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Today’s No Fat Talk Tuesday post comes to us from Melissa. Melissa is a fellow ISU grad and I feel like I’ve gotten to know her through the e-mails we have exchanged over the last handful of months. Melissa’s story is incredibly touching and personal and I’m so happy to have her share with everyone today. Thank you, Melissa! – Madison

I’ve wanted to share my story for a long time, yet part of me holds back. How do I put into words what’s been such a huge part of my life? Do I really want everyone to see my imperfections?  I also wanted to wait until I had overcome and perfected my struggles.  But I’m learning that life is an ever changing process, not a state of perfection to be reached.  There will be days when I love my body, but there will also be days when I’m not as kind with myself as I should be.  Sometimes I feel like I have so far yet to go, but when I stop and look back I see how far I’ve really come.  No Fat Talk Tuesday is the perfect opportunity to find encouragement regardless of where you’re at in the process.

I can’t pinpoint when everything started, it was a slow gradual change.  In college I decided to start eating healthier and exercising regularly.  I had more energy and felt great so I continued, thinking more meant better. Each day I would eat a little less and exercise a little more.  The numbers on the scale continued to drop but so did my energy and concentration.  I still wasn’t happy with my body and told myself I just needed to lose a few more pounds and then I would stop.  This continued for quite some time until I was finally ready to admit I’d gone too far.  I promised myself I would make changes, try harder and stop mistreating my body.  I wanted to stop and I knew exactly what the problem was, but by that time the habits had formed and I was no longer in control.

Being a food science major also going for a minor in nutrition I had just enough knowledge to be dangerous.  I knew exactly what I needed to do as far as food and exercise were concerned, but knowing and doing are two different things.  Since I already knew the answers I didn’t want help and told myself I just needed to try a little harder.

I didn’t believe the people who told me I could die. I remember telling them, “Don’t worry, I feel fine.  I’m not going to die!”  Looking back, I realize what a miracle it is that I’m still alive.  Eventually I realized how exhausted I was.  I was tired of having no energy, tired of constantly thinking about food and overanalyzing everything I ate, tired of trying each day and failing, tired of hating myself.

To make a long story short I agreed to withdraw from classes and go to a treatment program at a hospital.  Thankfully, it wasn’t half as scary as I had imagined it to be.  It was almost like going to school to learn how to take care of myself.   I learned so much about life and myself during that time.  Don’t get me wrong, it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever been through.  Looking back I realize I’ve finally reached a point where I’m thankful for my experience and all it has taught me.

Happiness is not tied to the size or shape of your body.  Confidence does not come from a number on a scale (or whatever else you may struggle with: achievements, approval of others, money, status, alcohol, drugs, sex, etc).  My weight has been all over the charts yet I was never satisfied with any number.  I’m learning that only God can satisfy my deepest desires and calm my fears and insecurities.  True beauty starts deep within from a peace only God can provide.  Only He can truly fill the emptiness inside each of us.

Life is a gift to be enjoyed, not wasted obsessing over a body that won’t last.  No Fat Talk Tuesday is a reminder to stop the fat talk and enjoy what really matters in life.  Instead of working towards unrealistic ideals that will leave me empty, I can choose to embrace my unique characteristics and use my gifts and abilities to enjoy life.

Some days I wonder if I’ll ever really like my body.  Then I remember I’ve already wasted too much time waiting for the “liking” and missing out on the “doing”.  Confidence and self-esteem will not come at a certain size or number but rather from jumping into the adventure of life.  Take a risk, be curious, look for excitement, practice the art of being content and count your blessings are daily reminders I need to hear.  While I don’t have this all down yet, I’m learning to find a healthy balance one mistake at a time.  We were created for so much more than obsessing over appearance or striving for perfection.   Discovering what really matters in life makes all the difference.  It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

If you’re interested in sharing your No Fat Talk Tuesday story, I would love to hear from you! Send me an e-mail (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com) for more information!

