God calls us to live a life for Him. Sure, doing good deeds, being a good moral person, helping people, praying, and following God is very important! But did you know making health a priority is a part of God’s plan, too?
We don’t just have a commitment to care for God’s people, we have a commitment to stay healthy and take care of ourselves. For when we strive for personal well being and good health, we are in essence thanking God for creating us. We “offend” God when we slack off and don’t cherish the body, mind, and soul that God gave us.
“I am the Lord, who heals you” -Exodus 15:26
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:19-20
“Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” -3 John 1:2
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 10:31
So each day, be mindful of your own body and personal health. Make healthy choices that make God happy! God wants you to live long, healthy, happy, and faith-filled lives, doing everything for Him.
My husband and I recently read an article about “10 things healthy people do“. While a nice idea, the article lacked major things we both agreed it needed and had some things (perhaps poorly worded) that weren’t actually healthy. We both aim to have healthy lifestyles and decided to make our own revised list.
“1. Eat healthy and balanced meals: For the most part, you know what you are eating and if it is good for you. If you have to justify why it is healthy, it might not be as good for you as you wish. As the adage says: ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ Having balanced meals is also important. Every aspect of the food pyramid (or my plate as it is now referred to) has nutritional aspects that are important. A diet of salads with just vegetables and no fats or proteins isn’t healthy for you. Your body needs things other than leafy greens. Similarly, your body needs water and a good amount of it. Water is better for you than sodas or alcohol hands down, no arguments. There are times where juice or an electrolyte beverage is more needed than water, but that is normally within the bounds of keeping a balanced diet. One small note that was almost a point on its own: fat isn’t always bad. Your body needs healthy fats for hormone production and brain functions. Cutting out all fats from a diet can be very detrimental to your physical health, so keep healthy fats in your menu as part of a balanced meal.
2. Exercise: Ever noticed that every single weight loss supplement states ‘most effective with diet and exercise’? That’s why these two items are the top two things healthy people do. They are also the two most effective things a person can do to stay healthy and manage their weight. Exercise is important for everyone, not just for losing weight. Thin people need exercise just as much as overweight people. Regular exercise promotes good muscular strength to support a daily activity and good cardiovascular strength for a long and healthy life.
3. Diet and exercise are habits, not hobbies: Eating healthy and exercising need to be ingrained in daily life so that it isn’t a matter of choosing to eat healthy that day or deciding if you will do some exercise this week. Making them habit so that they are just part of life makes it so that they are not a passing fad, they are part of your life. This point ties into quick fixes, diet pills, and fad diets. Quick fixes like surgery might take weight off temporarily, but without lifestyle changes that weight will return. Diet pills all claim to burn fat like magic…with proper diet and exercise. If you’re taking a diet pill, it’s probably because you wanted to skip the exercise and dieting and instantly be skinnier without changing anything. Finally, fad diets: all water diet, no carb diet, raspberry diet, whatever… Most of these diets boil down to one thing: not eating bad food. They mask this by focusing the eater on what they are eating, but it is more of what is cut out of the diet that makes the difference. For example, in a gluten-free diet as a weight loss choice (not for those with intolerance issues) it is not the gluten itself that is unhealthy, it is the fact that the foods that contain gluten that you cut out of your diet are: almost all snack foods, sweets, carbs, and fast foods. While any of those diets might work, it is more important to just focus on making sure you maintain a healthy balanced diet. Using a fad diet is equally bad because you have it in your mind to change something to quickly drop weight and then go back to old habits.
4. Portion Control: If you eat a health and balanced plate, but it is 3x the size it should be, it is just as bad for you. The food you eat is an energy source. If you eat more energy than you spend in a day, it gets stored as fat. Your body doesn’t care if those extra calories came from chicken and rice or a jumbo burger. Once the amount of calories you eat is greater than what you burn, it is bad for you. This ties into eating out versus at home. Eating at home, it is easier to control portion sizes whereas most restaurants have very generous portion sizes. This doesn’t mean all restaurant food is bad, just that you need to police how much you eat and stop at a regular portion size. As a bonus, you’ll almost always have leftovers for a second yummy meal.
