I recently had the opportunity to visit with my friend, Amy Connell, on the Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast: Hope for Healthy Living – Episode 65. Amy shared how we can approach our health with a spirit of grace. Here are some additional thoughts from Amy on an acronym she touched on in the show.
How To Give Yourself GRACE in Your Health
by Amy Connell
Grace. Such a simple word, but so complex. It took me years to learn to give myself grace in my health journey. For so long, I was bound by rules and expectations I was never meant to live. In His mercy, God gently pulled me out and taught me to take care of my body so I can do what He is calling me to do … not so it will look a certain way.
In my conversation with Dr. Michelle, I touched on an acronym I use but didn’t go deeper into it. I wanted to follow up with that here so you can begin to receive grace in your own health.
If you’re the kind who likes to multitask and learn while doing something else (hand raised high over here), then I invite you to listen to a similar Graced Health podcast episode entitled 5 Ways to give yourself GRACE in your health.
How to apply GRACE to your health:
G: Give yourself grace.
Your health journey is not going to be perfect. Your eating, movement, and body will not be perfect. This is ok. Have you ever considered there’s no BMI chart in the Bible? That’s because God doesn’t expect us to look a particular way. Just like we are all sinners and live in His grace for forgiveness, we don’t have to expect perfection in our health.
R – Respect the season you’re in.
Ask any seasoned mother about sleepless nights with a newborn and she will reassuringly say, “This, too, will pass. You will sleep again, I promise.”
New babies are certainly a season. So are new jobs, illnesses, and new life roles like caretaking for family members. We all go through seasons, which King Solomon wrote of beautifully in Ecclesiastes. There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. Ecclesiastes 3:1
You may be used to eating or moving a particular way, then BAM a new season hits. It’s easy to expect our rhythms to stay the same even though the rest of our lives have been turned upside down. We get frustrated when we don’t live up to our own expectations. Recognize this is a season and allow yourself to adjust for the time being. Maybe that means your formal exercise changes, or your family meals simplify.
Do what you can do in the stage you’re in, and continue to strive to treat your temple right. As life shifts and changes, God will guide you to shift and change as well.
A – Absorb God’s nutrients and (be) Active
Absorb God’s nutrients
As much as I like to talk about grace in cookies, ice cream, and wine, I also know what God wants me consuming: HIS foods. His word supports this. My favorite verses to remind me of what He wants me eating are:
Genesis 1:29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.”
Genesis 9:3 Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.
When we fuel our bodies with the food God gave us, we set ourselves up to do what He is calling us to do.
I know I’m cheating and giving you two “A’s”, but I couldn’t include one without the other. Move your body. Prepare it to do what God wants us to do. This can be formal exercise, or informal movement like taking the stairs more, parking further away, cleaning the house, etc.
Jesus and his disciples walked miles and miles (in leather straps, mind you, not even the orthotic ones my feet like!). Follow their lead (preferably in more protective shoes) and move.
If you find yourself seated all day, check out my Graced Health blog post on NEAT, which is a fancy acronym for movement that’s not formal exercise. Increasing your NEAT offers a host of benefits, and you don’t even have to get sweaty doing it!
C – Cherish your uniquely created body
The body of Christ is beautiful and diverse. Think about some of these attributes you may have. (And notice the ones you don’t)
- Naturally curly hair
- Blue eyes
- Dark skin
- Under 5’4”
- Nut allergy
- Curl your tongue
- Taller than 5’8”
- Dairy issues
- Natural black hair
- Natural brown hair
Would you agree that every one of those physical differences is just how God made us? How we look is a combination of the genes our biological parents had and His hand in it. Isaiah 64:8 says But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Every piece of pottery is different. We know this and we don’t question it.
If we can accept these as ways God made us, why do we have such a hard time accepting that he created us with different body frames and sizes?
God created your unique body to fulfill your unique calling. We may not love every part of it, but we can learn to be content with it when we remind ourselves we are more than our body. We are part of the body of Christ, created with purpose to glorify God.
E – Emphasize the positive
Science has begun to realize the power of positive thinking. (I don’t need to tell Dr. Michelle this, do I?) Focused, repetitive mental activity can affect changes in your brain’s structure, wiring, and capabilities. You can actually retrain your brain to be more positive.
Of course maybe this is just catching up to what Paul wrote about in Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
What Paul doesn’t mention is self-doubt, comparison, criticism and unrealistic expectations of ourselves.
Intentionally focusing on the positive aspects of our body and how we are taking care of it will help retrain our brain to think
I have two challenges to help you emphasize the positive:
- Focus on what God says about us. Memorizing, or at least meditating, on scripture will help ground you and remind you of your worth. In fact, this is what we are instructed to do in Psalm 119:11: I have hidden your word in my heart that I may not sin against you. Dig into the bible and see what the Holy Spirit reveals to you. He knows your heart, He knows what you need, and He has that perfect scripture for you to cling to. If you’re not sure where to start, you can download a free printable of scriptures to pray over your health in the resources section at GracedHealth.com.
- Create a journal. Write down three things your body did well the day before. These don’t need to be huge, but they help you to focus on all the positive ways your body supports your daily activities. Perhaps you were able to spring upstairs, you parked further away at the grocery store, or you were able to stand for a long period of time. All small actions count!
Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins. In doing so, he gave us grace from every time we sinned against God. Paul wrote to the Ephesians saying For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8)
Let’s start giving ourselves the grace Jesus died for. Whatever is your stronghold, whether feeling it’s not enough, or you feel guilty for not doing anything, He offered that to us over 2000 years ago and we still get to pick his grace up daily. You may not move like you used to. You may have stretch marks. You may have padding around your hips.
BUT – Life is better with grace. It brings you more joy, more happiness, more laughter, more contentment. Embrace the grace.
By Amy Connell, GracedHealth.com and host of the Graced Health podcast.
About Amy Connell
Amy Connell is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and has been in the fitness industry almost 15 years. She’s a recovering step counter and an imperfect eater living in God’s perfect grace. Amy encourages women to strive for balanced, sustainable health and appreciate their God-created bodies, no matter what that looks like.
She lives in the Houston, TX area with her husband, two always-hungry teen boys, and her stray-turned-princess put bull named Grace.