Thursday, January 19, 2012

Our Body as a Temple

Q. I have been thinking about my body being the temple of God. I want to do a better job of taking care of my body and wondered if you knew of any small changes I could make to be healthier. Any suggestions?

A. Today's question will be answered by Cathy McDaniel, social worker in Birmingham, with our parent ministry, Alabama Baptist Children's Homes. Cathy has taken a personal interest in fitness and has seen great success.

Thank you for the timely question; with the new year many of us begin to set goals while re-evaluating our current course of action. I must agree with you that our body is the temple of God and deserves to be treated with respect and honor. If we treated our church buildings the way we often treat our bodies, our buildings would be crumbling to the ground – and God is much more concerned about His children than He is a building.

With that said, please read on for some practical and easy suggestions for a healthier lifestyle.
1. Begin by acknowledging that losing weight, getting in shape, anything you do to be healthier, is as much a spiritual journey as it is as a physical one. Romans 12:1 states, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”

There may be assignments or blessings that God desires to pour into your life, but due to the state of your health, He is not able to do so.

Spend time in prayer with the Lord. Acknowledge that it is your will to give your body to Him so that He can utilize it for His glory. Seek the Lord, asking Him to guide you in the changes He desires for you to make. And then seek His assistance, as, without Him, none of us have the power to make the long-term changes required for improved health.

I often join Paul in praying as he did in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.”
2. Secondly, I like that you asked for small changes. Too often we try to change everything all at once and become overwhelmed and discouraged. The battle for good health is a lifetime commitment. Start by making small changes and as those changes become a normal part of your routine,you can initiate more changes and before you know it, you are miles down the road.
· More and more processed foods have entered the American diet. These foods are convenient, but they are also loaded with calories, artificial flavors and colorings, preservatives, and fats. Try to be aware of what you are eating, and when possible, chose natural, whole foods. Add in whole grains, lean meats and whole fruits and vegetables. I once had a mentor state it this way, “Shop the perimeter of the grocery store instead of the inside aisles. This is where you will find fresh produce, meats and dairy.
· Be aware of portion sizes. “Extra-size it” has become the cry of the American consumer. However, these large portions add extra calories to our diets. Educate yourself on appropriate portion sizes, and take measures to not over eat. Suggestions include halving a meal with a friend or asking for a takeout container prior to beginning of your meal. That way, you can place the extra food in the container and then eat what is left on your plate.

· Plan ahead and plan accordingly. Know your weaknesses and be aware of what your day holds. If you know you will be going into a situation that is challenging for you, be prepared. For example, I never go hungry into a social situation where I know there will be a lot of snack foods. Instead, I eat a small healthy meal first, and this helps me to say “no” to the foods that I will only regret eating later.
· Remember that there are no easy answers. Weight loss comes down to burning more calories than you eat. Be aware of how many calories you consume each day. The best way to become aware of what you are eating is by writing down everything you eat. There are many websites which can help you keep record. It may shock you to discover how many calories you are consuming throughout the day. Then evaluate how many calories you are burning. The human body was made to move– how are you moving yours? Remember, not everyone is made to join a gym – there are many ways to move your body, including walking, hiking,swimming and playing tennis. If you have not exercised in years, then simply think back to a sport you used to enjoy and slowly get back into it.
· Pay attention to who you eat with. Most of us tend to eat the same amount of food as the people we dine with. This can hamper women, who in general, are smaller than men and require less calories, but often consume the same amount of food as the men they eat with. There is no way around it; if you are 5 feet, 2 inches tall, your body simply does not need as many calories as someone who is 6 feet tall.
3. Finally, see this as an adventure and do not be afraid to try new things. The more variety you have in your diet the more options you have to eat a well-balanced diet. By trying new foods or by giving old foods a second chance, you may broaden your horizons. The same goes for physical activities. Just because you have never done something does not mean you can’t start now.
Blessings, and may the Lord sanctify you spirit, soul and body!