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fitness

Your Body Matters

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

in wellness

What I Learned About Health From Cameron Diaz | heartnatured

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.”

Read more…

Tips For Better Posture (And The Value Of It)

in wellness

Tips For Better Posture (And The Value Of It) | heartnatured

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.

Read more…

My Healthy Manifesto

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.

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