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How To Love Your Body

A conversation about how and why people struggle with loving their body, with tips from experts on diet and psychology, guided by biblical teachings.


Martin Zerrudo: When you wake up in the morning, and stand in front of the mirror, how do you feel about the image that you see? What do you say to your own reflection? Is it a positive, confident conversation with yourself? Or is it something else? Your mind, body, and soul, what are they saying about who you are? And how is it different from what the world is telling you? Are they all working together to create an image and lifestyle that you’re happy with? Let’s have a Heart and Soul conversation. 

[Show open]

Martin: You’re listening to Heart & Soul, a podcast from the Iglesia Ni Cristo, Church Of Christ. I’m your host, Martin Zerrudo, and I’ll be interviewing young adults from across the world who are living Christian lives, but are also dealing with real world problems. This is Heart & Soul.

Welcome to Heart & Soul, my name is Martin Zerrudo. And today we’ll be talking about loving your body, and being healthy in mind, body, and soul. 

Our first guest today is Alison Pablo, an 18-year-old from San Francisco, California. 

Alison has struggled with acne and her weight since an early age, and has joined us today to talk about what she did to overcome some forms of bullying in her past, her self-esteem issues when it comes to her skin, and how a new diet and mindset has helped her, not only cope, but respect the body that God gave her. Hello Alison! How are you?

Alison: Hi, doing great, how about you? 

Martin: Very good! Now our second guest today is Dr. Darwin Buyson. 

Dr. Buyson is a psychologist from the United Kingdom, and is here today to provide insight on body image, the effects it has on the mental health of youth today, and how society has affected their perception of what it means to be healthy and beautiful. Hello Doctor Buyson! Or Darwin, how are you today? 

Dr. Buyson: I’m good thanks, how are you?

Martin: Very good Thank you again for joining us. I know the time delay, we’re in three different time zones right now and you’re kind of coping with the latest hour so thank you so much for joining us. And our third guest today is Lauren Famatigan. Lauren is a graduate of Dietetics and Food Administration with an option in Nutrition and Dietetics, from Irvine, California. She is here today to shed some light on diet, the food we eat, and how it can affect our bodies both in the short term, and in the long term. Hello Lauren! How are you?

Lauren: Hi, I’m good, thank you for having me!

Martin: We also have Jun Gopez, from California. He is 26 years old, an Assistant Lab Manager in a pharmaceutical research lab. As a young child, he struggled with his weight all his life, and has joined us today to talk about how he took control of his diet, his weight, and his life. Hello Jun, how are you?

Jun: Hi Martin, I’m good. Thank you for having me on here.

Martin: Last but not least, now that we have our body, and mind experts, onto the soul. We have joining us today, minister of the gospel Bro. Richie Juatco. A show favorite of ours. And it’s a perfect topic to explore a side of you Brother Richie that maybe not a lot of our audience know about unless they’ve met you first hand! Brother Richie actually lives a very healthy and active lifestyle and we can’t wait to hear how our faith and the teachings in the Bible contribute to a positive body image and a healthy way of life. Hello Brother Richie, how are you po?

Brother Richie: How are you Brother Martin? Thank you once again for having us all on this episode. And it seems like a very interesting topic this time.

Martin: Definitely. Let’s get right into it. A couple of weeks ago we posted something on our Instagram account, follow us #HeartAndSoulConversations and we asked our audience “How do you feel about your body? Do you love your body?” Here’s a clip from one of our listeners talking about how she feels.

“My body and I have a love hate relationship. It’s a struggle to maintain and it’s definitely something that needs lots of love. But not too much love. You know like, sweets. Because for me, that’s my weakness. Sweets. But you know, I know what I need to improve on, it’s just a matter to committing myself to making things happen in order to get to a healthier me.”

Martin: Now I’d like to start with Darwin. Doctor Buyson, when people say they have a love hate relationship with their bodies, what exactly are they saying about themselves?

Dr. Buyson: It’s probably useful at this point to remind ourselves that body image is defined as certainly from a psychological point of view about our thoughts and feelings about the way we look, the way our body functions. Which could include how we think and feel about our weight, shape, skin color, appearance. When I hear someone say they have a love hate relationship with their body, what that suggests is the person who gave that account, is highly pre-occupied and even anxious about their body image. And this level of preoccupation can become a problem as it leads us to constantly monitoring and evaluating our body image against standards that are difficult to attain for most of us normal human beings. So that’s something that I pick up from that statement of having a love hate relationship. Your body image is that critical and it’s that important to you that it elicits such strong feelings. 

