What is Healthy?
What comes to mind when you think about someone being healthy? Do you automatically imagine a person with a good body, someone who doesn't have any medical problems? The dictionary says healthy is “having good health; not sick or injured”. From that definition, we are still left wondering, what is “good health”/healthy? Is healthy merely a physical condition? I believe that healthy has four facets- physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. They all work in combination to produce “good health”. You can be in good emotional shape, but in terrible physical health and vise versa. Furthermore, to be in good overall health all facets need to be cared for. You cannot grossly neglect one facet to care for the others which creates imbalance and throws off the whole picture of health. Despite this belief, this is where I found myself for so many years.
Most of my adult life I have cared for my physical health but neglected the spiritual, mental, and emotional. Or I would be on track with the physical and spiritual but I was a wreck in the other two facets. I was trapped in a cycle of always taking care of the physical and one more facet, but never all four. Why? Well, I didn’t know it at the time but I had made my body an idol. I worked out every day and rarely took a rest day. My workouts and nutrition were top priority over everything else-friends, family, and God. In my mind, I was “taking care of myself”. But my obsession with having a great body dictated my schedule and where I would and would not go eat with friends; it made me judgmental at family meals and worst of all it took over the throne of my heart where only God was supposed to sit. The way I looked dictated my mood, my self-esteem, and my self-worth. From the outside I was “the picture of health”, I was also involved in my church and dating the man of my dreams, but in my heart and mind I was slowly decaying.
On a Sunday in January 2013 my pastor preached a sermon on idols. I have never in my life felt so uncomfortable! I knew when the pastor started describing the signs and symptoms of an idolatrous heart that my sin was being shown to me by God and it was ugly! I wanted to run out of the sanctuary with my fingers in my ears! I knew that if I was aware of my sin then God would want me to change- in other words I was CONVICTED! If you’ve ever been under conviction from the Holy Spirit it ain’t pretty folks! But He convicts us out of love. To quote Isaiah 48:17 “This is what the Lord says- your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the ways you should go”. Sin, of any kind, is harmful and all sins are equal in the eyes of God, but idolatry is especially dangerous to a Christ follower because our idols become what control us. I was being controlled by my body image. Since I am adult I sat quietly in my seat and listened to the rest of the sermon instead of running out like a big baby. From that point on I was keenly aware of the changes I needed to make.
Although, I was aware that my body image was my idol, I didn’t do anything about it for almost a year. I was too scared to let go in fear that God would make me stop working out altogether. I was too scared to give God control of my time and my mind. I had built a reputation of being “fit” and “a machine” in the gym. I didn’t want anyone to think I was a quitter.
In October 2013 I became engaged, from that point the battle was on to look good in my dress, but I had fallen into a comfortable eating pattern with my fiancé. I was no longer only eating “health nut” foods, I was eating normal meals and enjoying dinner dates and surprise desserts with the man of my dreams. The weight just wouldn’t come off! Plus, I was having some medical problems and was unable to work out as hard as could in the past. Mentally and emotionally I was unable to cope since I had tied all of my self-worth and self-esteem to my body. Spiritually, I felt far from God, I still had a regular quiet time but often instead of scripture my mind would focus on my next workout or guilt over what I ate the night before. I was a ticking time bomb! 6 months later after being married only 3 months I exploded! I can’t even remember what triggered it but I sobbed and confessed my sin to my husband. I felt so ashamed but also relieved to confess and share my burden. He showered me with grace and love. He also promised to help me and hold me accountable for my thoughts and actions. I’d love to tell you that from that moment on my life was completely different, but that wouldn't be the truth. Overcoming my old thought patterns, giving God control, and finding my self-worth in Christ alone has been a hard battle that I’m still fighting. There are still days when Satan whispers lies and my focus gets lost. Sometimes I still wrestle with having a “bubble butt” (which I’m growing to love more and more btw) or not having perfectly shaped arms. 1 Timothy says “physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” I still believe in physical training and its benefits but it’s not my idol anymore.
Passion from Pain
In August of 2014 a friend of my husband approached us about becoming coaches with a company called Beachbody. I was hesitant at first because I didn't want to go back to idolizing fitness and my body. After much prayer and consideration I signed-up. Now I have found a place where I can help other people who are struggling in fitness and from that I can help them feel loved, motivated and most importantly help them to see that the shape of their body is not the source of joy. Jesus Christ is. He promises life to the fullest if we put our trust in Him, or like me, you take everything else off of the throne of your heart so He can have his rightful place. There’s a scripture in Romans that says “He works all things for the good of those that love Him”. I love that only God can take something sinful in my life and allow me to use my experience to help others. Praise God!