Life Balance Check, Part 2: Health
August 27, 2019
by Peter Amsterdam
Life Balance Check, Part 2: Health
Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.—3 John 2 ESV
Our bodies are an amazing gift from God, and it is our duty to Him to take care of them. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit. We are not our own.1
In respecting and taking care of our bodies, we are respecting God. Honoring God’s laws of health puts us in the best position to be healthy, mobile, active, and live a vibrant life as we seek to fulfill God’s plan for our lives.
As Parker Palmer wrote,
“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can … give it the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch.”2
Highlights from Effortless Healing
From time to time, I come across an article or a book that brings new insight and gives me a boost of encouragement or some new information regarding health, which results in renewed motivation. One such book that was recommended to me is Effortless Healing—9 Simple Ways to Sidestep Illness, Shed Excess Weight, and Help Your Body Fix Itself, by Dr. Joseph Mercola, a New York Times bestselling author. (Dr. Mercola is the founder of the natural health resource mercola.com.3)
The beauty of this book is its simplicity—it feels doable. It provides information that is simple, affordable, and easy to put into practice. Mercola lists nine main health-supporting categories which he suggests are helpful to maintaining good health. You may not be able to do all of them; you might choose a few to focus on in order to help your health. The categories are:
- Drink plenty of pure water.
- Eat lots of vegetables.
- Burn fat for fuel. (Add healthy fats to your diet—such as coconut oil, olive oil, olives, butter, eggs, avocados, and nuts.)
- Get sun, have sufficient Vitamin D.
- Maintain your gut flora to protect your immune system. (Take probiotics or eat fermented foods.)
- Get sufficient sleep.
- Discharge negative energy in your body by going barefoot on the earth (“grounding” for about 20 minutes a day).
- Avoid unhealthy “health foods.” (Such things as sugar-filled yogurt, boxed cereals, sports drinks, etc.)
Obviously, this is not the all in all about health, and there are other good resources, but this information is basic and not overwhelming. Dr. Mercola’s point of view is that these are the key focuses for good health. Of course, there are many points of view and schools of thought concerning health and diet, but I found Dr. Mercola’s key points beneficial. They gave me a starting point and I have benefited by focusing on the ones that I have been most in need of.
“Good night, sleep tight!”
I want to elaborate a bit on sleep. In the past, I struggled to get enough sleep. I was often exhausted throughout the day, which was likely due to my not allowing enough time for sleep. The following comments from Arianna Huffington rang true to me. She wrote this after she had collapsed from exhaustion, a fall that resulted in a broken cheekbone.
We live under this collective delusion that sleep is optional and that people are busy and have important things to do, and that sleep is something that we can basically shortchange ourselves of.
It’s a little bit like going back to the 1950s and people believing that smoking is glamorous, and you had doctors advertising cigarettes on television. Sleep deprivation is the new smoking, affecting our health, affecting our productivity, and affecting our happiness.
I remember all of the times I’ve been jet-lagged and sleep-deprived, and it’s hard to bring joy to your life. It’s hard to be grateful. It’s hard to enjoy what you’re doing. That on top of the health problems and the productivity problems means that we really need to course-correct both as individuals and as a culture.4
Charles Czeisler, a sleep specialist, agrees.
“Missing a night’s sleep degrades our neurobehavioral performance”—that is, our mental acuity—“by the equivalent to being legally drunk,” he says. And, he warns, “this doesn’t only apply if you miss one night’s sleep completely; you’ll see similar effects if you simply sleep too little each night over time.”5
Don’t be afraid of the doctor
At different times in your life, you may need medical attention—you may be pregnant; you may be recovering from an illness; you may be getting older and experiencing the natural process of aging. And if you have a health condition that requires medical care or ongoing treatment or preventative treatment, it’s important to invest the time, attention, and finances needed to take care of it rather than dismissing it.
