Be the Change You Want To See

I love the gym. Not the floofy classes or the cushy easy-glide equipment, but the plate weights and the dumbbells and the free bars. I love the ‘real’ stuff – the stuff that I grew up with. The stuff that I know… that I understand… that I am comfortable with.

I got out of bed early this morning and hit the gym for the first time in weeks. The reality of my life is this: if I don’t steal the time for myself before the house wakes, I don’t make it happen.

I get tired.

I get lazy.

The ‘things’ of the day begin to suck at my skin and I just can’t get my mind right to put for the energy for a workout.

So, when a morning begins like it did today… me awake, the house asleep, iPod full of the best tunes, lots of sweat, 64 ounces of water before 7:30am, and tingling in my muscles, I am sooo thankful for my early years:

  • I’m thankful that working out wasn’t an option – it just was.
  • I’m thankful that my dad didn’t talk fitness… he lived fitness.
  • I’m thankful that my parents raised me so my body would never be a burden; I was raised to be in control of my physical being.
  • I am thankful the gym was home to me and, no matter how much time passes between my visits, I always return with comfort and ease.

That’s what growing up in bodybuilding did for me: it built a foundation of health. No, I’m not a bodybuilder – and, no, I have no desire to spend four hours a day in the gym… even if I had that kind of time in my day. BUT – growing up in bodybuilding grew a foundational desire in me to never let my body get away from me.

I learned from eating and breathing bodybuilding, day in and day out, that my body will be exactly what I feed it and train it to be. Period.

The funny thing is I’m positive my dad wasn’t intentionally training me all those years. He never pulled out a notebook with goals and milestones and ‘things I must teach my daughter before she’s 18’. He never sat me down and delivered bodybuilding sermons, or pontificated on the value of multiple reps and sets for each muscle group. No – my dad just was who he was and I learned by simply walking through life by his side.

Proverbs 22:6 promises that what we teach our children in their youth is what will stay with them:

“Point your kids in the right direction— when they’re old they won’t be lost.” (The Message Bible)

Or, another way it’s said is: “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (NIV)

Today, just as I am reminded of the importance of the example I am living for my kids, I hope you’re reminded of the same.

Who WE are is who are children will become.

  • Our view of food will be their view of food.
  • How we handle trials will be how they handle trials.
  • How we value our bodies will be how they value their bodies.
  • How we love our spouse will be how they love their spouse.
  • How we respect ourselves will be how they respect themselves.

What WE do and who WE are matters far more than what we say.

  • We can’t preach ‘be kind’ if we ourselves are unkind.
  • We can’t preach ‘be healthy’ if we ourselves are unhealthy.
  • We can’t preach ‘be modest’ if we ourselves are immodest.
  • We can’t preach ‘be humble’ if we ourselves are full of ourselves and puffed up with pride.
  • We can’t preach ‘have faith’ if we ourselves are faith-less.

So today, mamas, let’s walk strong with eyes wide open. Let’s be the women we hope our girls will become.

Let’s be kind so they will learn kindness.

Let’s be generous so they will learn generosity.

Let’s be forgiving so they will learn forgiveness.

Let’s be patient so they will learn patience.

Let’s be bold so they will learn boldness.

Let’s be joyful so they will learn joy.

Let’s be thankful so they will learn thankfulness.

May our homes be where our children eat and breathe life and love and Truth, day in and day out…. so when they grow old, they will not depart from it.

Practical Health

There is a beautiful verse in the Bible that gives instruction on how to imprint Truth on the generations that follow us, and it says:

Fix [these Truths] in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates…

(Deuteronomy 11: 18-20)

While this verse was written for a people desiring to teach spiritual truths to their generations, it is great instruction for anything we wish to imprint on our children. Our children are our “mini-disciples”, if you will. Everything we do and say is funneling straight into their hearts and minds whether we like it or not. Pretty humbling, isn’t it.

So, when it comes to the concept of “health” in our home, I take this verse to heart:

Our principals of health are FIXED. The same rules for health must apply whether we are in our home, or out in the world. Even when we are pressed for time or on the go-go-go, we make it a point to make choices that support what we want our children to learn about being “healthy” and living a “healthy lifestyle”.

Our principals of health are OBVIOUS. We are not “deceptively delicious” in our home. The food I buy, the food I cook, what I put into their lunches, what I put into my own lunches – all of these things are “symbols” to my children of what “health” looks like. They can identify they healthy foods they’re eating and they know why it’s good for them.  Furthermore, my physical body (as well as my husband’s) is a “symbol” to my children, as well. If I want to raise children that will be fit, I (we) must first be fit myself. If I want my children to be active, I (we) must be active myself.

Our principals of health are TAUGHT. We are teaching our children through conversation; we TALK about health and healthy choices at all times of the day and in all things. We talk about how our bodies and minds are a reflection of what we’re putting into them, so we must pay attention to what we look like and how we are feeling. We talk about how food makes us feel and how the right choices will empower, and the wrong choices will wear us down. We talk about food commercials we see; we read and discuss every label; we educate on the vitamins, minerals and nutrients our bodies need from the good, whole foods we intake.

Our principals of health are WRITTEN. Our truth is “written” on our home in the sense that anyone who enters will clearly understand how we live. You will an abundance of whole foods – veggies and fruits of every color and variety, beans, grains. Our freezer is stocked with fish and chicken, our pantry is stocked with nuts and dried fruit. We keep our “treats” in what we call the “naughty cabinet”… any the stuff in the “naughty cabinet” is the stuff we don’t eat on a regular basis – the stuff that doesn’t nourish us and make us feel good, but that we all want to have because it’s nice to have a treat sometimes.

The world is full of junk and, I’m not naive: my kids are going out into the world and are going to have to make choices on their own. But this is why my heart is not to force good food on them or “deceive” them with cookies made out of yams, but instead to empower them to live well with knowledge, understanding and practical ways to make choices in a junk-filled world.

My goals are simple:

I want my kids to live amazing lives and I never want their physical body to prevent them for doing whatever they may desire to do.

I want my kids to have a desire for health so deep within them that they make choices not because I said so, but because they want to.

I want my kids to know the taste of real, whole food and crave it because it makes them feel so darn good to eat it.

I want them to use food to nourish themselves – and to always feel they can exercise self-control no matter what goodies they’re faced with.

I want my kids to know that being healthy is not a burden; and, that even when pressed for time, good choices can still be made.

I want my kids to THRIVE and LEAD and SHINE. THIS is why I make the choices for our home that I do.  Because it’s not about me  – it’s about them, and it’s about their children, and it’s about their children’s children.

A healthy, prosperous life for generations to come starts with ME. It starts with YOU.