Running Healed Me From Poor Body Image: A Testimony

I’m so excited to share another testimony with all of you! I’ve known Jemeia for a few years because we went to college together, and she’s one of those people who always tries to be obedient to where the Holy Spirit leads. She’s a wonderful friend and supporter, and I’m so glad that you’ll be reading her words today. And the best part? She’s sticking around for a little bit as you’ll hear her thoughts on the biblical perspective of body image and beauty next week. Check out how running healed her from poor body image, and be encouraged!

Body Image Issues

For as long as I can remember, I struggled with poor self-esteem and body image issues. These issues were further exacerbated during my junior and senior year of college, when I battled depression. I lived life in a vicious cycle as my Instagram and YouTube were flooded with fitness accounts and channels. Each day I was reminded of what the perfect body looked like and even more overwhelmed with the many diets and exercises out there.

Every week I promised myself that I would “get my life” and as a result, set these unrealistic goals and workout schedules for myself. Naturally, life and being human happened and I couldn’t make it to the gym at 6 a.m., I didn’t do the 50 squats I planned to do or I ate a cookie because my body suddenly craved sweets out of thin air. This happened literally every week and my response was self-hate. I looked in the mirror and was disgusted with what I saw. The worse part was feeling like I could not trust myself to be disciplined or keep the promises I made to myself.

Unhealthy Relationship with Food

Coupled with poor body image and self-esteem, I had an unhealthy relationship with food. My entrepreneurial expertise was in the business of playing myself. Y’all, I HATE chicken breast! But guess what? I would convince myself to get chicken breast every week because it was the healthier choice. Then, I WOULD END UP NOT EATING IT! Foolishness. This continued for some time until last November 2017. As I was walking home from work, the Lord spoke to me so clearly and said,

Jemeia, you need to go through six months of healing for this.” I was like, “But God, what does that even mean? Are you actually gonna help me get my life? Teach me how to be more consistent and disciplined with exercise and nutrition?” The Lord replied, “No, not in the way that you think.”


Later that night, a friend who had also dealt with body image issues texted me and asked how I was doing in that area. My response was that I was really struggling. I asked her how she overcame poor body image and her response was, “I went through six months of healing. I didn’t work out in the gym; I just did yoga and walked.”

I was in shock because right then and there, she confirmed to me what the Lord had just instructed me to do that day. However, I was TERRIFIED at the thought of not working out for six whole months! That same night the Lord gave me five simple instructions for six months:

  1. Delete all fitness accounts from your Instagram and YouTube.
  2. Eat whatever you want.
  3. Do not body check.
  4. Only exercise three or four days a week.
  5. Ditch the gym and just run.

Learning Self-Control

That day was the start of the most powerful season of healing in my life. I learned so much about the biblical perspective on health, body image, beauty, and discipline. Additionally, I developed sustainable habits that I strive to practice daily. As previously mentioned, I lived in a vicious cycle because I could not trust myself to have self-control or discipline. Moreover, I thought that setting silly and unrealistic goals and sticking to them would produce discipline and self-control in me. What the Lord showed was that it’s actually the opposite because I first needed discipline and self-control to reach my goals. Moreover, it became clear that self-control is a fruit of the spirit, which I cannot bear without abiding in Jesus.

[bctt tweet=”Self-control is a fruit of the spirit, which I cannot bear without abiding in Jesus.” via=”no”]

The Lord knew exactly what He was doing when He told me to ditch the gym and just run. When I consistently went to the gym, I did a lot of weight training exercises. I thought that I enjoyed weight training but the Lord showed me ways in which it was personally unhealthy for me. I was obsessed with how many reps of each exercise I needed to do, how often I needed to increase my weight load, how many times a week I needed to work out certain body parts. What I soon realized was that even the divine 7 days that the almighty God had made were not enough for me! WHAT? Feeling like I could not reach my (unrealistic) goals destroyed me.

Finding Healing in Running

Running was the remedy I needed, as it is was not only a great way to get in shape but it first took mental strength and discipline. Running was not something that I had to think or obsess about in detail. Instead, I was concerned about one thing – not feeling like I was about to die after the run. The only way I could do that was through slowly building endurance and being consistent. As I ran consistently my body could run more and more.

To keep myself accountable, I registered and payed for a ten miler in May 2017. This meant that my money was not about to go to waste, honey, and I needed to start training during the winter months up until May. That period of time was during my last semester of college, when I was working two jobs and enrolled in an 18 credit hour course load. I knew that in order to successfully run the race I had to set aside time to run in the mornings at around 7AM, at least 3 times during weekdays, and Saturday mornings before noon.

I learned more about discipline and self-control during that season than I ever had. Why? Well, because I was no longer striving or focused on my outward appearance or fixated on the end goal. Instead, I was resting and abiding in Him, focusing on how I could improve myself from within, and I was concerned about the journey. Eventually, the results followed.

When we abide in Jesus, he prunes us and we bear fruit. When we strive, we overwork ourselves and it’s destructive. I sincerely hope this post encourages you!

With love, Jemeia.

Next Steps?

Wasn’t that super encouraging? Don’t forget to check back next week as you’ll hear Jemeia’s thoughts on the biblical perspective of body image and beauty. It’s amazing to hear and read about God’s faithfulness through beautiful stories such as this. If you feel like sharing your own testimony, I’d love to share it! Fill out the contact form below and let’s chat. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Meet Hanha!

Hanha Parham is a Christian author and speaker. Her personal mission is to help woman overcome fear and self-doubt so that they can confidently believe who God has called them to be. She holds a Masters in Divinity with a concentration in pastoral counseling and is currently pursuing her PhD in Christian leadership. Hanha has published two books, Jesus is Bae and The Confessions Project and she is passionate about teaching, equipping, and discipling the body of Christ. When she is not encouraging others or writing her heart out, she loves spending time with loved ones or exploring new coffee shops. 

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