The Elephant in the Room When It Comes to Wellness

The last post in the #WellnessWeek17 series comes from my friend Preston Hagaman. I asked Preston to share about the topic where I need the most help when it comes to wellness. It’s my least favorite post in the series because it’s the one I need the most! 

We’ve reached the end of the Wellness Week 2017 series, which hopefully has provided a great opportunity to address tough topics related to fitness, eating, and all things wellness. You’ve taken a look at several areas of your life and assessed things. Some things are going well, and some things aren’t. Things that you’re open and honest about, and several you’d rather avoid. Lurking beneath it all is one issue with the potential to sink all your efforts to change, grow, and get better.

So let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

Discipline.

All your relationship problems are first and foremost spiritual issues. Likewise, your wellness problems are discipline issues. All you tell yourself, and others, about why you don’t get enough sleep, go to the gym, and eat healthy foods are excuses. We all have them, and they usually stink. Rather, they’re what you tell yourself so you don’t feel bad. The real problem is that you’re undisciplined.

That may sound like a harsh word to hear, but it’s true. Let me explain.

It takes discipline to get up early. When the alarm goes off, you face the decision to get out of bed, or hit the snooze button and remain there. You don’t get up and going by sheer happenstance. No, it requires the application of your will. In short, it takes discipline. It takes discipline to conquer your weakness, and it takes discipline to force yourself to pop out of bed and get after it, regardless of how your feel.

It takes discipline to get to the gym. There are a million different things that will beckon and call you away from going. Whether it’s time, energy, or something else, there’s always an opponent trying to stop you from getting a workout. It takes discipline to keep showing up day after day and working hard to achieve your goals. It takes discipline to push through the pain and finish a set.

It takes discipline to eat right. Every time you’re hungry, you’re face choices. Do you reach for something healthy or settle for junk? It’s not always easy to stay the course and eat what you should. It requires discipline to hold that line. Discipline to reach for fruit instead of candy. Discipline to skip a meal rather than take in garbage. Better to exercise discipline than to give in to the weakness of immediate gratification. Taking the long-term view is always a disciplined exercise.

From top to bottom, and side to side, fitness is all about discipline. You fail at getting stronger, faster, and better when you’re undisciplined. The war of discipline isn’t a large-scale offensive, but a collection of small skirmishes. It’s fought one small, seemingly insignificant, decision at a time.

As Blake Holmes said in his recent sermon, “the spiritual life is like a race and we need the discipline of an athlete. We want to look like an athlete but don’t want to train like one. And, we want the body of the athlete but we want to eat donuts instead.” You must remain vigilant in even the smallest things.

We fight the battle with weakness and sin one small, seemingly unimportant, moment at a time.

Discipline says, “Get after it” whether you feel like it or not, and whether you enjoy it or not. Discipline is doing that which you know will make you better regardless of your emotions.

The good news is that discipline begets more discipline. Each time you succeed in conquering your own will, it gets stronger. This makes each successive application of the will easier to perform. You get better at exercising discipline by being disciplined.

The even better news is that as followers of Christ, we have the capacity to be disciplined. Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:7, “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” I can try to use the excuse that I’m not a disciplined person, but as a follower of Christ, I have the Spirit of God in me, who gives me all the discipline I need. I just need to choose to use the discipline He’s given me!

That being said, there are a few things you can do to grow into a more disciplined person.

1. Decide to be disciplined. Subdue your mind and force yourself to do more and be better. Decide you’re going to do whatever it takes to make it happen. This one step is surprisingly effective. Many failures to improve at something fail due to a lack of commitment and purpose. Know what you want to do, and why you want to do it.

2. Build mental toughness. Mental toughness and discipline go hand in hand. Building one helps build the other. Discipline often requires the mental resolve to say “no” to things your heart and your stomach want to say “yes” to. Practice doing the hard thing. It will bleed over into other areas of life.

3. Get up earlier. There are several reasons to get up early. The most compelling is this: Getting up early is a meta-discipline. It lays a foundation for all future disciplined activities for the day. Hitting the snooze button when your alarm sounds gives weakness a foothold. Your day will follow that pattern. Kick your day off with an easy win. Get out of bed when the alarm rings.

I don’t have all these things down. I give in to weakness and sin on far too regular a basis. Some mornings I hit the snooze button, miss a workout, and make poor mealtime choices. I don’t let those failures keep me down. I keep charging forward and chasing discipline. While discipline may sound oppressive or constraining, it is far from so.

Discipline ends up being your friend. It pushes you to excel and become more than you thought possible. Taking the disciplined path is the road to health, happiness, and growth. Jump on that path and stay the course. You may not get there overnight, but in time you’ll be glad you did.

