Treading (Diving?) into Uncharted Waters

Since there is (STILL) nothing to tell you on the job front (*sigh*) or weather front (it is SO! FLIPPIN'!!! HAWT!!!) I will go back to what I mentioned at one point -- some things God has put on my heart since training for the half-marathon that I completed in July (and am now training for another).

If you know me well, you know that health and fitness have always been important to me. I won't lie, they started being important to me for reasons of my appearance. Exercise and eating right helped keep me at a healthy weight -- and able to fit into my clothes. But, as I've aged, I have 'softened around the edges' (and i don't just mean my rear is bigger, though that may or may not be the case).

My commitment to care for my body has extended from simply "whatever it takes" to fit into my skinny jeans to truly caring for my body. Sometimes it's a delicate balance because I like to set goals for myself (i.e., the half- marathon) to keep me on track with my exercise. When I get injured, I'm tempted to push my body beyond what is reasonable in order to meet my goals, thereby defeating the purpose in the first place.

I am hesitant to talk about this at all. The main reason being -- I am keenly aware that no one wants to hear it. I used to talk about it quite a bit. But several experiences, including one lost friendship, have led me to realize that people just flat don't want to hear about it. I get that. As Troy very gently told me, "No. No one wants to hear about it. Sarah, I lived with you for 17 years and am just now wanting to be healthy. I had to choose for myself."

So, I am diving on in, and saying some things I'm thinking. If you agree with me -- super. If you hate it, feel free to kick a hole in your computer screen or write me nasty, anonymous comments. I can take it. This is just some of the stuff rolling around in my brain I want to process.

One thing I think is that I have become very... disillusioned? disappointed? Saddened, no doubt, as to how little the church will address how important it is to care for our physical bodies. Again, I have learned the hard way that it is a VERY touchy subject, but so are sex and finances, and we seem to conquer those just fine. The body that we have each been given is a precious gift from the Lord-- just like my children, my car, my house, my money. Shouldn't I care for it lovingly? (I was encouraged to see one of our elders broach the subject recently, and Tim Archer had a great series on Christian attitudes toward eating and food.)

I was REALLY struck by this thought this Sunday in small group. This was NOT the topic at all, but Ephesians 5:19 was read: "After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it just as Christ does the church." Know anyone that hates her own body? Um, yeah. That was me for TOO many years.

I am so ashamed of how I thought of and treated this body, this creation of God. And the way I would talk to myself?? Oh, mercy. I see myself in someone that I am around on occasion now. Of course, it's always an eating occasion (because, you know, how else do people ever communicate if not over food -- another rant for another day) and this person always mentions that she is STARVING because she hasn't eaten all day.

I nod knowingly to myself, remembering the days. I don't know this person's mindset, but mine would have been: "I'll just skip breakfast. I'm not that hungry anyway. Oh, look at me. I think I can go a little longer. OOooooh, I'm doing GOOD! I can probably make it until I meet friends tonight without eating. Just a little longer." Then, out with friends, I would eat too much, too heavy, be miserable, and say horrible things about myself that night -- then again the next morning when I weighed.

Then I finally figured out: I would NEVER do that to one of my children, or my spouse or parents. Basically, to anyone that I loved. And if I were to love and care for my body, I needed to CARE for it -- and treat it right, and feed it regularly. Hey! Guess what? If you feed your body (and brain) regularly, you can think straight, get yourself off the couch AND not scream at your children for asking a simple question. Who knew? And? Even better? My workouts work when I eat on a regular basis! Wow. There must be a reason that God made our bodies to get hungry every few hours. Bodies require fuel regularly to work right. Simple as that.

Of course, then, over the years, I've had to learn WHAT to feed my body, which has been a whole other journey, perhaps for another day. Refined sugar is just useless to me, so I generally don't eat it. Lysa TerKeurst talked about her journey doing away with sugar today, as well.

Also Ruthie (my trainer for the half) and Jae (just an awesome gal) tell their own stories about sugar. Both of them seem extreme reactions to sugar, but keep in mind, these are women that went off of sugar, then had reactions to small amounts of sugar. Their reactions are similar to what I've noticed in myself now that I don't eat sugar.

Ruthie wants to be a "fitness minister" at a church. I'm rooting for her! I would love to go down the same path -- or write her articles for her.

