Body Image

Body Image

When you focus on improving your body image you walk a fine line between disciplined commitment and obsessive idolatry. Tyrone shares his journey.

Transcript
Tyrone: I think I used to live… I used to live just to maintain this image or this idea of what I wanted to look like. Everything was structured around training and what I was going to eat. And there’s a level to which that could be described as being committed… but there’s a level to which you need to start being real with yourself. When those tendencies become… You know, I think the line is thin between being committed and being unhealthy. So, it was a balance I struggled to maintain for a long time and like I still make mistakes. But like I said, I had to evaluate why I was doing what I was doing.

Introducing Tyrone Atkin

Blaque: “Welcome to the Gospel Coalition Africa Podcast. My name is Blaque. Welcome to the new year. Happy New Year to you. Pray that the Lord will bless you this year and that he has his hand over you and that you are looking forward to the year. Thank you so much for checking out our content from last year. We have plenty of new content coming your way this year. So please do subscribe to wherever it is that you are watching this or listening to this so that you can be updated with all the podcasts that we put out and any other content. Go to our website there are plenty of articles, plenty of other resources that you can get for just Christian living, for ministry work, so on and so forth. So, as you get geared for 2020, please do yourself a favour and do that.”
“We’re going to jump straight into our conversation for today and we’re here with the man with the guns. You know, normally we have like a table and people are sitting across me but for the sake of this podcast you needed a visual comparison. Like you see like this, there’s nothing here, there’s everything there. So you’ve seen obviously with the title of the podcast that we’re speaking about Body Image and Tyrone is going to help us think through all of that stuff. But before we get into that, I just want him to introduce himself. Tell us a bit about who he is, what he’s currently doing, and then we’ll jump straight into the topic.
Bro, what’s up, man?”
Tyrone: What’s up dog?
Blaque: All good.
Tyrone: Good to see you man.
Blaque: Good man. Thanks for coming.
Tyrone: Yeah, thanks for having me!
Blaque: For those who don’t know you, who’s Tyrone? Where were you born? Where do you live? What do you currently do now?
Tyrone: Yeah, so I was born in Centurion, funnily enough, at Unitas Hospital. But I’ve been living in Midrand, M-City.
Blaque: Hey – we see you – gangster! Howzit! There is a funky way that they do that…
Tyrone: Something like that. I’ve been living in Midrand for something like… when did we move here? 99?
Blaque: That’s 20 years ago…
Tyrone: From Clayville, so not too not too far away. I’ve been studying education for the last 4 years. And this year I officially have a full-time post. I started on Wednesday teaching full-time Gr 5 and 6, hardest job ever.
Blaque: Teaching English
Tyrone: …and History and Geography. All social sciences. That’s what they call it.

Meeting Jesus

Blaque: Pretty dope, man, exciting stuff, and from one teacher to another the teacher that you follow whose name is Jesus, the greatest teacher ever. How did you meet that guy?
Tyrone: So like I said, I’ve been living in Midrand my whole life. And when we originally moved here, my mom was looking for a school for me to come to. So ended up at Christ Church because they were the only school that would take me.
Blaque: Were you a naughty kid, bru?
Tyrone: I like to believe that I wasn’t so bad. But if you chat to other people they might tell you a different story.
Blaque: Because you were like “that’s the only school that would take you.”
Coming to Youth on a Friday evening. But… I mean, I heard the gospel, like I just don’t think it it really resonated with me.
Tyrone: I think it was because of my age. But, I think Christ Church found out the hard way. Chat to Martin and he will tell you something. So I ended up coming to Christ Church. Obviously a Christian school, focused on Christian education. So, you know kind of like, had assemblies, hearing the gospel. You know going on camps. Coming to Youth on a Friday evening. But… I mean, I heard the gospel, like I just don’t think it it really resonated with me.

Being a ‘Christian’ in name only

I kind of called myself or fell under the bracket of being a Christian. But I think, you know, I kind of viewed life… You know, you kind of like you got your career, you got, you know, your house, whatever it is. To kind of complete the circle and you know, there are different kinds of religious affiliations and you know Christianity was one of them. And I was just like, “well, you know, this seems to be the puzzle that just fits into into the circle.” So, but in terms of you know leading a Christian lifestyle, a genuine heart change, I think I was rubbish. I was just garbage. And it was only until after school actually.
I remember I was studying at a sport academy with some friends, and one of them one day he said something that will just resonate with me for the rest of my life. Because it was kind of just, a very iconic moment. You know, we’re just sitting having a very general discussion and he said to me, “you know Ty, like, you are actually really cool because you know, you call yourself a Christian.” He said, “you know, you’re a Christian and you have your religion and stuff but you still do the stuff that we do.“
I knew that you were supposed to be in the world but not of it. You know, there’s supposed to be a distinguishable difference
Blaque: Ohhhhh

