I’ve used this reason and heard this reason used by others more than any other. It legitimately seems to be a good one. There are often days where I feel like I don’t have enough hours to get done all I need to get done.
But there’s a heart issue with that perspective, and that’s where I finally landed in examining myself. The God who created me also created and designed the 24 hour day. He designed it with the time needed to do what He wants me to do, including getting sufficient rest. And the truth is, I will make time for what I value. If I’m making it a priority, I will make time for it. So the issue truly wasn’t whether or not I had time, but whether or not I valued it enough to make time for it.
So, I had to examine further. Was my health a priority? Should it be? When I considered my priorities, it began with my relationships with God, my husband and my boys. I’m sure a lot of people would land there…the relationships in our lives matter the most.
So where does health come into that picture? On the surface, it may seem selfish, right? That’s what I thought…taking half an hour a day for myself to exercise seemed selfish.
And then I began to realize…the selfish move, especially when it comes to my family, resides in the continual pattern of neglecting my health, which has consequences for myself and my family.
I want to give my family the best version of myself, which involves spiritual, emotional, mental and physical health. And I really believe that God has given me and therefore wants me to steward my body and health well. If this is a responsibility of mine, if it is included in what I’m supposed to steward, then it’s selfish for me to neglect it.
Check out this picture.
This is a page from a book my husband studied last month as he prepared for his Physical Education Certification Exam (which he passed, yay!). The bullet points you see on that page include both physiological and psychological benefits from people who are physically active. Here’s just one example and how I’ve needed it in my own life:
Improved muscle endurance – I’m a mom. I’m a #boymom. I’m a #Beaumom and #Behrmom. My kids are active! I need all the help I can get to keep up with them. When I exercise, it doesn’t make me too exhausted to keep up with them. Rather I clearly notice a difference in my physical ability and energy to make it through the day easier. I need all of the muscle endurance I can get – for lifting, carrying, rocking, tickling, wiping, cleaning, throwing, playing, hugging, etc. If I don’t workout, I’m dragging. If I do, I’m more playful with my boys. The direct relation of these things alone has practically been enough to prove the value of exercise to me.
Some other benefits listed? Relief of stress, more enjoyment of leisure, more productivity in the workplace, improved mental health, etc. The benefits are limitless and valuable and they do affect your family and your most important priorities. So I had to change my thinking. It’s not selfish to care about my health. Making my health a priority is a way for me to steward my physical body well, while loving my family well.
Now, is it possible to make the pursuit of fitness an idol and selfish pursuit? Or course. Anything can become an idol. There are extremes that need to be avoided. I’m not denying or negating that. I’m talking about a balance of attempting to steward my health based on the season of life I’m in currently. And that looks different for different people and different lifestyles…there’s no cookie cutter version that fits all.
Are some days crazy? Ha, that’s one word to describe some of mine. Are some days packed more fully than others? Absolutely. Some days I only have 10-15 minutes available so I do a more intense workout for a shorter amount of time. Some days the best we can manage is going for a walk outside or playing frisbee in the front yard. Are there certain days where I don’t work out that were not originally scheduled as “rest days”? Of course. And I don’t beat myself up over that. Things happen outside of my control daily.
But the pattern in my life should be an attempt to be intentional with exercising. Without the intentionality, it just won’t happen. I’m seldom to never going to “just happen” to exercise. I have to plan and be intentional with it.
And when that happens, I never regret it. Ever.
I don’t share this with you to judge your reasonings for not exercising. I share it to be an encouragement. I understand the struggle with it, and there are lots of weeks I need support and a push from my husband or a friend. But it’s worth the effort, like most valuable things are.
What are your thoughts? Have you struggled with the fallacy that spending time on your own health is selfish? What are ways you’ve overcome that? What are benefits you’ve seen?