Slowly and unenthusiastically, I walked up the path to the log cabin at the back of our yard. I opened the door and was instantly reminded that it had been so long since going into our gym room, with spiders leaving their webs in all the corners. Before lacing up my dusty sneakers, I even checked inside of my shoes just to look out for any eight-legged stowaways!
“Okay, Joy, you can do this! Get going, you’ve procrastinated for long enough,” I told myself as I felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge.
My heart wasn’t in it at the beginning, but I knew starting back up on a few workouts a week was precisely what my body needed. As my brittle arms and legs started moving, thirty minutes on the clock dwindled down to twenty and eventually to ten. By the end of the session with lifting weights and doing squats, I felt quite proud of myself for getting back into exercise. It was hard work and early beginnings, but I had made another start!
Like many busy mothers, my pathway through weight gain/loss/gain has been up and down like a yo-yo multiple times. I have told myself repeatedly, “I don’t have time to work out! I’m always sacrificing for my family. That extra weight gain is just part of the deal in giving birth to children, right?” It can be all too easy to make excuses when real effort is needed to properly take care of ourselves.
A few years ago, my husband and I went on a journey to get emotionally healthier in our marriage and also as individuals. As we started to do the work of addressing childhood traumas and processing through our issues, we both realized that we also needed to address our unhealthy habits of eating and avoidance of exercise as well. Spiritually, emotionally, and mentally we were doing better, but physically, we were both lacking. We made a constructive effort to start eating better and get our bodies moving through exercise.
Since then, I’ve had many “stops and starts” to working out. I’ve noticed that I have a tendency to try to take care of all areas of my life except anything to do with exercise. Working out is sort of my last resort, but now, I realize that it has been the missing element for many years of my adult life.
It is early days, but I am determined to stick with a weekly exercise plan of working out a few times a week even if, from time to time, I start and stop! I know that including God in my quest to feel physically healthier will push me to persevere. He knows I need it to get stronger, let go of stress, and take care of my body, which is a temple for the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) If I put my Bible on the shelf and never looked at it, I would be spiritually malnourished and similarly, if I don’t take the time to put on my sneakers to actually exercise, I’m not really looking after my physical body as I should.
My goal isn’t to be a certain size or put all of this effort into shaping my body a certain way. Instead, I am choosing to focus on God, recognising that He wants me to be holistically healthy in my mind, spirit, heart, and body. As I prioritize some regular exercise, I am respecting the body that God has given to me by looking after it. I am starting to feel better physically, learning to release stress that has built up in my body, and having more positive energy to give to my family.
Exercise and eating well are such a personal journey for each of us and just as we pray for God to teach us to have His wisdom or to demonstrate the fruits of the Spirit, we can pray that He will grant each of us an understanding of how to best look after ourselves, including our physical bodies. May we take to heart Paul’s words in Romans 12:1, “To offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”
Thank you that you love each one of us exactly as we are and that you care about us in our entirety. Please help inspire us to be healthier in how we nourish and look after our bodies. Keep us away from comparing ourselves to others or looking to social media on what our size, shape, or weight should be. Instead, may your Holy Spirit guide us to individually take care of ourselves to the best of our ability in mind, spirit, heart, and body.
In Jesus’ name we pray,