I am going to talk about my personal testimony with health.  I am going to talk about how a healthy physical body is related to having a healthy mind and spirit.

As a child my body was always very normal.  I was athletic and active.  I played softball, volleyball, basketball, and golf.  Physically, my body was in very good shape in order to keep up with these sports.  During high school, I suffered a traumatic event.  Subconsciously I wanted to push people away from me, especially men.  That led me to gain weight during my junior and senior year of high school.  My freshman year of college I was introduced to the gym.  Because I was on the golf team, we were required to work out 3 days a week.  I went through the motions of working out that year, yet I made no gains.  I was only there because I had to be.  I had no goals.

During my sophomore year, I was fed up with being overweight.  I weighed about 180 lbs.  In sports, I was limited by my physical body.  That was when I set my own goals.  I started eating healthy and working out harder.  At first the weight loss was hard, but after one month the pounds started to melt off.  Within 6 months I was down to 130 lbs.

Developing An Eating Disorder – Anorexia & Bulimia

I was healthy.  I felt great.  I looked great.   The problem, however, was that I did not stop there.  I pushed myself to lose even more weight.  When I plateaued, I started to use other methods.  These other methods led to an eating disorder.  The methods included limiting my food intake, vomiting, eating foods with no caloric value/nutritional value, and extreme exercise.  The extreme exercised allowed a way for me to punish myself for not looking perfect.  It also made me so tired that the thoughts in my mind were quiet.  From my Junior year of college to age 29, I struggled with this eating disorder.

When I was 25 I was injured due to overtraining for a marathon.  I had to stop running in order for the injury to heal.  After 9 months, the injury did not heal.  I ended up having surgery.  Prior to the surgery I only weighed 83 lbs.

It was extremely hard to function at 83 lbs.  During the night my knees would bruise if I slept on my side.  My hair was falling out.  I struggled to carry a gallon of milk.  I could barely push a shopping cart full of groceries.  I always had to wear jackets and sweaters because I was cold all the time.

At 83 lbs, I realized that I would die if I lost anymore weight.  At that point, I was in a struggle for my life.  I also realized that I would be unable to run once I was healed from the surgery if I did not put on weight.  I decided to eat more, and I was able to gain some weight pretty quickly.  After about 6 weeks of attempting to gain weight, my weight was back up to around 100 lbs.

Even though I had put some weight back on, I continued with the ways of an eating disorder.  I understood that the battle with the eating disorder would be a huge mental battle.  I knew that the mental battle would be one that I could not fight on my own.  Instead of fighting the mental battle, I decided to keep my weight around 100 lbs.  At that weight, I thought at least I would be safe.  I continued with my eating disorder battle for the next 4 years.  During this time, I stayed at 100 lbs and never returned to an optimal, higher weight.

So what happened after those 4 years?  The Lord saved me when I was 30 years old!  It happened right at the time of my 30th birthday.  When I was first saved by Jesus, I was really convicted about my eating disorder.  I started reading the Bible and came upon I Corinthians 3: 16-17 which says, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone defiles the temple of God, God will destroy him. For the temple of God is holy, which temple you are.”

Surrendering the Eating Disorder – The Beginning of Recovery

I also read Romans 12:1-2 “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

I realized that I needed to surrender the eating disorder to the Lord.   At that point, I stopped worrying about excessively controlling what I ate.  I also stopped vomiting my food after I ate it.  Physically, I became a lot healthier.  However, my mental and spiritual health was still lagging behind.

Many times I would have negative thoughts about my body image, but I tried to fight that on my own.  I never told anyone because I did not think that they would understand.  My thoughts and feelings finally came out when my husband and I went to St. Louis to celebrate our first anniversary.  When we were driving back, we stopped at the gym to get in a workout.  I weighed myself for the first time in a year.  Although my weight was normal and healthy, I weighed a little bit more than I wanted to weigh.  At that point, I reacted emotionally.

My husband started to question me about my emotional reaction.  He asked me what I really knew about nutrition.  My husband explained that nutrition had nothing to do with emotions: it was all based on very simple facts and truth.   Let’s just say that I thought I knew a lot about nutrition.  However, after thinking about it for awhile, I realized something: I knew nothing about nutrition.

The next day I spent some short time researching nutrition, and I learned all that I needed to know to change my direction.  The most important thing that I learned was simple: diet is the major factor that determines body weight.  Diet alone arguably determines 100% of body weight.  Exercise has little or nothing to do with controlling weight.

