Five Strategies for a Healthier and Happier You
God tells to treat our bodies as a temple. He made each of us unique and beautiful images of Him. The definition of a temple in the dictionary – “a building devoted to the worship, or regarded as the dwelling place, of a god or gods or other objects of religious reverence”. What does that mean? God is telling us that our bodies are to be taken care of, devoted to Him. Looking at this in biblical l terms the “building” is our bodies. God wants us to worship and take care of the bodies He has given us.
This is a powerful message and command from God that I really never played much attention too, studied or took to heart. As many of us do, I struggle with weight and being healthy. I tried many diets, exercise programs, some which lasted and some which did not. What I learned is I was focusing on “me” and how I felt how I thought others perceived me and pushed through being tired, not eating well in order to please others and not to take care of my “temple” that God graced me with.
I am learning to accept who I am in God, to love my body as long as I treat it as a temple and embrace the fact that I am amazing and perfectly made person God created me to be. That is so refreshing and free!
I want to share some practical steps that may help you find and embrace a healthier you. Health for me is not just eating, but sleeping, exercise, time with God, helping others – all the things that bring joy, energy, and health to your life.
Establish and Set Realistic Goals:
Write down at least a minimum of three short-term goals that can realistically be completed within 1-3 months from now. Put a specific time frame on each and commit to acting on them daily. Sometimes it is best to start small, it can take 21 days for habits to change and become part of your routine. A few simple things I started with:
- Devotions – I have to start my day with God, I committed to at least 15 minutes each morning praying and in God’s word. This typically ends up lasting 30-45 minutes because I love it so much! Get up 15 minutes early and spend time with Him. Also, talk to Him – I love, love, love just talking to Him in my car driving to work, throughout the day when I need help, or simply to praise Him.
- Make my bed each morning – I feel so good and energized doing a quick and simple task. It puts a smile on my face to come home at night and slip into a nice warm bed.
- Meal Preparation – This was very hard for me at first but worthwhile. I work long days and am too tired to cook when I get home. I found taking time on the weekend to prepare meals for the week helped me eat better. I started small and learned to make 1-2 new recipes each week. I go easy on myself and make things I can enjoy a few times during the week. This reduces the meal preparation time and I can mix it up with easy side dishes. What a life-saver to come home, put home-made, healthy food on a plate, I just microwave it and I am done!
Have A Plan.
Now that you have set small goals, it is important to keep that momentum. Each week spend time planning your next week. Get a calendar or “to do” list and prepare what you want to accomplish for each following week. This includes scheduling time for exercise and planning a menu. Make sure you include foods and workouts you actually enjoy eating and look forward to, which will keep you going even when you don’t “feel” like it. It can also be helpful to plan ahead for unforeseen problems that could throw you off track. Even when you are perfectly prepared, something is bound to happen every now and then. Make a list of healthy snacks to keep with you in case you need them.
- Planning – I am not the most organized person. I consider myself an unorganized – organized person. So I have had to learn to take 5-10 minutes at the end of each week to outline my following week. It is simple enough to schedule your time. Do not overwhelm yourself, if you include too many things on a daily basis you can set yourself up for failure. Spread out tasks (pay bills, exercise, do laundry etc.) throughout the week. If you miss something, do not fret – add it to another day. You will be surprised how accomplished you feel as you check things off. Most important – schedule your daily time with God.
- Snacks – Find some healthy snacks (protein bars, fruit, cheese stick etc.) – Keep some in your car, pocketbook, at work, someplace you can easily grab them if you are hungry. This will help you avoid making poor choices when you are out and about. Keeping healthy options on hand helps
- Eating Out – Did you know that almost all restaurants have a menu online? If I am going to eat out I look at the menu in advance and am prepared to make healthy choices. Don’t be afraid to ask for alternatives when you are out and keep in mind when you are out with friends it is about the fellowship!
Let Go of All or Nothing Mentality
One of the things that I believe can be extremely detrimental to our long-term pursuit of health is having an all or nothing mentality. When we go down the road of all or nothing, it can set us up for a potential downward spiral, set us up for failure and make you feel like a failure. Instead, make the choice to be positive. Most people follow the 80/20 rule and that is okay – do what works for you. Focus what you are achieving and not on perceived failures.
- If you over-eat – do not consider that a failure and say “I blew it, I will start tomorrow” – NO – start now. We all make mistakes but that does not mean we have to wait to start fresh – start now and be proud of that
- Give yourself grace – enjoy and relish the times when you have that piece of chocolate or do not exercise. We all need grace, we all need time off. Enjoy it and move on.
Establish Your Why-
If someone were to ask you why you desire to live a healthy lifestyle, do you have an answer? This was easy but hard at the same time for me to do. I have so many “whys” I am focusing mine on the scripture above – to treat my body as God’s temple. It is a struggle but I believe in doing so all my other “whys” will fall into place. Your “why” will be different from mine but it will set your heart, mind, and reason that you can look at to set you up for success:
- Take time to pray before you develop your why. Make sure it is aligned with God’s purpose for you
- Write it down, and post it many places to remind you – put it on your mirror, on your refrigerator, any place where you can see it constantly and remind you of why you are on this journey of health and happiness
- Align your goals to your “why”. We spoke of goals earlier and when you align your goals to support your “why” things happen and change over time and you will find yourself successful in achieving your “why”
Organize & Prioritize-.
We all have the same amount of time in our days, so what makes one person more productive than the next? I mentioned before, setting small goals and sticking to them will help you.
- Review your calendar every day and confirm your priorities – it takes only a few minutes to evaluate how your day will look and how your time will be spent.
- Remove the things that you can cut out – things that take time with no value – things like social media, television, video games, too much time on these things can take away from the things you want to accomplish
- Get into the habit of using the time to call a friend, go to a movie, and work on a project. This may be overwhelming at first so again, start small – achieve your goals and focus on those in small steps.
I pray that these strategies help you and that they help to strengthen your journey towards healthy goals. Remember it takes time, commitment, consistency, and patience but it is worth it.