Posts Tagged ‘strength’

exercise for now and later

October 20, 2011

I came across this verse today as I was reading my Bible. It arrested my attention and reminded me to keep my focus and my priority.

Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is valuable in every way, because it promises life both for the present and for the future.  (Good News Translation)

I’ve been working out at Fitness Together for about 22 months. I’ve seen some very encouraging changes in my body and my attitude! I feel stronger, healthier, enjoy better balance and stamina and am so very glad to be able to work out there twice a week!

Monday I went in to my workout appointment with Ashley armed with my eating/exercise journal and a new resolve. I told her I’ve got to get out of this slump and that I wanted to face the ‘Big 50’ next month with 10 fewer pounds! She said it’s possible but that I’ve gotta be willing to pay the price. (translation – I’ve gotta get my fat butt in there more often to do my cardio – more cardio – longer, more strenuous cardio!)

Even as I do pay that price, I’m still an almost 50 year-old middle-aged woman fighting the calendar and gravity! Working out won’t make me look like a 29 year-old fashionista model! (Dang!)  It will help me be a healthy, fit 50-year-old!  Ha!

It’s so typical to work hard at trying to get/stay fit but let’s face it, each day gravity gains more ground! We continue to fight fat, eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, drink enough water and yet natural law has the upper hand at least for now!

That’s where this verse comes in. Physical exercise is helping me live physically. But one day this body will give up/check out/sign off.  But my spirit is eternal. It will get a new, way better spiritual body to live in one day. I need to continue doing my spiritual exercises daily because it not only will strengthen me for living day-to-day right now, but it is also preparing me for my future forever-life! My spirit doesn’t have to fight gravity or age! It becomes stronger, more agile and beautiful and more alive the more I nurture and train it!

So, how do I exercise my spirit?

For starters, I spend a little time every morning reading my Bible. God’s Word. The words of God. Spoken to people and written down. Wow. I can know some of the thoughts of God! They’re here for me to read! I just have to open the book and read them and let them sink into my mind and heart. As I do that every day, it impacts my life – my thoughts, my actions, my relationships, etc.

Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17 The Message Bible)

Another way I exercise my spirit is to pray. This, I have to admit is harder for me than reading. So, this is why I persevere, because I know it’s important. It is my lifeline to God. Talking to Him is vital. I mean, how can you grow a friendship with someone you never talk to? So, I mostly write my conversations with him. (At least my end of them, ha!) Although sometimes I just talk out loud. In my kitchen or in the car. I tell him what grabs my attention from what I’ve read in the Bible and how I want it to change me. I tell him about the concerns I have for my family and friends and myself. I ask him for help, for wisdom. I tell him how amazing I think he is. I marvel at the creation he designed. I tell him or I gasp or gawk! Like the time a huge hawk flew just above me. Or when there’s a gorgeous sunrise or sunset. I don’t use religious language – Thees and Thous. I just talk and write and marvel.

Another way I exercise my spirit is to go to church. It’s way too easy to sleep in! Waaaaaaaaaaaay too easy! Excuses abound – I don’t even have to go looking for them. They are ready and waiting! (Kinda like all those excuses to keep me from working out!)

Going to church isn’t some way of making myself feel better about myself. I don’t go to ease my conscience. Going there puts me in contact with other people who are in the same boat as me so to speak. We’re all on a spiritual journey. We’re all wanting to know God and grow spiritually. None of us are perfect, nor are we pretending to be. We are learning to leave our pretenses at the door.

Being at church encourages me. It lightens my load. I leave refreshed, and challenged and armed with knowledge to help me make changes in my life and trust God more.

So, there’s my beginning description of what it means to exercise my spirit. I hope it encourages you to exercise yours.

Here’s a bonus tip, no charge! Sometimes I “multi-task” and listen to worship music as I run/walk. I talk to God as I pant my way along the treadmill or trail. I could even start memorizing scripture as I run! But I always find something to shake my head at and tell God how astoundingly amazing he is!

Happy exercising to you – physically and spiritually!

Bridal-shower-Barbie-doll

April 20, 2011

Saturday I had the privilege of hosting a bridal shower for my namesake niece. She’s absolutely precious and beautiful inside and out. I had a great time and it appeared that she did as well!

That afternoon, I was looking through the pictures and was taken aback in dismay. The reason being, the way I looked in them! (Quite selfish and narcissistic I know, but I’m being honest.) My thought process was something like this . . . ‘Ohmygosh, I look awful! You mean to tell me that I’ve been working out for 16 months and I still look this big?!’ Then, ‘I definitely shouldn’t have worn that sweater…makes my arms look like a sumo wrestler! Wear dark colors, Kris, dark colors!’

