Have you ever stopped and thought about the things you tell yourself and believe as truth?
Let me give you an example:
After my recent photoshoot, I got a comment on one of the photos saying: “You’re packing on some serious functional muscle, Marianne”.
This is what I read: “You’re getting fat!” – despite several other comments mentioning leanness and definition.
The person who wrote the comment was not calling me fat; it was a compliment, but because of LIES that I STILL tell myself (from time to time), I jumped to this train of thought “If I am “packing on serious muscle” this must mean I look bigger and “bigger” can only mean FAT and … fat is bad!”. Ladies and Gentlemen, one of the greatest lies I have been telling myself for 15 years is that in order to be accepted, noticed, liked, I must look a certain way ie: thin, small, lean, in proportion; not chunky, bloated, smooth etc.
BTW, some level of me is cringing as I confess this. You see, I feel, given my position (fitness professional and nurse and Christian), that I should have things figured out and have stopped letting these thoughts [LIES] rule my feelings. In one of my recent posts I declared the “Six Best Things I Have Done for my Body, Mind and Soul“. While on one hand I feel like a hypocrite by telling my reaction to the comment, I can see it is also good to illustrate the reality that life can be a bit of a war-zone at times; we must win battle by battle. Sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back, but we must never give up trying to develop ourselves and grow in maturity towards certain chronic issues. Thinking you have something covered is a big mistake – if it was an issue before it can creep up on you again – so we must take measures to reinforce our fortress. To use an example from my other article, I said one of the best things I have done was:
“I Stopped Focusing on Fat Loss (80% of the time)”
Do you know what is going on in my head the remaining 20% of the time? The above dialogue from my photo!
However, that is not even the root of the issue; the issue is WHY I jump to that train of thought instead of accepting the comment on face-value. The issue is that I still believe another Lie I told myself when I was about 15 years old – “I am too big”, then again in my late teens and early 20’s, I reinforced this lie with “I gain fat really easily”, “I’m massive compared to all my friends”, “I’m the fat one”. I have no idea why I started to think this way, but it’s a weed that needs to go!
Basically, in this last week, I have realised that it will take more than a switch of training focus to destroy those lies!
To fill you in on why I got thinking about all of this again starts with a course I am attending in a local church. The last 9 weeks or so we have been talking a lot about Strongholds in our lives – meaning the lies we believe from the deceiver, Satan. All Satan does is whisper them to us, but it is our choice right there and then to allow these lies to cripple our progress and happiness in life. It is my belief, that if we are down and out about ourselves and believe the garbage our negative thoughts tell us, that we will be more likely to stumble and fall into a life filled with more misery, discontentment where we seek only the pleasures of the world in order to cope (sex, drugs, FOOD, dependent relationships, even excessive exercise etc).
Whether you believe the same as me or not, I doubt anyone can deny the reality that letting our negative thoughts affect our feelings and actions is destructive to our lives.
To bring this example further, if I continue to believe the lie that I am fat and I can only be loved if I look a certain why, look at what will likely happen:
- I may begin to exercise excessively
- Extreme diet
- I may avoid social occasions that involve food
- I may feel unattractive (another lie)
- I may base my relationships with men on how attractive they make me feel and feel pressure to always look perfect
- I will be jealous of any attention my partner gives to someone else (based on how she looks) – assuming the worst!
- Because of this, he will feel I don’t trust him
- Because of this, the relationship will be in danger!
- I will feel insecure being naked and this carries many problems too
- Being self-conscious about my “problem areas” will make it impossible for my partner to compliment me without me reacting awkwardly and maybe saying “yeah right!” – rejecting a compliment is like telling the other person they’re a liar!
- I will let my feelings about how I look prevent me socialising (Confession: I have actually not gone out in the past because I felt fat that night!)
- I will assume that my relationship pivots on how I look and how sexy I appear – again this will often require me to measure myself against what society deems sexy/attractive/fit etc etc
- I may make poor choices about who I date
- I may make poor choices about when to have sex – or feel I have to in order to keep him – What a lie!
This list could go on and on … and that is just ONE of the lies I have been telling myself!
Stop the Lies by Announcing the Truth – for the Truth will set you free!
What is the truth?
The truth, on what I feel is a more superficial level of understanding, is that confidence is what’s attractive/sexy, or your abilities outrank your appearance. This is of course true and I have held this belief for a while now. I don’t think it is wrong to hold this view, and this understanding has helped weaken the lies, but they are still there … why?
Because I am relying on myself and other people to help me.
If I want to destroy the lie and its effects on my life, then I must accept I am cannot help myself without focusing on God and declaring the Truth:
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” Philippians (Ch 4: verse 13)
“You shaped me first inside, then out… Body and Soul, I am marvelously made!… I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm (several verses from Ch 139)
“What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.” 1 Peter (Ch 3: verse 4)
“So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.” 1 Peter (Ch 5: verse 6-7)
As I grow as a Christian, I deepen in my understanding of these Truths and I become better equipped to do His work.
You all know that I love helping others see and reach their potential and this blog started with a more superficial view of fitness at its heart. Boy have things changed! I like to use myself as an example because I want people to see that I am not just sitting behind my computer dictating things from a book – these are things I have come to realise the hard way – and I am still seeking more strength to deal with the many lies that pass through my mind. Some might wonder what all this God stuff has to do with fitness – I would argue, everything in someone’s life is interlinked (and being a Christian is my life now, which is why I can’t not mention it). Whatever is in your mind, won’t just make you act out in one area of your life – it spills into everything – which is why I gave a candid list of consequences above. These were things that happened to me! Now that I am a Christian, I cannot deny the changes in my life as they can only be credited to One; before this, I was a mess! How would anyone know the source of my strength, if I don’t declare my weakness?
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians (Ch 12: verse 9)
If I compartmentalize my life, and ONLY do Christian things with Christian people; or ONLY talk about fitness to fitness folk, then that’s like turning on a light during the day. Yes, we must still spend time with like-minded people, but also get out there and be an example; turn on a light in a dark room: Fitness-wise and Christian-wise alike! I know I bring fitness to the church and help people learn about that every chance I get – because I think people should look after the body that God has made – without health,we would be useless to others. Think about how these lies I believed could ruin both my personal life, my fitness journey/job AND may cause me to stray from my path with God on some detour I take to believe some lies that I’m fat??!! How can anyone not see that everything is related. If you are not a Christian, but feel strongly about health and fitness, do you not still try and lead by example?
I’m trying to give you an example of how we each have to find what is truly important to us, not what is imposed on us by others.
If you continue to believe the lies and negative self-talk, you will fail to see your true purpose and your true worth.
This article is simply me using my life as an example and to show the reason behind the changes I have seen. Hopefully, on some level, my experiences will help you – or a comment below can help me or someone else.
Don’t let the lies blind you anymore – write them out and then declare their opposite!
Thank you for reading my thoughts.