I recently came across an article about Australian fitness blogger Kate Writer who, though initially gaining a following by documenting her weight loss journey on Instagram, recently made news for gaining much of the weight back. After losing 108 pounds, Kate intentionally allowed some of the weight to return over a five-year time period.
Not quite what you would expect from a fitness blogger, right? But now, let’s check out why she did this.
The fitness blogger described how, as she lost the weight, she found herself “stuck in the diet mentality,” obsessing over Calories and never really finding happiness, regardless of how thin she became. She detailed how there was always something else to improve with her body, and always some lower number to reach on the scale. One day, when she decided enough was enough, she gave up her perfect body ideals and allowed herself to regain some of the lost weight. To note, she still maintains a healthy diet and exercise regimen, but she doesn’t obsess over it all, choosing to be content instead.
There is a huge lesson for us in this.
It’s no secret that having a super-fit, super-toned body is highly valued in our society. Social media is saturated with fitness personalities with the perfect bodies. Fitness articles are common on every online news site and tell us about the diets we should be eating, the weight training exercises we should be doing, or the perfect weight we should be trying to reach for our height. Boutique fitness studios of all kinds are the rage right now.
But if we’re perfectly honest, society encourages us toward an obsession with fitness and a certain body image. Don’t get me wrong; I am not implying that wanting to look a certain way is a problem, necessarily. Obsession, however, can be a problem for us as Christians.
In 1 Timothy 6:6, Paul tells Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” Considering this statement as it pertains to the Christian attitude towards health and fitness, it is indeed godly for us to maintain our bodies through diet, exercise and other healthy habits. We are stewards of these “earthen vessels,” and are exhorted in 1 Corinthians 6:20 to glorify God with our bodies. I think that you’d agree that it’s pretty hard to glorify God with bodies that are burdened with health issues caused by our own unhealthy habits.
I also don’t think there is any issue with being confident in how you look. However, to be obsessive with having the perfect body robs us of the contentment that Paul was discussing. Being content means to have a stopping point, a moment where you decide that you are satisfied and that it is time to maintain and enjoy where you are. In the fitness sense, this would mean that you attain a healthy lifestyle routine, then focus on maintaining it, rather than continuing to pursue the “perfect” physique. This is not as much of “settling” as it is choosing to enjoy where you are.
I want to suggest something to you as you consider pursuing contentment on your health journey. Yes, continue to aim for a healthy weight for your height. Continue to aim for a healthier diet filled with fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods. Continue to lift weights and be active.
Let me issue this challenge to you, though. I challenge you to fast for a month from scales and selfies.
Why would I ask you to consider such a thing? Think about it. Both weight scales and selfies – particularly the selfies of others with “perfect” bodies – encourage us to obsess about our bodies. The scale tells us that we’re never quite where we need to be weight-wise, and the selfies of others tell us that our bodies still are not perfect.
What I challenge you to do instead is to focus solely on taking care of your body. Eat healthy. Exercise. Get your rest. Meditate. Go outside for sun and fresh air. If you do all of these things, I am a believer that not only will you reach a place of contentment, but also, that everything else – your weight and your body image – will take care of itself.
Will you pursue contentment on your health journey?
Shawn McClendon is a fitness entrepreneur and owner of Back to Basics Health and Wholeness LLC, an organization dedicated to empowering people to take responsibility for their own health. He is the author of five health/fitness books, and he hosts the Your Health At The Crossroads Podcast, on which he interviews people who have overcome significant health challenges for the purpose of motivating listeners to make healthy decisions for themselves. Follow @ShawnB2B on Facebook and @ShawnB2BFitness on Instagram and visit YourHealthAtTheCrossroads.com.