I have to say that I hit the wall of discouragement. I’ve been ‘bustin it’ and really trying hard and I still look like I need to go hire a personal trainer! Oh, wait, I already did, 16 months ago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Then my thoughts went this direction . . . ‘So if I look like this now, after all this work, how awful must have I looked all those years prior? Les, you let me out of the house looking like a train wreck?!

Then I remembered (because my kind, loving, wise husband has reminded me of this hundreds of times) that I’ve been through several years of hell-on-earth and I reminded myself that I barely survived and whatdidIexpectanyway?! I’m alive. I’m happily married, to my very best friend. I’ve got two amazing-fantastic-incredible kids! What does it matter anyway that I don’t have a Barbie-doll body? And who set that up as the [insert expletive here] standard in the first place?! And why do I feel like I have to continue to explain to my imaginary audience (all skinny women of course) why I don’t measure up?!

You see, if you’re anything like me, you’re busy living life, going and doing and loving, and don’t really take the time to worry about such ‘petty matters.’ Then you get in a room full of women and the temptation to play the comparison game presses in. Well, I chose not to even think about any of that, after all, I’ve been working out and am feeling better than ever!

But, there were three women there, in particular, who looked like a million bucks. (They also had bodies, like Barbie, that I’ve been longing to look like and working at becoming on and off for basically my entire life.) I noticed them. Who wouldn’t have? They were not only lovely to behold, they were loads of fun to be around! They enjoyed a friendship with one another that was special to observe and fun to be included in for the moments we were together.

Then I got home and looked at the pics. Down, down, down my spirits went. After all, it is women like these I have striven all my life to look like. And now, it’s a proven fact (the pictures show it) that I am not that, and most likely shall never be. And should this desire to be like Barbie continue to be a lifelong goal of mine? I’m not thinking so. It is not a worthwhile or noble goal (for me) to spend the amount of time and energy it would take to get to that place. Not that I should give up working out, but working out to look like a certain body type that isn’t mine, therefore it isn’t even realistic for me. Unless I worked out hours a day, daily for years to get down to almost zero body fat, I’d still need surgery on my rounder parts! I don’t think it could ever be a practical reality. And then there’s the problem, how would I maintain that?  Is it worth giving up much of the living of life in order to look a certain way? (I don’t even see myself most of the time, it’s for others that I’m trying to look that way, if I’m really being honest. Although I do have this imaginary idea of how glorious it must be to pull up a pair of jeans and not have them tight at the hips and bagged out at the waist. Ahhhhhhhh, it must feel fabulous!)

So, as I furiously picked up around the house (my therapy for dealing with difficult emotions) I worked out my solution. I went downstairs and sat near my husband and verbalized it as such:

“I’m not going to deny myself for the rest of my life to be something I can never be.”

He repeated it back to me with an addendum: “I’m not going to deny myself for the rest of my life to be something I can never be (…nor was I ever meant to be.) Hmmmm. He’s right. [insert another expletive!]

Now, I don’t want any of you to think that my trainers have failed me. I could never have gotten where I am without them. Nor am I giving up and throwing in the towel. Although, if you’d have watched me eat these last few days, you might have thought so! I’ve been eating cookies and Easter candy and chicken pot pie and all sorts of things in quantities that don’t match my fitness plan! It’s not very wise therapy, but it is yummy! But now that I’ve comforted my hurting emotions in an unhealthy way, it’s time to get back on the wagon and pump some iron and burn those calories! It’s time to get back to work, not to continue to chase after an illusive pipe dream, but to maintain my health and facilitate the accomplishment of my goals. What are they, anyway?

I need to take a good look at my reasons for working out and trying to lose weight as well as the motives behind them.

1. I want to look good for my husband. He loves the way I look. He’s not pressuring me to be Barbie.

2. I want to be strong and healthy. I’m there and am growing in strength week by week!

3. I want to be around to enjoy my grandkids someday, to be able to play with them, not just look at them.

4. I want to look like Barbie so that I can feel good about myself, look fabulous in my clothes and be happier! (ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ [alarm sound] Warning! Warning! That is a motive I need to ditch! It isn’t even true!)

I’m in this marathon (darn it, it is a marathon, not a sprint) to attain good health and to become my very best (not someone else’s) for my family and for myself. I need to train myself to enjoy the body God gave me, not to strive for achieving (or coveting) the one He’s given my neighbor.

(These are my personal and intimate thoughts from my own bumpy, rambling process. Please don’t feel badly for me or have the impression that I’m needing you to write and tell me how fabulous you think I look. You may be tempted to judge me or condemn me for my lack of spiritual maturity, and that’s ok. I’m just sharing with you, vulnerably, the inside workings of my mind and heart as they relate to the never-ending struggle with/fight against comparison, body-image, cultural values and longing.)

It would be so much simpler and far more enjoyable if I would just revel in who God made me to be. As I think about it, this is so like the issue in the Garden of Eden. I want that instead of what God said I could have. I don’t want to act that way! I want to choose contentment as I strive for good stewardship of my one and only body.

