Let me be honest with you guys, when I hear the word scale or weight my stomach drops. As a college cheerleader for two years I put my worth in the number on the scale and was always discouraged.
I grew up as a competitive cheerleader and quickly realized my big dream in life was to be a college cheerleader. I made it onto a nationally ranked cheer team in Texas at Navarro College. What I thought were going to be my dream years quickly turned my world upside down. Within a span of two years I got hurt, had surgery, was fighting an eating disorder, made many mistakes, got diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, and had to walk away from cheer due to health issues. I was so lost. I was so broken. But God redeems. God heals. God saves.
Have you ever thought “If only this one thing could change about me then I would be happy?” For me it was if only I was skinnier then I would be happy, I would be enough. If I could drop 5 lbs, I would be worthy. Even if I lost those 5 lbs, I know I would’ve found something else I wanted to change.
Now think, have you ever looked at God’s creation such as nature and thought “Wow that’s beautiful.” The sunsets, the mountains, the flowers, the clouds, and the trees – all God’s creation. Well guess what, YOU are God’s creation too so love and appreciate the beautiful masterpiece God knitted together.
There were many steps I took in order to allow God to help me back on my feet. Here’s a few that might help someone out there struggling like I was:
1. Surrender it all to God. We are not in control (thank goodness) so give it up. Whether it be an eating disorder, comparison issues, a break up, shame, an addiction, an illness, depression, or body image issues I challenge you to give it up, surrender. Stop trying to carry a burden you aren’t made to carry alone. Jeremiah 10:23 clearly states that we are not in control, the Lord is to guide us. “LORD, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps…”
2. Seek the right help. When I was facing my eating disorder the first people I told replied in a way that I felt like it was not a big deal. It was not until I told a mentor and my mom that they helped me get the help I needed. It is not wrong to ask for help, just make sure you’re asking for help from the right people. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” In this context let’s focus on seek and you will find, seek the right support and God will bring someone into your life that can help. I personally sought out a Christian counselor and a mentor who I met with (sometimes virtually) multiple times a week.
3. Don’t hold onto the past. I used to keep clothes from freshman year of high school in hopes I would get that small again. I bought clothes that were too small in hopes that I would fit into them later. When I surrendered all things to God I felt convicted of this. I was idolizing what I used to be, and what I used to look like. I got rid of all the clothes that did not fit me and began to buy clothes that were true to my body and that were more modest. This not only brought a renewal of my mind but I wasn’t “squeezing” into clothes everyday so I was more confident. This was a way for me to forget the past, to move forward, and to begin to love who God made me to be and give myself grace. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
4. Nourish and cherish your body. Food is to nourish your body. Working out is to celebrate all your body can do. Both are to keep the body God created strong and healthy. They are not to punish your body. There is no need to restrict yourself from foods you love or punish yourself by “burning it off” afterwards. I used to go on diets as a disguise to simply eat less, not healthy mentally or physically. Focus on healthy – what is fuel for your body? What movement helps you feel better? What do you enjoy? Focus on what you can do and what you can fuel your body with, not what you can’t.
5. Surround yourself with the right people. Not just in person, but online too. Who do you follow? Be intentional about who you seek out and who you let in. I had to go outside my comfort zone and find a church I knew no one at, get to know people and sign up for a small group with other college aged girls. I found some great Godly people in my same town that I could turn to when I was having a bad day or week. Make a list of the top 10 people you spend the most time with, then put a + or a – next to their name based on if they are a positive influence in your life or not. Always strive to have more positives than negatives. If someone’s post or story shows up and you start to compare or get down on yourself, you might want to stop following them. Follow people you strive to be as a person and as a Christian, as a girlfriend or someday wife. Looks will come and go, character is lifelong.
6. Remember who your Creator is. You are created in God’s image. When we complain and compare it’s as though we are telling God that he didn’t do a good job. You are precious in His sight. When you feel fear, lean into His faith. When you feel weak, grab onto His strength. When you feel resentment or jealousy, draw from His love. His grace is sufficient when we can’t seem to find any. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
7. Affirmations. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:27
Let’s focus on the end of this verse, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” In order to love others well, we must first love ourselves the way God intended. What we believe we become, so it starts with what we believe about ourselves. In order to change what you believe about yourself, you have to start telling yourself truth. The only truth we can rely on is the word of God. We talk to ourselves more than anyone else does on any given day. What we repeatedly tell ourselves becomes a belief, even if it isn’t true. I love to write out positive statements or promises from God about who I am and who I am capable of being through Christ. Put them on your phone, on your mirror, on your desk, in your car or wherever you look frequently. Be intentional with your words and thoughts, over and over and with time, your outlook will change. Once your outlook changes, your outcomes can too.
God saved you by His grace. Read and memorize Ephesians 2:8-10. There is nothing you can do or change to make you more worthy of God’s grace right now. God created each of us uniquely so we can play a unique role in His plan. If you find yourself starving for joy like I was, start with some of these steps above and most importantly focus on finding things to be grateful for each and every day.
I am perfectly imperfect (and still fighting through the negative thoughts and attacks) and still fully accepted by God. You are perfectly imperfect, fully accepted, loved, and cherished by your heavenly Father. Keep showing up, keep fighting, and don’t ever forget that YOU are loved!
Stay original my sisters.
Kassidy cheered in college at Navarro College and is now a personal trainer while using fitness to lead others to Christ. She strives to encourage women to be confident in who God created them to be. She lives in Arizona currently and loves cooking, working out, flowers, and boba!
Follow Kassidy on Instagram @kassidywarnol