Do You Have a Poverty Mindset?

Photo by Grant Porter on Unsplash

“Binging is a descent into a world where every restriction you have placed on yourself is cut loose….At its core is a feeling of deprivation, scarcity, and a feeling you can never get enough.”

-Geneen Roth

Whether it’s starving, bingeing, or somewhere in-between, a driving belief behind disordered eating behaviors often has to do with a fear that you need to make sure you get enough of something.

Maybe you’re afraid you won’t get enough love unless you restrict your calories or macros to get the “perfect” body that will make people want you and desire you.

Maybe you feel hungry for love in your family, friendships, or romantic relationship (or lack thereof), and food is the one thing that seems to fill that gnawing sense of love-hunger.

Maybe you grew up in a large family where you stuffed down your food as fast as possible at meals, in order to make sure that there were still seconds left for you.

Maybe you grew up in a family that had a hard time making ends meet, and you never knew exactly when your next meal would be, so when there was food, you tended to gorge on it.

Maybe your parents forced you to finish your plate when you weren’t hungry, because of “starving kids in other countries,” and now when you eat, you feel shame or guilt if you don’t eat all the food in front of you.

Or maybe you were in a family where no one talked about emotions and deep hurts, and you felt like you had to learn to cope and survive without someone to talk to.

Maybe you are someone who eats super “healthy” or “clean,” but if you eat something not on your list of “okay” foods to eat, then you go into an all-out binge. Either you are functioning from a place of scarcity (“I am not allowed to eat this food, but since I started, I might as well keep going, and I’ll do a reset or cleanse afterward”), or your body has been starving for enough calories, and it overrides your sense of self-control to gorge on what it needs: calories.

Last but not least, do you ever not allow yourself to have breaks while working, doing homework, taking care of your family, etc., except if it’s to eat or have snacks? Do you long for much-needed rest and recharge, but the only way you allow yourself to have that is through food?

Do any of these scenarios resonate with you?

 

Breaking free from deeply ingrained beliefs is a battle. Even just recognizing, and having the courage to explore what mindsets have been influencing you underneath the surface of your life is challenging enough.

 

How can you begin to win more victory in this area?

 

Sitting down and journaling your memories and feelings about times you’ve felt like you’ve had to make sure you got enough, is a great place to start.

 

I really recommend praying and asking God to show you your blindspots in this area, and to give you the strength to wade through the deep places in your soul that you may feel afraid to face.

 

Talking with a counselor or a close friend is another helpful way to process through your thoughts.

 

Don’t stop there!

 

Writing down those feelings is important, but you also need to replace them with the truth. One way you can do this is to write down the beliefs you have had regarding a poverty mindset, and then next to each thought, write out the real truth next to that statement.

I encourage you to pray and ask God what truth to put next to the lie, because he is the Word of Life, and he is Truth. Finally, ask him to help you renew your mind and your beliefs with the new truths that you write down.

Here’s an example of what this could look like:

Poverty Mindset:

realize that when I let myself eat a cookie at work parties, and then I binge on all the desserts, it’s because I feel like this is my last chance to ever eat these kinds of sweets again, since I am supposed to eat clean.

Truth:

I don’t have to eat perfectly all the time. In fact, this mindset has been more damaging than good for me, because it just leads me to be constantly thinking about food. It is ok for me to have a cookie. I can have a cookie anytime I want, and because of that, I am also ok not eating cookies or desserts at a party if it won’t make me feel good, because I know I can have desserts anytime I choose. There is always another opportunity to have dessert, and I can even make my own baked goods at home, or get some from the store. God has given me a spirit of  self-control, so that food doesn’t rule my life. I am free to enjoy desserts, and I am also free to choose to abstain, since I know I can always enjoy a cookie another day.

 

If you get stuck on knowing what to write in your truth categories, and you are having trouble praying about it, it never hurts to ask a friend or counselor to help you. It’s great to allow yourself to rely on and learn from healthy community, and let them come alongside you to fight with you in your battles.

Changing ingrained beliefs is an ongoing process, and can take a lot of time. It’s easy to get discouraged, but don’t give up.

 

 

Lord,

I pray that whoever is reading this who may be on a journey of taking back their freedom, their identity, and their sense of sanity, would experience incredible peace as they go down overgrown paths in their lives that they have tried to forget and ignore. Bring healing to the deepest places in their heart, mind and emotions. Be their guide and their comforter. Strengthen them with your joy, and show them the fullness of life they have in you. Show them your faithfulness, your trustworthiness, and your unfailing love. Show them how to fight and not give up hope. 

