If you struggle with body image or how to make wise decisions on behalf of what you *actually* want out of your life, please do not miss this episode.
Christy Meeks provides such grounded, thoughtful, and focused insight into how she overcame the pain of weaponizing her body and learned to work with her body as a beautiful and unique gift. She is a wife, a mom of 5 children, and a body image coach.
1. How one painful moment in childhood changed the way she viewed her body for decades
2. The way exercise can be both a weapon and a superpower
3. How to find ways to physicalize emotional pain, so that it flows through our bodies
4. The pain of miscarriage
5. Why she decided to leave social media
6. How to translate self-awareness to action, so that we’re living our lives with intention.
7. How true freedom comes from the inner conviction that you are living the life that is right for YOU.
I wanted to change so badly that it was worth it to have the discomfort of growing, especially if it meant being a healthier version of myself for my children. —Christy Meeks
Even though we become grown ups, we get stuck emotionally in the exact place where that painful thing happened. —Christy Meeks
Question for Reflection:
How do you relate to your body?
Episode Ten: The Best of You Podcast 14th July 2022
Guest: Christy Joy With Dr. Alison Cook
Alison: Hey everyone. I'm Dr. Alison, and I'm so glad you're here to discover what brings out the best of you. This podcast is all about breaking free from painful patterns, mending the past, and discovering our true selves in God. I can't wait to get started as we learn together, how to become the best version of who we are with God's help.
Welcome to The Best of You podcast. Where we are going through a series of Real People Overcoming Real Problems by popular demand. This is what you guys wanted to hear. You wanted to hear from real women dealing with real things. And I'm so excited about my guest today, Christy Joy, she is a powerhouse.
I met her at this retreat, I've talked to a couple of other women from the retreat, and Christy is just this laser of wisdom, and authenticity, and intentionality. As I kind of got to know you from a distance and listened, I was like, "This is a woman who's being very intentional about her life choices." She is a wife, she is the mom of five kids, ranging from what ages? Christie
Christy: 12 to one.
Alison: 12 to one, you are in all the seasons. Made a decision which we're going to get into. You had developed a pretty significant online platform, which you basically walked away from for various reasons, we're going to get into that.
But prior to that, and, and ongoing, you have this real passion for helping women love the bodies they're in, and body image issues, and you're just a treasure trove of wisdom. I'm so glad you are here with me today. Thank you for taking time out of your summer. I know it's not easy when you've got a bunch of kids, in the summer, without the structure to find an hour to come on a podcast. So thank you.
Christy: Oh, my gosh, Allie, what an introduction, man, hold on, let me sit up and get myself together. The woman you described, I do want to be her. I'm very excited to be on with you and I feel very blessed to have the opportunity to do so. Thank you so much for even thinking of me.
Alison: Well, one of the things that I like to do, and we'll get into some of the different things that I learned about you from the retreat. But the very first place I like to start with my guests, and we're really focusing a lot on body image today.
But there is a lot of layers to that, as you've shared with me. Different angles of things that you've overcome, is just kind of going back in time to who you were at. I always like to think of this cusp of adulthood, like 18, 19, 20.
What you were like then? How you saw yourself? What your relationship to your body was like before you were even a mom? Tell me a little bit, give me a little snapshot of Christy Joy, the young woman.
Christy: That girl, Christy joy, she was religious, well, I would say like right about 21, very religious about exercise.
I didn't have the best eating habits because I had a really distorted view of what my body was? What my body is for? Purpose of my body, all things that I've had to grow into learning. But that girl used exercise as punishment for everything that she was not. And just really wanted to be skinny, wanted to fit into size two jeans.
When I was eight years old, I'm going to give you context to where that even came from. When I was eight or nine, my grandpa came home from a trip and we're all sitting around the tables. My mom, and, some other people I can't even remember, and he had those plastic bag and was like, "Oh, I brought you souvenir."
And "I'm like, "Oh, cool." Kids love anything that someone brings. And, so, he pulls out this t-shirt, and on the t-shirt there's this funny rabbit and I'm reading it, and on the top it says, "I'm not fat." And on the bottom it says, "I'm just fluffy."
And I'm looking at it and I don't get it. I'm like, "I don't get this." And, then, I mean, I remember like it was yesterday, and it's funny because as much as I've grown and as much as I love my body, and the journey that it took me on. And I still burn to this day with tears at the realization because, in that moment, I thought, "Am I fat?"
I, literally, the thought never occurred to me.
Alison: Oh, my gosh.
Christy: Never in a million years. Because before then my body was the vehicle to take me everywhere I wanted to go, everything I did. I was super active on the playground. I was one of the first kids picked for sports because I'm very aggressive. But then from that day on, I became a slave to comparison.
Christy: And that very next day I went to school and just realized, "Wow, I am bigger than all my friends. They're thinner than me, they're more blah, blah, blah." And that literally became my life's record in my mind, a record of comparison. And, so, by the time I was 20, 21 years old, I had found exercise and its power, but for the wrong reasons. And, sorry, that was a pretty short story long.