Martin: Definitely. And it’s not limited to that one person. This study that you provided us: 60% of adults in the UK reported that they feel ashamed of the way that they look. Are you surprised at that number of people who are, have such negative views of their body?

Dr. Buyson: It’s a huge proportion isn’t it? I mean when you think 60% of people that’s more than half of the people we know. It does surprise me on one hand. On the other hand, I guess it’s something that is to be expected given the amount of scrutiny and the way the body is portrayed in the media as well. It’s very difficult to not pay attention to body image.

Martin: And to that scrutiny specifically with regards to women, a study from Dove Research Study: Only 4% of women around the world actually consider themselves beautiful. Now I want to go to Alison. Alison, as a young woman, when you hear those numbers, 60% in the UK they’re not happy, they’re ashamed with how they look, 4% around the world, that’s billions of women, only 4% of them feel beautiful. How does that make you feel when you hear that number? And have you ever, do you relate to that feeling of “you know what, I don’t think I’m beautiful.”

Alison: Yeah hearing that especially those numbers where 60%, that’s more than half of the population. It’s really really upsetting because no one really teaches you about how to love yourself. No one teaches you about this mental relationship that you have with yourself. So, no one really knows the right way or the wrong way, if there is the right or wrong way. But the fact that it affects billions of people or women like me, I can definitely relate to that. 

And I feel like I have my days. But definitely one part of my life I was a part of that 4% of the women around the world who don’t find themselves beautiful. Because there’s a lot of standards, beauty standards, especially in our society nowadays that contribute to that. And it’s unfortunate but that’s really just the truth and that’s what the world has come to unfortunately.

Martin: Definitely. Growing up, was there an instance either in the classroom, that feeling of standards, comparing yourselves with maybe the other girls in school. Is there an instance where you felt beside your peers “Oh man, am I supposed to look that way? Is there something wrong with me if we don’t’ look the same?”

Alison: Yeah definitely. When you brought that up, I immediately thought of, it wasn’t only in school but it was also outside of school like sometimes at Church. A lot of my friends they would borrow each others clothes because they were kind of around the same size. I couldn’t borrow any of their clothes. And it was hard for me to understand but at the same time I was like “Oh ok.” It was just something I had to accept in the moment. But, being I want to say 7 or 8, maybe even 6, you don’t really know much right? You just know that “Oh I can’t fit my friends clothes. But theirs are really really nice clothes that I can’t fit in them.” It was just a huge comparison game that I probably dealt with all throughout elementary school, middle school, and up until high school. And I think even still to this day, but definitely when I was younger it was whole, it was always competition of why can’t I fit my friends clothes, why can’t I fit this size, why can’t I fit these really really nice clothes? It was just always always just a game.

Martin: When it came to your teachers. Did you ever reach out to them, let them know how you were thinking? Did any of them maybe inadvertently reinforce that mentality that some of you guys don’t look the same?

Alison: Yeah! Even sadder to say but a lot of those kind of situations happen probably around elementary and middle school. Especially my PE teachers. Those were the really hardest. I mean 8th grade my PE teacher at the time, he looked directly at me, and said “the heavier weight class”. This was during wrestling and I was so scared for this cause like man there’s no girls who are like my size. No one I can really wrestle so am I even going to do wrestling? But I just remember how much it hurt me when he looked directly into my eyes and said “heavier weight class” and put me in that group. 

And I just remember dwelling on it for a really really long time. And I still really really remember that and it hurts, but I kind of laugh about it now cause it’s like, why was I so upset about it? But I think it was the fact that it came from someone who I guess I looked up to? Who I relied on who I put all my trust in. Who was like my teacher. So I think that’s what hurt more rather than what he said to me. 

Martin: And Jun, somebody who also went through something similar, was there an instance either in your childhood or growing up in your teens where you kind of looked at yourself and compared yourself to others and thought negatively about how you looked?

Jun: I think it’s funny that Sister Alison mentioned wrestling and being separated in PE class by weight cause something similar actually happened to me. Not necessarily that a teacher necessarily targeted me or singled me out. But we were told to organize ourselves by weight. And that was something that I tended to, I guess I was in denial about it. That the number doesn’t matter that much but then when it was brought up I was like “Oh, that is not what I expected.” And I feel ashamed because of that number and because of how I feel and how I looked. So it was definitely not the most pleasant experience then.

