Today’s (somewhat longer) posting is a bit of a departure from the type of posting I normally make. Today, I want to talk about food, calories, health and the MyFitnessPal application I recently installed on my phone, and then explain why I believe it is relevant to the life of a follower after Christ. I have been using this application for only a short time, and thus far, I am quite impressed! I am thankful to Julie and Kerry Habiger for introducing me to the app and encouraging me to use it.
For those of you not familiar with it, MyFitnessPal is an easy-to-use calorie and exercise journal, or diary. It is not a diet plan. It does not prescribe what I can or should eat. It simply looks at what I do eat, and tells me where I stand in my daily allotment of calories. When initially setting the application up, I entered all the vital statistics – height, weight, age, etcetera, along with my weight goal. Using this information, and having assigned me a daily allotment of calories, the application tracks my caloric intake throughout each day, and at the end of the day offers weight by date projections based on my intake.
Calories are commonly viewed as something to be avoided. They are seen as microscopic objects in food that make us fat when we eat them. The truth is, calories are not objects at all, but rather units of measure – calories measure energy. One calorie is the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of a gram of water by one degree Celsius. Thus, calories are neither bad nor good. To say calories are bad is analogous to saying square feet are bad, or that pints or gallons are bad. These are simply units of measure. A gallon of radioactive material may be undesirable, while a gallon of latex paint can be quite nice, but a gallon is simply a gallon and a calorie is simply a calorie.
Our bodies need calories. We need energy, and we get that energy by consuming fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. When we consume these substances, our body extracts the energy from them, and then has to do something with that energy. Either our body burns the energy, or it holds on to it for later. Those are the only two choices. When I consume more caloric energy than I burn, my body retains that energy in the form of body fat. When I burn more caloric energy than I consume, my body collects some of its retained energy (fat) and burns it. So, weight control is a simple balancing act between calories consumed and calories burned. If I want to gain weight, I know exactly what to do. If I want to lose weight, I also know exactly what to do.
Now, why does this matter?
I stared death in the face twice in 2012, and had multiple physicians tell me that I am “damned lucky to be alive.” One pulmonologist admitted to me (and my daughter) that he is baffled by my survival because, by the numbers, I cannot be alive. So, while my 2012 adventure had nothing to do with weight, through that experience, I have developed a strong awareness of bodily health, and an awareness of how neglecting that health can be rather disadvantageous.
The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (NIV) This tells me I should treat my body well, care for it, protect it from harm, and feed it excellent nutrition rather than junk food. It seems silly for me to bow my head over a greasy bacon cheeseburger, fries, and soft drink, and say, “God, please bless this meal to my health.” Huh?
Reading through the book of Acts, you may note that beyond chapter two, every time God wants to accomplish something, rather than intervene supernaturally, he sends a person to accomplish his desire. These persons have bodies, just as you have and I have. If God is going to accomplish his purposes through me, he is going to use this body to do so. These fingers will type. This mouth will speak with air from these lungs. These legs and feet will walk, energized by blood that flows through these arteries and veins. These ears will hear and eyes will read, so that I might perceive and learn. This mind will think and process ideas. Therefore, I want this body to be in the best shape it can possibly be in.
I do not believe it is insignificant that the Bible calls our body a temple. It is not a synagogue, or a house. It is not a gymnasium or an office building. It is a temple. The Temple was a holy place, the dwelling place of the glory of God. The temple was not just a place of worship. It was a place of presence. The Holy of Holies, deep within the temple is where the blood of the atoning sacrifice was sprinkled to cleanse Israel.
For the follower after Christ, your body is now that temple, that place of presence, that Holy of Holies, where the Spirit of God dwells. Pay heed to the condition of that temple, both spiritually and physically. Give the best care you can to the body God has blessed you with.
If you want an easy (and free) way to journal your caloric intake, the MyFitnessPal app may be a good choice for you, just as it is for me.
Victoriously in Christ!