Alison: No, it's so amazing, to me, that it's like before no thought, loved your body. Like you said, it's what allowed you joy, and play, and activity, and you are active, and you are athletic. And then that one introduction of an idea that you might be, all of a sudden, just launched this whole decades of comparison.
Alison: And the other thing you said, that is so interesting to me, and I find it such a theme, especially, in this series is how a strength becomes a stumbling block. So like you said, exercise is a great thing, it can be a very healthy thing, but for you, it became, it almost sounds like a weapon or how would you put that? It almost became a-
Christy: Yes, it was a weapon I wielded against myself.
Christy: I wasn't working out going, "Whoa, look what my body can do." I was like, "Whoa, look, what exercise can do to my body."
Alison: Oh, wow, like shape it into submission. Shape it into what it needs to be to be okay for other people around me, versus to feel healthy myself.
Christy: Yes, and I never ever saw my body and what it really looked like. I always zeroed in on the area that I considered to be my problem area, which was my thighs. And when I looked in the mirror I, almost, only looked at my legs that's all. And, to me, I never, really, saw them doing what I wanted them to do.
So I would have these different pairs of jeans that I used to try on. I would try on like eight or nine pairs of pants, weekly sometimes daily, just as instead of a scale that was my measuring stick. Put them on in the morning, And, some days I'll put on one or two and then some days I would obsess. I would be putting on like 10 or 11 pairs of pants. And it's funny as I look back, I'm like, "Wow, how psychotic were you, that sounds so crazy." But at the time it didn't, that was my reality.
Alison: It felt normal.
Christy: It felt very normal to me.
Alison: Did you have a sense of what you were trying? So whenever we do something like that, we're trying to take control of something. We're trying to, I believe kind of, manage a part of us to feel better, but usually it's masking something else.
Alison: In, hindsight, do you have a sense of what it was that maybe you thought the jean, the perfect fitting jeans could fix?
Alison: Even though that was probably subconscious at the time. But somehow some part of you must have believed, "Oh, if only these jeans can fit exactly right I'll be okay?"
Alison: What was that belief?
Christy: I think it must have been that if these jeans fit perfectly, then, I'll be beautiful.
Alison: Mm-hmm, wow, and that's it, I mean, boy, what a limiting belief of beauty? But it really felt that real.
Christy: What a limiting belief of beauty? Yes.
Alison: Wow, okay, so take us on this journey a little bit. So this is where you're entering adulthood. When did you begin to realize, "Huh, maybe this isn't the healthiest way to approach exercise, to approach my body?"
Christy: I heard my two kids, my oldest two Braden and Riley, playing in the hallway. And I was standing in the mirror and I had just done my ritual of trying on maybe two or three pants or something like that. And I heard them laughing and joking and I'm standing in the mirror, and I heard audibly as if someone was standing in the room. And the voice said, basically, paraphrasing, "If you don't fix this problem that you have, your daughter is going to be just like you and it's going to break your heart."
Christy: You could interchange that with, "My son." I mean, men have body image issues as well. Basically and I think the daughter drove it home just because I'm a girl, she's a girl. And it was as if fingers were snapped in time. That right there was enough to jolt me into, "I need to figure this out, this is not healthy."
Christy: And, at that point, I had known it wasn't healthy, but I was so locked into this way of life that there's this saying, "Until the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change you won't change."
And I think that even though it was painful, staying the same wasn't as painful as changing. It got to the point where I wanted to change so badly that it was worth it, to have the discomfort of changing and growing. Especially, if it meant being a healthier version of myself for my children.
Alison: Amen, yes, it's so interesting, how so often seeing it through our kids' eyes gives us, that's the gift they give us that reality check of, "Oh."
Alison: So tell me a little bit about the pain of change? So you realize in this moment, "Oh, I've got to change."
Alison: What did you do? How did you take steps? Because it is painful. I love that you're saying that, change is hard.
Alison: It's really hard, especially, if it had been going on for a while. This is a way you had learned to cope, I believe these are coping strategies. There was something you got from that exercise even though it was no longer constructive. So what did you do to take steps to change and heal?
Christy: Well, in the beginning of us talking, I was able to very simply, clearly, tell you where everything stemmed from, but I didn't really know.
Alison: Got it.
Christy: And, so, I had to, actually, take the time to trace back lots of reading, first of all. So much reading and I cannot encourage enough for the women who have been a part of my community to read. Read, find the books, there's so much information out there.
Alison: Are there any that you would recommend just off the top of your head?
Christy: There's one book that I think is really extraordinary called Women Food and God, it's by Geneen Roth and it's amazing. She talks about her own life, and her yo-yoing up and down in weight. And she starts the book by telling how many pounds she's lost over her life, and it's like an astronomical amount. It's like, "What?"
But she just has a funny, dry, way of talking about body image and, so, that book I think is really great. That's one and I'm trying to think of everything like blends together between podcasts, and reading, and going to conferences, everybody's voices are like blended together.
