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Danielle Hauck & Malia Sawyer

I wake up at 5:45am to exercise before work, but my boss has already emailed me and needs me in the office early. No problem, I’ll skip breakfast to make up for it. Now I’m at work and I’m starving, but it’s not quite lunch. There are donuts in the staff room, I’ll just have half… er… okay, the whole thing. Ugh, and there it is, the guilt. But it’s okay, I’ll eat a salad at lunch, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and I’ll work out tonight. I’ll be back on track then. At home, the kids are eating pizza while I’m eating another salad. Baths, bedtime stories, clean up, and it’s 10:45pm. I’m exhausted, but I have got to jump on the treadmill. What a great run! But, wow, I’m starving after the workout. I go to take just a bite of the kids’ pizza, but eat a few slices. I only have a few hours to sleep so I can get up extra early to work off that pizza before work. I can’t skip breakfast again…

This has been the cycle of my life…maybe yours too? Perhaps kids aren’t the distraction, but maybe it’s the demands of your career, or juggling work and school. There are endless chances to compensate for my perceived failures because I am always “failing” at a diet or unrealistic so-called health goals. I told myself that the pizza I ate is bad for me, therefore, I am bad for eating it. Feelings of guilt, shame, and the inability to measure up, caught up to me faster than I could run off the “extra calories” on the treadmill. It’s an emotional roller coaster that is up when the scale is down, and down when the scale is up. I tell myself that I am pursuing health, but am I? The truth is, this endless cycle, and the pressure to change my appearance, robs me of true health: by staying up too late, my body doesn’t get the rest it needs; I stay up to work out, but the lack of sleep affects my ability to work out at the level I would like to and know my body is capable of doing; I find myself cutting corners in the name of weight loss that leaves me feeling drained of energy and self-esteem. Fear of how the world sees me, and how I see myself in the mirror, make me question if I will ever be as attractive as I was when I was younger, or able to do the things I could when I was a full-time athlete. Can you relate? 

“I am too old or too far gone to make changes.”
“I am not worthy of being healthy.”
“I don’t have the self-discipline to make
real changes.”
“I don’t have any self-control.”
“I have tried to get healthy for years and nothing has worked. I feel like a failure.”
“I am not worthy of being loved for who I am, so I have to be perfect externally.”
“If I look a certain way I will earn love.”
“I will lose the affection of my partner if I don’t stay the same size.”

“So how do we go from shaming our bodies to being fulfilled in Jesus’ definition of health?”

We both have a background in physical health, from personal training to physical therapy. Here are a few other narratives that often came up with our clients: 

We may never say these things out loud, but if we’re not careful, we can start to operate out of these unkind narratives and lose sight of the person God has made us to be. But what we know of God is that He uses kindness when He corrects, convicts, and reminds us who we are. He kindly reveals these narratives, not to make us feel worse about ourselves, but so that something can shift within us for healthy, lasting change.

So how do we go from shaming our bodies to being fulfilled in Jesus’ definition of health?  Back in 2019, we were gifted with a beautiful church building. This was a miraculous, HUGE blessing! But, because of its age, it needed some improvements. We could have avoided those things, but our love and appreciation for this gift made us want to steward it as best we can. We invested in upgrades, improvements, inspections, etc. – and it is the same with our bodies. When Paul wrote that our bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), this was the point he was trying to make: our first step towards true health is understanding that the purpose for our bodies is not to attain a certain appearance, but to glorify God. This doesn’t mean we are eating whatever we want and throwing all concepts of a healthy diet out the window. Rather, it encourages us to honor our hunger cues, give our body the exercise it needs to function properly, and make allowances to eat both the foods we need and those we want. We were not made to be victims of our body type, but to enjoy it as a gift!

However, this is easier said than done. In this last season, I (Danielle) have personally struggled to view my body as a gift. Going from working at a gym everyday to a desk job, then into a pandemic, my lifestyle went from very regimented and active to unusually sedentary within a month. As can be expected, my body changed drastically as a result. These changes brought up unresolved feelings I had towards my body, and pushed me to seek advice from counselors, nutritionists, and other professionals. The biggest lesson I have taken away from my journey is that health not only looks different for every person, but also in every season. What worked once may not work again, and what was once easy may now feel strenuous. That’s ok!! Wellness is not something we earn, but something that we practice. Learn your body; what it needs, how it operates, what’s challenging versus what’s pushing a healthy limit. And most importantly, always remember to submit your physical wellness to your spiritual health. Without God, you’ll burn out and resent your body, but with Him, you can learn to love what He’s given to you. On the following page, Grace shares her journey of finding personal health in her pursuit of spiritual healing on the following page.


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