Disclaimer: Before I delve into this post, I’d like to put some things on the record. I am not currently in the best shape of my life. I do not look like a fitness model, far from it; I just had two kids in two years. I am NOT coming from a place of judgement or telling you what you need to do. I’m merely sharing my own experience. I’m posting this, not to judge anyone, but because I’m passionate about the subject. I was in MMA for years, and for a brief time, a certified personal trainer. Exercise has played a major role in my life, and I wanted to share my experience.
The fitness industry is HUGE; valued at approximately 390 billion dollars (source). It is projected to grow in the coming years and I understand why. We value our exercise as a source of health and even our identity. But even with all that resting on it, exercise seems to come in spurts for most. There is this cycle of getting motivated, exercising like crazy, exercise slowly declining, not exercising at all, and the cycle continues (maybe it’s just me?). I would argue that the problem (and cure) for this cycle is the heart; the wellspring of life. Where your heart is on the subject will inevitably shape your relationship with exercise. Honestly search your heart to see how you feel about the matter. Here are some reasons exercise doesn’t matter (and why it does).
Why Exercise Does NOT Matter
I have (and still do sometimes) exercised for the sake of vanity. I can have a mental picture of what I want to look like and use that as motivation for exercise. I picture myself looking a certain way and achieving a sense of satisfaction within myself. I was curious and decided to look up what vanity actually means. I don’t know about you, but I use way too many words without really knowing their definition. Anyway, vanity means, “lack of real value; hollowness; worthlessness.” Ugh! This is not what I wanted to hear. However, it makes sense for me! My fitness regimens and diets that are motivated by vanity, NEVER LAST! I think for me personally, the hollowness of being motivated by vanity isn’t enough to make the hard decision to exercise when I’m exhausted and don’t want to make time.
Pride (not to be mistaken with confidence)
This is the other reason my resolves don’t last. Let’s say vanity has motivated me to exercise to the point that I’m feeling pretty good about myself. I’ll give you an uncensored preview into my thoughts at this point, “I’m amazing! I look great! Well, that was I wanted. I don’t really need to do tomorrow’s exercise, because I already look amazing and that’s all I wanted out of this.” Don’t get me wrong, I might actually be amazing and look great, but clinging to that in the spirit of puffing myself up WILL NOT LAST FOR ME! I usually stop exercising (because my vanity has been briefly satisfied), but then I fall back into feeling terrible. This usually makes me feel insecure, causing me to long for vanity; the achieved vanity puts me in a puffed up state of pride, but that doesn’t last. Do you see the cycle?
I’m embarrassingly competitive. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being competitive, but it depends on the spirit of the thing. If my exercise is mostly motivated for the sake of comparison, it won’t last. Comparing myself to someone can result in two ways. One, I come up short; this makes me feel insecure and I might even quietly resent the person I compared myself too. Second, I come up better; this makes me judgmental and unemphatic towards the person I was comparing myself too. There’s a great blog, Compared To Who, that dives further into the subject, I can’t tell you how much I love Heather’s writing. She writes in an incredibly relatable way and makes me feel normal!
Why Exercise DOES Matter
Exercise DOES matter though! Scientifically speaking, exercise has been proven to increase your life expectancy, lowers your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, improves heart-lung function, reduces stress and gives you an endorphin boost! Just because there are lots of reasons that shouldn’t motivate you to exercise, there are many more that should motivate you.
Take Care of Yourself
We only have one body while we are on earth and we should take care of it! I’ve been tempted with the idea that “I’m young now, so I should just enjoy myself; I can worry about my health when I’m older.” The thing is though, I would like to lay a healthy foundation now, while I’m young. As a Mom, I can completely tell the difference in my energy when I’ve gotten to exercise. I have more energy and am less stressed.
There is no uniform bar of success when it comes to exercise. Through prayer and wise counsel, the Lord has been working in this area of my life. When you are free of the cycle of vanity and pride, free of comparing yourself others, there is so much freedom, confidence and joy to be had! It’s a hard thing to do, but I encourage you to examine your heart and motives in regards to exercise. The results of freedom and confidence don’t come from a HIIT routine, but from having the right motives.
Set An Example
This is a personal reason and by no means applies to everyone. I personally, want my daughter to have a healthy relationship with exercise. I want to be aware of my speech around her in regards to exercise. I want her to see me joyfully exercising. This is an ideal that I have by no means achieved, but I believe in having goals.
Exercise is a routine part of our lives, how we relate to it matters. Take the time to consider why you exercise (or why you don’t). I believe that examining your heart and prayerfully changing can result in a heart that has a healthy perspective on exercise, and this change of heart will inevitably have positive impacts on other areas of your life.