It is true that I talk a lot about health and diet-related disease and sickness. There are many reasons why I do so. The truth is that “health” is something I have been talking about since 1999 when I became a personal trainer in Nashville. I was just out of college with my first child and a second one on the way, when I received my first ACE certification.
After spending the first part of my life in sports, I was pretty well versed on using my body as a means to my ends. But it was after college, when I discovered how much power I had over my body to manipulate it. I don’t think I had this awareness while playing sports because sports shaped and determined my body, and I didn’t think about what my body looked like so much as how my body performed. When my body quit performing due to injury in college and I gained a lot of weight, I was very quickly made aware by my coaches that I needed to get my body under control. It was at this point when I began to manipulate and control my body with food and workouts.
Another thing that pushed me far and hard into the “health” conversation was having kids. It seems like nothing can make you feel like you have no control over your body than having kids. Obviously injury and illness can too but I had not suffered from much illness growing up and the injuries that occurred to my body seemed manageable. Gaining nearly 50 lbs in each pregnancy in only 2 1/2 years and delivering both by C-section were tough on my body but after each pregnancy, I worked harder and harder to regain control over my body. It was after the birth of my second kid that I entered a 12 week body transformation contest and won.
Perhaps, my understanding of health was purely “physical” for quite a long time and if I am being completely honest, then my understanding of health was reduced even further to diet and workouts. At the time, I focused all my energy on maintaining a body that was strong and fit. This required a pretty strict diet and a daily workout regime. Even my short lived tennis career fit nicely into my physical fitness program.
By the time I was 27, I had 3 kids and I was a full blown know it all on diet and workouts. I cringe thinking how I trained and helped men and women to use a weight loss and workout formula to try to counterbalance and control a consumer lifestyle that would usually undo everything we accomplished in 12 weeks, and all in a very short amount of time.
It’s easy in your 20s and 30s, when your job is to be fit, to judge people and determine that their lack of physical shape is simply a lack of discipline and determination. Now at 47, if a 27 year old tried to tell me what to do to get in shape, which meant I would have to agree their definition of “shape” and allow the ignorance and hubris of a 27 year old to recommend some ridiculous weight lifting, insane, jumping and extreme workout along with a starvation diet- I would laugh in their face. Why? Because I did that- I was that 27 year old. And while this ridiculousness worked for me, it also didn’t work. The amount of time, energy and money I spent was absurd, and what my nonsense definition of “shape” required was literally insane. In fact, this entire weight loss formula that i believed and taught is a lie because it is not sustainable for anyone whose job is not a trainer or for anyone who cannot spend large amounts of time training and obsessing about food.
Fast forward to today (20 years later) and so many lessons learned in between, and I want to share with you the reasons why I talk so much about health… now.
First, I believe the way we care for our bodies reflects and determines our relationships and how we love ourselves, our friends, family, neighbors, enemies, fellow creatures, creation and our higher power. I believe how we care for our bodies reveals what truths or lies we have believed and are currently believing.
Even more, I believe how we care for our bodies is a good indicator of how we are caring for our spirits, hearts and minds. Last but not least, I believe how we care for our bodies reveals an ignorance or understanding of who we are and how we are naturally designed to be a healthy, holy, whole and a wise human being, and this knowing of who we are and how we are designed will determine EVERYTHING we do.
Prior to 2015, I used food and workouts to talk about weightloss, muscle gain, fitness and external results. However since 2015, I have tried to use food and exercise to have a deeper conversation about health. Throughout the last seven years, I have not said what I really do believe in order to soft serve some truths about health. But in talking so much about food and exercise,, I believe I have wasted a lot of time beating around the bush. So, from here on out- I just want to say what I believe to be true because it’s the the only thing that can transform our understanding of health and our lives.
And it goes a little something like this… Yes, we have an epidemic of diet-related disease and sickness but it’s not because we have a food problem but a love problem. We do not love ourselves with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. Consequently, we do not love our neighbors, we do not love other creatures and we do not love creation. Because if we did, we would not consume in ways to cause harm. Instead, we would give and receive the gift of food and exercise in a way that is full of peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.
No, I don’t believe we have a discipline problem but a desire problem. My question is what will it take for us to realize what an unbelievable amazing gift that we are and our lives are, and what will take for us to take seriously the responsibility and affection to love this gift? These are the questions that I want you to ponder not how much protein your consuming or squats you can do.
I worried about squats and protein for 20 years and guess what- it made NO Difference in my health. If anything it distracted me from defining health correctly, understanding health in its fullness, talking about health from a whole person perspective and from practicing the strengthening of health with all my neighbors. No, I don’t believe for one second that you can discover health in a gym. I believe you are naturally healthy and you can remember how to encourage and inspire the strengthening of your health in relationships where you are known and loved.
Stop believing the beach body bullshit. Stop being guilted and shamed by an industry that profits off the fragmentation of people and by defining health incorrectly. It’s time for us to come together and encourage each other to be healthy through the strengthening of our spirits, hearts, minds, bodies and relationships with Truth and Love.
Lastly, the division, deviancy, destruction and despair that are currently ravaging our world are direct results of not loving ourselves well. There’s no way we can have this much diet-related disease and sickness and say that we love ourselves well. We have forgotten what truth and love sound like, look like, taste like, smells like and feels like. As a result, we are destroying ourselves, our neighbors and our world looking for love in all the wrong places by being ravenous, gluttonous, angry and selfish consumers.
Together, we can stop being consumers and start filling ourselves up on the things that are right, good and true. We must stop violently assaulting our bodies every day with junk that we should not be consuming and that produces disease and sickness in our spirits, hearts, minds, bodies and relationships.
There is hope in truth and love. Together, we can help each other remember that we have been given everything we need to be healthy and to help our neighbor remember how they are naturally designed to be healthy too!