Most of us dread exercise. We really don’t want to do it. Yet together with losing weight, it’s one of the most popular New Year’s resolutions. Our culture promotes weight loss through exercise.
Many singles think of losing weight for dating. They want to make themselves more attractive to a potential partner. While seemingly harmless, that attitude inhibits joy in living.
Don’t get me wrong. Self-improvement is fantastic. Seeing that in a potential partner often increases attractiveness. The problem comes when we fail to recognize the interconnections between our constituent parts.
A model for living
Reaching for the best-lived life, many have proposed models of the different aspects of life. To me, such models have limited use. Yes, they can help to identify deficiencies in personal development and constructive paths to balance in daily living. But many also encourage compartmentalization, thereby robbing us of the joy of living in the moment.
Over the years I’ve developed my own model to describe the different aspects of life. It has four parts: the spirit (spiritual aspect, including values, ethics, and worship); the heart (emotional aspect, including all interrelationships); the mind (intellectual aspect, including learning and culture); and the body (interface with the physical world, including health, career, and finances).
Although the spirit resides in the center, each of the four parts interfaces with the other three. A deficiency or imbalance in any one element strains the rest. Thus, we must nourish each part for a whole and balanced life.
Caring for more than the body
In my experience, this effect goes both ways. Just as neglecting one area can diminish the rest, expanding our perspective on an activity typically associated with one of the four areas can also strengthen the rest. This effect heightens the joy from the overall experience.
Exercise provides a good example. So many of us think of exercise as simply caring for the body, and it is. But any perspective ending here will limit our enjoyment of life. Exercise can provide a total experience when we expand our perspective to include the other three elements of living.
I posted before on how exercise-induced asthma has provided me with many challenges. Those challenges provided opportunities for learning which strengthened my mind. Collecting performance data and assessing results often revealed the next step in my journey. Learning more about the nature of my challenges and devising ways to overcome them has brought great mental stimulation.
As I continued my quest for higher performance, I’ve learned to love myself more and be more forgiving when my performance falls short of aspirations. In this way exercise has helped to increase my emotional well-being. When you care for something every day, it’s hard to hate it, imperfect though it may be.
Finally, we Latter-day Saints have spoken of the body as both a temple and a stewardship. Viewed in this light, exercise acquires a spiritual element. Exercise then becomes a spiritual meditation in which we glorify God by caring for His creation. I can’t tell you how many times my runs have helped me feel nearer to God.
Feeding the spirit while neglecting the body, which is a temple, usually leads to spiritual dissonance and lowered self-esteem. If you are out of shape, if you are uncomfortable in your own body and can do something about it, then do it!
Therefore, please use good judgment in what and especially how much you eat, and regularly give your body the exercise it needs and deserves. If you are physically able, decide today to be the master of your own house and begin a regular, long-term exercise program, suited to your abilities, combined with a healthier diet. Spiritual confidence increases when your spirit, with the help of the Savior, is truly in charge of your natural man or woman.
Many singles approach physical activity with a narrow attitude. Instead of exercising to lose weight to attract a dating partner, we should exercise with the interconnected view of each aspect of our lives. That perspective increases our confidence in both God and ourselves. And it’s that confidence that will attract the kind of companion we really want much more than any exercise program focused on simply changing our physical bodies.
All of Elder Klebingat’s address is top notch. Didn’t read it or need a refresher? Follow the link I gave earlier. Or watch it right here. No matter what, own your life. Always do something suited to your personal situation that will move you into more positive territory.
Speaking of which, I need to go run.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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