The Wellness Challenge

by MW Cook

Have you ever seen the documentary, ‘Super-size me’?  You’ve probably heard of it.  A man decides to see what would happen if, for a month, he lived on nothing but what McDonald’s had to offer.  He tried everything on the menu at least once and had three full meals a day.  At the beginning of the experiment he was in top physical condition.  At the end he had gained about 35 pounds, had sexual dysfunction and mood swings and got some liver damage.

We weren’t surprised.  None of us were.

Because we all know how bad fast food is.  Every one of us understands that poor food choices are going to rob us of health and happiness.  We know that a triple Baconator will make us feel like crap.  Just like we know that five hours of World of Warcraft will take away our productivity and clean conscience.  Just like we know that useless and banal entertainment will have bad effects on our lives.  We know all this.  We know that if we choose the easy, unproductive things, we will regret it.  And yet we choose those things.  We still choose Big Macs over spinach salads.  We still choose soap operas over Charles Dickens.  Why?

What is it about good things that offends us so much?  Why do we have that deep, settled feeling of resistance against anything that is inherently good?  Seriously, what gives?  Wouldn’t we be much better off if we chose the good?

Wouldn’t we?

I want to know.  I want to know what it’s like to actually live according to the rules we seem to be made for.  So I propose an experiment.  The Wellness Challenge.

For the next month, I will endeavour to do the opposite of what Super-size Me did.  Instead of subjecting my body to everything I know will hurt me, I will subject my body, creativity, relationships and spirituality to those things that I am told will be good for me.  And, at the end of it all, I will see if it has made any improvement on my quality of life.

I will focus on a couple elements from four parts of life:

  1. Physical Wellness
    • I will endeavour to eat only things that common sense deems ‘healthy’.  I don’t think there’s a huge need to do great amounts of research here.  We all know that veggies are good and beef, pork, sugar, caffeine, salt and all other yummy things are bad.  If it ain’t healthy, I don’t eat it.
    • I will endeavour to exercise every day.  I’m not talking about doing a marathon, just a half hour a day of some useful exercise.  I’m pretty sedentary now, so this feels like a big step.
  2. Creative / Mental Wellness
    • I will refuse any form of entertainment that is shallow, trite, or otherwise mentally / creatively unfulfilling.  This includes a lot of movies and, I think, pretty much all video games (argh!).  And whatever entertainment I do deem worthy, I will use with strict moderation.
    • I will endeavour to dive into mentally / creatively stimulating projects.  I don’t know what they will be quite yet, but with all the free time I’ll have from my video game fast, I’m sure I’ll think of something.
  3. Relational Wellness
    • I will endeavour to have meaningful time with my family everyday.  Duh!
    • I will endeavour to have meaningful time with friends and neighbours often.  This is important because we live in the West (for now) and in the West we tend to avoid people.  Bad trend, gotta fix it.
  4. Spiritual Wellness (I wanted to call this something else, because everything is spiritual.  I almost called it mystical…but it sounded funny)
    • I will endeavour to kick my prayer life up by three notches (vague, I know.  But I know what I mean by three notches, so no worries).
    • I will endeavour to produce what I’ve called a ‘Jesus-aura’.  That is, I will try to live a life that is so saturated with Jesus that people come up and ask, ‘Hey, I notice that all of your hope and trust seems to be placed somewhere different from where mine is.  Could you please give me a reason for the hope that is in you?’  Of course, I should have been doing this already…

So there you have it.  As the creator of Super-size Me destroyed his body so that we could see how bad it is to choose McDonald’s, so I will endeavour to live the best life possible so that you, too, may see how great it is to live this way.  Pretty noble of me, eh?

But, what are the odds of all this working?  I don’t know.  I have a pretty good idea of how messed-up I am, and these things don’t look very attractive to me.  As I see it, the only way I will be able to last a month in the first three is if Jesus gives some serious help.  And as for the fourth one…yeah.  Serious, serious help needed.

But I’m going to go for it anyway.  I didn’t realize that it was New Years when I came up with this, but it’s fitting, isn’t it?  Let’s see if living well translates into well living.  And I really hope Jesus helps me, because otherwise, I’m screwed.

But aren’t we all?

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