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fitness

Your Body Matters

Posted in wellness

heartnatured.comRemember my thought spill from a couple of weeks ago? If not, feel free to read it here. Let’s also go ahead and be upfront about the fact that I overthink things. But God is good.

Even though that post ends with a more positive, seemingly triumphant mantra, not much changed. But, God in His goodness, is making things new.

One day, recently, I tearfully confessed to J a realization:

I believed being fit was a necessary standard to meet if I wanted to please God — being the right amount of pounds for my height, being able to run or bike many miles, the discipline to dedicate 30+ minutes a day to exercise (because this is what culture deems good enough).

Wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, exercise is a great way to deepen enjoyment of life and to take care of our bodies, but it’s not a prerequisite for love, from God or people.

And I don’t even think it pleases God if you’re miserable with yourself, working for the glory of you or using exercise to avoid something difficult or uncomfortable. There is not right or wrong size of a person, but there is a point that for you is unhealthy and unhelpful to your life.

Being fit, or the number on the scale as a result of exercise, doesn’t equate godliness (1 Timothy 4:8). If it did, what would that mean for those who can’t exercise, for those bound to a sick or aging body? That doesn’t make sense.

I don’t think exercise is a prerequisite for a full life in Christ — it’s more a bonus of this temporary home. 

 


 

Shauna Niequist, in her latest book Present Over Perfect, makes this declaration:

This is the promise I make to my God: I will never again be so careless, so cavalier with the body and soul you’ve given me. They are the only things in all the world that have been entrusted entirely to me, and I stewarded them poorly, worshiping for a time at the altars of productivity, capability, busyness, distraction. This body and soul will become again what God intended them to be: living sacrifices, offered only to him. I will spend my life on meaning, on connection, on love, on freedom. I will not waste one more day trapped in comparison, competition, proving, and earning. That’s the currency of a culture that has nothing to offer me.

Talking about Romans 12:1-2, John Piper says, “You belong to God soul and body, or you don’t belong to him at all. Your body matters.” To me, this screams freedom.

God cares about my body, He created it uniquely to house my heart, soul, and mind, and to make His beauty visible. To make His love tangible for people. He doesn’t shine through my muscles, curves, or how much space I take up, but through the way I act.

John Piper challenges me again,

“Let every act of your living body be a demonstration that God is your treasure. Let every act of your living body show that Christ is more precious to you than anything else. Let every act of your living body be a death to all that dishonors Christ.”

This releases fitness and body image from being an arena to compare or compete or prove, to a place of fun and freedom, a living and active sacrifice!

 


 

After this beautiful realization, I asked God, now that I have a better perspective on exercise, why should I spend the time sweating and challenging myself in this way?

This was the answer: For my husband, for our home, for our future. 

  • For my husband, because while I believe he will always think of me as beautiful, it doesn’t hurt for me to offer a little help. So I’ll take care of myself with activities I enjoy and beneficial foods, to help continually enjoy each other.
  • For our home, to energetically clean our home, keep up with the dishes and laundry, keep our herbs and plants from dying. To happily make it a hospitable and safe place to host loved ones, to use it as a resource to be generous. In my experience, strength and energy help in these areas.
  • For our future, taking care of my body because it will eventually be a home for a tiny human one day. I want to give them their best chance also, and it’s up to me because they will be growing inside of my body. The body I can choose to not care about, to treat poorly, or the body I can strengthen and enjoy.

All of that to say, if you’ve come at a crossroads with your body, or your exercise, or if you want to pick up activity for the first time, ask God to give you your own personal reasons and joy in it. Yours will look different than mine, and mine will look different than someone else’s.

It’s good, and I hope God continues to get the glory from our bodies.

What I Learned About Health From Cameron Diaz

Posted in wellness

This picture was taking on our honeymoon, when we adventured to Asheville, NC. I chose this picture because it relates to this post. I’ll come back to it.

I think I was pretty late to The Body Book party, but when she recently realized The Longevity Book, I was too curious not to pick it up. She basically goes through all the basics of the human body (specifically us girls), good health, the value of exercise (which she calls movement), even our mind and soul. It’s an easy read, but quite the book. I don’t want to spoil it if you do intend to read it, but below are some of my favorite passages, and the occasional thought.

“Your body is your past, present, and future. It carries the memory of your ancestors, because you are made up of the genes given to you by your parents and their parents before them. It is the culmination of everything you have ever eaten, all the physical activity that you did or didn’t do, all the efforts that you’ve made to understand and take care of it. And how well you care for it will determine how well you are able to live your life.”

