Let’s learn to have FUN again! | Reader Highlights from the Week

by | Feb 7, 2020 | Uncategorized | 14 comments

Learning to accept our bodies and how it can make life more enjoyable! Body image issues do not need to have a part in your marriage.
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When was the last time you ran so fast you could hardly feel your feet hit the ground? 

What about dancing crazily in the kitchen to your favourite song, or feeling the rush of going down a hill really fast on your bike? Moving is FUN when we actually let ourselves enjoy it! And that’s a huge part of what it means to see your body as your friend, which is our series this month. 

On Monday we posted our first installment in the series and the comments were fantastic–so much encouragement to each other, so many stories of how you are training yourselves to speak positively about your bodies so that healthy changes don’t become a punishment–they’re a gift you’re giving yourself. 

Check out this comment from Carrie: 

This is one of the hardest topics I’ve had to deal with in my life. Over and over I’ve lost weight, only to have it come back.
2 years ago I went to a retreat. I thought it would be about losing weight, but it was more focused on accepting yourself. It was amazing! It was also a turning point for me. I realized that it was ok to like myself and my body.
Now, whenever I find myself saying something negative about myself I re-frame it and say something positive 3 times. I’ve also told people I’m around that they aren’t allowed to say negative things about themselves. Some accept it more than others.
A few months ago I decided to lose weight again. But this time feels so different. Instead of losing weight to help me feel better about myself, I’m loosing weight to help my body be able to do more fun things and feel better.
I love myself!
Carrie

I love that–and that you’re able to say “I love myself” proudly and loudly!

But what about if your issues with your body stem from other people telling you there’s something wrong with you?

We had a really heart-warming interaction between two readers in the comments section on the same post about how the effects of purity culture have really damaged one woman’s view of herself.

And then, growing up in that culture, dealing with normal health issues that can cause self-consciousness can become even more difficult when you’ve been primed to see your body as the enemy.

Here’s what she said:

What a beautiful post. So helpful. I am going to keep rereading, and I’m so looking forward to the rest of the series. This is an area I’m working on, but it is SOOOOOOOOOO hard sometimes.

I grew up with the message that it’s women’s dress & behaviour that makes men ‘stumble’. I remember listening to how single women were a ‘threat’ to the preacher’s marriage (brother, I was never a threat to your marriage – your attitude to me might have been, but that’s not my problem). And then the men – including those in church – who felt they had the right to grab whatever and wherever they liked, and it was my fault for ‘tempting them’ (even wearing baggy jeans, baggy jumpers when the only bits of me showing were my hands and face, apparently, my body was still the problem).

So I hated my body because I was told it made men sin and because it ‘justified’ them treating me in ways that made me sick. And I hated it because hormone imbalance means I carry weight round my middle that won’t shift, even when the rest of me is really skinny, so I look early-stage pregnancy on a permanent basis (I’ve been asked more than once when my baby is due) And I hated it because it is covered in psoriasis too (and I’ve had total strangers in the street point to my arms and legs and say ‘urgh, that’s disgusting’.) And now I’m middle aged, I’m also starting to ‘sag’ in all the wrong places!

My biggest anxiety about my forthcoming marriage is that my fiance will get to see my body – there’ll be no way of hiding all those bits I hate. I’ve learned to thank him when he tells me I’m beautiful, instead of making jokes about his poor eyesight like I used to, but inside, I’m still thinking ‘are you blind?’ We’ve talked about it and prayed about it together, but I still have such a long way to go, and I think it will be one of my biggest battles. So bring on the rest of your series. I need all the help I can get!

Anon

First of all, thank you so much for sharing your story on the blog–being so open about your struggles is a huge blessing for other women in the same boat! 

But then one of the men on the blog chimed in with this: 

To Anon, I’m sure your fiancé loves you just the way you are. Next time he tells you how beautiful you are, agree with him. When you look in the mirror, just say “I’m beautiful!” Nothing like positive reinforcement. A coast to coast trip starts with the 1st mile. Best of luck! 
Trucker Dave

I love that! True trucker wisdom right there. And Anon later commented back that she appreciated it as well!

And if you’re someone who struggles with accepting their body due to the “all men lust” messages you may have heard growing up or are still hearing today, check out these posts:

And to women who are nervous about what their husbands will think about their bodies–flaws and all–check out this lovely post written by a woman who battled with severe body-image issues in her marriage and is now sharing how she overcame them. 

But a lot of this comes down to truly understanding what it means to have life abundantly.

When we get bogged down by “should”s and all the ways we’ve failed, continuously punishing ourselves for mistakes made, we forget that God gave us bodies that can enjoy things and that an abundant life is not too much to ask for!

