I have a confession to make: I fall for weight loss gimmicks. I can’t count the number of times I’ve filled out a survey to find my “perfect weight loss plan,” only to abandon after giving them my email address.
This leads to an inbox full of “opportunities” for weight loss. I scan them for usable ideas…and then press delete. Most of the time.
But, similarly, I frequently receive a message from someone named Chris. And too often, I open it because I mistake it for legitimate communication. I click to see pictures of tarot cards captioned by a few sentences that spew some garbage about “forecasting my future.” The red link begs me to “act fast,” or my chances to see my future will disappear.
God’s word says witchcraft and sorcery are straight evil. I know to stay far away from these deceptive methods and mediums. The enemy is real and his team is working overtime to tempt and destroy believers, in part, through these “seemingly innocent” schemes. I know all this.
But, when I examine my heart, I find a sort of magic that I believe in. The magic of the “lose weight fast” emails is one kind of magic I’m too often tempted to follow.
Magic Diet Pills
Here’s how it goes.
I browse the Vitamin Shoppe, looking for some elderberry syrup to boost the kids’ immune system when Boom! I see it. How could I not see that bright yellow print popping off the bottle? The text reads: Lose weight fast! The natural way!
Hmm . . . It’s natural? Well, maybe I should check that out.
I pick up the bottle and turn it around. I wonder what’s in this? Scanning the ingredients, I read the manufacturer’s claims.
More energy? A faster metabolism? There’s nothing wrong with getting a little help in that arena, right?
Up to ten pounds in two weeks?
I hold the bottle in my hand, flip it over to read the price tag, and consider buying it. I want to believe in its magic.
I want to believe that inside that bottle is the answer to all of my worries and woe. I’m desperate to believe that just one little pill a day could take all my thoughts about food and my body away.
But, I know better. . .
Lead Me Not Into Temptation
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying all supplements are evil. I’m not equating your Plexus Slim to witchcraft. Please hear me out.
Rather, I know what my heart does with weight loss products. My default setting as a life-long dieter and woman who wrestles her body image is to believe that the next product will work and fix all my body problems. Forever.
It’s not just diet pills that tempt me. Every new workout program and every fad eating program lure me in. I fall for weight loss gimmicks. Regularly.
I’ve owned a Thigh Master, Ab Roller, Tae Bo videotapes (yes, I’m that old). I even had the Total Gym because, hey, if it worked for Christie Brinkley and Chuck Norris, surely it would work for me.
Weight Watchers weigh-ins and tracking my daily calories online were part of my life well before the FitBit was invented. I’ve eaten bagels all day to eat low fat, and bacon all day to “be” low carb. No white foods. No sugar. Fat-free (and taste free). My diet restrictions have changed more frequently than the narcissist changes her profile picture.
And, now that I’m just over forty, the impact of all this yo-yo dieting, calorie restriction and disordered eating catches up to me. I battle thyroid issues and Hashimoto’s autoimmune disorder. Though I haven’t found the precise study to prove it, I speculate that there’s a connection between the ways girls like me have dieted for decades and the way so many of us are experiencing thyroid burnout way too young.
Is there a cure?
I can train my brain to avoid diet pills. I can tell my husband, “Don’t let me go on another diet, please! Don’t let me fall for weight loss gimmicks!” And I can even try to find accountability in friends who will help me stick to an exercise program and not be lured into believing that the “next one” will be any better than the previous.
All of that will help, some. But, the problem is in my heart.
The obstacle is my idolatry. I struggle with body image idolatry.
The cure starts when I confess that I believe in magic. And, that, at its root, is sin.
The sin is that I believe a real miracle in my life will come when I no longer have to worry about my weight. I believe that a transformation of my body will do more to improve my life than anything else I could conceive. I believe a lie.
Truth is, losing some weight could be better for me physically. I’m not against weight loss. Be healthy.
But, the deeper truth is that my imagination doesn’t care about health. My heart’s desires are exposed when I daydream about being thinner. My idolatry uncovers itself through the stealth ways my heart believes I’ll have more love, joy, peace and happiness. . . if only I could lose weight.
False Salvation Versus Real Salvation
I subscribe to a false salvation. A magical plan that tells me that looking more like a model, having the body of the woman in the “after” photo instead of the “before” will lead to a better life.
As a “thin” woman more people will respect me.
When I’m “thin” my husband will love me more.
If I looked that great in a swimsuit, I’d be a better mom, a more active one. And, wow! When I’m that thin I’ll finally be free to stop worrying about diets, and exercise, and magic pills that will make me skinny in twenty-one days.
It’s as silly as hocus pocus. As ridiculous as believing the magician actually sawed the woman in half. As crazy as thinking that the deck of cards isn’t stacked or ordered in a way that reveals your hidden card to the man in the black suit.
Real salvation comes through Christ alone. Real relief for the pain of “I’m not good enough” comes not from significant weight loss but from time learning my identity can be established in Jesus alone.
The only magic that will save me is the miracle of the transformation He can do on the inside, not the out.
**Want to learn more about body image idolatry? Here’s a little video I did on You Tube to help explain it.
Want to find real freedom from your body image issues? Check out my book here and then join us on this journey to end comparison and body image struggles in our lives.
Great take on body image idolatry. God recently convicted me of this – along with other sinful behavior that is weight related. I am on the other end of the spectrum where I am already “thin” and under weight. I still don’t “feel” thin enough and my biggest obsession is how my stomach looks to others around me and to myself. It is sad. At the age of 55, I never thought I’d still be struggling with this but here I am. still. struggling. I know a lot of this relates to my need for perfectionism – another area that I am currently working on – some days it makes me want to give up and run for the hills. But that is the cowards way out. I appreciate all that you wrote and it helps me to continue my journey to not be obsessed with my body image and disordered eating habits.
Thanks so much, Karen. We’re all on this journey together!
“The sin is that I believe a real miracle in my life will come when I no longer have to worry about my weight.” This is so true. Thank you for sharing and speaking to this. As if everything becomes perfect and falls into place once you hit a magical number. It’s sin to believe that God cannot handle me or my life at a certain weight, or that my failure to achieve that weight means that I’ve failed God’s plan. Or that achieving or maintaining a certain weight is bigger than God’s plan for my life. I struggle with this everyday, and it’s most certainly idolatry. For me, working in the nutrition field, it’s particularly frustrating. People judge you for your weight. Rapidly reaching middle age and realizing that weight control is much harder when you’re not young anymore (even when you’re a professional expert at counting calories) and have had a child, and when your joints are having problems from too much exercise at a younger age (FYI–long distance running is really not good for you). There’s a feeling of loss of control and wondering if people/patients will take you seriously if you put on 10 or 20 pounds, despite your best efforts to the contrary. But what it comes down to is the realization that God is control of everything, including weight and how it affects my career. And to not believe that is the sin of disbelief. I have to believe there is a reason for all of this (trying to believe this as I type it out).
Thanks G for speaking into this. You are right . . .there is a plan that’s so much bigger than our number on the scale. Believing is an everyday discipline! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience!