Caring for my body – it seems like such a simple, cut-and-dry concept. How am I a good steward of the physical body God has given me? Outwardly, it seems that I have this whole “caring for my body” thing in the bag. I eat whole foods, supplement where necessary, get outside in the sun, incorporate some kind of daily movement, etc. etc. If anything, this season of infertility has heightened my already-keen interest in bodily wellness. Yet, as Aristotle so accurately pointed out, virtue or wholeness lies in the mean between two extremes. In other words, caring for my body encompasses much more than just the physical. In fact, my strict attention to physical health, intensified by this season of infertility, has become more of an extreme than a balance.

My daily planner has a monthly check-in where I score my past month, on a 1-10 scale, in the following categories: relationships, physical, spiritual, work/vocation, personal growth, and play. The first imbalance I noticed in myself was in the strict parameters I used to measure success. I chronically scored myself low marks because of how much I did not do. In other words, I was continually looking through a half-empty glass and seeing how I failed rather than how I succeeded! I began to focus on my mindset instead. What are my goals throughout the month? How am I focusing on growth in these six key areas? What I then noticed was a huge imbalance in the amount of time and effort I spent in pursuit of perfect physical health. And you can bet that was having a devastating effect on the other areas of my life.

My relationships were tainted by my interest in health – could we eat dinner with my grandparents, or would they serve salad dressing with seed oils? My work was affected – the phthalates in the candle burning at my coworker’s desk were going to cause my hormone imbalance to worsen. My vocation as a wife was tarnished by my desire to create perfect health in my husband. Personal growth became all about how many physical health habits I stuck with, and play was non-existent because there simply wasn’t time. As for my spiritual life, my vision of God had become distorted because I made physical health a kind of god in pursuit of my miracle baby.

Now, let me backtrack and clarify that in no way am I saying physical health is not important. It is! God gave us our physical bodies and asks that we care for them. As with anything though, we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. God is calling us to whole body health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. If any one of those areas has become disordered in our pursuit of healing, we need to recalibrate.

My specific struggle illustrates one way that perfectionism can masquerade as attention and care for my body, but perhaps you struggle elsewhere. No matter where your imbalance lies, your body is capable of healing because God created it to do just that. Perhaps you are mentally working through the Church’s stance on reproductive technology. Find solace in St. Anselm’s directive that we should not seek to understand in order to believe, but rather believe in order to understand.  If, like me, you stress over the toxins bombarding you on a daily basis, remember the remarkable organs (the liver and lungs for example) that God gave you to filter out what you ingest and inhale. If you’re experiencing desolation spiritually and/or emotionally, know that Christ Himself cried out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?!” No matter where you are in your journey toward whole body health, your loving Father is walking with you.

As for me, I am finding ways to care for my body aside from the physical. Ensuring the dishes are washed after dinner, rather than leaving them for the morning, creates a peaceful home environment and a well-regulated start to my day. Prioritizing non-screen evening activities not only boosts my connection with my husband but also creates space for true leisure together. Both of these simple habits contribute to my whole-body health in a way that my physical health checklist never could. Life is a continual search for balance, the virtue amidst the extremes, and I encourage you to find a focus for the month that will help level out your personal seesaw.

Sydnee Blackburn lives in eastern Pennsylvania with her husband Bren. She works part-time at a local pro-life center, but her main focus is on her vocation as a wife. With Our Blessed Mother, Proverbs 31, and Ma Ingalls as her guides, she’s working on slowing down and leaning into the simplicity of this quieter season of life.