This is part 2 of the question “What are you training for?”
For part 1 click here
Part 1 dealt with the health, social, and scientific reasons of why we should live a healthy lifestyle. This post will go into the spiritual reasons for living a healthy lifestyle.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I strongly believe in God and Jesus Christ. I believe all of life’s questions can be answered or better understood through the teachings of Jesus Christ and through the scriptures.
I am not ashamed of what I believe and therefore will not avoid discussions of religious topics in fear of political correctness. This is who I am and what I believe, so know now that there will be posts on this website that will delve into religious themes.
So if you aren’t religious and you don’t want to read this post because of that now is your time to click to another page. However, if you do believe in God and would be interested in the religious implications of living a healthy lifestyle then continue onward.
One of the things that I have wondered throughout the years I have spent deep in the fitness industry is where Heavenly Father stood as far as the fitness industry is concerned.
Let me explain, I work daily with those that want to:
• Get HUGE and STRONG
• get six pack abs
• tighten up their thighs, butt, arms, (insert body part)
• Get bigger arms, chest, back, shoulders, legs, etc
• Lose weight, love handles, double chin, bat wings (back of the arms), etc.
• Run faster, jump higher, play (insert sport) better
• And all the other reasons you commonly hear advertised in the fitness industry
My question that I had quite often was, “Am I really even making a lasting difference in people’s lives with all of these surface goals? Is it really that important that I help people achieve a six-pack? Does it have any lasting effect eternally if I can help people to lose weight?”
The common message in the fitness and bodybuilding/figure industries is one that is quite worldly. I see people become obsessed and consumed with their bodies and how they look or how they perform in their desired fitness category.
It seemed to me that many of them misunderstood the scripture found in 1 Corinthians 3:16 “Know ye not that yea are the temple of God…” and 6:19 “…know ye not that your body is the temple…”
It seemed as if people literally began to worship their own bodies. They would take a scriptural truth of our body is a temple, but then they would go too far with it. They began to treat it as their worship.
They would spend way more time on building up their body than they would on building up their spirit. I see this all the time with the majority of bodybuilders, figure competitors, crossfitters, endurance athletes, powerlifters, and pretty much anyone that is deeply involved in any aspect of the fitness industry.
They get off course and shoot beyond the mark.
This always made me sad because I thought of all that they were missing out on by obsessing over things that were not of greatest worth. In a way, Satan had pulled them away and slowly deceived them. He caused them to focus on and overemphasize a good thing (taking care of their body), so that they wouldn’t have time or energy for those things of greatest worth. He will then try to take that good thing and push it so hard that it will eventually become an obsession and will cause negative consequences.
Timothy 4:8 “For bodily exercise profiteth little (Greek translation states “a little while”): but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.”
However, on the other hand I would see people on the exact opposite side of the spectrum that would spend their time doing good, serving others, and increasing their relationship with their Heavenly Father, but wouldn’t take care of their bodies that their Father in Heaven blessed them with.
Going back to the concept of our bodies being the temples of God we read in 1 Corinthians 3:17 “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
We know that our bodies are important and that they were created and given to us by God. Therefore, shouldn’t we take care of them? Wouldn’t it be important to make sure that we are doing those things that would maintain and promote health in our bodies?
We were given our bodies for a reason. We should not take this gift lightly by failing to do those things that we know our bodies need in order to be in top physical health and shape.
We wouldn’t leave the temple of God to decay or let it get to the point of breaking down from its foundations.
We treat the temple with the utmost care. We do all that we can to keep it clean and ensure that it is functioning properly.
Should we not do the same with our “temples” (bodies) that we have been given?
Of course we should.
So where does that fine line lay then? We know we should take care of our bodies by eating healthy and exercising, but where does that line of obsession and body worship lay?
How do we take care of our bodies and ensure at the same time that we don’t go too far and forget the things that matter most?
Well, I think the answer lies in the scriptures quoted above. It can be found when we ask, “Why are our bodies considered as temples?”
In 1 Corinthians 3:16 it says, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” Also, 1 Corinthians 6:19 states, “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
The reason why our bodies are temples is because of what they house.
Our bodies house our spirits. They house the spirit of God. That is why they are temples.
A literal temple is the same. It is just a building until it has been dedicated and the Spirit of God enters the temple. Once that happens then it truly becomes sacred due to what it houses.