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Tips For Better Posture (And The Value Of It)

Posted in wellness

Ever since I began going to physical therapy, my posture has been whipped into shape.

My dad was constantly (and lovingly) on our case when we were kids to sit up straight. Did I listen? Not as well as I should have been.

I personally think that better posture is going to be my long-term solution to this degenerated neck situation. But, in the process, I’ve learned how many other reasons there are to have good posture.

Want to have more confidence, more motivation, lower stress and the ability to basically rule the world? Time to sit up straight. I smile as I type that, but I’m serious.

Minimize lower back pain. Good posture is critical to reducing back and neck pain (I’m learning it firsthand). Slouching adds strain to muscles and put stress on the spine.

Look and feel better from head to toe. Being upright does wonders for your appearance. You’ll taller, slimmer and more successful when you sit and stand (and think) tall.

Strengthen your core. I have a stand up desk and spend an average of 2-3 hours a day standing up. When I’m not engaging my core, my lower back starts aching. But the minute I straighten up, and engage my core, the pain eases. It’s quite fascinating.

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My Healthy Manifesto

Posted in wellness

heartnatured

I’m only 23, but being a collegiate athlete, struggling with self-image, wanting to live a healthy lifestyle, I’ve welcomed and progressed through many a ‘decision/perspective/stance’ when it comes to living well. I’d like to share with you where I currently reside regarding the issue, my healthy manifesto:

  1. Remember how much of a phenomenon the human body is. Plainly. Designed intricately by God, created to walk, eat, move, drink, sleep, make more life (for us women). If you let yourself linger on the reality of the human body, it’s pretty amazing in and of itself, no matter how ‘fit’ you are. It is fantastic because it’s mine, because it is the way I live. And this life is sweet, rich, and short — I can’t afford to miss the beauty of it because I’m continually criticizing, judging, and discouraging myself.
  2. Eat clean (real, nutritious food) at least 80% of the time. I enjoy healthy food: salads, vegetables, protein, fruit… but I also have a serious tooth for salty snacks: salt and vinegar chips, Goldfish, pretzels… and the occasional chocolate chip cookie. I’d call that balance, wouldn’t you? Here I would also include this statement: Eat food that helps me feel better. If a bowl of ice cream is what my body is craving, super duper. But if eating those chips is going to make me feel guilty, I say no this time. I check in with myself: is the reason I want this food because I’m bored? If so, it probably won’t make me feel good. If my friend and I are making cookies for a party, eat them and enjoy.
  3. Enjoy my activity. I had always been a runner, but I was burned out earlier this year so I took a hiatus and took up yoga. It was new and challenging, motivating because it was different. I did spin classes for awhile, and now I’m back on the running path. I do it because I enjoy it. It’s not a chore, and I don’t feel guilty when I don’t do it, because the motivation is pleasure and enjoyment, not pressure and expectation. If I lived near more mountainous terrain, I may never exercise except to hike trails. That would be my exercise. See what I mean? What is your favorite activity?
  4. Minimize unhelpful media exposure. This looks different for everyone. When I was neck deep in yoga practice last month, I followed so many yogis on Instagram, because I wanted to learn, and I was inspired. But I’ve been in seasons where scrolling through photos of athletes was less motivating, and more discouraging. At that point, I stopped scrolling, I unfollowed, and I found my own pace. And then fill my mind and heart with that which inspires me – the Bible, my family, the affirming words spoken by my husband, etc.
  5. Realize no one is expecting me to look a certain way physically. That’s right, gals. The people who are judging me/you are those that have a need to make themselves look/feel better. The goal should be overall health, not six pack abs. Everyone is built differently, I can’t compare myself to you because your genetics, your bone structure, your body’s design is different from mine… and hallelujah for that! Right?! I want to be fit enough to bring healthy new lives into this world, to run around with my future children, to run 5k races to support local causes, to hike mountains with my husband.

This is what works for me. Choosing overall (mind, body, soul) wellness, real food, fun activity, and Truth over lies.

Do you have a healthy manifesto? I’d love to hear about it.

Conditional Confidence

Posted in inspiration

You know, I have been fighting the urge to post this one. Because so many people preach this stuff — striving to go against what culture screams. Sometimes they have lived it and truly mean it, other times they’re trying to make up their own minds and find some freedom. I don’t want to be the person who loses sleep over what someone else thinks over a sharing of my heart, here or elsewhere. There’s wisdom and tact, yes, but then there’s also being honest and open. From this place this post comes.

