Several years ago, as we were preparing to sell our home, I was deep cleaning closets.  As you know, when you clean out closets you take a walk down memory lane, which is what inspired this post.

I stumbled upon this picture first which made me giggle:

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I believe I was in middle school at the time of this picture.  I laugh because these were the days that I had no idea that what you ate affected your weight or how you felt.  I just adopted the mentality that some of us are born heavy and gain weight easily. Much to my dismay, I’ve since learned about 80% of our weight is environmental factors and lifestyle.

My brother used to joke with me because I would say, “I can’t figure out why I can’t lose weight!” as I was holding a Snickers in one hand and a donut in the other.  I wore over-sized, athletic clothes, hair in a ponytail and rarely spoke or smiled.  I knew I didn’t like being overweight but I didn’t know what to do about it so I just accepted it to be me.  The only time boys talked to me was to have me ask my cute friends out for them. I’m not looking for sympathy in telling you this, I just need you to have a better understanding of where I came from for you to understand where I am now.

Fast forward a few years to the next picture I found of myself:

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This photo was taken my senior year of high school.  From first glance, I look prettier and thinner than the first picture, right?  While I might have been thinner, had a tan and bleached blonde hair, when I look into the eyes of this girl I see sadness.  Sadness because I thought I was still fat. Sadness because this new found beauty owned me.  I worshiped it and spent about 10 years of my life serving it.  I would die to be thin.  Literally.  I worked out at midnight, starved myself, took laxatives and diet pills, and punished myself with self-hate talk when I would binge on junk food.  Everything looked beautiful on the outside but if anyone looked into my eyes and asked real questions they saw that I was hurting.

So how did I go from a chubby kid to a thin high schooler?  For the first, and only, time in my life I lost weight accidentally.  I had hip issues arise and the doctors found my hip plates were growing apart rather than together.  Their cure at the time was to stop playing basketball.

When I say stop playing basketball I really mean stop being a bench warmer because I never actually saw any court time in games. I was the girl who everyone cheered on like Rudy when I did get in for that last 30 seconds when my team was ahead!  Regardless, I was working out with the team so the doctors were concerned I would make my hips worse if I gained any more weight.  I decided to lay off the Snickers and Dr. Pepper and I dropped about 30 pounds in one month.

To give you a visual, in a matter of weeks, I went from the girl on the left to the girl on the right:


Can you imagine with me for a moment what it might look like for a girl to go from a nobody that had never been asked out by a boy to a somebody that most every boy wanted to date?  It’s a recipe for disaster.  I remember so clearly how I felt loved and seen for the first time.  I felt wanted.  It was in that moment that I believed a lie that who I am and what I am worth depends strictly on my outward beauty.

I spent the last two decades in bondage to this lie.  Chasing a perfect body that simply does not exist.  I even got my Bachelors degree in Exercise Physiology thinking that was my answer to making sure I didn’t ever become that overweight old woman.  So sad and selfish. Thankfully, God is using what Satan meant for evil and using my degree for good!

It wasn’t until I was pregnant with our third child that I began to find freedom.  It happened one day when I went to my regular check-up with my amazing OBGYN, Dr. Cummings.  I did the normal weigh in and had gained almost 10 pounds in a very short time period.  I began sobbing.  I tried to pull myself together by the time Dr. Cummings entered my room but I couldn’t.  We began to talk and as I told him about my weight gain he did what I wish most doctors would do.  He looked at me straight in the eyes and said: “I don’t care about the numbers on the scale but I do care about what’s going on your heart”.  We spent the next half hour talking and then he gave my nurse instructions to weigh me with my back to the scale for every remaining appointment.

As I got in my car that day I finally turned it over to God.  I cried and He held me as I told Him my fears, frustrations, failures, hurts, and anger in this area of my life.  I broke.  I was done chasing an ideal body that doesn’t exist.  But more importantly than that, I was done letting my idea of beauty get in the way of the plans God had for my life.  From that day forward God took my hand and walked me, one day at a time, into freedom in this area of beauty, health, and fitness.  He taught me how to properly take care of my body, He taught me my worth in Him, He loved me and let me vent to Him when I was weak or afraid.

Can I tell you what happened over the last few years in me taking God’s hand in this area?  I have never been healthier both physically and spiritually.  My marriage and sex life are thriving because I no longer want to hide from my husband out of fear of my body not measuring up.  I have more joy because I am comfortable in my own skin.  My eyes and skin glow and I have never been more physically fit than I am right now.  I do not have out of control cravings for sweets and junk food.  I don’t dread working out like it’s a punishment but instead, I look at it as my “get to” since I am alive and breathing.

I know my journey in this area is not over but every single day I find more freedom and I want to bring as many people with me on this journey as possible.  Are you done doing it in your own strength?  Submit your heart and mind to Him today and your body will follow.  I am living proof of it.

Here is a picture of me last year at Revelation Wellness Instructor Training Retreat where I returned to be a leader. While I still struggle to truly embrace who God made me to be, I can confidently tell you I am embracing more of myself daily.

Would you like encouragement on this journey?  Please follow me on my First Fruit Fitness Facebook page for encouragement as well as Real Talk with Rachael for #realtalk just like this!

Cheering you on,

Rachael Joy

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