Growing up, I was always an active girl. I took gymnastics and played basketball for as long as I can remember. My siblings and I ate fairly healthfully, but my parents were firm believers in “living a little” so Shipley’s Donuts became a Saturday morning tradition. It wasn’t until my senior year of high when I started attending group exercise classes that clearly fell in love with the idea and practice of fitness.
During this season, my best friend since first grade, Leslie, and I registered for our very first half marathon. We decided to run it together before heading off our separate ways to college. About this time, I also decided I was going to try out for the Baylor coed cheerleading team the spring of my senior year. I had never “dieted” in my entire life, but as I started reading more about clean eating, I decided I was going to watch my calorie intake and give up sweets before tryouts. On top of all this, I was training for the half marathon, and I unknowingly started to lose some weight. I had always been very average in size, so people started to say things to me like “Becca, have you lost weight?” and “You look really good!” Who doesn’t like to hear compliments?
Before I knew it, “watching what I ate” turned into a full-blown obsession.
I thought if I could lose “just 5 more pounds,” I would have some cushion because everyone had told me girls gain weight in college. Over the course of the next 5 months, those 5 pounds turned into about 25, and before I realized what was happening, I weighed 95 pounds and looked dangerously thin. I still ate, but probably only 700 calories a day, and I made sure to work out enough to burn off every single calorie I ate. I also became obsessed with the scale, weighing myself 3-5 times per day. Every time the number went down, I felt accomplished. But if the number went up, I felt like a failure. Before this time, I had never understood people who went through eating disorders. I simply thought, “Why can’t they just eat a hamburger?”
Then, an eating disorder hit me straight in the face, and I learned that it truly is an illness. My parents are amazing and were worried sick about me. My dad is one of the strongest men I know, and I have vivid memories of when he sat me down with tears in his eyes because he was so concerned. I knew I had a problem, but I also didn’t know how to get out it. The thing that many people don’t realize is that most people going through eating disorders are very aware of the issue and want so badly to be free. But they don’t know how. I remember sobbing in my room on my hands and knees praying, “Lord, please free me of this. I am miserable, but I don’t know how to be free.” I will never forget the Lord speaking over me in a way I had never experienced before that moment. As I cried out to Him in desperation, I heard His gentle yet powerful words: “Becca, I can do anything, but you also have want it and work with me. You have free will to walk in this sickness or to take steps towards freedom.”
A couple verses convicted my heart heavily during this time: “Both go to the same place – they came from and they return from dust.” Ecclesiastes 3:20
“Don’t you realize that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
In the battle, my chains were the scale. I knew in that moment exactly what I needed to do. I stood up from my puddle of tears and threw my scale away. I’m not going to lie and say ever since that moment I have been completely healed. It’s never that easy….But, from that point on, I took steps toward freedom, starting with the scale. Still to this day, I don’t get on a scale. Even when I go to the doctor, I turn around and say, ”Don’t tell me.” I know my body by the way my clothes fit. I also started to eat small meals multiple times a day so that I never got into that “starvation” mode because I knew that skipping meals would trigger me back to my past. I still love to exercise, but now, I exercise because doing so makes me feel better and stronger. I use exercise as a time to pray through decisions and think about my day, not just to burn off every calorie I have eaten. I still eat very healthfully, but I allow myself to “live a little” because I know that treating myself every now and then is not going to kill me. I still battle the “be thin” mentality every day, but something that keeps me fighting the good fight is the desire to build a legacy for any future daughters Clark and I may have. I want them to know that they are beautifully and wonderfully made, not because of the number on the scale but because of the grace that covers their hearts through Jesus Christ. I desire to teach them through my actions, not just my words, that the inside is truly their most beautiful identity. And I desire to hear the words from God when I enter the gates of heaven: “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
So sisters, keep fighting. Let’s stand together to love each other for our souls, which last for eternity, and not for the size of our skinny jeans. Let’s set examples for the girls of this generation and the generations to come that we are not measured by the size of our bodies, but by the size of our hearts.
– Becca McCormack