Do you want to heal your body? This week, Kelli shares how God led her on a journey to heal her body by changing her mind as she pursues health for her whole self.
Change Your Mind, Heal Your Body
Part 2 Holistic Wellness: With All Your Mind and All Your Strength
by Kelli Baker
The way we view our bodies depends on many different factors. I didn’t realize how much influence my childhood had on my own personal body image until I decided I needed a change. Growing up watching my mom struggle with accepting her body made me insecure about my own imperfections. Couple that with the way our culture praises perfection. Then top that off with the military weight and appearance standards and expectations. It’s no wonder so many women struggle with accepting their bodies.
Healing begins by making a conscious decision to change your mind.
2 Corinthians 10:3b-4 describes the war our minds are fighting: “We are not waging war according to the flesh, for the weapons of warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” Paul urges the Corinthians in verse 5 to “take every thought captive” to destroy any arguments against the Lord. When we dwell on the negative thoughts about our bodies, we are directly contradicting the Lord’s plan for us.
When we first got married, my husband gently told me that every morning when I woke up I said something negative. The first words from my mouth were a complaint. This negative thinking pattern would set the tone for the rest of the day, and I didn’t even realize I was doing it. After his kind reminder, I became more aware of these negative thoughts, catching them before they left my lips.
Rather than focus on what I wasn’t happy about, I began thanking God for waking me up each morning. This habit evolved over the years, and now I like to spend ten or fifteen minutes in prayer before I even get out of bed to honor God and remember all that he has done for me.
The small shift in my thinking and my habits created a space for God to work.
The same was true for the way I viewed my body. I knew I needed to change my thoughts to see myself differently, how God sees me. He doesn’t look down and see every imperfection and flaw. Psalm 139:13 says, “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.” He took the time to intricately and uniquely create each one of us. We are his creation! He is pleased with us, imperfections and all!
I had become so consumed with my flaws that I couldn’t see through the muck to what God saw in me.
I had to learn to replace my thoughts with God’s thoughts.
Changing the way I thought about myself wasn’t an overnight cure. I still had work to do. The fact remained that I needed to lose some weight to meet the Army height and weight standards, but it did change my perspective. With this new perspective, I began to break the chain of thinking that had been ingrained in me. I began to look at ways that I could healthily change some of my lifestyle patterns to break the cycle of yo-yo dieting and binge eating. With this renewed mindset, my journey toward becoming a better me continued. I could focus on what it would take physically to get me where I needed to be without the weight of negative self thoughts.
Rather than starving myself prior to a weigh in and wrapping myself in cellophane and hemorrhoid cream (yes, that’s a thing!), I began to be intentional and established eating and exercise plans to sustain me between weigh-ins. Once I came to this understanding, I began to feel more confident with who God created me to be. Not only did these healthy eating habits and exercise plans boost my confidence, but they made me feel good, too.
It didn’t happen overnight, but with consistency and dedication I saw changes.
Fast forward to my body image post baby. I delivered two babies within two years, breastfeeding them both for over a year each. Though I remained active throughout my pregnancies, there were still many flaws I couldn’t look past. I found myself becoming consumed with exercising. I had even prioritized my exercise over the Lord.
Then he convicted me. “You cannot serve two masters.” (Matthew 6:24, my translation)
Well, what two masters am I serving, God?
Finally, it donned on me that I had selfishly neglected my time with God, putting myself first. I still didn’t feel good about myself and was unsatisfied with the way I looked. So it obviously wasn’t working this way. I decided to reorganize my schedule and put God first again. I began spending time with God reflecting on his Word before doing anything else.
It took discipline and dedication, but I had already created the foundational habits. Once I started implementing them I began to see changes. Changes in my body, but more importantly changes in my mind and heart. God created us as a temple to glorify him. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).
When we become so consumed with our outward appearance, we miss the opportunity to glorify God.
Slowly, but surely, my soul was being refreshed and satisfied by the Lord again. This affected how I thought of myself. Once I found the perfect balance of soul, mind, and body care, I began to accept myself as I am. This continues to be an ongoing process. It’s a journey, not a means to an end. Through this journey, though, God has remained faithful and never ceased chasing my heart.