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Aug6TueStruggling with body image. August 6, 2019 by Darryn Oldford
Summer is an especially difficult time for me. I have struggled with my weight my entire adult life, and currently consider myself fat. When I compare myself to people on TV or social media, it causes feelings of insecurity—never more apparent than when the weather is warm and more skin is exposed. I can’t speak to serious eating disorders that require professional help, but what I can share is my internal struggle to try to be comfortable in my own skin.
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- Opinion & Critical Thought
When faced with the need to get in shape—what sometimes feels like an insurmountable task—I tend to alternate between three categories, two of which I know are not healthy.
The first category is gluttony and sloth, my go-to when I am struggling. A feeling of helplessness and apathy can take over when I see my weight going up. The question then becomes, “Why bother?” If I’m already fat, what harm does a second slice of cake do? Why can’t I have doughnuts for breakfast every morning if it makes me happy?
In truth, I often feel miserable in this stage, but try to convince myself otherwise. The phrase “We are what we eat” doesn’t only apply to food, but also to attitude. Sugar and fat make me feel good in the moment, but soon I realize how malnourished I am, physically and spiritually, as I approach life from a place of helplessness. It’s easy to wallow here for a time, but eventually I desire change.
The second category I struggle with is envy and vanity. I have friends from many walks of life, including bodybuilders and models. With a career based on how they look, they put full-time hours into keeping in shape. Every calorie is counted, every workout is intense and, many admit, every photo they post on social media is edited.
Although I realize the image they present to the world is not the whole picture, it’s hard not to aspire to this “perfection.” I want the rippling muscles, square jaw and full head of hair, even though some of these things are completely out of my control. Just like the first category, I tend to feel helpless as my goals for how I want to look are completely outside the realm of what I can achieve.
The third category, and the one I’m trying to achieve, is health and wholeness. I am working with a nutritionist who shares my philosophy of not weighing myself. Perhaps that sounds strange for someone who wants to lose weight, but the most important thing I’m trying to accomplish is to feel comfortable in my own skin. Regardless of whether I gain or lose weight from one week to the next, what I am working toward is happiness.
And I’m finding that happiness comes from moderation. It means taking care of my body by eating healthy foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables. It also means having an occasional chocolate bar as soul food. Happiness means going to the gym and getting regular exercise, making sure I don’t stay on the couch all day.
But mostly, it means treating myself with kindness. Understanding that whether I lose or gain weight, those who truly know and love me won’t care as long as I love myself and the body I am in. I am at constant war with myself, but it is one I am happy to fight.
1 Corinthians 9:25 speaks to athletes in ancient times: “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.” My body is many things, including the temple of the Holy Spirit, the earthly container of my soul and my vessel for seeing and experiencing the world. I have been given this amazing gift of life and I am grateful for the body that I have, as it allows me to do kingdom work on earth. I will continue to improve myself, but for the time being, the beach is going to get whatever body I have—because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Darryn Oldford is a senior soldier in Toronto.