"I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough
Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up"
Christian artist Lauren Daigel recently released a new song titled, "You Say."
The opening lyrics of her song so perfectly describe the constant battle of the mind for someone wrestling with disordered eating.
Eating disorders are tricky diseases. They prey upon the minds of their victims and get them to believe the lies that they are not enough. They slowly infiltrate thoughts until one believes that engaging in behaviors such as restricting, purging or over exercising will help them to measure up. They trick us into allowing things like a number on the scale or pant size to define our worth and identity.
Recently, I drove past an office building sign for a facility called Worthy Weight Loss. It is sad to see signs like this that reinforce the belief that our worth is tied to the number on a scale. Unfortunately, so many individuals find their worth and identity, or lack thereof, in their weight and shape.
Others associate deeper rooted issues as being a simple weight problem believing, "If I only lost weight then my marriage would be better" or "When I get to x number, then my career will work out." You see it's easier to have a 'weight problem' than a marriage or career problem.
I met with a patient just the other day who stated, "I have to get this weight off." When asked what would happen once the weight was off, they responded, "Then my confidence would go up and I'd have a better self-esteem."
I tried to explain to them, that this was a confidence and self-acceptance issue which was easier to identify as a weight problem.
When individuals label deeper rooted issues as weight problems, the weight loss is never enough. They reach their goal weight and find that they still have marriage issues, career challenges, etc. and instead of realizing that the issue was never about the weight, they decide that the problem must be that they have not yet lost enough. So they set their goal higher and continue on the journey of weight loss through restrictive dieting and other forms of self-punishment.
Just this morning, I met with a patient struggling in a romantic relationship and believing that her significant other’s love for her was conditional upon her appearance. She told me, “I won’t be loved if I don’t have my dream body.” What an emotionally exhausting pursuit! Some days she would feel good in her own skin and deserving of love while other days, unfortunately more days than not, she would experience body image dysmorphia, discomfort in her body and a sense of unworthiness. The emotional highs and lows had her anxious, frustrated and flat out tired. We talked about how our feelings are real, but not always reliable and that it was important to remind herself of what she knows to be true. When asked to come up with an alternative statement to her erroneous belief, she said, “My worth and identity is not found in my appearance.”
Lauren Daigel’s song goes on to say, “In You I find my worth. In You I find my identity.”
What an anchor for the restless soul! When we find our worth in Christ and who He says we are, then we can walk in freedom and boldness as we work to heal our relationship with food and body. Chains of disordered eating can slowly begin to break as we come to the realization that our identity stands on firm foundation, a solid rock.
I don’t have to feel guilty when I order the extra serving of queso at my favorite Mexican restaurant or self-righteous when I have a kale salad for lunch because I know that my worth isn’t in any of these things. I don’t have to sit in shame when my post-partum body doesn’t fit into my pre-baby clothes and I don’t have to feel a sense of moral superiority when I choose to go for an evening run. These events don’t define my worth. My identity is in who God says I am and what He has done for me, not in anything I can do or in any number.
It's time to untangle our worth with our weight. Only then will people begin to experience true freedom from disordered eating as they work to heal their relationship with food and practice body kindness while allowing the weight to naturally fall where it should.
Daigel’s song ends with the final chorus:
“You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing.
You say I am strong when I think I am weak.
You say I am held when I am falling short.
When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours.
And I believe.”
We will lose every time we let the number on the scale define our worth.
Do you believe?