Faith & Fitness: Believing Is Seeing

Man running on the track.

It’s hard to believe that January is wrapping up so soon, but hopefully your new diets and fitness regimens are just getting started.

As I shared in the part 2 of our blog series, Faith & Fitness: Going For The Win, my fitness journey has been the most impactful transformation of my life next to faith. And amazingly, it was this journey that helped me realize the significance of health and fitness to our faith and life purpose.

During the month of January, I’m sharing 13 lessons from my own faith and fitness journey. Over the years, I’ve picked up many nuggets and revelations on this road (spiritual and practical) that I hope will inspire and equip you on your fitness journey to a better life.

Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. 3 John 1.2 AMP

A re-cap of Faith & Fitness: Going For The Win (Part II)

3. Set Your Goals Up For A Win

Although it’s not a 100% guarantee alone, preparation is the single most important ingredient to success in anything. Supporting good habits through preparation tees up your goal by anticipating and learning what you’ll need (or don’t need) to see success in that goal. Example: You can’t eat what you don’t buy.

4. See Food As Fuel For The Journey

All too often, we adopt the mentality and practice of living to eat instead of eating in order to live. God deserves our physical best. And if we’re going to run for the long haul, the journey will demand it.

5. Attack Problems From Multiple Angles

Don’t limit your solutions to just one approach or school of thought. More often than not, there may be more than one answer. And it may actually take more than one answer. Good health has multiple factors and strings attached. Pull them all until you get what you want.

6. Create Positive Associations And Rewards

Motivators (things to look forward to) help us to associate positive feels with challenging and intimidating tasks. Find things to look forward to. Make the time enjoyable, not a drag. And celebrate your milestones, big and small.

Let’s jump into week 3.

7. Every Goal Has A Price

The quicker you embrace it, the quicker you can reach it.

You will have to do things that you don’t want to do and don’t feel like doing; things that aren’t fun or are inconvenient in order to reach your goal(s). We know this already, hence why we procrastinate and resist change. But coming to the realization with yourself that “this goal will cost me something” (but something that will be worth it) just hits different.

Sometimes we have to think about what we’re thinking about. And these conversations with ourselves can go a long way in framing our minds for what we need to do.

I don’t like the treadmill and I used to hate it. But at a critical point in my regimen, this is what I needed to do more consistently to go to the next level — no exceptions. When I came to the realization that I couldn’t get what I wanted without this step, my attitude changed about it.

I couldn’t fully embrace the treadmill until I made the goal bigger than the obstacles [in my mind]. Only then did the goal become bigger than my desire to not want to do the treadmill.

Like the persistent widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18.1-8), we have to be hungry for what we’re after. We have to want the end result more than we want not getting it. We’ve got to be willing to forgo our comforts and conveniences. Sort of like fasting and sacrifice 😀. We must give up something good (comfort) to go after something greater (goal).

8. Get A Picture Of What You Want

The mind has to have a picture of the future or it’ll repeat the past.

Like the others, this principle applies well beyond fitness goals. It’s said that the mind doesn’t begin to reach for something (a goal) until it has a picture or instructions of what it needs to do. It’s like setting a GPS destination for where you want to go. But instead of coordinates, like an artist, you envision what you want to see.

In Scripture, we know this from the principle of casting and following vision. Consider Proverbs 29.18 ESV: “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.”

In other words, without a vision to guide you (a picture of what you want), you’re prone to go anywhere or exactly nowhere. A vision not only sets our target, but it also keeps us disciplined and focused (Nehemiah 2.11-18).

One of the ways I did this in my fitness journey was to get an actual picture of the physique that I wanted (within reason and healthy boundaries). To clarify: I didn’t set out to find a picture of someone’s body that I felt or the culture felt that I needed to have in order to feel valued or accepted. I knew my worth, purpose, and was secure in them.

I simply found pictures (from athletes) with body physiques that matched what I wanted or envisioned for myself. This distinction is important because without it, we can easily fall prey to the comparison game; running a race that’s not ours trying to keep up with someone else’s “social media life.”

In all of our goal setting and going, it’s ever so important to remember our “why.” When discouragement, frustration, and delay come, and they will — remember why you started this and why you want it.

9. Distractions Will Come, And Sometimes In Good Packaging

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10.38-42 ESV

There are many many lessons (and perspectives) to take from this famous story of Jesus, Mary, and Martha. One of these is the lesson of avoiding distraction. Mary was unbothered and undeterred to be with Jesus in this moment (her goal). Martha, for better or worse, was distracted with everything else that was commanding her attention before getting to her goal (Jesus). 

Oftentimes, especially with goals, distractions won’t always be these epic, dramatic, movie-like interruptions. They’ll often come disguised in quiet and even subtle non-threatening ways.

Over the years, I’ve turned down numerous invites (unapologetically) to dinners, functions, parties, last minute whatevers — just so that I could stay focused on keeping my fitness regimen, and ultimately, my goal. While there were exceptions, I made it a point to protect and guard this time with conviction.

It wasn’t to be a jerk, look the part of being “dedicated,” or even to “worship my regimen.” No, the regimen served me — not the other way around. But I understood early on how fragile this habit was [for me] to form, and how skipping days could easily throw it off and set me back.

It was better for me to give up some things for the benefit of building consistency and staying focused on my fitness goals. Interestingly, it was only when I started a fitness regimen with goals that all of the distractions “suddenly” appeared. And yet, they weren’t bad things. Hanging out with friends, going to an impromptu dinner, etc. — these are all good things. But when they put me in a position that could compromise my regimen and goals, it was usually a hard pass for me.

As I became more consistent in my regimen, confident in my abilities, and progressed in my goals, I was able to adopt greater flexibility in staying faithful to my regimen while responding to things that came up. Oftentimes, this simply meant planning ahead, moving my work out time, or scheduling a make-up a day. The difference was that I now had the discipline to follow through instead of falling off.

Distractions are unavoidable — they will come. We simply have to decide how we’re going to deal with them and not abandon our goals or kill a new habit we’re trying to form.

Handling distraction is more than just hoping something won’t come up. It has to be intentional. We have to guard and protect our time and focus.

In order to say “no,” we must have a bigger “yes.”

The Next Step

Winning a goal begins with wanting “it” more than we want the things preventing us from getting “it.” God wants us to have good health and we can achieve it with the right motivation and equipping.

What inspired you about these lessons from my own fitness journey? What are some of your favorite lessons from your own journey? Sound off in the comments below.

Check out part 4 and the final edition of our Faith & Fitness blog series — It’s Your Journey.

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