God, here I go again, comparing, longing for something that I don’t have and totally getting myself off track. Thank you for keeping me alive through a horrendous double-wide ride through cancer-hell. Thank you for keeping my marriage and family strong through trying times. Thank you for health and friends and strength to enjoy each day you’ve given me. Please help my blog-reader friends to learn and grow in this area as well, to delight in your creativity as you’ve made us all, differently, in Your image. Amen.

week 14

April 13, 2010

Okay, so please don’t judge me! I know I started the personal trainer thing thinking I’d only be able to make it happen for two months, three max. That’s all we had saved up. I’ve been praying, literally, for about 8 weeks that God would provide the money for me to continue. I take it a day at a time and God has been kind and generous and somehow, even though it comes down to the wire more times than not, I’ve been able to keep going twice a week! Praise God! I’d really like to ‘have it in the bag’ though and know well in advance! But, as long as I can keep going I won’t whine!

I have to tell you that I never dreamt it was possible to feel as good as I do! Apparently, it’s been way too long since I’ve felt good! Way too long!

Before I began at Fitness Together, I never really understood the whole personal trainer thing. Now I get it! But I don’t ‘get’ why some people settle for ‘good enough’ when they could experience the ‘best’, which is the training I’m blessed to experience. When I go to the gym, I watch people with their trainers and there seems to be very little going on. The person is doing a particular exercise while the trainer is usually mildly interested, glancing around the gym, not tuned in to their client. Granted, I’m not following them around the gym to see their whole session, but I can tell that I’m getting a lot more input, accountability and ultimately more strength and endurance for the money I spend than they are getting.

My trainers watch me, my position, my execution of a particular press and give ready feedback. They lightly touch the muscles that are supposed to be contracting so they know and I know if I’m doing it right. They give me instruction and reminders. They encourage and motivate and press me to do more than I could on my own.

I keep a log of what I eat. It’s such a good practice. It’s too easy to get lazy and knowing that my food journal will be checked is a good motivator also! My trainers point out if I’m not eating enough vegetables or fruit or if I’m storing up calories and eating them all at the end of the day (which I tend to do often!) It’s so helpful to have that other pair of eyes looking and evaluating. It’s also great to have a particularly good week and be praised! I don’t care how old a person is, we always love being praised!

So, at week 14, I’ve gone down three notches on my belt, had to buy a new belt and am ready to shop for some new clothes! My pants are all too big for the first time in 5 years at least! I’m not complaining! My saggy arms are getting tight and you can see the muscles! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen arm muscles on myself before! It’s not just about that though. I’m not having to catch my breath when I go up the stairs. I have much more energy throughout the day. I’m run/walking almost even times (walk 5 minutes, run 5, walk 5 . . .) and can see huge improvements lifting weights, doing lunges, and all the other things they have me do. Today was the first day I was actually shocked at the improvements! It is so encouraging! I leave there smiling!

The other thing I’ve noticed is that when I first began, I’d come home wiped out; completely exhausted. I’d get showered and then have to take a nap! For real! Then the next day I’d be so fatigued that I wouldn’t do any cardio. I figured just walking around with those sore muscles was good enough. By the next day I’d do some cardio and the following day would go back to train. It’d be the same routine. It’d take days to recover.

Well, now I don’t take naps! (I’m such a big girl now! Ha!) Seriously, I can run, walk, workout, whatever and don’t have to break between days. That may not seem like much to some of you, but coming from where I’ve come, this is worth celebrating! In addition, my outlook on life is affected. I’m emotionally energized and ‘up’ and love life even more! (No, no one is paying me to say this ~ you cynics!)

I’ve dieted, I’ve exercised, I’ve run and biked and swam. But never in my life have I seen the results I’ve seen in the last 13 1/2 weeks. I’d have never believed it, but it happened to me! It’s my body that is changing in front of my eyes! It has been so totally worth all the effort and money. It’s the best money I’ve ever spent. (If I figured what I’ve spent on medical bills over the last 10 years, I shudder to think the number of training sessions I could have paid for! Yes, it was all to help save my life and that is a good thing!) Working out with a personal trainer is extending my life, and makes the quality of my life enormously better!

So, there is my week 14 update. I hope it doesn’t sound like bragging. (Cuz I’m not.) I hope it doesn’t make your heart fill with disdain! (That’ll only hurt you.) Please don’t be jealous. (There isn’t any benefit from that.) And please, please don’t judge me. Judging is yuck. Instead, rejoice with me that God is answering my prayers! Please be as delighted as I am that I’m getting stronger and healthier! Be happy with me! You’ll be healthier too!

“A happy heart is good medicine and a cheerful mind works healing.” Proverbs 17:22