Joyce Meyer’s Health Remedy for Busy People
Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Despite her busy ministry schedule, bestselling author and popular Christian speaker, Joyce Meyer, took time out to answer the following e-mail interview questions about the discoveries she outlines in her latest book about health, Look Great, Feel Great.
This is a different kind of book for you to write. As far as I know, it is the first book in which you consider a person’s physical health, and not just a person’s spiritual and emotional health. Why did you write this book, and what do you hope readers will gain from it?
Look Great, Feel Great is on a topic I really felt God called me to write about. I believe America is in a serious self-respect crisis. We do not value the body God has given us. When you get a new car or a new couch, you do everything possible to make sure it stays clean and looking new. But we don’t have this same mindset with our bodies. I really hope that this book will help people realize that taking care of themselves is important—not only for their health and long-life, but also as a good example to others.
Many Christians shy away from improving the physical body because they think emphasizing appearances is shallow and worldly. You offer a different perspective on our physical bodies. Please share that with us.
If you were looking for a new church, and one was old with broken windows and the paint was peeling off, while the other one across the street had new paint and a nice lawn, we already know which church you would choose. In the same way, it doesn’t make a good first impression of Christianity if your body is all broken down and you haven’t showered in a couple of days. I’m not saying that we are to be unbalanced in this area by being superficial and judging everything based on looks. But what I am saying is that we need to do the best with what God has given us. God cares about your internal spirit, and looking nice is a reflection of a happy, healthy internal state.
Many in the church are struggling with illness, so that begs the question, why are so many born-again, Bible-believing Christians struggling with their health?
I struggled with my health for a long time. Because of my abusive background, I tried to find value in my accomplishments and was always adding more responsibilities to my life. The more responsibilities I had, the more stressed out I became. I suffered from severe migraines, which I later learned were a result of tense muscles in my neck due to stress. Obviously, there are some very severe illnesses, but I believe that we can overcome certain ones by doing simple things like eating right, getting enough sleep, drinking enough water, and exercising.
We can be tempted to either blame God or blame the devil when we experience ill health, when really it’s often the case of reaping what we sow. Explain what you mean by this.
In my early days of ministry, I did so much every day that I did not get proper rest, did not eat right, and drank coffee to keep myself going. Then, in my mid-thirties, I started to get sick often and had hormone imbalances. I had to take estrogen shots every ten days. Eventually I had a hysterectomy and was diagnosed with breast cancer. I needed immediate surgery for the fast-growing, estrogen-dependent tumor. I struggled for several more years to get my body back on track. I wrote Look Great, Feel Great so people can benefit from my experiences. God designed our bodies to function a certain way, and it’s important that we make every effort to keep to His design.
Often those with very low self-esteem don’t consider themselves worth the extra effort to get and stay healthy. You say in your book that you used to struggle with feelings of worthlessness. How did you overcome that, and how do you help those with inferiority complexes embrace a healthy lifestyle?
The only way to overcome feelings of worthlessness is by receiving God’s unconditional love. We cannot properly love ourselves, or others, until we receive this. Money, power, fame… nothing besides God can satisfy our deep desire to be loved and accepted. All you have to do is open your heart and make the decision to receive God’s love.
People-pleasing efforts and the need for approval can fuel workaholism, especially for Christians in ministry. And that can adversely affect your health. As someone who was prone to workaholism, how did you overcome that rat-race philosophy and enjoy better balance?
My life came to a point where when anything stressful came up, I would experience shortness of breath and I even started to cry easily. I knew it was time for a change, so I started to cut things out of my schedule that weren’t bearing any fruit. This was very difficult because I had to realize that every opportunity was not one that I had to take. I also started to delegate responsibilities. This was very difficult too, but I realized that even though things wouldn’t get done exactly the way I would do it, it would still get done and my health would not suffer as a result of it.
There was a period in your life when you were consistently unwell. What brought on your state of dis-ease?
Because of my abusive background, I never knew things could be “fun.” My father was a very serious person, and the rest of our family had to have the same mindset as him, too. And, as I mentioned, I also tried to find value in my accomplishments. I worked very hard—so hard I literally made myself sick. Because I didn’t really have a childhood, I didn’t know that I could actually enjoy my life. I am so thankful that God has taught me balance in the areas of work and rest.
It took you about three years to regain your health. What did you do to get back on the road to wellness?
At one point in my life, I got sick for an entire month and could barely get off the couch because I hurt so bad. I studied healthy living and took nutritional supplements, but it was the stress that was making me sick—so I cut it out. It has made an amazing difference! I also started to sleep more and drink more water. Because I abused my body for a long time, it took a while before I really started to feel good. If you’re starting to make healthier choices, don’t get discouraged- keep pressing on. The time and effort is worth it.
At 63, you say you feel better now than you ever have. That’s a bold statement! I am curious to know why you feel better now.
I feel better than any other time in life because of my relationship with God. It took a good number of years for His renewing process to work in my life. God has healed me of past hurts and has given me a joy and peace that I never experienced growing up. My internal spirit is healthy, which is why I feel so great. Of course, there are areas of my life that still need to be worked on, but thank God I’m not where I used to be!
In your book, you note 12 keys to a balanced, vibrant life. Why 12 keys? Must they be followed in any particular order?
Twelve is a number of wholeness. There are twelve months in a year, there were twelve tribes of Israel, and there are twelve apostles. It is not required to follow the 12 Keys in order, but it’s probably a good idea because the first keys provide the foundation (you need to have a right relationship with God in order to have a healthy self-esteem). The keys also build and depend on each other. For example, drinking more water (Key 6) will help you master your metabolism (Key 3). You can spend as much time as you need on each one. The 12 Keys also help ensure balance, which was something God had to teach me about. I have followed these Keys in my life and it has made a real difference.
Many weight-loss and exercise programs tout the power of our wills to master healthier habits, yet you say willpower alone won’t work. Why?
Willpower is your best friend when things are going well, but it’s the first friend to check out when things get tough. If you overeat, go to God and ask for His help, strength, and wisdom because “Apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We need to learn to let God do the heavy lifting. We need to go to Him first in every area of our lives. He is the only one who can bring real change in any situation, not us. It can be difficult to let things go, but God will never let you down.
Any last thoughts or comments?
Look Great, Feel Great is nota diet book, but one about healthy living—in the balanced way God intended. I didn’t write it to condemn and judge people; I wrote it so that people can experience freedom, joy, and peace in their lives. It took me many years to fully understand how important balance is to God, but I hope that He will teach you something new and life-changing.
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