All of my difficulties and successes have guided me to choose to take my health in control, and to help others do the same.
When I was younger my dad got a free workout VHS in the mail. It had only one exercise routine. My Dad loved that tape, and wanted my sister and I to work out with him all the time. I value his desire to want us to be healthy, but I got tired of doing the same boring exercise routine. Even to this day I have those workout moves seared onto my brain; visions of their ‘80s outfits and all. I would have given anything to purchase a newer workout exercise, especially one with variety and better outfits! But I do believe that my Dad’s example of wanting to be healthy and active continues to motivate and remind me of the kind of example I want to be.
As I entered into my teen years, I discovered soccer. My team played year round, alternating between outdoor and indoor soccer. We were all good friends, and encouraged one another on the field. During these years I learned a lot about what hard work looks like, and the drive needed in order to win. I wasn’t the best at sports, but I did better working together with other people because they helped me with accountability and encouragement.
At this point I hadn’t learned much about how to make healthy food a priority. So entering into the college scene, I didn’t make wise food choices. I didn’t know how to resist the all-you-can-eat cafeteria. To make the situation worse, I stopped playing sports so I started packing on the pounds quickly.
When I met my husband, I was the heaviest I had ever been. I wore baggie clothing to hide my figure, and I didn’t want to take care of myself. But when we became pregnant I was forced to take my health seriously. I was admitted into the doctor’s office multiple times, ER visits which led to extended hospital stays, and then finally needing a pump to inject medicine into my body. I was the sickest I had ever been in my life. It was called Hyperemesis gravidarum, which is uncontrollable morning sickness. I had to quickly learn what nutrients my body, and my babies, needed in order to survive. Even to this day I have little panic attacks about starving and being dehydrated. This time in my life was one of my darkest, and I would never wish that sickness on anyone. The experience was a catalyst in my life to make sure I was fueling my body with the right foods.
After the birth of my first-born I fell into a fog. I neglected everything that I had learned: I wasn’t active, I wasn’t eating healthy, I wasn’t learning or growing, or taking time to be in God’s Word. This was another hard point in my life because I didn’t know what was happening; I just new that I didn’t like myself anymore. It wasn’t until after the birth of my second child that I went to go seek a counselor for help. I then realized that I had sunk into a depression. During my visit with him, he said something that helped me get out of my depression, and it has continued to help shape who I am today.
This was my biggest take-away from meeting with my counselor:
I am composed of three parts: body, mind and spirit. And I need to take care of each part, not neglecting any.
-Am I taking care of my body? Am I being active? Eating well?
-Am I exercising my mind? Am I learning? Engaging in relationships?
-Am I growing in love for Christ? Am I reading my Bible? Sharing Christ with others?
When one part is being neglected, I can’t function fully the way God intended. I wasn’t taking care of myself (body, mind or spirit) so I sank into a depression. I needed to take what I learned from my active years, and what I learned about nutrition from being sick, and what I learned from reading my Bible growing up and start to use it to grow. I started to give myself small goals like doing dance parties in the kitchen, or just listening to Christian radio. Each small goal helped me take a step in the right direction.
An overflow of taking care of myself has been my ability to help other people.
In order to be there for others you first need to look after yourself. It all starts with you. If you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be strong enough to take are of anyone else. Because I’m focusing on taking care of myself (body, mind and spirit) I’m able to invest my life into others. I’m able to be a better wife, mother, friend, mentor and youth leader.