So often the scale makes us gain weight - not because of the number we see - but because of the the things we believe about the number we see. Just as it's important to bring our thoughts captive to the truth when we eat outside our boundaries, it's also important to bring our thoughts captive to the truth when we weigh more than we think we should weigh.
Here are some of the common lies we believe about the number we see on the scale and the truths that can set us free from an obsession with weight:
1. I look terrible (because the scale says I weigh x pounds).
Truth: Although looks are influenced by weight, they aren’t determined by weight. If you look around you, practically every woman you see is beautiful in some way, no matter what she weighs. Enjoy your femininity – you don’t need to be skinny to look beautiful! (And don’t forget—it’s more important to look good on the inside than the outside!)
2. I need to be a certain weight (to be acceptable).
Truth: I am already acceptable in God’s eyes, regardless of my weight, and I don’t need to live up to the standards of the world.
3. I deserve to lose more after how much I suffered.
Truth: I don’t deserve anything. Whatever God gives me is a gift – a blessing from Him. I need to be more grateful for what He’s already given me.
Note: The thing God’s been teaching me about writing lately is that He will equip me to do what He’s called me to do. This has really helped me not to agonize over my writing. I put in my time and effort, and God is in charge of the results. This is just like eating. It’s our job to follow the boundaries and renew our minds when necessary, but it’s up to God to provide the results. We should be willing to suffer for Him even when we see no tangible reward—just because we love Him.
4. It’s not fair that I lost x pounds when Mary lost y pounds.
Truth: Life isn’t fair – sad, but true. God looks at me with eyes full of love and grace, and He asks me, “Will you rejoice with Mary or will you stomp your feet and demand similar treatment?” I need to love God so much that I’m willing to continue following my boundaries even when I’m not rewarded by the scale. Doing what God wants me to do is a reward in and of itself.
5. It’s taking too long to lose this weight.
Truth: I might be able to lose weight faster if I eat less and exercise more, but even then, you can only lose weight so fast. I must accept the fact that losing weight is a slow and often painful process.
6. These boundaries aren’t working (because I’m not losing weight).
Truth: This may be true. If I've been faithfully following my boundaries for several weeks and not lost weight, I may need to re-evaluate my boundaries. If it's only been a week or two, it's too soon to tell. Also, I need to be honest with myself. It's easy to tell myself I'm following my boundaries when I'm really not.
Note: Don’t be afraid to try a new set of boundaries. Some people thrive on programs like Weight Watchers while others do much better on the “eating only when hungry” approach. The key no matter which approach you’re using is to establish lifelong boundaries and change the way you think by renewing your mind, so that your desires will be changing along with your actions.
7. I gained 3 pounds this weekend (because the scale said so).
Truth: Since it takes 3500 extra calories (beyond the amount required to maintain your weight) to gain a pound, I would have had to eat an additional 10,500 calories last weekend to gain three pounds (that’s in addition to the 2000 or so calories a day I would have needed to maintain my weight). Chances are, I didn’t eat that much and part of that three pounds on the scale is water weight.
8. I’m so fat (since the scale says I gained two pounds), or I’m so skinny (because the scale says I lost two pounds).
Truth: I look the same today as I looked yesterday. Two pounds isn’t going to make or break me. Most people won’t even notice a difference in how I look unless I gain or lose a significant amount.
9. I might as well eat (because according to the scale all this suffering is getting me nowhere).
Truth: All this suffering will bring me closer to God if I allow Him to help me work through the beliefs (I have to be skinny, etc.) that are causing me to be so frustrated with the number I see on the scale. Gaining weight after a faithful week of following my boundaries can be a wonderful, but painful, opportunity for growth as I draw near to Him and ask Him to help me sort through my emotions. It’s so easy to let appearance become an idol in our culture. A high number on the scale can help me work through this issue in my own life once again.
10. I’ll always be fat.
Truth: If I continue to specifically renew my mind every day in the areas of weight and eating, and if I develop the habit of going to God rather than food for help with my emotions, it will eventually show up on the scale. I need to be patient.