God Just Kept Nagging Me

Tyrone: As soon as he said it like the penny dropped because you know, like I said being at a Christian School, I kind of knew that you know, you were supposed to be in the world but not of it. You know, there’s supposed to be like a distinguishable difference. But you know that wasn’t really happening. So I was like, “yas!”
Blaque: That was God, bro!
Tyrone: Yeah It was, it was, it was. And it came from the most unlikely source because my friend was like, “yeah man, it’s just…” Yah.
Tyrone: Anyways…
Blaque: He was in the world!
Tyrone: Yeah, he was in the world. So, from then on I think I remember I went home that day and it just was in the back of my head. And it was just nagging me, nagging me, nagging me. And, I mean, I’ve always been pretty tight during my time with the school with the youth pastor, Kerrin. Just a great guy. And… I just had this this continual nagging and it just didn’t want to go away. And I tried to reach out to him. I messaged him on Facebook. But I think he’s not very active on that platform! So, kind of went on like another few months with no response, and eventually I managed to get his number from someone. And then I came through to Midrand for the day and we met up. And he was just like “man, like, the Holy Spirit has been calling you for a while.” He’s just like “you need a… You’ve been in the driver’s seat for too long. You know, it’s time to to change positions and and give full control to God.”

Giving God Full Control

And yeah, it was just like a complete shift in terms of how I viewed my Christian life and how I viewed God. I mean I kind of just thought that he was some guy on the side that you consult for stuff. And, you know, there was a list that you kind of just needed to follow. Boxes that you needed to tick. So it wasn’t very relational. But I just kind of gave him full control from there on. And it’s been it’s been a ride, man!
Blaque: That’s exciting, man. It’s a dope story. We pray for more friends like that! Lord use them!

What Does Body Image Mean?

Blaque: So we’re talking about body image and what’s that term for you? When you hear the term body image what does it mean for you?
Tyrone: I think it… I mean for me personally, I kind of think it just refers to the way I perceive myself. And the way I think… or the way I’d like to be perceived by by other people. I think just, just physically, just the view I have of my physical outward self.
Blaque: That’s cool, bro. Earlier on we were chatting and then you said that other people might have a… they might not be aware that they have an image of their body or a body image, concept. But everyone seemingly has. Whether it’s an understanding of how people perceive themselves, like you say, or a way that they perceive themselves when they look in the mirror. But sometimes it can be negative. So body image can be negative or can be positive.
Care to share with us, what are some of those negative aspects of body image and what are some positive aspects of body image?

Negative Aspects of Body Image

Tyrone: Sure. So I think, you know, like we spoke about earlier, just some of the negative aspects… because of the culture we live in our physical and outward appearance is one of the first ways in which we get people to notice us. Or the first thing people notice about you before you even say anything. And so I think the pressure for people to conform to a kind of standard is, is quite high.
because of the culture we live in our physical and outward appearance is one of the first ways in which we get people to notice us.
I think they are a lot of extremes of that kind of body image. Both sides of the spectrum. You have things like Bigorexia, Anorexia. Where just people feel like, they are inadequate. And they’re not, they’re not thin enough or… Like I don’t understand, you know, the psychology behind things like anorexia completely but I do know that it definitely ties into a very poor low, low view of body image or self image.
I think that’s one very devastating example that probably plagues quite quite a lot of people. And, you know, I don’t think people just wake up and have like bad body image. I think it kind of builds up and it’s contributed to by various factors over, over a period of time. But, I mean that’s definitely one example.

Positive Aspects of Body Image

Blaque: And the positives?
Tyrone: I think positives… You know, so just trying to be holistically aware of of your well-being. So not just what you look like outwardly, but knowing that the outside or the superficial kind of stuff that people see is only one kind of aspect in that. Body image is about how you feel emotionally about your body. Mentally, as well, that mental health, the wealth on your inside, you know. Looking after your heart and your your organs and all those things. It contributes. So, you know, just being aware of what you put into your body. Even if you don’t exercise every day just trying to exercise regularly to just maintain this vessel that you’ve been, that you’ve been given. Because, you know, we should steward our bodies well.

We need to steward our money, steward our family, steward the gifts he has given us. And this body is a gift that we need to we need to look after.

Blaque: Yeah. That’s good bro yeah. I think that’s a valid point just on the stewardship of our bodies. Like everything God has given us. We need to steward our money, steward our family, steward the gifts he has given us. And this body is a gift that we need to we need to look after.