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

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Inner Healing and ED Recovery

I made a quick video of something that was on my heart regarding ED Recovery. When you are going through recovery from disorder eating, it is crucial to focus on inner healing as much (I’d argue more so) as physical healing. 

Have a great day! 

Starving to be Beautiful

Photo Source

This week is National Eating Disorder Awareness week. I have shared a little about my history with disordered eating, but I want to share more in hopes that this will help you if you’re struggling with an ED, or if you know someone who is.

 

Over the past several months I have felt the Lord prompting me to share more of my recovery story, and the invaluable things I’ve learned, along with the helpful resources I’ve found. In the next few posts, I want to tell you about what my journey looked like, how I got better, how to support someone struggling with an ED, and what resources and action plans I recommend utilizing.

 

Trying to find comprehensive Christian resources for ED recovery during my healing process was difficult and frustrating. EDs are first and foremost mental, emotional, and spiritual, and the physical aspect, though serious, is a symptom of the internal battle. The church does not address this topic enough, and I am concerned that the number of people with eating disorders will continue to grow unless we proactively support people (particularly young women) in the ways they need to be supported in order to avoid developing EDs in the first place.

 

***Note: I believe it is completely possible for a person to recover from an ED even if he or she does not believe in God. There is plenty of proof and transformation stories on the internet to back this up. However, I also believe the deepest level of life healing someone can experience comes only through Jesus Christ.

Additionally, I have heard the claim that you cannot fully recover from an ED. This was a big fear of mine during recovery, but it is a LIE that I want to dispel right now. Full recovery can take many months or years depending on the circumstances and the approach, but it is possible and, 100% worth it. Furthermore, the belief that full recovery is impossible is a dangerous belief that can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.***

 

Left: 5 years ago when I was punishing myself with exercise about 20 hours per week, eating a vegan diet, calorie restricting, hating myself, weighing myself everyday, and focusing on having the “perfect” body. No real sense of identity, a shell of a person.

Right: Recovered physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. I enjoy exercise when I have the time, and I don’t starve or binge. I eat whatever I want, as much as I want, whenever I’m hungry. My weight is stable, and I rarely think about it or weigh myself.  I love myself and my body, and I know who I am. My focus is on loving God and loving others.

 

My battle with an ED started 6 years ago after serious heartbreak, which lead me to realize I had lost almost all sense of my identity. In an effort to deal with feelings of worthlessness, heartbreak, and fear, I decided to lose weight. I believed the lie that weight loss (from my already slender frame) would lead to happiness, love, and a feeling of worthiness. I began to meticulously count calories and would only let myself eat 40% of the calories recommended for someone at my age, weight, and activity level. Within a short period of time, I quickly dropped lots of weight, along with the remaining sense of identity I had left. All I could think about was food and being skinny.

 

Underweight with very little fat or muscle, I was constantly freezing and would wear multiple sweatshirts layered upon one another. While I was a dancer and used to being active, suddenly just walking up a flight of stairs left my heart pounding and my lungs burning for oxygen. My legs and arms became very thin. I would look in the mirror multiple times a day to make sure I could see my ribs protruding. Seeing the number drop on the scale gave me a high that was further perpetrated by the praise of well-meaning but oblivious dance teachers. I lost my period, and would not regain a regular menstrual cycle until 4 years later.

 

After months of starvation, my body desperately wanted food. Over the holidays, to my absolute horror, I lost all sense of control, and binged constantly. Within a couple weeks, I regained all the weight I had lost over the past several months. In reality, most of this was water weight, but I didn’t know that. I vowed to lose the weight again and keep it off forever.

 

My willpower for counting calories began to dissipate, so my next approach was to eat a few extra hundred calories per day, but to eat very “clean,” and exercise like crazy. I was a vegetarian since I was 9 or 10 years old, but during this time I began to cut out cheese and eggs so that I was essentially eating a vegan diet. A typical week consisted of 10+ hours of dance along with about 10 additional hours of exercise. All this while eating very little. Looking back, I’m shocked that I exercised so much with so little food. EDs create a feeling of anxious energy and euphoria in the body, which were the fumes I was running on.

