In last week’s exercise article, I mentioned that I’m a klutz. All throughout my school years, whenever we had to pick teams in PE class I was usually one of the last to be chosen. You know how it goes, only two kids left to pick and the captains of each team will say, very reluctantly, “Okay, you take Susie over there and I’ll take Kim.” Not that I wasn’t liked by the other kids, it was because I had no athletic ability, none at all. I briefly thought about cheerleading, but visions of my parents receiving a call that I was in the emergency room due to an accident involving pompom entanglement kept me from trying.
In my high school years I always compared myself to my friends who were cheerleaders and basketball stars and felt inferior due to my lack of athletic skills. Comparison of this kind is never helpful, and only leads to feelings of inadequacy. In my case, it caused me to view exercise as something to be endured and suffered through, therefore avoided whenever possible lest I clue anyone else in on the fact that I had two left feet.
For those of you who know me, you’re probably scratching your head and saying, “Huh?” You’ve seen me jogging with Toby Dog and know how much I love it. I’ll let you in on a secret – when I first began this journey, when I finally gave my physical and spiritual over to God, for the most part the eating wasn’t that difficult. I knew that in order to lose the weight nutrition had to be in line. Toeing the line on exercise was much harder for me. I was doing one thing right, why did I have to do both? I was walking daily at this point, but it was with a reluctant heart and most days I had to force myself to begin each and every exercise session.
One day it came to me like a revelation that exercise could actually be a joyful time. I remember clearly that particular morning I was taking with my mother, who has rheumatoid arthritis. She’s tried several different medications and the ones that really work for her she’s allergic to. This morning I could hear in her voice the weariness of constantly being in pain, never knowing what joint is going to be hurting and unusable from day to day. Even the simple things like walking, which I had complete ability to do and had to force myself to do, is sometimes an ordeal for her. Even so, she was discussing her day, a little laundry, a trip to the grocery store, not giving up on her plans despite the pain.
That morning completely changed the way I thought about exercise. I realized I didn’t have to be athletically gifted, run like a gazelle or easily be able to learn aerobic dance routines. I needed to appreciate my body just as it is, klutz or not, and enjoy the privilege of being able to move and exercise. My exercise time went from one of forced resignation to a physical expression of thanksgiving and surrender to God.
How did you do on your exercise goals last week? If you have not yet made specific goals, here are some tips for to help you get going this week.
- Write down what you want to accomplish this week. If you want to make long-term goals, remember to keep them realistic. Track your progress in an exercise log as well as how you feel after working out, both physically and mentally.
- If you have an exercise buddy, share your goals with each other and support each other in prayer.
- If you have chosen to do this alone, consider asking someone to pray specifically for you this week.
- If you did not incorporate exercise into your routine last week, don’t beat yourself up about it. Each minute is a new gift from God and you have the opportunity to start fresh, regardless of the time of day or day of the week.
If you did well on your exercise goals, here are some tips to keep the momentum going.
- Add one small thing to your exercise routine. If you are walking, add 25 steps. You don’t have to go in hyper-mode, a cardio routine should have you breathing a little faster (not gasping!) and perspiring slightly.
- If you are strength training, add five more repetitions. Remember, you do not have to use weights to have an effective strength-training session. It’s all about control and resistance. If you’re performing the moves correctly, your muscles will benefit. When I go into a gym and see folks working out and slinging weights around, it’s very difficult for me to hold my tongue. When they’re performed in that manner, you’re getting very little benefit other than cardio and not doing your muscles any favors. Strength training is about slow, controlled movement.
- If you are unable to do much physically, and are exercising from a seated position, hold a can of beans or a bottle of water (lighter than beans) in your hand as you raise your arm. For leg exercises, tie a towel around your ankle as a sling for the same items you used for your arms and do leg lifts. If you can’t handle the extra weights, it’s okay, just move!
This week, remember to thank God for the privilege of moving and exercising and also ask Him to remind you to never take it for granted!