The one thing that I know was a huge exercise was going back and identifying all of the life-changing scenarios in my life. Every single time that I could remember, good or bad, that my life changed it was a very monumental moment in my life, and I listed all of them out. And then I defined what I learned from all of those monumental moments. That's what actually helped me to transition beyond being hurt by what my grandpa did.
One of the other things that was really difficult is that my grandfather was one of those people, who you could be the butt of his joke or not. He just wanted to laugh all the time. He didn't really care if it was hurtful nor could he, he was not self-aware.
Christy: So even if you were mad at him, it doesn't matter because he didn't care. So there was not even like any type of redemptive story or like reconciliation. I don't ever, really, remember being angry at him, I was just angry at what he did.
Because, I think, I recognized that he didn't really care who he hurt as long as he found joy. And I know that sounds really bad. He was a cool guy, and I'd say he wasn't like some sadistic, but it just was how he was.
If he thought something was funny, it was funny, and if you didn't, you're too serious,
Alison: Too bad for you.
Christy: You know what I mean?
Christy: You're too serious. And, so, I knew it was a waste of time to even hold him accountable.
Christy: So that was a tangent, but I think that's important too. Because, I think, when we are hurt by someone or someone triggers our issues with our body image. It can be so hard to move past it because we have not forgiven the person who's done whatever or said whatever. But at the end of the day, that person cannot come between me and my freedom.
Alison: That's such a great point, you're not taking him off the hook. Yes, what he did was hurtful, and if you can't get forgiveness, if you can't get reconciliation, whatever, great. But if not, what I hear you saying is, "I still had to deal with this." You're not helping anybody else by not getting free yourself.
Christy: At the end of the day, he doesn't know, at all, that this is so important to me. And, so, anyways, being able to go back and pinpoint the moment in my life where my body image shifted. Then to, actually, see that little girl and to be able to communicate with her in a way of like, "We're not even her anymore."
Christy: And we were a child and he was acting like a child, you know what I mean? Like [00:15:41 Audio Warbled] talk to her in a way because what happens is that even though we become grownups, we are stuck emotionally in that place where that thing happened.
Christy: So all the trying on the jeans, all that, literally, that was the behavior of a nine-year-old
Alison: That's right.
Christy: Do you know what I mean? And, so, I had to graduate and to explain and express to myself that I was a child, and what happened was really hurtful, and I had no control over that nor was I responsible for it.
Christy: And then to go from there, I think, that was really helpful.
Alison: You were saying something right out of all of the trauma literature, which is, it was traumatic for you. And whether big T trauma little t trauma, it doesn't matter. Something inside of your body, at that age, picked up a message that you then lived out.
And, so, that is real wisdom where you had to go back to that route, help her see, and this happens to us, and no matter how much we go, "Why didn't I just blow that off?"
"Why didn't I?" It doesn't matter. We at that moment in time, that meant everything to you.
Alison: Your grandfather's words. And, so, to go back and help free her of that weight, give her that. I did a whole episode on this whole, everybody talks about this inner child, but they live in us. These memories live inside of us and are operative inside of us until we separate and go, "Wait a minute, I'm not that little girl anymore. I can help her in maybe the way I didn't get help at the time." My guess is at the time there wasn't anybody around you to help you, maybe nobody even knew.
Christy: I don't even think they knew how much I internalized it because I never expressed it.
Alison: Which is what kids do.
Christy: I remember my mom hugging me, and I remember her saying something of... But my mom used to have this thing where she would say, "It's just baby fat, it's going to like fall off. Don't worry about it, it's because you're little." And then as time gone on, it's like, "Okay, well, I'm not a baby anymore, so what's really happening?"
But, yeah, no one really knew. No one knew to comfort me. And, so, in anything that was body related that was said to me, from a family member or a family friend was an immediately a trigger.
Alison: No matter what,
Christy: Right, no matter what. They had no idea, and it was a huge trigger for me.
Alison: In hindsight, what would've been helpful to you? Or what would you say either to her or to your own daughter to help them love the body that they have?
Christy: Well, I would have zeroed in on what my strength was, which is something that I do with myself all the time now. I constantly thank myself for being as strong as I am. And, I think, I told you about how I was one of the first kids who's picked on the playground, extremely active, just doing all kinds of stuff. Outside, playing in the neighborhood, hours, and hours, and hours, very active. I would have picked up on that, I would have encouraged that.
I'm really big on identifying body shape and why it's important. For instance, different cultures are shaped differently. The purpose for that, in the French Polynesian ancestrally, the men built boats and went out into the water, and the women were the protectors of the land while the men were gone.
Imagine leaving a bunch of tiny women behind to protect the land or to help bring the boats in, in the water. You need strong, you need to be bottom heavy for that. It's because we are all a melting pot in America without the boats, and we're not building houses. But our structures are the same because that is what our bodies were created for.
Christy: I love finding out what was my body created for? If I do have thicker thighs and rounder butt or whatever why? I want to know why and what can it do?
