~~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV84) ~~ Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
by Carley Cooper
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Why is that taking care of ourselves seems so dreadful sometimes? As someone who’s lost a lot of weight, and has changed my life so drastically in so many areas, I often get people asking me questions such as; what is the most important things I can do? The disappointment that I see on their faces when I tell them that ‘the keys to success lies in motivation, education and self discipline’; is a common. This is an unfortunate attitude, but the truth is those things are the keys to finding that place where your body is healthy. I know this from traveling through that journey myself.
At the present time I am somewhere in the midst of a journey about disciplines. I know that because in the past couple months the number of messages that I am hearing and seeing from God, about disciplines, are overwhelming me. One of a number of specific things that I am getting messages about is taking care of my body. Keeping our bodies physically healthy is a spiritual discipline. By doing this we are worshiping God; and giving the Holy Spirit a nice, clean, healthy place to live. Think about it... would you want to live in a rickety, rundown dump of a home that’s filled with garbage and poor air circulation? No, you wouldn’t, and neither would I. Well, God doesn’t want that either. Our body is His temple. However, I did just that for many years. I was up to way over 200 pounds once (how high, is not important for this discussion). I didn’t eat well and I had breathing problems much of the time. My energy was low on a good day and my mental health was... well, very bad, to say the least. Even my hair and nails were different as an unhealthy person. By not taking care of our bodies, and filling it with garbage fuel like processed foods, white flour, artificial sweeteners, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, chemicals, preservatives, antibiotics; and the list goes on, we are giving God exactly that... a shabby shack to live in.
My health routine to take care of my body involves a daily workout. My standard workout routine has three parts to it. I know what you’re thinking. You know this already; right? It’s cardio, strength, and cool-down with stretches. Well, yes and no. You’re right about those things; but no, those are not the three parts I am referring to. My morning workout includes a spiritual workout, a mental workout, and a physical workout. Our bodies are made up of three parts; the physical body, our mind and our spirit.
First, when I wake up I spend some quiet time with God. I talk to Him, then I do a devotional time; which involves reading the bible and a message from a devotional book. Then I finish it off by listening to some worship music for at least 30 minutes. I do this routine first thing in the morning because I believe that from the time we wake up our minds should be on God. I have found that if I don’t start my day with Him, the day just does not go right. Granted that’s not to say we’ll never have a bad day if we start it with prayer; but, I mean, that I’ve noticed that if I don’t start out my day with God, I’m guaranteed to have a rotten day.
The next part of my routine is my mental workout. I think this is fundamental for anyone, but for me and others with mental illness I think it is absolutely vital. For me, this element is made up from meditation, reading and positive thinking. I have a 30 minute mediation program that I listen to on my MP3 player. It claims to help change brain chemistry. There are no words. It’s just sounds. After I listen to it I do feel better, and I have more energy. Because of my Bipolar Disorder, racing thoughts are a constant problem, and first thing in the morning is my worst time. For me to sit and listen to anything without distraction for very long is impossible; let alone a whole 30 minutes. As such, to keep my mind from racing too fast while I’m listening to my meditation program, I read a book. It forces me to have something to focus on. Even then it’s sometimes very difficult. There are times that in those 30 minutes I will read only a couple of pages, because I cannot force myself to focus. It’s common problem for Bipolar sufferers. Other times, I can read 10 - 15 pages.
The last part of my mental workout is training my thinking patterns. For some people, this may not be much of an issue. All my life my thinking was negative in every aspect of my life. I wasn’t necessarily aware that it was negative. It was just the way the world was; I thought. This was how my mind was trained to think from the beginning. After I lost the weight, I knew the next step toward mental healthiness was to change my thinking patterns. This venture was, by far, the hardest part of my lifestyle change; and it continues to be. To alter what is, essentially, one’s brain chemistry is no small feat, but for those of us with mental illness, who know that our brain chemistry is already off course, as compared to others; it is an even bigger undertaking. For this, I read positive affirmations. I have a stack of index cards with positive affirmations written on them. I also have some books filled with positive quotations and mantras; and, of course, God’s Word. Plus, as often as I can, I journal, but this can be done anytime of the day.
The final part of my workout practice is my physical workout. I get my cardio by doing power-walking in the park; when the weather is nice. On not-so-nice days, I workout with videos. Then there’s a strength training routine, and stretches.
Granted, I’m not perfect in my workout or healthy eating routines. There are days when I just don’t have the mind for it; but I do pray about it. My standard practice has been to allow myself one day per week to have some treats, so that I don’t feel deprived or left out, if I’m at a public or family function. Sometimes when I’m not feeling well in the morning or if I have to rush off somewhere and I’m short on time; the first thing that gets cut from the program is the worship music. Then, if I’m still short on time, the mental health element is the next thing to get slashed. And my strength-training routine is the hardest part for me to keep on track with. Plus, sometimes there are days when I over eat, or when I don’t eat at all. I never cut prayer time, and almost never cut devotional time though.
What I do know for sure is that to be truly healthy and to reap the benefits, I have to discipline myself better. I know God wants me to do that. He has blessings in my future that depend on it. My motivation is Jesus and spending eternity with Him. My education comes from God’s Word and a continuous need to know more about healthy living through reading. My strength for my self-discipline comes from the Holy Spirit. So, what’s your routine made up of? Go ahead, climb the mountain; it’s a great workout!
~~ Dear God ~~ Thank You for teaching me how to do a complete workout. Please give me the passion, willingness and the strength I need to develop the discipline to do it daily. Help me climb the mountain, so I can reach the summit and be with Jesus. In Jesus name, AMEN.