Choosing a healthier lifestyle

Written by: Shane Cronje

Health, healthy living, and total well-being are all topics vastly covered in today’s fitness and health industry.  But, is there more to it?  Does it have any true, long-lasting benefits?  In the end will investing in my health, make me a happier human being, physically, emotionally and even spiritually?  If so, why hasn’t it worked for me?  Why do I keep reverting to an unhealthy lifestyle?

Francis Bacon, an English philosopher, and scientist in the late 15oos aptly put it:

A healthy body is a guest-chamber for the soul; a sick body is a prison.

 Invest in Your Health

From my own experience, I can honestly say investing in my physical health has been a great assist towards my overall growth. Not only have I grown as an individual through this journey, but also as a mother, friend and even a member of general society.

I have always been very physically active, but often to the extent to where it affected me negatively rather than positively.  Why?  Because I only focused on one dimension of healthy living – forcing my body to put out more than I invested into it.  Whether that was through physical nourishment or emotional/mental/ and spiritual nourishment.   The latter two being as important as the first.  What am I saying?

I’m saying that for a healthy lifestyle to truly trickle through to all areas of your life, it has to be well-rounded.  Your physical output and physical/mental and spiritual nourishment have to be in balance.

Finding the Balance

As a dancer, I would exert myself to the point of absolute burnout and injuries.  I needed surgical attention before I would take the time to reset, rest and refocus.  This was the pattern of my life up until I fell pregnant with my first little girl.

At this point, I was just coming off of a burnout phase and had spent two months intensely focussing on my physical health and recovery.  I had been doing an intensive detox when the news, that I was now growing a little human inside of me, brought about a complete mind shift.  In the past, the focus had always been on the physical.  Fix the physical appearance; focus on the physical and everything else would be okay.  But this was never true for me.

Appearance can only take you that far and then, whatever is festering on the inside, physically or spiritually, will start to seep out somewhere.  In my case, it was always all guns blazing to the point of depression and total anxiety.

When I realised that I was pregnant, I was forced to take it easier on my body and to rest more because I had awful morning sickness.  I just wasn’t able to exert myself as usual, but I also still felt that I needed to keep my focus and well, sleep, really sleep!  These are all things that benefitted my physical well-being greatly.  It was a journey that started a new, very positive cycle, of nurturing and loving.  Somehow I had found a balance between physical output, nourishing, rest and spiritual meditation.

So, how is this applicable to you?  You might not be growing a baby or pursuing a career as a professional athlete, but are you truly fulfilled and purpose-driven?  I firmly believe that a healthy lifestyle, where you meet your physical needs, with the right nutrition, emotional well-being and most importantly, spiritual nourishment, is the beginning of true fulfillment.

The Hard Facts

Now let’s get just a little geeky for a minute.  What actually happens in our brains during exercise?  Yes, yes, we release endorphins, the happy hormone, but this you already knew, right?  In fact, we are also triggering a form of stress management within the brain known as BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor) or simply the “fight or flight” factor.

During this process, your brain actually undergoes a process of memory neuron reset, where the brain is basically resetting itself and you experience more clarity and a refreshed state of mind because of it.  This is similar to what happens when you sleep, but just to a greater degree.  This, coupled with the release of endorphins, (the happy hormone, that’s telling your brain it is ok, you are are not dying, this is good for you), is why exercise is so beneficial.

But, and this is a very big BUT, if you are asking your body to constantly put out more than it is receiving through other forms of nourishment, you are leaving your body in a state of fight or flight, which pushes up your cortisol levels and these are the guys we don’t want flooding our bodies.  They are commonly known as just plain stress.  This again brings along a whole variety of problems, from weight gain to sleeplessness, to mood swings to anxiety.

Bottom line

So, if we are putting pen to paper, what are the effects of healthy living on my physical, emotional and spiritual well-being?

Physically

We are giving our bodies the right building blocks to perform at our highest level of functionality. We are stronger and fitter and can do menial, daily tasks with more ease.  We are also feeding our bodies with healthy, nutritious foods which allows it to process daily stress from the outside better and be able to put out more energy.

I’m thinking, helo moms with toddlers, you need to eat to be able to run after those babies all day!!

Mentally

As mentioned above, we are constantly resetting our brains in the form of detoxing and mental refreshment.  This allows us to have clarity of mind and be able to focus on, not only what’s important to us, but also to be happier and friendlier and overall easier to live with.

Spiritually

Lastly, if we are always at the point of burnout it is physically impossible to put our spiritual well-being first.  You are constantly letting your spirit take a back seat because you are struggling to just love the parts of you, you can see – not to mention the parts you can’t.

This is a tricky one though because it truly goes both ways.  If we are not constantly plugging into God, we are not able to muster up the strength to take those initial steps towards healthy living to start off with.  The Bible says it best,

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

If we are not nourishing our mental health and getting the right input spiritually, ultimately our bodies will start to deteriorate and suffer.

Bringing it all together, I want to say, start with love.  Make the decision today to start loving and taking care of yourself.  Here are some practical steps:

  • Plug into the source of the true living God.
  • Choose to create a healthier lifestyle, so that you will have the drive to keep seeking love over neglect.
  • Find the cycle of love in your life.
  • Grow from there.

It takes little steps of daily reprogramming your body.  You have to have the right mindset:  to go on a journey of becoming a healthier you.  Take it easy and one step at a time, but make the choice to love now!

About the author:

Shane is a green-at-heart, mommy by day, fitness instructor by night, but most of all passionate lover of Jesus.  She aspires to be a lifestyle blogger and healthy living influencer.  Her ultimate goal is to encourage other families to pursue a greener lifestyle, leaving a more beautiful footprint on this earth.

You can follow her on Instagram

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