Guest Post: Planning For Good Nutrition and Fitness

The issue of exercise and health is an important one, and one that I think Christians should be thinking about. Yes, I know I’m the king of bacon and bad eating, but as much as I talk about loving bacon and other processed meats, I really do want to try to exercise on a regular basis and eat a healthy diet. This is why I asked Trillia Newbell, who is both a passionate Christian and a certified fitness expert, to share some thoughts on how Christians can be more healthy. Here’s what she had to say:

Itís three oíclock in the afternoon and your stomach begins to growl like a lion ready to devour itsí prey. You look around slowly searching for anything to satisfy your cravings. Tearing open your cupboard you find a bag of potato chips and some devils food cakes. Your mouth begins to water, your palms begin to sweat and then it dawns one you, youíre on a diet! You curse at your diet, rip open the bag and begin to shove food in like a savage beast. You slowly walk to your living room, a piece a chocolate dangles off your bottom lip, plop down on your sofa and with defeat in your eyes and comfort in your belly you crack open your Diet Coke and try to figure out where you went wrong.

I relate to the comical story above, donít you? In order to maintain any fitness program or general healthy eating lifestyle takes planning. Notice I didnít title it ďA PlanĒ but ďPlanĒ. I have not set out to put you on a plan but I want to give you only a few tips and then direct your attention to a book that I believe will encourage you in the area of planning.

Why is this even important? Well, the truth is, it isnít of first importance. Manís chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. We are to run the Christian race like athletes knowing that we have an imperishable wreath. And though godliness is of ďvalue in every wayĒ God does say that bodily training is of some value! If God says something is of value, even if only of ďsomeĒ I want to know about it and how I might put His Word into action.

Tips and Suggestions for Planning for Fitness and Nutrition:

Plan your meals:
Sit down once a week and plan out a menu. This will allow you to see how you can add fruits and vegetables to your diet and ensure that they are actually in your home or at your work desk for you to eat.

Plan your workouts:
Set aside a time during the day for your exercise whether itís a walk around the block with your kids or a ten minute dumbbell routine. I can assure you that if itís not in your schedule to do, you will most likely push it aside. It takes planning to exercise. This is most likely the hardest to plan for especially with children. Iíll give you some creative ways to incorporate exercise while spending time with your children and not neglecting your home below.

Plan to plan:
If you donít plan to plan you wonít plan. Wow, thatís redundant. But itís true! Set a day and time when you can consistently plan out your week.

Plan Realistically:
If you drink sodas six times a day donít try to drop it cold turkey. Like a baby who is being weaned from nursing, you too must be weaned! If you drop cold turkey and then ďfailĒ youíll go straight back to drinking your cola for breakfast! Plan to break habits slowly.

The same applies to exercise. If you have not been exercising, now might not be the time to decide to run an ultra-marathon (any road race over 42 miles) next month. Set realistic goals such as running or walking a 5K four or six months from today.

Last Tip: Learn how to plan beyond fitness:

The Ladies at the GirlTalk Blog wrote a book called Shopping For Time: How to Do It All and NOT be Overwhelmed. The book provides biblical wisdom to practical tips. I think this book will help you learn to plan for good nutrition and fitness too! Why? Because as youíve seen above, good nutrition and fitness takes time.

C.J. Mahaney, President of Sovereign Grace Ministries did a series on Time Management that is very helpful. It takes planning deeper and gets to the heart of our planning problems. Follow the link to learn more and download the entire series via PDF.

Iím busy! Need quick tips to fit it in?

There are so many demands on our lives (home, children, school, work,) and now Iím asking you to think about fitness and nutrition- health! There are two main reasons I have the energy and stamina to get through my day: 1) Godís grace and His strength enables me 2) I exercise regularly and eat generally a balanced healthy diet. Here are some practical ways to incorporate exercise:

  • Build a small home gym (dumbbells, exercise videos, mat) and put them to use during down times such as naps, Sesame Street, kids rest time, bedtime, lunch break, etc.
  • Incorporate exercise during date night. If you have a regularly night when you and your spouse go out, maybe instead of having dinner take a brisk walk.
  • Ask for help. If you are in a position, join a gym, find a trainer or find a fitness pal and get some help. Having a partner is a wonderful motivation and accountability for working out.
  • Try these exercises. I wrote an article on Livestrong.com with 30-minute circuit ideas for women but men you too could benefit from it. Here is a link to the article.
  • Incorporate fitness into your kids lives by leading your own P.E. class. Instead of just giving them exercises and games to do; join in!
  • Take advantage of family outings. Go to a park, take walks together, ride bikes. Take advantage of play dates with friends. While the kids play take a brisk walk around the park or put in a fitness video such as P90X which is suitable for† both men and women.

