Sunday, January 26, 2014

Charlotte Mason and Physical Training: A Warning for Me to Heed

"’Ye are not your own’; the divine Author of your being has given you life, and a body finely adapted for His service; He gives you the work of preserving this body in health, nourishing it in strength, and training it in fitness for whatever special work He may give you to do in His world"
"No doubt the bodily fatigue which follows our more active exercises has something to say in the matter, but it is a grave question whether bodily exercises of any kind should be so frequent and so excessive as to leave us without mental and moral vigour in the intervals."

I could easily become an adrenaline junkie.  I was an adrenaline junkie, twenty years ago when I would  ride 40-50 miles on a Saturday morning, sign up for centuries, and get up in the pitch black so I could get in 15-20 miles before I had to go to school.  I logged a couple thousand miles on my bike by the time I turned eighteen.  I backpacked too, long days over mountainous terrain carrying 30+ pounds on my back.  I loved it all - the activity, the challenge, the muscle aches, the good fatigue, the feeling of having worked my body and done something.

I admit though that sometimes I carried this to an excess.  I would ride so hard I could barely do anything for the rest of the day, push so hard I would be exhausted and not able to do my work as well as I could and should.

Once I had a family, I spent some time not feeling like I could have any sort of physical activity in my life because it would tire me out too much, and take too much away from my family (not to mention the logistics required to find the time!).  But as my husband and I discussed our vision for our family, we realized that we want to be active as a family, to build our family connections and culture by doing things like hiking, biking and backpacking together.  In order for me to be able to join in and support this vision, I need to be able to keep up.  I need to be able to exercise without excess, exercise with the vision of sharing the outdoors with my kids instead of pushing for the sake of seeing how much my body can do.  (And now that I've figured out that refined flour/sugar = massive hip pain, I'm able to do significantly more than I could a year ago)  Physical training needs to be about keeping me healthy enough to take care of my family, and fit enough to go on a hike, a backpacking trip, or a mountain bike ride with them.  That's it, that's the goal.  Anything else is at best a distraction, and at worst a grave dereliction of my God given duties as a wife and mother.
"The sense that health is a duty, and that any trifling with health, whether vicious or careless, is really of the nature of suicide, springs from this view—that life is held in trust from a supreme Authority."
The quotes are from Chapter 10 of Charlotte Mason's third book in her education series, titled School Education.  This blog post has been entered in the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival, hosted this month by Celeste at Joyous Lessons.  


  1. I'm glad your flour/sugar experimenting has helped your hip!! I've been meaning to tell you that I finally nailed down wheat as my problem. Wheat in any form gives me acne immediately (helpful warning sign!) followed by headaches and fatigue and worsening depression if I don't mend my ways. I'm certainly not happy about giving it up entirely, but it is NICE to finally know how to feel better!

  2. Wow, that's great that you've figured that out! Interesting set of symptoms... isn't it fascinating how our bodies can react so poorly to such seemingly innocent foods?

  3. The Lord is so gracious in bringing us to balance and wisdom that produces health and healing - what a lovely testimony!

  4. very cool personal application! thanks for sharing!