Physical vibrancy is not about how we look but how we live. It is taking physical responsibility, managing energy levels, and making healthy choices so we can thrive.
Our friend and fellow minister, Cathleen Zahradnik, is sharing her journey to health and how God led her to make healthy choices in her life. Thank you, Cathleen, for sharing with us.
A few years ago, I would have laughed at the idea of me writing an article about living physically healthy. I'm the last person I would've expected to share about physical health, yet here I am. How did this happen? God made a change in my life. He helped me become healthy in a way I never expected.
At age 15, I began thinking about losing weight. I read articles and learned about healthy eating. I was careful about making healthy choices, yet the weight never really came off.
When it comes to physical activity, I’ve always loved walking and would walk occasionally, but never as a regular practice. My husband, Tom, and I even went through a season of waking early and going to the gym. I enjoyed walking on the treadmill and was building up to running, yet that faded as well.
Physical vibrancy had just not been a part of my experience…until 2020.
Many people experienced pandemic poundage. Lockdowns turned many people toward their larders for comfort and entertainment which resulted in weight gain. Leggings and slippers dominated daily wardrobes and outside adventures waned.
My experience turned out differently.
Heading into the new year of 2020, I followed my normal routine of reviewing my yearly journal and prayerfully choosing a word for the year. My word for 2020 was FURTHER. I knew God wanted me to move further in different areas of my life. And because 2020 was beginning a new decade, many social media sites were offering a decade review. Well, that brought up a whole host of memories. As I reflected, I realized I had wanted to lose weight for more than 40 years! I knew in my spirit, it was time. I also knew I wouldn’t be able to do this without God. I needed His guidance to be successful. I prayed, and honestly, for the first time in 40 years, I got serious about it.
This was the journey God had for me --- to know and experience Him through caring for my body. In 1 Corinthians, the apostle Paul admonishes us:
Do you not know your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore, glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NKJV)
In looking at new ideas, meditating on this scripture, and knowing God wanted to move me further into the things He had planned for me. I knew I needed to move in a healthy direction but wasn’t quite sure how to do that?
Here are a few ideas and principles that worked for me and maybe they can help guide you toward obtaining physical vibrancy.
Physical vibrancy wasn’t going to happen on its own. Just like so many other things in life, I needed to take personal responsibility for the way I managed my input and output of time management, food intake, exercise routine, and sleep schedule. I downloaded an app to help me keep track of the food I was eating. This app helped me be mindful of what I was eating. Even though I had been making relatively healthy food choices, tracking quantity and quality revealed that I had been eating more than my body needed. Through these changes, I began experiencing some success! With Tom using the app as well, we were making better choices together.
In addition to walking, I searched for other ways to move. Pilates is a form of dance and exercise. A YouTube Pilates teacher named Rachel led me through Pilates classes when I couldn’t get out and walk. I learned a basic, ten-minute, no-equipment-needed, a full-body routine. I could fit this in regularly and at times, still do. I experienced God as I worked through the exercises. The stretching and effort began feeling like worship.
It's hard to explain but there He was on my Pilates mat with me.
There are many options out there for physical activity and many different levels. The key is sticking to it, having accountability and a way to measure your movements and results so you can see your progress. Different apps and tracking systems can help measure movement (steps taken in a day), water intake, and sleep/rest routines. Having this type of analysis can help evaluate physical health. A simple pedometer can track your steps taken in a day. Other apps and devices like FitBit, AppleWatch, Kore 2.0, Garmin and others can help track water/food consumption, sleep cycles and other helpful health monitoring.
Another important option is inviting an accountability partner to travel this health journey with you. Not only can you encourage and support each other but also celebrate your wins together.
When everything shut down in March of 2020, we were all searching for balance. Tom and I settled on keeping our regular schedule. We maintained our Friday sabbath along with regular workdays. We went to bed, got up, and got ready for work the same as always. Yet one of the hardest aspects of working from home was knowing when to stop.
To set that rhythm from work to rest, I developed a system. While working, I wore sneakers. Wearing sneakers reminded me to get up and move periodically. I set a rough end-of-work time and once I was done working, I went for a walk in the neighborhood. (Remember how good it felt to have a reason to leave the house during lockdown?!) When I returned home, off came the sneakers and on went the slippers. The workday was DONE! I found this to be one of the healthiest practices I developed during 2020. It helped me balance work and rest when the lines were blurred.
Now that schedules and routines are filling up, we might be finding our schedules overflowing. Some people experienced a more relaxed schedule during the last two years and are now reevaluating activities and how to spend their days. Prioritizing and planning rhythms of work and rest are important items to manage for continued physical vibrancy.
When I concluded 2020 twenty-three pounds lighter, I knew I had experienced a miracle, a divine intervention that enabled me to do something I was unable to do on my own. God had helped me, not only in losing weight, but knowing Him better. Sure, I used tools like an app, Fitbit, sneakers, and Pilates mat. But it was His Spirit walking with me through it all that made the difference.
Dear Sister, wherever you are on your own health journey, I know God wants to meet you.