I’m wrestling with two things in this very moment: how to approach a fitness post without being a fitness post, and whether or not I’m “allowed” to write a fitness post. The first problem will work itself out as the words come forth and the intention becomes clear. The second problem is less of a problem of should I, and more of a problem of what will people think.
There are a few reasons I want to write a fitness post. One, fitness has become as much a spiritual discipline for me, as a physical one. Two, my health in general has improved and with it, my ability to let go of some negative thoughts and patterns. Three, I want to encourage women who are in a dangerous dance of poor body image, low self-esteem, and giving the devil prime real estate to work in their minds. And four, I believe taking care of yourself is honorable to God and an act of worship!
The reasons I’m afraid to? I don’t want to be seen as superficial, narcissistic, or vain. Also, with so much skin showing, who can take me seriously?
But before we get into the fit bit, let’s take a closer look at those little insecurities of mine popping up. How I’m regarded, based on a post dealing with body issues and physical fitness, should not matter to me. I know my heart, God sees my heart, I share my heart. If someone can see this post and make wild accusations about the state of my heart, it doesn’t really make a difference. It doesn’t become my truth.
The skin thing? Well, I’m always going to be one of those people who just can’t quite readjust all of my outfits to appease the conservatives of the world. I love Jesus. And I love trendy clothing. And I’m 5’1 on a good day. And I wear short shorts and bikinis. Hopefully my adamant refusal to give up pieces of myself in order to be a #GoodChristian will inspire others who fall short (pun intended) on the clothing spectrum to realize they, too, can love Jesus and their outfits.
But that’s another post for another day.
Fitness. I spent three years as a “fitness coach” and never enjoyed working out. I constantly wrestled with my body, with my nutrition, with my ability to care about either. I wanted to workout to be thin. To be skinny. To be smaller than I was, to weigh less. For three years, I talked about how I looked; from this to that, from unworthy to worthy, from undesirable to sexy. And yet, every time I got that new, thinner, better, more appealing body…I would fall back into old habits, stop showing up in my backroom because it wasn’t fun, and eat and drink my way back into a place of self-contempt.
It never stuck. It never dealt with the root issues. I could spew off countless go hard or go home fitness quotes, I could demand certain disciplines from myself for a certain amount of time, I could declare that this time was thee time that would erase the need for any other this times. But at the end of the day? I was working out for show.
And if this is brand new information to you, brace yourselves: when you’re trying to be someone you’re not, it will eventually backfire.
It did. Every. Single. This time.
It wasn’t until I stepped away from a life of show, and began living a life of true authenticity, that I was able to fully and completely grasp the matter at hand… my problem was not that I didn’t look good enough, the problem was that I didn’t value myself if I didn’t think I looked good enough. It wasn’t that I wasn’t thin enough, it was that if I didn’t feel thin enough, it would effect literally every other area of my life.
See, for three years I thought if only I would take care of myself, I would look the way I want to look, and then I will be happy. That was the message, right? Take care of yourself all the way to happiness. But that’s not how it works in real life. Because whatever root issues you are dealing with, deep down inside, being a few pounds lighter or looking a little bit tighter isn’t going to change them. They will still be there, gnawing at you, convincing you that you have to look a certain way to be valued, desired, accepted, or loved.
It wasn’t until I spent a year enduring three miscarriages, one blood poisoned trip to the hospital and two blood transfusions, that I realized it wasn’t thin that I missed being. It was healthy. Okay, okay, if I’m being honest, it was a leetle bit thin. But old habits die hard and it took some serious soul searching, brain training work to overcome that…and I’m still in process even as I write this.
Health. That’s what I missed. That’s what I wanted.
I couldn’t remember what it felt like to feel like me.
So instead of taking on the next three week challenge, or starving myself into my size two jeans (which I’m currently convinced I will never again get my muscle filled, if you please, bubble butt into), I took the advice of a good friend- a friend who saw through my desperate need to be validated by my appearance- and started lifting weights at the gym.
I didn’t correct my eating habits for a long time. I didn’t drop weight for even longer. My size didn’t decrease, my self-esteem didn’t immediately spike, I struggled through some very dark moments of “what’s the point, I’ll never be as skinny as I used to be.” And through every workout, in every utterance of despair, this friend reassured me that it takes time and it will be worth it when the time comes.
She didn’t just help me appreciate working out for strength and endurance over weight and looks. She didn’t just reacquaint me with gym equipment or boost my confidence in the weight room. She spoke to the core of my defeat. She revived me when I was ready to wave the white flag of surrender. She doesn’t know how much she truly helped me get back to me, again.
Friend, if you’re struggling with your weight, you have to find the root of your struggle. So often, our physical shape is just a reflection of how we feel about ourselves on the inside. You can’t change the outside with the hopes of changing the inside. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, these past couple of months, it’s that the inside must go first. Trust me. I feel your pain. I’ve been in those shoes. I had myself convinced that if I just looked a certain way, then I could be confident, happy, and secure.
Your weight will never define your worth. Your size will never give you security. Your looks will never liberate you.
I’ve had transformation pictures before. And again and again. But I’ve never had this is the new me pictures. I’ve never had this is me healthy, strong, and spiritually disciplined pictures. I’ve never had this is me having conquered demons and spiritual strongholds in my life pictures. I’ve never had this is me just being me for me pictures.
This is what those pictures look like:
I know this is a lot of my mug for one post, but I hope you see what I see… I see a woman who weighs 15lbs more than her “skinny” weight, who’s derriere is two sizes bigger than her smallest, who measures thicker than her thinnest… but who has stuck with a lifestyle for two months, a month longer than her previous record, and has no plans of quitting. I see a woman who loves working out for fitness’ sake, who finds strength in pushing through tough workouts, who found confidence in a puddle of sweat on the gym floor, who feels capable because of who she is, not what she wears.
I see muscle, not magic.
I see a woman turning into a stronger woman, not melting into less of her own woman.
I see a woman taking care of her physical self because her soul is filled, her life is Christ centered, and her mind is more clear.
And because my insides have been healing, my outsides decided to match.
This isn’t to promote a workout. This is to promote self-awareness. This isn’t to convince you that you need a program. This is to inspire you to realize you need Jesus. This isn’t because I love myself. This is because I’m worthy of love.
1 Corinthians 9:26-27,
“So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.”
I had to find purpose in the before, or I would have never found the forever after.
I hope this post encourages you to do the same.
What is your relationship with health and fitness?