Alison: That's great.
Christy: And, so, with my kids, I try to be very intentional about reminding them. My son put on, probably, 10 or 15 pounds during the pandemic and he used to be super skinny, and he's very active too. But he's way more solid, and he has a little bit of fluff around his tummy.
But I tell him all the time, I'm like, "Dude, you be thankful for that weight that you gained." I said, "Because it's way more difficult to build muscle out of nothing than it is to build muscle out of what you have now." I mean, he's so solid.
People spend so much time eating extra food just to put weight on, just so they build muscles. I'm like, "You did it naturally, dude, nobody's going to want to even come up against you, you're so girthy."
And, so, that's the way, it's using actual, factual, information and knowledge. To help them understand why their bodies are doing what their bodies are doing and that it's for their benefit and protection.
Christy: That their bodies do what they do.
Alison: Yes, and by design, like what you're saying by design, they are different. It's funny, as I'm listening to you I'm remembering, I had pasty, white skin that wouldn't tan and burned. And I lived in an area of the country where everybody baked. I mean, back in the day when I was, I'm old, and people would go to tanning beds. And I wish someone like you're saying, would've said, "No, your skin was made that way for a reason." I love what you're saying.
This is part of your ancestral, the Scottish, and don't try to be like someone you're not, that's the point. Figure out who you are. The body God gave you what it looks like? What its purpose is and steward that.
Again, you're getting at this idea of comparison, the antidote to comparison is owning your own strength. Is owning your particular the way you were made, which is more, and more, I hope where we're moving, culturally, but wasn't always the case. You had to work really hard to arrive at that for yourself and now you can help your kids.
Christy: Right, I mean, again, our definition of beauty is being redefined every day and it's different every decade. Someone comes out and says, "This is beauty." And then everyone tries to file in line behind whatever that thing is that they've used, culturally. When at the end of the day, wherever your ancestry came from, if you went there and everyone looked the same no one would care if you were tan. You what I mean?
Christy: They don't even care about that because it's about survival. And we can understand that our bodies were actually shaped for our protection and survival.
Christy: That it's not about how it looks in a pair of jeans, or in a low fitting dress, or our arms, or our saddle bags, or whatever other way we want to define our bodies in a negative light. But to really understand what is actually the purpose, it completely flips everything on its head.
Alison: Yeah, that's amazing. So I want to just pick back up, so you realized you needed to change. You, really, did this deep dive into your own, it's like you did an inquiry into your own, and you got back to the root with your grandpa. But also you mentioned these other key junctures, key life moments where, maybe, I wanted to ask about that. Were there other moments where you noticed that you needed to go back and, maybe, change a message or change a narrative that you had in your head?
Christy: Yeah, I definitely, I would say in the area of dating, I had a real knack for picking potential.
Alison: I love it, "I had an eye for potential."
Christy: Wow, I could see the best in any, that's actually one of my superpowers is that I, really, truly, can see the best in every person. Despite they could have glaring flaws and I could sit down with them for an hour and talk with them, and I would be able to find their strengths, their powers, what makes them awesome. It just didn't work well dating.
Alison: Yeah, not the best recipe. It's great if you're a counselor, a coach, what you became, even a mom, not so much when you're picking a life partner.
Christy: No, girl, and I had to figure out and, I think, what happened was I just ended up, really young, I ended up having a boyfriend, like middle school, eighth grade. Who was really, pretty, terrible in the sense of where his family came from, what their family was into, it was just really bad. And his treatment, toward me, it seems like nominal, like, eighth grade that's not a big deal.
But what happened is he set the tone for guys I would date after him. And it was a very emotionally abusive relationship. And, so, I had to figure out what the heck, like, "Christy." Because I remember I was dating a guy, I mean, if I was me but not the me that was dating the guy and I was talking to me, I would've had so many things to say to me.
Christy: It's literally, like I would be outside of myself, watching myself, be with these guys that I knew just could never be a life partner. And one day I was, again, it was one of those moments, I was driving in the car and I was talking to God and I just made a decision, I never talked to the guy. We weren't even arguing at the time, I never took his call again.
Alison: You're kidding, just done.
Christy: Because, at the end of the day, in my mind, he didn't need an explanation. He had already done so many things wrong that I could stop at any time, and he could just pick one of those things and I think it would be sufficient.
I didn't want to have an argument or a conversation about why I'm walking away because it was unnecessary. I had made the decision, and from that day, again, it came to the pain of staying the same.
I knew I'm like, "I want a husband that loves me. I want to have a beautiful family of children who love their father and the father is a good father." And from that point, it comes back to the kids. I realized that maybe I didn't love myself enough. But when I thought about it from the standpoint of, "Did I want that guy to be my kids' father?" It was easy for me to say, "No, I do not."
Alison: I love that. A couple of things, I mean, what I love about what you're saying is number one, oddly enough, those sixth, seventh, eighth, grade years, those wounds. How old were you when your grandfather?
Christy: I must have been like fourth, fifth grade.
