I have never been much of a fitness buff. I think I knew that for sure in grade 7 when my parents signed me up for downhill skiing lessons. It was the most terrifying experience of my life. My legs, they just didn't move that way. There was a river at the bottom of the hill. I could never stop. I was sure I was going into that cold water every time. I couldn't even get myself on the chair lift without becoming a tangled mess of ski poles and snow pants. I shut that lift down one night, with the entire population of my small town staring at me. My sports mishaps went on from there. Another unfortunate ski incident in grade 10 (I went down the hill on my face), a basketball or two to the head, an awkward time on the uneven bars. Everything I tried seemed to encourage me more and more that I was not cut out for anything athletic. I couldn't even do a cartwheel. I gave up.
I had a turning point a few years ago. I was at a staff training weekend and there was a high ropes course. I looked at that course like it was Mount Everest. I thought, "There no chance in this world that I can reach one level." Guess what? With an encouraging climbing partner, I made it all the way to the top. It was one of the best days of my life. I had massive amazing bruises on my arms and legs to show for weeks. I realized then that fitness wasn't really about sports, but that fitness could be about pushing yourself in other ways to be healthy. I knew I would never go near a ski hill again, but there had to be something that even I could do to get in shape.
Then, I discovered running. It was a stretch at first. There is really nothing more terrifying for me than to run in public. But some friends had an app on their smartphone that claimed could take you from the couch to 5K. So I tried it. I would put on giant sunglasses (because I didn't want to be recognized), set my playlist and off I went. The first time I tried it, I thought I might die. I had to run 60 seconds, mixed in with 90 seconds of walking. My lungs almost collapsed. It was a sad sight indeed. But something in me just loved the challenge. Soon I would grow to love that little annoying voice that would tell me when I could walk and when I could run. I had a love/hate relationship with her and I was going to make sure I ran until she told me I could stop. She would not win! I would beat her. Soon, my body began to crave the running and pushing myself to the next level. I loved the challenge.
I say all that not to brag. It's been two years and I still haven't run 5K. This fall I got to my farthest level - to week 5. The most pain and the farthest I have pushed myself, it was awesome. I will kick off in the spring and my goal is to complete the rest of the levels.
Exercise is about more than losing weight. It's really showed me that I can do things that I thought I couldn't do and that has helped me in other areas of my life. It has helped me mentally in hard times to clear my head and gain perspective; it has encouraged me set goals, been significant spiritually as I spend time in prayer and worship, allowed me to think through life decisions and to step outside my comfort zone. This summer my son started running with me and it was a great time for us together to push each other. There have been so many benefits in my life just from stepping outside my door and starting to run.
I believe that fitness is part of what God has for us. God wants us to take care of our bodies, and the benefits that we gain from it are part of the whole health that he has for our lives. He doesn't care if I ever ski again, but my mental state, my emotions - all those things that are benefitted when I exercise make me grow and thrive in other areas of my life that he has called me to. He cares about all aspects of what I do. I love that fitness is one area highlighted in the Daniel Plan. It's one of the key elements in being whole and living a life that is balanced and healthy. Check out more about it at www.thedanielplan.com
Start for yourself a fitness journey that works for you. You don't have to become a sports superstar, or run a marathon. Get out there and challenge yourself in a new area and watch how God can use that to transform other parts of your life. All in his health plan for you!