I was always an active person growing up. I loved sports, I took part in many sporting events in school, and even did Taekwondo for a short while. I never really cared about my looks, and I was at a healthy weight.
After secondary school, I went to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). I exercised a lot less, and it soon became evident that I was gaining weight. Stressed out by all of my projects and assignments, I started stress eating. I wouldn’t say that I had an eating disorder, but I definitely did not have a great relationship with food.
Within three years, I put on 10kg, and hit the ‘overweight’ range. It really felt like I was at my lowest. I would refuse to meet my friends when they invited me out because I didn’t want to be seen. Sometimes my friends would joke that I had gotten chubby and fat. Little did they know that I would go home and cry over their words. I started to starve myself, eating only one meal (about 800 calories) a day and simply drinking water to stave off the hunger. I kept a weighing scale in my bedroom, and I would weigh myself three to six times a day. On days when I snuck in a snack, I would have intrusive thoughts that I should either induce myself to vomit it out or exercise to burn the calories. I felt trapped, like a slave to my weighing scale. It felt as though I could only be happy when the numbers on the scale went down, yet even when it did, I didn’t feel fulfilled.
It took a long time to rebuild my confidence and self-esteem. During this phase, my best friend noticed that I was abusing myself through starvation, and allowing the weighing scale to define my beauty and self-worth. She introduced me to the song ‘My Confidence’ by Iron Bell. It speaks of how our confidence is anchored in Christ, and because He is our firm foundation, we are not shaken by the storms of life.
This didn’t mean that I should have just stayed at the weight I was. First Corinthians 6:19–20 says that since our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, we need to honour God with them. While this includes our soul, mind, and spirit, it especially resonated with me in terms of needing to care for my physical body in order to honour God with it. Think of it this way: if you booked a hotel room for the night but the room is filled with filth and dirt, would you still choose to stay? Or would you ask for a better room, or perhaps go to another hotel that is cleaner? If my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, I would want my body to be clean and of good condition for the Holy Spirit not to only have a visitation, but to dwell in me.
I have learned that I need to take care of this body that God has blessed me with, and to do that, I need to have the right motivation for eating healthily and losing the unhealthy pounds. I should not want to lose weight just to look good; instead, I should do it so that my body is healthy, and I can use it to do all that God has called me to.
Finding your identity in God may be a long journey, but it is one worth going on. I believe that we are all more than just our appearance. Let your confidence be grounded in Christ, for after all, we are created in His image and, indeed, He is beautiful.