For years now, I’ve sat by as my health went steadily downhill. Every once in a while, I’d get fed up with my poor health to the point that I would make some changes. I’d watch what I was eating and exercise more, but after a few weeks, I’d find myself falling back into old routines. Day after day, I began to loathe myself. I grew bitter and resentful. My spiritual life seemed to regress as quickly as my energy did.
The bad news is that I’ve wasted so much time because of my unwillingness to do what is necessary to keep my body healthy. The good news is that I finally dipped low enough I was prepared and motivated to make drastic changes. Those changes began two weeks ago.
My first step was to cut out all caffeine, which you wouldn’t think would be too bad since I’m not a coffee drinker. Unfortunately, sodas and energy drinks had become some of my dearest friends. So, I cut them out completely! Next I cut out all processed foods and reduced the amount of sugary snacks to one small treat after dinner. After that, I focused on eating a variety of wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meats and watching the portion sizes at each meal. No counting calories or assigning points. Just eating the right things in the right amounts.
In addition to these dietary changes, I started walking every morning. At first, it was a mile each day, then two. I am now up to three and a half miles each morning except for a couple of mornings each week when I do a half hour or so of Pilates to help with posture, flexibility, balance and strengthening.
I won’t lie to you. The first week was difficult. My body protested all the changes. I craved sweets and energy drinks like crazy. The headaches from withdrawal were intense and debilitating. I felt moody and angry at the world. But with the help of the Lord and the encouragement of my husband, I hung in there and didn’t give in to the temptation to quit.
By the middle of week two, I felt better than I have felt in years. I had more energy to get me through the day. The cravings were diminishing, and I actually found myself longing for healthy foods. The exercise began to feel more like a privilege than a punishment. The headaches eased up, and overall, I felt great!
But the part that amazed me most was the drastic change in my moods and thought patterns. For months now, I’ve been battling negativity and bitterness. Suddenly, it was gone. Well, maybe not quite gone, but its presence wasn’t overpowering. I was able to think positive thoughts, even when dealing with negative people or situations. Unexpected delays or interruptions no longer sent me spiraling into the mother of all mood swings. I felt focused, balanced and calm. And that is where I find myself today.
I am not telling you this to brag. In fact, I still have a long way to go in my journey toward better health. I did want to share with you, however, my personal discovery of how much food and exercise (or the lack thereof) affect our spiritual walk.
We all know that bad food choices and lack of exercise will adversely affect our bodies, but how often do we take into account what those poor choices are doing to our minds and spirits?
I didn’t consider this until I was a week-and-a-half into my journey toward better health. Now, I regret the time I wasted trying to improve my mind and spirit, when all along, I could have accomplished it by improving my overall health. They truly are linked.
Remember, dear friends, our bodies are not our own. They don’t belong to us; therefore, they should be treated with respect. I challenge you to take the next few weeks and focus on improving your physical health. Make healthy eating and exercise a priority, and stick with it for at least a month. Then notice the changes in your body, mind and spirit. Chances are, once you see the difference, you’ll never want to go back to those bad habits again. I know I don’t!
What physical battles are you facing today? What’s keeping you from committing to a new healthy lifestyle?
“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” I Corinthians 6:19