This past week’s chapter? Fitness.
I’ll be 50 in a few months. Four to be precise. And I am telling you for this for
three two reasons. One, I’m old. (Thought I should put that out there. It does, however, mean I have a lot of experience.) Two, memory issues may be a factor in what I am sharing with you. ( And three, it’s never to early to think about my birthday present.)
I’ve always been active, although my perception of fitness has evolved greatly over time.
Growing up in the country, I spent my free time playing outdoors with friends. In the summer months, we’d play kickball in my front yard, using trees for bases (you could tag somebody ‘out’ by throwing the ball and hitting the tree…there were only about eight of us…not nearly enough for two teams).
The woods and farmer’s fields surrounding my home provided opportunities for hiking and exploring. (You can read my narrative here.)
My friends and I would bike 3 miles to the Park ‘n Market where we’d load up on junk food for sleepouts…we actually pitched a tent or slept under the stars.
In the spring and fall, we’d bike 2.5 miles to school. (The last .1 mile being a huge hill…fondly named ‘the hill’. Original, I know.)
When the sun went down, and the sky darkened, we played night games like ‘Kick the Can’ and ‘Sardines’.
In junior high I played basketball, was a cheerleader, and ran track.
And then, somewhere around the age of 13, my mindset changed.
Fitness was not the byproduct of being active. It wasn’t related to social occasions. It wasn’t something I did for fun.
Fitness meant exercise.
And I did not exercise with my body’s health in mind.
I exercised to punish my body.
I punished it for eating. I punished it for not looking perfect. I punished it for failing to make me feel special.
Clearly, I did not exercise to be fit.
I am grateful those days are behind me.
Nonetheless, Chapter 4 gave me much to think about.
“DANIEL STRONG = A pursuit of excellence in body, mind, and spirit for God’s glory.”
Two things strike me in this sentence. First of all, the word ‘and’. And is inclusive. It’s not a choice between. In other words, it’s not the pursuit of excellence in body. Period. End of sentence. It’s followed by ‘mind’ and ‘spirit’. Definitely a game changer…
However, it’s not as big of a game changer as the ‘for God’s glory’ part. Whenever the God part comes in, I think of my own children. I need to be reminded that this is how God looks at me. I most certainly do not want them to focus on their personal glory when it comes to pursuing excellence in anything. I recognize what happens when people are ‘in it’ for themselves only.
The focus needs to be on something greater.
The focus needs to be on God and His glory.
This brings me hope.
“Despite all the research surrounding the benefits of regular exercise, the only one that will make a difference is the program you do consistently.”
I’ve been running since I was 13. (Almost 50 – 13 = 37 years.) And even though my mindset has changed, my love/fascination/obsession with running has not. There have been times in my life when I have been forced to ‘take a break’ from running. This has never gone well. Check out the Health:Fitness category for further sarcastic insight.
Now that I am older and oh-so-much-wiser, I’ve added yoga to my fitness routine. And not because I love it, but because I know it keeps me balanced (pun kind of intended). Yoga supplies me with what running does not. You can read about my yoga transformation here, here, and here.
It drives me crazy when people go all out on an exercise program and then quit, never to exercise again. I equate this to severe food restriction. It’s not healthy. Find an activity that can be maintained long term. A change in routine can be advantageous from time to time, but it shouldn’t mean not exercising at all; it should mean doing something different for a while.
“How does your present fitness level impact your faith, food choices, focus, family, work, ministry-life in general?”
I feel fit, and I can easily see how this impacts my food choices. I want my body to function at optimal performance, so I fuel it with quality food most of the time. (Vegan all the time, whole food, plant-based 90% of the time. Life’s too short not to indulge on occasion.)
“Before you set your big fitness dream, take some time to ask God to show you what you would love to do, be, or experience related to your fitness goals a few years from now.”
My husband and I enjoy being active. Our ideal vacation is not a tropical vacation, lying on the beach sipping umbrella drinks. We enjoy hiking. We enjoy skiing. We enjoy biking. I feel fortunate that our physical health allows us to do these things; however, we are getting older and I don’t want to assume good health. I know I need to be proactive. I know that some activities I choose may not be the healthiest for me long term. Case in point? I’m struggling with the notion of running ‘just one more’ marathon.
Five years from now, I want to be hiking in the mountains. I want to be riding my bike throughout the United States. I want my summer wardrobe to consist mainly of t-shirts from runs that I have participated in.
“We typically reject, neglect, perfect, or protect our bodies.”
This was the most thought provoking part of the chapter. I spent much of my life attempting to perfect my body. And when I say perfect, I mean attain something that is impossible, because whatever I looked like, it was never enough. I was never enough.
Which is why this week, this verse serves as a powerful reminder: