Healthy Living… Journey of Grace

{by Rebecca Florio}

Hello, InsideOut readers! I am so excited to be a part of this new community of Christian girls and get to know you all. I am also absolutely thrilled to be sharing with you about healthy living since that is a passion of mine!  You can learn more about me at my blog, Pressing On.

I am just beginning my second year as a Dietetics major, because I love to study nutrition. My family can tell you that every spare moment I have is spent in the kitchen whipping up healthy goodies. Exercise is also important to me. Over the past few years I’ve developed a love for running, beginning with just a short winded loop around our block and growing until my first half-marathon this fall! Strengthening and fueling my body teaches me endurance, perseverance, and self-control — all qualities that I want to develop to be fit for God’s kingdom! On this Vibrance page I hope to encourage you toward that aim — with recipes, workout ideas, and nutrition tips. Our health can have a God-glorifying purpose!
By no means am I an expert. Part of the reason I am so dedicated to healthy living is because I have struggled so much with reaching a place of balance and peace. I have been told by doctors to lose weight and to gain it. I’ve loved eating and I’ve hated the thought of food, fighting with both overindulgence and restriction.
But through it all God has been faithful. I look back at what was one time so painful and confusing and I can say, “It is good for me that I was afflicted” because God is good and is shaping the course of my life in ways I could never plan but are always best [Psalm 119:71].
Growing up, I was the “chubby child”, the pudgiest baby of three girl babies, the one with the largest appetite who would much rather be curled up reading a book than running around outside. For a pre-teen girl wanting so much to “fit in” and be liked, it was painful to think that my size distinguished me from other kids my age. I felt it uncomfortable in my own body, lethargic, and unmotivated.
When I was sixteen, I decided to make some changes. I went to the library and checked out as many nutrition books as I could carry. I started reducing my portions, limiting snacks, and eating more veggies. I even started exercising — beginning with a jump rope in the basement where no one could see. And the weight began to come off. Healthy decisions became healthy habits. It was a natural transition that the more interested and involved I got into healthy eating, the more time I spent in the kitchen. A love grew for cooking and baking — it became an exciting challenge to find alternatives to oil, butter, and sugar.
Unfortunately, my  weight loss became a self-centered pursuit. After losing 45 pounds in about six months, controlling what I ate and how much I exercised became an all-consuming concern. My goal shifted from being healthy to being skinny, from bringing glory to God to making the mirror my idol. This was not a happy time. I wasn’t able to focus on my relationship with Christ because calories, pounds, and clothing sizes haunted me.
Around this time, I prepared a lesson on Beauty for our girls Bible study group. I think it was the way of my hungry soul reaching out to God. I immersed myself in what God said about me — I am in God’s image, created with purpose, My body is important, testifying of God’s love for His creation, but it is not all there is. What I look like does not define me. As a child of God, but true reflection is seen when I look into the mirror of God’s Word and hear what my Heavenly Father says about me.

By God’s grace, He led me to a place of surrender — of my soul, mind, and body, ideals, hopes, disappointments, frustrations. When all of me is committed wholly to God, He works His restoration of beauty within me.

So where am I now? Still “pressing on,” but so grateful for the journey.  I love eating and cooking healthy foods because of the way it nourishes and fuels my body to run races, carry babies, hike mountains, canoe rivers, and be a strong laborer in God’s kingdom. I am studying toward a Dietetics major with the goal of becoming a Registered Dietitian that will help people like me come to peace with food. My dream is to work with eating disorders, helping girls see that they are so much more than a number on a scale and food can be enjoyed and not feared.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.” [Psalm 73].

~ You can read more of my healthy living story and thoughts at Nourishing Bites.