Being Skinny vs. Being Healthy

We all know that physical appearance is the big dragon that women are trying to slay these days. We have clothing companies either trimming down their humans into little waifs, or plastering “this model is not photoshopped!” on their ads. (Go Aerie!)

I want to talk about the long-term stuff. What is our long-term goal? To catch the approving eye of others until we’re finally in our grave? The fact is, no one ever looks at a skinny 80-year-old and says, “She’s got great curves,” no matter HOW skinny or thin she is. (Tweet this)

I’m bringing up this topic because Thanksgiving is next week. And aside from the “I’m thankful for…” countdowns that happen on social media, the most common thing I see/hear in preparation of Thanksgiving are phrases like this:

“I’m not going to eat all day Wednesday, so I can eat more on Thanksgiving Day.”

“Here are 10 tips to stay skinny during the holidays.”

“Thanksgiving is the nemesis of my waistline.”

What is the goal of all this “skinny mentality?” To be able to gorge on turkey and not look like you just did? Wait, but I thought Thanksgiving was about feasting together and celebrating the goodness God’s showered on us the food.

BLOG - healthy vs skinny

This past year, I’ve really been thinking about the “slim down” craze. Why? Because…

  • Lord willing, hubby and I will be parents in a few years and we want to provide the right example for our kids.
  • When we do become parents, my body’s gonna change. That’s just fact. And I’m determined to be okay with that.
  • Some of my best friends and the nicest people in the world are not stick figures…and I want them to believe me when I say they’re beautiful/handsome. I hate seeing the hurt that a “slim down” society has placed on them.
  • Because some people in my closer circles get obsessed about being thinner, even when they’re healthy and beautiful/handsome. And that makes me incredibly sad.

There are a lot more thoughts, but in chewing on them all I finally pegged what was bothering me (aside from the culture’s obsession with physical appearance.) Eating, exercise, self-image, etc. should be about being healthy, not being skinny. (Tweet this) I know this is a “duh” statement and I’m the eight-billionth person to say it. But I’m saying it anyway because of my own realizations.

My focus will affect the focus of my children…and my grandchildren. If I’m always talking about “reaching that ideal weight” what will my daughters start doing or thinking? I know older women and grandmothers who speak about nothing else but dieting or losing weight or returning to the weight they were at when they were younger. They’re some of the healthiest people I know, and yet they’re still unhappy. And sometimes…it makes me feel unaccepted and pressured into reseting my priorities about weight unhappy, too.

And let me ask you…WHAT’S THE POINT? (Yes, I just shouted that like a capslock-happy teenager.) [Normal voice] What’s the point? What’s the point of reaching that ideal WEIGHT or ideal WAIST MEASUREMENT or a THIGH GAP? (Which only exists as a “natural phenomenon” in people under 18. 😛 ) I can’t seem to find one.

Confession time:
I have a pudge. (Gasp! Scream! Run for cover!) Yup, I’ve got a little gut-pudge from who-knows what, AND I HAVEN’T EVEN HAD CHILDREN YET. But guess what else?
I’m healthy. Tweet this Prior to my knees deciding to go on strike last month, I worked out hardcore three times a week. I’d been doing it for months and the pudge remained. *shrug* THE POINT is that I’ve recognized a desk-job is usually a healthy person’s doom, and I decided to intentional. I set new priorities, goals, and made healthier choices.

That’s the goal.

Be healthy.

LET’S STOP TALKING ABOUT WHAT WE WANT TO BE! Please please let’s focus on what we should be. God tells us not to be gluttons. He doesn’t tell us to be (or to focus on being) the world’s version of beautiful. He tells us to seek him, to avoid vanity and gluttony and to be responsible, intentional, pleasing to him. And through my dwelling, praying, and thinking…I’ve come to the conclusion that in this situation, that means to be healthy.

Blog - Healthy vs Skin

Healthy allows me to be around longer for my (future) kids & hubby. Hubby and I will be able to do more (like ministry!) I’ll FEEL better. I’ll BE better. “Looking” better doesn’t accomplish anything other than the occasional whistle from some creepy stranger.