The Start of the Journey – Why I Cared about How I Looked

Blaque: How did your journey start, bro? When did it start? How did it start? Why did it start? Because you weren’t born with guns!
Tyrone: Nah. I like to tell people that I was born like this but there’s some pretty damning evidence to suggest otherwise.
Blaque: That picture is horrible.
Tyrone: Quite a horrible picture, unfortunately. One of those things that just haunts me! But yeah, it’s fine.
I think it started from a very young age. Probably like late, late, late primary school so Gr 6, Gr 7. I was just very aware of how I looked. I mean there was a big mirror in my sister’s room. Sometimes I used to walk home, and she’d moved out already, I used to walk in just to check myself. I’d be like, “hmm.” But like, I was just aware of my body. But yeah it started then, man. And I think, sheesh, probably like every guy who starts gymming at some point, probably a large portion of it was for the honeys.
I was aware that… I mean you don’t have to go far – even in cartoons… The alpha male! You know, “that’s what women love!”
Blaque: Yeah. Hey, that’s for the girls, man.
Tyrone: For the girls, sheesh, so I think that definitely contributed to some of it.
Blaque: And you, you were saying that you were like doing, taking like grocery, plastic bags…
Tyrone: Yah. I used to take my mom’s grocery bags, the plastic packets, the Spar ones, Pick n Pay whatever. I used to take like five or six of them, just like stack them inside each other so they were nice and thick. And then I used to tape the handles up, just take some masking tape. And I used to jam like some bricks from our pavement. So like there would always be bricks missing. And now i’d just like sit at the back on the porch and like curl them or like hook it on my foot or whatever.

The Image of the Alpha Male

So, I mean there were always like, you know Men’s Health magazines around the house. And I always used to see the guys on the cover. I was like, “okay, well, you know, this is what men should look like.” And it looked appealing like physically, you know. I think God has given us… like the human body is incredible. And it just… it looked good. And that was something that I aspired to. Also obviously, like I said, I was aware that… I mean you don’t have to go far – even in cartoons, movies, books, you know. That kind of seems to be the thing, the alpha male! You know, “that’s what women love!” So I was like, “Okay. Well if that’s what I gotta do to get her attention” then you know, so be it.
Blaque: You are gonna do that!
Tyrone: Yeah! Yeah!
Blaque: Because obviously the picture of you when you were a kid like and you’re skinny. People must have said like some horrible things to you.
Tyrone: Yah. Shucks.

Struggling with Comments about Our Bodies

Blaque: Only now have I gained like this much weight. I don’t even know how much weight I’ve gained bro, like I was like super skinny growing up. I was born very thin. I didn’t have an issue with it. And growing up in the township… Like people just… like somehow, I don’t know if it’s like black culture, but people feel like they have a right to say, to comment on your body. It’s like a black card. Like it’s part of our black card. Just because you’re black you can comment. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s everywhere else! But like every Township I’ve been to and black families… It’s just, you know? And we even call you by that! Like there’s names for like skinny people. Like “Slender”, “Dwanjani”.
People use the question of how much weight you’ve gained or how much weight you’ve lost, as a greeting.
Tyrone: Yeah! Those sound familiar!
Blaque: So I had all of that bro. But for me didn’t hurt! Like it was like “whatever.” I think it’s like God’s grace and mercy that I wasn’t insecure in how I looked. But even now in family gatherings when we come together, like people use the question of how much weight you’ve gained or how much weight you’ve lost, as a greeting.
Tyrone: An Icebreaker.
Blaque: Yeah it’s an icebreaker basically! So much so that my wife got shocked when we got married. Coz she comes from a different culture. She’s black but she grew up in the suburbs. I grew up in the township. So… like in the burbs, you don’t comment on people’s weight and say when you see them in the street. But in the hood it’s like “Hah! Who gained weight!?” “Okay, thanks, bro!” So for her it was a “hey man, like why you talking about my weight? I don’t know you got much. Like only my husband or my mom can comment whether I am gaining or losing weight.” Whatever the case is.

Comments that Stayed with me from School

Blaque: But for you bro, like how was that like? Because school kids are horrible!
Tyrone: Yeah sure. Jeez.
Blaque: They say some mean stuff!
Tyrone: Yah. Sure. So I mean, there’s, you know, definitely been quite a few cases where… And, you know, it’s just one of those things I don’t know why it is that way. But like just that those comments or things that people have said are so ingrained just like into the back of my head. So I could probably tell you like what day of the year it was, what time it was, I just like can remember the exact detail of the conversation. It’s just so, like, vivid that… Yeah! So… and like I said, I don’t know if it’s just, you know, like you, but they really sometimes… it was just it really sticks with you. And I think there are probably like, you know, four or five like comments that I can remember. Like I’m talking about from high school. So that’s you know, almost a good 10 years ago now like good comments that I can remember. You know that they’ve just like… really stuck with me.
You just go home and think about that person’s comments. You then realise the power that your words have over people’s lives.
Blaque: Was that was that part of the reason why you also started just gymming?
Tyrone: Yeah. Probably.
Blaque: Was there a point where you are pumping iron and you like have somebody’s face on the dumbbell?
Tyrone: Not somebody’s face but definitely their words just playing in my mind as I’m like lifting that weight. I mean, it sounds silly, but it like it’s you know, it’s a thing. I mean and you do it. You just go home and think about that person’s comments. I think you then also just realise the power that your words have over people’s lives. And you know, I love my mom to bits, but, you know even just comments that my mom made… I think, you know, she was probably one of the first people that said things… And like I said you learn to be gracious over time. But it’s still hard.
To say that it’s not something that I still struggle with would be, you know, an injustice. But, so, you know there are days where you can just learn to kind of brush those comments off. You realise that people are joking and whatever. But growing up it was hard man. Hearing it from your friends. “Goddamn!”
You know, I mean, I was the same height I am now. But like minus a good 20 kilos, so you can you can imagine what I used to look like. I was as it describes properly “uSlender.”