Getting married… Intimacy on a new level, lots of people staring at you. There’s a lot of room for the Enemy to make tiny insecurities as large as mountains, but I don’t want that. For me or for you who reads this. So here we go…

“I’ll love my body when I lose weight. When my skin clears up. When my thighs are slimmer. When my stomach is flat.”

Everyone has been there. Everyone has had a conditional love for their bodies at one time or another. Human nature is often ‘we want what we can’t have,’ and we refuse to love our bodies until they’re in whatever perfect state our twisted minds want them to be in.

It’s a messy situation, and to be honest, a little wearying. Is it wrong to want to look different? What does it mean to really love my body anyway? Is it possible to love a body that isn’t the way I want it to be? These are the questions I’ve been pondering in my spare thought life lately.

First things first, what about wanting to look different? We live in the age of comparison, so tendencies to get discouraged are high and frequent. There’s this notion that if you aren’t like this, you’re lacking. It’s easy to glance at the “grass on the other side.” We each have a certain size and shape that we’ve been entrusted, designed by the Creator of life, and we can’t change that. However, I believe the desire for beauty is something everyone is born with, and there is no shame in desiring to be or making ourselves more attractive physically. The key to keeping these changes within healthy boundaries is to stay true to what makes us unique (i.e. wearing clothes that flatter our figure, rather than going on an extreme diet to lose weight). Remember: there’s nothing special about being a copy of someone else. Like I wrote the other day, here, God created me with a genetic makeup unlike anybody else. Family genetics combined with what I value in life combined with a large batch of personality and desires and how I choose to be. This large umbrella of genetic makeup obviously includes my physical body. As it does you.

Mind you, as a woman and former collegiate athlete, I sometimes feel like I preach this to myself 23 hours of the day. But with every fiber in my being I want to fight for awareness of what I treasure most in life: is it knowing Christ, or idolatry of self-image; is it loving people well or obsession with food? Whether I’m running everyday or not, Jesus wants to be my focus, my number 1 affection, my most consuming desire. And life is far better and fuller that way.

So then, what does loving our bodies even look like? The best way I’ve heard it said is,

“Treat your body like you would treat a friend.” This could include some or all of the following:

-Feed your body nourishing food and be true to your real hunger.
-Buy and wear clothes that fit your body as it is today, not as it was five years ago or will be in a few months.
-Use positive language when talking about your body–regardless of if it’s in your head or out loud.

And then this, how can we love our body if we actually hate it? It’s a paradox, indeed, but if we ever want to have healthy body image, we have to learn to accept the way our bodies look as they are RIGHT NOW. If we can’t love our body today, we won’t love our body when it’s “perfect,” because that idea of perfect will always change. 

Look in the mirror today and delight in what you see, even if it’s not the reflection that you wish you had. Look at your eyes, your smile, your skin, your hair, your legs. Thank your body for what it does for you and spend this week delighting in the joy of your beauty. This body allows you to move and breathe and experience all the awesomeness of life — Baskin Robbins ice cream, a canoe ride down the lake, shopping for a new outfit, playing tag with your kids.

You are a woman, and you are beautiful. Done and done. Measure yourself in contentment, joy, and laughter, because those are the things that last longer. It’s difficult to transition your thinking, to change your mindset, but it’s so wonderfully possible. I know this to be true because I walked/am still walking it also. I can strive to love the person God delights in. To focus on the love and growth of the heart that people encounter every day.

I want to be fit, and that’s completely great and wonderful! I want to go on long runs to relieve stress, and take fun spin classes at the Y, and go on hikes with my soon-to-be husband. But, I also don’t really want to compromise the chance for my love and joy and passion and kindness and relationships to deepen and expand .. at the expense of a lesser number on the scale. For me, it’s more of a mental game than anything else, but the mind is just as powerful than anything physical. I fight for the beauty of my thought life, the rest for my soul, the confidence of my heart, when the Enemy tries to get in and distract me.

“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.” May Sarton

Find your freedom, dare to be all of who you were created to be, widen your scope of vision, who is your true audience? Enjoy life, treasuring wonders that are intangible. Be happy with what you have while working for what you want. It’s different for everyone.. and that’s how it should be. I’m doing the same, so let’s chat.

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