The It Girl of elementary school...wasn't me. With strawberry blonde ringlets, a teeny gymnast body, and sweet personality my best friend was the queen of Roosevelt Elementary. All the little girls circled around her on the playground, and every boy in our class pushed her at least once. She had it made. I was her chubby sidekick. Being the plump sidekick to someone truly popular has its perks: no one dared pick on me. But sadly, my days of flying under someone else's umbrella of awesomeness came crashing down in fourth grade. We moved several states away, and I was on my own.
I spent plenty of time eating away my sorrows. Apparently, sorrows don't burn calories because I also gained a lot of weight. Without the protection of my popular best friend, I knew I was in for it. The bullies would surely get me now!
To make matters worse, it was now cool to say at least one cuss word in front of older boys in the neighborhood. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. My hopes of eeking my way into the popular crowd (by association) fizzled away. I was screwed. A possible solution: if I couldn't befriend a protector, then I could look like a popular girl myself. Whew. An out. I didn't have to cuss or let boys touch my boobies on the school bus, I just had to starve myself and exercise like a maniac to gain acceptance from my peers. No problem. From fifth to seventh grade I barely ate a thing and ran several miles a day. In fifth grade I refused to eat breakfast or lunch, but never missed an after-school run. I remember my stomach growling painfully but firmly telling myself at the cafeteria lunch table "Just say no. Say no to food, say no to drugs" over and over. Man, I longed for just one tater tot. By sixth grade, I was pretty skinny. A new girl in school even mistook me for someone popular. In fact, she said "you know, I decided to be friends with you the first day of school because I thought you'd be popular. Guess I was wrong." I took it as a compliment. By seventh grade, I was Skeletor. I'd write letters to my cousins pretty often, and the summer after seventh grade I sent a picture of myself from the beach. My aunt promptly called my mom saying "Katie is sick. Do something" and my mom sat me down. Go, Mom. I'm still grateful. After my mom confronted me, I stopped outright starving myself and running to the point of exhaustion. The fact I could stop made me think I never had a problem, but my peculiar eating/exercise habits stayed with me until I was 30 years old. I never outright starved myself again, but I'd get flat-out obsessed with food, talk about it nonstop to innocent bystanders everywhere, and yo-yo diet like a champ.
I'd experience a year or two of peace in between--like when I was especially happy, pregnant, or had other life things to distract me--but my weird eating/exercise habits resurfaced during stressful times. Gain 15, lose 15, obsess, obsess, obsess. The older I got, the less I was tempted to starve myself and the more tempted I was to eat everything in sight. It was a rollercoaster.
When I was 30, I finally picked up Made to Crave by Lysa Terkheurst. The point of the book is to create an arsenal of Go-to Scripts when your thoughts are consumed with food. It's not a book for eating disorders*, but the concept of Go-To Scripts helped me overcome some negative patterns of thinking. And the problem with my obsession was in my head.
A Go-To Script consists of verses you memorize so every time you’re tempted to make a negative choice, you remind yourself of the Truth. The Truth is Galatians 5:1: Christ freed us from sin, we don’t have to be a slave to our old ways of thinking.
My Negative Thoughts:
“If I eat this buffalo chicken wing, I’ll gain ten pounds. Oh well, might as well eat 50 wings. I’m just a loser with no self-control anyway.”
Go-To Script Thought:
You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north. Deuteronomy 2:3
I’ve turned north. The Bible says when I placed my faith in Christ--meaning when I trusted that His death and resurrection makes me right with God--I’m free. No bad day, no bag of chips, no unmet fitness goal can separate me from His love. Go-To Scripts are simply reminders of the freedom that is already mine.
When I’m tempted to obsess, I remind myself I’m free. Here are my favorite Go-To verses on freedom that help me the most:
Here are the Go-To Scripts Lysa suggests, but again, be sure to talk to a counselor if you suspect an eating disorder.
What ultimately gives me victory over my odd-eating isn't better self-control, it's replacing my old ways of thinking with the Truth: I’m free from obsessing about food because Christ’s resurrection is bigger than temptation.
When I’m tempted to compare myself to a beautiful exercise instructor, I squint my eyes. I exercise to feel good, not to look good. When I’ve gained a pound or two and I start to eat weird again, I call Rebekah to remind me of my Go-To Scripts.
Rebekah overcame an eating disorder and bases her worth on what God thinks. She doesn’t compare her story to mine or judge me in any way. She prays for me right away, out loud, on the spot. And then she reminds me: I've turned north.
Talk to a counselor, memorize some Go-To Scripts, and get yourself a Rebekah. If you put your faith in Christ, you’re free--but old patterns of thinking are hard-wired in your brains and sometimes you need a reminder that you've turned north as well.
And remember: to God, you and I will always be It Girls--no matter what we weigh or how many times we need a friend to remind us.
Note: eating disorders are a mental health issue---I highly recommend reading an interview with my counselor here. Please seek professional help if you suspect an eating disorder.
Made to Crave Freebies: http://madetocrave.org/freebies/
Made to Crave Go-To Scripts for Healthy Eating: http://madetocrave.org/wp-content/uploads/HealthyEatingGoToScriptsFinal.pdf
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