True health isn’t about what we look like

Written by Abby Ciona

In the past year, I made a goal to live a healthier lifestyle. It started well. I formed a daily exercise routine and focused on eating natural, fresh foods from all food groups.

But over time, my health began to consume my thoughts. A swirl of anxieties filled my head: Am I eating too much or too little? How do I get all the nutrients I need in one day? Do I need to get more exercise? In my quest to live a healthier lifestyle, I was becoming trapped in unhealthy fear.

It’s so easy to be pressured by the messages of our health-crazed culture. We’re bombarded by damaging standards of what health looks like in advertisements, entertainment, and the media. Often these messages are tainted with the idea of appearances—of a “perfect” body, which is an unattainable goal. This shifts the focus so the motivation to become healthy is rooted in looking better, not taking care of yourself. 

Health goes beyond just superficial attempts to look or feel good, and it’s not a one-time accomplishment. Health is a lifelong journey, involving physical, mental, and spiritual growth. I’m learning the best way to find freedom from the world’s pressures is to focus on the truth amid the lies. This means looking at what God defines as healthy.

God doesn’t tell us to follow a strict list of rules to be healthy. True health isn’t about what we look like. It isn’t about how far we can run, how many weights we can lift, or how many servings of fruits we have in a day. It isn’t being free from disease, never getting sick, or being happy all the time.

The goal isn’t perfection by worldly standards. The goal is to glorify God through a lifestyle of choices that love Him, love others, and take care of the bodies He has given us (1 Corinthians 10:31).

 The world claims that healthy is beautiful, but God created us beautiful even before we were born (Psalm 139). He tells us He made us unique. He made us the way we are for a reason and a purpose: to glorify Him.

In Luke 12:22-24, Jesus reminds us that life is more than what we eat. Life is more than the size of our clothing. God tells us not to stress over our appearance, because He cares far more about our hearts and our relationship with Him (1 Samuel 16:7).

We don’t need to agonize over physical fitness because our spiritual health—our relationship with Jesus—is infinitely more important than anything else (1 Timothy 4:8).

The world gives us a checklist of what we need to do to be healthy. We will be healthy if we exercise, if we lose weight, if we eat this, or if we use these health products.

Jesus offers us an expanded version of health—one that gives us hope even when our physical bodies remain sick, limited, or disabled.

As Christians, we know that in heaven we’ll find restored health and there will be no more pain or suffering.

Jesus has already accepted us when we turn to Him. We don’t need to follow a strict exercise routine, eat certain foods, or do anything to earn His love and forgiveness. We can find peace from the pressures of the world by resting in Him and reminding ourselves of the value we have as God’s children (Matthew 11:28-30).

But even though we don’t need to be trapped in a secular view of health, it’s still important and God-honouring to take care of our bodies. If you’re struggling with your health, you’re not alone. It’s important to surround yourself with people who will encourage and support you. There is no shame in reaching out to a pastor, counsellor, or doctor.

Scripture tells us that we are made in the image of God, and our response should be treating our bodies with respect. A vital part of a healthy lifestyle is keeping God the focus and centre of our health and of all we do (1 Corinthians 10:31).

We all have good and bad days with our health, but God loves us when we are at our best and when we are at our worst. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39). It’s only through Jesus that we can discover what true health looks like. It’s only through Him we can find freedom and peace, knowing we are fully and unconditionally loved and accepted.