Body Shaming is Real

Blaque: Or Dwanjani. Yeah man so body shaming is a real thing. And it sucks and it’s whack. And I think body shaming is horrible. It’s an evil thing. We should not do it, you know to mean? If you are watching this and you’re one of those people who body shame people, yoh! Stop it! It’s horrible!
And if you’ve been body shamed, you know, there’s there’s a lot of redemption in Jesus. A lot of worth in him. We are all made in his image and the Bible is a good place to start to seek motivation of how to steward your body. Because it is a gift like we said earlier on.
if you’ve been body shamed there’s there’s a lot of redemption in Jesus. A lot of worth in him. We are all made in his image
But we do live in a body. I mean you see it on social media. People get body shamed and get dragged on Twitter, just because of how they look. Or how their bodies are. And yah like God still gave us these bodies and so they belong to him. So, it’s a horrible thing.

How Being a Christian Changed my Approach to Gym

Blaque: But have you have you changed how you view yourself now that you’re Christian? Have you changed your approach to why you gym, how you gym? Now that you that you are in the backseat and Jesus is driving.
When you are living in the dark, you’re not as overtly aware of why you do all the nonsense that you do.
Tyrone: Absolutely. Yeah. Sure. I think, you know when you are living in the dark, you’re not as overtly aware of why you do all the nonsense that you do. But you know as soon as you take a step out into the light a lot of your motives and you thinking becomes exposed. And I think you know, obviously that’s a that’s a great thing, but it’s a difficult process to go through. I didn’t always look like this, you know. I used to actually be a lot a lot bigger and I think just a lot more… I think my lifestyle was quite gluttonous.

Bigger and more Gluttonous

Blaque: Sure. So when you started?
Tyrone: So I think, you know, I was at the sports academy and that’s when I kind of really like start gymming properly. Got a gym membership. In 2014, 2015, 2016, you know…
Blaque: You were like the hulk!
Tyrone: Yeah! I was like over a hundred kilos! Man I was big and you know people like that see me now from like back then they’re like “yo! What happened man?” “Are you like Marathon a runner now?” and I’m like yeah – I just feel that jab. I’m like “La! Listen man. I’m just a lot healthier actually.”
So yah, I mean, I think I used to live… I used to live just to like maintain this body image. Or this idea of what I wanted to look like. You know? Everything was structured around training and what I was going to eat. There’s a level to which that could be described as being committed. But, there’s a level to which you need to start being real with yourself. When those tendencies become…

Am I Committed or Being Unhealthy?

Tyrone: You know, I think the line is thin between being committed and being unhealthy. So yeah it was a balance I struggled to maintain for a long time. I still make mistakes. But, like I said, I had to evaluate why I was doing what I was doing.
I think it starts with ‘a life unexamined is a life wasted’. So, like I said, taking that step out into the light and just trying to examine. Look at my life and just say like you know… “What is this all for? What is it going to? And whilst exercising, or just you know, being active, has always been an outlet for me. A way to just unwind and have fun and enjoy the physical gifts that I’ve been given. You know? Just trying to find a way to use that that’s not so… so vain.
Blaque: Yeah – that’s dope bro.
It’s hard… to find your validity in terms of what you look like or what you’re good at in who God made you. Versus what everyone else is saying.

Finding your Validity

Tyrone: So, looking for some kind of a greater purpose. But also just learning where to find my validation. Because… I mean it’s hard! It’s hard to just go [flip]. You know, like I think that change takes time. To find your validity in terms of what you look like or what you’re good at in who God made you. Versus what everyone else is saying.
Because it’s hard to tune out those voices than when that’s what you’re hearing all the time. It’s what you’re seeing in the mirror every day. What you’re seeing on Instagram. You know, what everyone looks like. You know we’re constantly bombarded with these images of you know, what ‘ideally’ you’re supposed to look like. And I think it’s so…
Blaque: Yah!
Tyrone: It’s so destructive because people go through so much to try and try to fit into that. So, yeah it’s taken quite a while to realise that. It’s been a journey man. So like I said, I used to be quite gluttonous! Just eating everything, you know chicken and rice however many times a day!
Blaque: 10 chickens a day.
Tyrone: Yeah! You know 10 chickens a day! Two litre ice-cream tub of oats. Whatever! You know I still have friends who tease me about my oats in the morning. I still eat oats but just…
I’m just trying to maintain my physical well-being, instead of just trying to be the Incredible Hulk
Blaque: Healthy portions.
Tyrone: More controlled portions! You know just for life! I think the way I eat is a lot healthier. I’m just trying to maintain my physical well-being, instead of just trying to be the Incredible Hulk.
Blaque: That’s dope bro. And I think just speaking on that, bro. We are obviously like giving a shameless plug to CrossFit… but you are trainer.  At one of the boxes… guys. It’s not a gym. It’s a box. I got my terminology. Did my research! So you’ve been training there.