The young people reading this might be thinking, “It’s different for you. You’re MARRIED.” Yes, I’m married to a man who tells me I’m beautiful at the oddest moments–like when I’m all grungy from working out, or when I’m in PJs and sleepy-eyed. It’s because he SEES the beauty inside. That’s the type of person you want to marry. We MET when I was sweating like a melting stick of butter playing ultimate frisbee. I was wearing a neon orange ugly T-shirt and boy gym shorts. And he thought, “Grosssss!” “I want to get to know that girl.”

Having your focus in the right place (health! Passions! God!) will attract others who have the right focus. And it will inspire others to adjust their focus.

The older people reading this might think, “Yeah, but you’re still YOUNG! It’s easy to be healthy! And you’re thin!” It’s all about habits. I used to hate working out. I used to hate eating healthier, but I made a conscious choice to start good habits now that can carry into my later years. It’s never too late to start good habits. And “being healthy” doesn’t mean eating salads every time I go to a restaraunt. I’m just not that kind of girl. I can scarf down a greasy half-pound cheeseburger like the rest of you, but in record time. (Probably the cause of my pudge. *shrug*)

What I’m not trying to say.

I’m not saying don’t set goals. I know one way to be health is to slim down or get to a healthy weight. I’m talking about mindset.

I’m not saying that people who aren’t healthy are evil horrible skinny-obsessed gluttons. I know that several people out there have health problems, chronic pain, allergies, food issues, all sorts of stuff that makes it super hard to be completely healthy. Again, I’m talking about mindset and mindsets should be subjectively adapted to individuals


This Thanksgiving, think about the message you’re sending to the people around you. Try to grow a bit more comfortable in your skin. And enjoy the celebration food in moderation (as we should do with all things.) It’s just one meal but you can leave a lifetime’s impression on just one person watching how you approach the feast of giving thanks. (Tweet this)


Do you ever struggle with this issue?

What’s the hardest part about holiday “messages” or eating for you?



About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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  1. Reason #582 Why Nadine Is Awesome: See above post.

    So glad that my family and I aren’t the only ones going down this path!!! Recently, we’ve really been trying to eat healthier and go to the gym (because we probably won’t work out if we’re not paying for a membership somewhere 😛 ) And we’re not checking weight, because it has the tendency to be more of a frustration than anything else. But it’s definitely a good thing, because I can tell I am losing weight (which is healthy and important for me given genetics).

    And as far as Thanksgiving goes? I’m eating whatever Mom decides to put on the table! We don’t usually do the traditional turkey. We usually wind up doing the family tradition Jonny bull pot pie (which is an old miner’s recipe passed down from the previous miner generations of our family.) But we’re planning on doing a small Thanksgiving with just the three of us this year, so we might wind up doing lasagna (cue “Hallelujah Chorus.”)

    Oh, and just so you’re aware, if you do wind up having a baby, the explosion of squeals, dancing, confetti-throwing, and other such expressions of excitement that will ensue over at the chat room are going to dwarf ALL other explosions of excitement! 😛

    • Awww. 😀 I love that your family tackles this together, what a great example. That’s really cool. And I want to try a traditional Thanksgiving someday! That sounds amazing!

      I shall prepare for the explosion of squeals when that day comes. xP

  2. That was amazing, Nadine! And SO true!! I wish everyone in the world could read this post and understand it. 🙂

  3. While I’ve heard such words before, I don’t think they sunk in until just now, reading your blog. People say I’m skinny and pretty, but what I see is 10 extra pounds that weren’t there before working in a bakery.
    I do struggle with wanting to look like a movie star vrs being healthy and taking care of my body, which is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).
    Thank you for this reminder of what impression we leave people and being healthy rather than focusing on a glamorous image.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Great post!! This topic is dear to my heart, as I’ve watched many people close to me struggle with body image and in one case even body dysmorphia. 🙁 And mostly it comes from the many voices in their lives telling them they are inadequate or ugly unless they are stick-thin.

