By: Price Potter
Oh no, is this another article about getting healthy and fit in the new year? How many of these do we have to suffer through? Must I slog through another tome telling me that I should eat right, exercise and take care of my spiritual and mental health? I mean, who eats vegetables anyway? And don’t you just hate it when an insufferable skinny person tells you to just put that fork down on that Triple Chocolate Fudge Cake you were about to shove into your mouth? Or when you see all those tremendously tan and muscular folks on TV dancing around in order to get their Beach Body on? Or the need to read your Bible more or pray more or (fill in the blank) more. I’m just wondering, why all this interest in improving me? Don’t they have something better to do? I am beginning to doubt if they even like me.
But then I am reminded that those things, let’s call them the Big Three (Eating Right, Exercise & Spiritual Health), really are good for me. It has been proven through countless years, through numerous studies and just through personal experiences with the myriad of people we know that the Big Three do make a difference in my quality of life. If that is the case (and it is), why are they so hard to implement? Why is it just darn near impossible to accomplish all three all the time? It is because we don’t have DISCIPLINE. Discipline is defined as “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior”. And get this, added to that definition is sometimes “using punishment to correct disobedience”. Ouch! That part of discipline is not fun and that is the flip side of discipline that we inherently rebel against. But it really does not need to be that way. Punishment is a result of not having discipline, but most of the time it is far down the road and likely, it may be minor (at least initially). But, the proverbial knowledge is that we will be punished if we don’t exercise (at least some) discipline in our lives.
So, we know that discipline is key to getting off our butts and doing something about the Big Three. So, let’s look at each of these individually and see if we can find a place to start:
Americans eat too much food. When we are young, we burn (most of) it off, but as we age, it starts to pile up around the waist (or back or legs or arms or wherever it wants) as excess pounds. So it takes discipline to limit that intake. Sometimes, it doesn’t take much. I don’t mean to start counting calories (although that may work for you), but somehow you have got to stop eating so much. I know, food is good and it is enjoyable to eat like there is no tomorrow. But that is the problem, there will be a tomorrow and it looks 50 (or 75 or 100) lbs. heavier. Don’t do it. If you have to get smaller initial portions or use smaller plates or go as far as smaller eating utensils (do they even make small spoons & forks), eat less. Eating the right amount of (which is usually less) food is what you really want to do.
Americans eat the wrong kinds of food. If I could eat exclusively French fries and only enough to keep my weight under control fine, right? Wrong. We eat too much salt (and sugar and processed stuff) & too much fast foods to be healthy. So swap out those processed goodies (they are good) for some fruits and vegetables. Yea, I know, vegetables can be (shall we say) untasty (not really a word, but it fit here). But, with the right ingredients, vegetables can be made to be tasty and healthy. But the key is balance. Mix in a little bit of everything (meats, fruits, breads and yes, vegetables) to your diet and you will be healthier for it. And just to be daring, mix in a little bit of sweets (because I know you will anyway).
Alright, I know no one exercises enough. We aren’t farmers anymore, so no one gets enough physical exertion (except those energetic people getting their Beach Bod on). But depending on where you are in life, you can always find time to do something. Go for a walk on a regular basis, join (& go to) a gym, do body weight exercises or just move around at home. Once a week is fine, twice a week good, three times a week better. Something is better than nothing. The enemy of good is perfect and some physical exercise is always good for your muscular system, your respiratory system and your nervous system. Heck, you will even feel better when you are done. Like the sales pitch, “Just Do It”.
Well, this one may be the hardest to do, has the least outward appearance of being beneficial, but has the most bang for your buck. Getting close to God and being intentional about your spiritual well-being is too important to neglect. It just pays dividends that no one can see or touch and that is why we let it slip so many times. With everything we have to do and every place we have to be and every person we have to interact with, alone time with God to pray and to study spiritual writings just falls by the wayside. Just like Eating Right and Exercise, a key is to be intentional and regular. Regular attendance at a Biblical church is a great first step! Another would be having a certain time of day to connect with God on a more personal and meaningful way, such as a family worship time. There are many ways to grow spiritually and we cannot list them all here! The main point is everything else depends on you being spiritually grounded and knowing that God is for you in this crazy, stressed out world we live in.
Well, there you have it; The Big Three. If you will gain at least a little discipline in your life in the coming year, you can make progress toward being a healthier and happier person in the new year.