Here are two comments that do a great job explaining what it means to enjoy the bodies we are given and to aim for that fullness of life:

I cannot emphasize enough how much of a game changer exercise is when you do it not to lose weight but for the sheer joy of moving your body. There’s nothing like the feeling of adding more weight to your dead lift, crossing the finish line of your first half marathon, or just hitting a new personal best. It’s so much easier to love your body when you can start to view it as an instrument and not an ornament.
Meghan

Okay, I’m not sure how much this will relate to your series, but it’s about my body and my self-worth, so I kind of feel like it’s relevant. God has been dealing with me in this area lately. It’s like I have felt like my pain doesn’t matter, and I shouldn’t waste people’s time. I have had some issues with chronic pain, and started seeing a chiropractor in November. I’ve had to go pretty regularly, because my neck is pretty messed up. At several of my appointments I have made comments about being a pest, or apologizing for calling so often, etc. A few weeks ago, my chiropractor kept telling me that I’m not a pest. If I’m in pain he wants to see me. I don’t need to worry about calling too often. He just wants me to be pain-free. While that message was from him, I think it was from God too. Why do I feel like I should just go through life minimizing pain and other physical symptoms and not getting the help I need? Why do I think I don’t matter? That’s not the abundant life God has for me. So I play this kind man’s words over and over in my mind, hoping they will somehow stick somewhere in my soul. My pain matters. It’s really OK to take care of myself.
Ashley

Do you have any stories of how you grew to ENJOY your body and what it can do again? Have you gotten past self-image or body-image issues and have insight to share? Or are you in the pit of it all and just need some encouragement? 

Let’s chat about it in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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14 Comments

  1. KellyK

    I’m old (47) and have a broken back thanks to 28+ years in the nursing profession, 22 as an RN and 6 as a nurses assistant. Humans aren’t meant to lift other humans. It’s hard because I cannot be as active as I’d like and don’t want to take a risk that might make me even more debilatated seeing as I still gotta work full time. Probably up until lunch on the day of my funeral. LOL.
    I do what I can. I’m overweight. LOTS of things jiggle. Yet I still have men tell me they find me attractive. Not that I’m fishing for compliments.
    Men find women of all different shapes and sizes attractive. 🙂

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Ugh back issues are horrible–I’m so sorry, Kelly. Your injury truly is a nursing badge of honor–it shows how much nurses really give their all to their patients and their jobs selflessly so often. And good on you for doing what you can within your limits!!
      Do you have any advice for people who also struggle with chronic pain when it comes to seeing your body as your friend, even when it hurts so often? I can’t speak into that personally but I know we have so many readers who have chronic conditions and I’m sure they’d find some of your tips/insight helpful. 🙂

      Reply
      • Chris

        Rebecca, speaking of body stuff, did that pupps thing ever completely go away?

        Reply
        • Rebecca Lindenbach

          It took 2 months but yes!! FINALLY. Although I think I may have permanent scarring from it all over my legs.

          Reply
          • Len Gane

            I lost the link to your article in the newsletter: A Mom’s Body Change After Pregnancy. I need the link please for an article I’m doing for my blog. I have the article but failed to copy the link. I used search to find but cannot. Thank you.

          • Rebecca Lindenbach

            Hey there! I’m sorry, I’m unsure what you’re looking for. I linked to a podcast I did with my mom (find it here) but that’s it. Is that what you are looking for? The article I wrote about my journey was our exclusive newsletter content and won’t have a link. Hope this helps!

    • Chris

      Kelly, yes we do! I love curvier, heavier women. And I married one. Thats not to say that I don’t want my wife to be healthy. Of course I do. But women struggle to accept the fact that there are men out there who LOVE the curves. So perfect for snuggling and making love to and just wrapping your arms around and holding! Its tricky though because the bigger girls are often the ones who don’t want to be touched or seen 😥.

