Would a Proverbs 31 Woman Have Time for the Gym?

Would a Proverbs 31 woman have time to go to the gym?

If you’d posed that question several years ago, I’d have popped my headphones back into my ears and continued repping to my favorite worship music, or pounding the pavement to the lively voice of a good preacher. I certainly would not have wanted to answer you. I didn’t have a problem; I had a healthy addiction to being “healthy”.

I accepted Christ as the one true God and my personal savior at the age of seven. Since then, growing in a godly home, I was taught to aspire after the mysterious Proverbs 31 Woman. But through the tangled years of adolescence, a different god warped my thinking and I began to pursue the idols of beauty, strength and thinness, all the while professing the risen Christ and devoting (my spare time) to Him. Let me share the short list of what it cost, or almost cost me …

Finish reading this post at: Proverbs31Woman

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Is Yoga Sinful?

It’s no secret–I love exercising. It used to be an absolute, unhealthy obsession. And I will admit that yoga helped to break that for me. Yoga brought me to place of movement that didn’t equate calories; yoga some how melted stillness and activity together; yoga makes me strong in ways that nothing else ever has; yoga calls itself a practice and not a workout … and really, when I finish a yoga class, I can often hear the Lord whispering to me. As I lay in shavasana, Scripture washes my mind, prayers come easily and peace reigns. (Of course, this doesn’t happen every time without fail, but it’s more often than not.)

And then, someone (more that one someone) told me that yoga is sinful. They seemed like they knew so much about it. I heard that the poses were offerings to false gods, I heard that it was based on false, eastern religions. I heard that Christianity and yoga were mutually exclusive.

And then I heard otherwise … so what to believe?

So, finally, I just made my own call. I love yoga. I know that God healed me from anorexia–it was all Him–and I also know that yoga was a big part of that. But truthfully, I didn’t tell a lot of people about my home practice. I wasn’t sure how to defend it. I wasn’t prepared to be criticized for my decision. 

Enter, a podcast that I stumbled upon today: Faithful Wellness interviewed Brooke Boon, the founder of Holy Yoga, and it made sense! Rather than try to restate everything that Brooke said with such clarity, I’ll simply post the podcast and link here for you.

This blog started as a chronicle of my recovery from anorexia then, it hosted the launch of my book: The Predatory Lies of Anorexia, so it only seems fitting that it continue to proclaim Christ, freedom, health, hope and clarity to those who are looking for freedom from body image, weight issues and eating disorders.

Love!

Who Gives Up Running?

Most of the world will give you a pat on the back for running a marathon, shaving seconds off your 5K, or just shoving your feet into sneakers three days a week.

Most of the world will look at you a little crazy when you say, “I’m giving up running.”

I mean, who thinks of exercise as an addiction that might require the exercise (pun intended) of moderation and self-restraint, even abstinence? Well, apparently I’m not the only one.

I got so excited when I read this post by Chocolate Covered Katie, that I just had to share it with you. By the way, all of her posts are fantastic and most are delicious!

Why I Gave Up Running

And if you’re looking for more of my personal story on this topic, you check it out here at FINDINGBalance: 

Reclaiming Fitness, part 1

and

Reclaiming Fitness, part 2

Come on, an Idol? Really??

If you’re like me, you cringe when I say that living in an eating disorder is equivalent to practicing idolatry. As a Christian, one of the most confusing, painful parts of my eating disorder was wondering why I didn’t have enough faith to get well.

Perhaps you think, like me, “But I love God and I believe that Jesus died for my sins and I am trusting Him to get me to heaven.”

And then you kind of panic.

“Is God frustrated with me? Will He give up on me? Have I lost my faith?”

I cannot tell you how many nights I cried out to God, “Please, please just take this away! I don’t want to be miserable and feel distant from you anymore. Please, just let me wake up and all of this anxiety over food and my body be gone!”

Then, I’d wake up one more morning and know, one more time, that I was still stuck. If Jesus had sat down on the bed next to me and said, “Stay here with me this morning.” I would have stood up, put on my running shoes and left Him sitting there. I could not resist the call of my other master.

Let’s start at square one. To establish at eating disorder as an idol, consider these verses:

Colossians 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”

The Greek word for “covetousness” can also be translated as materialism, avarice, or eager to have more especially of that which belongs to others.