Martin: Dr. Buyson, when you hear that these two accounts, kids growing up not really being facilitated mentally in terms of how they’re supposed to look at themselves, in what ways do you feel like the school system, maybe some of the teachers, what should be able to help in that regard?

Dr. Buyson: I think there is a problem with awareness I think of the impact of what people say. Not just in schools but I think even kind of culturally we tend to say throw away comments about appearance. We can freely comment about people’s weight, about people’s skin color and not realizing the impact of that and how we are, as opposed to perpetuating some of these insecurities that people already feel. I think some awareness needs to be developed about how we inadvertently just perpetuate the stigma of body image.

Martin: Of what people are supposed to look like. 

Dr. Buyson: Absolutely. 

Martin: Brother Richie, as a Minister of the Gospel, when you hear that there’s so many youth, whether they’re part of the Church or not part of the Church Of Christ, that are suffering in silence, whether it’s because of a lack of awareness, a lack of support, is there anything in terms of the Bible or teachings that we can kind of rely on to know that we’re not suffering in silence or we don’t have to? 

Brother Richie: I did have one observation before we get to that question, because when you were reading the stats, the way I looked at it, because it’s, I think we’re very grateful that we do have some that want to share their struggles and many times when one is going through that they feel alone, they feel by themselves. What Dr. Darwin he mentioned that psychologically, it really is the thoughts that one has about their situation. So the feelings that they have in many times when it comes to image, what happens is naturally people compare themselves to others. It’s not only the people physically around you. It is not only printed magazines you can see on the internet. Now you have such a bigger scale of comparing yourself. 

But the statistics which was read to us earlier, it shows that it’s common. So it’s not something that is isolated, that “I’m the only one that’s like that” in fact from what we read, most people are like that. Most people feel that. So it is not that I’m saying it’s not a problem. It’s actually something that is more common of a problem thAn we actually might have known before seeing those statistics. 

So, what is it that we can do to help? Again, as Dr. Darwin said, get education. Be aware. Find out “How is it that I’ll be able to find some medium between ‘is there something that I need to change? Or is there something that needs to just change? Maybe mentally, my feelings need to change? Is it my body that actually has to change?'” 

So there is something that we can find out. Where is it that one can focus on to make them content, make them happy, make them peaceful with the situation that they’re in? Now, in terms of image does the Bible have anything to say with the image of a person? But we’ll start off right there in the beginning, just to answer that question here in Genesis:

…in the image of God. He created him; male and female he created them. [Genesis 1:27 English Standard Version]

Brother Richie: So in terms of image, when the Bible makes mention, is there an image, an ideal image? Here it says that God created man in His own image. Now I do want to preface, someone might think “Is the way that we look?” Because physically, we cannot be the image of God, because in the Bible, 1 Timothy 1:17 NIV, “God is invisible.” We’re not talking about a physical image. 

What is this image that we should be like God? If we read in Ephesians 4:24, it’s in righteousness, it’s in holiness, it is in love. So that is how we should be. God says “I’m holy, therefore you should be holy.” So that is where we should start. It says our feelings, our thoughts, and that will give us some basis, some direction. 

In terms of the body, does the Bible have an instruction? Because if our image should be “we should be righteous, we should be holy, we should make sure that we live periphery” then we’re going to follow God’s instructions. Does He have an instruction in terms of our physical image? I’ll read here in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 GNT:

May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being…

[1 Thessalonians 5:23 Good News Translation]

Brother Richie: Being; what is the whole being? It’s “…spirit, soul, and body.” So what is it that we should do to keep our whole being, spirit, soul and body? It says “Keep your whole being free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So there is an instruction. There is even our physical body, make sure we keep it free from any fault. That will give us some guidelines of our image, how we should we think of it, what we should do with it, physically, psychologically. And hopefully if we’re able to hold that, then we will find that peace. We’ll be content. “This is how it’s supposed to be.”

Martin: Definitely and those verses tie into exactly some of the things that, like you said Brother Richie, that Dr. Darwin was saying, that we wish a lot of people knew today that there actually is a guideline. There’s scripture to point you in the direction of where you want to go. Unfortunately, there [are] a lot of people, not only are they suffering in silence but it leads to certain things where instead of trying to do something good they end up doing something bad. 