After sharing my body confidence story last week, I got a lot of e-mails and questions asking about resources to aid in building body confidence. I thought that for today’s No Fat Talk Tuesday, I would put together a list of some of my favorite sites and books, both old and new, that are doing great work in supporting women and promoting self confidence in the right way. Leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions for people to check out!

Darling Magazine | darlingmagazine.org
Living Proof Ministries | Website
So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore | Find it on Amazon Here
Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth | Find it on Amazon Here
Operation Beautiful | Website
Oh She Glows – Journey To Health Series | Website 
Wonderfully Made | Website

Today’s “No Fat Talk” post is a first and comes to us from a male reader! I’m excited to share with you a different perspective and face to fat talk today. I’m not sure how many guys read Espresso and Cream, but I think that both men and women can learn a lot by reading Tyler’s story. It really made me realize that although I tend to think guys are immune to talking negatively about their bodies, that’s simply not true. Thanks for sharing, Tyler! -Madison

Hello to you all, my  name is Typer Pieper. I’m a single 20-something Nurse’s Aid currently residing in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I love leading a simple life, though it is not a life that is lacking adventure! I love to do crossword puzzles, love the smell of fresh linen, I love to decorate and I love spending my quiet time with the Lord. Above most anything, I simply love to love. I rarely “like” anything because I’m an all-in or an all-our kind of guy. I find empowerment and fulfillment in helping other people though life’s many trials, both expected and blind-siding. I believe there is beauty in living life below your means, and a way to do it without giving up or suppressing your dreams of, “the good life,” because to me that means any day that I am willed to take another breath. I often catch myself saying that I’ve been saved by the grace of God * my Northwest-Iowan charm (being that I’m a proud born and raised Iowa boy). There was a time when my faith wasn’t so strong, and so begins my No Fat Talk story.

Many people believe that men don’t go through the same issues with weight and appearance as women do. Bogus. As a child I never really worried about what or how much of anything I put into my body…mostly because being a child you’re not in control of the situation, but that’s just it. As an adult, you have complete control (with the help of the Big guy upstairs) over your health and wellness. I was that kid who had abs just because he was so skinny, but that quickly changed. Like many others, it all started in middle-school when you begin to notice her and she began to notice you. It’s human nature to want to look good, feel good and be desirable. I gained a lot of weight in those years and as a result of an overwhelming depression and sadness. I reached my highest peak my junior year of high-school at 285 pounds. The thing I’ve heard most often when I would share my story is, “Well, you’re 6’5″…you carry your weight well. You can hide it.” Though there isn’t a complete absence of truth in the statement, everyone’s body is constructed differently. I know now that it’s all part of a grander design on God’s part in making each and every one of us unique.

When I had finally had enough of feeling down about myself, I sought refuge in the world of television, internet and anything that had to do with celebrities and looking great. The wrong place to look. I was obsessed with the celebrity culture! It became too much at times, but I kept on keeping on because whatever I was doing was working. By the time I left for college, I was wrapped up in a lifestyle that truthfully brainwashed me and made me a person that I didn’t like… or love. I must admit that something that impressed me was that I kept a mild level-head on my sinful journey. I’d like to think that was God with me the entire time. I was skinny, I had flawless skin, and along with that a soul so empty that I couldn’t satisfy even the most vagrant of people. It was all about appearance. If you looked good, people liked you.

I was burned time and time again by the people I surrounded myself with, and I started to realize that I had no clue who Tyler was anymore. Heck, I didn’t even know who I was trying to be. It was such a superficial world that I was living in. When the tragedy that is love & heartbreak struck my life, I decided that I needed to make a change. Being the “all in or all out” kind of guy that I am, I made a big one. Instead of being a whopping seven hours away from those who were loving me unconditionally for who they knew the good Lord made me to be; God literally picked my skinny, fake-baked butt up and placed me where I find myself today.

Though my story may come off as more of a “life struggles” piece, it’s as real as the next person’s. Moving back to the area truly allowed me to connect with myself, or should I say reconnect… but more importantly allowed me to reconnect with God. I had ignored him for long enough, and he has continued to bless me beyond my wildest imagination. He’s put friends in my life that have remained true for the months that I’ve lived here, and that is what keeps me going on this journey of both physical and spiritual health. I’ve developed a new hobby of cooking with my good friend Claire. We’ve had some bogus creations, but most notably brad about our Asian Quinoa Salad… to die for.

