What Is a Healthy Lifestyle? (for the Christian)
What is a healthy lifestyle? It was a question a coworker asked me in the break room. It’s not necessarily something that comes up in normal office banter. But, nobody had ever asked me my definition of a healthy lifestyle. It really got to me. Because if you consider it, everyone essentially knows what it means to be healthy, right?
Generally the world’s definition of a healthy lifestyle involves making healthy choices in life, having overall balance in life, and developing healthy relationships with others. Or we tend to think of a healthy lifestyle as developing healthy eating habits or exercising, only. If you executing those two things well, then you can experience tremendous benefits.
In fact according to Healthline.com there’s many healthy lifestyle benefits like:
- Prevention of disease.
- Longer life —up to 14 years longer according to the American Heart Association.
- Saving money.
- Being good for the environment.
While all these benefits are good, as I referred to before, Healthline.com’s definition of a healthy lifestyle really only addresses your physical health. And to quote their main definition, a healthy lifestyle is “doing things that make you happy and feel good.”
While this definition and the typical definition we think when it comes to a healthy lifestyle all have some truth to it, they miss the mark a lot. Because they only address a part of who you are as a person—your physical health. Meanwhile other areas of your life—your mental health, spiritual health, personal health, relational health, financial health, and health of your career are all left to fend for themselves. It gives you the impression that if you can live a healthy lifestyle, if your physical health is in order, then the rest will just “fall into place”.
Focusing on your physical health only, doesn’t mean that you’re healthy. In fact, someone could look amazing, be physically fit, eat all the right things, exercise regularly and still be unhealthy.
That was me.
I was a college athlete. Physically fit, eating healthy, exercising regularly and making healthy choices. I went to church every week and hung out with the right people. I was the proverbial “good girl”. Overall life was pretty good—on the outside. And to be honest, I didn’t really think there was anything I was doing, that was unhealthy. Still I knew deep down something was off. I just thought it was because I wasn’t pretty enough, didn’t wear the right clothes, or I wasn’t thin enough.
So, I kept striving to perform better in my sport and excel in my education. But I still wasn’t really happy in life. And I felt like I kept falling short of what others expected of me and what I expected of myself.
Then, I started to be challenged in my understanding of what it really means to live a healthy lifestyle.
And that’s true for many of us, sometimes we don’t even know how unhealthy we are, until we’re challenged to think about what being healthy really means. And that’s my hope for you today—that you’d be challenged and inspired to think about what it means to have a healthy Christian lifestyle.
The Importance of a Healthy Lifestyle
Not long into my freshman year at college, I started to be challenged with my mental focus more and more by my coaches. But it was different then anything I had experienced before. It raised the bar for me as an athlete to be able to compete at the collegiate level. I even had a whole binder that was filled with exercises on how to strengthen my mental toughness.
About the same time, for the first time, I heard the term wellness in one of my college courses. The more I learned about the principles of wellness, the more I began to understood that to be able to live a healthy lifestyle, I needed to address every area in my life.
The combination of those two things presented me with a problem.
It revealed that I was struggling and I didn’t even want to admit it. Because I didn’t know how to fix it. And, there was no way I was going to tell anyone else because that would make me feel and look like a failure.
Nope. I wasn’t going to go there at all.
I had to fix things all by myself—because after all it was me. And I had convinced myself that no-one really would understand me anyway.
It took me a long time to figure things out—several years actually. And eventually, with God’s help through His Word, the Holy Spirit, and godly mentors, I learned how to create a healthy lifestyle. It has brought me peace, confidence, strength, wisdom, and of course creating healthier habits and choices along the way. And that’s why I’m passionate about helping other to develop a healthy lifestyle too! The right way—God’s way.
What is a healthy lifestyle, according to the Bible?
A healthy lifestyle that is based on biblical principles is so much more important and personal to who you are as a person as opposed to just how you look, feel, or perform. While newer terms like wellness and holistic health help describe more accurately a healthy lifestyle, this really isn’t a new concept. It’s actually a biblical concept of what it means to be healthy.
As Christians, we’re pretty familiar with the two commandments Christ gave us in the New Testament: love God and love people. Over time, we’ve simplified these commandments in such a way that we don’t often dig deeper to understand what these fully mean.
In the Old Testament, we find in Deuteronomy that God calls us to love Him with everything that we are. Specifically, love with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Likewise, Jesus repeated this in the New Testament in Matthew 22:37, Mark 12:30-31, and Luke 10:27.
If we look at this closely, we’re told something here that really is related to a healthy lifestyle. We are more than just physical beings. If we are to love God well then we need to be healthy in all areas—our hearts, minds, soul, and strength. Likewise when we address these things in ourselves, according to God’s blueprint for healthy living, then we can truly love others well.
While physical exercise and eating healthy do impact these areas, think about this:
What would happen if you were intentional to live healthy in ways that specifically targeted all of those areas as well?
When we begin to address every area of our life—it is Biblical health and wellness! It’s not just addressing one thing—it addresses everything: physical health, emotional health, spiritual health, mental health, relational health, and financial health—so that we can love God and love others. Simply put, a healthy lifestyle could very well be considered the heart of the Bible in how we should live.
Living a Godly Lifestyle
Unlike the majority of culture, by living a biblically healthy lifestyle you are orienting yourself to living a godly life. You are setting yourself apart, just as God calls you to be as a Christian. Paul encourages us this way too—to be set apart in our thinking and to renew our minds (Romans 12:2). With that we make choices that align us with God’s priorities and His plans and purposes.
And this is why this is critical to understand. What we think, influences how we feel and how we feel determines what we do.
