As a mom of many and a homeschooler, I have learned that people will automatically feel judged by our decisions, and it’s perfectly logical. When we decide to do things one way, we are demonstrating by our actions that we feel this way is better than that way – at least for ourselves, in our situation.
What our actions and decisions may not make clear is our reasoning and motivation. Consequently, onlookers often feel the need to fill in the blanks.
Last week, a reader suggested that my own resolution to lose weight was unkind or even hateful toward overweight women. I found it a little hurtful and I feel she is guilty of judging me just as harshly as she assumes I am judging her, but I also realize that it’s very important to clarify my reasoning and motivation so that others don’t misunderstand as she has.
Why lose weight when I have so little to lose?
I am exercising and eating less because I want to be a good steward of the body and resources God has given me. When my level of physical fitness declines because I am eating more than I need to, or because I am being lazy, that is poor stewardship. My weight or body-fat percentage does not measure my holiness or true beauty, but they can be outward indicators of some character flaws in my own life. I was guilty of gluttony, and I know this because I was consistently eating even when I wasn’t hungry. I was wasting food by consuming what I didn’t need and couldn’t even properly appreciate.
The weight that crept on over the years was not sinful; it was just confirmation of sin within me.
Do I believe that everyone who is overweight is in sin?
No. That doesn’t mean that everyone who is overweight or heavier than I am is guilty of gluttony or laziness. I know plenty of people who eat less than I do, exercise more, constantly fight hunger, and weigh more than I do. A trim body does not equal holiness or righteousness. But God has given me a body that can maintain a trim shape with only a reasonable amount of activity and self-control, and so I think it may be sin for me to be overweight.
I am not judging the personal habits or hearts of the people around me; I am judging my own.
Does fat disgust me?
On myself, excess fat does bother me, because it is a visible, tangible sign of my own laziness and lack of self-control. I don’t look at somebody else’s squishy tummy and think, “Ew!” because her squishy tummy doesn’t hold the same meaning that mine does for me. On others, it’s not my business or my concern. I don’t know their circumstances, their diet, or their health unless they choose to discuss it with me. If they choose to join me in setting and sharing goals, I think we can all benefit from the accountability and encouragement.
I have friends who are heavier or slimmer than I am, and I value each of them. I don’t judge them based on their weight and body type or what I saw them eat last time we were together, and I hope they don’t judge me based on anything so shallow.
Am I teaching my daughters to hate their bodies?
I don’t think so. We laugh about the stretch marks on my belly and I call them battle scars. My girls understand what I explain above – that I’m trying to hold myself to a high standard not because it’s the only way to be beautiful, but because God gave me strong muscles and it’s lazy to let them go to waste. We know curves are beautiful, and they know that their dad likes my jiggly parts. They know that some men like more jiggle than others, and that a good man loves his own wife’s shape and size. They understand that a healthy woman has some fat on her body, and none of them aspires to look like a runway model.
Can fat people be fit and healthy?
A slim person can certainly be healthier than a fat person, and we all know it’s possible to be too thin. However, there are undeniable connections between excessive weight and certain conditions like heart disease and diabetes, and not many are worried about an epidemic of skinniness in America. In a nation fraught with health problems it’s not a bad idea to exercise more and eat better – and for most of us, eating better also means eating less. The undeniable pattern is that for most of us, an active lifestyle and a healthy diet will lead to a trimmer and leaner shape than we currently sport.
Do I think you should lose weight?
Wrong question. Do you think you should lose weight? Why?