It’s just about living a healthy lifestyle all around. Lifestyle is defined as: the way in which a person or group lives. Spiritual and physical health are ways of life, and I’ve found success in merging the two. God has given me the strength to stray away from the stereotypical ideals of a superficial society and allowed me to be the best me that I can be. I’m fulfilling my purpose day by day. No I’m not the most in-shape guy on earth, and no I don’t have it all together, but one thing I know for sure is that this man right here is as close to God as he’s ever been… and happy with the body he gave me.

If you’re interested in sharing your “No Fat Talk” story with E&C readers, e-mail me (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com) for more information! I would love to talk with you further. -Madison

I don’t know about you, but now that we’re nearing the halfway point of the year I’ve been feeling the need to re-commit myself to my “No Fat Talk” pledge for 2012. Over the past couple months, I’ve found myself mumbling unkind words about my body or myself under my breath. Or letting a “Do my thighs look huge in this?” to Joe here and there. It may not seem like a big deal, but I want to stop these little words and thoughts in their track, to re-gain the ground that may be slipping ever so slightly while I become less diligent.

A couple months ago, I started reading a book that has been slowly transforming the way I think about my body, self image, and all that goes with it. I took a long hard look at my “fat talk” and realized that at the core of those words was a deep insecurity about myself that was allowing those thoughts to thrive. I had heard great things about Beth Moore’s So Long Insecurity and had done several of her Bible studies in the past. I’m about half way through the book, and I can’t say enough great things about the words of encouragement and wisdom shared by Beth. If you’re looking for an extra dose of encouragement, I would strongly suggest picking this book up. I’ve been keeping track of the pearls of wisdom I read, and I wanted to share a few of them as an encouragement to you today.

-Madison

Dynamic creatures that we are, we are ever changing and ever spiraling up – or down. Please don’t misunderstand. God forbid that we live life in a vicious cycle of gaining ground and losing it. I’ve learned some lessons in the last decades, and I hope to heaven I don’t ever have to relearn them. However, I’ve never arrived at a place where injury or uncertainty no longer issues an invitation to some pretty serious self-doubt even when I make the tough decision not to bite the bait. I still get thrown for a loop more easily that I would like and find myself in a temporary but painful setback of insecurity – one that affects me too chronically to deny that something is broken somewhere. I tend to respond with a classic case of devastation. “I know better than this,” I chide. “I can’t believe I’ve fallen for this again. My head knows good and well that this doesn’t define me. Why can’t I get that message to my heart?”

Listen carefully: the enemy of our souls has more to gain by our setbacks than by our succumbing to an initial assault. The former is infinitely more demoralizing. Far more liable to make us feel hopeless and tempt us to quit. We can rationalize – even truthfully – that an initial assault caught us by surprise. Setbacks, on the other hand, just make us feel weak and stupid: I should have conquered this by now. I happened on a question not long ago that perfectly expresses this mentality: How many times must I prove myself an idiot? 

I hate that I can still be so easily shaken, and somehow I convince myself that if I could just develop a healthy enough psyche, life couldn’t touch me. I’d be completely immovable. One thing keeps nagging at me, though. A man with an incomparable heart for God once confessed, “When I felt secure, I said, ‘I will not be shaken.’ O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed” (Psalm 30: 6-7)

…To be honest, I don’t know whether you and I are at a common place right now. I just have a hunch. See if this sounds like something that could erupt from your own pen: I’m sick to death of insecurity. It’s been a terrible companion. A very bad friend. It promised to always think of me first and meticulously look out for my best interests. It vowed to stay focused on me and help me not get hurt or forgotten. Instead, insecurity invaded every part of my life, betrayed me, and sold me out more times that I can count. It’s time I got healthy enough emotionally to choose my lifelong companions better. This one needs to get dumped. … Thank God, a time comes in a willing life when you’re ready to face a Goliath-sized foe all by itself and fight it to the stinking death.

