 2013

Weight loss worries: I’m done with the status quo

I realized early this morning that I have spent more years in my life being worried about my weight than I have spent years not being worried about my weight. This troubles me. I like the way I look right now. I like the way I eat (though I probably have a few too many sweets…). There are a few small changes I need to make for my health’s sake, but not necessarily for my weight’s sake (they are, contrary to popular belief, not always the same thing). So, why am I still constantly concerned about what I eat and what pant size I wear?  When does the worry end?

I know that as a woman in a Western country, I am technically expected to obsess about weight gain for the rest of my life.  The above realization about spending over half my life worrying about weight is hardly a unique one.  Most women (and many men) in America and other countries as well seem to feel as if the desire to lose weight is something to default to.  A few years ago, I was in a basic college PE class. There was a questionaire at the beginning about personal habits and such. One of the questions that I was required to answer was, “Are you committed to losing weight during this class?” Not “Do you want to lose weight?” or “Are you at a healthy weight?” or “What does you doctor say about your current weight?” but “Are you committed to losing weight…?” because the assumption is that we will always want to lose more, that our lives will be a constant fight against physical expansion.

Photo courtesy of Adpearance

But that seems so horrifying.  We must be constantly vigilant lest the numbers on the scales and on our clothing labels creep upward in the night.  We can’t think about food or exercise without ascribing moral implications to it.  Eating vegetables is “being good”; eating sweets is “downright sinful”.  Exercise addiction is the only addiction I can think of that is actively applauded despite the fact that no addiction is healthy.  Eating fresh food items is considered “eating clean”, which means that anything not in that category is dirty, right?

Too many people go through life feeling as if they have to earn any food they ingest. Too many people think that it’s okay to exercise or starve in order to eat this or that and that’s just tragic. Let’s get this straight: you deserve to eat food when you are hungry. Even if you just ate an hour ago. Even if you skipped the gym for an entire week or month or decade. Even if you look in the mirror and you hate what you see. You deserve to ingest nutrients; you deserve to treat your body with respect and to feed it so that it can continue to pump blood, breathe air, move, and heal itself.

I know that these concerns about eating and weight gain are considered natural and even healthy at times.  And I do think we should be mindful of what we are putting into our bodies. But mindful is not obsessive; mindful is not feeling as if you’ve sinned if you eat something with such-and-such calories or sugar or whatever; and mindful is certainly not feeling as if you have to make up for eating a cupcake by depriving yourself of food or by running for an hour.

Cherry red summer apple isolated on white

I know that as an American woman, it would not be unusual for me to spend the rest of my life battling it out with calories and weight gain and fat and cellulite. I’m supposed to fight this battle paying no mind to the fact that I look healthy, eat well, am strong and, with training, am able to do nearly anything physical that I want to do.  I’m not even sure what I’m battling the calories and the fat for any more.  Is it in a quest to feel good about myself? Is it in a quest to make someone else happy? Because obsessing about what I’m doing or not doing in the areas of food and exercise will not accomplish either of those things, and it certainly won’t make me any healthier as a person.

I know I’m supposed to worry about this until I reach an old age.

But I don’t want to any more.

What are your thoughts on the issue of weight loss obsession?

As an aside, I highly recommend this spoken word piece that’s been making the rounds on the Internet. Lily Myers speaks about this issue with eloquence and raw honesty:

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Clothing, Lust and Christianity

Okay, I’ve written about Christian ladies and modesty before, but I’d like to touch on something again.  What sparked this was this blog post from A Quill and an Inkwell.  I was particularly troubled by this section:

#1 Myth of Modesty: ‘It’s His Job Not to Look’

It’s true, lust is a sin, and men shouldn’t entertain it.

But if we give them nothing to look at, how often do you think they would be tempted to lust after us?

The article I mentioned earlier said women have been unfairly singled out concerning modesty. While men are responsible to honor us with their eyes and minds, when we dishonor ourselves by what we wear, the real unfairness is to the men. Do we really expect to wear whatever we want and then tell them not to look at us? Do we really expect to fit in with the latest (often sexually promiscuous) trends and NOT be viewed as an object of sexual desire?

It is not just his job not to look: it is our responsibility to provide nothing provocative to look at. We cannot blame men for what we instigate, and it is time for women of God to start acknowledging our responsibility in this matter, taking up our cross, and honoring God with our dress.

Now, I would just like to clarify before I go into this that I do believe it is a Christian woman’s duty to dress modestly.  If we love our brothers in Christ, then we certainly don’t want to make their struggles with lust any harder.  If one of the simple ways we can make things easier for them is to dress modestly, then we need to do it for their sakes.  It’s a matter of laying aside our desires to dress a certain way in order to help our brothers out much in the way we might refrain from throwing a wine-tasting party for a former alcoholic’s birthday.

However, if a man lusts, it is 100% his responsibility.

The fact of the matter is, even if given nothing sexually enticing to look at, men and women will still lust.  Why? Because we’re sinful. We are born into sin.  Through the power of Christ’s work on the cross and his continual sanctification, we can certainly see victory over issues on an individual level.  But even if every woman in the world dressed in a burka, there would still be men who had lustful thoughts.

I know this because, otherwise, children would never be sexually abused.

I know this because, otherwise, sexual harassment in the workplace would be incredibly rare considering most business’ dress codes.

I know this because sin is a part of our very nature and, without Christ, we love it.

The aforementioned blog post crosses a dangerous line.  It’s the same line that is often crossed in courtrooms when rape victims have to justify the clothing they were wearing when they were attacked.  It’s the same line that allows and even encourages men to be passive in their fight against lust because, dang it, if only she hadn’t worn that halter top, lust wouldn’t be an issue.

This is like a reformed kleptomaniac blaming the shopkeeper for putting items on display.  He can’t possibly not steal them when they’re sitting out. Absurd, right?

Let me make something really clear:

Men: You are responsible for your sin.  I do not care if a woman is prancing down the street in lingerie, it is your responsibility to run to the Lord with your temptation.  If you lust, that is on you.

Women: With lust being such a common problem, we should dress modestly out of love for our brothers. But, once again, you are responsible for your own sin, they are responsible for theirs.

I’d like to wrap this up with the words of Jesus regarding the issue of lust.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.  If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.  And if your right handcauses you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)

Jesus clearly holds the individual responsible for his own sin here.  He doesn’t say that it’s okay to lust if a woman is dressed in a certain way, nor does he blame shift.  The one who lusts is the one at fault and is the one who needs to resist temptation. Period.