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November 24, 2009

Healthy Body, Healthy Soul?

The consequences of allowing good body habits to slide

Late last month, I picked up my buzzing cell phone to a welcome surprise: a photo of my seven-week-old nephew, Jayden, with an irritated expression on his face and a tiny black shirt printed with a white rib cage on his little tummy.

Combining wit and wherewithal, for Halloween my sister and brother-in-law dressed the newest member of the Taylor family as a Hungry Taylor. Jayden’s ensemble was a nod to my family’s legendary ability to ignore a gently rumbling stomach until it coasts past the stage of shaking hands and distractibility, stopping only after it yields the floor to snarling irrationality. (Jayden’s irritated expression was a very true-to-life touch.)

Down to a member, all six of the Taylors can chart a correlation between plunging blood sugar and soaring irritability. It’s bad enough when we’re apart from one another, but the problem is compounded exponentially whenever two or three are gathered. In fact, when I look back on our shared life, I strongly suspect that a specific epoch of family crisis might have been staved off with a box of granola bars.

My nephew’s costume was a hilarious reminder of this familial quirk (though we’re hoping he’ll break the cycle). At the same time, I was reminded of what happens when I ignore my body’s needs.

I’ve occasionally treated my body like it’s the machine that carries my brain around. When I’m feeling particularly spiritual, I substitute “carries my soul around” in that sentence. It’s not that I’ve ever intentionally mistreated my body. But like many people, I sometimes let good habits slide. And like many people, my uber-busy life provides a ready excuse for letting my sneakers gather dust, eating dinner out of a white paper bag, or staying up too late. Again.

Recently, when my doctor suggested that I’d feel more rested if I slept more, I suppressed the urge to snarl something pithy and brittle about Captain Obvious and the value of medical school. (Now that I think about it, I’d skipped breakfast that morning.) Still, the simplicity of his “prescription” made me thankful to be a healthy person who needs to develop healthier habits. And I committed myself to getting back on track.

The holidays are not the easiest time to re-establish healthy routines. But I can’t help but wonder if we’d all be a little saner, feel freer to enjoy ourselves, and reflect more deeply on the gift of a Savior who clothed himself in flesh if we cared more closely for our bodies.

I’m interested in hearing from you: How do you maintain healthy habits during your busiest days? What solutions have you found for the challenge of maintaining good health during the different seasons of your life? And do you ever sense a connection between the care of your body and the health of your soul?

Oh, and if you think of it, I’m taking recommendations: I’ve got to find a healthy granola

Comments

All I can really tell you is that when I force myself to eat three meals a day and get an adequete amount of sleep each night, I am able to get more done during the day. That in itself usually gives me the inspiration to be sure that I do.

I am a big victim of this. This year, I have always sleept late either working on my thesis, thank God it is done, watching a late movie if I need to refresh my head or prayers at midnight.

I have always wokern up, thank God for the alam, by 4.45am to leave the house for office at 6am. I get to the office at 8.30am, since I work in a different province(Eastern) and Live in Nairobi( a province in its own right). I rarely remember to take lunch, that is if I have money for lunch or did remember to carry lunch, but stay on teas and at times snacks of wheat flour if I remember again. I am constantly on the move moving one item here or there, locating something here or there, questioning one person or another as to why this happened or that did not happen, describing why one item must move or must not move, etc. Many a time I end up discouraged or at most cases I decide to put a loud smile on my face. Thank God the smile does me well. December is here I am now preparing to rework out my priorities right. What a wretched man that I am, who will rescue me?

LaTonya, I also have the blood sugar peaks and valleys, technically labeled reactive hypoglycemia. If I didn't regulate it, I wouldn't have any friends at all. (Think: borderline psychotic.) I regulate it because I love my family and I hate the aftermath. My prescription is this: protein in the morning (it helps regulate blood sugar), 15-20 minutes of dancing aerobics every morning (yes, I know it's not enough to be beautiful, but it is enough to keep my energy flowing), and frequent pauses ---really pausing--- to pray and reconnect, because that's what keeps me most stable. That's what reminds me what it's all about.
Joyous holidays, now through Christmas and into next year, to you and all of the Kyria women.
Jennie D

Like poster Jennie D above, I too deal with reactive hypoglycemia. I make sure I take care of my body because I just DON'T want to feel so bad. If that means eating on schedule, saying no to junk food, going to gym and making myself head to bed at a decent hour, then so be it. I know I'm not very pleasant to live with if I don't, but more than that, I even have trouble just dealing with MYSELF and coping. Nothing like a health crisis to make you reconsider how you treat your body. Thanks for the thought provoking article.

Blueberries. A good granola comes from Sweet home farm

I gave up on oats in granola when I found out I was sensitive to them... try mixing pepitas, apricots, favorite nuts (remember, they are high carb!, altho' brazil nuts are better),with cranberries and other stuff for a great dish...

I work full-time and I go to college full-time so finding time to exercise can be a challenge. I make the most of whatever I am doing to get my evercise in. I am always on the go, walking to and from the laundry room in my apt. complex with loads of laundry, climbing up & down three flights of stairs to my apartment several times a day, sometimes carrying arms full of groceries. At work I get a fifteen break before & after my lunch break and I use that time to walk around the parking lot or do crunches in the breakroom on a towel I keep in my desk drawer. The important thing is to make suer that I always keep HEALTHY snacks easily accessible to me. I keep fiber bars in my purse, pretzels in my car, and I only stock fruits and yoghurt in the communal fridge at work. In my desk I keep tuna-in-water packets, plain microwave popcorn, Sun-Maid packages of dried fruit (for when I want something sweeter than fresh fruit), and trail mix (for the salty cravings). I drink water plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout the day. I find that having healthy food conveniently at my fingertips whenever I get hungry or feel "snacky", I can resist the temptation to eat junk food or less healthy food.

I am 72 years old. I eat oatmeal with bananas, English walnuts, brown sugar and raisins every morning. No junk food. I eat half an apple before I go to bed. My husband of 50 years eats the other half. I am still employed full-time and love being busy. We lived in Africa 41 years - in Kenya the last ten. We love Africa. I worked with orphans and pastors' children for 14 years. The last eight years I taught in a seminary in Kenya. Exercise is important to good health. I walk 30 minutes a day and get eight hours sleep at night. This is my first time on your site.

Julia, your post was such an inspiration to me to eat healthier and take better care of my body. I don'really know you but I already know that I want to "grow" up to be like you! Can you share with us what other things you eat throughout the day? Also, how many days a week do you walk?

I HAVE BEEN SLIDING WITH MY EATING/EXERCISE LATELY, BUT YOUR COMMENT IS "ALWAYS" THE ONE THAT GET'S ME BACK ON TRACK. THANK YOU LORD FOR USING CAROL TO REMIND ME THAT "THIS" BODY IS YOUR TEMPLE, NOT MINE.

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