Friday, August 22, 2008

Question posed about body image from Christianity Today: Christian Singles & my response

So, in a recent newsletter from Christianity Today: Singles we were asked to respond to a question. I can't really remember the exact question, &, like the idiot I am, I deleted the email before committing it to memory. Anyway, the gist of it was that they were asking about our body image & whether we thought our singleness affected it in anyway. Below is my response. My response was not chosen to be in the resulting article. I wasn't expecting that it would. I was just happy to have that little push to get me to write down these thoughts. So, if you dare to brave the dangers of Kristy's psyche, read on. :)

Letter written in response to CT's Singles newsletter on body image:

I just read the latest singles newsletter & wanted to respond to the body image question.

I have been overweight my entire life. About 5 or 6 years ago I had finally reached 200 lbs and in April of this year I weighed in at 247 lbs.

I started getting made fun of in 2nd or 3rd grade. This was a daily torture. The boys that made fun of me the most were also in my very small Sunday school class at church, so I got it there too. I changed schools in 5th grade & things got better but I still had to endure the tormenting on Sundays. During my freshman year in high school, the 2 guys who had terrorized me the most asked me to forgive them & we became very close friends. However, the psychological damage had already been done.

From my childhood until I was about 24, I struggled daily with depression & social anxiety. I had paranoid thoughts that everyone was staring at me & wondering why such a disgusting person would come to this party, shop at this store, want to be seen in public, etc... During my sophomore year in college, my mother took me to a doctor who prescribed me diet pills & a social anxiety medication. The diet pills helped for awhile but, since I didn't change my bad habits, I ended up gaining all the weight back plus a whole lot more once I stopped taking them. However, the social anxiety (SA) medication worked wonders. I finally felt somewhat comfortable going to the mall, participating in class, going to social events like weddings, etc... I finally stopped those about 4 years ago & have not had any major relapses since. I do get the occasional "flash back" feelings but I've learned to deal with them. Now, I'm not saying medications are good for everyone. I'm just saying what worked for me. I should have also been in some sort of counseling but I wasn't. I believe the drugs allowed me the chance to "quiet" my mind long enough to work through what had caused the problems in the first place.

Back to the topic of body image, even with my social anxiety/depression somewhat conquered, I continued to gain weight. I ate very fattening, unhealthy foods, never ate fruits & vegetables, & never, never exercised. In March of this year (2008), I was considering having lap band surgery. While researching (because that is what I do for fun, yes, I'm a nerd), I came across some YouTube (YT) (yes, YT, who would have guessed it?) vlogs of people documenting their journey with weight loss surgery (WLS). While watching those, I stumbled across vlogs of people who were loosing weight naturally. I figured, even if I did end up having WLS, I would have to change my eating habits & start exercising anyway, so I decided to do that first (novel idea, I know) & see what happened. So, on April 1st I joined 24 Hr Fitness, hired a personal trainer, joined, started using my Weight Watchers (WW) Online account again (for the 100th time), & joined the YT weight loss community & started making my own videos. (I have now canceled my WW account, opting for SparkPeople's calorie tracker instead, due to the fact that it is free.) Since then, I have lost about 37 lbs. That is amazing but the non-scale victories are even more mind blowing for me. I am feeling stronger everyday, I crave exercise, my blood pressure has dropped significantly, I have a new confidence I never have had, &, amazingly enough, I am inspiring other people to start considering their own health.

I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that I could not have done this alone. I have prayed all my life for God to make me "skinny," fit & healthy and it has never happened. About a year ago, I started praying a little more fervently about it, but still did not have faith. I changed the way I prayed, though. I prayed for God to place in me the appetite for healthy food, a disgust for the unhealthy foods, & a desire to exercise. I believe He had done this long ago, but it was up to me to take that first step. I credit Him to leading me to this wonderful community on YouTube, which sparked my motivation. I never would have looked to YT for this sort of thing. My sister thinks it is outlandish that I am doing this vlogs with my history of SA. Just another miracle, I suppose.

I guess this really doesn't answer the question, though. So, does the fact that I'm single affect my body image? I guess, a bit. I haven't dated much & I tend to blame that a lot on my obesity but really it is probably the fact that I have never had the confidence to feel worthy of dating someone. I can't say that I don't want to loose weight so I can date but it is certainly not in the top 10 or so reasons. This is for me.

It is not only having an effect on me physically, emotionally, & psychologically, but it is also influencing me spiritually. I can finally understand the comparison made verses like I Corinthians 9:24-27, Hebrews 12:1-13, and, most importantly & my mantra while exercising, Philippians 4:13. Discipline, determination, & dedication are needed to be physically healthy but also to be spiritually healthy. I never felt I had been gifted with those things but now I am learning that those are not necessarily qualities you have or don't have, but more character traits that you cultivate & grow with each decision you make.

I have a long way to go yet, about another 60 or so pounds to my goal, but I now know that I can do it. God has enabled me but I have to make the choices. He won't just hand me my every wish on a silver platter. He wants me to work for it so I learn from the experience. People learn through hardships & trials not by getting everything they desire. He wants us to be children of character & dignity not spoiled little brats.

I know this is long & I apologize. I aspire to one day become a writer, so at times it is hard to get me to "shut up." I will probably copy this over & post it on my blog. I really don't know why I told you that. Probably just an unconscious & shameless plug for it. Sorry. Anyway, use all of this, part of it, or none of it however you like. Thanks for the opportunity & poke in the backside that I needed to actually write this down.


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