Connecting Faith & Fitness
Have you ever wondered what the Bible has to say about our physical health? I always rolled my eyes when ministries—especially women’s ministries—would use the Bible as evidence that we need to maintain a healthy relationship with food. It felt like I was being shamed for my love of sugar or my hatred of exercise or that I didn’t have the perfect body that so perfectly reflected my husband…or whatever. Over the last few months—really, since I started taking my health more seriously—I’ve started to see the connection between my faith and my physical wellbeing.
I noticed that when my I felt defeated in life and in my faith, I would slip into unhealthy eating habits. And then I’d slip more in my faith life. Have you felt this? So I thought it was interesting that the most recent church sermon was on creating healthy physical boundaries.
Granted, it started off as creating physical boundaries not related to physical fitness—sex. And those are good physical boundaries to have, especially in a relationship. But for the first time in my memory a message spoke to me about making that connection between health and faith. How? Because it made me realize that our physical bodies are connected to our spiritual bodies.
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful - 1 Corinthians 6:12
Yes, the verse goes on to talk about sexual immorality, but this is the verse that stuck with me. We know that there are healthy and unhealthy foods, healthy and unhealthy habits. God gave us free will, but we also know not everything we want is good for us. When we talk about how we could possibly eat that entire sleeve of Thin Mints (cause it’s Girl Scout Cookie season ya’ll!), we tell ourselves we don’t have self control. The reality is we chose to simply go for what we wanted in the moment.
I’m super guilty of this. I love sweets, and, while I am a lot better about them now than I was even two years ago, I’m not where I want to be. Why? Because I don’t practice that self control enough. I allow myself to believe the lie. See, self control is a muscle. Like any other muscle, we have to use it and build it before it becomes strong enough to really notice a difference. And that self control is from God.
Foods for the stomach and the stomach for foods, but God will destroy both it and them. - 1 Corinthians 6:13
In other words, God designed food to satisfy us, but He also has the power to destroy it. So we should respect the food we have, just as we respect Him. I know this is hard because it means we sometimes have to deny our feelings, often denying our emotional drive for food. And sometimes we will have to act our way into feeling another way. I know when I feel a depressive episode coming on, I want junk food. The interesting thing is that it doesn’t matter how much of it I eat, I am not satisfied. But when I stop to think about what I’m doing and concentrate my effort on prayer—when I act my way to feeling closer to God—I can feel the tension begin to release.
God designed us this way. He created us to not be fully satisfied by anything but Him. If we make choices based on our feelings in the moment, whether that be physical boundaries or with our health and fitness, we will be unhealthy not only physically but spiritually. Because we aren’t truly fulfilled.
I know this is something I am going to work on (as I sit here eating my Girl Scout Cookie…go ahead, laugh). But how do we work on it? Here are a few things I’m going to try, and I encourage you to join me:
Drink water when you feel hungry. Often times, you’re really thirsty. (I like to add some lemon in my water for taste.)
Say a prayer before a workout.
Ask for wisdom regarding your food choices.
Don’t give yourself an opportunity to make those unhealthy choices. Shove them somewhere you won’t see them or get rid of them altogether.
Create a mantra for yourself. Maybe “I have self control” or "food does not own me.” (I’m definitely both.)
God loves us and wants us to take care of ourselves. Sometimes that means setting up boundaries for ourselves to protect us from…well, ourselves. And if you need a motivational partner, I’m right here with you because I’m battling the same thing.
Want to hear the full sermon? Check it out on my church’s YouTube Channel!