How practical health choices effect those around us

Written by Cindy Palin

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed one blustery winter afternoon and noticed a post from a friend. She announced she had walked 365 days in a row without fail. As my mind began playing reruns of her walking stories, a surge of pride rose in my spirit. Her perseverance encouraged me and made me smile.

Bundled up from head to toe, leaning into the wind and snow, Laura reminded me of a famous slogan Herodotos, a Greek historian, said 2,500 years ago: “Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.”

Alongside being a dedicated walker, Laura Neaves is a certified Keto coach. I asked her what inspired her recent certification and fitness regime. “I was frustrated with feeling unwell in both mind and body and recognized a deep desire to explore and experience a healthy longevity,” she says. I reflected on the frenzied wellness wagons I had jumped on and left behind so many times before. Laura’s long-term lifestyle approach sounded like a better solution than a quick fix.

As a Christian, Laura has found her new lifestyle has positively impacted her faith and opened up opportunities to love others. “My choice to take care of myself ensures I have the strength to take care of others,” she says. “Exercise and eating well are not about losing weight but about becoming stronger.”

This idea expresses a precious truth. A healthy diet and fitness routine benefits the individual, yes, but it can also have impacts on an entire community. Thinking this way has prompted me to see personal training in a new light, perhaps even as a team sport, and myself as a team member.

Part of developing a healthy lifestyle involves balancing life’s many pulls and establishing which routines are most important. Non-negotiables, Laura calls them. Her non-negotiables include a Bible reading program, an exercise routine, and continued daily education, such as watching a YouTube video while washing dishes or listening to a podcast while running errands.

Another aspect is finding rhythms that focus our thoughts. How do we decipher what information is valuable and what isn’t? How do we know when to turn on the information feed, and when to turn it off? How do we meet our goals if our thoughts get derailed?

“I walk every day, mostly for my mind,” Laura says. “I get out of my house and out of my head. As I surround myself with nature and breathe in the fresh air, I pray.” Our journeys toward health and wellness also involve getting to know God, our coach, better.

Scripture gives us insight into how to train our minds. For example, 1 Timothy 4:8 addresses holistic health and longevity: “For physical training are of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

When asked about what Scripture verses inspire Laura’s journey, she cites 1 Peter 1:13, where God instructs us to be “alert and sober-minded.” She also mentions 1 Corinthians 6:19, where we learn our bodies are the temples of the living God.

Laura points out other necessary practices for avoiding distractions and maintaining mind and body health. Interestingly, her list isn’t about gym regimens. Instead, she suggests thinking about practical things like scheduling, meal prep, and shutting off our phones. Her advice is to take it one day at a time, starting small. “Read a few pages of one good resource, make one better meal, tackle one exercise routine.”

I have never liked the term “self care” because I thought it was synonymous with selfishness. But self care can be thought of another way. It can be viewed through a team mentality with yourself, Jesus the coach and our other team players.

Some team players may struggle to climb a mountain and others may struggle to get out of bed. Yet the focus of a team is to grow stronger together, for the benefit of the whole team. Imagine if we thought of our church family like a team. Would it change our understanding of how important it is to show up and support one another, in all areas of life?