Alison: Fourth, fifth, okay.
Alison: But still, in my work as a therapist, it always goes back fourth grade, fifth grade, sixth grade, seventh grade, these formative years where we take in messages. The way somebody and we do, there's a part of it's like, "Why, am I not just over this?" That's when we're being shaped. That's when that self-perception is being shaped.
So it makes sense to me that even though parts of you were like, "Why am I doing this?" And then what I love about what you're saying about when you realized it, you didn't owe an explanation.
Christy: You're absolutely right. That wisdom that came from God of like, "Nope, I don't owe this guy anything else." And that's, actually, going forward, that has been my way. I felt like I knew that if I needed to explain I actually wasn't over it. That was an indication to me of I need to do more work. Because if I need to tell you what I'm about to do, then I really don't want to do it. If I just do it, then I know that I wanted to do it. Do you see what I'm saying?
Alison: Totally, I'm done. I'm ready.
Christy: I'm ready. Anytime I've had to go back and say, "I'm going to do this for blah, blah." That was really my way of just not really wanting to do it. You know what I mean? Trying to get, "Maybe they'll convince me not to, maybe they'll..." I don't know.
Alison: Tell me how, there's two other things you've mentioned and we'll see how this work in. But I'm curious, you mentioned a miscarriage, is that right? The loss of a baby?
Christy: Yeah, man. I mean, I was like five months pregnant, shy of six months.
Christy: So I was 20, 23, was I 23 weeks? And, so, I, actually, had to deliver I couldn't just let it pass. So that was a time, it was the baby before my last, and his heart just stopped and I knew something was wrong. I went into the doctor on a day when I didn't have an appointment because I just knew something was wrong. And sure enough confirmed that he did not have a heartbeat.
I had to take all my kids to the doctor that day and they were in another room. They were in another ultrasound and I remember coming out from that appointment, and going to get them and just having to hold it together because they don't know what's going on.
I remember going to the car, and getting everyone in the car, and driving home, and everyone going the house. And then I remember just sitting in the car and I was just bawling. And it also gave me a new found, not that I didn't have empathy for women who had lost, but when you don't experience it, you just don't know.
Christy: And it gave me newfound for my friends who've lost one, two, three, four, five, six, just willing to keep trying. I'm just like, "Oh, talk about the real warriors in the world." It made my heart just grow even bigger for women who have lost, and women who have not even had the opportunity.
Christy: And then you find out how it's such a silent. So many women I know who were like, "Oh, yes, I lost my whatever." And I'm like, "What, I know you, what do you mean? I'm like, "How did I-
Alison: People don't talk about it, I know.
Christy: When women don't talk about it and even that pain of knowing that there are so many women out there. Who have these silent losses that they don't talk about, that they don't really share, but it's just there in their hearts.
Alison: How did you get through that? What helped you get through that grief?
Christy: So everyone who knows me knows that I am like, that thing that I told you about that 20, 21-year-old-girl who used exercise as a weapon against herself, has grown into a woman who uses exercise against everything else. Just not me
Alison: That's what I was curious about. So that became healthy coping for you?
Christy: Yes, and, so, what happened, I have a bike, one of those bikes that has the trainers on the screen that tells you what's what, what to do. And I was in the car, like I shared with you, bawling my eyes out. And, again, audibly like the voice I heard in front of the mirror, I heard, "Get on the bike."
And I was like, "What? Okay, I know that everyone thinks I'm crazy and knows I don't exercise during the day, but this is not the time to get on the bike, I mean, do you understand?" And, like, "No." And, so, but I heard it again, like, "Just get on the bike."
And, so, I got out of the car and put my clothes on, got on the bike. And that person who was training that day they must have known. And, actually, I'm getting the stories blended because the day that the doctor told me, I did sit in the car and cry.
But then a few days later when I went to see the doctor that told me that I was going to deliver, he actually made the appointment for a few hours later that day. So I didn't even have the time to process that. I thought my doctor told me that I was going to have a procedure, I didn't know I was going to have to deliver the baby.
So that, "Get on the bike", actually, came after I came home, knowing that I was going to have to deliver the baby in just like three hours, and I was in my car bawling my eyes out. And, so, I got on the bike and it was like that trainer knew that I was going to go do that.
Because it was a climb ride. And I believe that when you are going through something in your life, name it, name how it makes you feel. Does it make you feel like you're going up a mountain? Does it make you feel like you're standing still with a lot of pressure coming against you? Name whatever the feeling is of where you are.
And then I always encourage go do a workout that gives you that same feeling. So if I feel like I'm climbing uphill and it's one of the most difficult mountains I say, "Go on a hike or go get on a bike and climb." Which is what I did.
I was like, "I need to climb." I climbed. And she said something towards the end, she has you stand up, you stand up on the bike and you're rising up. And she said, "I want you to rise up. I want you to rise up like you have something to do today, like you have something to prove." And right in that moment I was thinking, "I do have something to do today."