I’ll point to another study. Approximately 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape. Now I want to go to Lauren as someone who’s taken nutrition, who has worked in the nutrition field of dieting. What role does diet play in a positive body image in our overall health?

Lauren: Like a way of life, in a sense, because it’s what we eat, it’s what we choose to eat and when to eat and how we, how it can affect our bodies, obviously depending on what we eat. 

When we’ve studied nutrition, our main focus is our relationship with food. So how we perceive food and that of course comes into play of what food choices that we’ll make. So if, for a lot of people who have unhealthy relationships with with food, it can lead to, just by seeing food as an enemy, or what have you, it can lead to things like psychological disorders. 

And so the nutrition, we want to kind of break from that and really bring people to have a healthy relationship for, once again, and look for more long term benefits and making good choices that will create good habits later on. And instead of like instant results. It’s better for us to make good choices so that our future, our lifestyle later on will be will be good and healthy and strong.

Martin: What are some examples when you we’re nutritionist where you saw bad eating habits or a bad relationship with food? What are some of the signs?

Lauren: One of our main things is to make sure we’re very balanced and portion control. I think it’s hard, especially in America. We see the portion sizes nowadays are much larger than before. So it tricks us into thinking “Oh this was probably how much we should be eating” and, different factors. Like if we’re eating out with friends and restaurants have big portions, things like that will tend to eat all those big portions and not realize, “Oh, maybe we’re already full” and maybe we might not eat as much. But you know when you’re in a social setting too, that comes into play.

Martin: Definitely! I’d like to expand on that. Jun, in those family settings or social settings where you’re kind of pressured, “Oh no, you should eat more. Have you eaten already?” For whatever culture you may be in, I guess that would be a common theme that when you get together with your family members, the expectation is that the amount of food that you should be eating, it should be in proportion to the amount of food that was prepared. 

Do you have any kind of thoughts to that and how maybe some of those social settings may be pressured you to kind of, “you know what this is okay I should probably be eating a lot more than I should be”?

Jun: Me, personally, I noticed, especially in retrospect that anytime that there was an abundance of food, like especially at family parties or other social gatherings. If it’s available then I should eat it. “I can get more because there’s food available.” And so even if I was physically full already, then I’d keep eating because I like the taste. So it wasn’t really healthy relationship with food that I developed.

Martin: Brother Richie, anything to add? 

Brother Richie: Having a good relationship with food, understanding how things were set up as if we’re if we’re going to use scriptural guidelines right how things were set up so that everything would go well for us. Sometimes it really is our own misunderstanding of what that good relationship is. And that’s where the problem comes about. That is something that we can actually use. We want a basis to find out everything that’s provided for us, things that are there for us, for our health, for our talking about body wise, image. 

Listen to what I’ll read here from Ecclesiastes chapter 7, verse 9:

Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, But they have sought out many schemes.

[Ecclesiastes 7:29 New King James Version]

Brother Richie: When it comes to how our God made us, because some might say “That’s just not how I’m made,” the Bible makes clear God made people upright. So He made them the right way in order to live the way that they ought to, the way that was a plan. 

But it says that many have sought out many schemes. So they’ve diverted from that. And Lauren said diet is not just being on a diet. Diet is you eating, “What is it that you eat?” Many people use this as a barometer of what they’re going to eat; whatever tastes good. And sometimes that’s it. That’s the only rule that they have. 

That’s something that we have to be careful about. Because not everything that tastes good, is good for us. 

So again, we need to make sure that we keep ourselves free from every fault. It is going to be incumbent on us to want to learn. Again, I go back to what was mentioned. You need to be aware. You can’t just straight follow the crowd, follow what everyone else is doing. You need to make sure that you’re aware of yourself, of what you’re doing, so that you actually have a control of yourself, of your life, to make sure that you are following those instructions given to us by God.

Martin: Definitely, and when you were reading that verse, Brother Richie, about how God made man upright, before we recorded this podcast I was listening to other podcasts that were talking about body image and this one woman who was doing a podcast was, she’s very healthy, she lives a healthy lifestyle, she’s very healthy, but she had an issue because for whatever reason, no matter how healthy she ate, no matter how much she worked out, she couldn’t get the kind of abs that she wanted. 

