I’m decidedly squeamish, so when the Psalmist tells me that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), I’m inclined to take his word for it. Let what goes on beneath my skin remain unseen and largely forgotten, I say, while I go about my business in blissful ignorance. Not everyone is so inclined. In the past two or three hundred years—about three thousand years after ancient Israel’s awestruck King David sang those praises to his Creator—some more inquisitive and decidedly less squeamish types have made some amazing discoveries that give us reason to exclaim with David, “How precious are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well” (Psalm 139:17,14).
One day I was out and saw a new electronic scale that takes a person’s weight, correlates it with his or her height, and plots a graph that shows whether that person is underweight, the correct weight, overweight, or obese.
The people selling the scale were eager for me to try it, so I did. To my horror, the heartless thing pronounced me obese. OBESE! What were those slim, trim salespeople snickering at? I had a clear mental picture of what “obese” looked like, and I didn’t fit it! Or did I?
Life is all about the choices we make, and our health is no exception. Even most health risks that seem unavoidable, like being exposed to the flu in a crowded elevator or hereditary predisposition to a certain type of cancer, aren’t completely beyond our control. Often there is some precaution we can take to improve our chances of staying healthy, like using the stairs in flu season, or following a careful diet. The truth is, we could avoid most health problems, including that nasty flu, without going to extremes. In most cases, healthy living is a matter of consistently doing a few basic things to keep our bodies strong and our resistance high.
“You’re going to be so pretty when you grow up,” I remember people telling me when I was a little girl. Oh, how I waited for that day! All of my dreams would come true. I would be beautiful!
But at 15 I was nothing like I had imagined. I was chunky and hated my body. I wore only black clothes to try to make myself look thinner. I also wore a lot of makeup that became a mask to hide behind. I remember crying and being incredibly depressed because I thought I was so fat I didn’t deserve to live. It’s easy to see how ridiculous such thoughts are when it’s others who are thinking them, but when you’re the one, it’s a different story.
Question: I want to get in better shape, but don’t know where to start. How much exercise is enough? What type of exercise is best, and how much time do I need to spend on it?
Answer: The answers to those questions depend on a number of factors, including your age, general health, present fitness level, and metabolism. There are, however, a few general guidelines for a successful exercise program.
When I was in primary school, I wrote a report about Juan Ponce de León , the Spanish conquistador who in 1513 went looking for the legendary fountain of youth but found Florida instead. The story fascinated me, though I couldn’t quite grasp why people would search so arduously for a cure for aging. Growing old was something I saw happening to only a few folks, most notably my grandparents. Back then, old age was something far, far away. But now that I’m in my mid-50s, that port of call is on my horizon and gets closer with every passing year.
I used to think I had to do a lot more than I try to do now. There were so many things that I was sure I absolutely had to do that I wound up carrying too heavy a load. I didn’t think I could do any less—until God stepped in and made me slow down by allowing me to develop a painful, debilitating eye condition. When that happened, I found out I didn’t have to do all of those things after all. I found out first of all that others could do some of the things I’d been doing, and I also found out that there were some things that didn’t absolutely have to be done.
It’s not likely that you would ever develop the same rare eye condition that I did, but if you overdo and allow yourself to get under too much pressure, you may very well get run down and sick or perhaps even have a nervous breakdown. Then you would be out of action completely, unable to do anything.
When we put our faith into practice, we cross over from being nominal believers to being instruments of God’s love. A friend of mine, Jamal, who is a pharmacist, told me about one of his recent “crossing over” experiences. It went like this.
One day a young man handed Jamal his prescription to treat insomnia. Jamal looked over the list of medicines and was shocked. “Are you sure you want to take all of these medicines?” he asked.
God can heal.
Exodus 15:26: "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."
Deuteronomy 7:15: And the LORD will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you.