Kahlil Carmichael MAPCC, MDIV, CPT is the pastor of Live Well Church, in Somerset, New Jersey. He is a fitness specialist at The Fitness Doctor, a fitness and wellness consulting company; and the author of 50 Tips for a Better You. He is a contributor to Guideposts magazine. His first publication, Living Longer Living Better, is available now. Go to www.livewellchurch.org for more information.
How important is love? We discuss it a lot during the month of February, and the most powerful form of love is agape: love of mankind. Agape is the love God shares with us—free of judgement and conditions. This is the love we model back when we love God and other people. Did you know you are supposed to love yourself, too (Matthew 22:37-39 NIV)? Let’s discuss!
How do we show love of self? Step one is accepting yourself exactly as you are. Do this assignment: stand in front of a mirror nude and look at yourself. Can you love this person with no artificial covering or pretense? Accepting yourself as you are is a powerful way to begin honoring self. No efforts succeed without self-acceptance, an honest acknowledgement of all your attributes, both positive and negative. From here you can build self esteem and self-love, which affect your conscious mind and your choices. You will choose to live well in your mind, spirit, and body!
Self-love in the mind minimizes stress and anxiety. Toxic levels of stress and anxiety are prevalent in the African American community and can contribute to many health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and decreased performance levels. Self-love and gratefulness add a positive spin and help give you joy. Joy doesn’t just make us feel better, it improves our health. It helps us make better choices— eat healthier, be more active, and sleep better. Because happiness leads to healthier behaviors, it can lessen the risk of high blood pressure, excess body fat, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
Love of self will lead you to the doctor’s office. It’s early in the year, please schedule checkups with your primary physician, dentist, OB/GYN, et al! Annual physical evaluations by a medical professional can identify troubling trends before they become chronic conditions. Get checked annually and know your numbers—be proactive regarding your health.
During your physical, ask your doctor about starting to exercise. Start slow with home exercises and build up speed. Try my workout and modify it based on your needs: https://youtu.be/E625Kq64XmQ Invest in some barbells and develop exercise routines to your favorite song with arm curls, split squats, lunges, leg raises, planks, and stretches. Don’t forget to walk; walking is aerobic, low impact, and strengthens your bones. It’s a great way to ease back into exercise.
Love of self will cause some diet changes. We will all make decisions about what works for us individually, but the main principle is increase whole, unprocessed foods; eliminate sugar and junk foods. They are called junk foods for a reason; they fill you with toxins, potentially leading to high cholesterol, kidney damage, liver disease, dental cavities, and more—and they have little to no nutritional value. Please value yourself by increasing leafy greens, vegetables, and lean proteins. Strive for improvement, not perfection. Live well and prosper.