She was super stressed out, and she’s an influencer and so she felt even a lot of the comments people were kind of making fun of her like “you’re somebody who preaches to be healthy and, live a healthy lifestyle but you have like a flabby stomach.” So she was really bogged down by that. And then she actually decided to do 23andme, which is where they take your saliva and then they give you your genetic readout to kind of give you, not only your ancestry, but what some of your genetic proclivities are when it comes to your body. And what I found super interesting in relation to your verse, Brother Richie, was that they found that genetically just for her body type and just how all of her genes have passed down, she’s likely to have five to 10% more body fat in that region of her body. 

So even if her and somebody else in her same family or somebody close to her family, or a friend of hers who lived the exact same lifestyle, who ate the exact same food and worked out the exact same time, she’s just genetically supposed to have that much more body fat just in that part of her body. 

It’s exactly what you were reading, Brother Richie, was that we’re going to try and do all of these things to look a certain way, but aside from being healthy, both mind body and your diet, if this is how God made you, that’s how God made you. We’re all going to have different genetics and we’re all going to respond differently to different lifestyles.

Brother Richie: That’s really interesting, that when they did scientifically research and say that “you’re more prone to have this much body fat,” that just goes to show that we’re all unique, that we all have our differences and try to make ourselves all look the same would not be natural. 

The one thing that we do want to do, all of us want to do, is to make sure that we are living the right way. We are living the way that the One that created us planned us to live. That’s where we focus on. Instead of trying to compete in the competition that we made up ourselves, just focus on what God instructs, what He intends.

Martin: I’d like to bring the topic of the keto diet at least once and I want to purpose this talking point. I know some of you might be smiling. Some of you might have done it or doing it. Some of you might not be doing it but I want to preface this by saying we’re not here to say it’s wrong or this right or that if you’re doing it you’re doing it wrong or if you’re doing it you’re doing it right. 

I’d like to get just to the panel reaction. I’ll start with Lauren. What are some of the things that you’ve heard about the diet? How does it differ from other diets? What are some of the you know positive things and maybe some things that maybe not a lot of people know about?

Lauren: I hope I don’t offend anyone. It’s kind of ironic, only because what I studied in school, and you can even ask other nutrition students, we don’t want people going on the keto diet just because the keto diet comes from the word ketosis. I’m sure those who have done keto diet know what that word means and it doesn’t even mention it in our textbooks. Our textbooks will actually say that we don’t want patients or clients, going into ketosis.

Martin: It was meant for those with epilepsy right, like that was what the diet originated from.

Lauren: Yes. And that’s what would help them. Those that do have epileptic seizures. But for the general public in general, the condition I guess we try not to recommend I guess the keto diet, I’m sorry, only because the diet basis itself is to go very low into the carbohydrates. 

I think one of the big things that we learned too, is our brain alone, the brain, what it functions on what it runs on is carbohydrates, as its main source of energy, and it needs at least 35 grams a day to function properly. But I know with the keto diet I’ve heard it said in just one day you can go as low as like 20 which is lower than what your brain needs so I guess from a nutrition standpoint, at least from what we learned, it’s crazy how like diets even come up like fad diets and all that kind of stuff. It’s funny because even though we say, keto diet or like all those diets, one thing is that we’re not saying that it doesn’t work, and it might actually work, people might lose weight fast, but like what we mentioned earlier with nutrition, we want people to build good choices and build good relationships with food, so that later on, they don’t have any other health problems in the future. That they’ll have a good long term. 

Martin: Dr. Darwin, has it exploded, that particular diet in the UK as much as it has in North America?

Dr. Buyson: I think what’s striking is the huge range of diets that have exploded. The keto diet is pretty big here. Then you’ve got all sorts of other, intermittent fasting, you’ve got the 16 / 8 the 5 / 2 the… all these things. And what strikes me is the length people go to, to look a certain way. I was just talking to a friend and we were just commenting on, people go to the gym primarily to change the way they look, not to become physically healthier.

Martin: Right. And you’d mentioned in our previous conversation that sometimes dieting will lead to extreme dieting or certain types of either binge dieting or binge working out. Can you kind of talk to us about these extremes that some of these types of ways of life can maybe lead to? 