I won’t put words in your mouth, but I will confess that in my heart of hearts, that’s exactly how I felt about my eating disorder. I craved the attention that it afforded me, I was covetous of beautiful bodies and clamored for more of what I thought would make me perfect.

On a more obvious level, I began to see my eating disorder as idolatry when I realized that it consumed more of my time, more of my thoughts, indeed, all of my life, than Jesus did. Being thin and the concept of being strong and needless was my treasure, and yes, that’s where my heart was also. (Matt. 6:21)

So, what of this idol, this earthly treasure? Can I not have God, too?

Luke 16:13 makes it clear that we cannot serve two masters. Goodness knows, I tried. Every single day, after my workout of course, I pulled out my devotional, my Bible and journal. Every single year, I read through the Bible again. I led Bible studies at church. But hollowness lingered in my soul. I could not pursue my anorexic goals with all the passion of my mind, and give my heart fully to Jesus.

I’m sorry if this is hard to hear, but neither can you.

Let me be clear, having an eating disorder or any other addiction does not mean you are not saved. Salvation is by faith alone in what Christ did for you at the cross.  (John 3:16)

But I was wondering why I couldn’t grow in my faith, why Jesus seemed distant, why I wasn’t learning how to trust Him more and more, even with things like eating and my physical body.

Back up a few verses in Luke 16. I’m pondering here, so search this out for yourself if it makes sense.

Verses 10-12 say, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”

It is a very great and precious treasure that God has invested in us, the very life of His Son, Jesus Christ. However, if I prove less than faithful with my own physical body, how can I ever expect Him to continually reveal to me greater levels of intimacy and freedom in Him?

Flip the passage over. Think with me of Christ’s faithfulness. In my eating disorder, I essentially said, “God, I trust you for heaven and eternity, but I don’t trust you with my body right now.”

If Jesus is continually faithful to forgive all my sins and to save my soul, is He not then obviously faithful and capable of caring for my physical body? Why would I not trade this worthless idol, this brutal task master of anorexia for the One True and Faithful God who not only guarantees my eternity, but is capable and worthy of tending my physical body as well?

Receiving, Re-gifting Life

[Re-posted from Finding Balance]Brave for FB

My dog Brave and I volunteer at a nursing home with an organization called Pet Partners. He has an uncanny way of making even the sternest face brighten. Frustrated, puckered expressions relax when he wags his tail like a dust mop over a patient’s knees. I love to watch wrinkled hands cup his furry face and touch noses with him. Brave, like many dogs spreads life like a contagious, happy disease.

Just last week, an elderly woman asked me if I really intended to keep Brave. She said it wasn’t fair, because she needed him. Laughing, I told her, yes, I plan on keeping him, then pulled my beloved puppy into my chest. She has no idea how much I need him. In more than one way, he saved my life.

One of the reasons that Brave and I got involved in pet therapy visits is because of the role Brave played in my recovery from anorexia. I had been a compulsive, long distance runner for several years and despite the advice of counselors and nutritionists, I felt physically unable to relinquish the addiction.

Lies rambled nonstop through my head, “If you don’t run as many miles as you did last week, you’ll be fat by the time you wake up tomorrow.”

When I got Brave, he was only five pounds; there was no way he could manage to keep up on my runs. But he did need exercise and I felt magnetically drawn to spend every spare minute with this little bundle of life. Almost over night, and almost unintentionally, I reduced my runs to leisurely walks. And guess what? I didn’t get fat!

By the time Brave came to live with me, I’d been in and out of vicious battles with anorexia for fifteen years. My family and my husband were tired, exhausted from the strain of worry and frustrated by their inability to help me get well.

I’m walking in health now, but I still struggle sometimes. And to this day, Brave never tires of my occasional tears or a lingering irrational fear of food.

One of the most surprising ways that Brave has helped me recover is simply in the fact that I have to feed him. At first I was paranoid that I might feed him too much. I hated the thought of owning a fat dog. Suddenly, I realized I was projecting my own fear onto my dog and I could see with clarity that going hungry could hurt him, even kill him, something I had a hard time believing about myself.

