Every afternoon at 4:30 pm at the AIM office, about a dozen of our staff gather for hard workout according to the video Insanity
. And I say “go for it.” I’m more of a runner, but maybe I’ll join them one of these days. Living in a sedentary world, we need to maintain our bodies in much the same way we maintain our cars. It needs to be a key part of our discipleship.
Discipling requires instruction about stewardship. One of the most important areas of stewardship you have is your physical body – your “earth suit” that carries around your spirit. If you believe that we are not human beings having temporary spiritual experiences, but spiritual beings having a temporary human experience, then you understand the care of your body as a resource.
When we disciple people, we need to help them work through this issue. Too many of us have a self-image that is tied to our weight and so, often this issue never gets addressed in a discipling relationship. We need to set that aside and just look at our habits. Poor habits can result in poor stewardship and future pain.
Two recent discoveries are fascinating in this regard. The first, as explained in this article
, shows at a cellular level how physical exercise helps increase your mental capacity. Exercise results in the production of a protein creatively named “Noggin” that inhibits the deterioration of neurons. We tend to think of intelligence in a limited way – ability to remember facts. Psychologist Howard Gardner tells there are seven different kinds of intelligence
. You can sharpen each of them through exercise.
The second discovery as explained by David Shenk in the WSJ
, explodes the notion that we’re born with a certain, pre-determined capacity. The vast majority of us do not come close to tapping what scientists
call our “unactualized potential.” As Shenk states, “Genes are not, as was originally thought, blueprints with fixed
instructions for eye color, thumb size, mathematical quickness, musical
sensitivity, etc. Instead, genes are more like volume knobs and switches
on a giant control board. Many of those knobs and switches can be
turned on and off at any time- by another gene or by any tiny
environmental input.” At a cellular level a lot of things impact the way DNA is transcribed into RNA – it is not a photocopying process.
The bottom line is, we need to get in touch with the control that God has given over our minds and our bodies. The decisions we make about lifestyle have enormous impact.
Now, let’s address the general trend. According to this article
in the Amednews, the average American is 23 pounds overweight and “researchers found that obesity rates increased 37% between 1998 and 2006
and accounted for an 89% increase in obesity spending, or another $40
billion a year.”
All the extra weight is highly correlated to sickness.
And the answer is not complicated: Exercise more; stop eating sugars and starches, and especially stop drinking soda. As the article states, “Soft drinks may be among the largest
drivers of the obesity epidemic.” The sugar loads you up with extra calories that you can’t afford, and beyond that, it stresses your pancreas, which is the organ that enables your body to process sugar. Tax the pancreas too much and you get diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is soaring – it has doubled in the last decade
Almost as bad are all carbs we take in, especially stuff made of white, processed flour. As Dr. Arthur Agatston explains, “Simple carbohydrates are converted by your body into sugar which causes a
spike in insulin which in turn enables the storage of fat. It also
wreaks havoc on your system as your body responds to sugar highs and
lows and cravings.”
If this hits close to home for you, you’ve got two options, change your diet and change the way you exercise. The South Beach Diet
gives you some good tools in changing your diet. Exercise is a more personal thing. It used to be a natural part of life for an agrarian and industrial society. But now that a majority of people have jobs that require little exercise, you have to make decisions about how you’re going to manage your body’s need for a good regular work-out. If you’re undisciplined or have self-image issues that keep you from addressing the matter head-on, I suggest you get help. And if you have a mesomorph body shape, you may find that half an hour or an hour of exercise a day is what you need.
The fact is, all of us face this issue of how to “perform regular maintenance” on our bodies. Nearly a decade ago, my doctor told me I was overweight and needed to make some changes. We all need to reflect on what it takes to be a good steward of the only physical body we’ll ever have.