“Many people follow their healthy diet so they can be healthy. Sounds sensible. Others eat a good diet so they can have oodles of energy, or endurance, or strength, or a slender body. I’d like to suggest that this isn’t always enough. The field of nutrition has become a bit religious. It tells us to follow its’ commandments devoutly, piously, and if indeed we do adhere to our dietary system perfectly, there’s a feeling that we’re somehow good boys and girls – clean, holy, and assured of a place in nutritional heaven. I’m still surprised how so many people are on a “health crusade.” For sure, I love health, I practice it as best I can, and teach about it with a lot of passion. But I’m suggesting that good health and long life is not enough. So what if you live to be a healthy 100 years old – yet you’re a total jerk. The people around you would rather have you dead a long time ago. Health by itself doesn’t always have meaning. Humans need a reason, a purpose for being here, alive, on planet earth. So what if you spend a ton of energy sculpting a toned body. What else is happening in your life? What’s your fit body for? What gift are you here to give others? Is your life purpose simply to eat healthy, or vegetarian, or raw food, or low calorie? A healthy body is a grace. Are you willing to use it to give back to the world? Can you see that the body is meant to serve a deeper and more beautiful purpose in the world that’s more than just being pretty, skinny or healthy?”
– Marc David, from The Psychology of Eating
What an important reminder about WHY we should be seeking good health. The end target should not be just so I look and feel good, but rather that I am being a good steward of the one body God gave me in order that I may carry out the plans and purposes that He placed me in this world for.
I’ve had it all wrong. I became so self-obsessed in my pursuit of health that I fixated on scale numbers and clothing sizes to the detriment of my mental and emotional well-being. Because I couldn’t maintain or get back to my “magic” numbers, I felt like a failure. This opened the door to depression and loss of passion for life.
Lately, God has been gently meeting me right here where I am to tell me that the lies I’ve been believing are what’s killing me, not my imperfections and setbacks. The things we continually think on inevitably become the words that spill out of our mouths. “I feel terrible, fat, tired, ugly, unworthy, something is wrong with me.” And since words have such enormous creative power, we manifest exactly what we have been thinking and saying about ourselves. When we have such contempt for ourselves, the body responds. That’s what it’s hard-wired to do.
I am reminded that instead of the shame and guilt that I heap on myself when I see my body changing in ways I don’t approve of, I should be thanking Him that I have a body that lives, freely moves and breathes and is designed to heal from within if given the right ingredients. Yes, the right foods are part of the equation, but only part. I also must speak life and grace to myself because my body is listening to each and every word and thought.
Another thing I’ve found is that when I stop obsessing and get back to caring for my body in the correct context, selfishness takes a step back. With all my obsessing out of the way, I can once again see past my own drama, and the needs around me come back into my focus. It is there that I find my sense of purpose reawakening.
It’s not about me. It should never have been. The words Marc David says in the quote above bear repeating, “A healthy body is a grace. Are you willing to use it to give back to the world? Can you see that the body is meant to serve a deeper and more beautiful purpose in the world that’s more than just being pretty, skinny or healthy?”