10 Things I Wish I Knew [+ believed] Before Taking Care of My Body 10 Years Ago
In our Wellness HIS Way Studio, I go live every Thursday to do a Healthy In Body teaching. March 18, I decided to share with our members 10 things I wish I had known (and believed before I began taking care of my body 10 years ago. These are things I know now only because I finally let the Holy Spirit renew my mind to align with God's Word, Who He is, who He says I am in Him and my purpose here. I attached the video above if you prefer listening; I would suggest starting 2 minutes in!
Let's jump in:
1. My body isn’t mine.
This seems simple, but sometimes it's the most simple truths we struggle most to believe and live out. My body is not mine; I know this now. 10 years ago was another story.
I lived and treated my body like it was mine to do what I pleased. I took care of it my way for my gain. I never talked to God about it because I didn't think He cared and I thought I knew better (ridiculous, I know).
I wish I could go back and say, "Actually, it's not yours." God made it. He owns it. You're the steward of it and your body is the temple the Holy Spirit dwells in.
Colossians 1:15-16-”The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created through Him and for Him.”
I remember when this verse went from giving head knowledge to transforming my heart and renewing my mind. I am created through Christ and for Christ. This then means my body is also made by Him and for Him. Wow. That changed everything. It changed how I saw my body, used my body and took care of my body.
I began to see how my body was another vehicle to display God's glory!
2. My body isn’t my enemy.
Think back to the times you have abused, misused, hated, resisted and condemned your body. I have done it all.
The more we can see our body as a gift (given by God) to be stewarded rather than a problem that needs to be fixed, the better we can partner with our bodies to keep them healthy and strong.
We won't want to try to understand what we label as an enemy. We can't steward well what we don’t understand. See how they go hand in hand?
Have you ever taken time to try to understand your body? What makes it sluggish? What makes it fatigued? When we have the correct view of seeing our body as a gift and not our enemy, we can partner with our body with kindness, grace and a teachable spirit. When I can see my body as a gift, now I want to understand it so I can take care of it well.
3. My body isn’t my identity.
This one was big for me.
Health and wellness only gets complicated when you start putting your identity in it.
For years I put all my worth, significance, identity and value into the way I looked. God created us in a way where we can only find significance from Him. I tried to take all these other paths and ended up with the same outcome: disappointment.
I've always known what the Bible said about me. I knew who God said I was. I just either did not care or did not believe it more than what others said about me or what I thought about myself.
I had to start praying and asking the Lord to help me align my thoughts and beliefs with His Word. God is the focal point of all scripture. When we read the Word we should always ask:
"What does it teach me about God" FIRST.
Then, "What does it teach me about who I am?"
Then, "What does it warn me about the enemy (satan)?"
Even though I sometimes still struggled to believe it, I focused on hiding God's Word in my heart. I stopped resisting the Holy Spirit's desire to renew my mind around identity. I memorized scripture and repeated it until I was creating a new path in my mind where God defined me. Once I did this, I was able to no longer obsess about my fitness. I could have a sober mind with my body.
Once we solidify our identity in Christ, we can put health and wellness in its proper place. We don't idolize our health or neglect it; We can just care for it well and move on!
4. My body is temporary.
I did not believe this 10 years ago. I lived like my body was the main thing; it consumed my mind. What I ate consumed my mind. How much I worked out consumed my mind. My body became a distraction to my main purpose when I cared about it more than Jesus.
Our body is a temporary tent. Really think about this! When we store up our treasures in our body, it's meaningless in light of eternity.
I had to learn that my body is not the main thing. But. While it wasn't the main thing, it can help me do the main thing.
What is the main thing? To delight in the Lord, magnify Him and spread the Gospel! We are here to prepare the way for Jesus' second return, to love God, love people and spread the Gospel. My body is either going to enhance my ability to live our this purpose or limit it.
When we set our mind on what is eternal, we can steward what we are given on earth without worrying or becoming consumed by it.
