How many times have you heard people say that weight loss is simply burning more calories than you consume? While that may be true in a scientific kind of way, I can tell you from personal experience that weight loss is often more complicated. Many people fail at their weight-loss goals because they never consider the external factors and think they are weak. Most women can agree that the hormonal fluctuations that happen in our bodies each month have an effect on our diet, appearance, and/or overall mood, but what about the other seasons of life that have a profound effect on our ability to lose or maintain weight?
Last year, towards the end of the summer, I looked in the mirror and was startled to see that my shorts looked a little different than they had at the beginning of the summer. These were the only shorts I felt comfortable wearing and they were tight. (I am still trying to find beauty in shorts, sisters—prayers appreciated!) I assumed it was an off day, maybe I was bloated or something. As I transitioned into my fall jeans, I noticed they were a little tighter as well, and I discovered a little pooch sticking out in my dresses. My diet hadn’t really changed. What was going on?
After feeling frustrated and very unsettled for weeks, I took it to God in prayer. I was working really hard at finding beauty in my body and changing the way I thought about diets, food, and the importance of appearance, but I was really struggling. A lifetime of self-ridicule and body manipulation is not something you just suddenly break free from; it requires grace and persistence. I was fighting for peace one day at a time.
When I started thinking back on the past year of my life, I realized that the reason I was gaining weight was because I had hurt my knee. I had spent the entire previous summer afraid to put too much pressure on it, and the orthopedic I was seeing wasn’t giving me any solid answers. I finally ended up seeing a different orthopedic and having surgery, which then required some recovery. That whole process meant I had spent an entire year drastically modifying my workouts.
Sisters, life happens in seasons. Currently, although my knee is much better, I have entered another season battling some frustrating health issues that have been waking me up in the middle of the night hungry and unable to fall back asleep without a snack. I have been dealing with lots of anxiety and mood swings. All of these things—health issues, emotional issues, family issues, stress, and work schedules—have an effect on our bodies and our weight. That is why it is so important to give yourself grace and recognize what is most important in life in any given season.
Often Christ uses our trials to get our attention. James 1:2-4 tells us to “consider it pure joy” when we face trials because our trials produce perseverance so we can be complete, mature, and lack nothing. Instead of praying for Christ to take away the trail or make the hard season end, we can seek what He wants to reveal to us, confident that it is for our good and not to hurt us. The real healing or wellness in life’s trials isn’t just to be better so we can eat and exercise a certain way or maintain a certain number on the scale. The real healing happens when we let go of fear, trust that no matter what, He is good, and settle into all He desires to do.
Yes, these seasons are hard and they can throw off your goals, plans, and pant size, but they can’t separate you from Christ, and they actually draw you closer to the real healing and peace you seek. If you find yourself in one of life’s tougher seasons, press into Him and, sweet sister, give yourself some grace. You may not be able to eat and exercise like you want to and that is okay—don’t shame yourself. No matter what the world says about the mechanics of weight loss, however easy they try to make it sound, there is always more involved than calories in and calories out when we are talking about real people. It’s not a pass to make excuses for consistently bad choices, but it is a freedom to hold onto when life requires a little extra helping of grace. Know you are more than what you look like or how much you weigh; you are daughter loved by her Heavenly Father.