It’s important to acknowledge all the little blessings in our lives. Most of the time, these blessings are obvious. The feeling of sunlight on our skin, the joy of a good book, the safety of home, a hearty meal, laughter with friends, the love of our families — all these things are easy to take for granted, but also tend to be easy to identify.
But sometimes, things happen. And those things suck.
When we experience hardship in our lives, it can be easy to forget that God gives us hardship to help us grow. That sometimes, sorrow or pain is actually a beautiful gift. We don’t see it that way because it hurts us, and because we don’t like it. Because we want it to go away. In those times, I think it is beneficial to take a step back and count our blessings — to look at our hardships and identify them as gifts in disguise.
According to Psyc Central, “currently, 80 percent of women in the U.S. are dissatisfied with their appearance. And more than 10 million are suffering from eating disorders.”
Those are some very sad statistics, but, unfortunately, they don’t surprise me at all. In today’s society, women are subconsciously fed the idea that physical beauty is the only kind of beauty that matters. On top of that, the images and figures of pop culture seem to constantly reinforce that the only beautiful woman is a thin one. Not only is this ideal downright dangerous — some women naturally carry more weight, even when healthy — but it’s also rather ridiculous. Tall, willowy women are beautiful, yes. But so are short women with a few more curves — as well as everyone in between. The key here, is health. Eat right, exercise regularly, and let your weight fall where it may. You are beautiful regardless.
Gaining weight is never fun, whether it be five, twenty, or a hundred pounds. I know from experience the pain it can cause — I know what it feels like to look in the mirror and not particularly like the person looking back at me. It’s so easy to get sucked down the sink-hole of self-loathing, to fall into a pit where the only thing that sounds pleasant or even manageable is food and a binge-watching session of Netflix.
Over time, however, I’ve come to view weight gain as a blessing. Here’s why:
It Teaches Self Love
Anyone who’s struggled with packing on some extra pounds is well acquainted with the feeling of remorse and sometimes downright hatred that comes with looking in the mirror. It seems to me that the popular advice would say to use these feelings to cultivate the inspiration to get fit.
“How do you want to feel this summer, fit or jealous?”
“It is a shame for a woman to grow old without ever seeing the strength and beauty of which her body is capable.”
“This month’s choices are next month’s body.”
“I am obsessed with becoming a woman comfortable in her skin.”
“You can either stay average or become great.”
Take a deep breath, and forget about losing weight for a moment. Weight loss should not be the primary vehicle by which you seek to become “more comfortable in [your] skin,” nor should you be motivating yourself by thinking about how much “better” you will be once you’ve lost weight. What happens when the weight comes back? What happens when a baby, or age changes your body permanently? What happens when you do lose the weight, and then realize that you still don’t feel beautiful, worthwhile, or good?
Instead of focusing on changing your body, look in the mirror and list off ten things you see right now that are beautiful. Do it every day. And then, think about the things you can do, your talents and your gifts, that have nothing to do with physical appearance. Please, take advantage of this time. Learn to love yourself when it’s difficult. Maybe you will lose the weight. Maybe you won’t. But if you use this time to become more accepting of yourself — of all of yourself — maybe it won’t matter.
Then, when you do begin to work the weight off, you will be more at peace. You will be focused on becoming healthy and strong. You won’t guilt yourself into workouts because of self-loathing, or lay on the couch all night hating yourself because you decided to stay home.
Even more, you won’t think longingly about a future in which you might become beautiful, because you know deep in your heart that you already are.
It Teaches Humility
Sometimes, the hardest part about gaining weight isn’t what we think about ourselves, but how we perceive others view us. Sometimes, if we’ve spent any amount of time looking the way “society tells us we should,” it becomes difficult to accept that we could have “let this happen to ourselves,” when we no longer do.
It’s a normal thing to build up pride over how we look. However, just because this reaction is normal, doesn’t mean it’s good. Gaining weight helps teach humility by reminding us that we too can fail, that we are not perfect. It teaches humility by causing us to take a deep breath, and forget about what others think. Weight gain asks us to divert our attention outside of ourselves — away from our bodies and towards others. It reminds us to focus more on service and love.
It Teaches Us to Deny Our Bodies
When it comes time to lose the weight, there are many lessons to be learned as well. Losing weight is hard, but the process gifts us more than strength and health. It teaches us to deny ourselves — to have self-control.
Let’s face it. Our bodies are needy. They like to complain. They ask for five cookies instead of two, insist that they need to sleep in, and remind us that we’ve worked hard all day…so wouldn’t the couch be more beneficial than the gym?
We should strive to have mastery over our bodies rather than letting them control us. The quest towards healthy weight loss is a perfect time to practice this virtue.
It teaches us determination and hard work
The journey towards re-claiming a healthy weight also requires commitment, hard work, and determination. All three of these things are virtues. In strengthening our bodies, we receive also the chance to temper our will — to learn work ethic, fortitude, and perseverance.
What can be more beautiful than the chance to change and become better?
I truly believe that anything can be a blessing — even hardships. There is no one who would say that gaining weight is fun, or that losing it is cake. Rather than focusing on how terrible we feel, however, we should focus on making the most of the gifts which have been given to us. Though it is often difficult to see, hardship is a beautiful gift.
If you have recently gained weight, or have been struggling for a long time, know that you are not alone. Know that you can get through this. And know, when you do, if you take time to learn from the challenges that come your way, that you will be a better and stronger person on the other side — in every way possible.
Let’s Talk! Let me know what you think in the comment section below. I’d love to get a conversation going. Do you agree? Disagree? How do you think hardships such as weight gain can be seen as a blessing in your life?