How to Stop Your Inner Drill-Sergeant from Sabotaging Your Diet
A tear rolled down my cheek and onto the yoga mat.
It was my first time exercising in months, and something about walking in to Barre3 for my free trial class stirred up every insecurity I’ve had since junior high. The instructor was amazing, and even though the class was hard I was surprised how empowered and encouraged I felt after 45 minutes…but the end of the class surprised me more.
As we were stretching, our instructor invited to lay flat on our mats and place our hands over our heart. Now is the time to thank our bodies. To thank them for the way they carry us through our world every day, to thank them for the health that they have, to thank them for letting us be present in this moment.
That’s when my tears spilled over like a thin silk ribbon down my cheek, and I hoped no one else noticed.
I was going to be leading my Gratitude Workshop in just a few days, and I know the perspective-changing, joy-sparking power of thankfulness. I love to scan the world for beauty, because God’s goodness is always hiding in plain sight.
But my body?
I was not grateful for my body. In fact, attempting to have a kind conversation with myself was the first moment I realized that I had waged war against my body. It was my warpath that had brought me to the gym that day. My will was finally going to show my aging, stressed-out body who was boss. My willpower had already put my body on notice and let it know there was a new sheriff in town, and that none of its pound-gaining-shenanigans were going to be tolerated any longer. But my tears reminded me that my body had actually needed to hear from my soul instead, “I see you. I thank you. Let’s work together.”
What would it look like if instead of hating our bodies enough to fix them, we loved our bodies well enough to care for them?
Because when everyone around me is eating ice cream and I only think about it in terms of calories, some nasty things happen:
1) I start telling myself “chubby girls don’t need treats” in the same voice that someone else once told me, and my inner child feels the same shame, embarrassment, and spark of rebellion she did when she was 12.
2) I start to debate what I deserve or don’t deserve as if I were paying my own life’s wages in ice cream, and that pay scale is not real.
3) I begin to pin every hope of happiness I have to losing weight.
4) I start to resent my workouts and salads as a punishment for gaining weight and eventually I give up and eat the ice cream because I CAN.
All of these things break my internal sense of harmony with myself, and take my eyes completely off God as the source of my identity, the giver of good things, and the one I can trust to lead me and give me rest.
Self-focused naval-gazing always leaves me feeling insecure, unworthy, and lonely.
When I look at any opportunity to eat ice cream or not as a chance to take care of myself, some better things happen:
1) I have the freedom choose wisely- does taking care of myself well today look like avoiding extra sugar or like enjoying a fun memory with my kids? It could be either.
2) I am able to say no without feeling deprived, undeserving, or ashamed- I’m making a good choice for myself that I can feel proud of!
3) I am taking care of myself because I am valuable, I have people who love me and things I want to do over the next 50 years of my life. I’m not denying myself because I am worthless, trying to earn my value/approval/worth by changing my body.
4) Eating well and exercising are no longer punishments my will imposes on my body for behaving badly, they are gifts of love my body can receive.
I’ve decided to gently walk my inner sociopathic drill sergeant to a room at the end of the hall, thank him for his (ill-guided) attempts to help and close the door. His voice sounds powerful, but it’s actually not helpful now.
There’s another voice I need. It doesn’t come from my inner-self. I need to be anchored in my freedom from shame, my hope secured, my true identity as one who is loved, and ready to receive the good gifts God has for me. I want to spend more time in the quiet with God and His voice.
I only have one body, it makes my whole life possible. I’m grateful for it, and I want to take care of it.
If you’re starting a new focus on health this year, how could you be more motivated by love than fear?