Step into a gym during January, and you will be amazed at the crowds of people wanting to become healthy. Many people enjoy making New Years’ resolutions, but they have difficulty keeping their goals as days roll into months and life becomes chaotic.
Living a healthy lifestyle provides the benefits of a better immune system, improved body image and function, and although this sounds like an oxymoron, the discipline a healthy lifestyle requires makes life more enjoyable. Discipline doesn’t mean drudgery or misery: it does mean hard work, but the benefits exceed the effort.
Let us look at this issue from the inside out, and I will give a few tips that I have learned from both failure and victory along the way.
First, let us look at the heart issue. No, I am not talking about your cardio-respiratory system, although that is very important, but I am talking about health and spirituality. Because God created all men in His image (Gen. 1:26-27), our bodies have intrinsic value.
You have been entrusted with a physical body: are you taking care of it? Second, take time to consider your reasons for wanting to be healthy. Is it to impress someone? Is it for attention? Do you think it will make you happy?
Second, because the purpose of man is to glorify God, living a healthy lifestyle should allow you to serve others and God in a greater capacity rather than make you more introspective. Yes, you need to be aware of the choices that you are making each day; for instance, what you put into your body: food, drink, or substance and how you make your body move.
YET, if all you think about all day is what you eat and how much you need to exercise, you will either be unable to keep your diet and start binging or you will end up loosing too much weight and start to be unhealthy. Or, you will miss out on the joys of friendship and service because you are too wrapped up in your own fantasy world. Make good choices and then move on with your day because life is short. You are never guaranteed tomorrow.
Okay, so let us get practical. Once you have your heart and your reasons set to glorify God with your body how do you make healthy decisions each day? Here are a few things that you can consider in your choices:
Know what a healthy diet consists of: google myplate.gov or talk with your doctor.
Don not drink your calories. Lattes and sodas have almost as many calories as a meal. You will give your body more sufficient energy if you eat a healthy meal.
Learn about moderation: Being healthy does not mean that you cannot enjoy something you like every now and then. Watch your portions and read labels. Decide when you are going to eat your sweets. If you try to eliminate everything unhealthy all together, you will end up overeating. If you want to go on a diet, talk with your doctor. A lot of fad diets aren’t really healthy.
If you buy food from the grocery, aim for foods with ten ingredients or less. Do not put processed junk in your body. If you do not know what the ingredients are, why are you eating it? Yuck!
There is much wisdom in planning: However, put some margin in your schedule: the unexpected will happen and you need a little room for balancing. Do not be involved in every single activity on campus so that you are not able to take care of your body. You need to work hard, rest well, and exercise.
You know your body better than anyone else. How many activities can you handle? At MC, many people value busyness, but is that what God wants? Spend time in prayer when making your schedule (Gal. 1:10).
Get sleep: Sometimes people do not feel like exercising if they have not slept well. Set a bedtime and stick by it. You will feel better in the morning, you will get sick less often, and you will have energy for hitting it hard at the gym!
Be realistic about your body type: Make realistic goals. Do not compare yourself to the girl with the amazing body or the guy that is extremely ripped. Maybe you will not fit into a size two pair of jeans or have triceps like tennis ball (okay, we can totally tell you take steroids! Gross!), but you can get your body fat percentage to a healthy range.
In the caf: Stay away from the desert table and cut back on breads. I see many girls eating wraps for every meal. Actually, the wraps in the caf are super size. Wraps are not bad, but if you load it down with cheese and eat some chips or a salad with a fattening dressing like honey mustard on the side, you are eating twice the calories the calories you calculated.
In other words, know what you are choosing to eat. If you want to eat pizza, fine, just do not eat it every day. Try to eat as many vegetables and fruits as you can. Do not eat pasta every day, especially if it has a fattening sauce.
I personally think goals and resolutions are good things. Although they often lend themselves to pride, consider viewing goals as a way to deepen your time spent on earth. Sometimes discipline is a means of grace.
– Mary Kate Barthel, Contributing Writer