A week ago, I had the privilege to be at a conference with 9,500 Catholic college students from all over the country and some from other countries. There were religious sisters and brothers, priests, and many of my friends from across the country. Lord, was it beautiful.

I ran into one of my friends, now a mother of four beautiful children. When I became friends with her a year and a half ago, she had only three.

When I befriended this beautiful mother, I was so taken with motherhood. I thought it was the most beautiful gift to mankind (and I still do). There is something so special about motherhood. And in Tamara’s graciousness, she would answer my endless questions about being a mom and dealing with temper tantrums. Really, talking to Tamara was my first experience talking to a devoutly Catholic mother every day for over a month.

One of the things we bonded over when I first met her in Florida was our intolerance for gluten. I told her it made my stomach hurt and made my acne worse. She told me it caused her to lose all of her energy. We ate the gluten-free brownies in the cafeteria and talked about snack ideas. It was beautiful. When I left Florida, I thought for sure I would never see her again (as she lives in the Midwest and I’m from the East).

Strangely, we met again at this conference where her husband works! I saw her on the last day and just went right up to her. So after catching up a bit, I asked her about her gluten adventure. When we’d left Florida, her plan was to get her whole family on it.

“It went really well for about three months,” she’d told me while we stood outside one of the glorious ballrooms. Three of her children ran around our feet.

Tamara said that for three months, the whole family ate really well. Her energy was up, as she had wanted. However, there were struggles. She said that she had a difficult time trying to feed her children, and that sometimes, she’d even forget to feed herself. When the dynamics of their food life kept changing, she still had more energy, but her spirit was low from always denying herself.

So what’s the point of this post?

Don’t sacrifice your spirit for the sake of your energy.

I know that some health enthusiasts could argue against this, but guess what? That’s okay. Because the point of life is to learn how to live. I can give myself all the energy that I want, but if I’m hating myself every time I have to resist a crumb of a gluten-free muffin or if I just can’t give up coffee yet, what is the point of having the energy?

While I was at this conference, while I sat in classes about truth, love, beauty, courage, and the like, I had a very profound awakening: I can fill myself up with good food and the perfect exercise routine; I can learn how to make-up better; I can have a strong immune system; but that will not fill me. I started this blog to teach others about health, and I thought this blog would change my life. It has, but not in very significant ways.

I realized that I can watch as many of my favorite movies and TV shows as I want, and still, it will not fill me up.

No, it won’t. I know that because I’ve been living it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love having energy, and I think taking care of my body is extremely important. After all, this body was given to me as a gift, and just like I wear a necklace my dad gave me to honor him, I must take care of my body to honor the One who gave it to me.

But taking care of my physical substance isn’t good enough. My soul is more important. My spirit needs a revamping. So do me a favor.

Don’t  beat yourself up anymore. Don’t harbor unrealistic expectations for yourself, and then cry when you fail. You are simply learning how to live and how to love yourself better. Love your body for all that it can do for you, but love your spirit even more.

You are more than the sum total of your actions, failures and all. You are more than the number on the scale that you wish would budge faster. You are more than your addictions. You are more than your tears. You are more than that physical body that seems to work against you. Yes, you are so much more.

So take heart, love. It will be okay in the end. It’s all part of the learning curve.

I genuinely hope this post has helped you. If you’d like to see some of the inspiration I got from this conference, here are some of the free recorded talks. If you’re interested in helping that lovely spirit of yours, I recommend either Searching for and Maintaining Peace or Falling Upward. How have you helped your spirit lately?

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