Benefits of Training – Health

Blaque: What are some of the health benefits for training? So somebody might watch this and think “na bro, you know, I don’t want to do that. Why would I exercise?” But what are some of the health benefits?
Tyrone: Sure. I mean, I think there’s many. Something I’ve obviously been doing this for a while, you know, whether it’s CrossFit or you know, running or playing soccer. I think there’s just plenty of evidence to support that we should exercise and be active. For me personally that’s kind of like how I like to start my day. You know, I’ll go to training in the morning from 5 to 6 and it just helps me switch on. Feel awake. To be super focused. To be super alert. I’m ready to face the day because I feel like just alive.

Benefits of Training – Drive & Focus

Tyrone: It just gives me a real drive focus, sense of energy, and I can just start the day on the right foot. So it feels good. To compare that with days where, you know, maybe I’ve gone to bed late so I don’t train the next morning. Or it’s a rest day. Like those days just start super slow for me. I just feel so lethargic. Like I think only wake up at like 10 o’clock. So, definitely just really helps kick start my day.
God gave you a Ferrari – your body’s incredible! You wouldn’t pour sand in the petrol tank. You gotta fuel it with the stuff it needs to perform at it’s best.
I think as well just in terms of internally like just looking after your heart and your lungs and and all those things. I mean I can’t like look inside my heart and see. But when you go for a check-up at the doctor and everything’s all good, you know, you kind of just feel like what you’re doing is paying off. But just being aware of what you eat. So, I mean obviously, hand-in-hand with the training goes, you know, trying to eat relatively balanced. Just feeling like you have so much more to give of yourself in terms of energy. So when your nutrition is kind of like all over the show… I always say God gave you a Ferrari – your body’s incredible! You wouldn’t pour sand in the petrol tank. You gotta fuel it with the stuff it needs to perform at it’s best.

Benefits of Training – Energy

Tyrone: So, I try to give it what it needs so that I can live life to the fullest. Whether that’s just being, you know, having enough energy to give the kids in a class the time and attention and need to be attentive. You know, whether that’s going for a run or a hike and just enjoying the the physical gifts and just enjoying the things that God has blessed us with. And knowing that I can do that because, you know, I’m trying to take care of my body, you know, that’s that’s helpful.
Blaque: That’s good, bro. And again guys, you don’t have to go to a box. You don’t have to go to a gym. You can just do it at home like Tyrone started. I don’t like gyms. I just feel like people are looking at me. I don’t want to be looked at and so I just…
Tyrone: There’s a lot of that!

Benefits of Training – Awareness

Blaque: So I just run. I just run around where I stay. Or I just find new routes to run. But for me, it’s helpful as well in the morning. Just to feel alive. It feel’s like I’m waking up, everything kicks in. And it just helps fighting your sin man! Like when you are more aware of your environment, your own body, you know, it’s it just helps with being very conscious your thoughts. Conscious of the environment and your triggers and whatever sin that you struggling with. So for me, I know like if I go for weeks without jogging or running or whatever, that’s when I see like sin creeping up. Because I’m just not aware. I’m just lazy. So I need to, I need to always be active and energised.
When you are healthy, you are healthy for those kids during class. So you’re not giving them half-baked lessons

Benefits of Training – Serving Others

Blaque: And another point that you raised, which is dope, which I just wanted to double tap on is the service of others. You know so when you are healthy, you are healthy for those kids during class. So you’re not like giving them half-baked lessons or you’re just not as invested as a teacher. And I think that applies across the board. If you have a spouse if you are healthy you’ll be healthy for them. If you have children, you’ll be more healthy for them.
And definitely be healthy for the service of the body of Christ. You know what I mean? You need to go pack chairs at church. Or be there running around with Sunday school kids, being energetic with the teenagers. Whatever the case is, when we look after our bodies it benefits the body of Christ as well. So I think there’s a lot of healthy benefits to that and a whole lot of spiritual benefits to looking after our bodies.
When we look after our bodies it benefits the body of Christ as well.