Ultimately, I had to redefine my "why" for health. It was not get skinny or sexy (anymore). Instead, it was to glorify the Lord and serve others; As much as it depended on me, I didn't want it to become a barrier to anything He calls me to do.
5. My body responds to my thoughts toward it
It sounds weird to say, "your body can hear you," but it kind of can! What we believe we will live. What we believe comes out in what we say.
I had to ask the Lord to renew my mind and help me retrain my words so I spoke life over my body. My body is supposed to be another way I get to worship the Lord! How can I honor God with my body if I am constantly speaking negatively toward it?
1 Corinthians 13:4-6- "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking,it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth."
Galatians 5:22-23- "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."
Philippians 4:8- "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."
Have you ever applied those scriptures toward your body? God did not make us only as spiritual beings. Scripture addresses our spirit, mind and body.
If you want to learn how to have loving thoughts toward your body, look no further than 1 Corinthians 13:3-6.
If you want to experience love, joy, peace, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control toward your body, it won't take willpower but the Holy Spirit's power.
If you want to have positive thoughts toward your body, meditate on Philippians 4:8.
I encourage you to grab pen and paper and right now write out three reasons you're grateful for your body!
6. Grace is a much better motivator than guilt.
It can't be all grace and it can't be all discipline. Discipline and grace are not opposed to each other, they work together.
While grace fuels discipline, guilt only fuels discouragement. When we are discouraged, we either start striving or stop caring.
Whereas grace meets us in our weakness, picks us back up with God's power and enables us to keep going. Grace reminds us we are sufficient in Christ's sufficiency (Philippians 4:13).
When was the last time you extended grace to yourself and your body? Is your bend toward all discipline and no grace or all grace and no discipline? They work together.
7. My body will go through seasons.
Again, so simple! Our bodies will change. I remember when I would get so frustrated when my body would leave a "sweet spot" I would finally reach in weight or size.
Think about things like pregnancy or menopause!
Of course our bodies, hormones and metabolism will change. So what if we anticipate the change and re-evaluate our goals and expectations to match what our body currently can do instead of always pushing what it used to be able to do? I bet we would get frustrated a whole lot less! Honoring God with our body means we actually need to pay attention to what our bodies are trying to communicate and caring about what it needs not just what we want.
In my pregnancy, I knew my body was going to gain. It's job was to gain. That wasn't a license to stop caring and neglect it nor was it license to be so consumed by the weight gain that I lost all joy. What will keep us steadfast in our commitment and grace fueled discipline is having the right purpose in mind for why we care for our body.
In pregnancy's case, whenI had the right purpose in mind behind caring for my body, I was able to still show up, move it, nourish it, rest it and stretch it consistently. If I am going to gain either way, I would much rather be gaining and have energy, strength, and stamina than gaining and feeling fatigued and weak.
When we live in the past we get depressed. We think about how our body used to be, how we used to feel, how we used to fit in the clothes. Focus, instead, on the body you have now. It's not your enemy. It's not your identity. It's not the main thing but it helps you do the main thing. The more we do this, the less we will get stuck in passively accept our bodies and proactively steward them with joy and peace.
8. My body is unique.
Listen. All our bodies are different. I remember when I would try so hard to get rid of my thunder thighs so I would try any approach someone recommends that worked for their body.
Something that works for someone may not always work for you.
Pay attention to what path you choose to care for your body. Consider if the path will hinder or enhance your life. There are so many paths today. Is whatever path you're considering right for you and your body?
I tried so many different approaches and was never consistent because all I wanted was weightloss. I jumped from "wagon" to "wagon."If I could go back 10 years ago I would question 2008 Caren and say, "Hey, if weight loss was not a goal--If you were already at your goal weight range or for some reason could never lose weight--would you actually pick this path for your health? Would you deem this approach wise, sustainable and sensible for you? Talk about a motive check!
Man. I refused to understand or see the uniqueness of my body and tried to shove myself in many approaches because weight loss was all I cared about! Those approaches wrecked and destroyed me because they weren't for me!
