I have 8 biological children with no twins. In my case, that means I was pregnant or nursing (or both!) for about 14 years! To say that I neglected self-care in favor of survival is an understatement. I did not make a healthy lifestyle for myself a priority. My kids’ needs always came first before mine.
I made little to no effort to get back in shape in between pregnancies because . . . well, why bother. When I had 5 young kids, getting out of the house without them was unlikely and taking them with me was a workout of a different variety.
But then, several things happened that kicked my butt into gear. First, I reached the point where I had enough of succumbing to my merciless depression and discovered that exercise is much more effective than medication for boosting my mental health (Although I still use both).
Second, my doctor diagnosed me with pre-diabetes and sent me to a class on healthy eating and blood sugar. The nurse who taught the class told me that I was in the range where it was still reversible but that if I didn’t change, I would eventually experience irreparable damage to my body. Having recently given birth to my 8th child, I knew I wanted to stay around in good health for quite a bit longer!
Third, I finally had older kids available to watch the younger ones while Mommy got back in shape! And it finally became clear to me that I needed to take care of myself in order to take care of them. It was time for Mommy to put her “oxygen mask” on first before she passed out and was unable to help anyone else.
Like I once was, you may be in a place where you are wondering, “Why bother?” Before you can make lifestyle changes, you have to get motivated to make the necessary changes. Eating better and moving more is hard when you’re not used to doing it.
You need to know your big WHY so that when you’re having a rough day, or you don’t feel like working out, or you really want to eat a huge bowl of ice cream for breakfast, you can stick to your plan. So here are the three major benefits of living a healthy lifestyle. See which one motivates you!
Firstly, It’s not really about living longer. It’s about living better. You want to build a healthy lifestyle so that you feel energetic enough to enjoy the life you have right now. For maximum satisfaction, you need able to keep up with friends and family and experience activities with them.Fitness isn't about living longer. It's about living better and being healthy enough to enjoy the moment you are experiencing right now. #fitnessgoals #healthylivinghacks Click To Tweet
Soon after I buckled down and started building a stronger body, my family went skiing. For the first time, I was able to keep up with my husband and older sons. I even skied my first double black diamond ever! At 42!!
I’ll never forget the sense of accomplishment I felt that day. I knew that even 3 months earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to even attempt such activity much less survive it without injuring myself.
The best part about the whole day was being with my favorite boys and actively participating with them instead of just hearing about their adventures afterward. I would have missed out on the whole thing if I hadn’t been working towards getting my body in shape.
You can also avoid lots of other health problems by taking better care of yourself in the first place. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And it’s a lot cheaper too. Stop your disease before it starts. (Of course, I realize that’s not always possible, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing your part to stay healthy. Don’t use the fact that you can’t control everything as an excuse not to do anything.)Don’t use the fact that you can’t control everything as an excuse not to do anything. #goforit #gethealthy Click To Tweet
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Secondly, beyond the physical benefits, staying healthy has a huge impact on your mood and thinking patterns as well. Usually, when we talk about the benefits of exercise and smart nutrition, we discuss its impact on the physical body and leave it there. However, we must acknowledge that our physical bodies are inextricably linked to our thoughts and emotions.
Our brains hold our knowledge, memories, ideas, feelings and more. But never forget that your brain is also a physical organ. It’s not an immaterial entity entirely separate from your physical body. What goes on in your head is affected and influenced by the complex orchestra of chemicals, hormones, and electrical impulses that interact with the rest of your body.
The reverse is also true. What you think and feel also affects how your body responds. Our mood can be a reflection of how healthy our lifestyle is. What is your mood telling you?Our mood can be a reflection of how healthy our lifestyle is. What is your mood telling you? #healthylifestyle Click To Tweet
My own personal journey toward better health fitness began as a means to combat my depression and deflate my anxiety. I was desperate for relief and decided to attack my tormentors on all four fronts: spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. They have all played a significant role in my healing and coping.
I am emphasizing the importance of a healthy lifestyle in this post because I believe it is often overlooked, especially among Christians. However, I have much more information on the other topics elsewhere on my blog and in my books.
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Thirdly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also helpful in building a more enriching spiritual life. That may be a new thought to you. It is a connection that is not often discussed. Let me explain.
When I was run down, exhausted, stressed out, and weak, it was near impossible for me to actively seek God. The miserable way I felt about everything else darkened and marred the way I felt about God. Not only did my depression affect how I interacted with other people, but it also had a negative impact on my relationship with God.
The linkage of physical exercise and spirituality need not be left only to Eastern disciplines like Yoga and Tai Chi. We are spiritual beings. God created us that way. Our relationship with God through Christ is intended to influence every aspect of our lives—even the parts we normally consider “nonspiritual”. For a Christian, nothing can truly be nonspiritual. It is not odd at all for Christians to focus on the spiritual aspect of physical activity.
Are you convinced yet that building a healthy lifestyle is necessary and smart for a rich and fulfilling life? No matter where are now, you can get better. No one is so accomplished they cannot improve and no one is so far behind they can’t make progress.
So which benefit motivates you the most — the physical, mental/emotional, or spiritual benefits? Do you value yourself enough to take care of yourself?
What are you willing to do to either start or continue to enjoy these benefits in your life?
What motivates you to take care of your body?
What tips do you have to make time for self-care?
Share your ideas in the comments below.
This post is adapted from the content of my upcoming book, UNDAUNTED, which will be released later this year. To get the latest information on Book #2 and have the opportunity to be a part of my launch team, please sign up here! Thanks for your support!