It’s finally summer, which means time for playing outside with your kids, hanging by the pool, and trips to the beach. Since we don’t have a beach nearby, my kids love going to the pool, and I love going with them. But, it wasn’t always that way.
I spent many years on the sidelines watching my kids play and have fun while I spent my time hiding my body. Or, if I wasn’t hiding my body I would be so consumed with wondering who was critiquing my every last imperfection.
My body consumed me. And, as a fitness professional, I took my desire for body image approval to a whole new level. I let my unhealthy body image destroy relationships, ruin social opportunities, and leave me sitting on the sidelines while everyone else had fun. Can you relate?
I’m pretty confident that God didn’t design us for constant comparison and critiquing. I’m 100% confident that God created us to worship Him and not ourselves. Once I figured this out and started to put it into practice, my whole life changed. I started walking in the freedom that Christ offers us and life became more enjoyable.
If you can relate to my body image struggles, this practical encouragement will help you find freedom and conquer your own issues.
3 ways to build a healthier body image
Prepare your heart
The majority of times that I have ruined my day because how I felt about my body was because I wasn’t prepared for the battle. I went about my day forgetting how much of a struggle body image was for me until I was met with my trigger. For many years my trigger was the mirror. I had these standards that I thought I was supposed to live up to with my body. When I unpreparedly glanced in the mirror and didn’t meet those expectations, my entire day was ruined.
For many other years, my trigger was a thin, beautiful woman. I would constantly compare myself to every female I saw. When I unpreparedly saw a female who I assumed was thinner, more fit and more beautiful, my entire day was ruined because I felt like I would never match up.
If we know our triggers, and we know what happens to our thoughts when met with these triggers, then we need to have a heart that is prepared for this prior to it happening. Our hearts need to be filled with God’s Word and in a posture that can’t be shaken.
What if you prepared your heart every morning?
What if you spent time with the Lord and asked Him to prepare you for your battle with body image.
What if your heart was postured in such a way that an unmet expectation in the mirror didn’t shake you?
What if your heart was so filled with the Word of God that seeing another beautiful woman didn’t make you feel less than, but it made you feel thankful that God created her? Preparing our hearts ahead of time, will keep us from so much of our struggle in the future.
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Renew your mind
I’m not one to throw sugar and fluff on your problems and tell you to just think positively. My biggest pet peeve is when well-meaning women suggest the solution of “always remember that God made you beautiful” to cure someone’s body image struggle. While that may be true, just hearing it from someone else usually doesn’t immediately heal our hearts. I believe we need to change the way we think about ourselves, and do it consistently for the rest of our lives.
Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the patterns of this world, but instead to renew our minds. This means to constantly be meditating on thoughts that are true and pleasing to God. We find these things to meditate on from the Bible.
However, this doesn’t mean we need to dismiss anything we want to change about our bodies. It just means they shouldn’t become an idol. For example: if you are at a place in life where you know that losing some weight would improve your health, you don’t need to ignore this and cover it up with scripture. It means that you can still work on it while you place God on the throne of your life.
This looks like changing your thinking from negative thoughts about your body to ones that no longer conform to the world’s pattern. Renewing our minds takes us from a place of negative thinking patterns, to ones that are God glorifying and forward moving.
Here’s an example of what it may look like
Negative thinking pattern: I hate the way I look and I’m ashamed to be out in public in a bathing suit, I’m just so fat and ugly. (I hear this from clients all the time and it breaks my heart)
Renewing your mind: I am made in the image of a perfect God and I will walk in confidence, trusting Him as I work towards my goal.
For a really long time I was a pray, wait and see kind of person. I wanted to just pray and trust that God would do all the work. And while I never want to diminish the power of God and the work the Holy Spirit can do in our lives, I also know that we have been equipped to apply what we learn from scripture.
If you are in a battle with body image, my encouragement to you is to take action.
Start recognizing your triggers. Journal about them, take notes, and pray about them. Recognize when they happen. What situations are you in when the body image struggle starts? What are the thoughts that immediately pop into your head?
If you have a heart that is prepared for this, then taking those thoughts captive and renewing your mind will start to become your first response instead of your last.
You don’t have to live life anymore stuck in the struggle of body image. I promise you that there is freedom on the other side, but it will have to start with you taking the first step of getting to that place.
I would love for you to share in the comments what your body image struggle looks like, and what your next step is going to be. I’m here to cheer you on.
Kristen Ekiss is a speaker, educator, Veteran, and coach. She gracefully merges her Biblical counseling training and 15 years of health and fitness experience to inspire and educate women on how to make simple choices that create life-changing transformation. Her mission with this ministry is to encourage women to grow stronger together in Christ. She accomplishes this by creating content that teaches women how grow a stronger faith, raise a stronger family, and build a stronger body at Kristen Ekiss.com.