And by the end of that ride, all those good endorphins just rushing into my body, and all the dopamine, and the serotonin, and all the beautiful things that really do help bring us back to homeostasis that balance, and I remember getting off that bike like I was on a mission.
Alison: I can do this.
Christy: I can do this. It's hard, but I can do this. But the thing about it is, Allie, I say that, and then it sounds, especially if somebody's listening, it's just like, "Okay, that's a little bit crazy." I had been training for that moment.
Alison: I didn't know I was training for that moment. But every day that I get up and make my body do what it does not want to do. And at the end, when my body is so tired that it doesn't want to go on, and then I tell it, "No, you must." That was training me for that moment. The moment where I didn't want to go on but I knew that I must, my body was just already primed for that type of behavior.
Alison: We know how to do that.
Christy: We push to the end and we do it very strong. So exercise has so many components that if you actually do apply it to your life, it's easy to just exercise every day and never really apply it to your life.
Christy: But if you, actually, take your life and line it up with exercise and say, "Whoa," you will see how similar exercise is to, actually, going through everyday life issues. Sorry, that was a very long explanation.
Alison: Well, it's really interesting. I mean, I love, first of all, how you took what was a little bit of a self-destructive tendency and turned it into a superpower with the exercise. But the other thing you're saying that's really interesting, to me as a psychologist, is the externalizing the metaphor, bringing it into the body.
Because we tend to want to go through our motions or go to God, all of which are important but our bodies also carry all of that. And I love what you said about whatever you're feeling, externalize it.
Because what it made me think of is I had a stroke a couple of years ago, most of my listeners know about this. And I remember I was terrified, for me, I wanted my body just wanted to not move, it almost felt superstitious, because if I start to move is a bad thing going to happen to me?
Alison: And, so, what I did, it's not unlike what you're saying it's different, but I externalized it. But I felt like, literally, "Can I just crawl along?" So I did. My body needed to express what I was feeling. And, so, I'll never forget the day I made myself, I walked down the road, I mean, and I like to walk. I mean, I go fast. I go. I was like, "I'm going to walk at the pace." And I can feel the emotion in my body now as I describe it, "The pace that my body feels." My body felt 80 years old.
Alison: That's what I was feeling. I was like, "I just had something happen to me that I'm too young to have happened to me." And I let my body externalize that feeling. And it also helped the emotions flow through, and that's kind of what I hear you saying. We have to find ways to physicalize the pain that we feel because we do carry that pain in our bodies.
Christy: Yeah, because there's something about, first of all, I'm so sorry to hear about your stroke. Although, obviously, I know you, probably, have gained so much power through that experience. It still doesn't change the difficulty of the experience. But what you're saying is, Alison, there's just something about what happens when you move.
Christy: It's beyond, sometimes I wish we could get rid of the word exercise because I think that there's a stigma attached. I talk a lot about exercise as if she was a girl, and how, if she was a girl, like no one would date her. Like if she was on a dating app, everyone would always swipe Left. It would be like, "Oh, no." Her personality traits would be like, time consuming, expensive, tiring draining, they are like, "No."
Alison: Nobody wants her.
Christy: I'm like, "She is not like that at all, we have got her so wrong. She is for us. She wants to be our friend. She does make us do hard things but it's for our benefit not to hurt us, not to punish us, really, is there as like a constant companion because, movement, we were created to move."
Christy: As a matter of fact, when we stopped moving... They say when you retire the chances of you dying triple? Quad triple? I don't even know. Like just a couple years later, it's like, if you stop your body's like, "Oh, well, we're ready to die."
So if that's what happens, we have to come to the conclusion that we were made to move, and to move often. Just as a signal to our brain that says, "Hey, we're living this life, we're here for it." And, so, I think even in what you experienced, just saying like, "Nope," you sent a signal to your brain that said, "No, we're not done here."
Alison: We're still alive.
Christy: "We may not be moving at the speed we were moving before. But I just want you to know that we're moving"
Alison: That's right.
Christy: You know what I mean? Whether we're walking at a snail's pace, there's movement happening.
Alison: I am here. My body is alive, my soul and my emotions are carried in that body, they are all interconnected?
Alison: That's a really powerful word. Thank you for just sharing that with us the story and how you got through it, and again, how you turned that. You weren't denying what you felt, all that pain was in there, but you were channeling it in a way that empowered you to keep going.
Man, I could keep talking to you. I do want to touch on one thing before we close this out. Because I was so interested, Christy, when I heard you share at this retreat, that you walked away, essentially, from social media, at least for a time, about a year ago, is that right?
Alison: What led to that decision, and how has that affected your body image and your overall self-concept?
Christy: Yeah, I, actually, I've lost track now. I want to say it's been almost two years since I stopped. Well, let's say it's been like a year and a half.
Christy: Social media is time consuming. I went through a year where I did this whole business program and I did all the things because I want to build this brand, and it's amazing and make this impact in the world. And something happened at the end of the year, and when I was on a roll and I was moving forward and my platform community's growing, I felt like I was making an impact.