Dr. Buyson: It’s probably useful to kind of contextualize some of the reasons why people have such an unhealthy relationship with food. Certainly what I’ve come across is people who find it difficult to have positive thoughts and feelings about their bodies usually have come from some sort of traumatic or really negative experience as a result of their bodies. You often hear people being bullied and victimized by the way look. So in such cases, fear is what their drive to maintain a particular body image. So if you’ve experienced receiving treatment or even being bullied because of your body, it becomes a matter of life and death to look a certain way. I’m sure you’ve come across in the gym. People who are there, you always see them there.

Martin: So there’s actually a thing of going to the gym, too much?

Dr. Buyson: Oh absolutely. You’ve got people who obsessively exercise, who eat, feel guilty or threatened, and they will try to exercise those calories away. Some people smoke specifically to, kind of, maximize their weight loss and minimize their weight gain and of course we’ve got the big topic of the use of anabolic steroids to maintain a particular body image, in spite of knowing the potential risk to our physical health. 

Martin: Definitely. I just want to put some more context for Brother Darwin. 50% of girls, 25% of boys, think that their peers have body image problems. Between 1/3 – 1/2 of young girls fear becoming fat and engage in dieting or binge eating. Girls as young as five-years-old are worried about how they look, like what Alison was referencing earlier. In terms of the difference in sizes of clothes, one in four seven- year-old girls have tried to lose weight at least once. 1/3 of young boys aged 8 to 12 are dieting to lose weight. Evidence shows that they’re pursuing activities of, like what Dr. Darwin said, “obsessive exercise, smoking to manage weight, obsessive dieting and the use of anabolic steroids.” Has this been going on for a while now, Dr. Darwin?

Dr. Buyson: As Brother Richie mentioned the huge influx of the media, it’s highlighting the length people go to, to maintain a certain body image. And it was quite sad is that we’re all striving to reach the unattainable. But we’re overlooking our positive qualities. We’re looking at the things that actually will make our lives worth living or more meaningful. We’re just focused on the show.

Martin: Alison, you’re shaking your head when Lauren was talking about diets and smiling a little bit. Can you tell us a little bit about why and what in some of your personal experiences with regards to changing up the way that you eat and maybe your lifestyle. 

Alison: I was just totally honestly I was agreeing with her, because I did the keto diet it did work for me. And it was probably the only thing that really over the years especially, like with sports and everything, I really tried my hardest to whatever I could to be healthy, to get in shape, for volleyball season or whatever it was. And I’ll never get it. And finally I did keto and it actually worked for me after so many years of trying. It was the only one that worked for me. But I understand what she was saying. If you read up on it, it’s a pretty skeptical diet. Why consume all this fat that will, raise your cholesterol and and all these other bad side effects? If anything, I don’t do keto anymore but if anything that diet, what I got out of it was definitely self discipline, because I thought I didn’t have a great relationship with food. 

Carbs were always my enemy, because I love them so much. Many times I thought they were like my best friend. And then other times that we think they were my enemy and I didn’t want to eat them anymore and I just felt so guilty every time I would eat it. That’s when I really developed “wow, it, maybe my relationship with food isn’t great.” 

It was also because when my skin would be really really bad dermatologists would tell me “maybe it’s your diet, it could be the carbs that you’re eating because of all the sugars and all this stuff.” I was like, “You know what? I’m not going to deal with carbs” for the purpose of my weight, but also my acne. 

When I did the keto diet my skin was super clear, I lost weight almost instantly. It allowed me to love food to an extent to where it wasn’t dangerous for me, but to where I could appreciate it more later on. Trust me, after I did keto over like how months, carbs are the love of my life.

Martin: Right into that brioche donut.

Alison: Right.

Martin: I want to give the final word to Brother Richie before we move on from this topic of diet. But I do want to hear from June because we haven’t heard his backstory as to what prompted him to change his diet. Did you do keto or what exactly did you do to lose all of that weight and what kind of made you feel like “Man, I need to change the way I look?”

Jun: For me personally, I didn’t do keto or any “specific diet”. So growing up I had been pretty heavyset and as I mentioned earlier, I don’t think I really acknowledged that there was a problem with my health. But I did realize that I didn’t like how I looked in pictures or anything or I would come up with, like coping mechanisms. 

I tried to hide in the back of pictures or I tried to minimize how much space I was taking up because I was very self conscious. Especially as a male, there’s that expectation. Especially in adolescence, you’re strong or everyone’s competing like “Oh how strong am I?” or “How do I look?” and I did not match what that typical expectation was. 

