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I know it doesn't feel like it for many of us, but spring is here. (I'm sorry if you're sitting in snow while reading this...ugh.) Spring brings renewal, fresh openings, and new perspectives. And in the spirit of renewal this season, it feels appropriate to talk about physical renewal…to examine our physical bodies to see if any newness should transpire.
Are you in a rut? Do you find yourself doing the exact same physical activities and falling into the same diet strategies? Perhaps even your mind needs a new perspective on what physical health should look like.
A fresh outlook on fitness.
Let’s start by renewing our ideas of fitness...
Not Punishment. First of all, physical activity should never be viewed as punishment for what you have eaten. How many times have you eaten a large dinner and vowed to “work it off” in the gym the next day? This attitude breeds a negative attachment toward exercise, and food will become guilt-inducing. This is a poor reason to exercise, and you have to begin disassociating the two.
An Opportunity. Instead of punishment, exercise should always be an opportunity to make your body stronger, more capable, and more resistant to injury. God gave us our bodies as a vessel for our very valuable souls. He expects us to take care of what He has entrusted to us, to keep these bodies strong, injury free and fully capable of any task. Every time you step up to work out, it's an opportunity.
Not Just Cardio. Also, fitness does not just mean “cardio”. If you walk into a gym during January, the cardio machines are packed. Nobody really knows what else to do, and we have this assumption that cardio is the best option anyway.
It’s actually the worst option…it has the lowest impact on your overall physical health. No matter your age, goals, or current abilities, strength training should be your number one priority. If you have no idea how to do it, I have lots of free workout plans and strength training opportunities here.
Not Just Workouts. Fitness must be constant. This does not mean you should be working out every day, but it does mean that you must use your body continuously. Look for ways to include spontaneous activity. Go for walks, do yard work, walk across the street instead of drive, and move around your house all day long (which is not a problem for most women!). Just get off your bum!
A fresh outlook on food.
Let’s also renew some of our ideas of nutrition.
Eat More. Don’t focus as much on eating less, focus on eating more. This idea could be revolutionary for you. Stop dwelling on what you shouldn’t be eating (candy, bread, soda, chips, crackers, fast food). Instead, put all your brainpower into what you should be eating more of! You need more fruit, more fresh veggies, more lean protein, more healthy fats, more whole grains, and more water. If you start to fill every meal with these foods, you’ll have far less room in your life for the other stuff.
Balance and Moderation. This requires a lot of honesty, especially for those of us with long histories of dieting. Are you obsessed with dieting and restriction? Do you draw lines for yourself that are too hard and don’t provide any wiggle room? Are you incapable of eating a cookie without eating the whole box? Or perhaps you use “balance and moderation” to your advantage too often, and have let discipline fall by the wayside.
It might be time to get a better grasp on nutritional moderation. Read here for more on balance and moderation.
Simplify. Make good nutrition simple. All the little nutritional details trip up so many women (eating gluten free, organic, carb timing, meal spacing, detoxing, juicing, intermittent fasting, etc.) Bring yourself back to the basics: eat your PRO's (protein & produce) with every meal, eat a variety of fats, sometimes eat whole grains, and drink a lot of water. Be proficient at these habits, and then concern yourself with the details. Chances are once the simple basics are mastered, the results will prove that the details don't matter.
A fresh outlook on "health".
And finally, let’s renew our big-picture idea of “health”.
More Than Exercise and Food. Being healthy is not simply regular exercise and good nutrition. Of course, these components could be considered the pillars of health. But there are many more aspects to having a healthy body.
- Do you have a regular sleep routine? Why not?
- Are you constantly stressed out? Why?
- Do you know how to breathe correctly? Learn how here.
- What about active recovery methods? Do you tend to skip your cool down?
- Do you have pain anywhere that you’re just “dealing with”? Why haven't you gone to get it checked out?
- Are you surrounded by people that encourage you to be healthier? Or are you by yourself with this?
- Do you give yourself grace continually? Or do you frequently feel ashamed for not doing the right things?
- Are you overly concerned about your weight? Does the scale stress you out?
All of these things play a role in how healthy you actually are. You could eat perfectly and exercise religiously, but still be a complete mess on the inside, on the verge of a stress-induced heart attack. Not until all of these components are taken care of will you feel fully and deeply healthy.
If you've been in a rut, you're probably in need of renewal on some level. Gather a fresh outlook on your exercise, your eating habits, as well as your overall view of health. And then move forward, stewarding your body well, taking care of what God has entrusted to you.
"For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."
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