I figured since I have combined my two passions into this one blog, two passions that are seemingly complete opposites of each other (yet they are not), I should address what I consider faith-based fitness. Do we have a responsibility to our bodies, to care and nourish it? After all it has been said that our bodies are a temple of God.
I always remember reading Ephesians 5:29:
"For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and carefully protects and cherishes it, as Christ does the church."
I thought, do I really nourish this body? Do I carefully protect and cherish this body that God has given me on loan, truly, until my death? And while I thought about this, I really didn't give it a second thought after that. At least not in that Christian context. But I have always, albeit on and off, been interested in fitness and nutrition.
But it was not until this past November when a series of unraveled events occurred that I finally made a sudden stop and truly heeded this verse. I was gaining more weight thanks to my crazy thyroid problems, it was the holidays, and I was going through a transition in my professional life. I finally made my doctor stop and listen to me. I was careful of not eating too much junk food during the holidays (although my definition of "too much" varied depending on the day), and I started exercising a bit.
But what really made me focus on how I was nourishing and carefully protecting my body was my dad's diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer in January. If you have been reading this blog, you know what a trying time that was for me. It still is, but it has gotten better. This diagnosis shook my family to the core. Here is a man who has never been sick in his life, now suffering from a terminal disease. We were surprised. But should we have been? The answer is no.
I love my father, and while he has always been the best father in the world, I am the first one to tell you that he was a chronic smoker since he was 18 years old. He has been to a war that scared him emotionally for the rest of his life, and because of this, he found emotional solace in other things like cigarettes. Suddenly, I became voracious about finding information about health and nutrition - anything to help him. I became obsessed with books about cancer, cooking for people with cancer, natural remedies, etc. I was driving myself crazy. And finally I stopped.
But I noticed that something had changed in me. I found myself questioning the nutritional choices I made. Is this good for me? Is it really ok to drink a Coke when I have seen it dissolve acid in a car battery?
Think about it. Are we truly caring for our bodies when we eat chemically processed foods? I understand that some people cannot afford fresh food all the time (which is an entirely separate problem that has to do with food affordability for many families in this crazy economy) but a few changes can make a big difference. Are my decisions conscious and responsible?
Anyhow, by this time it was March, and I was burnt out. In one of my emotional breakdowns (one of many I went through during that time), I was so angry with my dad, that in tears I promised to myself I would take good care of my body, that I would do everything in my power to care of what God had entrusted me to care for. And that was the beginning of my journey into fitness and nutrition.
Then along came a book titled Made to Crave, and it really empowered me to address one of my biggest issues: I am an emotional eater. I cannot tell you how much this book became a road map that helped me to focus my cravings on God rather than food, and it sent me on the road to physical and emotional healing.
It is now May, and I have lost 10 pounds. I have more energy than when I was younger. But above all I have allowed God to guide me in a part of my life that I always thought was not affected by His teachings. Why? Because when the emotional eater in me threatens to come out, I pray hard for strength and wisdom.
It is not always easy, but it has become easier. This is truly a lifestyle change that has affected for the better, every facet of my life. I am not a professional trainer nor nutritionist, but I know what has worked for me. And having that foundation of faith as the center of my well-being has empowered me to care for this one body God has given me. I am not my own person; I am His. Being spiritually and physically fit is a reminder that I have been entrusted with a precious gift, and I need to take care of it.
CC Photo by Jason on Flickr.