If you’re on social media at all, you’ve surely come across an image of a
Victoria’s Secretesque model accompanied by a quote like, “Nothing
tastes as good as skinny feels.”
At first blush, it’s easy to dismiss the images as nothing more than a
motivational poster, but Fitspo (fitness inspiration) and its cousin Thinspo have
caused quite a bit of concern on the World Wide Web, and for good reason. For
many, social media channels have become convening platforms to share tips and
motivation for sustaining eating disorders. In response to that perilous trend,
ban images that promote self-harm.
While that action is commendable, I fear the ongoing dissemination of
sensual, hard bodies and get-your-butt-off-the-couch quotes subtly damage even those
not suffering from eating disorders. In fact, the images perpetuated online
often have less to do with health and more to do with sensuality and a drive
for perfection our culture deems desirable.
I know we have an epidemic of obesity in our country and that we are called
to be good stewards of our bodies, but I’m concerned that we are consuming the
wrong inspiration without even a second thought. Scantily clad models online
should not be the standard by which we measure our worth or inspire our health.
To adopt those standards would be nothing more than bondage.
So what is a Christian woman to do at the start of a new year with health
and fitness goals at the top of her resolution list?
1. Take the Gospel with you.
I spent years believing a lie that if only I was strong enough, disciplined
enough, self-controlled enough, I could have the body of Giselle Bundchen.
Anything but perfection would be failure. I fear too many of us have bought
that lie as well. How can we be grace-proclaiming people while demanding
perfection in our bodies?
The truth is even when I reach every fitness goal I set, my body will be
mine — airbrush-free and imperfectly mine. I must have grace for that. Friends,
of all the things we take with us to the gym, let’s not forget to take the
Gospel with us.
2. Make it about virtue.
When I read blogger Kristen Howerton’s piece on what
fit looks like, I had to come to terms with the fact that good nutrition
and physical activity must be rewards in and of themselves. Sure, there will be
physical and emotional benefits to getting in shape, but perfection a-la
Pinterest is not guaranteed. What is guaranteed is improved health, stamina,
active adventures, increased self-control and discipline that will benefit me
even when the scale doesn’t budge.
3. Find value in what
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the
LORD is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).
This verse is so refreshingly realistic. Bodies are important. God fashioned
them (Psalm 139:19), His
Spirit dwells in them (1 Corinthians 6:19), as
His children He made us of body, mind and spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:23),
but our bodies are fading (2 Corinthians 4:16). Our
culture fights the realities of muffin-tops and wrinkles with boot camps and BOTOX,
but in the end, true beauty isn’t informed by your jean size, but in your heart
toward the Lord.
4. Find healthy role models.
Instead of idolizing Kate Moss, let’s find godly role models who are
pursuing health as a matter of good stewardship and not pride or insecurity.
Learn from women who have made nutrition and fitness a practical reality in
their homes and with their families. Be courageous and ask them to teach you,
and join them in these endeavors. These kinds of women have done more for me in
working toward victory in my health than any skinny post online.
5. Think before you post.
Are your fitness posts linking to anything beneficial? The Internet is
filled with wonderful resources like workout videos, nutritious recipes,
creative fitness routines, etc. If your posts are nothing more than a wish list
of tiny waists and chiseled abs, you may want to evaluate your motives for
health. Purpose to post images and tips that are helpful and encouraging,
instead of images that only echo guilt and shame or further the comparison game
we are prone to play when looking at svelte celebrities.
6. Let the Lord redefine your
For years we’ve blamed the media for promoting unrealistic standards for
women, but online mediums like Pinterest and Tumblr are evidence that we have
now adopted those images as our standards. We desperately need our mind to be
renewed by the Word of God and prayer. Condemnation is not of the Lord (Romans
8:1). Remember that He sees you as the righteousness of Christ, without
blemish (1 Corinthians 5:21).
Listen to His voice. It delights in you (Zephaniah 3:17) and then be
As we pursue health goals this year, let’s prioritize spending time at Jesus’
feet and let Him show us what He calls beautiful. Let’s be redemptive in our
pursuit of good health and be mindful of the “inspiration” we consume.
And again, let’s not forget to preach the Gospel of Christ’s grace to
ourselves, even as we Zumba.