Listen, when people come to me for an opinion regarding different approaches they want to take for their health, my answer is always the same.
Talk to God about it first
Do the research
Just because this approach is scientific, can you sustain it? Does it make sense for you? Will it enhance your life or hinder your life? Are the sacrifices required worth it or will it complicate things for you and your family? Will it joy from living in the present? Does it bend toward extremes?
We don't ask these questions! We just see "weight loss here" and say "we're in"! We see discipline and effort and say, "we're out"!
Your body is unique, it's Creator is the Lord. You can't care for it well if you're not consulting the Maker of it. Don't overspiritualize it but talk to Him, ask for wisdom then go through those questions: is it sustainable and sensible and would I still choose it if weight loss was off the table?
9. Strong is more valuable than skinny.
I pursued skinny. I reached the goal of skinny by beating my body to the ground. It led to me losing my period for a year (which is horrifying), my hair falling out and constant fatigue.
When I say this is the healthiest I've been, I am talking mentally, spiritually and physically.
If I am skinny and tired all the time, how can I love and serve people? How can I be a present wife and mom? I will become so consumed by my own weakness and my body is now a distraction.
Satan loves to distract! He loves to use our bodies to distract! My friend Liz Patton said this well: "Satan is having a field day with God's daughters with this whole body image mess."
We end up so focused on ourselves that we miss our main mission: share the gospel.
What if we pursued strength? Every workout allows us to glorify God and strengthen my body so we can then serve and strengthen others.
Our body isn't about us. It helps us do the main thing. Don't idolize it or worship it, use it to worship your Creator and do the work you're called to here. Our body is an extension of our worship and our witness. Let's refuse to allow it to become a distraction because of insecurity or .
10. My body needs rest and food
Again, so simple and yet, I never rested and I was scared to eat. I complicated nutrition because diet culture overcomplicated it. I was so desperate to control the outcome of my health that I saw rest days as a delay from my goals.
Our body can't go hard all the time.
Allow time for recovery
Prevent muscle fatigue
Reduce risk of injury
Helps with healthy sleep
I also realized that my fear of rest days was, at its core, was a trust issue. I didn't trust God could sustain my efforts when I rested. I had to learn how the same way Sabbath is vital for my Spirit, rest days are vital for my body. Both are an opportunity to honor the Lord and show Him I trust Him.
In regards to food, that will have to be a subject for another time. To keep it simple: to this day I give God glory for how He renewed my mind our food. I am now able to see it as fuel and not abuse it as a source of comfort or control. Our bodies need fuel and nutrients to function well. Restriction and deprivation are only recipes for disaster. Be careful of any nutrition approaches that require either.
Your body is not yours but you get to steward it for God's glory and the good of others.
Your body is not your enemy or a problem that needs fixing. It's a gift that needs to be cared for.
Your body is not your identity. Only let God define you.
Your body is temporary. It's not the main thing, but it can help you do the main thing.
Your body listens to your thoughts, and follows. Speak life and God's truth over it.
Your body needs grace and discipline. No more guilt!
Your body will go through seasons. Embrace the change and keep the right "why" in mind!
Your body is unique. Don't just settle for any health approach because it promises weight loss. Ask if its sensible, sustainable, and will enhance your life.
Your body needs food and rest.
A FINAL REMINDER:
This journey to renew my mind around my body and wellness took three years. This is not meant to discourage you but prepare you. It wasn't effortless or mindless. I had to willingly cooperate with the Holy Spirit's desire to transform my mind with the Word of God, which I resisted for 7-8 years.
I willingly cooperated by exposing my mind to the Truth (God's Word) and asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten me so I could understand, see, and believe. I also asked Him to humble me so that my heart was good soil and the seed of faith and Truth could sink deep, change me, and make me more like Him.
The same Spirit in me is in you. He is ready and able to transform your thinking as you let Him and cooperate with Him! May today be the day you courageously identify the beliefs that don't align with God's Word, surrender them, and replace them with Truth.
Which reminder did you need most today?