Tending the Body
LORD, you have searched me out; O LORD, you have known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You trace my journeys and my resting places and are acquainted with all my ways. — Psalm 139:1-3
How do you treat your marvelous body? Do you care for it like the precious gift that it is, or do you neglect, abuse, or disparage it? Do you allow culture to make you feel “less than” perfect and therefore not worthy? Are you thankful for the body you’ve been given? Do you appreciate and attend to the blessing of your physical health and well-being?
If you live in North America, chances are your body is under stress and overworked. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of adults and one sixth of children in America are obese (30% or higher body fat). What’s really shocking is that in the last 20 years adult obesity rates doubled, while childhood obesity tripled. We live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, yet many of our people are under-nourished and overfed. Skyrocketing blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, depression, and arthritis, and a host of other maladies are on the rise. In fact, seven out of 10 deaths in the U.S. are attributed to chronic disease.
Do you get enough rest? Are you drinking plenty of water? Do you exercise regularly? Is Sabbath a regular part of your weekly plan? Do you even know how to breath correctly?
Our largely sedentary lifestyles are contributing to early death. The “convenience” of cars and affordable fuel prevents us from walking enough, plus our hurried, busy days often end up with a quick buzz through the drive-thru for a fast food dinner that is hastily inhaled. Evenings are more likely to be spent in front of the television instead of walking the neighborhood, gardening, or sports activities.
Yes, I know, I know. Enough doom and gloom. You’ve heard it all before. Well, then why aren’t we doing more about it? Why aren’t we as a culture demanding better health from ourselves? Did we ever imagine that enhanced technology, added convenience, and fast food would put us on the fast track to an early demise?
The good news is that it’s pretty simple to make some basic changes that will result in better health and well-being. Why not make one action a priority for a month and then add another one once you have established a new healthy habit. Consider these simple steps–
- Drink enough water each day. According to the Mayo Clinic, men need about 13 cups of total beverage intake, and women need nine. Do both your health and the planet a favor, and use a stainless steel or aluminum bottle instead of plastic.
- Get enough rest. Turn off the television, relax, and get seven hours of sleep each night. Teenagers need more than that and usually get much less. Click here for a good article about sleep.
- Eat well. I like Michael Pollen’s suggestion that if something has more than five ingredients listed on its packaging or you can’t pronounce the ingredients and don’t know what they are, don’t eat it. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, patronize farm markets and local farmers whenever possible, and try growing as much of your own food as you can.
- Get moving! Walk or ride a bike whenever possible. Would you be surprised to know that New Yorkers have the longest life expectancy in the U.S.? They also walk more than the rest of us. Walking and biking are great exercise, plus you have the added benefit of breathing fresh air and enjoying creation. Try to get 30 minutes of sustained exercise several times a week. Try yoga, pilates, swimming, or the fitness room at your local gym. Find a partner to hold you accountable.
- Cultivate relationships. Spend time with family and friends. Laugh. Play. Love. Relationships are simply way better than stuff.
- Most importantly, cultivate your relationship with the One who created you. Carve out daily time for prayer, meditation, scripture or devotional reading.
Be thankful for your body and tend it well. It’s never too late to learn to take better care of yourself. After all, GOD has given you an amazing gift–YOU.
For Further Reflection
Choose one of the suggestions listed above and spend some time thinking, planning, and praying about how you can make simple changes that will show your gratitude for the gift of your body, as well as help cultivate a spirit of thanks-living.