“Unfair as it is, our society still discriminates the overweight … Your weight plays a role in how other people see and treat you.” Those are the words of Dr. Frank Smoot, author of Weight Loss God’s Way, a book that greatly helped me at the start of my journey to honor the Lord with my body.
When it comes to finding a suitable mate, weight is something that tends to be used as an instant disqualifier. Online dating sites even give you the option to sort through your preferred “body type.” Statements like “I want someone who takes care of themselves” or “I want someone who is committed to exercise and health” help us explain why we won’t date someone who’s overweight.
As someone who has deeply struggled with food and exercise choices, hearing those words leaves me feeling perplexed. Yes, at some point in my life, my unhealthy food and exercise choices caused weight gain, but I would not classify myself today as someone who doesn’t take care of themselves, or who isn’t committed to exercise and health.
My once 229-pound self is now 178 pounds (Yes, I am a woman who is not afraid to share that number; I am not captive to the scale), and by all medical standards and definitions I am still considered “overweight.” At 229 pounds, my “secret sin” of overeating wasn’t actually a secret at all. My unhealthy body told the world I was controlled by something other than Jesus.
It told the world I was turning to food for comfort instead of turning to Christ.
It told the world I was indulging in portions larger than what my body actually needed.
There were a lot of things my 229-pound outer shell told the world.
But, here I am, over 50 pounds lighter, continuing this journey of honoring the Lord with my body, and I’m still categorized as “overweight.” I’ve gone from a size 16/18 to a size 8. I feel more confident than I’ve felt in a very long time, and I know I am beautiful, but that word “overweight” is still used to describe me. That word “overweight” still causes people to judge and assume that I am overeating, not exercising enough and living a life of unhealthy choices.
My outer shell doesn’t tell the world I play tennis for four hours every Saturday morning. It doesn’t tell the world I cook meals for the week in advance to help me avoid the temptation of eating fast food. It doesn’t tell the world I quote Scripture every time I’m tempted to eat something that isn’t helpful to my body.
The size of my jeans and the number on the scale say that I still need to lose more weight, but that doesn’t mean that I and others like me don’t take care of ourselves, don’t exercise or don’t value a healthy lifestyle.
It is easy to make those assumptions, but here are a few questions to help us all process whether or not someone who is “overweight” is indeed unhealthy and whether or not they would be a good mate:
Are they content being overweight?
Ephesians 4:1 urges us to “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Being overweight and unhealthy hinders us from being able to do God’s work with 100 percent of ourselves. If someone is lazy, overeating or content with not making an effort to honor the Lord with a life of self-discipline, then by all means wisely consider whether or not you should be partnering through life with that person.
However, not everyone who is overweight is living a life of laziness, not making any effort to change their habits.
Are they making progress toward a healthy lifestyle?
I recently heard a pastor encourage singles by saying “Don’t look for perfection; look for direction.” Those words are the very words that should drive our dating choices, especially when it comes to spiritual discipline.
If you encounter a person who is on track to a healthy lifestyle—a person who is making wise decisions—that person is a prime candidate for a well-matched partner. They are exhibiting self-control, discipline and an attitude of preparation. They are honoring God daily by being responsible in their choices, and they are moving TOWARD Christ. If they are moving the same direction you are, why not consider dating them?
Is there a medical condition hindering them from being 100 percent mobile?
Valerie Bertinelli lost 40 pounds during her time as the spokeswoman for Jenny Craig, but she received much criticism after gaining some of the weight back following an injury. A broken foot hindered her from being able to exercise with 100 percent mobility, and it affected her ability to keep the weight off. Losing weight is a challenge that involves both healthy eating and exercise. Some days, it’s easy to justify eating the cookie or donut and telling yourself you’ll do extra cardio, but in seasons where injury reduces how much you can exercise, it is much harder to keep the extra weight from creeping back on.
Before we judge someone for being “overweight” or write them off as a potential suitor because the word “unhealthy” is circling in our mind, it’s important to think about where they are in their weight-loss journey. I never would have written weight gain into my story, but the Lord did, and He is using it to help me encourage others to make choices to honor Him with their bodies.
If you are someone struggling with being overweight and you want to learn more about how to start the journey of honoring the Lord with your body, please contact me. I would love to encourage you through this process.