I’ve been exercising to lose weight while trying not to aggravate a knee injury and an injury to my right arm. This has been a frustrating process for me because I’ve made patience my life long enemy. I’m one of those persons who wants to lose all 105 pounds NOW! I’ve lost the weight before (98 pounds) and I didn’t hesitate to beat my body up in order to do so. This time around I didn’t want to make the same mistake. I wanted to treat my body as the gift that God has given me. I wanted to take care of myself and the only way to do so was by including God in my health and wellness plan.
This past week I got that itch, the one where I get anxious and I no longer want to be slow and steady. Who wants to be a tortoise when you can be a cheetah? Determined, I added more training days, increased my speed and tackled those steep hills. Bad idea. Two days later my knee pain had gotten progressively worse. Every step was painful, especially going down the stairs. I was no dashing cheetah, I was more like road kill.
As I laid around with my iced knee I realised that my spiritual transformation has been much like my physical training habits. I become frustrated and anxious about the slow and steady pace of change. It’s as if I am in a hurry to get to where I think I need to be, but God continuously reminds me through my injuries that healthy transformation is never a fast process. Instant change is never long lasting and only leads to being hurt further down the road.
God isn’t rushing us in our transformation, so why do we hurry ourselves and others. Why do we have this false belief that authentic change is rapid?
God isn’t slow, He is continuously working on us and with us. He clearly sees the changes that take place daily, the one’s that we often count as insignificant. He doesn’t want His children rushing the process only to see us falter and quit later on, battered, bruised, and living with a nagging emotional injury for the rest of our lives. I realised, slow process is God’s way of protecting us from the problems that come with too-much-too-fast.
WORDS OF WISDOM:
“If I have not the patience of my Saviour with the souls who grow slowly; if I know little of travail (a sharp and painful thing) till Christ be fully formed in them, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” ~ Amy Carmichael
“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them– every day begin the task anew.” ~ Francis de Sales Trust in the LORD. God is not static, He is always moving forward and so are we even when we falter.
I injured myself because I couldn’t be grateful enough for the accomplishments I had achieved so far. Let’s not be a hindrance to our physical transformation by trying to bypass the slow and steady progress required for achieving our goals.
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing on the present moment and having an awareness of experiences as they happen.
It’s the second week of Lent and yes, I’ve forgotten or messed up a few times, but I can say at this point I’m learning a lot. I don’t want to call it sin, but I don’t feel guilty during the times I’ve messed up so far. I feel a sense of peace and I know that Lent is a time when I feel especially safe, where my slip-ups are opportunities to “Fail Forward” and draw closer to God.
For me there is no quitting during Lent, if I “mess up” well… I still have “X” numbers of days left and I must keep going. I wish I could extend this outlook to the rest of my thoughts during the year; it’s something I am still working on. Failing Forward is not only one of my favourite John Maxwell books; it is also a growing way of life for me. I’m learning that God doesn’t quit on us and therefore, I am not to quit. Paul gave the best metaphor for our faith, that of an Olympic long distance runner. Does a long distance runner quit because he has fallen 40 minutes into his run? No. Once he realises what has happened, he spits the dirt out of his mouth, shakes the dirt n’ blood off his knees and arms, gets up and resumes running. A well trained runner would never think of bowing out of a foot race because he slipped and fell. He knows he has invested too much time, heart, and discipline to give up because of a setback.
Mindfulness is a blessing because it teaches us to be present in our life. Through this type of practice I can focus on Jesus’ instructions and Paul’s teachings that tell me I am not to be anxious about anything:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7
Mindfulness brings the peace of God into your life. When you are not in the present moment it is difficult to be at peace when your mind is filled with past memories and an anxious future. God is not focused on the past or the future like His human creations are; He is in the here and now.
Are you maintaining a state of mindfulness or do you find yourself habitually wondering back to the past or jumping ahead to the future?
When you find your emotions pulling you away from the present moment try saying a quick, one sentence word of prayer or blessing to God. For example repeating, “Lord, help me to see this person as you see him/her.” It can also be a short bible verse that brings you comfort, joy, peace, or strength. As you repeat these, remember to stay in the moment, no praying about the past or the future, it’s about staying in the moment with a sense of calm and peace.
When I originally began my weight loss and fitness goals in the spring/summer of 2013, I was dealing with knee problems. It was painful to walk, every single step hurt, literally! It felt as if it took an hour to walk one city block. I wondered how I was going to train for a 10K running race if I could barely walk 10 meters.