More than once, as dogs will do, Brave has found his way into the cat food or a patient at the nursing home has given him her whole lunch. On those days, his little sides are distended, but he seems unaffected by the momentary experience of fulness. Within a day, his stomach recedes to its normal boundaries and his happy life goes on. To think that being full is not the end of the world!

I’ve taken so many lessons from my four-legged friend. Yes, I’m thrilled to share his encouragement with others, but I’m fully aware of the gift God has given me in this little dog. I’m grateful, and I intend to keep him.

RELATED:

Life Lessons from Callie, by Gina Paris

Moving Toward Balance, Healthy Goals

Managing Depression, video resource

The Ghosts of Columbus

Why did she have to ask that? I stared at the blinking cursor in the little box at the bottom of my Facebook page. I had only wanted to leave a message. I wasn’t prepared for this conversation. I knew it was coming, But Lord, I’m not ready!

Are you still running? It blinked again. How on earth to answer? What would she think of me? I have a reputation to uphold!

###

If you’ve been reading around here recently, you know that my husband and I just completed our PCS (the Army’s version of a move) to Columbus, GA. We’ve been here before. In 2006, we moved into a teensy-weensy, one bedroom apartment off of Moon Road. Partly by accident and mostly by deceiving myself, I found myself part of the local running club.

Surely, I can handle it, I told myself. I’m making such good friends here in the running club. All I have to do to “stay recovered” is eat more. 

And I did make such good friends, such very good friends. We didn’t stay in close touch when I moved away, but every now and then we bumped into each other on Facebook and said, “Hi.”

So I thought it was only appropriate to let them know I’m back in town and I’d love to see them again. Hence, my initial message to K, “Hi! How are you? I’d love to meet for coffee and catch up!”

“Love to see you again! Are you still running? We could meet for a morning run!”

How to answer? No, I don’t run much anymore. Leave it at that?
No, I can’t handle running emotionally. I tend to relapse.
No, I started doing other kinds of exercise, so I’m still fit! (justification)

We managed to sign off with a mutual invitation to coffee – sometime. But as I got in my car to go run a couple errands, my nerves stood on end.

When we lived here before, I got into crazy long distance running. I lost weight, almost back to what I weighed before my first hospitalization. Now, every main road, every side street, every gravel turn, bridge, public park, and roadside bush (for bladder emergencies) has a memory.

And they’re not all good memories. Even though I made great friends in the running club, in all honesty, that’s not what it was about for me. Committing to see the group on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday for whatever distance, gave me an excuse to exercise beyond what was good for me. When I won a race, completed a marathon, or was congratulated for my endurance, I pushed that much harder.

Relapse picked up speed.

Exercise addiction…is a chronic loss of perspective of the role of exercise in a full life. A healthy athlete and an exercise addict may share similar levels of training volume — the difference is in the attitude.An addicted individual isn’t able to see value in unrelated activities and pursues his sport even when it is against his best interest. (American Running Association)

Most streets in Columbus, GA, are haunted, for me. This first week in town, my dog andIMG_0656-1 I have made it our mission to banish the ghosts that lurk in Britt David Park, Flat Rock Park and on the Riverwalk.

We’ve walked their trails, stopping at every puddle, funny smell and potential pee-pole. We’ve sat on the rocks and watched other people running. I wonder what their motivation is?

There are still a lot of ghosts here. Like I said, I traversed most of this town in my running shoes. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that these memories scare me a little.

From my journal:
There’s a hole in my heart as I drive around Columbus. It’s such a weird feeling, like a cavern that’s been covered over, sealed and the healing of that gaping hole has felt secure and relieving and good. Or a wound that once scabbed over, healed and remains a white, filmy scar. A bone healed, that again bears weight and mostly, the pain is gone. I feel debris and water slipping beneath the crevices and trying to re-open the hole in my heart. Scar tissue pulls and growth hurts. The weather here is just right, making the bone ache, and I see how and where I was broken once before.

And here is what Abba said:
Abby, those days are long gone. See, not only have I changed your body, I am changing your desires, changing your vision of beautiful.
There is no one like me who has doused you with life. Even in accepting your limits you feel more free than ever before. I have brought you far love. Rest and enjoy wide open spaces, green pastures and fresh water. Love, Father