Thinking About Your Thinking
By Taylor Kiser
“You’re the devil!” I screamed at my doctor with fat, hot tears streaming down my face as my dad carried me over his shoulder out the door. She had just told me I was medically unstable and would need to be admitted to the hospital that evening. Thoughts started racing through my 13-year-old mind:
“She just wants to make you fat. She doesn’t care at all about you.”
“You’re not medically ill. You’re just skinny. You don’t need help.”
“They’re going to make you ugly.”
“Hmmm. How many calories did I eat for breakfast?”
I believed all these thoughts bouncing around my brain. I believed that the doctor did not want me to get healthy and had ulterior motives. These thoughts became seared into my brain, and I had no way to fight back. I sat in the back of my car, pinned to the seat in fear, as the thoughts kept coming. Frozen. Unable to make a move.
Growing up, I was probably one of the most optimistic and sunniest little kiddos you ever met. I always said I wished I could give my twin brother some of my “happy thoughts” when he was sad. I’m sure this is partly just genetics and partly that being a kid is a lot easier than being an adult, but I attribute some of it to my momma singing “You Are My Sunshine” to me almost every day. She told me I was sunshine, she told me I made her happy, and I believed that about myself. Because I had those positive thoughts and beliefs in my head, I was a happy kid.
But then I grew up.
It’s not that my momma stopped singing this to me (she still does sometimes to this day), I just turned into this jaded teenager who didn’t think Mom singing to her was awesome anymore. I also had started to live in the world, believing what the world was telling me about myself and what I needed to be or look like was true. Thoughts of becoming inadequate and worthless if I didn’t look a certain way, have perfect relationships, or become successful in my career crept in. When I think way back to my early teen years, at the height of anorexia, my thoughts are really what started it all.
The thought of being more accepted if I was prettier.
The thought that getting prettier equated to being skinny.
The thought that getting skinny meant eating a lot less and moving a lot more.
The thought that if I gained weight, I would become worthless.
And so on.
Unfortunately, because history can repeat itself if we let our guard down, this all happened again in my early 20s.
The thought that I was out of control when that guy broke up with me.
The thought that I needed to get “perfect” to get back in control.
The thought that perfection could be attained with a perfect body.
And there’s the Perfection Pursuit.
What’s Your Focus?
Girlfriend, what we focus on is what we believe. When I focused on being that sunshine, I was that sunshine. But when I focused on my goal of perfection, I did anything I needed to do to get there. I counted grapes, ate purse chicken, and even brought egg whites on first dates. I worked all day, ignored my husband, and barely slept. I believed I had to have the perfect body and make a lot of money to be worthy because those are the thoughts culture put in my brain.
Maybe you haven’t had the exact same struggles, but I am willing to bet that your current struggles are coming from what you are focusing on and believe to be true. If you are focusing on your goal of workplace dominance, you probably believe your status gives you worth as a human because you’ll be considered powerful and intelligent. If you’re focusing on your goal of being a supermom, you probably believe your ability to parent is linked to your value as a woman, and so on and so on. But have you ever actually stopped to think about your beliefs and where they come from? Your thoughts are where everything starts.
To get that thought life, and ourselves, back on track, we’re going to have to start fighting a battle. Joyce Meyer says the mind is a battlefield, and I agree 100 percent. No, I do not mean there are little army men running around shooting guns up there and that’s why you get headaches sometimes, but there is a battle going on inside your pretty little head, and it’s a battle for your thoughts.
Truth be told, I was so busy focusing on the thoughts of doubt, insecurity, and fear the enemy had rooted into my brain that I didn’t even think about God, let alone what he said about me. There was zero space in my thought life for God when I was on the Perfection Pursuit. I can’t tell you how many devotionals I had on my table collecting dust because I just didn’t have time for a relationship with God.
Taking Your Thoughts Captive
Girlfriend, did you know you can think about what you’re thinking about? I know that sounds totally strange, but think about it. I used to think my thoughts were just out of my control. When I thought a thought, I didn’t even question if it was true. I didn’t even question why it was just hangin’ out in my brain. I would get so wrapped up in thinking about what I was going to eat later, what I had already eaten, when I was going to eat, and how many calories I had eaten every single day. Because these thoughts were always there, I just assumed I had to think about them until they finally left.
