I am 5’ 9” and a few years ago I was 215 pounds. I wore a 16 ½ dress shirt and a pants size of 38. I ate whatever I wanted and did no exercise whatsoever. It took a great deal of discipline but I brought my body into submission. I read more and questioned athletes. I formulated a plan, a balance of proper diet and just enough exercise. I am not the greatest athlete in the world. I do not consider myself a body builder. But at the age of 46 I am in the best physical shape of my entire life. I dropped to a size 30 pants and a size 15 dress shirt. I weight about 170 and I can run up 5 flights of stairs without breaking a sweat. I once had high blood pressure and now it is considered slightly low. I am stronger and faster than I ever was. I exercise at least 5 to 6 hours a week, and my diet consist mostly of natural foods, high in protein, and low in sugar. I enjoy what I eat and I find the exercise helpful in relieving stress. However it all took a lot of discipline.
It is truly amazing what the human body can endure. When we gradually and steadily run more, the heart, lungs and legs get stronger. Our heart rate drops and our body learns to endure running longer. Our muscles work the same way. If we increase the weight we lift and repeat the lifting, our muscles get stronger and its ability to endure increases. The body was meant to be brought under submission, to be worked and to become better. God in all His wisdom has created a masterpiece.
However God did not stop with the body. Our mind and spirit work exactly the same way. Paul in a letter to Timothy mentions a spirit of self control. (2 Timothy 1:7) In a letter to the Galatians he mentions self control as fruit of the spirit. When we receive the Holy Spirit into our lives we should gain self control. This spiritual self control helps us to manage our behaviors, words and even thoughts, in order to live righteous lives in submission to God. It means resisting temptation, not giving in to carnal desires.
Our mind is also mentioned by Paul. In a letter to the Romans he asked us to renew our minds. (Romans 12:1-2) Our minds become new in the spirit. We are to think of Godly things and not focus on the things of the world. Peter also writes of a sober mind, (2 Peter 1:5-6), a mind that has been set free by Jesus and can clearly determine what actions, words and thoughts are most pleasing to God and beneficial to our lives.
To train our mind and spirit, takes hard work, like training our body. It means feeding our mind and spirit the word as Jesus said. (Matthew 4:4) . Paul also told us to practice this exercise.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
Prayer and fasting are also necessary exercises for us to grow our spiritual strength as was evident in an episode where Jesus rebuked a demon and told his disciples that “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29)
Just like our bodies God designed our mind and spirit to get better and stronger. We only need to make the effort! A proper diet and exercise is not just for the body.