Scripture tells us we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16).
With that said, therefore, taking care of our Temple, known as our physical bodies, seems to be one of the greatest challenges. I know it has been for me.
In my book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder,” I chronicle my struggles through all kinds of dysfunction, disordered eating and harmful mindsets. Eventually I descended into anorexia, bulimia and binge eating, often displaying extreme food restriction and over-exercise behaviors. I saw food and exercise through unhealthy, punishing and dangerous filters and extremes. I either ate nothing or everything; I either did no exercise whatsoever or I punished myself with six grueling hours of it every day. There was no moderation, no healthy approach, just torment, fear, guilt, desperation and hopelessness.
Years later, into my recovery, my challenge has been to live a healthy, not abusive or disordered lifestyle. Through my recovery work, I’m often approached by young people, confused and tormented by their disordered behaviors and mindsets. Many are Christians. So, what’s the answer to this Temple issue?
Concerning both food and exercise, the Bible does have something to say:
“Is not life more than food?” Jesus, in Matthew 6:25
For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 1 Timothy 4:8
However, that’s often easier read than lived, isn’t it?
Recently, I met a vibrant personal trainer, DJ White. We had the chance to briefly speak about her approach to health, food and fitness. Since she operates from a Christian perspective in her training, I, therefore, thought her advice on this challenging issue could be of tremendous benefit for those of us struggling in this area. And, unfortunately, even Christians are not immune from eating disorders, bad self-image, food and exercise issues. We could all use some advice in the area of health.
I asked DJ if she wouldn’t mind answering a few questions. She was most gracious with her responses.
SC: What made you decide to become a personal trainer?
DJW: I originally went to college to become a physical therapist. A severe allergic reaction to physics landed me in a computer class that was easy. Long story short, after 8 years of corporate America, I realized that being active was something I loved! I became certified and left corporate America to support the health and wellness of those who chose or had to stay in that environment.
SC: What made you decide to become a Christian?
DJW: I grew up with the foundation of belief in God and prayer. We always went to church and being a member of a church going family made it easy for me to choose to become a Christian as a young adult. I can’t imagine going through life any other way.
SC: What Christian faith principles do you incorporate with your clients concerning their fitness programs?
DJW: The name of my business is P & P Journey’s, LLC. P & P stands for Personal and Professional Journey’s. The logo has a diamond in the rough (soil) with three leaves representing mind, body, and spirit. As spirit beings trying to master the human experience, I include nutrition, activity, and leisure in my training with my clients. In connecting these areas the spirit gets the attention it needs to heal, grow, and contribute in the way God intended.
SC: What advice do you give to someone who wants a Godly effective fitness regimen?
DJW: I encourage my clients to pray and/or meditate, with study in the morning along with their exercise routine and proper nutrition to energize the body. Before they begin their day “in the world”, they have done the following: 1) given thanks and gratitude, 2) created a space for greater wisdom, 3) engaged their physical body in a manner that encourages and connects physical and mental strength and discipline, 4) and they have given it the nutrients to fuel them for the day. They have succeeded in taking care of themselves so they can now fulfill their role and purpose in the world.
SC: What advice do you have for those of us who have struggled with disordered eating and/or food or exercise addictions?
DJW: In scripture when you read about your Temple, you gain the awareness, knowledge, wisdom, and peace that this earthly vessel is on loan for you to fulfill your purpose. Holding tight to these scriptures can and will see you through these challenges.
SC: What motivates you in your own health/fitness choices?
DJW: The absence of dis-ease motivates me. My family history of different cancers over three generations was a cycle I declared would end. My practice is my commitment.
SC: What advice would you give to someone concerning the temptation issue?
DJW: Every time you are tempted:
1) Acknowledge it
2) Make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE to overcome it
3) Acknowledge the benefits of your choice
4) Take swift action (once that choice is made)
5) Celebrate the choice, be responsible and accountable for it. This is definitely more challenging acting on the temptation, yet if you REALLY REWARD YOUR SUCCESS, you can do it!
SC: What advice would you give to someone concerning discouragement and motivation?
DJW: Find a person who has succeeded in what you want to succeed in. They have been there and done that and they will bring you up so you succeed!
SC: How do you bring God into your own personal routine?
DJW: Beyond my morning discipline that I shared in question 4, I talk to God all the time usually thanking him for the blessing of health and wellness. I never have nor will I ever take it for granted.
SC: What would you tell someone who wishes to embark upon a healthier lifestyle?
DJW: Practice breathing from you diaphragm and listen to your body. Body awareness must be a priority for success. Your body will tell you what it needs if you listen to it. Use warm and cold or what feels good and not so good (I don’t use the word bad). Your body (spirit) will ALWAYS TELL YOU. I tell my clients, I am the expert on how the body works. They are the experts of their body.
SC: What would you tell someone who has had setbacks in their pursuit of a healthier lifestyle?
DJW: Every day is a new day. You are ALIVE! Celebrate that and begin! It’s not beginning again. Just begin. Have the best day today, then repeat that when you awaken. It will become a habit sooner than you realize!
SC: What would you tell someone who believes it’s “too late?”
DJW: It’s never too late. I became a personal trainer at 33 and did my first body building show at 35 years old! My role model is 73 and she still competes and practices a healthy lifestyle. Just BEGIN!
Many of us who struggle and are in recovery have sought support, resources and connection for all kinds of addictions and compulsions, including drugs and alcohol. However, the eating disorder/body image issue, I believe, should also get just as much attention. Let’s face it: we cannot escape food and our bodies; we are daily confronted by these realities for our very survival.
God, however, has not desired for us to merely survive; He wants us to thrive as well.
Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 1:2
“…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10
So, let’s get some prospering souls- and bodies! God has created us to experience and enjoy the miracle known as our lives, through our incredible Temples.
“… I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14
Let’s have respect and acceptance for them today!