Instead of confronting those feelings I guess I denied that there was an issue and I just continued what I was doing, blissfully unaware, I guess. And then it got to the point where I got tired of feeling tired all the time. My best friend he’d always encouraged me to try and improve my health and make lifestyle changes, but I didn’t seriously consider it until 2018, around last year when I thought to myself like “Okay, I don’t, I don’t like how I looked and need I really need to do something about this.” 

So he gave me some primers on how and what to eat. I didn’t realize that I was like eating so much more food than I needed. And he also got me into working out and exercising regularly. So he helped me structure some workouts and get used to going to the gym. And it just continued from there.

Martin: When you said you were tired of being tired, can you walk us through what that was like? What were you doing where you’re just like, “Man, why am I so tired all of a sudden?”

Jun: Yeah. I wouldn’t do anything strenuous or anything that required a lot of exertion of energy. But I realized that I didn’t have much energy to begin with.

Martin: Right, right. Brother Richie he said, his whole life he’s always been pretty heavy set. When you saw the change in your cousin, that “Oh man, this guy’s dropped a lot of weight. He’s looking great.” What did you think? 

Brother Richie: “Wow.” No seriously. It was great. What I liked was, he didn’t like the way that he looked. It’s not that somebody was telling him this or that. He’s the one that didn’t like how he looked and he did something about it. And what’s important is what you do about it, number one, you have to be more aware. Learn about it. If you want to change “What is it that I have to do to change?” 

We mentioned diets. There’s a lot of people that they want instant results. So if someone tells them something they’ll do it, not really knowing what is it going to do. You mentioned the keto diet and it’s hard for us to preach, anything that’s not in the Bible. So it’s hard for us to preach the keto diet. It’s hard for us to preach “Don’t do the keto diet.” What is something that we know very well, is that we have to be self controlled. 

There might be people that benefit from the keto diet. There might be some people that don’t benefit from the keto diet. And that’s why we said, everyone is unique. Everyone is an individual. That’s why everyone has to do what they can to see how they can better their own situation. If we’re talking about the way we feel the way we think, psychologically about the image, what June mentioned also is working out, training. Is that something that we can preach? Is that something that we can say physically, one should physically train or exercise? Allow me to read will reference what’s recorded in First Timothy, chapter 4 will read verse 8. It says: 

For physical training is of some value.

[1 Timothy 4:8 New International Version]

Brother Richie: So, yes, we can actually say physical training is good for you, if you want to stay healthy, if you want to stay strong. But we know how the physical body works, it will not get stronger if it has no reason to. If you don’t exert any stress or any sort of tension, it has no reason to get stronger. If you want it to get stronger it says well then you do some physical training. Now if you’re going to do physical training that is effective, what does the Bible teach us? We’ll read here in 1 Corinthians 9:25 it says:

Now every athlete who [goes into training and competes in the game] is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. 

[1 Corinthians 9:25 Amplified version

Brother Richie: That is something that across the board, everyone, can benefit from. So, in everything we should be self controlled. We should be disciplined. When it comes to our food, we should be self controlled and disciplined. When it comes to our physical fitness, we should do the same. We should make sure that our whole being is free from fault. 

Now, many of the problems come about because as we’ve mentioned, throughout our discussion, there are things that people come up with on their own. They have a competition. They want to look a certain way. And you can see losing control can go on the two different extremes. One doesn’t have the right diet or exercise, or they go too far the other way, and they get obsessed with those things. What is it that we can use as a guide that comes from the Bible? We’ll read Galatians 5:19 and then I believe in 21. It says: 

It’s obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time:…” Right, so it’s just a way that you come up with and then you’re just going to just going to want that way it says “uncontrolled, and uncontrollable addictions, might even lead into addictions, or the parodies of community, I could go on. This isn’t the first time I have warned you, you know,” and this is even the worst because Apostle Paul is actually giving this warning, he said, “if you use your freedom. This way you will not inherit God’s kingdom.

[Galatians 5:19, 21 The Message]

Brother Richie: That is the worst of all. So we need to make sure we are at the very basic lesson that we can learn. Be self controlled in what we do. We want to have that good feeling about ourselves about the image that we have? Be self controlled. Be disciplined in every aspect of our life, not only physically but even mental health, spiritual health, physical health. And if that is how we’re going to live, then that is how we’re going to be happy, knowing and understanding that that is the way that God has instructed us to be.