I felt empty inside and I thought, "Huh, that doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense for me to feel empty when I'm doing all the things that I thought would bring me fullness." That seems like an oxymoron and, so, I had to do a deep dive and I had to figure out what it was.
And I realized if I was to pinpoint what my real dream was, I used to say this thing, because body image was my thing, "I want this message to go forth into the world. I want it to be a household name about exercise and about the body, this is what people will refer to."
And I just realized that the desire to be a household name was really more to be a household name in my own house, in my relationship with my own kids, that was really a true dream for me, maybe, I was running from it. A lot of people being on social, and stepping out, and speaking to people and all that, that part is hard. That part is the work harder, for me, was not doing that.
Christy: And to quote-unquote, "Just be at home with my kids." I think probably, for me, and this is not a message for all mothers, this is a message, for me. I don't want anyone to think that this is blanketing what I think moms should be doing. This is what this mom needed to do and that was that I needed to be brave enough to step into my own home fully engaged.
Alison: That's amazing.
Christy: And be okay with letting my community, they're adults they'll figure it out. I think of myself as an 80-year-old woman looking at my life and, somebody asking me like, "Man, what was your biggest accomplishment?" And never once does it ever float up into my mind to name something I did.
A book, a conference, the first thought is, "What would my kids say about me?" And, so, if that is the most important thought that floats to the top for me. Then I knew it was important, for me, to make sure that whatever they said, came from someone who did everything that she could to give them something good to say.
Alison: This is what I mean, for those of you who are listening, about intentionality, self-awareness, the courage to dig deep into yourself. And I hear you, Christy, there's no agenda with what you're saying, and not every woman is going to arrive at the same conclusion. But you knew what was right for you and you paid attention, and there's that thread throughout everything you tell. It's like, "I knew, and I acted, and I paid attention, and this is what was right for me."
And, I mean, that's just powerful, it's really a powerful message for women to hear. It's going to look different for all of us. But that theme of what you said, "I felt empty, I paid attention to that." Instead of just, "Well, this is what the world tells me I should want. Well, look, I'm getting success."
You had success, it was working and you were like, "I felt empty." And wait a minute, "Is this what I really want?"
"Is this the life that I believe we all have to be, that's the work that we all have to be doing whatever it leads us to."
Christy: It's just like this quote I read yesterday it said, "This is not a rehearsal." And that feeling, that emptiness, it's like, "I could push ahead but this life is not a rehearsal. I get one shot at this life and I want to know that I lived as the star of my life, as opposed to a supporting role in my own life."
Alison: That's right.
Christy: Because I was to go a different path that I didn't want to go but I thought it was the way that I should go because that's what people said, culture said.
Alison: That's exactly right, what other people's expectations or dreams are for me.
What are actually my dreams?
What do I want to do with this life I've been given?
For sure, because I thought, "Yes, it's my dream to be a speaker, to be an author, to follow in the footsteps of my mom." I just knew for sure. But when I go back into my heart of hearts, when I think about my upbringing, as amazing as my parents are, my mom is still here my dad is not. Fantastic parents doing the best they could with what they had, left an enormous legacy.
But one thing that I always wanted as I said, "I don't want to be a mom that's at home but not in my home." And be a mom who is very present and parents were both entrepreneurs, and they sowed into a lot of lives. Our house was very much open to many people, which is beautiful. I love how many lives my parents touched, and I love that's a part of me of having that revolving door type thing, I love that.
Christy: But at the same time, that feeling that people had more access to my parents than I did. Or that they, basically, there was nothing different about me and these people, I just didn't want to build that same legacy. And I feel like that's where I was headed in the sense of people's lives being on par with my own children, in the sense of them needing advice, and encouragement.
You know what I mean? It's just, I didn't want to repeat. That's the part of parenting that I didn't want to repeat. My parents wouldn't have known they were doing it, but I know. And now that I know, I don't want to repeat that, so this is my way of trying my best, not to.
Alison: That is such a good word, again, that self-awareness and ability to translate the knowledge that you've been able to translate to wisdom in your own life. There's something about that connection to yourself and to God, it's both. You know you and then God speaks to you, and you're like, "Okay, that's what we're doing." There's just something really beautiful about that, that really speaks to me, and I'm grateful, so grateful for you.
Christy: Alison, I appreciate it, I really do. Like any other person, I question myself whether or not I am being intentional enough? Whether or not I am doing the best that I can or am I being lazy? That's one of the questions that I asked myself when I walked away from social, from the light. Like, "Am I just making excuses, like, I don't want to do the hard work? I don't want to do what it takes to get to the top." Or whatever language you want to use.
And I realized "No, actually, it's more brave, for me, to not do it in my personal life just of who I am." This takes more courage for me, and I, honestly, have not looked back. I don't miss it one iota, I don't miss it at all.
And that was another, God will tell me to follow peace. Following peace doesn't always mean that it's not going to be challenging. I think we get that confused, sometimes, we think like, "Oh, if this is hard that must not be peace."
