Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Staying Physically Healthy in Youth Ministry

For some reason, any time someone in the offices wants some "junk" food, they always knock on my door. A phrase I often hear is "Got any chocolate?" Have to be honest, I've definately earned the title of Pastor with Most Junk Food in His Desk Drawer.

One of the dangers of being in youth ministry is that we are often surrounded by junk food. Have an event ... order pizza. Having kids over ... get tacos. Scheduling a meeting ... be sure to bring donuts. Our cafe is loaded with candy bars and soft drinks. Teenagers and junk food just go together and, that's one of the cool things about being a teenager ... you can eat about as much of that stuff as you want and you don't really see the effects. But, I'm 37 now. The days of eating an entire pizza are long gone. Oh, I could still do it, but my body doesn't seem to burn off 8,000 calories as easily as it used too.

So, I've been trying to be more health conscience for the past couple of years. I won't be training people on The Biggest Loser any time soon, but here are the steps I'm trying to take to be healthy:

- Exercise. I jog 3 to 4 times a week. I'm currently training for a half marathon and hope to run a few 5K's during the year as well. I do better if I have something to train for. Plus, I want to be able to run around with my own kids and be able to play dodgeball with the teenagers in our youth ministry without huffing and puffing.

- Drink water. Carol bought me a Nalgene for Christmas. I try to drink at least one Nalgene of water a day. That's 32 ounces ... plus what I drink at meals. It typically comes out to around 40 to 50 ounces of water a day.

- Eat fruits and vegetables. I try to have oatmeal 3 days a week and a fruit and vegetable at every meal.

- Be careful at the events. If I know there's an event coming up where there will be lots of junk food, I really try to discipline myself during the week so I don't feel as bad about eating some of the "junk" at the event. Also, I try to limit myself at those events.

- Understand moderation. I like chocolate. I'm a huge fan of Star Bucks. We have a local bakery with the most amazing cup cakes I've ever had. Honestly, I'm not giving those things up. So, I try to eat those types of things in moderation.

- Don't Beat Myself Up. There are going to be times when I give in to the junk food cravings. That happened just last week. Man, I just really wanted a cup cake. I had already had my share of sweets for the day, but that cup cake was just calling my name. So, even though it was completely unnecessary, I got one ... and it was really good. That's going to happen every once in a while. Don't beat yourself up. Wipe off your mouth and get back to it the next day. For me, I ran an extra mile the following day and was a little more careful with what I ate.

- "Healthy" is a life style. To stay healthy, I have to make it a lifestyle. The crash diets may work for a while, but there's no way to maintain those types of things for a long haul. "Healthy" is a way of life that takes discipline.

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