Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Whole30 Day 23: What is Fitness, Really?

I've been thinking about fitness for two and a half years now, or nearly. I have gone from what I would describe as being completely "unfit" or "out of shape" at the beginning to having (for me) a reasonable level of physical fitness--one that the conventional medical community would probably sign off on, but in my own opinion needs a lot of improvement. I want to improve my core strength, my running skills (when this foot heals up, which is taking a long time), and increase my endurance. I want to continue to reduce my body fat percentage. Thankfully Whole30 is helping in that department, but I still have quite a way to go. But I'm describing here things that only pertain to bodily health.

My experience has shown me that physical fitness is only one-quarter of an equation that I would term overall fitness or well-being. All four areas must be attended to if one wants to be considered truly fit. In order of importance they are: spiritual life, emotional health, material stewardship, and physical fitness. This is not to imply that one must be mastered before another--rather, they are like spinning plates that all must be kept spinning, but at different times one or another may start to wobble. As our skills develop, we are able to tend to more plates more efficiently, but even so, they must be started at some point, and if I were to choose the focus of what must be started when, that is the order.

I place spiritual fitness at the top of the list because really it is the only thing that matters when you lay your head on the pillow at night, not knowing if tomorrow is another day or not. Are you at peace? Are you in right relationship with God? Do you know that you know that you know that your life is secure for eternity? It is from this point that all of the other elements flow.

I place emotional health second because that is a direct link to our spiritual life and every relationship that surrounds us. Are you in right relationship with the people around you? Can you look everyone in the eye without judgment, regret, or pain? Can you forgive others when they wrong you? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin, when you are all alone, or when you are in a crowd of people? Are you at peace with people? Why is this second to spiritual life? The answer is simple--When you are in right relationship with God, right relationship with people follows. When we are constantly striving to find our validation from others, to compare ourselves to others, or to compete and best others, we are worshiping what we are and not who God is. Other humans are not going to sign the admission ticket to eternity. God is. When we see ourselves and others in the proper light of who we really are according to God, it is actually very easy to be at peace with others. The cool thing is that God really, really loves you. and them. even the ugly difficult ones. So stop whatever it is you are doing to try to be better, or work harder. He really doesn't care and neither do those others--God and those other people just want you to be yourself and love them. The great part is you will hold your head higher and sleep better. You will be at peace.

Stewardship of our money and possessions is third on this list because with our spiritual and emotional health in place, we can have a completely different perspective on our money and stuff. If you are living for an eternity which does not rely on our wealth or possessions then those things suddenly mean much less than they did. If you are living in right relationship with people and loving them as you should, what you have to give is yourself, not money and junk. Of course possessions are part of life and we have actual physical needs for certain things, but when we get down to the nitty-gritty, it is so much less than we trick ourselves into thinking we need! We can begin to redirect our resources to meeting the needs of others and showing love in a new and different way rather than self-medicating ourselves with possessions, shopping, alcohol, food, or anything else that we tend to indulge and wallow in. These things ultimately become the proverbial albatross around our necks that we later struggle to rid ourselves of. Getting our financial houses in order helps us to order our priorities, learn to live with less, save for the future, and give to others from our abundance.

Don't assume that because physical fitness is last on the list that I believe it to be unimportant. Quite the contrary. It would be difficult to separate it from financial stewardship in its value simply because it is also a matter of stewardship. 

How we live in our body affects every other aspect of our lives. It is the mirror that reflects how well we are managing the other three aspects of our existences, and it is the plate that must be kept spinning if the others are to function properly. When the body is healthy the mind is clear, the emotions are elevated, the perspective is brighter. When we are in good health we are able to actively attend to our spiritual health our relational health, and our financial stewardship. Every day that we are upright and moving we need to be contributing to the continuation of that state, for every moment invested in our physical well-being will pay dividends. Even in the event of a sudden loss of health, a better level of physical fitness will help in recovery or even enable us to mentally deal with whatever may come. A person who is spiritually and emotionally fit will long to live an active, disciplined life that is productive and changes the world for the better. Physical fitness is vital to the equation. 

So go ahead--spin the plates. Start somewhere, but start. The sooner you start the sooner you can build the skills to have a truly fit life.

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