Therefore, when we realize this we have the true eternal reason of why we should keep our bodies healthy and fit. It is because of what our bodies house—our spirits. Our spirits are sacred and eternal
Our spirit is strengthened and glorified when it has a healthy and well taken care of body to dwell in.
If we keep this perspective then we will never quite get to the obsessive stage of worshipping our bodies, because we realize that they are just bodies. Once the body loses the spirit it dies and is laid in the ground. It returns to dust. It can do nothing without the spirit.
What makes the body important and a temple is the spirit that dwells within. We should train and eat healthy to keep our body a clean and properly functioning “temple” for the Spirit that is within and by so doing “enlivening the soul.” The soul being the Spirit and the body together.
Having this focus will also help us in the other situation to avoid being lackadaisical with the health of our bodies, because if we truly understand the relationship of our body and our spirit then we would never do things that would damage our body or cause it to be in bad condition because of the spirit that is within. Once again, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.”
We know the importance of having a body. The resurrection will reunite us with our bodies, and this union will be an eternal and immortal union. Our body and spirit will unite never to be separated again and doing so will allow us to have fullness of joy.
So that is the key. We need both our body and our spirit to receive a fullness of joy. One is not without the other. We must take care of our body to “enliven the soul” (the body and the spirit).
When you take care of your body or “temple” you glorify the spirit that is within, and when you strengthen your spirit your body is strengthened as well.
-Alfred Lord Tennyson
You literally enliven the soul.
So to wrap it up we need to keep the proper perspective when we come up with our motivation to eat healthy and exercise. As long as we understand the relationship of our soul (body and spirit) we will be where our Father in Heaven wants us.
It is okay to have a goal of leaning out or fitting into an article of clothing as long as your main focus and drive is to enliven the soul. You should never forget the end goal or purpose of everything here in life.
The father of all lies will try to deceive you by causing you to obsess over things that are not of greatest worth.
Make sure that you are setting goals and achieving high levels of fitness spiritually and physically. Both are vitally important and both together will bring you a “fullness of joy.”
It is only when we lose sight of this that we get into trouble.
So don’t lose sight. Always retain in remembrance that you literally are the offspring of God, the Father of Heaven and earth, and that your temple houses that eternal and sacred spirit.
Take care of and shoot for progression both physically and spiritually. In doing so, you will truly glorify God and will find true and lasting joy.
Doing so will ensure a true and deep motivational drive that will allow you to accomplish a great deal of work as opposed to the fleeting surface goals of fitting into an article of clothing.
Surface goals of getting “toned” or fitting into an article of clothing are okay goals because they can enhance our confidence and can improve our quality of life; however, if they are our only motivation then it will be difficult to be able to overcome the obstacles that will surely come up in our efforts of living a healthy lifestyle.
I see this all too often with clients that I work with. They set a goal to eat healthier or to exercise, but they always say that they need help to feel motivated to actually do it. They come to me to help motivate them.
I am always a little bewildered when this happens, because I don’t know what they truly value in life. They do. The reason why they are lacking in motivation is because they are setting goals for things (i.e. fitting into skinny jeans, getting a bikini body, etc.) and those things really aren’t that important to them. If they were then they would have them.
For whatever reason, eating a certain type of food or a certain amount of food or sitting down and watching TV is a lot more important to them than reaching those surface goals.
If someone wants to be motivated sufficiently then they have to find a reason on their own of why it is deeply important to them that they live a healthy lifestyle. It has to be more important than the perceived benefits of living an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle.
If your reason isn’t deep enough or in-step with who you truly are or what you truly value in this life then it will be very hard for you to be successful. The reasons to live a healthy lifestyle have to be stronger and more numerous than the reasons to not live a healthy lifestyle.
Each person’s values are different and vary greatly. There is no way I can know what they are. Only you can know that.
So it is time to really think and ponder about what you most truly value in this life. See if living a healthy lifestyle supports those values. If it does then write down how it does and either post it to where you can read it often or make sure that you just open it up and read it weekly or whenever you feel low on motivation.
This is the only way to ensure powerful and lasting motivation. Anything else is fleeting and will not last.
So grab a pen and paper, go somewhere quiet where you can meditate and find the answer to the question:
“What are YOU training for?”
Dedicated to your success,