Trillia Newbell writes freelance for “The Knoxville News-Sentinel”, Livestrong.com and several fitness magazines and journals. Newbell is Aerobics and Fitness Association of America certified and holds five Les Mills certifications. She is a Les Mills BODYPUMPô Assessor and an AFAA Presenter and Examiner. Newbell lives in Knoxville, TN with her husband Thern and their two kids Weston and Sydney. They attend Cornerstone Church of Knoxville.

The Joy of Sweat

Date: Thursday morning† -† Time: 7:43 A.M.† -† Location: The Gymnasium

I shouldn’t feel this exhausted. My heart is hammering and my legs feel like jelly. I’m trying to sprint down the court but can only manage a half-hearted jog. Sweat pours off my face and my chest heaves. My mouth hangs open with exhaustion. A casual observer would think I was miserable.

The game is tied at 14 – one more point wins the game. My team sets up on offense and I receive the ball at the top of three point line. I dribble right, survey the floor, dribble left. The defense is stifling and I’m covered too well to take a shot. Suddenly I see an explosion of movement off to the right. One of my teammates is cutting to the basket.

I rifle the ball through the defense, hoping to catch my teammate in stride. Unfortunately my pass is too far left and leaves him without a shot. But the sudden movement has caused a ripple in the defense and a man is standing wide open in the corner. My teammate fires him the ball, and he lifts a high arcing shot toward the basket. Everyone holds their breath in anticipation. But something – a slight increase in gravity, a hangnail, the movement of the moon – has knocked the shot slightly off course and it rattles in and out of the hoop.

The opposing team gets the rebound, sprints down the court, and knocks down the game-winning shot. Game over. We lose. Thanks for playing, try again next time.

I walk/limp out of the gym. My neck hurts. And my back. And my lungs. Yet in spite of the pain, and the loss, there’s a smile on my face. I’m aware that basketball is God’s kindness to me. Why do I get to experience the pure joy of playing sports when millions of people can’t even walk? I can run, many can’t even move. Health is a gift. Sweat is a mercy. When I step onto the court I’m experiencing God’s favor, and the only appropriate response is gratitude.

Thank you Lord for my health. Thank you for the gift of sports. Thank you for exercise. Teach me to be more grateful.

Does God Care About Exercise?

Exercise is one of those subjects that seems to divide people into three groups. First, there’s the health nuts, whose idea of a good time is strapping on a backpack full of bricks and doing wind sprints up steep hills. Then there’s the couch potatoes, whose idea of a good time is a bag of chips, an industrial sized tub of French onion dip, and a king sized Slurpee. Then there’s the rest of us, who know we should exercise, and even own several pieces of exercise equipment, but never quite find the time to do it.

Everywhere you look, people are telling us we should exercise. But does God care about exercise? Does it really matter to God if I step onto my treadmill?

Nowhere in the Bible will you find a scripture that says, “You must exercise three times a week ( and make sure one of those days is a good cardio work out).” But we do read in 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Every minute of our lives is to be lived for the glory of God, and exercise is a wonderful means of helping us live for the glory of God. How? By extending our years of service to God, and by making us more effective in serving the Lord.

Exercise Extends Our Years of Serving God

Have you ever considered that exercise could be the difference between serving God for 60 years or serving God for 75 years? Think about this for a moment. Maintaining a healthy body could result in God giving you many additional years to care for your spouse. Staying in good shape could result in God allowing you to share the gospel with hundreds of additional people. Those endless miles on the treadmill could result in many additional years of faithfully serving your church. Yes, I understand that God has numbered our days. In his sovereignty, God knows exactly how many days we will live upon this earth. But God uses means, and exercise is a means of adding years of fruitful labor to our lives.

Exercise Makes Us More Effective In Serving The Lord

Not only does exercise extend our years of serving the Lord, it also makes us more effective in serving the Lord. The truth is, an unhealthy body can limit our capacity to serve the Lord. Being unhealthy leads to less energy and less stamina, which ultimately limits our service for the Lord. Those who exercise regularly and are in good health are able to serve the Lord and others consistently, and for longer periods of time.

Charles Spurgeon said, “A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best”

These truths should dramatically affect our approach to exercise! We don’t ultimately exercise for the purpose of losing weight or so that we look good. We exercise for the glory of God. We lace up our running shoes and pound the pavement so that we can serve God effectively for years to come. We lift weights so that at age 65 we can share the gospel with our grandchildren. We go to the gym so that we can lovingly care for our spouse for many years.

So let me encourage you to exercise. Not because it’s a good thing to do, but because God’s glory is at stake. Think of the future as you go out and jog today.

photo by kk+