Output

“For ever since the world was created, people has seen the earth and sky.  Through everything God made, they can clearly see His invisible qualities — His eternal power and divine nature.”  Romans 1:20 (NLT)

As I was discussing ShemaFit with a friend, she mentioned that many might not know how to care for our bodies or steward them well.  My prior entry was about considering our Input as one way to steward our bodies well.  Today, we will talk about Output.

Years ago, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services comprehensively reviewed all the research linking physical activity to health, and the findings conclusively reinforced this truth:  the human body was meant to move and, when it does so with regularity, it responds to the stress of physical movement with improved fitness and health.  And yet, about 25% of the U.S. population is not active at all (CDC report, 2010).  

God made the body to move.  He made it not only to respond positively to exercise, but in fact to improve with exercise.  Inherent in our very design, God encourages us to use our bodies and explore their potential.  Most health benefits occur with at least 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise (see http://www.health.gov/PAGuidelines/pdf/paguide.pdf). That’s less than 30 minutes a day!  If you struggle with your Output levels, here are a few suggestions:

  • Move more in your daily life.  Stand up and walk around the room whenever you are on the phone.  Walk to a co-worker’s office instead of calling or emailing.  Take the stairs.  Go for a walk at lunch or just to clear your head.  Take an after-dinner walk with your family.  Sedentary begets sedentary; movement begets life!
  • Take a strategic review of your exercise history.  Consider the seasons you were more successful — what helped you succeed?  Did you have an exercise partner?  Working out in the morning or evening?  Classes?  Personal trainer?  Once you’ve discovered some of your secrets to success, combine as many factors together as possible and recommit yourself.  The goal is to set yourself up to succeed.
  • Seriously consider meeting with a personal trainer.  If you don’t have the budget for a long-term commitment, then meet only two or three times.  Have the trainer help you put together a workout plan that fits your lifestyle, has measurable goals, and a tracking system.  It will be worth the investment.

As you become intentional about your Output, you will begin to understand more about the way you were made … and, as a result, will begin to more clearly see the invisible qualities of your incredible Maker.

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Input

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.  For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”         Luke 6:45 (NIV)

I was meeting with a friend the other day and telling her more about ShemaFit.  As we discussed the goal of stewarding our bodies well, she exclaimed that many do not know how to care for this body God gave us.  As I thought about her comment, I knew she had spoken some truth.  So perhaps it might be helpful to break down the idea of stewarding the body into three general categories: Input, Output, & Restoration.  All three components are critical health and wellness.

Today, we start with Input.

What goes into our bodies has a huge impact on what we can expect out of our bodies.  It’s just like Jesus’ warning to guard what goes into our hearts and minds — for whatever we allow as Input will directly affect our Output.  If we want to care for this body and steward it well, we need to guard the Input.  Here are a few reminders:

  • Monitor your food groups every day.  At least half of what you eat every day should be fresh fruits and vegetables.  (The fresher the better — meaning not canned, jarred, frozen, dried, etc.  Second best would be fresh frozen.) Only one-fourth of your Input should be grains.  (This is a challenge for many people I know.). Whole grains are best.  That leaves one-fourth or more of your input from protein.  Aim for lean protein  like fish, chicken, and turkey.
  • Watch your sugar intake.  This can be challenging in modern society because so many things are processed and packaged, which often means hidden sugar.  So, here are three helpful hints — avoid obvious sugar intake, avoid processed foods, and (if you can’t avoid processed foods) learn to read labels intelligently.
  • Pay attention to yourself.  One of the amazing things our body can do is to tell us what bothers it.  Pay attention to signs of food allergies or sensitivities.  Become curious about what makes your body work well and what makes it perform poorly.  Pay attention to what it is telling you and respond in kindness.  If you are like me, my sinuses do not respond well when I eat dairy.  So I avoid dairy products.  I still love ice cream and cheese, but I generally don’t eat them because I’ve learned that it hurts my body.

Bottom line is that it’s about learning to love and be tender to this amazing gift God has given you.  Treat it well because, just like the heart, out of it flows the springs of life!  (See Proverbs 4:23.)

The Main Thing

“[P]hysical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way.”  1 Timothy 4:8a (NET)

I’ve hardly been able to work out for over a week now.  My system has been fighting this awful cold virus, and working out too much would only exacerbate the problem.  Not only do I miss the physical routine of exercise, but I miss my worship time with God — worshipping Him with all of me — spirit, mind and body.  But this week, caring for and stewarding this body God gave me means letting it rest and heal.

For some of us exercise enthusiasts, it can be hard to stop the routine when necessary and rest.  For others, it might be hard to keep the focus on God and His glory, as focus can be diverted to external outcomes and vanity.  And all of us need reminders to keep the main thing, the main thing.  And the main thing, for all of us, is the “pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately” (2 Peter 1:8 (NET)).  

That’s what it’s all about — knowing our Lord Jesus more intimately and becoming increasingly more like Him so that we can reflect more of His glory in this world.  Of course, there are many ways in which we can and should pursue godliness (or God-likeness).  And while I firmly believe that God wants us to reflect His glory with all that we are (body, mind and spirit — see All of Me, June 3, 2014 entry), Scripture is clear that we must keep the goal of pursuing His likeness first and foremost in our pursuit.

So this week, as I struggle to care for and steward my body in a different way, I am reminded once again to keep the main thing the main thing.  And when I am able again to worship God and commune with Him in one of my preferred ways, perhaps I will be able to reflect a little more of His glory.

Flushing

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do ….”  Hebrews 10:35a (NLT)

Once a week, I attend a Bikram yoga class — you know, the hot one where you sweat a lot.  A LOT.  Other good things happen there too, like stretching and balance work, lots of focus and concentration.  It’s been a really good practice for me, and once a week has been a good rhythm for me.  Each time I go, I focus on God (the place where I attend seems to have divorced the practice from its eastern spiritual roots), I work hard, and I sweat a lot.  And when I leave (after a shower, of course), I feel renewed — purged of toxins and old junk and refilled and with fresh cleanness.  It’s like my system has been flushed, and I’m ready for a restart.

It’s just like what the writer of Hebrews meant in his encouragement not to “neglect our meeting together.”  Something powerful happens when the church gathers, and it’s something we need to do an a regular basis.  I believe the gathering of God’s people is like a flushing.  It helps us get rid of our toxins and fills us with the power and encouragement to live renewed lives.  Acts 2:42 states that when the early church gathered, they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, sharing in the Lord’s Supper and prayer.”  They confessed their sins to one another and partook of the communion elements.  They got out of their daily life routines, and met to encourage each other with Scripture and prayer.  Out with the things of the world; in with the things of God.  In a word, they flushed. They flushed regularly.

So let us not neglect our meeting together.  Whether it’s a big church, small church or house gathering of faithful followers of Christ, let’s not neglect the meeting together.  We need each other, and we all need a regular flushing!