This summer I read "Women, Food, and God" by Geneen Roth, a look at the emotionality many of us have tied up in our bodies and the way we eat. It reminded me of the bondage I was in for so many years to my outward appearance and diets and food and called me to give thanks to God for setting me free from that way of life. If that is a journey you would like to take, I will tell you that it was a gradual, years-long journey for me, with God leading the way and healing as I was ready. You can't expect to change a lifetime of thinking (a "brain rut", I call it) in any 12 week program or plan. Grace to yourself has to be the overriding theme.

I don't know if I'll talk about this much here or not. Again -- I know none of you want to hear it. But I believe with all of my heart that our bodies that house our spiritual beings should be loved and cared for as much as our spiritual beings. And... I do wish it was addressed more in the body of Christ. Hey -- wonder why we call it the body of Christ anyway? Hmmmmm....


Ruthie said...

well said and AMEN.

Jae said...

Get out! We conquered sex and finances? :)

But seriously, food, exercise, how we treat out bodies are taboo subjects in most churches. Its more socially accepted to discuss other addictions (ie. alcohol, drugs and sex) than addiction to food.

People abuse their bodies with food for the same reason they use drugs. To escape from pain.

Kudoes for talking about it. Keep it up!

Donna said...

Amen! I'm just reading Women, Food and God. I am also in the position of relearning a lifetime of habits and thought processes and teaching my boys (hopefully)on the first go-around. Don't be afraid to speak truth. When you do, there will always be some of us to stand right with you!

Stephanie said...

I wonder why this is such a touchy subject - in church especially. Why do we walk around the topic of overindulgence like it's the 800 pound gorilla? (hehe!) WHy does this topic hit a nerve with so many people? I can "hear" your frustration, disappointment, disillusion in this post. The truth is in what Troy told you, I think... We all know it is smart to get our act together and eat smarter and move more. The trick is that we have to choose for ourselves.
Even more, each individual has their own demons to battle - if it is sugar addiction or emotional eating or insecurity, whatever the case may be.
A church or a preacher can certainly provide big ideas to help us battle our inner demons, help us to find a way to face the truth REALLY face the true for real Truth about our destructive behavior, with courage, but you have a valid point. There are marriage seminars and finance classes, but are there any serious health and fitness focused classes - that don't preach or intimidate or rub noses in the poopoo? A class like that should not have a name with the word Weight (or Fitness, or Health!) by the way!

Maybe a yoga class that incorporated prayer and gentle instruction that draws awareness to your physical body and how the health of it is tied to the health of your spiritual body?

Roxanne said...

"Grace to yourself has to be the overriding theme."

Amen. My own journey has led me to the fact that I need to be nicer to myself. Sometimes that means stopping, or starting, or going to yoga, or not beating myself up for not going to yoga, or fill-in-the-blank.

Katherine said...

Wow, really great post, Sarah...and one that is really hitting home for me as I am facing this issue and trying to create new & better habits. I can relate to so much of what you said, and so often have the desire and will to change...only to see that fade after a few weeks or months...while I am jealous of all the healthy, skinny people and wonder why I don't have more motivation. I know that most of my weight gain began in college and continued after in emotional eating.

Anyway, yes this should be addressed in the church because obviously, it is a really big issue.

Thanks for the inspiration. I am trying to make daily choices that are healthier, which yes, are partly because I do want to look better...but also because I am realizing more and more than this body He has given us is a temple and should be taken care of for His glory.

Thanks again, Sarah! Blessings~

LauraLee Shaw said...

I whole-heartedly agree with you that we should honor God with our bodies. For me, I've found that freedom came through Christ. What I mean by that is that each day I get up and choose to live in a way that's pleasing to Him, it changes the way I eat. That said, Him working discipline through me is an ongoing battle and journey. Not just with working out, but with household tasks and time management. Being a good steward of all that He's given me is a daily surrender thing, and when I don't obey, I don't have complete peace.

On the journey with you, my sister. Jesus wants all of us! :D

Sherry Caffey said...

If you think it is hard trying to talk about eating, exercise and health at your age try being 50+.
I have been trying to eat healthy, exercise and stay away from sugar, but I find it hard. How do you socialize? Everything we do is centered around eating. Small groups, birthday club, weekends???we are focused on eating all the time. Eating healthy is very difficult when you are not at home. Love you and way to go on that 1/2 marathon.

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