In honor of the annual “Get Back to the Gym, Eat Healthy, Lose Weight” month (otherwise known as January) that begins our year in American culture, I have been thinking about the pressure to deal with our health as women. On the one hand, God is very clear that our lives are a gift and we are to reflect gratitude and exercise good stewardship for these ever-aging bodies while we can. On the other hand, exactly what does that mean? Can I still eat a cheeseburger sometimes? Do I have to cut out all high fructose corn syrup, non-organic veggies, Blue Dye 40 and aspartame? And what about exercise? And how do I decide which voice to listen to in making these decisions??? (I vote Pinterest because there are constant reports of how simple it is to be healthier and most of it seems to involve crock pots, 10 minute workouts before you shower and detox water’s full of yummy. Plus in all the pictures the girls abs are ROCKIN!)
So, at the risk of stepping on toes, I’d like to offer a few ideas for how to approach the concept of being healthier. Not necessarily which step for you to take, but how to evaluate taking them. And what that might look like in the realistic life of a mom/wife/worker/student.
Idea One: we can only deal with one change at a time. It’s just the way most people grow and learn. We tend to make lasting changes if we pick one thing and allow ourselves to adapt to it, rather then completely overhauling everything at once. So, if you think you need to eat more vegetables, drink more water, cut out fast food and exercise 3 times a week- as slow as it feels, just pick one to begin with. Let your life and schedule and brain adapt to it. Let it become “normal” before you move on.
Idea Two: quit making it a moral issue. This is where I could risk stepping on toes, but I’m going there anyway. Unless it is a command of God’s, we have personal choice to evaluate and decide what we believe works best for our life. God never says “thou shalt avoid GMO’s” or “thou shalt exercise daily”. Do you know where legalism comes from? It comes from taking a principal of God (like modesty, generosity, stewardship) and creating rules about how to live out that principal. I can’t tell you how you should best steward your health any more than you can tell me about mine. I know you need to consider that question, as do I. But I may come to a different conclusion than you, or mainstream media or my doctor or my natural health inclined friend.
Idea Three: start with either- your most troubling area OR the one that sounds the easiest. This speaks to motivation. Depending on personality, you may be motivated more by attacking the area of your health that causes the most stress. (In my life this was my lack of energy for several years. I needed to have this problem resolved so I was willing to hit the gym at 5:15am for months to get into an exercise groove.) On the flip side, you may be more motivated by attacking the thing that feels easiest to start with. Sort of the dip-your-big-toe-in-the-pool approach. So maybe you think, I need to exercise, drink water and quit consuming large amounts of bacon. Pick the one that sounds the least difficult. (Water obviously. Bacon is delicious and exercise is hard.) Once you have some success and your water intake is up, you can move on to cutting back on pig.
Idea Four: use common sense. The internet is full, I mean FULL, of information. Some of it good, some of it nonsense. Be cautious and be aware. Listen to those whom you respect and who are generally very healthy people. Some things just make good sense- eat real food with as little chemicals as possible, over all. Move your body regularly. Sleep every night. Drink a lot of water. Get variety in your diet. Practice gratitude by thanking God for your body and how it allows you to serve Him, your family and others. Allow times for both feasting and fasting in your life, as both have value. (I feast from Thanksgiving till New Years! Then I fast, till my pants fit properly.)
Hope your 2013 is off to a bang!