Keeping Diet and Exercise in Proper Perspective

Do you have a proper and helpful perspective on how to integrate health, wellness and fitness into your life?  I’m not sure that many people do.  Health is an important aspect of life, and most individuals have a great deal of control over their own health and wellness.  Yet, judging by the typical American lifestyle, a large number of us appear not to believe that.

Why is it that people often eat poorly, drink too much, are sedentary, smoke cigarettes or engage in other health harming behaviors? It seems that either they don’t care about their health or they believe that their habits don’t matter very much.  Upon becoming ill, they just “live with it” and act as if lifestyle-induced illness and disability are part of the natural order of things.

Others make the opposite mistake.  They idolize health, wellness and fitness becoming consumed about their body’s appearance and performance.  Perhaps the driving force is vanity, to look young and sexy forever.  Others may be compelled to continual exercise because too much of their self-image is dependent on great fitness or winning races.  Although such obsessions may actually help them be in good physical shape, this is not an emotionally or spiritually healthy view of wellness. Health, wellness and fitness are important aspects of life, but not the most important.

I think the proper view is: 1) that it’s better to be healthy than not, 2) we can control our health to a large extent, 3) we honor God by being good stewards of our bodies.  Given that outlook, we can begin to take appropriate action to live healthy lifestyles. And the great news is that when we eat better and begin to exercise, our bodies respond positively.  That’s the way God made us – simple to operate. Healthy behaviors are not complicated. And more scientific research into diet and exercise isn’t needed for us to live healthy.

Yes, we can feel good, have more energy, and enjoy a more active fulfilling life if we work for it. However, we can still get off track.  We need to guard against being legalistic about “good” versus “bad” behaviors and thereby becoming judgmental about ourselves and others.  God doesn’t need a lifestyle police force, and none of us will live the perfect lifestyle for good health.

It’s true that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is very hard in contemporary life. Like me, you will also have ups and downs. Fortunately there is abundant grace and no condemnation in Jesus. So we shouldn’t get too caught up in our failures, but rather forgive ourselves, keep at it, and trust God to help us in our efforts. It’s a narrow path. Let’s walk it together.