Stewardship of the feminine body, to some, might dictate an immediate discussion on modesty. But as someone who has focused on birth and fitness since childhood, I see three root words in that weighty term that will get you excited to see your body from a whole new angle: Ward, Ship and Steward.
The office of steward defines a person who represents a monarch or who is the chief servant of a landed estate. On a seafaring ship, the steward’s department oversees everything from menu planning to preparing the food, budgeting and purchasing to keeping records on inventory. Wikipedia notes that a steward wears a uniform and although she is an “officer by courtesy in order to head a department,” she is not licensed and eats, lives and sleeps with the unlicensed crew. Sounds like a mother, doesn’t it?
As women, we are stewards of our homes, our children and also our own bodies: these are our wards. (We are the stewards, not the captain: our precious Savior is the great Captain who directs our course.) But do you ever find yourself falling into bed at night having taken care of everyone and everything under your roof but yourself?
Like most moms — and despite being a “fitness chick” — I struggle with stewarding myself even whilst tending my ward. I often want to just sit on a bench while my kids swing from monkey bars. And I want a soda somethin’ fierce when my kids are down for a nap. However, if we are to be the chief stewards of our personal ships, how long will our ships stay afloat if they are full of unhealthy holes?
- Holes in our teeth from poor diet, nutrition and decay. Have you considered taking charge of your own tooth health?
- Holes in our core. If your middle is muddled, you may have a diastasis recti that leaves a gap between the two sides of your abs and drastically inhibits your abdominal strength! Click here to check yourself for core weakness.
- Holes in our pelvic floor. Leaking is not a necessary side effect of pregnancy or womanhood. Incontinence affects your quality of life, and you can begin learning how to correct it here.
- Holes in our heart or other body parts. Old wounds, both physical and emotional, can have a lasting effect on our mind or “heart.” Take a traumatic birth, for example: while the physical scar tissue of a c-section needs to be massaged if it will ever truly break up the numbness and let your muscles move normally again, you may also need to address some inner trauma from that event that is threatening to sink your ship! If that example describes you, please look into the International Cesarean Awareness Network (ICAN) that provides amazing support groups.
- Holes in your diet. When I say “diet” I’m not referring to crazy plans that dictate what you should or shouldn’t eat; I’m simply referring to what you currently eat. What is in your current diet? And more importantly, what is lacking in your current diet? More women needs to focus on adding what’s missing, not removing what’s existing. If you start eating all the nutritious foods you need, and stop focusing on taking away what you don’t need, you will find a healthy balance as you steward your ship’s meal plan.
- Can you think of other potential holes in your “steward ship”?
In ancient times, a steward was the servant trusted to bring food and drink to the castle’s dining hall and to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others. A good steward would not dream or dare to steal or bring harm to his household, and it would be understood that a sick steward cannot serve well. A holey boat can’t float. A sore core can’t carry kids. Are you getting this, dear ladies?
According to Wikipedia, “Stewardship is an ethic that embodies the responsible planning and management of resources.” You are your family’s most important resource! And as much I love movement (I’m the founder of an international fitness site), it’s hard to repair a moving ship. And it’s not good stewardship to deliberately aim our boats for the toughest workout storms possible. Fitness is great, but not if it beats up your boat beyond repair. As stewards, we all need dock time to recharge, re-establish our course, and repair any holes we’ve discovered.
What comes to mind when you think of being a good steward of your body? Comment and tell us what stewardship of your body means to you!
Bethany Learn lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two children on a 7-acre farm. She is passionate about all things belly and baby related, and she loves to speak to moms groups and read long, long books. Her hobbies include researching diastasis, crocheting rag rugs out of t-shirt yarn, race walking, and taxiing her children to various events.
Photo Credit: JenniMarie Photography