Generally speaking, people come into a fitness program with the intention of changing something. Sometimes it’s a dress size. Sometimes it’s how they look in a bathing suit. Other times, they want to change something about a physical attribute like their strength or mobility. Unfortunately, these goals are often driven by what society thinks we should be.
At one point in time, women were expected to be thin and possess something called a “thigh gap”. Now, it’s become more popular for women to weight train because “strong is the new sexy”. Now to be clear, I am all for women strength training. But it should be because it’s healthy for them and they fell good about it. Not because a t-shirt says so. For men, the dynamics are different but no less impractical. With the debut of Arnold’s “Pumping Iron” and the publication of “Arnold: The Education of a Bodybuilder” men suddenly had a standard of muscularity that less than 1% of the population would ever achieve. Of course you also had the action heroes of the 80’s like Sly Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme whose physiques were not quite as large but no less impressive in terms of their low levels of body fat. That has actually continued today with the popularity of super hero movies that require the actors to actually look like those super heroes. Sadly, this doesn’t even scratch the surface as I haven’t mentioned magazines and social media.
So to circle back around, this leads people to come into the gym with the intent of changing. Here’s the problem. I’m not sure we are supposed to change. I believe that rather than changing, we need to pursue becoming the best possible versions of ourselves. Isaiah 64:8 tells us that “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Jeremiah 29:11 tells us this, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” So what I take from these verses is that God made me with a specific plan in mind. And I don’t believe He makes mistakes.
So why change when fundamentally, there’s nothing wrong with me (not saying I am perfect, I’m a sinner in need of a savior like everyone else)? It’s like saying that what is here, what God made, isn’t right. Let me tell you something. You are exactly who God made you to be. So show yourself the same grace He does. Learn to appreciate who you are, your special gifts and talents. Once you have done that, you can pursue an improvement in your lifestyle and health in a manner that lifts you up. You can show your body appreciation rather than beat it into submission. You can be a good steward of what you have been given rather than abuse it in hopes of transforming it. You can show yourself love rather than loathing. The image that comes to mind here is one of a sculptor chipping away to reveal the beautiful creation that was there all along.
Okay. So hopefully, this sounds all well and good. But how do you put it into action? How do you move forward with this? You do it with small steps. You do it with a community of support. You have someone to hold you accountable. The key here is to underwhelm yourself so that you can be consistent and then build on it from there. I’m going to give you a few ideas. If you need to improve either your exercise or nutrition, pick one (from both lists if you need work on both) that you believe you can be successful with.
- 100 kettlebell swings per day, 3-6 times per week
- 15 minute walk 3-5 times per week
- Squats to a chair, planks and hip bridges for 2-3 sets, 2-3 times per week
- Bike ride for 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times per week
- Drink 3 glasses of water before bed time every day
- Eat protein with each meal
- Have a salad with lunch and dinner
- Use pie plates at dinner time (leads to smaller portions)
Now that you have your marching orders, your next step is to tell someone. You can leave a comment in the comment section. You can use your social media outlets. You can tell someone in your life group at Church. You can go to the Project Fitness Facebook page and leave a comment on the post related to this blog entry. There are literally hundreds of ways to go about this. Again, the key is to set the bar low, not with the intention of staying there but to allow consistency at first. Then later on you can move the bar up. If you take me up on this little challenge, let me know what you chose to work on. I hope you found this helpful.