This past spring, I knew something had to change.
I’m 36 (and– gulp!– I can only say that for another month or so). And I had started noticing my age. It was little things:
- groaning, with an additional “oof” or “oh!” when I got off the couch
- hearing clicks in my knees and ankles as I descended the stairs
- insomnia (waking up in the middle of the night without being able to fall back asleep, for HOURS)
- preferring to keep sitting on the couch rather than just getting up to grab something I needed
- a general lethargy and lack of desire to get up and DO the things that needed to be done
But it began bugging me: Is this inevitable? Am I destined for pain and groaning?
And of course, in some ways, yes, we all are. Our bodies are feeble and frail — no matter how strong when they sprout up, we all eventually wither like grass. We’ll all die, some of us in painful, sickness-ravaged ways. That’s reality.
There are choices we can make that affect the rapidness with which we give way to weight gain and avoidable health problems.
Instead of dwelling in the realm of ideas, philosophical approaches to life, analyzing relationship and home issues (all the places where my brain naturally goes), I began thinking about bodies. Aging. Weight gain in middle age. Strength in muscles and flexibility in joints. Hormones.
And the truth I began facing up to is this:
Generally, we are all moving in one of two directions: toward health & strength, or toward sickness & frailty.
It sounds oversimplified, but the more I’ve squatted on this idea, the more true I believe it is.
I have a simple choice:
I can choose to do things that move me toward health and strength, or I can choose to avoid doing things like that, and more easily slide into sickness and frailty.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to think deeply on basic things, in order to take them on and take them in as my own core convictions.
And this is a basic thing I needed to take to heart: I SHOULD ACTIVELY CHOOSE TO CARE FOR MY OWN BODY.
In Ephesians 6, smack dab in the middle of a controversial passage of Scripture, the Apostle Paul says something he takes as a natural assumption of life:
“No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it.”
DO WE NOURISH & CHERISH OUR OWN BODIES?
In one sense, we could honestly say that American women are encouraged non-stop to “cherish” our own bodies… but I think it’s in all the ways that don’t matter a hill of beans.
Too often, we choose to exercise control over our bodies in the easiest ways that are the LEAST likely to positively affect our long-term health and strength.
- We dye our hair, get injections, and pay for blow-outs and pedicures, all to trick the world into believing that we are younger and cuter than we really are, and that time has no effect on us.
- We follow diet fads that trick our bodies into losing weight in ways that leave us nutritionally depleted in the long-term.
- We turn and twist in the mirror, to trick ourselves into thinking that we don’t actually look the way we appear in pictures (even though we all know that everyone else, more or less, looks the way they appear in pictures).
These things do nothing to improve the actual health of our bodies… they just change the way things appear. Instead of buying into short-term, smoke-and-mirror “fixes,” I wanted to put my brain to work finding long-term ways I could choose to nourish my body.
CHOICE #1- I BEGAN CHOOSING SIMPLE, HEALTHY SNACKS.
If I reach for a snack mid-day, I opt for small amounts of simple foods: a slice of cheese, an apple, or a tablespoon or two of almonds.
Nothing earth-shattering… I didn’t start buying expensive nut milks and mixing up fancy smoothies… just made a determined shift away from carb-filled pantry-grabs.
CHOICE #2- I AIMED TO EAT LESS IN GENERAL.
Instead of justifying an extra “second” portion of dinner, I do something else first. I might get up from the table, fill up my water glass, head out to the garden and clip some flowers, and then often find that I’m plenty full and don’t actually need a second serving of lasagna. I’ve even realized many times that I honestly don’t want that dessert that sounded so good to me just minutes before.
I have learned, and now believe, that I can be completely happy and content without eating more.
I don’t weigh out my portions, count my calories, or do anything official. I am just choosing to be HONEST with myself about the amounts of food I’m eating, and purposefully work to diminish those portions.
CHOICE #3- I MADE A GOAL OF DOING SOMETHING ACTIVE EVERY DAY.
Listening to podcasts propelled me through morning walks. Sometimes I’d try to run for 1-2 minutes at a go, in the middle of those walks.
We went for short hikes as a family. On rainy days, if there was a quick break through of sun, I’d tell the kids to throw on their shoes and we’d go for a 10-15 minute jaunt around town.
Instead of sitting on the couch, I decided to get outside, add some garden beds, and build a pathway from our driveway to our front walk.
None of it was formalized.
And sometimes it didn’t work out, and I didn’t beat myself up about it. Nor did I let a few days of sedentary life sway me from this overall conviction: I need to be active in some way, most days.
NOURISHING MY BODY LED TO A HEALTHIER FAMILY LIFESTYLE
This summer, we set and achieved more active goals together, as a family (we even completed a 12-day backpacking trip around a mountain!). We saw and did things I never knew I wanted to do.
But that all wouldn’t have been possible if I had still been groaning, laying around, creaking, and giving myself excuses.
- It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t the varsity sports girl in high school.
- I’m not doomed to accept aches and pains because I’m 36.
- Being pregnant doesn’t mean I can’t make a purposeful shift in my activity level.
I can choose to work toward health. I can do things that make my body stronger than it was last month.
I can actively nourish and cherish my body.
And every day is a choice.
IN THE COMMENTS, CONSIDER THESE WITH ME:
- In regard to your body and health, have you given in to defeatist thinking?
- How are you thinking about these things right now?
- What could you do today to nourish and cherish your body?