So, I’ve started to challenge your thinking about the definition of a healthy lifestyle and why it is important…but how do you start living a healthy lifestyle? Here’s a quick look at it from a practical perspective. We have the following blueprint for a healthy lifestyle.
God has given us:
- An Identity
- Specific Roles
- Purpose in Life
- Priorities to Live By
All four of these things together, give us an understanding of who we are, what God calls us to do, and then how we should live that out.
Benefits of a Biblically Healthy Lifestyle
Now, after reading all of this, you might think, “I can’t even keep up with my physical health, how am I supposed to keep up with everything?”
The truth is knowing what a healthy lifestyle is and then knowing how to live it out is really challenging. But there’s some amazing benefits to help us in our journey and I’ve personally found that it’s actually become easier to live healthier when I’m living a healthy lifestyle God’s way.
- We need help! And we have help!
What kind of help? God’s help. Even in the Bible it says, “Apart from me you can do nothing.” Likewise, it also says, “In Christ all things are possible.” God will help us when we walk in faith and obedience. We also have the Holy Spirit to help us as well. And when we draw near to God, He draws near to us (James 4:8).
- God gives us a blueprint for healthy living.
Remember how I said I didn’t know what to do in college to help myself when I was struggling emotionally and mentally? As I focuses on reading the word daily, God began to show me the benefits of reading the Bible daily and that He has given me everything I need to know what to do (2 Peter 1:3). Throughout scripture it’s also referenced as right living, righteous living, or godly lives (Titus 2:12).
- When we follow God’s blueprint, we are blessed.
Things go well for us. In the Old Testament there’s countless passages where God warned the Israelites to do what He said to do—then it would “go well with them”. But if they didn’t, they’d face struggle and hardship. The same is true for us. God has the right plan and when we follow it, it will go well for us. However our motive isn’t so that we’ll be blessed—we do it because we love Him.
So, how can you know you’re doing this healthy lifestyle right? Typically, a key indicator for me that I’m not healthy, is when I start to experience frustration, struggle, anxiety, or overwhelm. That lets me know, something is out of order.
How to Start Living a Healthy Lifestyle
Remember how I shared about me starting to address my health after learning about the principles of wellness? Well, as I honestly looked at myself, on the outside I was performing well and physically fit. I had nothing to complain about, really. Mentally I was working on creating strong self talk. Spiritually I was learning, because it was required for me to take Bible courses, but emotionally, I wasn’t doing well at all.
And the first things that I tried to do was to fix things by working harder on what I was doing—playing college softball and trying to graduate with honors.
I really think that at the core, we all have a tendency to do this. Often we can associate what we do with who we are and we can find fulfillment in those things. For men it tends to be related to work and with women it often is connected to relationships or motherhood.
In my experience and what I’ve witnessed in others, is that life feels overwhelming when our Identity, Role, and Purpose are not in order. When we are able to look at this and re–prioritize, then we can find breakthrough and fulfillment that is God honoring and personally rewarding. This is what it means to create a healthy lifestyle that follows biblical principles—and here’s what you can do on a practical level to start living a healthy lifestyle.
- FIND BREAKTHROUGH.
Determine what is holding you back right now. What is causing stress or a questioning of your purpose in life? Are there things from your past that you continue to struggle with? If so, then it’s not your past, it’s your present. And the only to move forward and find breakthrough, is to address what those things are. If you’re in need of breakthrough, find relief in the 15 Minute Breakthrough, today.
- ASSESS YOUR IDENTITY, ROLE, AND PURPOSE.
Consider your God given identity, role, and purpose in life. Are you currently struggling in an area of your life or where your lifestyle is unhealthy? It might be because you’re seeking fulfillment in your role or purpose, when God desires for you to live fully in your identity in Him? When all three of these are working together in order of priority—Identity, Role, then Purpose—then they will help you create a healthy lifestyle that is working towards an eternal future.
- MEASURE PRIORITIES AND PROGRESS.
Lastly, begin to measure your health biblically, according to God’s priorities for life—God, Spouse, Family, Work, then Ministry. You can then evaluate your progress in those areas by using the 7 Spheres of Healthy Living Assessment. By regularly looking at these aspects of your lifestyle, you will be able to improve, maintain, and stay healthy because it’s in alignment with God’s definition of a healthy lifestyle.
3 Final Tips for Creating a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle—it’s about being intentional to care for your heart and your soul. It’s important because it gives you a blueprint for thriving in life—equipping you to be confident and strong in who you are, what you do, and what you’ve been called to do. But it’s hard to look at it that way when the world around us is constantly calling us to focus on what we look like on the outside. In a lot of ways, living a healthy lifestyle means to be set apart.
This is one of the main reasons why knowing what a healthy lifestyle is—and why it is really important for you. It’s choosing to be different then the world. When you stop compartmentalizing health to just the physical like everyone else, then you can start to find breakthrough in life. You’re creating a healthy lifestyle for yourself—the whole you—not just a part of you.
In closing, here’s 3 final tips you can do to start creating a healthy lifestyle:
- Have a clear definition of healthy lifestyle. We’ve talked about how important this is—so here’s a recap. It’s an intentional focus on the whole you, not just the physical.
- Put together a prayerful plan for healthy living that is based on godly principles. Remember to have a plan that is not only action, but that involves a measurement for success and progress.
- Commit to living a healthy lifestyle that is set apart. I’ve gone into detail about this and why it’s different for us as Christians. A healthy lifestyle, God’s way, is not for yourself—but to honor God in obedience and faith. By doing things His way, you are trusting that with His help, you will not only be able to create a healthy lifestyle, but to successfully live one as well. Not sure what that might look like? Consider the 10 things you need to be a healthy mom.
Were you challenged by what I’ve shared about what a healthy lifestyle is? What was your key takeaway?