Health is something that I've really come to appreciate every since my cancer diagnosis in 2007. Life was good. I was 37 years old. I felt great. My wife was 9 months pregnant with our first child and then BAM ... everything changed.
I went through 5 months of chemotherapy treatments. I lost all of my hair. I felt tired. I felt weak. I couldn't do what I used to be able to do. Sometimes getting out of bed was a struggle for me. Surprisingly enough, one of the effects of my chemotherapy treatments was weight gain. Some of the medication combined with a lack of activity combined with just poor eating caused me to balloon up in weight to over 250 pounds.
Once I learned that my cancer was in remission and I started to feel better I realized that I needed a plan to take the extra weight off. So, I started on a path to a healthy life. I started to run. I started to just become more active. I changed my diet. Around 90% of what we eat as a family is organic now. I ran a 1/2 marathon in 2009. I ran a full marathon in 2010. I learning that a healthy life IS a lifestyle and I look at my health as a gift from God and I want to be faithful with what He has given me.
So, I took on the challenge of talking to our teenagers about health at axis. It's not the easiest topic to talk to teenagers about. Most are just not concerned about eating right or taking the best care of the bodies right now. I mean, seriously, a teenager can eat 10 pieces of pizza and not even think twice about it. Those calories just burn off so quickly! But, I really tried to talk to them about getting on a path to a healthy life and to understand that our eating and exercise choices WILL catch up with us ... sometimes as soon as the freshman year in college (can anyone say "Freshman 15").
I talked about three things to our kids. First, that obesity is not just a physical issue ... it's a spiritual issue as well. Proverbs 23:19 - 21 talks about the dangers of being a "glutton." And, 1 Corinthians 6:19 - 20 talks about our bodies being the "temple of the Holy Spirit." God wants our lives to thrive and to flourish. Satan wants our lives to fail. 1 out of 8 deaths in America this year will be related to being over weight. It's hard to thrive if we are not taking the proper care of our bodies.
Secondly, I talked to our kids about the importance of not focusing on your body. There are a so many different body types. Some are lean, some are stocky, some are tall, some are short, and people just carry weight differently. Being healthy is NOT about having a great body. It's simply about being healthy so we can thrive for God, be creative for God, help others for God. If we are focusing on our body and constantly comparing ourselves to others we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Finally, I gave them 6 words to take home with them: Eat Right, Move Right, Think Right. Just eat healthfully. Just because you can eat 3 Big Macs doesn't mean you should. Also, just become more active. And, finally, think right ... the idea of thinking positively about yourself and understanding that the Holy Spirit develops in us self control. We are not a victim of our food choices.
To shake things up a bit, I took a page our of our lead Pastors book, and ran on a treadmill while I talked to our kids. It was a really effective way to talk about health. And, I challenged our kids to consider running 1 or 2 races in June. We have something called The Sunburst on June 4th, and I challenged our kids to consider running the 5K or the half marathon not only to get healthy but to also raise money for Asia's Hope ... an orphanage we support in Cambodia and Thailand.
Below is a short video clip of what it was like teaching.
I am certainly not a "health nut." I still eat sweets. I love Starbucks (and so does Jesus). But, what I'm learning to do is enjoy those things in moderation and I'm learning how to make calories work for you instead of against you. It's a daily process for me ... but a great path to be on.