Is this you too? Are you overthinking everything? Maybe you are overthinking what you need to do to be the best mom when, really, your kids just need you to show up and support them. Or you are overthinking how to have the perfect relationship when it’s truly just about loving, trusting, and supporting the other person. Are you just thinking all the thoughts that pop into your brain without even asking yourself why they are there? Well, I have good news for you!
Second Corinthians 10:5 says we can take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. Remember, there is a battle for your mind going on, so we’re using strong words like “captive.” This isn’t sunshine and unicorns. You can’t just put your thoughts in a box under your bed and hope they will leave you alone. This is a war, and you are a warrior woman, so take those thoughts captive!
When I truly started to be intentional about assessing the thoughts that were hanging out in my brain and turning into the very actions I was taking, it became a lot easier. Soon I found myself wandering around the grocery store looking at fun new foods to buy. I’d stumble across something delicious but not “clean,” and I would want to buy it so bad, but those ugly thoughts would pop up and say, “Um, no. That is going to make you fat.” Before I realized that I could think about what I was thinking about, I would put the jar down and walk away with some low-fat sad peanut butter that would probably take me two years to eat because I could only have one tablespoon per day.
PSA: A life where you can eat only one tablespoon of low-fat peanut butter per day is not a life you want to be a part of.
But eventually I started to fight back and ask questions like, “How is that true? Matthew 6:25 tells me not to worry about my body, or what I will eat or drink.”
And then, silence.
Of course, those thoughts would come right back again pretty soon. But the voice became a whisper, and those whispers became few and far between. I was able to stop feeling frustrated with God and slowly start to give those thoughts over to him.
I am not going to lie to you and say those thoughts never come around anymore. There are days when it takes me a little longer than I’d like to admit to take those thoughts captive, but because I’ve been practicing, those days are fewer and fewer.
You may be thinking, “That sounds really awesome, Taylor, but once I identify a thought that isn’t true, how do I fight those lies with truth when I don’t even know what the truth is?” This is where you get to play detective and start finding Scripture that speaks to your soul. If you don’t do a little digging around the Bible, you won’t be ready to take your thoughts captive and fight back.
When we start to identify our thoughts, and we start measuring them against what God says, we can begin to take back our thought lives. Taking back our thought lives will lead to taking back our whole lives, pointing us up to God, and allowing us to experience the fullness of his joy and freedom.
Adapted from Eat the Cookie: The Imperfectionist’s Guide to Food, Faith, and Fitness by Taylor Kiser. Click here to learn more about this book.
Finally—a real-life plan for eating and thinking healthy. Nutrition and fitness coach Taylor Kiser’s Eat the Cookie is your invitation to give yourself the grace to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress.
From diets to detoxes to fitness plans, there’s no shortage when it comes to plans for perfection.
But what happens when our quest for health and perfection leads to fear, insecurity, and over-control? Written with her characteristic straight talk and humor, Taylor Kiser draws insights from her own journey to help you find freedom from the impossible quest of perfection.
Whether you struggle with body image, eating disorders, unhealthy habits, or the never-ending comparison game, Eat the Cookie provides an easy-to-follow roadmap to spiritual and physical health. Each chapter delivers God’s truth to help you redefine your identity in healthy ways, embrace progress over perfection, and use practical tools—such as never-before-published recipes and fitness plans—to love and care for the body God gave you.
Taylor understands the pendulum swings we experience with our weight and self-perception. She knows what it’s like to let fear of falling short turn into a belief that you’re not worthy, and this belief turned into destructive habits that controlled her life for far too long. Now a certified nutrition and fitness coach, Taylor enjoys eating a cookie now and then, even as she enjoys discovering recipes and habits that give her renewed physical energy and health. In Eat the Cookie, you’ll learn the secrets of balance that can help us all live health-conscious without being calorie-obsessed.
Taylor Kiser is the Seattle-based blogger behind the wildly popular site “Food Faith Fitness” which shows that eating healthfully does not have to equal boring! Taylor believes in living a balanced life with Christ at the center. However, overcoming an eating disorder in the past has led Taylor to believe that moderation is key, so sometimes it’s okay to just go and eat a cookie! She loves to spend free time with her husband and puppy.
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