In the spirit of renewal this season, it feels appropriate to talk about physical renewal…to examine our physical bodies to see if any newness should transpire. Are we in a rut? Do we find ourselves doing the exact same physical activities and falling into the same diet strategies? Perhaps even our minds need a new perspective on what physical health should look like.
Let’s start by renewing our ideas of fitness.
First of all, physical activity should not be viewed as punishment for what you have eaten. How many times have you eaten a large dinner and vowed to “work it off” in the gym the next day? This attitude breeds a negative attachment toward exercise, and food will become guilt-inducing. This is a poor reason to exercise.
Instead, exercise should always be an opportunity to make your body stronger, more capable, and more resistant to injury. God gave us our bodies as a vessel for our very valuable souls. He expects us to take care of what He has entrusted to us, to keep these bodies strong and fully capable.
Also, fitness does not just mean “cardio”. If you walk into a gym during January, the cardio machines are packed. Nobody really knows what else to do, and we have this assumption that cardio is the best option anyway. It’s actually the worst option…it has the lowest impact on your overall physical health. No matter your age, goals, or current abilities, strength training should be your number one priority. If you have no idea how to do it, I have lots of free workout plans and strength training opportunities on my website (www.strong-mommas.com).
Fitness must be constant. This does not mean you should be working out every day, but it does mean that you move and use your body daily. Look for ways to include spontaneous activity. Go for walks, do yardwork, walk across the street instead of drive, move around your house all day long (which is not a problem for most women!). Just get off your bum!
Let’s also renew some of our ideas of nutrition.
Don’t focus on less, focus on more. This idea could be revolutionary for you. Stop dwelling on what you shouldn’t be eating (candy, bread, soda, chips, crackers, fast food). Instead, put all your brainpower into what you should be eating more of! You need more fruit, more fresh veggies, more lean protein, more healthy fats, more whole grains, and more water. If you start to fill every meal with these foods, you’ll have far less room in your life for the other stuff.
Understand what balance and moderation means. This requires a lot of honesty. Are you obsessed with dieting? Do you draw lines that are too hard and don’t provide any wiggle room? Are you incapable of eating a cookie without eating the whole box? Or perhaps you use “balance and moderation” to your advantage too often, and have let appropriate discipline fall by the wayside. It might be time to get a better grasp on nutritional moderation. Read here for more on balance and moderation.
Make good nutrition simple. All the little nutritional details trip up so many women (eating gluten free, organic, carb timing, meal spacing, detoxing, juicing, intermittent fasting, etc.) Bring yourself back to the basics: eat lots of produce, eat plenty of lean protein, eat a variety of fats, sometimes eat whole grains, and drink a lot of water. Be proficient at these habits, and then concern yourself with the details. Chances are it won’t matter as much anymore.
And finally, let’s renew our big-picture idea of “health”.
Being healthy is not simply regular exercise and good nutrition. Of course, these components could be considered the pillars of health. But there are many more aspects to having a healthy body.
Do you have a regular sleep routine?
Are you constantly stressed out or do you have strategies to handle your stress?
Do you know how to breathe correctly?
What about physical rest and recovery methods?
Do you have pain anywhere that you’re just “dealing with”?
Not until all of these components are taken care of will you feel fully and deeply healthy.
As you pursue physical renewal this year, first pause and consider these fresh perspectives. And then go forward, stewarding your body well this year, taking care of what God has entrusted to you.
YOU CAN DO IT!!
Megan Dahlman is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Certified Precision Nutrition Coach, and mother of two little boys. She coaches women of all ages toward becoming healthy and fit. She just launched www.strong-mommas.com , a website fully catered toward moms who are looking for a more heavenly perspective in health and fitness. It is loaded with workout and nutrition guidance, helping moms become truly healthy and strong, not just sexy. Megan lives in Aurora with her husband, two boys, horse, dog and chickens. You can follow her on Facebook @strongmommas and Instagram @strong_mommas.