 

Around this time I got my wisdom teeth removed. High on pain killers about an hour after surgery, I frantically fought with my mom to let me get off of the couch and exercise. I was wild with fear that I would gain a pound if I did not maintain my exercise routine. Thankfully, my mom was able to calm me down and get me to rest.

 

Even though I exercised like an addict, I secretly hated exercise, and only did it because I was so desperate to have the “perfect” body. I had always loved dance, but I began to deeply despise it. Dance was exhausting me, and being in front of floor to ceiling mirrors wearing a leotard, and critiquing and perfecting my technique, was too much for my already overly-critical ED.

 

As the stress of overexercising and under-eating took its toll on my body, I began to binge on food. If you have never binge eaten, let me tell you: it is a scary feeling. It’s like a switch flips, and all of the sudden you disassociate and just eat and eat and eat. Even when you are full and feel like you will throw up, you just keep eating and you feel like you cannot stop. This was incredibly humiliating and scary for me, because I prided myself on having rigid control over my body. I continued to exercise to try to offset the effects of the binges. In reality, the calories from the binges would have gone to support my organs that were being starved, and not to my waistline like I feared.

 

One evening, after I had eaten way too many sweets at a party, I came home feeling absolutely ill and gross in my mind and body. I was stuffed and just wanted to throw up. “What a great idea,” I thought,  “I can just throw up this food, feel better, and not have to deal with the calories.” As I kneeled before the toilet in my bathroom, I leaned over to purge everything I had just consumed. Suddenly, it was as if someone grabbed me. I clearly heard the Lord say “Stop. Don’t do this. If you do this, you will only continue to do it, and your eating disorder will only get worse.”

 

I had a choice in that moment, and looking back, I truly believe that the choice I made that day was one of the most important I made during my illness. I chose not to throw up. If I had gone ahead and done it, I think my story and path to healing would have looked very different and been much longer and more difficult.

 

Trembling and desperate, I went downstairs and began telling my parents what was going on. While they suspected my unhealthy relationship with food and exercise, they had no idea the extent to which I was hurting myself.

 

This began a path to healing. My healing had excruciating weeks filled with relapses into bingeing and restricting, and weeks when I had very little problems at all. It was a process that took almost 4 years of fighting, but it was worth it, no question. I am eternally grateful for the Lord’s steadfast love and patience, and for the people he placed around me who supported me with the utmost love and long suffering.

 

In my next post I will share how I recovered, along the physical and non-physical steps that are required to move toward complete recovery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peace Like a River (pt. 2)

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This is part two of a two-part series on peace. You can read part one here.

When do you feel most at peace?

Have you ever felt a lack of peace, even though your situation is actually very peaceful?

Beth Moore shares this great perspective on peace:

“I believe peace comes in situations completely surrendered to the sovereign authority of Christ. Sometimes when we finally give up trying to discover all the answers to the whys in our lives and decide to trust the sovereign God, unexpected peace washes over us like a summer rain. We sometimes lack peace in far less strenuous circumstances because we are not as desperate or likely to turn them over to God.” source

Have you ever experienced this peace paradox?  I know I have.

In the midst of work and a full load of classes, I’ve seen the power of God’s peace that “surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) despite what can be quite stressful circumstances.

At the same time, I have also had times in life where I am not very busy at all, and yet my peace level runs dangerously low.

One of my most favorite paintings is Miranda (The Tempest) by John William Waterhouse

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I see this painting as a beautiful metaphor for peace. In this image, although chaos swirls around Miranda, she appears to be standing steadfast and at peace on solid ground.

Regardless of whether or not your circumstances are peaceful, you can still be at peace.

We all have things that test our peace. Thankfully, we can choose how we deal with these things.

I’ve found that taking time to get up early in the morning to saturate myself with God’s word, to pray, and to surrender my day to God, makes all the difference. Without submitting to God and letting him direct my life, I am much more likely to turn to worry before I turn to him.

Sure, getting up early in the morning may cause me to be more tired than if I had gotten 30 extra minutes of sleep.

But, I can promise you that being a little extra tired with a mind renewed by God’s Word and rejuvenated by spending time with him, is so much better than being well-rested and anxious/stressed/worried. 

(If you can be well-rested and have time to spend in God’s Word, that’s even better!)