With that lesson, I was able to lose the extra pounds I wanted fairly easily.  Eating healthy foods was actually very easy and enjoyable.  The healthier foods were even more satisfying.  As I applied the truths about nutrition to my life, the lies about my body image were almost silenced.  But, the lies were not silenced completely.

Applying Biblical Truths Set Me Free

The story doesn’t end there.  The fight wasn’t over yet.  About 10 months ago, the Lord challenged me to face some fears that I had built up from my past.  My fears limited me.  My fears caused me to build “walls” around myself as protection.  These walls isolated me from other people and activities.  These walls were protective devices that I had built up in my mind.  I would do everything in my power to avoid putting myself in a situation where I would have to face one of my fears.   My “walls” were my attempts to protect myself from my own fears.

I was desperate to overcome that lies and fears that Satan put into my head.  I wanted to tear down the walls that I had built to protect myself.  Specifically, I wanted to overcome the following lies:

  1. My body is ugly and I am overweight
  2. I am inferior to other people
  3. Being around groups of women is a dangerous place for me.  I will get attacked! (This stemmed from earlier experiences in my life)
  4. I cannot start a new activity or sport as an adult because everyone would think bad things about me.  (Because I would be starting from the beginning like a child in this new activity – or so I believed).
  5. I had to be perfect at everything I did.

Ironically, the Lord then led me to join Crossfit.  Although I had an athletic background, I was very intimidated by Crossfit.  It was in a group setting and I had little background in weight lifting.  Inside I felt like the Lord was pushing me to do it.  I did it.  I humbled myself and joined.  During my first class, there were 9 other women there, no men.  It felt horrible to me and I was afraid that the women would put me down.  The opposite actually happened.  They encouraged me and helped me along the way.

Although the other women encouraged me, after the first week I was mentally struggling.  I wanted to quit because it was so physically challenging.  I was also afraid of what other people thought.  Satan lies were seeping back into my mind.  That is when I learned the most important lesson of all.  This lesson was one that I could apply to every aspect of my life.  The lesson was simple: you cannot let emotions run your life.  Truth and facts must run your life.

I simply realized that I had choose what I wanted to do: Crossfit.  I had felt that the Lord was leading me to do it.  I had to make a decision based on truth.  That day I committed myself to go to Crossfit no matter how physically difficult it got.

This led me to realize there was more to health than the physical element.  Spiritually, I had to have faith that God would be my protector and provider.  Mentally, I relied on God’s truths.  I even memorized the following Scriptures under the categories below.  When a lie popped in my head, I would replace it with God’s truth.  Here are some examples of the Scriptures I memorized and their categories:

 Fear: 

2 Timothy 1:7

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ[a] who strengthens me.

Distress:

2 Corinthians 12:10

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thinking that God was distant:

Hebrews 4:16

Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

I  John:14-15

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to his will, He hears us.  And if we that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of him

Thinking that I would never be free from Satan’s Lies

John 8: 31-32

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

CONCLUSION

As I walked out my decision to be in Crossfit, I started to see myself get physically stronger.  As I got physically stronger, I realized I became mentally stronger too. Through the whole experience, I realized that the Lord had made me spiritually stronger.  My faith was strong and my relationship with Jesus was strong.  I put all emotions aside and trusted that the Lord would protect me, teach me, and provide for me.  At this point, I had completely overcame my eating disorder.  I also had overcame many of Satan’s lies that he had fed me from throughout the past.

1 Timothy 4:8 says, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.”

The bodily exercise only profited a little in my testimony, but my discipline in godliness profited me immediately in this life and for the future to come.

There are many lessons you can glean from my health testimony.  The first one is very obvious.  There is more to health than the physical element.  There is also a mental and spiritual element to health.

Another lesson that can be learned is how to overcome the lies that Satan tells us.  As I applied Biblical Scriptures to the lies, and I was able to overcome them.  You can overcome them too with applying Bible truth.

There is also one more lesson that can be learned from this testimony.  God should always be on the throne in your life.  He should be your protector, provider, and teacher.  We should never attempt to take over God’s role in these areas during our lives.

Image of Natalie Bymaster

Photo taken of Natalie Bymaster in 2010 when she still struggled with an eating disorder. The photo on the right is photo taken in 2017 after she fully recovered.