Ornaments, Candles, Tees and More! Order Soon for Christmas Delivery!🎄 ➔

118.

That was the number on the scale just before I realized I needed help.

118 pounds.

It’s really not that small of a number, especially when you stand at only five foot four. In fact, 118 pounds put me very solidly in the normal section of the BMI (body mass index) scale. I looked very healthy on the outside, but on the inside, I was sick. I was far from normal.

My eating habits were not normal. My exercise routine was not normal. My relationship with my body was not normal. I was alternatively binging and starving myself, working out excessively, and just generally hating myself. But no one saw any of that. They saw what I wanted them to see. I was 24, had a steady job, and was in a brand-new relationship.

My life probably looked very normal. Good, even. But it wasn’t.

I assumed that 24 was just too old to suffer from an eating disorder. I thought that eating disorders and body dysmorphia were things teenagers struggled with, problems you recovered from with the wisdom you gained in your 20s. So why hadn’t it gone away on its own? As it turns out, I was wrong to assume that age would bring instant healing, as if the moment that I turned twenty, all of my struggles would just disappear.

RELATED: My Eating Disorder Consumed Me

There’s no such thing as being too old to suffer from an eating disorder. Barring a miracle healing, many women struggle with eating disorders for life. It is a disease that comes and goes, that has periods of remission and occasional (or frequent) flare-ups. Like alcoholics and addicts, you are always in a state of recovery.

My disorder was not going to just go away on its own. Ignoring a problem will rarely solve it. Most eating disorders will be managed with the help of specialists, nutritionists, and therapists. At the very least, it will take familial support, good habits, and perseverance. Overcoming an eating disorder takes strength. It takes virtue.

And in my case, it took pregnancy. 

My baby helped me heal from my eating disorder before he was even born. Pregnancy is the kind of radical experience that changes every facet of your life. And in my case, it changed my life in ways I never would have imagined possible. It gave me the willpower and strength to overcome my eating disorder.

For the first time in my life, my eating and exercise habits weren’t just affecting me. They were affecting the sweet, little life inside me. I couldn’t punish my body without punishing my baby. I couldn’t starve myself without starving my baby. I couldn’t lose control and binge without hurting my baby. Any of those actions would harm my baby, and for the first time in my life, I really accepted that those actions were harming me too. Because if they could hurt my baby, they certainly were hurting me too.

RELATED: Defeating My Eating Disorder Through Motherhood One Day At A Time

So I found myself changing the way I ate, the way I exercised. I wanted to make good choices for my baby boy. I wanted to be healthy for him because I wanted him to be healthy. When another person depends so fully on you for his life and nourishment, you can’t help but make decisions with him in mind. He’s just impossible to forget.

So I started making good choices, and over the course of nine months, those good choices became good habits.

And while it might be easy to make one bad choice (or a series of them), it’s very difficult to break a habit after months and months of repeatedly making good choices. And you know what? By the end of my pregnancy, I didn’t want to make bad choices anymore.

What began as choices made for the sake of my child eventually became choices made for me. I wanted to be healthier because I liked the way I felt. I wasn’t at war with my body anymore. I didn’t always love it, but I didn’t hate it anymore, and that was a huge step for me. In fact, I was actually proud of my body, impressed by its ability to carry and give life to a child. If my body, the body I had hated for so long, was capable of such an incredible miracle, how could I not be amazed by it? And how could I not treat it well?

RELATED: The Body I’ve Always Wanted – Size Mom

Pregnancy completely changed the way I thought about my body. My baby boy, before he was even born, changed the way I thought about my body. Without really looking for healing, I found it. And once I found it, I clung to it.

Pregnancy revealed the truth about my body. It’s incredible, and it has held the miraculous within it.

My body has been the home of two of the greatest gifts I have ever been given—my children. My body is not just my own but has been shared and given to my children. And it never really was my own to begin with because it has always been a gift from God, given to me to treasure and protect.

So in gratitude for this body, this great gift I have been given, I choose to love it. I choose to treasure it. I choose to take care of it properly. Because at the end of my life, I want to be able to present this body back to God and proudly show Him the wonderful things I have done with it.

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Shannon Whitmore

Shannon Whitmore currently lives in northwestern Virginia with her husband, Andrew, and their two children, John and Felicity. When she is not caring for her children, Shannon enjoys writing for her blog, Love in the Little Things, reading fiction, and freelance writing on topics such as marriage, family life, faith, and health. She has experience serving in the areas of youth ministry, religious education, sacramental preparation, and marriage enrichment.

What Single Moms Really Need

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Mom holding toddler on hip outside on dirt road

No, you’re not a single mom for a weekend. I’ve heard it said at social gatherings, in passing at church, and on social media. Perhaps the words are being uttered in a state of awe as if comparing themselves to valiant warrior princesses, knights in shining armor, heroes.  Usually though, it’s an under-the-breath complaint about being left by their otherwise attentive and loving spouse for the week or weekend. “I’m a single mom this weekend; my husband is on a golfing trip with his brothers.” “My husband is away for work, so I feel like a single mom this week.” ...

