A Leader’s “True North” for Health

It was a warm summer evening when eight of us found ourselves sailing off the coast of Vancouver Island in the middle of the night. A group member took on the role of instructor and proceeded to show us how to navigate in diverse conditions. In the blackness of the night we couldn’t tell where the ocean ended, and land begun. We had to maneuver between rocks hidden below the waterline and into a bay with no visual clues of the potential dangers. A chart and a compass were all we had to guide us.

I have been keenly interested in sailing and health related topics for over 20 years, and here’s what I’ve discovered. The effectiveness of your leadership capacity and the depth of your spirituality ARE directly linked to your physical health. As a pastor, this should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. Very few people think about their physical health as a spiritual response to their Creator.

I believe that God created and has entrusted us to steward our bodies well. He built us to be alert and engaged. Amazingly, God designed us in such a way that in most cases we could be active well into old age; our bodies could fight disease and, unless tragedy strikes, enjoy a long and healthy life!

I believe that God created and has entrusted us to steward our bodies well. Click To Tweet

Our western culture uses guilt, shame and pseudo-science combined with confusing messages to convince you that your body type or lack of will power will prevent you from creating optimal health. The health industry trades your credit card for promises to solve your problems within 30 days. Nonsense! We’ve been created to be active participants in our own lives, not passive spectators!

Good health is not easy, but the concepts are simple. Our health needs to be a response to our Creator and not a response to advertising, waist size, trendy diets, gym memberships, supplements or fads on Facebook. I believe we need to wake up and take control of how we move and what we eat.

Taking control of your physical health can seem a lot like charting a course through dangerous and confusing waters. So, how can you “chart and compass” your way towards optimal health?

Here are three simple ways to begin to take control of your health.

First, look for ways to become more active. Park your car 10 minutes away from your office and “walk it in.” Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for a 20-minute walk after dinner. Start with 2 push ups a day and add one each week.

Second, use the power of “habits” to improve your nutrition. Most of our day is made up of well-formed habits. To create permanent lifestyle changes, choose one habit to work on at a time and keep track of it for nine weeks. It takes that long to reform your patterns. Eliminate one unhealthy item like cookies, ice cream, chips or soda. Add one item like an apple, a salad for lunch or pack healthy snacks each day. It’s not about perfection––it’s a journey.

Third, find someone to share the journey with you. Talk to a key person in your life about the changes you’re making. Having someone in your corner can be helpful when you’re making a change. We place far too much confidence in our own ability to “go it alone,” so make this a priority in your journey of health.

How did we navigate our sailboat through the night, miss the rocks and arrive safely? As we sailed through the dark waters, we aligned a beacon of light floating on the water with a fixed flashing signal on the shore. We knew we had the correct bearing ONLY when the two lights were directly aligned, one on top of the other. May God give you wisdom as you align your physical health with your spiritual journey.

Stan Wiens
The Health Project: Coach