“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Today I continue my steps to natural living with a look at taking care of the body. Most natural living methods I have seen are geared toward producing a safer living environment or using safer products and foods for improved health. I will jump into exploring these ideas next week (yay!) but today I want to cover what I think is the optimal way to have a healthy body naturally.
I believe it all begins with basic self-care we are all familiar with: exercise, eat right and sleep well. It just doesn’t make sense to me for a person to eliminate chemicals and plastics from their life, if they are already ignoring these basics. So before I blame over-processed commercialized products for my problems, I want to make sure I’ve got ME covered.
Besides, these are things that are the most natural for our body to take part in – all aspects were designed by God to use our bodies (which He created) and the resources He provides to achieve balanced health. It doesn’t get easier than that!
Here they are:
1) Exercise. I believe exercise is essential for anyone who can move a limb. It doesn’t matter how difficult the routine or how fast you go. It is about moving your body in all the ways in which you can (don’t focus on the can’t!).
The thing is exercise is an amazing catalyst for getting so many other beneficial processes in your body moving. We all know exercise burns calories, which leads to weight loss. It also helps increase your metabolism so you are burning calories when you are not moving. Plus exercise can help a person’s body release endorphins (a type of neurotransmitter) that help you feel good, relieve stress and benefit important processes in the body. Exercise can also boost your energy level throughout the day and regulate the hormones.
Yup, looks to me like my body needs this slightly more than it needs homemade dishwasher detergent. Right now I am working out about twice a week….it’s time to step it up!
(By the way....MyFitnessPal.com and SparkPeople.com are great online tools for tracking exercise and diet goals!)
2) Eat Right. This topic can include so many aspects. For me, eating right means eating balanced meals of (good) fats, (good) carbs and protein. I also try to watch my portion sizes so I’m not eating too much (even if I’m eating a good thing). And I’ve recently started to work in more meals in my day, so I am eating smaller meals more often. I believe all these things figure into a healthy metabolism, maintaining a high level of energy throughout my day and it helps my body absorb the nutrients I consume more efficiently.
One thing I didn’t mention was about the types of foods to eat. I believe eating right includes choosing whole, fresh, unprocessed foods more than convenience foods. And I do believe that natural/organic foods play an important role in healthful eating. This is one of those topics I will be learning more about and trying in the steps to come.
3. Sleep Well. This is a lesson I learned the hard way. I used to consider myself a night owl and stay up to the early morning hours. Then I would try to sleep in or catch up on lost sleep on the weekends. I never felt truly rested and for good reason.
The body uses sleep to restore, heal and mentally process stuff (what stuff? I don’t know…but it does). Interrupting these activities will eventually weaken everything good going on inside: the immune system, mental clarity, mood and any amount of energy you might have had.
I learned to not fight my body’s prompting to sleep. Instead, I attempt to protect that time of day (night). I know I am at my best when I am going to bed and waking up at the same time every day; when I sleep for 8 hours; when I take time to rest before I sleep; and when my room is conducive to sleep (no lights, comfortable temp, etc.)
Recently, Adam and I have been taking turns battling random cold?…allergy?...(who knows) symptoms. So nights have not been the most restful. Some days my body feels like it needs more sleep than others, so I am not on a schedule like usual. But I think I should be able to work that out in the next few days.
I am also considering a philosophy (some base it on Scripture) that suggests our day really begins at sundown. I have not thoroughly looked into the theology behind that yet, but I can see the benefit of that perspective. There have been a few evenings that I remembered this thought and took time to pause, reflect, pray, then set myself to prepare for what was to come in the day ahead. Interestingly, I felt refreshed…I wasn’t trying to cram in as much as I could before bed, as though my hours were running out. I felt the clock had reset and I had a chance to gather myself, sleep peacefully and start the working part of my day with great energy. Perhaps I’ll explore that more in the weeks to come…but for now I count those times as blessings!
Ok, so my basic inventory of spirit, soul and body is complete. I am really glad I have spent a few weeks to prep myself in the foundations of healthful living before starting a bunch of new regimens. I feel like I can focus and prioritize better…and I’m confident in God’s leading through the process.
Next week I will post about setting priorities based on our budget – basically figuring out which changes are worth the cost (if any cost at all). It should be interesting!