The topics of fitness, nutrition and body image are tender areas, and affect almost all women. And while we know we shouldn’t be consumed with our outward appearances, we also know that an outward appearance can be a reflection of an inner commitment and respect for something, and it should be the same with our bodies. However, as woman we are getting bombarded with all kinds of messages regarding our bodies and how we should feel about them. Sadly, those messages are generally incorrect and typically rather shallow. The world will tell you that it’s important to eat right and exercise so that you can “look good”; so you can be proud of your three digit number on the scale, and that when you have reached the “right” numbers, you will suddenly be perfectly happy. Frankly, it can be a little self-absorbed.

But let’s be honest. We’ve all longed for that acceptance from society. That three digit number has been part of our goals in the past, and sometimes, even as LDS Women, those messages are so loud that we forget to really seek out what the Lord thinks about this topic. Does the Lord think health and fitness are important for his daughters? YES! But for entirely different reasons than what you are being told by the world. The goal to be healthy is noble, but our reasons need to elevate and broaden.

We’ve got to start thinking SPIRITUALLY about this topic of our physical bodies.

Our Heavenly Father does not care so much about what we look like. We are beautiful to Him, every one of us, but He sure does care about how we feel, and as women, those two things are pretty correlated. I, personally, I had to throw out my scale because it kind of alarmed me how strong of emotions I felt based off of numbers, whether I viewed them as good or bad. They were just numbers, but I had given them power to influence my entire day.

How attached are you to your number? Are you allowing the world to label you a certain way; like that number says anything about who you are on the inside and what kind of footprint you are leaving on this earth? Or are you the one clinging to your number? Attaching your self-worth to it?

There are things we don’t know about this gospel and how everything is going to play out, but there is one thing I know for certain. When we stand before our Savior to account for our lives here on earth, I’m sure there will be a lot of questions asked of us. But there is one question I am POSITIVE He will not ask us…….and that is……. “Would you please step on the scale?”

If you feel like this is an area of struggle for you, please know that you are not alone. Whether you are down on one end of the continuum of having not focused on your health in YEARS, or you are the other end where you have to be at the gym every day and think obsessively about every bite of food going into your mouth, please know most all women struggle at some level with their body and food relationships and finding that sweet spot in the middle, where we can truly thrive, takes a lot of thought, prayer and intention. But as we begin to understand and focus on the doctrine behind these bodies and this mortal existence, I believe that real change becomes possible, and we can become liberated from this emotionally draining battle for contentment.

Our bodies are a gift from God, to help us in this mortal life return to Him and become more like Him. However, if we are constantly preoccupied with manipulating the size & shape of our bodies, or aren’t caring for them at all, are we really utilizing that gift? As Diane Spangler suggests, “The purpose of the body is to help us learn, progress, serve, and glorify the Giver of the gift: God. Too often, however, people mistakenly presume that the body is intended to glorify the self.”

Our health and fitness are important to God, and it should be important to us. I want to use my body to be a profitable servant to Him, and if my reasons for being healthy become more about HIM, than just about me, my heart and mind begin to shift. This isn’t supposed to be about LOOKS. I don’t want to be healthy so that people can talk nice about me. I want to be healthy, and God wants me to be healthy, so that I can fill the measure of my creation.

And speaking of creation….What’s the first story in the Bible? Eve and an apple. Woman vs. food, right from the beginning! And we know how grateful we should be to Eve for the decision she made, but I can’t help but laugh when I realize the first recorded temptation in the history of the word is Satan using a piece of food to tempt a woman. Truly, we are not alone.

So often when we hear the question, “Why did we come to earth?” people rattle off the Sunday school answer of, “To gain a body.”, but wouldn’t it be implied that the rest of that sentence should be, “….and to be a wise steward over it”.   God expects us to be a wise steward over everything he blesses us with. So maybe instead of asking ourselves the question, “How much do I weigh?” we need to start asking ourselves, “Am I being a wise steward over my body”?

Now here is the kicker. As with all things in this world, if this is important to God, it becomes suddenly important to Satan. Now don’t get me wrong. Satan doesn’t care how you look or what your three digit number is anymore that God does. He only cares that we are distracted. He only cares that we are spending our days feeling badly about ourselves and using all our emotional energy and thoughts on this topic, rather than on others, or on God.

When we left our Heavenly Father, He gave us two amazing gifts: our bodies and our free agency. Do we realize how blessed we are to have those two things? And how directly correlated they are? If we are not careful, the decisions we make in managing our bodies can literally take away our feelings of free agency, which is Satan’s greatest desire.

I love how this scripture reminds us of the divine purpose for our bodies, and pleads us not to forget it.

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2

Can we renew our minds on this topic? Can we start thinking more spiritually about it? And remember, “We were designed to find our fullest satisfaction not in front of the mirror, but in front of God”. –John Piper

It’s time we stop the cycle of yo-yo dieting, body shaming, body obsession and/or neglect and embrace these bodies with a confidence that can only come from understanding our divine purpose here on earth. And if we are deeply troubled on this topic, can we consider really taking this burden to the Lord in prayer. He wants to help us, knowing full well that Satan is trying to use these mortal bodies against us. Let us allow the grace and mercies of Christ to touch this part of our lives as women. As Elder Holland so beautifully stated, “The grace of Christ offers us not only salvation from sorrow and sin and death….but also salvation from our own persistent self-criticism.”

I believe with all my heart that if we can change our reasons for health and fitness, we can begin to change our results, and therefore become more useful to God and His purposes.

Cheyenne Hayes

 

Cheyenne Hayes is a wife, mother, business owner, athlete and proud member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She grew up in the Pacific Northwest and lives in Washington State with her husband of 18 years, Will, and their three children ages 17, 14, 10. Cheyenne is a State and National Racquetball Champion and owns a successful restaurant with her husband. Cheyenne directs the marketing and accounting for their growing business but also takes a deep interest in intentional living, diet and daily exercise. She is an avid backpacker, has played piano for 30 years and loves to sing. Cheyenne is deeply passionate about life-long learning, studying the Gospel and sharing her testimony of Jesus Christ with others.

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