As I started writing this, I was watching a video from one of my followers (asktasha) that features a 15-minute workout, and I’m like “Dang, that girl crazy!” as I reach into a bag of chips.
Workouts suck. I’ve started a zillion of them and quit just as many. Every time I get into a new routine, it quickly becomes an old one and I start making excuses as to why I don’t want to do it today. On top of that, I mentioned last week that my biggest spending weakness was eating out, so grease and lethargy, The American Way.
That’s why I decided to continue my Self-Management series with the body, the physical, meaty, sweat-ridden thing we call home. Our body is the one thing we carry with us at all times, and it’s the only thing we’ll have right up to the grave. And yet, so few of us take care of it. We Americans have more gyms than anybody else, yet a massive obesity epidemic. While our bodies will inevitably break down with age and while we can’t help everything, we need to manage our bodies if we want even the slightest chance of them being there for us when we need them.
Okay, so…what does this have to do with God? Well, a bit. First, I have to dispel a few myths.
You’ll hear this modern mantra now and then: “It’s MY body!” Well…no, actually. I mentioned in the Intro post that 1 Chronicles, Exodus, and many other verses say that everything in the Earth is God’s. We are in the Earth, folks, and God made us carefully and lovingly (Psalm 139:14). We do not own our bodies, rather we are stewards, caretakers until the Master comes back. Again, age takes us all, but God isn’t telling us to be Mr./Mrs. Universe, but how do we manage what we have, whether it’s strength and youth, or age and weakness?
And here’s another cry, normally from religious folks: “God doesn’t care about the body, it’s the spirit that interests him.” It is true that God wants your spirit a lot more than he wants your body (I’ve known plenty of people who gave their lives to Christ and didn’t lose a pound), but again I refer you to the principle of stewardship. Everything in the Earth is Gods, and the book of Revelation says that one day, the Earth will burn up. But right now, we have the Earth and everything God put in it, including our flesh, and our flesh will not manage itself.
This comes down to the main reason God cares about our bodies: a Spirit of Selfishness. Our bodies have a way of making us think only of the short-term pleasure, not the long-term benefits, which is contrary to Christian life. We need to be focused on what is good for us, not what makes us feel good. 1 Corinthians 9:27 says, “But I beat my body and make it my slave…” Paul was drawing an allusion to running a race to explain Godliness. To win that race, you have to deny yourself. That’s Jesus speaking in Luke 9:23: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” No, being fit and healthy won’t “win” you Christ, but it shows the attitude Jesus loves: denying pleasure to get what’s truly good.
So, that’s the theological, now for the practical. How DO you manage your body?
Diet and Exercise. Duh. There’s no magic pill to make you fit and trim, you have to work at it. I know, people like to scream about how diet and exercise don’t work, but from what I’ve seen, it’s either because of ignorance, laziness, or quitting. Eating right and working out are the two main keys to living healthy because these are continuing principles, they are what you do every day. If you have a regular life of chips and dip in front of the TV for five hours, what do you think is happening to your body? But if your body is working well and receiving the strength it needs to do so, 9 times out of 10, you’ll be fine.
There are a zillion websites on healthy eating habits and workout routines, so go find one! Ladies, one of my followers happens to have a blog that touches on fitness among other things, so I’ll endorse her here with a link to something she just posted today: http://asktasha.wordpress.com/2012/06/10/try-this-workout/. Check out her other fitness stuff, too.
Whatever you do in this vein, I want to make three suggestions: ONE: Make it affordable. There are some good, cheap foods that don’t kill the budget. In the age of Youtube, you can find good home workouts that cost little to nothing. You don’t have to be rich to be healthy. TWO, observe progression. Don’t just dive into a strict vegan diet or an intense twelve-hour workout. Start where you are and work your way up. Challenge yourself, but don’t crash because of unrealistic expectations. THREE: manage YOUR body, not your sexy neighbors. My brother is massively fit because he is a dancer, that’s his job and lifestyle. I am a writer who has to make himself workout. You need to factor in YOUR body, YOUR lifestyle, YOUR schedule, and everything else that makes you who you are. Try to be a healthy, well-managed YOU, not somebody else. God made you, after all, so he thinks you’re quite valuable.
