McDonald’s is convenient.
TV dinners are convenient.
Placating your child with sugar-filled candy at the grocery store is convenient.
Blaming your busy schedule for why you haven’t exercised in two months is convenient.
Using Facebook as a reason to stay up well past your best sleeping hours is convenient. (This is one I sometimes get caught in!)
What are your excuses? What do you allow or avoid that causes you to be less than a good steward of your health?
For most of us, the road to good health is inconvenient. It takes hard work and perseverance. It takes daily effort. There are a few who are blessed with an immune system impenetrable to viruses, pathogens, and disease. Their excellent genes can withstand the worst diet and lack of exercise. They live to 104 with little effort. But this person is the rare exception.
Good health is inconvenient. But is the inconvenience worth it? Always.
I recently had an astounding conversation with a friend, who has had troubling digestive problems and fatigue for years. He regularly eats processed food with little nutritional value – chips, dips, hot dogs, crackers, chicken nuggets, and packaged food that has long lists of ingredients with unpronounceable chemical names. He’s seen several conventional doctors that have not been able to help. They have only prescribed dangerous acid-blocking drugs, along with vitamin injections for the vital nutrients for which he is deficient. And yet, he’s not ready to give up his junk food. He told me he’d think about it. Really? I walked away dumb-founded. I didn’t understand. If the food you are eating is causing you to be sick, then why don’t you throw it out? Why don’t you switch to nutrient-dense food that will nourish every muscle, bone, and cell in your body? For most people, it comes down to convenience. Processed food is easy.
How I Used to Value Convenience
Across America, there are thousands and probably millions of similar stories. People all around us have excuses for why they don’t take care of their bodies. For a long time, I viewed my body as something that needed to be molded to my will. My schedule and to-do list were more important that the needs of my body. Through high school, college, and my first teaching jobs, I was the classic workaholic. Sure, I exercised, but I dismissed every other tenant of health, like reducing my stress, taking quality time for my meals, and savoring each bite in a restful state of mind. Who had time to eat? That’s what the microwave was for! I devoured food quickly, so I could be on to my next work project. That stress powerfully affected my health for years to come. In a way, I valued convenience because of my own self-inflicted time constraints.
For others, their health is of lesser importance for different reasons. Maybe it’s not their work schedule, but rather the emotional convenience of not fighting with their children over eating real food. After all, serving mac n’ cheese is easier than getting your kid to eat brussel sprouts. Or, maybe tradition rules in your household. Grandma’s chocolate cake recipe cannot be changed, even if it’s has three cups of white sugar! It’s too inconvenient to learn how to substitute a healthier alternative like honey or maple syrup. And pizza Friday nights cannot be altered, because dad would have a fit. He deserves his deep-dish Chicago style pizza after a long week of work! Even though, his doctor just diagnosed him with celiac disease and he knows he would feel better by adopting a gluten-free diet. (By the way, there are gluten-free options if you must have pizza. )
But What If I Can’t Afford It?
I know some of you are thinking, “I can’t afford a real food diet,” or “I don’t have money for a gym membership.” There are options; it just requires some creativity! Try these money-saving tips.
- Our extended family buys an entire pastured-fed cow every year and splits it four ways. It saves us a great amount of money, costing about the same as CAFO (confined animal feeding operations) beef from your average grocery store. I encourage you to support ranchers that sell grass-fed beef in your area as well.
- Members of our church have cooperated with several local groceries to drop off free day-old bread (sometimes even gluten-free!) and less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables (sometimes even organic!) for our congregation. This last Sunday, my family walked away with tasty winter squash and sweet organic apples. It would be worth your time to investigate this kind of partnership for your church or organization.
- If you eat out at restaurants, consider cutting back and cooking more meals from home. Your budget will have more room for higher quality food that nourishes your family. It is inconvenient at times, but buying and cooking homemade meals is less expensive.
- For more money-saving ideas, visit the blog Don’t Waste the Crumbs. My friend Tiffany makes it her mission to show families how to eat well on a budget.
- As far as exercise, I enjoy doing dance and kick-boxing DVDs from our local library system. They are all free; it just requires a library card. Go pick out your favorites, like aerobics or Pilates, or whatever gets your body moving!
What is So Inconvenient?
Yes, cooking takes time.
Yes, you have to cook homemade meals from scratch.
Yes, knowing where your food comes from means researching and meeting your local farmers. (Some even give fun farm tours! Your next family field trip awaits.)
Yes, getting eight or more hours of sleep a night costs you time.
Yes, going to the gym several days a week can be a scheduling challenge.
Yes, cooking takes time. This one bears repeating.
Yes, real food may cost more at first.
In the long run, it’s much better to pay for real food than pay the doctor, pharmacist and drug companies to treat your chronic health conditions. It’s much better to exercise a few minutes each day than experience life-altering arthritis because you didn’t move your joints for decades. Do you agree?
What is one thing you can change to honor the body God has given you? It’s going to be different for everyone. For some, it will be about diet and eating habits. For others, it will be about movement and exercise. For yet others, like me, it will be about maintaining a proper sleep schedule, so your body can repair and rest. And for some, it will be about mental or emotional change – lessening the stress in your life by finding a new job or learning how to let go of bitterness. Maybe for you, it’s all of the above. I realize that’s difficult to face. I don’t write this post to overwhelm or judge you. We are all in this journey together. Rather, I want to support you in making positive decisions that lead you to better health, physically, emotionally and spiritually.
Make Healthier Choices for Your Loved Ones
Remember my junk-food loving friend? In his quest for convenience, he has forgotten one thing. He has a wife and family to care for. How can he care for those he loves, when he is in such poor health? He can’t, at least not to his fullest potential. Are there loved ones in your life that you care for? I don’t know about you, but I want to be around for my husband, children and nieces and nephews when I’m 60, 75, even 90 years old. I realize that our days are numbered by our Creator. I’m not referring to that. I’m talking about the daily choices we make that affect our health for years to come. Let’s value health and our families more than convenience. Yes, good health is hard work, but it’s always worth it.
What one step will you take this week to let go of convenience and aim for better health?