No, it's like the peace that's inside of me. There's a stillness that says, "Okay, well, if this is hard, I still know this is the way I'm supposed to go, so I'm okay doing that hard thing." And, so, there's a complete peace with me about the path that I've chosen.
Alison: That is so powerful, what you're saying. And as we close this out, I think that's what... because the messages out there. If you pay attention because there's messages that say, "You got to do the work. You got to reach all the people, that's the right thing to do. That's the godly thing to do." And then you can have these other messages that are like, "The right thing to do is to do this."
I mean, if you try to read the tea leaves or please all the expectations, whatever the expectations, you're going to wind up pleasing nobody. But that's what's so interesting to me about this journey you're on, and I love how you're saying, "It's not that it's easy, but I have that inner sense of peace that these choices I'm making are right for me." That's freedom, no one can take that away from you.
Christy: No one can take that from you, and it's a beautiful thing. It is a, really, beautiful thing.
Alison: So as I end all of these episodes I ask all my guests, the title of the podcast is The Best of You, what is bringing out the best of you right now?
Christy: Oh, man, good question. What is bringing out the best of me? I think what brings out the best of me is when I am willing to take the time to get up early in the morning, and read, and listen, and pray, when it's quiet. I have the best days on those days.
There's something about feeling a connection to creation and just being grounded in that, taking a moment to just be. So many figures, public figures, they say this of gratitude and all that, and it starts to sound, really, cliché.
Christy: But there's nothing better. I can't find anything better, than taking a moment to acknowledge what is good in your life. It's really hard to be angry. It's hard to be bitter. It's hard to be frustrated. It's hard to be down at the same time as being grateful.
Christy: It's not impossible but it's really difficult. Even if it's just for a moment, to be able to acknowledge what is beautiful in your life. That grounds me in the morning and connects me, and just having that talk in the morning with God, reading what I believe is His words to me, writing my interpretation, all of that brings out the best in me.
Alison: I love that.
Christy: And it allows me to fully be who I am.
Alison: To connect and align, both within yourself and with God, to who you really are, and then live from that.
Christy: Makes a huge difference. The days that I don't do it I a 100% see the fruit of that, whether it's good fruit or not.
Alison: I love that. And then lastly, this might be similar, but what needs or desires are you working to protect?
Christy: Oh, man, I think right now I'm really learning to protect my time.
Christy: I am an extrovert. I'm a people person. I love going to coffee with friends and catching up, and encouraging one another, and, to me, that is a way of giving life. But sometimes if I'm not careful, it ends up taking life because I'm not getting the things done that I need to get done. And, so, it's no longer life-giving, so I'm learning to protect my time better, really streamline my focus. And then also I'm, really, learning how to become a more organized mom.
I'm an artist, so I went to school for theater and, typically, artists are not the most organized per se. So much is abstract and it's very, I'm not saying there aren't organized artists out there, there are, but a lot of us aren't.
And, so, then you throw a husband and five kids into the mix and it's like, "Oh, my gosh, systems." I'm really working on that. And I think that's the area when I talk about like, "Oh, am I doing the best I can?" I find myself really struggling in that area and always looking for ways to make it work better, for me.
Christy: And I believe that there's a gift to the way that I do think, and the way that I do operate in the world with my artistic tendencies. And, so, being able to combine that with an organizational style that works with my personality.
Christy: And I mean, I may not be organized until they graduate.
Alison: It's on the job training. I mean, there's no way to learn but through and you get a little bit better. And then the other thing, though, about that kind of learning the skills that you gain as a parent is the minute you get the system they're in a different season. They move into a different stage of life and the system has to change.
Christy: And there will be seasons where I'm like, "I'm carrying this organization, this is amazing, who am I? And then I'm like, "Who am I? I don't know."
Alison: Where is my free spirit and artistic self anymore, and that's when you get on the bike.
Christy: That's when you rise up like you got something to do today. It was awesome, thanks to you, Alison, I could talk to you forever.
Alison: I could talk to you forever and we'll have to figure out a time to do it again because there's so much wisdom that God has given you, and that you've hard-earned wisdom. You've gone through a lot and to arrive at just this place of what you described as an internal peace. Not because there hasn't been challenges but because you paid attention, and I just really appreciate your sharing that with me, sharing that with these listeners, and I can't wait to talk to you some more. We'll do it again.
Christy: I would love it, all right.
Alison: Thank you, Christy Joy.
Christy: My pleasure.
[00:56:22] < Music >
Alison: Thank you for joining me for this episode of The Best of You. Be sure to check out the show notes for any resources and links mentioned in the show. You can find those on my website at dralisoncook.com. That's Alison with one -L cook.com.
Before you forget, I hope you'll follow the show now so that you don't miss an episode. And I'd love it if you go ahead and leave a review, it helps so much to get the word out. I look forward to seeing you back here next Thursday. And remember, as you become the best of who you are, you honor God, you heal others, and you stay true to your God-given self.
[00:56:59] < Outro >