Gym as an Idol

Blaque: But bro, other people would say going to the gym consistently or to the box or training or exercising…. can easily become an idol.
Tyrone: Yeah, absolutely.
Blaque: You know? How have you been able to fight that? Because how many times do you go to the gym? In a week?
Tyrone: I usually… so training from Monday to Saturday and then I might take Thursday off as like a rest day. And then, I think that’s basically it.
Blaque: Yeah. So other people say, would say “ooh! That’s a lot bro!” Like how do you… how has it… I don’t think its a lot – it’s fine.
Tyrone: Yeah like once a day.
Blaque: Yeah.
Tyrone: Sometimes twice.
Blaque: Hey, okay. Okay.
Tyrone: On the odd occasion!
Blaque: How have you fought it off, bro, that it doesn’t become your idol? Like you said earlier on – obviously your approach is transforming, loving Jesus. Knowing him now, and it’s been a journey. But how have you fought off that “you know I don’t put this thing on the pedestal.” Kick Jesus off the driver’s seat again and put this thing here.

God’s Grace Makes our Idols Apparent to us

Tyrone: I think just because you know I’ve always… that’s kind of always been my go-to. Even in high school sports was my thing. Just being active physically. That’s been something that’s been on the radar for a long time. So there have definitely been situations where training has taken precedence over other important things. I think just by the grace of God and through the conviction of his Holy Spirit, you know, those things have been made apparent to me. Which has been great. Because you know, like I said, you kind of have to ask yourself those questions. Like “shucks” is it  really necessary to be doing abc or whatever it is?

When I’ve been to training, you know, 500 times, that’s usually some kind of a red flag.

Tyrone: I think one of the biggest things is just you know that God has been graceful enough to to use his Holy Spirit and his word to continue to convict me. But I’ve also had people in my life, my community, that’s helped to keep me accountable. You know, so when people haven’t seen me in four weeks and I’ve been to training, you know, 500 times, that’s usually some kind of a red flag. You need to be making time for other things. So I mean it definitely, definitely can become an idol.

How to Fight the Idol – Plug into God’s Word

Tyrone: So I think one of the ways that I’ve tried to combat it is obviously just to make sure that I’m continually plugged into into the word. Because, when that happens that’s kind of when God’s speaking and showing me just …exposing the… exposing my heart. But it’s been difficult. Like I said, it’s still something that I struggle with from from time to time.
When maybe I have a more important deadline or something that should take precedence I am always like “Ah shucks, but when am I going to train?” So just being aware of that line of questioning and just knowing like okay, this is a bit of a red flag. It’s hard because there’s no…. there’s no app to monitor that! So I think God has just been really graceful in that kind of sense.

How to Fight the Idol – A Christian Community

Blaque: Yeah community is always best bro because we can get caught up in our own things. Anything can be an idol and you need brothers and sisters who say “hey!” Because you don’t see it. Because you are invested in it and it’s helping you and all of this other stuff. But like you need people who are not like directly involved in that to be like “ay! I think we need to put you out now.”
Anything can be an idol and you need brothers and sisters who say “hey!” Because you don’t see it
That’s good bro. That’s dope.
Tyrone: So that’s super helpful.

Self-Discipline or Self-Glorification?

Blaque: Praise the Lord for community bro. It’s probably a repetition… But when do you know when you’ve crossed the line between self discipline and self glorification? You know what I mean? Where you are like “Cool here. Like I know.” So even if it’s a crazy week or you are really training twice a day… When do you know that yah, it’s not discipline but it is self-glorification?
Tyrone: So like I said because I think I’ve been on that very extreme side of the spectrum and being kind of where I am now like it’s been a process of growth and awareness. So, when I kind of get to that stage… There are like I said at least red flags that I myself am able to to pick up and just be like, “whoa, Okay. You know that used to be the way you used to do things.” Do you know I’m saying?
Blaque: So all you see is signs of your old way of doing things?
One of the red flags is when everything revolves around training
Tyrone: Yeah. I think that’s the… so like I said because  I was within, you know, that kind of just it was a very very vain, very self driven, very self-obsessed type of lifestyle. So I think one of the biggest things is when I noticed that my, and again it’s a fine line between being disciplined and I think it being an unhealthy commitment, is when everything revolves around training. So, like I do need to go to bed early and I do need to make sure that I’m eating correctly and all those kinds of things but… You know, I can’t be, you know putting off time with with community, with family, with God just because I need to make training the main priority.

A Life Centred Around Jesus is the Answer

Tyrone: That’s been a difficult thing to reconcile. Because I’m just like well, “I need to be  disciplined, I need to be committed” but like where is the line between being committed and this thing being obsessive? And I think that’s where just that picture of Jesus comes into play really. Because I realise that my life needs to be centred around around him, not training. That’s been one of the most difficult things to get right. I mean we all have our vices but I think that one is definitely been very real for me. In that I will so readily prioritise, you know, doing something active instead of doing something important or that I need to.
I realise that my life needs to be centred around around Jesus, not training. That’s been one of the most difficult things to get right
Blaque: Dope. I think that’s good, bro. You know if Christ is not at the centre then you’ve fallen off. You don’t need any other red flags. That’s just a clear one.
Any books that helped you? I know you spoke about Community. Anything that like people in your community have recommended that you read that will help you? So somebody’s like I need something to just like reference or something to get me out as well because maybe they’ve crossed the line themselves? Or any passages you’ve read even if it’s just like a clear gospel passage that you’re like “yo this brought me home.” Anything you can recommend?

