Blessed in the Midwest

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What you weigh doesn’t impact the love you get, from God or from [your] man.

Dear Coffey,

I’m 24, 5’7”, and, like you were, I weigh just over 300 pounds. I have a loving God, and I want to spread His message.  I think He would have amazing plans for me if only I could lose this weight. I’m also engaged to the kindest, most generous man I’ve ever met. I want to be beautiful and sexy for him on our wedding night and beyond. I’ve struggled to stay on so many diets, but no matter how long I stick to any diet, I always gain back more than I lost. Your writing really spoke to me, so I’m reaching out. Do you ever work with people like me? Can you help?

-Blessed in the Midwest

 beautiful

Hey there, Blessed –

You’re a woman who believes in a loving God, and that gives you a big advantage over the rest of us. I dig working with people of faith because you already believe you’re loved. To believe we’re  loved – and therefore loveable,  just as we are – is the first step to genuine wellness, because we’re motivated to take care of the things we love.

When God gives you a gift – any gift – how do you treat it? With care. If God gave you a goldfish, how would you treat that goldfish? With care. Every single day.  And you’d be proud of it. You’d say sweet things to it. You’d never, ever criticize it, hide it, insult it, or be embarrassed by it. Same goes for your beautiful body. You were given that body by God. Like any of God’s gifts, it deserves love, affection, and attention. In short: it deserves your care.

If you believe that God created and has given you that body, then your job is to take the best care of it that you can. This means supporting yourself every day with sleep and water and nourishing food, and taking every opportunity you get to move and to  play.  This also means setting healthy boundaries around the things that harm you physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually.

If you believe that God is in control of everything, then it makes sense that the deepest and most consistent pleasure we’re capable of experiencing is what happens when we take good care of ourselves. It’s like He rigged it so that we’d know we were doing the right thing by our bodies.

Care probably wasn’t what motivated you to go on those diets. Like most of us, you were probably changing how you ate because you didn’t like your body and you wanted it to be different. What might eating look like if your goal was to care for yourself instead? If care was your primary motivation, how might that change how you relate to sleep and activity and every other thing you do with – and to – your precious body?

I used to abuse myself in all kinds of horrible ways, and whenever I tried to change, my motivations were always shame and embarrassment. Those changes never stuck and I always ended up worse than when I started – I, too,  ended up gaining weight every time I tried to diet. In order to get well, I needed to cultivate love for myself, and to shift my focus from shame to care. Today, I have a life that’s second to none, in part because I get to teach folks like you and me how to make the same mental shift. I love what I do, and I feel about as blessed as one woman can.

You imagine God would have bigger plans for you if you lost some weight. Arguably, His wishes are already clear. In giving you this body, He’s given you an obvious way to demonstrate gratitude and faith – by caring for your mind, emotions, spirit, and body day after day. Protect yourself from harm (including self-criticism). Eat nourishing foods in nourishing ways.  Move. Do whatever you need to do to be vibrant and healthy – this includes making true connections with people who love and respect you.

(Enter fiancé, stage left.)

Sounds like your fiancé is a great guy. Congratulations. I bet he recognizes that you – and, by extension, your body – are God-given gifts. Like God, your fiancé loves and accepts you as you are. He’s engaged to you, not the woman you’d be if you lost weight. He already thinks you’re beautiful, because you are.

Regardless of what nonsense the media tries to sells us, beauty doesn’t have a dress size. Beauty is the product of confidence and care. Embrace the power you have as a thoughtful, faith-filled young woman. Care for yourself in all the basic ways, and if you’re feeling spry, put a little more thought into your style. Then show up on your wedding day proud and excited to share yourself with your man. I’m willing to bet he’s gonna feel like the luckiest man alive.

God loves and accepts you just exactly as you are. He doesn’t care what you weigh, and He’s certainly not gonna love you more if you weigh less. Same goes for your man.

So my advice is this: Pray for the willingness to love and accept your body as it is, and then practice treating it with the care it deserves.

If you need some pointers on how to do that, or where to begin, I’d love to help. You can read up on my course HERE

In the meantime, take good care of you.

All good things,

Coffey

Comments

  1. Mel says

    Well said. It’s a hard shift to go from being shame driven to care driven. If this was someone I loved, I would never treat them the way I treat myself. As strange as this sounds, it’s reasuring that someone understands how I feel and how I’ve felt most of my life. I read your blog because it helps me remember why I go to the gym 5 days a week or pass on cookies. Down 14 lbs and still a long way to go but I love the support! Thank you!

  2. lesley says

    I love your beautiful response, you are so on the money. Breaks my hart when she says God has amazing plans for her if only she could lose weight. Dear One, his plans for you are amazing no matter what you weigh. There is no if only. Where in the Midwest? Maybe we can be buddies.

  3. says

    You, dearest Coffey, nail it. Every time. I read the heartfelt words from Miss Midwest and had the same thoughts you penned (err…. typed…). Then – midway through reading it while thinking “Amen!”- it started speaking to my heart, as if it you wrote it to me. Clearly I have more work to do. As always, I love you and your blog.

  4. Alicia says

    Hi Coffey. I just discovered your blog a few days ago and have been reading whenever I have free time. All your entries have impressed me, but this one most of all. I had gathered that you may not believe in God, which, incidentally, I have no problem with. However, when I saw the letter you got, I’m thinking, “oh boy, here comes the usual attack Christians get about how belief in God is just another source of shame, blah blah blah.” I was so happily relieved when I saw that even if you hold different beliefs than the writer, you still responded in a way that truly affirmed all of her, including her faith and her spirituality. Hers, and people of faith in general. That’s so cool! But then, I already knew you were that.

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