Finally, I love what Pastor and author John Bevere writes:

“The intimacy God wants to share with us increases as we release to Him our unmet needs and our expectations of others and ourselves. It occurs by degrees as we surrender our mind, emotions, and will to Him. It occurs in obedience to His will as we look to Him moment by moment for inspiration and accept His equipping and His empowerment. He intends that His grace should infuse every aspect of our lives.” source

I encourage you to delve more into this intimacy with God. Enjoying his presence and surrendering your needs and fears to him brings amazing peace and strength even in the most trying times.

 

 

Peace Like a River (pt. 1)

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(source)

Many have said this before, and I will say it again:

Your circumstances do not have the power to determine your peace unless you let them.

Isaiah 48:18 says

“If only you had paid attention to my commands,

your peace would have been like a river,

your righteousness like the waves of the sea.”

In response to this, Beth Moore writes:

“God’s Word doesn’t say peace like a pond. If we were honest, we might admit to thinking of peaceful people as boring. We may think, I’d rather have an exciting life! Beloved, few bodies of water are more exciting than rivers! When was the last time you saw white-water rapids? We can have active, exciting lives without suffering through a life of turmoil. To have peace like a river is to have security and tranquility while meeting the many bumps and unexpected turns on life’s journey. Peace is submission to a trustworthy Authority, not resignation from activity.(source)

Preach!

As someone who loves excitement, but also craves safety and security, I see this as an amazingly refreshing way to look at peace.

1 Peter 5:7 exhorts, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

What an amazing God we have!  1 Peter doesn’t say, “Give all your worries and cares to God, because he says so” or “because that’s the right thing to do.”  No, 1 Peter says that we should give our worries to God because he cares about us.

I don’t know about you, but I find it so much easier to share my thoughts, feelings, worries, and cares with someone when I trust them and I know they truly love and care about me.

Maybe you know that God cares about you more than anyone else, as his word says. Maybe you know you can trust him, but still you find yourself shying away from surrendering your worries to him.

From what little I know, I would say that it’s because a habit hasn’t been built of being in a constant relationship with God where you share those worries, and ask for his peace.

Being in a relationship with God is not exactly the same as being in a relationship with a human being, but it does still require that we invest time and effort, and build trust.

We know we can trust God, but do we live as though we can?

Just like we can know exercise is healthy, but still not do it, cognitively, we may know that God is trustworthy and loving, and that we can cast our cares on him, but still not put that into practice.

Hebrews 4:16 says

“Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

We need God.

John 14:26 says that God’s Spirit is the Comforter. We need God’s mercy and grace to help us surrender our cares to his comfort and direction.

Today I encourage you to take some time to pray.  If any worries, negative thoughts, or anxieties come up, talk to God about them.  Surrender them to him, and know that he cares for you.

He is the most perfect father/counselor/friend/comforter you can ever know!

The Secret to Thriving: The Importance of Gratitude

As I enter into the last couple weeks of this school year, I am reminded of the importance of gratitude.

 

Here is how the Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gratitude:

 

*Gratitude: the state of being grateful; thankfulness.*

 

I love this quote about gratitude:

 

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.”
― Alphonse Karr

 

In “thorny” times, times of stress or hardship, gratefulness enables us to better thrive and survive.

 

I can complain that I have a huge number of final projects coming up that seem impossible to complete, and that right now I’m sitting in my bed writing this because I’m sick with some sort of cold.  Or, I can rejoice!  (No, I’m not crazy!)

 

I can rejoice because I have the opportunity to go to school, to live in New York City, to show how much I’ve learned over the past semester, and to learn how to better discipline myself in time management so I can get enough sleep and not get sick.

 

One of my business professors said something really profound:

 

“The hard things shout at us, but the daily blessings and gifts whisper.”

 

She went on to say, that “when we approach conflict (and other hard situations) with gratitude instead of anger, we can be grateful that we are solid in Christ no matter what the outcome.”

 

Proverbs 16:24 says,

“Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

 

Gratefulness enables us to fight against negativity, and to strengthen ourselves with joy and positivity.  It gives life to our bones, and to people around us.

 

Life is not easy.  Sometimes it seems downright cruel (just watch or read all the horrible stories in the news), but we have the power to choose how we respond to and think about the things that happen to us.

 

In addition to this, we have a God who dearly loves us and empathizes with us.  Hebrews 4:15-16 declares:

 

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

 

Today, I encourage you to think about at least three things that you are thankful for, and leave a comment to proclaim that gratefulness.  If you want a bigger challenge, think of three things to be grateful for that are directly related to a hard situation in your life.

 

This week, I pray that you experience the power of gratefulness!