I’m a wannabe fitness fanatic. Though I hit the gym every week, my weight fluctuates. That’s because the bottom line is in order to lose weight, I have to burn more calories than I consume. That is very challenging when I love to eat!
Those of you who are really into this already know this. Those of you who are trying are also saying, “Yeah, me too! I’m glad I’m not the only one!”
My weight fluctuates despite the fact that I’ve been a member of a fitness club—and actively—for over 15 years. For several years before that, I took physical fitness classes during my undergrad days. I also went jogging, cycling, hiking, and stretching, and created my own aerobics routines. Now I try to go to the gym at least twice a week, which, actually for me, isn’t even minimal any more. Four times a week is a great average for me.
For the first several years at the gym, all I did was cycle. I wouldn’t have even done that, except the guy who signed me up said that cycling classes were a great way to burn calories, which was the reason I told him I was joining the gym. I tried a step class once and almost sprained my ankle. That scared me away from trying any other classes until I finished grad school.
Grad school: papers and reading and research and reading and projects and reading and more reading and field placements (internships)… that was pretty much my life when I was in grad school. Anyone else remember those days?
That was a lot of sitting and gaining weight. I had gained so much weight by the time I finished grad school that I knew if I didn’t do something different, I would never lose the extra weight or improve my health. I changed up everything.
I upgraded my membership to include all clubs and even went up one level. I tried a new class—Zumba—and went on to try several other classes from there. I acquired a trainer. I began reading up on fitness. And I discovered a whole new world of information and principles of fitness that others have known for decades that I was just getting savvy to.
I began to understand how important retaining flexibility was to my overall health and longevity and began taking yoga classes (at the gym, at least where I go, they don’t have new age spiritual overtones). I found out how important timely sleep was to losing weight and started trying to get to bed by 9:30P (mostly unsuccessfully) so that my growth hormone could kick in at 10:00P and not only at 3:00A. I discovered what plateaus were and learned how to break through them. I learned how significant building muscle and bone mass were to accelerating my resting metabolism and began taking weight training classes regularly. Weight training has significantly helped lower my weight. The two categories of information, however, that have proved most helpful to me were about good water and the principles of food consumption.
Don’t worry, today’s article is more than just rambling about physical fitness! I will definitely include strong spiritual components here shortly.
I discovered from assessing my blood test from my annual physical and later, consulting an iridologist, that I was so dehydrated that I was in danger of my kidneys shutting down. The iridologist gave me a free bottle of alkalinized water from his own personal stock, and my body soaked it up as if I had never drank any water in my life before. I could feel the difference almost immediately. What I eventually discovered was that alkalinized water helped me hydrate better than tap water—which was what I had drank all my life—or plain bottled water.
As I began doing my research, I discovered that what made water alkaline were the minerals and elements that our bodies naturally needed in the form of electrolytes, and which helped my body maintain a healthy homeostasis. This homeostasis is achieved and maintained by those electrolytes supporting my body at the cellular level by flushing away toxins and lubricating and animating those cells to work properly. Keeping your body properly hydrated is like making sure you always have enough water in your toilet tank as well as clean oil in your engine!
Initially I bought bottled, alkalinized water, which quickly became expensive. Then I discovered that the Himalayan pink salt I had begun using to cook with was perfect to add to plain, cheap filtered and bottled water to alkalinize it. The salt is pink with other colors because of the iron and other elements in it, but it’s in a form our bodies can absorb much better than iron tablets! My mother had anemia toward the end of her life, so I have to make sure I get enough iron and calcium now.
I now carry around a small (2.25 inches tall) container filled with large, ungranulated crystals of Himalayan pink salt that will alkalinize several 16.9 oz. bottles of water a day for an entire month for mere pennies. Believe it or not, the water doesn’t taste salty at all! I usually use 5 to 8 crystals of salt per bottle, depending on the size of the crystals. I can tell when I use too much because my lips start to puff up from thirst because, instead of putting minerals into my body, the salt is drawing moisture from my body. I fix that by adding more water.
I’m not a medical or health professional, so I cannot speak to your situation. Be sure to consult your primary care physician or other health professional before embarking on any sudden changes in your water intake or other health regimen.
This is especially important if you or your family have a history of having to watch your salt intake due to any number of medical conditions, eg. high blood pressure, high cholesterol, edema. All I am doing here is sharing what I have learned and encouraging you to do your own research with diligence, thoroughness, and prayer. I’ll have a few articles at the end for you to start your research. So that’s the water part. The other part is the food part.
I had always been a mixed foodie. Sometimes I enjoyed healthy foods like salads or soups; more often I loved junk food or heavier, greasier foods. As I began to research what I ate, I became aware of how many calories my (now ex-) favorite foods put into my body. I discovered how the timing of what I ate morning, noon, or night, not just what I ate, impacted my metabolism. I began to realize what naturally occurring foods provided which nutrients. I discovered which food additives were most abundant and most unhealthy. I began to learn about the entire food production chain, from seed and agriculture to cattle rearing practices to presentation in the local grocery store. I found tons of recipes for tasty but healthy meals, dishes, and snacks. And I discovered which restaurants and fast food chains provided the healthiest offerings. And I am still learning!