Be Committed. Jesus said in Luke that denying yourself is a daily thing. You can’t work out one day and expect to be fit forever. One salad won’t make you lose weight. Diets don’t work; LIFESTYLES work. If you want to be healthy, you have to LIVE healthy.
Good Grooming. Have a little pride in yourself–not arrogance, but self-confidence. Take a shower regularly, shave if you must, get your hair cut, trim your nails, brush your teeth, and whatever else you need to do. I’m not saying blow your savings on spa treatments, but make yourself presentable. Am I saying it’s wrong to wear sweatpants and a Garfield tee shirt around the house? No, I’m just saying don’t be lazy.
Illness. If you’re sick, admit it. Part of managing yourself is simply taking care of yourself. Get some rest, take medicine if you have to (but please, only when you have to), and overall, allow your body to recover and rejuvenate. If your sickness is long-term, take the steps necessary to help yourself. If you have a broken leg, you can’t go running. If you have diabetes, watch your blood sugar. Whatever your case, do what you must to manage yourself in the best way that you can. You can’t fix everything, but God knows what is in your power and what is in His.
Medical Management. This is similar to illness, but I’ll take it one step farther. See the doctors you need to see. My wife has chronic back pain, so she went to the chiropractor and now goes once a month. My family has a history of prostate cancer, so when I’m older, I need to make sure I see a doctor regularly about that. Get the checkups and screenings that you need. See your dentist to make sure your teeth are okay. You may need an eye checkup to make sure your vision is everything you think it is. I know, these can be expensive, even financially impossible for many people. But again, you don’t have to do everything, just do what you can.
Rest. I remember reading an interview with Taylor Lauden…Lauten…the werewolf from Twilight. That dude is buff, and he works out hard, but he said he never worked more than five days in a row. Rest is a Godly principle; your body was only made to endure so much, and part of managing it is making sure you don’t destroy it with good works. Have at least one entire day without working out a week, and make sure you sleep well.
Talk to your spouse. If your married, your spouse can be an invaluable tool in managing your body. In fact, you two can often help each other! My wife and I are getting good at keeping each other in line, and NOT the drive-thru line. She tells me when my facial hair has become reminiscent of Chewbacca. I tell her when she’s too sick to work. But in doing all this, DO NOT NAG YOUR SPOUSE! Instead, ENCOURAGE them! The number one way my wife gets me to work out is telling me how sexy she thinks I already am.
And that’s another thing: you can learn what your spouse likes. As in LIKES likes. I always thought a six-pack would be attractive, but my wife informed me that she actually has a bigger penchant for a good chest and strong arms, so when I work out, I put a lot of emphasis on my arms and chest because my wife likes it. This is how my wife got into belly dancing (WOOT!). It’s a good ab/lower body workout and I like when she dances (just to clarify, she doesn’t have an act or anything; she dances for me, her husband, nobody else).
You may think that’s petty and superficial, but this is a Biblical principle, y’all! 1 Corinthians 7 talks about giving yourself freely to your spouse, so talk to him or her and see what would interest them. It’s also a good reason to stay healthy: as a gift to your spouse. They’ll love it, I promise!
Finally, ENJOY it! Don’t let good things become bad things, that’s some of the Godliest advice I can ever give you. Don’t let what’s supposed to be good for your become a nightmare, but find a way to enjoy it. As for me, I hate vegetables, but I found I like carrots, so I replaced chips with chopped carrots. Some people like running, others enjoy P90X, others still enjoy dance. You have to go to the doctor today? Well, make the nurse laugh! God wants you to be disciplined, yes, but he wants you to enjoy life, too!
Manage your body because it will be with you as long as you live. Be there for your kids and grandkids, make ageing as painless as you can, and most of all, honor God with your body.
If you have tips or suggestions, leave them in the comments!