Some of us might need to reevaluate our reluctance to see a doctor and to take on a more positive view of the help they can give. We should also be careful about self-diagnosis. A health problem might be something simple, or it could be something serious that needs attention; therefore, it’s recommended to get regular medical checkups. While going to the doctor’s office in order to get an overall health check isn’t my favorite activity, I’ve made a point to try to get a yearly checkup, and doing so has been useful. It’s generally better for doctors to find that you have a medical issue at an early stage rather than later when it’s much further along, and having yearly checkups can facilitate that.
Generally speaking, men in particular don’t like to go to the doctor.
USA Today reports:
“A tight schedule. Ignorance is bliss. Uncomfortable physical exams. According to a survey commissioned by Orlando Health, those are the top three reasons why men don’t go to the doctor.”6
Anna Almendrala reports:
“Men tend to die earlier than women, are more likely to die from eight out of the ten top causes of death in the U.S. than women, and are also more likely to smoke and drink excessively.
“But there’s another very simple, easy to fix problem: Men just don’t go to the doctor as much as women do. …
“A new online survey commissioned by the Orlando Health hospital system hints at why men may be so reluctant to see doctors. According to the survey results, a mix of busyness, fear, shame and discomfort kept them out of the doctor’s office.”7
Guys, if you are reluctant to have medical checkups, you should ask the Lord to help you to get over your reluctance—and that goes for any of you women who may be avoiding trips to the doctor as well. Having a yearly exam with basic blood work that shows where you stand with the most important health markers such as blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, etc., is very helpful and can either show that all is well or can help you catch a health problem before it becomes serious.
The heavenly perspective
No matter how well we take care of our bodies, we are, of course, all going to die. The goal is to live our lives as best we can, in obedience to God’s Word and practical health guidelines, for as long as the Lord wills. When it comes our time to pass on to the next world, I’m sure we all want to do so knowing that, to the best of our ability, we took care of God’s gift to us, our body. If we aren’t doing that already, then we need to start today.
Here’s a relevant excerpt on this topic:
In Psalm 39, David prays: “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (v. 4). From his wise prayer we learn the following:
One: We do not know the brevity of life. Most of us think we have more time than we do. We are seldom ready for the end to come. Maybe next week or next month, but not today.
Two: Only God can reveal the shortness of life to us in a convincing way. This is why David makes this a prayer rather than an observation.
Three: If we do not ask God to impress on us the brevity of our lives, we will waste our days. If we do, we will value our time with urgency.
After asking God to help him understand the brevity of his life, David prayed, “I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers” (Psalm 39:12). His admission calls to mind an old Jewish parable.
A famous rabbi lived very simply, inhabiting a small hut with only a cot, desk, chair, and lamp for furnishings. An American tourist came to visit the rabbi and commented on his sparse lifestyle.
The rabbi replied to the tourist, “I don’t see many possessions with you today.” The tourist explained, “But I’m only passing through.”
The rabbi said, “So am I.”8
Lord help each of us to take good care of our bodies as we “pass through” this life on our way to the next. May we be faithful and diligent to do so, by God’s grace.
1 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own (1 Corinthians 6:19 NIV).
2 Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation (John Wiley & Sons, 2015), 25.
3 The book is by Harmony Crown, 2016. The website is https://www.mercola.com/.
4 Nancy Trejos, “Arianna Huffington’s tips for sleeping and beating jet lag,” USA TODAY, June 14, 2016.
5 Brett Arends, “A Full Night’s Sleep Can Really Pay Off,” Wall Street Journal, September 18, 2014.
6 Samantha Nelson, “Coast-to-coast tour asks men to drop excuses about their health,” USA TODAY, June 15, 2016.
7 Anna Almendrala, “Here’s Why Men Don’t Like Going To The Doctor,” Huffington Post, June 13, 2016.
8 Jim Denison, The Denison Forum, February 9, 2018, https://www.christianheadlines.com/columnists/denison-forum/down-syndrome-child-is-gerber-s-spokesbaby-of-the-year.html.