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Christian Living

Health

Know Thyself, Love Thyself

“I have grown old enough to develop radical acceptance.” – Anne Lamont

I joined a gym. My first personal training session consisted mostly of a blonde, blue-eyed 20-something woman with three percent body fat telling me all the ways in which I’ve failed. After a weigh-in and some exhausting, rudimentary exercises, she concluded that I was 30 pounds heavier than I should be… And here I thought I would exercise to boost my confidence. I felt worse than ever.

It’s been two months since then. I’ve been exercising. I’ve been more mindful of what I eat. I’ve been, in a sense, more self-conscious. Not in a shy way, but I’m much more aware of my body now. It’s no longer a vehicle to get me from point A to point B, but it is a living, breathing thing with its own needs and desires. I’m getting more in tune with me.

It sounds new-age, but you’d be surprised how many of us are running around completely ignoring ourselves. Our bodies need more sleep, yet we burn the midnight candle. We need a vacation, but we throw ourselves into more work and make more demands on our time. Worst of all, we crave to be loved unconditionally, and we couldn’t be more critical of ourselves.

I was on the phone with a friend the other day describing some shoulder pain that had especially aggravated since working out. After running through numerous scenerios, he concluded, “You need to go to a doctor, but it’s possibly just where you carry all your stress.”

“But I’m a laid back person,” I protested.

He said, quite simply, “No, you’re not.”

When I protested further, he clarified, “You’re laid back with other people. Just not with yourself.”

It’s true. Nobody is harder on me than me. It has been a long struggle of mine to extend myself the same grace that I give others. Hanging up the phone, I had another lightbulb moment that illuminated the fact that I wasn’t as far ahead as I thought.

“I’m gonna be my own best friend / Stick with me to the end” – Jewel, “Stronger Woman”

What I’m getting at here is self-acceptance. I bring this up in a health article, because changing our body starts with changing how we see and treat ourselves. You start with saying, “Even if I never lose another pound, I’m smart, attractive and clever just the way that I am.” And then you actually believe it.

What follows next is the desire to be good to this wonderful person you have accepted and this body that God calls His "temple" (1 Cor 3:16). No more skipping out on breakfast and running on empty. No more filling yourself up with junk that depletes your energy rather than replenishes it. You start taking on the role of "steward". You are merciful when you make mistakes and love yourself enough to press towards your weight-loss goals.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance.” – Oscar Wilde

I weighed myself this morning and after two months of working out steadily, I have only lost a whopping three pounds. The storm clouds of discouragement were starting to form overhead, but then I stopped. And breathed. And remembered that:

  • I feel better. I know I'm stronger, and a quick jog up the stairs doesn't leave me out of breath and clutching the railing.
  • It's not my imagination. Some of these jeans are less snug around my hips.
  • Not to mention that Jesus loves me and thinks I’m just as beautiful at 166 lbs as I would be at 135.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. Real lasting change results from a sensible, healthy lifestyle over time. It's a journey that starts with knowing and loving who you are today.

Got comments? Drop me a line.

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