    Like you, I determined before having a baby that I would be okay with the changes to my body and accept them as a matter of course; being in that mindset has definitely helped. I’ve been blessed to have a mother who never complained about her body, I tend to avoid advertising and not care much about fashion, and I have a husband who expresses that he finds me beautiful even when I am in sweats or feeling pudgy, so I don’t have many obstacles to liking my body. At this point, despite being 30 lbs. heavier than before I had kids, I am generally happy with my body and am happy to be healthy whether it means skinny or not. Others, I know, have a much harder time due to the voices in their lives. <3 But I thought I would share a few of the ways I reason with myself to seek good health and appreciate the body I have, rather than pine for skinniness…just general body image encouragements:

    1. Our bodies are made to serve God and others. They are tools and they're *meant* to be used up by the time we're done with them in this life!
    2. When I think of the godly women in my life, their weight or figure is not what first comes to mind, but rather their hearts, their kindness, their personalities, skills, and strengths. When others think of me, that is how they will consider me too! People notice our outsides, sure, but they remember our souls more. 🙂
    3. God made food for us to enjoy and is glorified when we enjoy His good gifts! We can certainly be poor stewards of our bodies by being gluttonous (or starving ourselves), but I never talk about eating a food as "sinful" or eating well as "being good." God created all food and has given us freedom to eat it.
    4. We are always harsher on ourselves than anyone else.
    5. Even Jesus's resurrected, perfect, glorified body had scars on it from His crucifixion! Our human idea of perfection is apparently not God's idea of perfection. 🙂

    Thanks for speaking out on this topic!

    P.S. Speaking of "the pudge," I've heard healthy women often have that, and it's normal and helps protect your body against pregnant belly stretch marks because there's more "give" in your skin there! 🙂 Speaking as someone who had her first child at 19 and didn't have ANY pudge beforehand….lots of stretch marks were had. 😛 I don't mind them, though! They are evidence of babies who've been there, and that's sweet to me. 🙂

  5. Healthy NOT skinny…you captured it perfectly!

    And that has to take our spiritual condition into consideration as well. It’s so easy to rely on food for comfort instead of the Holy Spirit. After a hard day/week, I find it tempting to grab a glass of wine or a few, um, many squares of dark chocolate to perk me up. I’d rather let Him fill me with His satisfaction, but isn’t it easier a lot of times to go for the quick fix?

    Thanks for a timely reminder about making sure our priorities aren’t about being a model-thin person obsessed with appearance, but women (and men!) who are focused on loving and serving God.

    p.s. I find it interesting that human beings’ first act of defiance involved food. Yes, Adam & Eve were disobeying God’s commands. But isn’t it fascinating that it was packaged in something to eat?

  6. Thank you for posting this! It’s something a lot of girls need to hear, especially around this time of the year.

    About two years ago I struggled with an eating disorder that landed me in the hospital. I look back at that time and still get sad because of simply all the LIES I was believing about myself from the Enemy. God desired so much more for me, but I was blinded by Satan’s lies.

    I’m glad to say that I’m now recovered from anorexia and God has shown me so much about who I really am in Him because of who HE is. To any girls struggling with negative thoughts about yourself or an eating disorder, know that nothing in your life is impossible for God to give you victory over. You are HIs child that He delights in, and in He could not love you anymore or any less than He does right now. I found freedom from my e.d. through the power of Jesus, and I promise that with Him there is hope.

  7. Pingback: A Time to Die and Other Reasons Why I Love Nadine Brandes | Pages and Threads

  8. I needed this so badly today. THANK YOU for sharing your thoughts!! My goal this year will be different from the rest… not to reach my goal weight but to be healthy in body and spirit. Thanks again!!!!

  9. Nadine, (yes, I know, my comment is extra late…) this is exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you SO much.

    I was thinking about this a few minutes ago, honestly. I look in the mirror and tend to wish I looked different, or prettier, or skinnier, even though there is technically nothing “wrong” or “unhealthy” about me.

    This was so encouraging, and thank you for the reminder that health is much more important than looks! Thank God that He loves us, regardless of how we appear. 🙂

I love hearing from you!