Monday, June 29, 2009

The Physical Demands of Spiritual Labor

I continue to learn that serving God in any capacity makes demands on my physical well being. If not careful, it can take a heavy toll (and sometimes has). Here are the things that help sustain me:

1. Consistent devotional life (prayer, journaling, Bible reading)
2. Consistent family time
3. Consistent day off

But there is a fourth area that is very important to my mental and physical well being – and that is proper diet and exercise. To serve Jesus well I believe that I must be diligent in taking care of myself physically. As I get older my metabolism is slowing down, which makes it very easy to start packing on the pounds. When I’m carrying extra weight, I feel lethargic and lack energy.

Here’s what I do. I eat very little processed food (i.e., foods that come out of a box or plastic bag), or fast foods. I try to avoid unhealthy fats, sugar, white flour, soda, (in fact I drink no sweetened beverages), fried foods, and high fat dairy. I’m not saying I don’t like to eat fried okra or peach cobbler every now and then, but I do consistently avoid bad foods. Most of my eating consists of foods that come out of the produce section of the store.

I am also an avid exerciser. I do about an hour a day, five days a week, usually in the morning. My exercise consists mainly of bike riding and strength training. In the fall & winter (when the weather is cooler) I jog, walk, and include strength training. I think exercise keeps me mentally strong too. For instance, when I’m out having a gut-busting bike ride and the blood is pumping, it seems like all the cob webs come out of my mind. My serotonin levels go up and I get recharged. I get clarity on challenges that are facing me. By the time I’m through I’m ready to face the day. Then at the end of the day, I sleep well at night.

I want to be able to labor well.

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