Your Turn:

Preston lives in the Dallas area with his wife Hannah, their baby boy, and two golden retrievers. Preston is a photographer with Cottonwood Road Photography, where he and his wife capture couple’s biggest moments. You can read Preston’s blog here.

The Hagaman photo cred goes to the great Katie June Ruppel! You can find out more about Katie here.

3 Important Things I’ve Learned About Food and Faith

Today’s guest post in #WellnessWeek17 comes from my friend Courtney Moore. Courtney helps lead a team at Watermark focused on wellness in a ministry called WELL. I asked Courtney to share because of her expertise and passion in the area of nutrition. She is a subject matter expert in the field of nutrition and in this post shares a few lessons she’s learned in her own life and through working with others about wellness.

I’ve learned people think the only thing dieticians do is tell people what to eat and what not to eat. They believe that we label all food as “good” or “bad” and judge people for all their bad choices. Please let me free you from those thoughts and tell you that’s not the case. In fact, in this post, I’m not even going to address specific foods or diets. Instead, I’m going to share how The Lord continues to teach me more about Himself through wellness.

Today I share with you some of my story and the lessons I’ve learned (and continue to learn) over the past 10-15 years.

1. Food is fuel.

My first exposure to thinking about food as fuel was when my doctor diagnosed me with a heart condition in high school. I used food (along with traditional medicine) to control my symptoms. However, as time went on, my focus shifted over to heart issues. And I’m not talking about the physical heart as much as my ‘spiritual heart.’ My view of food changed – it was no longer just fuel, but rather became my master.

I tried to take control and manipulate the way I looked by obsessing over what to eat, how much to eat, and specific food goals. Instead of respecting my body and loving the way God created me, I tried to take control by obsessing about food.

Romans 6:15-19 – What then? Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means! Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

We’re called to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things (Colossians 3:2), and I had no room in my mind for things above.

2. We’re knit together and created by God.

The human body is an intricate machine, and all its functions were designed by and created for God, by God. He created our bodies to function, move, process, and work in His image and likeness. By digging into God’s Word and learning His Truth (and a whole lotta grace), my perspective started to change. He revealed to me that I didn’t have to be a slave to food. The focus turned to living out His will and learning about how I can best prepare myself and my body to do His works that He prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10).

He specifically created different types of foods, composed many different combinations of macronutrients (think proteins, fats, carbohydrates), and micronutrients (think vitamins and minerals). He also designed the countless chemical reactions and processes that occur in our body to use the fuel (food) we consume to help the intricate machines (our bodies) continue to function and work properly.

3. We’re all designed in different ways.

Most of us have bodies that work in similar ways when you look at the big picture. But, all of us are uniquely designed in the way we look, process, think, and speak. This also goes for the way our bodies respond to food. Therefore, there is not one “diet” that is right for everyone. It is not a one-size-fits-all. What we put into our bodies and the way we fuel it does matter to God but is not ultimate. The goal would be to try to find balance, whatever that may look like for you.

Your Turn:

Bio: Hello! My name is Courtney Moore. I’ve been married to my husband, Brett, for four years – three of which we have lived in Dallas. I’m originally from Kansas City, went to the University of Arkansas (Woo Pig!) for undergrad, and then headed back to Kansas City where I completed my dietetic internship and MS in Nutrition and Dietetics. I am a Registered Dietitian, and I work with patients who have received and/or need an organ transplant.  One of my favorite things is a good cup of coffee with a piece of dark chocolate on the side.

 

Choosing Wellness by Getting Some Sleep

Part 4 of #WellnessWeek17 is officially delayed until Friday or maybe even next week. I’m raising my white flag, asking for mercy, and choosing to get some sleep and focus on my own health and my family instead of finishing up the other posts. I know you understand, and I’d be a complete hypocrite right now if I pushed forward and finished the other posts, all the while sacrificing my own health and wellness.

Some bloggers can write and create posts every day – that’s not me, so my hat goes off to those who can pull it off!

In the meantime, because sleep is 100% a part of wellness, if you’re interested in reading more about sleep and rest, here are a few posts and resources to check out.

1. I’m not telling you that you should take a nap at work, but Michael Hyatt might be! Check out a few posts from him on sleep and naps:

2. From my site: What I Learned from a 14-Day Sleep Experiment – 8 Lessons Learned From the Sleep14

3. A book to check out for all you book readers like me: Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies, by Shawn Stevenson. I’m reading this one right now, and I’m learning a ton from this guy. While I don’t agree with everything he says, I’m learning a whole lot along the way.