Martin: Now Brother Richie, an element of that too is finding time. And I don’t know if there’s any profession really that’s more time consuming or more important really than being a minister of the gospel but you find time to do these things. Is there any tips for our listeners? If you may have a schedule that’s super busy you may have nine different jobs you have to go to school all that stuff. But how are you able to find time to not only you know take care of your body but also your diet in the way that you live your life?

Brother Richie: When we all understand these things, it’s something that we do not just for a short period of time. It’s not something that we do for a while until we get a result. And then if we let go, then we’ll find ourselves back where we were in the first place. It actually just becomes a lifestyle, being self controlled being disciplined, making sure that we are aware of what we’re putting in our body how we use our body, are we, like naturally tend on thinking and making sure that we are controlled that way? Then it really just becomes not something that you’re fitting into your schedule, it’s something that just becomes part of your life. 

And that’s what we hope for anyone that is listening that get something from what they’re hearing. It’s hard because we don’t know everybody’s situation. So we can’t give very specific details you should eat this or you should work out like this but what we can do is say for everyone “Just careful, make sure that you are living that life free from fault.” But really the best way to learn those instructions is learn more about what is actually written in the Bible.

Martin: Definitely. I think that’s a very important point. I just want to go to Dr. Darwin before we close is that you know people who are listening who are not members of the Church Of Christ yet that might think “yeah definitely what Lauren was talking about about nutrition makes perfect sense, what we’re talking about about mental health and awareness and certain relationships that we have with ourselves and food yeah that makes a lot of sense.” 

I was doing some studies, or reading some studies doing some research before we did this podcast and another thing that a lot of experts pointed to was positive affirmations and mindfulness and how that type of relationship with oneself, that could be definitely linked to a type of spiritual way of life has really strong, positive effects on someone’s way of life, not only on their body image but how they perceive themselves and how they take care of themselves. 

When you hear Brother Richie reading those verses that perfectly kind of wrote a narrative to how we address mind, body and soul of how we should live our life, as a doctor and a professional in psychology, what role, the important role, what role does spirituality in that mindfulness play in having a positive body image and way of life?

Dr. Buyson: I think, just repeating again what Brother Richie mentioned about the theme that cuts across this whole discussion about awareness. When you think about mindfulness. The main theme of mindfulness is to be aware, and to be aware in the present moment of you know what you’re thinking, what you’re feeling, and to, just to question what it is that you’re doing and to kind of evaluate yourself. 

The only way really you can make a good choice is by being aware of what’s going on around you. And I think from there you can take action to change things. But without that awareness you you’re lost.

Martin: And that combination of mindfulness and awareness, but also a foundation in the Scripture. We’re so very thankful that everybody joined us on this panel. Brother Richie, the Church is continually tackling some of these topics that the world we know is trying to face these challenges depression. Now we’re talking about mental health and with regards to our body image. What does that say about the Church knowing that, whether you’re a member of the Church Of Christ or not these kind of programs these kind of platforms; what is our purpose? What exactly are we trying to do?

Brother Richie: Well first of all, it helps everyone that might know us that the way that we live, really, is by following what’s written in the Bible. For those that don’t know us, but they are struggling with certain problems, we also want to share that the solutions to those problems. And there are people that struggle with problems and they’ve tried everything. 

Well, the solution really is learning, being aware, being mindful of how you were intended to live. So if you get that, if you’re able to learn from the One that created us, and then you follow those instructions, the changes, sometimes people will describe them as miraculous. 

So we want to just share that we’re not, we can’t force anyone to believe anything or accept anything but we do want to share what our beliefs are and how we’re able to overcome the challenges that everybody is facing.

Martin: We want to thank everybody for joining us. Thank you Dr. Darwin, to Lauren, to Alison, and Jun and of course very special thanks to Brother Richie. And of course all of our listeners. Please follow us on our Instagram at INCmedianews #heartandsoulconversations to stay up to date. A lot of how we write our episodes and how we kind of get a feel for what our audience is going through is through our social media. That’s how we’re able to engage and interact with all of you. 

So that’s it from us today. We hope that you were able to learn something from us from what we were able to share. I hope we were able to help and I hope that you’ll join us next time on Heart & Soul. Take care. And don’t forget to subscribe to Heart & Soul available now on iTunes and Google Podcasts.