Because of what I’ve been learning, I have had to continue to change the way I think about water, exercise, sleep, food, nutrition, and physical health. 1 Timothy 4:8 admits that bodily discipline is of some profit. Overall, I learned that what I put into my body was more important than what I put onto it, or any external exercises I could do. For instance, drinking enough good water was more important to my body’s being adequately hydrated than slathering on fancy, expensive lotions and creams. Eating fewer calories have more impact on my weight loss than any number of cardio classes I could take. Physical fitness begins way inside.
Spiritual fitness begins way inside. Spiritually, what I put into my body is more important than any external disciplines I could do.
I could go to church all day, every day. I could sing songs and talk about the Bible and serve and minister and fast and volunteer to do all kinds of stuff. If I don’t put the right stuff into my heart, however, I will not achieve or maintain any sort of spiritual fitness. Then, when it matters, when I need to be strong, I will falter and fumble and fall.
I don’t want to do that. I don’t think you want to do that.
Let’s start with a definition of what health and healthy mean. The primary definition for health, according to the Merriam-Webster Medical Dictionary, is: “1) the condition of an organism or one of its parts in which it performs its vital functions normally or properly; 2) the state of being sound in body or mind <dental health> <mental health>; especially 3) freedom from physical disease and pain <nursed him back to health>” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/health ). The same dictionary describes healthy as: “1) enjoying health and vigor of body, mind, or spirit; 2) revealing a state of health <a healthy complexion>; and 3) conducive to health” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/medical/healthy ).
Put the word “spiritual” in front of health and “spiritually” in front of healthy, and you may begin to see your relationship with Christ in a whole new light. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Think of your own relationship with the Lord and ask yourself: How normally or properly functioning is my spiritual walk? How much vigor do I demonstrate in my relationship to God? How sound am I doctrinally? How am I processing my emotional and spiritual pain? How free is my heart from spiritual disease?
In the modern medical world, heart disease is one of the all-time leading causes of death both here in the United States as well as worldwide (http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm ). Spiritual heart disease is right up there with other spiritual conditions that you want to avoid due to the entropy and necrosis it will cause your soul.
Proverbs 4:23 tells us, not to follow our hearts like the world says, but to guard our hearts. This is because our heart is the source of our issues—our thoughts, motives, attitudes, actions, habits, and words. We must protect what goes into it so we can reflect Christ more in what comes out of it. What influences should we be guarding our hearts against?
1 John 2:15–17 speaks of dodging the lusts of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. The devil used this deadly trio to get Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:6) and facilitate the fall of the human race through unbelief and rebellion. He hasn’t had to change his tactics ever since because they work supremely well. Which one of these is your worst downfall?
Speaking of the devil, have you seen any progress in your walk with Christ that indicates that the devil’s old tricks no longer have any sway over you? Has he had to step up his game to try to make you stumble? Or asking in a different way: how well are you resisting the wiles of the devil? I Corinthians 10:3–6, Ephesians 6:10–18, and James 4:7 all speak of the spiritual warfare we are automatically engaged in as children of God.
Psalms 101, especially v. 3, as well as Ephesians 5:3–18, have been described as TV guides for our hearts.
What cultural influences and famous people (entertainment, music, sports, news, etc.) captivate your heart? We’re not talking about legalism here. We’re talking about how you can guard what goes into your heart for your best outcome and spiritual vitality.
Proverbs 12:26 & 13:20, as well as 1 Corinthians 15:33, all speak of making wise choices in your friends and social support system.
Now, what should we be putting into our hearts?
The Word of God, as well as the Spirit of God, have been described as eternal sources of pure water for our souls that we would do well to cultivate (John 4:10, Ephesians 5:26). The Holy Spirit is much stronger than alkaline water; He will remove the most stubborn and toxic stains and sins if you will let Him!
Philippians 4:8 has a delightfully short and sweet list of positive and helpful things to put in our hearts: whatever is true, noble, just and righteous, pure, lovely, good reputation, virtuous, and praiseworthy.
Again: just as physical fitness starts on the inside, so spiritual fitness begins on the inside. Way inside.
I hope that, as we slowly begin the delightful transition from winter to spring, and now that Resurrection Sunday is over, you will take time to conduct a spiritual inventory with the guidance of the Word of God and the Spirit of God. I have been doing the same thing and, believe me, it’ll take me more than one week! See you next Sunday.
Centers for Disease Control. Leading causes of death. Health United States, 2014, table 20. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm
Ennett, Amada. 10 amazing benefits of pink (Himalayan) salt. Article for FitLife.Tv posted on 4/19/13. http://fitlife.tv/10-amazing-benefits-of-pink-himalayan-salt/ accessed 4/1/16
International Food Information Council Foundation. 2011 Food & Health Survey. http://www.foodinsight.org/2011_Food_Health_Survey_Consumer_Attitudes_Toward_Food_Safety_Nutrition_Health accessed 4/1/16
Terkheurst, Lysa. Made to Crave. Zondervan, 2010.
World Health Organization. Top 10 causes of death. 2012. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/