Taken from So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore

 

After taking last week off from “No Fat Talk Tuesday” because of server migration issues, I’m happy to return to the series with an amazing and moving post from Liza. The line that hit me most in Liza’s post was when she said, “I quit fighting so hard to measure up to an external idea of perfection and beauty…and I started fighting a battle against my internal insecurities.” Amen! What a beautiful perspective. Thanks for sharing, Liza! – Madison  

Hello, friends!  My name is Liza Jane DeYounge.  I’m a wife to Mark, and I blog at Elle Jay.  I love strong coffee, epic movies, deep conversation, space heaters, quiet moments, simple design, long naps, and all things warm.  Now that I am twenty-nine, I can finally say that I love myself too – but it hasn’t come easy!

Like many of you, I grew up hating a million things about myself.  Though I wanted to be a toned, athletic, volleyball player with long, shiny hair and a football-playing boyfriend, I was a single band geek with nodular acne and cellulite.  Fun, fun.

I spent years and years and hours and hours compensating for my imperfections and insecurities.  I applied layers and layers of makeup, teased my hair, tried on twenty outfits hoping to find just one that made my hips look smaller…  And just when I thought my hours of primping had paid off and felt confident enough to walk out the door, I’d run into another girl who, of course, happened to be prettier.  Smack.  My confidence was back in the gutter for the rest of the week.

In college, the pressure was too much.  I was lost in a sea of hundreds of “more beautiful” faces and felt insignificant and worthless.  I couldn’t spend enough hours in front of the mirror primping and poking and teasing to measure up to all the gorgeous girls around me.  I just couldn’t keep up.

So I quit.

I quit fighting so hard to measure up to an external idea of perfection and beauty…and I started fighting a battle against my internal insecurities.  I quit hating myself for who I wasn’t…and I started searching for the things I was.

As a Christian, I believe I was created by a wonderful Maker who isn’t in the business of making junk.  He makes beautiful things for beautiful purposes.  Instead of fighting so hard to measure up to toned volleyball players and People Magazine’s idea of beauty, I’ve spent much more time fighting to discover the Real Beauty and Real Purpose inside of me.

I took baby steps.  One by one, I threw away all my fashion magazines.  Later, I stopped watching pageants and romantic reality TV shows.  I wanted to be rid of as many “voices” in my life that weren’t speaking the truth about the way I looked or who I was as a woman.  I surrounded myself with friends who could encourage me and hold me accountable.

As I grew more confident, I began to face some of my insecurities head on.  Though I hated how big my nose was, and I preferred not to draw attention to it, I went to war against the insecurity, and I got my nose pierced!  Though I hated how my butt looked even in matronly swimming suits, I drug my best friend into Wal-Mart and said, “We’re not leaving until I buy a bikini and wear it all weekend at the lake!”

As more years have passed, I’ve started to make choices about my life’s direction and about my appearance that better suit me.  I threw away my hip-hugging summer shorts and traded them all in for cute skirts.  I drastically dyed my hair from bleachy blonde to dark brown.  I spend a little less time pressuring myself to work out and I spend more time investing in and mentoring younger women.

And now?  Now, I am in a season of celebrating my uniqueness and individuality!  Yes, others may be able to play volleyball and sport six packs and get away with no makeup.  But, praise the Lord, He has made myhands to make beautiful art.  He’s made my eyes my favorite color of green!  My hands can rock the piano.  My voice can sing and lead people in worship.  My mind is creative and thoughtful and discerning.  My heart is soft and passionate.

Have you ever heard this quote by Albert Einstein?  “Everybody is a genius.  But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  That’s some good stuff, folks.   I believe that everyone is beautiful.  It breaks my heart that I wasted so much time judging myself in my inability to measure up to a false idea of beauty.  Fish were not made to climb trees.  And, I was not made to be someone else.  I was made to be ME, and from now on, I’m doing all I can to ROCK being me.

If you’re interested in sharing your No Fat Talk Tuesday story, e-mail me (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com) for more information! 

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