5. Sleep: Regular sleep of the right amount is crucial for staying healthy. Your body needs rest to recuperate from activity. Rest is when your muscles undergo growth after activity. Sleeping enough encourages brain function and a stable metabolism. It’s a busy world with lots to do, but skipping sleep can hurt your health more than you would think.
6. No point system/cheating: Being healthy isn’t a karmic exchange system. “I just worked out, I am going to reward myself with fast food!” is something I have heard too often. If your goal is to be healthy or lose weight, rewarding yourself for every good deed often nets a negative outcome. This all comes back to number 3. Things need to be habit. If you make it a habit to eat healthy meals, then you won’t find yourself trying to reward a workout with a cheeseburger. I am not saying you can never have that cheeseburger again. Within moderation and portion control, and keeping your calories in equal to calories spent, you can work in a fast food item or treat occasionally. An hour of weight lifting burns between 200 (light weights) and 400 (vigorous heavy weight lifting) calories; a full hour of running burns about 700 calories. The average tiny fast food cheeseburger is 300 calories and 30% of your daily fat. That’s without fries and a drink. If you had a vigorous workout and want to grab a burger as part of a healthy balanced meal, it isn’t bad on its own, just remember all of the other points above when deciding to do so. Nowhere am I saying you can never have cookies, burgers, or pizza. The key is moderation and knowing input vs output.
7. Get help when needed and trust professionals: There was an item on the list my wife shared that said to not trust any one doctor. If you don’t agree with a doctor, find another. Perhaps the wording was poor, or perhaps it was a bit too ‘new age’y for me. Yes, a natural solution is always best…if it works. But if you have tried every homeopathic specialist’s herbal remedy and nothing is fixing you, go to a medical doctor and trust them. Someone I care about was having depression issues and nothing was helping from natural solutions. A medical doctor prescribed a trusted medicine and it fixed the depression’s symptoms. Obviously finding the root cause of an issue is the goal and not just treating a symptom, but it was a great start and something natural alternatives couldn’t do. Doctors are not evil bad people; they spend years learning their trade. Trust them. While a natural solution would be ideal, sometimes our bodies have complex chemical problems the can only be remedied with complex chemical prescription .
8. Make the right choices even when they stink: The list mentioned taking pride in eating healthy. I will level with you. I hate salads, I hate broccoli, I cannot stand most sour or bitter vegetables or leafy greens; but I still eat them. It gives me no pride; it does not make me happy. I know I need vegetables so I eat them, even though I would rather have ice cream and pizza. If eating healthy makes you proud, good on you, but for me it is a self-imposed penance. My wife adds that this is often a matter of finding a way to make the right choices more appealing. IE: adding nuts and chicken breast strips to a salad to make it more appealing while staying balanced.
9. Ignore cravings that you know are bad: A third modification from the list. The original item was to listen to your body and trust that the cravings you have mirror a biological need. While this might be true sometimes, it is a dangerous fallacy 90% of the time for people with weight issues. Your body craves salts, sugars, and fats. Does that mean a fast food meal with a large cola is a biological need you must fill? No! Just because you want something does not always mean you need it (an important lesson for people in all aspects of life). There are times where the cravings do mirror a need, but being aware of what you need vs what you crave will do a lot more to help you stay healthy.
10. Healthy interactions: While everything above was about physical health (with sleep being mental as well), I would be remiss if I did not discuss social/spiritual health. Socially, regular healthy interactions with other people can make a huge difference in your health. Having people that support you, encourage you, and build you up all build a healthy social self. On the flip side, if you interact with negative people that constantly tear you down, that can have incredibly bad consequences. Your brain does some amazing things. You could follow all of the other advice I listed above, but if you have an unhealthy social situation, your brain can countermand all of that work. One way to build healthy social relationships is to eat meals as a family when possible. This builds social interaction while also allowing for being able to help each other with diet choices.
Spiritual health equally as important. I say this not in terms of ‘you must believe in a God or you won’t be healthy’. I make no push towards any religion. Spiritual health is closely tied to social health with more of a focus on moral choices. To illustrate what I mean, take for example a person who knows theft is not right, but does it anyway. Their morals do not align with their actions which lead to spiritual/moral turmoil. This turmoil, much like social health, can counterbalance other good choices.”
*I hope sharing these points help you be more mindful of your own health and assist you in your health journey. Each day is a choice to stay healthy!