The Beginning of a Healthier You

God Cares About Your Health

“And he said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on’” (Luke 12:22).

Just as God provides us with the tools to grow spiritually healthy, he also gives us the tools needed to grow physically healthy as well. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Our body, as well as our soul, belongs to God, and just as we study the Bible to grow spiritually healthy, we also need to take care of our physical body.

It’s been a long, uphill struggle most of the time for me to maintain and lose weight. My family has a history of diabetes, and it’s important that I maintain a lower weight. When the Atkins diet came out, it was something that I tried. It cuts the carbohydrates out of your diet. I lost weight. However, this diet is only meant for short-term use, and when I went back to eating regularly, I gained the weight back. It was frustrating.

Next, I tried Weight Watchers, which worked–sort of. I was maintaining my weight but not really losing any. By the time I went to college I was discouraged. In my sophomore year I found something that helped me lose weight (even while eating the school’s food!). So far I have lost twenty pounds, and I hope to lose more. It is called the Best Life Diet by Bob Greene.

The New Food Pyramid

This is the newer version of the food pyramid (it now includes EXERCISE), and it can be found on this USDA website. The food pyramid is intended to help people take in a balanced diet. Find something you like to eat –don’t force yourself to eat it if you don’t like it. To do this, my recommendation is to plan out your meals and to write down everything you eat; this way you are accountable to yourself and are less likely to cheat. Cheating can set you back, so staying within your plan and satisfying your sweet tooth requires creativity. I like Quaker Caramel Corn Rice Cakes (there are other flavors available), Fig Newton cookies (strawberry), and Real Italian Ice. Also, you want to talk to your doctor and see if he or she has any other tips or guidelines for you to follow. Remember, every one of us is unique in what our body needs.

Exercise is the second part of the new pyramid. This is a word that I hate–exercise is something that I dislike doing. It’s also something that I get up early in the morning before class to do. By exercising, you boost your metabolism for a short while, so even when you’re done, your metabolism stays up and you burn more calories. You can learn more about that on the Body and Fitness website.

It’s important to start out slowly and build up as you go along. Start with 15–20 minutes every two or three days. Build up to 30–45 minutes every one or two days. Remember: TAKE YOUR TIME. It’s also easier to start exercising if you plan for it and write it down. Again, talk to your doctor.

While staying active is synonymous with exercise, it doesn’t have to seem like exercise (treadmill, stationary bikes, Stairmasters, weights, etc.). I like to swim and play racquet ball with my friends. Other great summer activities include bike riding, canoeing, roller skating, hiking, and caving. If you’re not into the more active ideas listed, you could even go vacationing and shop all day. So long as you’re moving, it’s considered exercise. And the important thing to remember: have fun.

However, a word of advice if you choose to get in your exercise in the sun: use sun block. Sun block prevents damage to the upper layers of skin by blocking ultraviolet rays. Sunscreen prevents damage from occurring to the living cells below the surface layers, but it does not block ultraviolet rays. More information on the differences between sun products can be found here.

For those of you with a lighter skin tone, use sun block with a higher SPF number. SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. It’s measured by comparing sun resistance for those with and without sun block. For example, if a person normally burns in ten minutes, SPF 15 will delay the onset of a sunburn for about 150 minutes, allowing the person to stay out in the sun fifteen times longer. But remember to RE-APPLY (especially after getting out the water).

One great summer idea to combine both health and fitness is having a picnic. You could pack it your-self to keep track of what you’re eating, and you could walk or ride your bike to the picnic site.

Food of the Month: Grapes

Grapes are a great source of antioxidants, and these antioxidants have been shown to reduce cardiovascular and cancer risks (it can even inhibit breast cancer cell growth). They are rich in ellegic acid, which also helps fight cancer. Grapes come in many colors: blue, red, purple, black, golden, and green are the most common. The different pigments can improve immune responsiveness. New research also suggests that grape juice can promote brain health and delay neurodegenerative diseases. Drinking dark purple grape juice and similar juices (blueberry and blackberry) three times a week reduces your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease by around 70 percent. For more information , about the health benefits of grapes, click here.

If anyone has any comments, suggestions, tips for a healthier lifestyle, topics you would like me to discuss, or a story to share, please send them to Pierce My Heart and I will try to post as many as possible.

By Megan Skinner

[poll id=”4″]

[poll id=”6″]