Updated: Nov 14, 2022
Welcome to week two, technically three if you count the introduction, to the series Journey to Wholeness. This week we are taking a look at the fitness category. Since I am a little bit biased when it comes to working out and group exercise, I am going to use the testimonial of a friend and the growth I have seen in her physical and mental fitness journey.
Wholeness, "the state of forming a complete and harmonious whole; unity or the state of being unbroken or undamaged." Fitness is defined as, "the condition of being physically fit and healthy," or "the quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task." Let's take it a step further and define the word fit and then the word healthy. The definition for the word fit embodies the word health therefore, we are going to combine the two. Fit and Healthy are defined as, "in good health (the state of being free from illness or injury as well as referring to someone's mental and physical condition), especially because of regular physical exercise." Take a moment and process that..... in order to become whole, one must be complete or rather choose to become unified in BOTH physical and mental fitness. The one thing I have learned within my career of exercise is that until someone is ready to begin their fitness journey mentally they will never succeed in any gym or group class setting. "The quality of being suitable to fulfill a particular role or task," is how many define fitness. Yet, in order to begin the journey to a stronger and healthier you there has to be a starting point. EVERYONE is suitable EVERYONE can start at ANYTIME. The kicker is having a mindset of readiness and a particular role or task, also known as a goal, you desire to complete.
Set up the scene. My friend hated exercise. She never felt joy, never got the exercise "high," never even thought she would EVER say she didn't mind exercise. She walked a few times a week both on the treadmill and on the trail depending on the weather. If you assumed she hated that, you are correct but she did it because she knew it was good for her (the very beginning of her journey to wholeness: fitness). But my friend developed a herniated disc in her lower back. For quite a while, she basically lived with the reality of her back being hurt. She took little steps here and there to ease the pain but she finally gave in and sought out exercise advice to engage the muscles around her disc. This action would hopefully ease the pain as well as make everyday living a bit easier. From there she invested in a workout ball, we developed a workout regimen that worked for her, and she began a couple nights a week before she showered to do her ball exercises. This routine was complete for years. Quite honestly, I was so so proud she kept with it AND it was helping! You see, a little bit goes a long way. Everyone has this unrealistic view of working out. Three days a week for thirty minutes is all someone needs to begin or even maintain health. Do people actual start with that? Sometimes. But many begin with a couple exercises performed sometime throughout their day, two or three times a week. Just like my amazing friend.
This friend began experimenting with other machines in the gym like the bike, rower, and weights. She had another urge to increase her health and goals. But then she took the plunge! At the end of last year my friend decided she was ready for a little something more. Her back had been doing pretty well, the ball exercises were still helping, her dabble in other machines had not been quite so scary so she felt she could dive into something even better for her fitness journey. She stepped into my high intensity interval training class, yes she took the plunge alright, and performed the modified versions of each routine. One day a week, which turned into two days, I watched this awesome lady go from a plank on her knees to a plank on her toes, not being able to do a sit up to doing all of them, not being able to hold her own body weight with her arms to adding more intensity to her exercise. I share this with you not to brag on myself or my friend but to FIRST give God glory. Then I want to give my friend a huge anonymous shout out for choosing her beginning to fitness and sticking with it. Lastly, as an encouragement that it really is a daily challenge. Fitness is an everyday journey to your goals, to becoming suitable for YOUR role or task at hand. If you know my friend and asked her if she likes exercise, she would have to reluctantly admit she enjoys it (at least the high intensity class).
People can go one of two ways here. Try an exercise or group class, not be good at it and swear off fitness. Or, they decide to take the plunge without putting a toe in and come out the other side super sore, with an injury, and or completely burnt out. Just like everything else in life, balance is key. Always remember to keep the why you decided to start your fitness journey at the forefront of your mind. For me, the Bible verse Colossians 3:1-2 plays a big role on the days I just don't want to workout or when I am running and hit that 2.5 mile mark and want to give up. Look up and never EVER focus on the pain or the fact you can't breath! This is one of those times I will let you be an avoidant and go to your happy place! No, it doesn't always have to be this way but just like everything else in life, sometimes there is pain, frustration, and you just can't physically do it right now. BUT some day YOU WILL!
Side note: You will fail, but it is OKAY! You will skip a day but get back to it tomorrow. You will get sick and have to rest to heal. You will be your own worst enemy but guess what? So is everyone else. You have to look at fitness realistically. It is hard but rewarding. You will reach some goals immediately and others it will take years. But what is the point? To be the best YOU possible so that God can be the most glorified or praised (1Cor 10:35) and then bring others along side you.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will," Romans 12:1-2. God gave me this verse years ago but it always rings true and comes back up in the most random seasons of my life and this is one of those times. In the old testament, before Jesus was the ultimate price for our sin or blatant choice to go against God, the people used to give their best animals to appease their sin. The term for this appease of sin is called a sacrifice. In order to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, we must present ourselves without sin which is only possible through accepting we need Jesus as our Savior and then striving to be the best us possible for God's glory. Do you think the best you possible is someone who strives to be healthy, fit, and whole or someone who goes about miserable, with tons of ailments, and never enjoys their own body image? Exactly. Find freedom in knowing your choice to exercise is not only for your health so that you can be around for a long time and enjoy life but also because it is a route in which to give God praise AND share the gospel.
Tips and Tricks:
1. Find yourself in accountability partner.
2. Yes, a stretch class, yoga class, pilates class, foam rolling class, or even if you practice one of these on your own IS a workout!
3. Join one workout class for a month.
4. Make an exercise schedule and STICK to IT!
5. Doing basic exercise moves like push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks a couple times a week is a great place to start! Yes, the modified ones count!
6. Write 10 reasons why working out is good for you and hang it up some where.
7. Getting bored with your workout regimen? Google, YouTube, or ask a friend for advice on how to shake things up.
8. Go out of your comfort zone and try a crazy new group exercise class for one week, I promise you won't regret it.
9. MAKE GOALS! (Realistic, achievable, like doing 5 sit ups before bed each night.)
10. DO NOT pay attention to the weight on the scale! Rather, take measurements or watch how your clothes fit. Also, journal how your mindset changes.