      Reply
  2. Melissa

    I spent much of my life feeling insecure about my body. Things I can’t change, like my big feet or my tall height or my strong nose. Broad shoulders, wide hips, big hands, large head. I am not a petite delicate lady! At 36 I’m getting to a point where maybe I don’t totally love all those little details, but hey, they are what they are. I can’t change them! “Those shoes make your feet look big.” My feet ARE big, whaddya expect me to do about that? I’m gonna wear whatever shoes I want. “You’re so tall! You don’t need to wear high heels!” I don’t wear high heels because I feel like I need to, I wear them because I like them. I’m tall with or without heels so it’s kind of irrelevant. “You shouldn’t wear skinny jeans, they make your hips look broad.” Dude, that’s because they are. And unless I get bone shaved off my pelvis that’s not gonna change. Now excuse me, my favorite brand of skinny jeans is on sale.
    I’ve been super skinny, I’ve been overweight, and all the in between. My insecurities about things I can’t change stuck with me through every phase. I’ve got enough to worry about in life, I decided it was time to let those things go. I can’t change them. They’re part of my unique genetic code. So I’m gonna do what makes me happy regardless.
    And on the topic of weight, last year I got up to my highest weight ever. It was a combination of things. Stress, unhappiness, using food and alcohol to cope. Every time I tried to start losing weight, though, I struggled and saw little to not results. What finally pushed me to make a change and stick to it was how sick I was all last fall and winter and into the spring. I caught every freaking illness that went around and they hung on for weeks at a time. When I got a sinus infection in May, that was it. I couldn’t spend my life sick on the couch. Something inside my body was off kilter and I needed to fix it. Nutrition was the answer, and I knew it. I have lost weight but the biggest change has been how little I’ve gotten sick this year compared to last. No matter what my weight is, I don’t ever want to be that sick again if I can do anything about it. Our health is infinitely valuable. ❤️

    Reply
  3. Meghan

    AWWWWWW you quoted me! 😀 I feel like a mini-celebrity haha.
    I hope my comment helps people. That last sentence is so, so important. Your body is worth so much more than your how other people see you.

    Reply
  4. Jane Eyre

    It took me a long time to understand that normal, emotionally healthy men are a lot less critical of our bodies than women are. That doesn’t mean that we should be completely unhealthy and just tell them to accept us as we are, but most men look at their naked wives and think, “My naked wife is hot!” This doesn’t really change if she’s older, really wants to lose those 20 pounds, does not look the same after babies, etc.
    Related, a lot of people show their own bad character when they start criticising minor flaws in other people’s bodies. At least in my experience, people who behave that way tend to behave in many other bad ways as well. The boyfriend who complained about my size 2 body in college was also cheating on me. The parent who has fat-shamed me for 25 years also engaged in a bunch of other really bad behaviours over the years. The SIL who fat-shamed me over a miniscule weight gain when I was 10 weeks pregnant also tries to embarrass people in other situations. Put another way, boorish jerks are boorish jerks.

    Reply
  5. Anon

    Since Monday, I’ve been trying to start every day by being thankful for the things my body can do, instead of thinking of all the things I don’t like about it. When I’m walking or doing physical work, I’m trying to focus on how great it is that my body can do these things (even if I’m full of aches & pains and twinges!).
    Oh, and I’ve finally booked an appointment at the hairdresser after not having my hair cut for over 2 years (yes, it’s every bit as bad as you think that sounds!) Baby steps!

    Reply
  6. Kathryn

    I’m so excited for this series this month.
    As a young girl growing up I heard all those body shaming messages. It has affected the way I think about my body very much.
    My husband tells me I’m hot all the time and I believe that he really thinks I’m beautiful. But i still have a hard time really believing that about myself. Before our daughter was born I could probably have come up with 5 things I like about my body, but now I have a harder time. But I am determined to come to the place where I actually like my body.
    Just recently I’ve been learning a lot about self care and how to feel good about my body. It’s been very inspiring and I am excited about this series and the journey I am on. This is such an important topic.
    Thank you so much for sharing healthy messages instead of more body shaming.

    Reply
  7. Brievel

    Very recently decided to do something about the body I dislike so intensely. I’ve never had much in the way of abs – that is, nothing at all – and have always struggled with belly pouch. Add to that two pregnancies in two and a half years (my older son just turned two, the young one is five months give or take a few days) and all the toll that takes – postpartum belly flab, breasts saggy from nursing, stretchmarks, butt & thighs where you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins.
    I don’t have a lot of time (I don’t have babysitters or anyone to help with the kids, my husband is usually at work – 12+ hours out of the day – or sleeping, as he works second shift.) The baby is teething and the toddler has decided *now* is the time to learn *everything* about the world – and has an as-of-yet-undiagnosed sleep disorder. I have as good of nutrition as we can afford, so that’s not really a huge deal.
    I’ve started doing abdominal exercises for one minute each night (I’m shockingly out of shape) after the boys are in bed, and working on my posture. Even those two things alone are helping, really. I’m going to start adding lunges to my nightly exercises and learned a new technique today called Carved Curtsy (?) that I can’t wait to try out. I’m really hoping that just toning the obvious areas will help with my attractiveness and body image.

    Reply
  8. Ashley

    I feel a little bit like a celebrity since my comment made the post! This is such an important topic. There is so much shame and headache around our bodies. I want to continue to break free from that, and encourage other women to do the same.

    Reply

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