The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “attitude” as:
1 : the arrangement of the parts of a body or figure (posture)
2 : a position assumed for a specific purpose
3 : a : a mental position with regard to a fact or state
It comes from the Latin word “aptitudinem,” an art term used to describe the posture of a figure in a painting or sculpture, but eventually it took on a more general meaning to describe actual people. To this day, we continue using it that way – that is to say, “the way one carries him/herself which implies that person’s mental state.”
If I’m honest with you (and I’m going to be) I’ve lost weight in the last few weeks, but it hasn’t been a staggering amount. Like, 11 pounds total. But, really, because I’d gained back some of what I had originally lost, I’m only about five pounds under my previous lowest weight. (see picture at bottom of post)
I mention this because I’ve received a handful of compliments in the last couple of days on my weight loss… only, like I said above, my weight hasn’t really changed all that much. Some of these comments have come from coworkers and family, and a couple have come from total strangers. I was walking past a store in the mall yesterday and two women were talking. One of them pointed at me and said “see, she has a good body. She could wear this dress.”
Er… ok. Awesome.
I also got asked out this week. Like really, actually “Elle, I was wondering if I could take you out,” asked out. (I said no. Why? I’m not sure. All I know is that when he asked, I got scared. It felt like someone was trying to put a rubber band around my lungs and I couldn’t breathe or feel my feet. I am so fearful of dating – a topic that is probably worth exploring in a future blog.)
So this got me thinking – ok, people are obviously responding to something, but it isn’t a drastic weight loss on the outside. Well, what must it be then?
The way I carry myself.
The outward manifestation of something that has taken place inside me.
You may (or may not) have gathered from my blog that I’m a Christian. It’s ok, don’t let that scare you. It isn’t my nature to thrust my beliefs on other people, but I do feel that it’s important to share my healthiness journey in a holistic way. It might be helpful to you and it might not, but I’m not being very honest with you if I pretend it doesn’t exist.
Anyway, I had time over the long weekend to just sit and think about my life, how it’s been affected by my struggle with weight, how I’ve obsessed about my image and let it define – to an awfully great extent – the way in which I view the world and other people. It gets tiresome. And I realized I don’t really want to live that way anymore. God doesn’t view people in terms of their size, so I’m not entirely sure why I felt the need to take that duty on for Him. It made me callous – certainly toward other people, but more importantly, toward me.
After spending some time in my Bible, it became very evident to me that even with the best of intentions (I really felt like I was doing the right thing), I had made weight loss an idol. And the problem with that is that weight loss doesn’t really give you anything back.
Yes, you can wear cuter clothes.
Yes, it feels good to be noticed.
Yes, that smaller number on the scale will put you on a high.
But what happens when you have an off day? What happens when you have a .4 lb gain, or worse? Suddenly this thing that you’ve worked so hard to achieve is giving you nothing back. And you crumble. And you criticize. And you fall apart. The scale mercilessly doles out your punishment in giant block numbers. YOU ATE CHOCOLATE YOU WORTHLESS PIECE OF BLUBBER! YOU NOW WEIGH 398 POUNDS!
But that has never been the case in my relationship with God. Even this weekend, when I realized I had pushed Him to the back burner in order to give more attention to my pursuit of the perfect body. Instead of guilt or condemnation, I’m given a gentle reminder: “…the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His…” – 2 Chronicles: 16:9
Weight loss is a good and rewarding thing, and I’m still devoted to the process. But it’s different now.
My heart was so tied up in the when and the how that I hardly had time to just step back and take stock of everything else in my life. I have a good life, irrespective of what I weigh at the moment. When I think about that, I can’t help having a bounce in my step. I can’t see what lies ahead of me; I can’t even see what’s five minutes in front of me. But I serve a God who sees it all, and He is actively looking for ways to strongly support me.
When I cling to weight as a measuring stick for my life, I feel burdened, and my demeanor is reclusive and saddened. But when I cling to the truth – that my life is rooted in Christ and that He has promised to show me how to live life to the fullest, I just relax. I laugh a lot. And even though I don’t know where the finish line is, I know I’m heading toward it. My attitude changes.
It isn’t the weight loss people are seeing. It’s the outside image of my inner posture.