Christian Resources about Body Image

Tyrone: I think that’s also been a very tricky like kind of terrain to navigate. Just because I’m… I think in my community, I don’t know a lot of people that are like super super physically driven and motivated. They exercise and whatever but, you know, when you meet somebody who has the same vice and it’s like “oh! Well, you know, this has been something that’s been helpful for me.” That’s why I think in that sense I’ve struggled a little bit.
I can’t say I’ve listened to any podcast or something that was particularly focused on on this kind of topic itself. I think some of Matt Chandler’s stuff has been helpful. So his sermons about the Imago Dei those have been really helpful. So just understanding who I am in God’s eyes and how I’ve been made and how that kind of should translate into into how I live my life. So that stuff’s been helpful. But in terms of literature or stuff that I’ve read… that’s been difficult.
Because so often we kind of want like a cookie cutter situation. Somebody who’s writing from like our exact perspective. I’m like, “ah yeah, like I can really resonate with that! I also!” I guess, like I said, just trying to be be plugged in and trying to listen to what people have to say about how God created me and the image in which he did create me. So yeah…
Blaque: Dope, bro. If we if we find any resources we will definitely put them on the site. We will even do a follow-up podcast just to talk about any research that we’ve found that kind of helps with especially just that self-discipline and self gratification line. Particularly when it comes to health, fitness, body image that kind of stuff.

Are You Struggling With Your Body Image?

Any advice you would have for people, bro, who are struggling with how they look? Somebody who’s like “I hate how I look.” Or not even like actively hating how they look but they are just like “It’s not a thing. I don’t take care of my body. I live however.” Any advice  you have for them? And just secondly advice for people who want to start being active? Not necessarily go to the gym. We are not plugging CrossFit! But just people who are like “should I get a friend, should I pick … I don’t know should I get new shoes to run? How do I start?” So advice for those two people. Those who are struggling and those who want to actually get up and start exercising?
God will continue to love me in spite of what it is that I think I look like. Or what I want to look like.
Tyrone: So I think to those who are struggling, yah, it’s tough. Like I said, there are still moments where you know people’s words can be incredibly penetrating. But I think community has really helped quite a lot in terms of just helping me understand where I find my validity and knowing that they will and in a much greater sense, God will, continue to love me in spite of what it is that I think I look like. Or what I want to look like.

Redeeming the View we Have of Ourselves

I think God is incredibly gracious in terms of redeeming the view that we have of ourselves. Like I said it I think it’s a process that that takes time. But, I think if you invite God into that space of your life, its somewhere that he can really redeem the view that you have of yourself.
Sometimes you just wake up and you’re like “shucks man, I don’t want to be in my own skin.”
But reach out as well. Like I said community is super helpful. You know just chatting to people. Chat to me! Whoever. And just to walk that road with you so that you don’t feel like you’re alone in your struggle. Because sometimes you just wake up and you’re like “shucks man, I don’t want to be in my own skin.”

Being Active

Blaque: Sure. That’s dope, bro. And for those who want to get up and start doing it?

Tyrone: Yeah! If you want to get up and start doing it.  I mean, I’ll always upload that decision. I think it’s one of the best things you can do holistically for yourself. I think it’s something we should be doing. Like I said, we should definitely be trying to look after our bodies. But, I mean, it’s always going to be tricky to just get that snowball effect. The first week or month, whatever, is going to feel like it sucks. But persevere and, you know, just try and find your niche, whatever it is that you enjoy.
Don’t compare yourself to other people. That’s one of the worst things you can do. Everybody’s different, everybody’s body is different.
Whether it’s running whether its CrossFit. Swimming, hiking, just something that works for you. And don’t compare yourself to other people. That’s one of the worst things you can do. Everybody’s different, everybody’s body is different. So trust that. Have your own trajectory, your own shape. Your own interests. Things that will be easy for you, coz some things will be difficult. Find something that you enjoy doing and just, give it horns.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made in a Fallen World

Blaque: That’s good, bro, thanks man. Really appreciate that. This was super helpful for me and I hope it was helpful for you guys.
At the end of the day. Whether you… wherever it is that you’re from, however it is that you grew up. Wherever it is that you work, whatever it is, alright, you are made in God’s image. God fearfully and wonderfully made you and in one sense. There’s nothing wrong with you. One sense.
We’ll have glorified bodies one day when Jesus comes back. Bodies that won’t decay, that won’t die, that won’t age.
Blaque: In another sense we live in a fallen and broken world and so sin has affected everything and so we need to look after ourselves. Not in an obsessive way, because at the end of the day, this is a temple that’s gonna stay here. We’ll have glorified bodies one day when Jesus comes back. Bodies that won’t decay, bodies, that won’t die, bodies that won’t age. But we’ll have perfect bodies one day. For now, we have these bodies and they have all sorts of problems. Sometimes we just perpetuate the problems by not looking after them. Just like you said with the Ferrari – that’s a good illustration. If you have a car and you don’t take care of it and you keep on working it, it’s eventually going to break down. So take care of it. It gives glory to God.

