Ann Spangler

Ann Spangler is an award-winning writer and speaker.

Healthy in Body and Soul

A woman lifting a 20-pound weightMy dog is the calmest creature I know. But sometimes even she can get a little squirrelly. The other day I took her with me to explore a local art fair. Normally Kallie loves to be in the middle of a crowd. But as we were walking along, she suddenly made a beeline for the opposite side of the street, dragging me behind her. Her body spoke the language of fear—back hunched, head down, and tail pinned tightly between her legs.

Wondering what had frightened her, I looked around, expecting to see a hulking dog, barely concealing its rage through bared teeth. But there was nothing—only a pleasant crowd milling about. And then I spotted it: a metal grate surrounding a tree in the sidewalk. To test my theory, I started walking toward it. Sure enough, as soon as we got near, Kallie started pulling with all her might in the opposite direction.

When I described this phenomenon to my brother, the family dog whisperer, I wondered aloud if perhaps she had developed this neurosis after catching her foot in a grate, though I couldn’t remember her ever having done so. “Well, maybe,” he said. “But you have to understand that if a dog like Kallie isn’t exercised regularly, she’s going to start developing some problem behaviors. You need to make sure she stays in good shape. That will head off a lot of trouble.”

His advice made sense because I realize how much regular habits of exercise can help me to head off a lot of my own problem behaviors—things like crankiness, complaining, and depression. Being a couch potato makes it easy for me both to gain weight and to lose perspective. In our search for more of God’s peace, let’s not overspiritualize everything, ignoring obvious ways in which we can grow stronger and become less stressed.

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