4. And, if you just want to catch up on other posts from #WellnessWeek17 and #WellnessWeek16, click the links below:

Until next time, night night. Love you,

Scott

Photo credit: Cris Saur

How God Used My Injury and Weakness For His Glory

In Part 3 of #WellnessWeek2017, my friend Becca Nail shares some of her recent wellness struggles. What do you do when things don’t go the way you want them to go?

As I’ve shared on this blog before, my wellness story centers around a similar theme: what do I do when the results differ from what I expected and what I thought I deserved?

Becca answers these questions as she shares lessons she’s learned in her journey to wellness.

I sat in a doctor’s office at Baylor Dallas on June 24th, 2016 when I heard the following words: “You have a pretty moderate to severely herniated disc between your L4-L5 vertebrae, Becca. This is why you are experiencing intense and chronic nerve pain. We need to get you scheduled for surgery.”

Fast forward to March 7th, 2017. I sat in the same doctor’s office and found out that my 2016-surgically repaired disc re-herniated. “But, wait!!! I’ve been so careful. You told me this surgery has a 95% success rate. Am I really the unlucky one who fell into the five percent?”

The news crushed me. The chronic nerve pain that shot in my back and down my right leg had come back like a familiar, yet very unwelcome, visitor. What on earth!? Was I going to be the 27-year-old girl who underwent two back surgeries in less than a year?

I had some questions.

Things were so smooth:

This circumstance brought forth buckets of tears. Fear awoke me in cold sweats. The frustration was so intense that my jaw got sore from gritting my teeth.

Oswald Chambers, in his book, My Utmost For His Highest, says, “If we are obsessed by God, nothing else can get into our lives – not concerns, nor tribulation, nor worries.”

I obsessed, but you can bet your tail hind it wasn’t on God. My focus honed in on what was taken from me instead of on what remained in front of me.

Chambers goes on to say, “How can we dare to be so absolutely unbelieving when God totally surrounds us? To be obsessed by God is to have an effective barricade against all the assaults of the enemy.”

The enemy was serving up those assaults for me real nice, and I was in a tailspin. I obsessed over what I was called to steward instead of obsessing over the who and the why behind that call.

Once I took a step back, I realized there were specific steps I could take to get my heart and mind refocused on the Lord, ultimately enabling me to build up better barricades against the enemy’s attacks.

I needed to do the following:

1. Caste my fears and frustrations on God.

First, let me just say, “PRAISE BE” that God that allows us to wrestle with and cry out to Him! What a blessing it is that we have a God who cares deeply for us and sympathizes with us. What a comfort that the God of the Universe desires to shoulder our burdens with and for us.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrew 4:15)

“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8)

2. Remember that my body is not mine.

My body is to be used how God sees fit. I’m supposed to steward my body no matter the situation He puts me in. Just because my circumstances aren’t what I would choose doesn’t exempt me from His command to give him the glory.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

3.Reach out to my life lines.

Honestly, I don’t believe I would have been able to pull myself out of my tailspin if it weren’t for the people who loved me and surrounded me. They remind me of truth and get down in the trenches with me.

Those shackles I felt like I was wearing would’ve remained nice and snug if I’d tried to face it alone.

When you receive frustrating news and you’re honest with your inner circle of friends, you set yourself up to a front row seat to see God at work.

“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

“For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.”(Matthew 18:20)

4. Change my vantage point.

Sometimes when you feel shackled by something, you can’t take your eyes off those shackles. When you’re in the trenches, you have trouble seeing the actual ground that has been taken, or the amazing victory that lies in wait.

As mentioned above, I was so focused on what had been taken away from me, I wasn’t seeing the opportunity in front of me. It wasn’t until friends helped pick me up so I could see all the Lord still had yet to do through my spiritual and physical wellness.

“It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” (Psalm 119:71)

“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11)

Gah! It is good to have friends that can see my blindspots and a God who loves me through my circumstances. With this new vantage point, I’m starting to see that I haven’t been shackled at all. Rather, I’m commissioned to partner with God in my sanctification, knowing that this circumstance and whatever follows brings Him the most glory.

For more from #WellnessWeek2017, click here:

Becca Nail: I’ve been on staff at Watermark Community Church for the past four years on the Operations Team. Outside of my nine to five, I’m passionate about wellness. I love using the modality of fitness to share my faith and passion for the Lord. If you get the chance to log some hang time with me, three things will become very apparent; I am hyper loyal, obsessed with the Great State of Texas, and I tend to be what some might call a bit “dramatic” (in the most endearing way, of course).

