A follow-up thought to the post about “Thinking outside the box”. The New Year is a time for resolutions, especially resolving to be healthy. Every New Year, new gym memberships are sold, new diets are begun, and new commitments are made to at last get all of our unhealthy habits in check. This instinct is to be commended, but it seems to me that making these resolutions at the beginning of the New Year leaves us starting at a disadvantage. As I write this, I have a month of heavy social commitments, family obligations, and to be frank, heavy eating ahead of me. The chances are, if I am not careful, at this time next month I could be five to ten pounds heavier than I am now. And it’s not just about the extra weight we inevitably put during the holiday season or the extra girth we add, it is about the balance we lose because of the nature of the season.
But here’s the good news, for Christians, the New Year comes early. The Church Year gives us, as Christians, a head start on the beginning again. The new Church Year begins with Advent, which usually starts around the end of November or beginning of December. What is Advent all about? It is about our waiting and expectation for the coming of Christ. At once we remember that he came many years ago to us a child in Bethlehem, and he is to come again, at the end of days. We are also reminded, though, that he comes to us again, and again, and again. He is always coming to us, giving us a fresh start, new life, and new hope. This is good news, indeed. We are also reminded that all we have is a gift, and his presence in our lives helps us to nurture the gift of this life.
Our health and well-being matter to God. We are stewards of these bodies, these minds, these spirits that are given to us. We remember the words of Scripture: the one who raised Christ from the dead will breath new life into these mortal bodies. Can we allow God to breath new life into us when we have not tended to our health as much as we perhaps should have? Remember, we serve the one who says, “Behold, I am making all things new!”
Let’s fast-forward to January 1. It’s also a time for a new start and chances are, improving your health will be one of your top 5 resolutions. There’s heightened excitement and anticipation as you wipe the slate clean and begin the start of the healthier you. This can (and often does) quickly turn to disappointment or feeling overwhelmed at the task at hand especially if you’re not sure how to begin. Then there’s the struggle with a choice – deciding whether a gym, a personal trainer, signing up for an exercise program or a multitude of other options is the best one. Further burdening the start is the self-doubt as to whether you can do this, especially given you have an additional 7lbs you recently acquired with the excess consumption from the holiday season (probably added on to the tally from the season before, which you never managed to lose). You’re now looking up a steep mountain and not sure where to begin so action paralysis kicks in along with the comforting words you say to yourself “Don’t worry, I can start tomorrow”. And we all know how that story unfolds.
Let’s return to the NOW. Here’s where we can have the leg up on creating a healthier life. Let’s think outside the box! How about starting your steps to a healthier you today? Instead of barrelling into and through the Advent and Christmas season with the thought, “Oh well, I’ll get back on the treadmill in January,” can we start right now, as Advent unfolds, and treat this as our New Year, our new beginning? What if we got to January 1 with a “leg up”? What if we were already attentive to our physical and spiritual well-being, our overall health before the secular New Year rolled around? What if we had a plan in hand to combat the potential to gain an extra 5 – 10lbs? What if we took some time now to work out some of the kinks (because there will be kinks) as you change towards healthier living? Imagine the kind of momentum you’ll be gifting yourself towards success if you’re already following an exercise and eating regimen.
I have struggled with issues of weight gain and healthy eating most of my adult life. I have found that leaving it until tomorrow never gets me anywhere. It is those moments when I wake up and say “today is the day”, and begin afresh, that find myself on the path to health and wholeness. As I challenge myself to begin again, so I would like to challenge each of you, this Advent, to begin again. Treat this Advent as the New Year. Over the next four weeks, I will offer some steps you can follow that can help you on your journey to health. They may or may not work for you, but I have found them helpful – and I plan to follow them too. I hope as I post my thoughts, you will post what you have found helpful on your journey. The best way to get healthy is to do it together and support one another. Let’s go into the secular New Year with a leg up, in health and wholeness of life!
Let’s focus on:
- Living healthier and building strength instead of weight loss.
- Accepting that being uncomfortable in the short run is part of the process.
- Planning ahead to make the process of change more manageable.
- Creating new routines which ultimately sets you on a course towards success.
- Understanding the triggers to success and those that can lead to stumbling.
I’m going to lay out a plan for both you and me to follow over the next 4 weeks. The plan will be laid out in stages so that it’s not overwhelming. Let’s keep things simple and manageable. I’ll provide a detailed post with the first stage which will include:
- Setting goals
- Barriers to success
- Creating a support system
- Baseline measurement so you can track your progress