As the weight came off people began asking what diet I was on and if I was exercising. I told them I stopped dieting at age 26 and for more than a decade I had not been on a diet. I informed them that I was training in brisk walking. I wish I had been able to capture the looks on people’s faces every time I said “walking”. People seem to have a hard time accepting that brisk walking can be quite the physical challenge and that it is a healthy form of exercise.
I have to explain too many times to too many people why I have zero desire to ever run a marathon. I feel as if my fitness goals and weight loss journey is taken less seriously because right now I’m limited to doing, at most, a run-walk. My knee doesn’t allow me to run for long distances, but that is not the problem or the issue. From the bottom of my heart I mean it when I say, “I don’t want to complete a marathon”.
Questions I’ve been asked
(Q): But isn’t that every runner’s dream?
(A): No, not for this runner!
Q: How will you know you don’t like doing marathons if you’ve never tried?
A: Because, I hate running for more than 60 minutes, after that, I’m done, I just want to go back home or start walking. There’s no ax murderer behind me, so why do I need to keep running when no one is chasing me?
Q: It’s mind over matter! Keep running and you will eventually learn to love it!
A: Well… I have my mind set on not doing a marathon and instead I want to do something that is of interest to me. I want to do something that I enjoy now.
Here is the part where I have found the Blessing of “I Don’t Want To”.
Saying “yes” to investing a lot of time and energy into physical activities that I don’t enjoy is draining for me; physically, mentally, and emotionally. Training to do a distance longer than 10K is a major time investment.
There are plenty of fitness activities to choose from and neither you nor I are required to invest in something we don’t enjoy. Saying “no” has allowed me to search for activities that I will look forward to without having to do daily motivational speeches to myself or find some sort of accountability group to help keep me publicly accountable to my unwanted goals.
I wonder how many people out there are engaged in physical activities they truly don’t like and are only doing so because they are forcing themselves to engage in a battle of mind over matter. If you can get the same results doing another activity, one that you actually enjoy, why not choose that option? Choosing daily activities that are a burden, time consuming, and are not enjoyable eventually causes unhappiness. It doesn’t matter if you finished a marathon or cycled through the forest for 6 hours. If the process of meeting this goal was not enjoyable, you did not accomplish anything emotionally rewarding. A physical accomplishment needs to have all three components of well-being: mind, body, and spirit. Did your activity genuinely feed all three? And by genuine, I’m asking was your joy and happiness authentic or did it require daily pep talks, fitspiration pictures plastered everywhere and forcing yourself to attend almost every single session of training?
Even when we choose an activity that we do love, there are going to be times when it does require motivation to get things done, but it should be an exception not a regular occurrence. Enjoyable activities might require some motivation, but once you are finished there should be some enjoyment. I dislike going to the gym, every single time, but I can assure you that once my workout is over, I feel an incredible high. There are times when the treadmill beeps and I think, “Nooo, I don’t want to cool down, I want to keep on going!!”.
Exercise is a time for release from the stressors and problems in our lives; it’s not a time to add yet another task that doesn’t bring fulfillment, emotional release and joy to our life.
Be blessed in your physical activities by choosing to participate in workouts that add life to your day.
There is a traditional Jewish morning blessing (Elohai Neshamah)where you say,
“My G-d, the soul that you put in me, it is pure: You created it, you formed it, you breathed it in me, and you tend it in my core. But you will take it from me and put it back in me in the world to come. For all the time that the soul is in my core, grateful am I before you, Adonai my G-d, and G-d of my ancestors, master of all works, lord of all souls. Blessed are you, Lord, the one who restores souls to lifeless bodies.”
When I wake up in the morning I want to learn to bless God and give him thanks. This is still a work in progress for me because waking up usually involves, grumbling as I reach over to turn my alarm off. I lay there dreading certain tasks on my to-do list and then I fly out of bed in attempt to reach the bathroom before the other people in the house so I can have hot water and some decent pressure flowing out of the shower head. When I used to head to the gym at 3:15 a.m. it wasn’t the most pleasant experience for me and required a lot of motivational head games. At the time I chose to workout before work because I knew I enjoyed my evenings so much that I never wanted to interrupt my pleasant evening with an unpleasant activity such as running.
I’m returning to my morning workouts this week, but thankfully not at 3:15 a.m., it’ll be a 5:30 a.m. wake up call. I’ll head to the gym to engage in activities that I genuinely enjoy. I intend for my mornings to start with a blessing of thanksgiving; this will be my morning praise, no motivation needed. My blessing will be that God has restored life to me again and I will give Him blessings by engaging my body in exercise that feeds my body and my spirit. It is no blessing to me or God if I unnecessarily force my body to do things that are not of interest or a benefit to me.
I pray that you are blessed this week in whatever physical activity you have chosen to do to keep fit. Let your activities be a blessing, not a burden.