The Temptation To Cheat Your Way To “Wellness”

Welcome to Part 2 of #WellnessWeek2017. In Part 1 I shared a challenge you and I should take when it comes to our wellness journey. Invite others in to help you better honor God with your body. Today’s guest post comes from my good friend and co-worker, Lonnie Smith. He’s got an incredible testimony and I know you’re going to be encouraged by what Lonnie shares with us today.

Though it happened in 1975, some days it feels like yesterday. His words – so piercing and destructive:

“Lonnie, your legs look like toothpicks, no muscle whatsoever. In fact, we should change your name to “Lisa” because your physique looks like a girl. No wonder you get thrown around on the court.”

My 8th-grade basketball coach critiqued my body and lack of physical strength as I stood humiliated in front of my teammates during an afternoon practice.

I share what happened in my life 42 years ago because that encounter made a profound impact in my life. His words led me to take shortcuts on my journey to wellness.

I became a follower of Christ in 1997. Before Jesus captured my heart, I defined wellness not as making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life (physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually), but rather by one’s “sculptured muscularity,” and how much weight one could bench press, squat and deadlift. You get the idea – I was a meathead!

From 1989 – 1996, I immersed myself in the bodybuilding culture. My life was all about health and fitness (or so I thought). In 1989, I discovered a shortcut to quickly and effectively get the wellness results I obsessed over and desperately longed for. For eight years, I chose to use anabolic steroids almost daily. While using steroids to bulk up, I also used crystal methamphetamine to depress my appetite so that I could drastically reduce my body fat. Three words drove my passion for wellness: bigger, stronger, faster. No one would ever tell me again that my legs looked like toothpicks!

After eight years of chasing what I thought wellness looked like by abusing steroids and meth, I found freedom on December 6th, 1996. By the grace of God, I haven’t used muscle enhancing anything or body fat cutting drugs in over 20 years.

As a follower of Christ, a lot has changed in my life. But something I must consistently keep in front of me is the reality of how vulnerable I am to “go back there.” There is a warning from the apostle Paul to the church in Corinth that must be taken very seriously: “Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). God wants the Corinthians to know that they are all vulnerable to a fall!

Do we take the matter of our vulnerability seriously enough? Recently, I visited a gym where I used to train “back in the day.” Honestly, I didn’t like it that nobody knew who I was or that at one time, “I was the man” at that gym. Then it came out of nowhere! A sense of inferiority. A feeling that I was a nobody. Maybe I would bump into one of my old friends. Maybe I could gain access to steroids to build my body up again. No one needs to know that I’m considering cheating, and besides, how’s a little deception going to hurt?

Here’s something I’ve learned: Temptation and Deception (on some level) will always haunt us. For me, when it comes to wellness, it’s the desire to cut corners with performance enhancing drugs or dietary drugs and then lie about it. How about you? Where does the desire of your heart want to take you?

We need some biblical and practical help to position ourselves to be “battle ready” on our wellness journey when our various temptations surface. These temptations have a singular purpose – to render us to a fallen, shameful, guilt-ridden state.

Here are four ways to stay pure on your wellness journey:

1. Remember that God doesn’t make mistakes, and He’s already given you a remarkable body.

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

Always remind yourself that God hates the misuse of the parts of the body He intended to be blessings (Proverbs 6:16-19). Allow that to soak in – God hates our misuse of the sensational tools He gave to us.

2. Remember that God is good, loving, powerful, and present. Remember He is for you.

“If God is for us, who can be against us” (Romans 8:31)?

It’s true, God is for you, and your desires will only change when you know God. In other words, God will appear more impressive, fulfilling, and satisfying than the temptation when you know Him for who He is, in all His glory and perfection.

3. Remember that honesty is the best policy and dishonesty has a way of backfiring.

The Bible condemns deception of every kind.

“You shall not spread false report” (Exodus 23:1).

“Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD” (Proverbs 12:22).

“Do not lie to one another” (Colossians 3:9).

Ask yourself two questions from a practical point of view: When you lie, does it do any good? Do you avoid accepting yourself as you really are, or do you just postpone that acceptance?

4. Remember that your temptation is not uncommon, there is a way of escape, and Jesus sympathizes.

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

This is great news! Your temptation is not unique. Even Jesus experienced temptation and sympathizes with you. Trust that He knows and understands, and in every situation, He will provide power for escape. We will never experience anything that’s uncommon to man or uncommon to the God-man!

Are you struggling? Pray, confess, bring it into the light, and remember!

Your Turn:

Lonnie Smith: husband to Anita, dad to three girls with one son-in-law and one grandson, and Director of Single Adults at Watermark Community Church. Lonnie is passionate about giving leadership, vision, and direction to single parent families, to anyone going through divorce, and to all single adults in the 30s – 50s age demographic.