A Healthy Body Fights Sin, Serves Others and Glorifies God

And again, I think just to leave you with that reminder of those three things. It can help you fight off your sin. If you’re mentally sharp, if you’re physically sharp. That you are just ready. You know? As you put on the armour of God that you do so with a clear mind, clear conscience and you’re just active in pursuing holiness and fighting against sin.
Secondly, it’s helpful for you to serve other people. Your job, your family, your extended relatives and especially the kingdom of God is you serve the church. And I think lastly it just glorifies God as we do all those things. So I think just keep that in mind and hopefully this is helpful. We can only fight off this body shaming culture as we look after our own bodies as well. At the same time, just reminding each other of the infinite value we have because we possess God’s image. Alright? That’s the best thing! Dogs don’t have it. Flowers don’t have it. Buildings don’t have it. We have God’s image and that’s what puts us above all other creation. And so let’s honour God and glorify him as we do that with our bodies.
Dogs don’t have it. Flowers don’t have it. Buildings don’t have it. We have God’s image and that’s what puts us above all other creation.
Blaque: Bro. Thank you man! Appreciate it. We’ll have a follow-up soon enough.
Tyrone: Look after your Ferrari hey?
Blaque: Hey, yeyey, you know what it is bro! Thanks man! Thank you so much grace and peace to you guys for watching. Thank you.
Our culture puts enormous value in how we look; how we present ourselves. But what is a healthy body image? As Christians should we even care about our bodies? Tyrone Atkin shares how he walked the fine line between disciplined commitment and obsessive idolatry – and the relief that came with following Jesus.

Striving for a Healthy Body Image

Tyrone: “I think I used to live just to maintain this image, or this idea, of what I wanted to look like. Everything was structured around training and what I was going to eat. That could be described as being committed… but there’s a level to which you need to start being real with yourself. I think the line is thin between being committed and being unhealthy. So it was a balance I struggled to maintain for a long time and I still make mistakes. But like I said, I had to evaluate why I was doing what I was doing.”

What Does Body Image Mean?

Body image is the way I perceive myself, or the way I’d like to be perceived by other people. It’s the view I have of my physical outward self. Body image can be negative or positive.

Body image is about how you feel emotionally about your body.

Negatively you have things like Bigorexia and Anorexia. Where people feel like they are inadequate. It typically ties into a very low view of body image or self image. Body shaming – where people are publicly critical of how you look – is a real thing. It is an evil thing and we should not do it.

However, Trying to be holistically aware of of your well-being is positive. So not just what you look like outwardly. Body image is about how you feel emotionally about your body. Looking after your heart and your your organs and all those things. It contributes. Just being aware of what you put into your body. Even if you don’t exercise every day, trying to exercise regularly to maintain this vessel that you’ve been given is important. Because we should steward our bodies well.

Christians should Care for their Bodies

A healthy body can help you fight off your sin. As you put on the armour of God you will do so with a clear mind, clear conscience. You can be active in pursuing holiness and fighting against sin.

Secondly, it’s helpful for you to serve other people. Your job, your family, your extended relatives and especially the kingdom of God as you serve the church. We glorify God as we do all these things. When we look after our bodies it benefits the body of Christ as well.

When we look after our bodies it benefits the body of Christ as well.

Our Bodies can Become an Idol

There is always a risk that your body and how you look can become an idol.

“I used to live just to maintain this body image. Or this idea of what I wanted to look like. Everything was structured around training and what I was going to eat.”

“When you are living in the dark, you’re not as overtly aware of why you do all the nonsense that you do. But you know as soon as you take a step out into the light a lot of your motives and your thinking becomes exposed. Obviously that’s a that’s a great thing, but it’s a difficult process to go through.”

I realise that my life needs to be centred around around Jesus, not training. That’s been one of the most difficult things to get right. I mean we all have our vices but I think that one is definitely been very real for me.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made in a Fallen World

“You are made in God’s image. God fearfully and wonderfully made you and in one sense there’s nothing wrong with you. One sense. In another sense we live in a fallen and broken world and so sin has affected everything and we need to look after ourselves.
We must remind each other of the infinite value we have because we possess God’s image
But not in an obsessive way, because at the end of the day, this is a temple that’s gonna stay here. We’ll have glorified bodies one day when Jesus comes back. Bodies that won’t decay, bodies, that won’t die, bodies that won’t age. But we’ll have perfect bodies one day. For now, we have these bodies and they have all sorts of problems.

We must remind each other of the infinite value we have because we possess God’s image. That’s the best thing! Dogs don’t have it. Flowers don’t have it. Buildings don’t have it. We have God’s image and that’s what puts us above all other creation. And so let’s honour God and glorify him as we do that with our bodies.”

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