I’ve written at length about my on/off struggle with anorexia and how it’s one of the strategies Satan employs to attack my mind, body, and spirit in times of anxiety and grief. In my book Immeasurable, I talk about how the Lord has delivered me again and again, each time drawing me nearer to Him with reminders of His sufficient grace and unfailing faithfulness. He reminds me of what fragile beings we are, how susceptible we are to demonic darts, and why donning the armor of God should be the first thing we do every day (Ephesians 6:11-18).
“Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.” –Psalm 103:13-14, NASB
Today, I want to address one effective, albeit surprising and unconventional, way God has helped me overcome the temptation to undereat and overexercise when I’m facing storms or feeling stressed. If you read the title of this post, then you know the answer: Instagram.
Before I continue, I wish to say that I am well aware of the significant downsides of Instagram – and all social media platforms in general – namely how it can cause users to compare themselves to others and envy how they look, what they have, where they travel, who they hang out with, etc.
I stumbled across a Cosmo article recently which clearly demonstrates just how damaging Instagram can be, particularly to women’s self-esteem. In it, 15 college-age women spoke candidly about how Instagram promotes insecurity by constantly bombarding them with flawless images and engaging them in a virtual popularity contest.
“Instagram has affected my self-esteem positively and negatively. Positively because when I post a picture and get nice comments and likes, it makes me feel good, but sometimes negatively when I see pictures of flawless girls and think, ‘Oh, why can’t I look like that?'” —Liz
I joined Instagram when I was 25 years old. I had grown into my paws (for the most part, at least) and was comfortable in my own skin. Had Instagram and its social-media cousins been around when I was in high school and college, however, I would probably be just as caught up in the comparison game as millions of other young women are; my Snapchat story would be filled with nothing but nonstop pity parties and melodramatic emojis. I’m sure someone would have eventually counseled me to, for the sake of my sanity, get off of Instagram until my identity was firmly rooted in Whose I am rather than who I am. I trust I would have listened!
But back to today’s topic…
I never would have expected Instagram to be a place where I would find encouragement to eat more. As I mentioned earlier, when I’m stressing out over something, no matter the size, I revert back to old habits and subconsciously convince myself that by restricting my calorie intake, I’ll feel in control again. Seeing strong, healthy, confident women post photos of something as simple as their post-workout waffle or date-night dessert is often all it takes for me to remember that most of the time, food is fuel, some of the time food is fun, but none of the time is food to be my focus.
So many of us have forged food into an idol. When we’re feeling depressed, we either run to it for instant comfort, or flee from it for instant control.
We think a bag of Hershey Kisses will wash away our sorrows.
We think a pint of Ben & Jerry’s will fill the emptiness in our souls.
We think that by counting every calorie, eating just the right amount of protein, or drastically reducing our carb intake we’ll reach our goal weight, and therefore find contentment.
We think that a stringent, all-consuming diet regiment is the necessary price to pay for Daisy-Duke-worthy legs and a two-piece-ready tummy.
In reality, this sort of discipline is counterproductive, joy-sucking drudgery. Ironically, the very practice on which we’re relying to bring us happiness (whether bingeing or restricting) turns out to be the instrument Satan uses to unravel us and drive us farther away from the Solution to all our problems, the ultimate Comforter we should have called to all along.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears. – Psalm 18:6, NIV
It may sound silly to credit Instagram with providing the impetus I’ve needed to redirect my eating habits, but to me, it just proves that social media isn’t all bad, and in fact, it can do a lot of good.
These women have no idea how they’ve helped me rein in my impulse to make food into an enemy to be controlled and my body into a foe to be subdued. Perhaps you have no idea who you’re impacting with your posts. Perhaps you’ve never thought about how your ordinary pictures could inspire someone to make an extraordinary change.
I pray we all will use the two-edged sword of Instagram to be lights in the world, ever burning with love, ever shining with hope, ever kindling the fire in others just waiting to break free.
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
What are your thoughts on Instagram? Has it helped or hindered your fitness journey? Leave a comment below or tweet me at @dandersontyler!
 http://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/news/a48749/college-instagram-self-esteem-pressure/ (accessed June 26, 2016)
 Add me on Snapchat and send me a chat! My username is dianatyler86.