Keep Reading

You’re Never Alone in the Trenches of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding infant, color photo

This one goes out to all the mamas in the trenches. To the mamas in the kitchen stirring dinner with a baby on their hip. To the ones waking up an hour earlier than the rest of the house to pump after waking up countless times throughout the night to attend to both your toddler and baby. The ones who must take care of business from lobbies, bathroom floors, lunch breaks, and the carpool line. To the mamas who pass on their own birthday presents so their kid’s medical bills can be covered. RELATED: This is the Sacrifice of Motherhood...

Keep Reading

When You Stop Running into My Arms, I Pray You Run to Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child and mother walking on beach in sunlight

I love seeing the light in my little girl’s eyes when I pick her up from school at the end of the day. Her eyes open wide, and she runs to me loudly saying, “Mommy!” for all to hear. I pick her up and give her a big hug and kiss on her cheek. She smiles ear to ear and knows she is loved and adored. She feels safe in my arms, and I pray that never changes. I want to always be her biggest cheerleader and greatest fan–holding the streamers on the sidelines in shades of brilliant gold encouraging...

Keep Reading

Praying For Your Kids is Holy Work of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mom hugging daughter by bed with open Bible

While excavating Mount Masada in Israel, archeologists discovered something extraordinary . . . a date palm seed. It might not seem like much (especially if you’re like me and totally expected it to be a new dinosaur or something), but this particular seed sat dormant in the dry desert soil for almost 2,000 years. Scientists ended up finding several more seeds like it throughout the Judean desert, and with a little TLC, they were able to sprout not just one but six of them. Six date palm trees, now bearing fruit that hasn’t been seen in two millennia. Incredible, right?...

Keep Reading

Choose to Be a Mother, Not a Martyr

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby, black-and-white photo

There is a trend in motherhood right now . . . maybe it’s happened for a long time, but now since I am a mom, I am experiencing it: this idea that everything we do as moms makes us a martyr. And honestly, I am guilty here more times than I’m not. RELATED: You’re a Mother, Not a Martyr We have these inner, silent dialogues between us and our husbands, parents, in-laws, and friends. Things we say and think, but they never hear. They compound on each other in the hallways of our hearts before bitterness creeps in without us...

Keep Reading

Motherhood Reminds Me How Much I Need Jesus

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding baby in nursery, color photo

Parenting is not only about the work it takes to raise up a child, but it’s also about continuing the work of being raised in Christ. Stripping back our innermost layers of selfishness and laying our pride exposed. Seeing ourselves as the center of our own personal schedule is no longer an option. Feeling like we have power over anything quickly vanishes into thin air. Parenthood pushes us to surrender and accept God’s sovereign control. Parenting sanctifies us.  Parenting shows us our sinful attitudes. When plans are ruined, when another blowout spoils the perfect outfit you chose, when your toddler...

Keep Reading

When Did I Become Such an Angry Mom?

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman with head in her hands

My oldest children and I had just navigated a tabletop board game. My son lost. My daughter won. I also lost. She’s four. For the record, I was trying my best. We were all putting the game away together when my son grabbed my daughter by the face and yelled, “IT DOESN’T MATTER ANYWAY BECAUSE YOUR BREATH STINKS!” And then, Mount St. Meredith erupted. I (not so gently) removed him from the situation and (not so calmly) insisted that he . . . brush his own teeth. Yep. For the record, I was trying my best. RELATED: Mom Anger: Taming...

Keep Reading

Angel Babies are Heaven’s Gatekeepers

In: Faith, Grief, Loss
Mother and baby silhouette

I never seemed to have the right words. I didn’t have the right words at four years old when my parents lost my 11-month-old brother, and I never seemed to have the right words as I watched family members and close friends lose both the new life growing within their wombs and the beautiful, precious life resting in their weary arms. So, I did what I thought would offer the most comfort. I simply tried to show up and be there the best I could. I shopped for their favorite treats. I dropped meals off on front porches and toys...

Keep Reading

Secondary Infertility Took Me By Surprise

In: Baby, Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother holding toddler by open door

Selfish. Unfair. Guilt stricken. Shameful. Those were just a few of the words that regularly stabbed my lamenting heart as I longed for a second child. Yes, I was grateful for my healthy, beautiful boy who made my dream of motherhood come true, but why did I not feel complete—was he not enough? Was I doing this motherhood thing all wrong and didn’t deserve a second child? Why did I long to give him a sibling so badly knowing millions were aching for their first—how could I be so insensitive? So many questions, so many buts and so many whys....

Keep Reading

So God Made a Farm Mom

In: Faith, Living, Motherhood
Family walking on farm road at sunset

One day, God looked down at all the fields, barns, pastures, and farmers and knew He needed someone to take care of all the families on the land. He knew it had to be someone confident in herself to see that the farm doesn’t come first, even when it sometimes feels like it does. He knew the farm needed someone who understands her role is important, too—especially during the seasons of motherhood when she’s not out driving a tractor. Someone proud to stand by her farmer’s side.  So God made a farm mom. God knew farm kids would need someone...

Keep Reading