Faith & Fitness: It’s Your Journey

Man running on the track.

We’ve come to the end of the first month of 2021. But hopefully, your new fitness regimen is just getting started. While new year’s resolutions like this often conclude by the month’s end, here are some reasons to keep going.

My fitness journey has been the most impactful transformation in 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 overall.

This blog will wrap up 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: Believing Is Seeing (Part III)

7. Every Goal Has A Price

Sometimes we go after things that while they aren’t bad, we haven’t counted the cost; much less considered it. More importantly, we haven’t committed to paying the price — whatever it takes. Securing a goal means that we must give up something good to go after something greater. The quicker you fully embrace it, the quicker you can reach it.

8. Get A Picture Of What You Want

The mind has to have a picture of the future or it’ll repeat the past. Having a vision for what you want sets a destination for your mind to reach for. Envision what it will feel and look like for you to “arrive.” When discouragement, frustration, and delay come, remember your “why.”

9. Distractions Will Come, And Sometimes In Good Packaging

Distractions are unavoidable. We simply have to decide how we’re going to deal with them in advance and not abort our goals. Handling distraction is more than just hoping something won’t come up, we have to be intentional about it. You must guard and protect your time and focus. In order to say “no,” you must have a bigger “yes.”

Let’s jump into week 4.

10. Embrace The Pain

Good pain leads to growth and gain. Bad pain means it’s time for correction.

For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems sad and painful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose]. Hebrews‬ ‭12.11‬ ‭AMP‬‬

The context of this scripture is referring to obedience in Christ that leads to true transformation. Yet it illustrates how pain and discipline can yield fruit in our lives.

It’s natural for us to want to avoid pain whenever it shows up in life. But over the years, I’ve developed a greater appreciation for the fruit that pain and suffering can bring — especially when God is at the helm of it.

In a practical sense, we know that growth happens outside of our comfort zone; and often in painful situations. Painful lessons are also usually the ones that we learn from, remember, and that push us the most.

Once I got a consistent regimen on my fitness journey, I had a season where I just seemed to coast on autopilot. I put in the time and went through the motions but there were days I barely broke a good sweat. I was avoiding the painful burns and soreness. And ultimately going nowhere in terms of progress.

It wasn’t til I leaned into the burn (good pain) of the exercise, or went harder when I wanted to quit, that I began to see real progress. For weight lifting, that meant if the muscle wasn’t burning then it wasn’t being pushed to produce growth. When it became painful, then I knew that I was in the zone. Burn the fat, build the muscle.

Eventually, there came times when I overdid it, pressing past the pain of the lift and actually liking it. Except for these times, it wasn’t a burning pain but a mechanical one. It was actually a warning pain for being over my limit and having poor form that I ignored. Ultimately, I sustained 4 injuries over the years that required physical therapy sessions and 1 surgery.

Some pain is good because it corrects and pushes us to where we need to be. But sometimes our pain is a warning sign that something is wrong and change is needed. We have to become good discerners of what our pain is telling us about our lives. Embrace the good pain. Turn away from the bad. In both, God can use and get the glory from.

11. There’s Always A Little More Left

Your mind can say you’re tired but your body can have a different story. Learning this truth was like discovering a superpower on my fitness journey. There were many times (and sometimes still are) that I just felt like I didn’t have it; I was too tired to work out, finish a set, or just wanted to leave early.

I was so bought in and determined to win my goal that I simply decided that how I felt wasn’t good enough. So I would take a moment to recenter and focus. I would remember my “why” and recall the picture of what I wanted to achieve (lesson 8). And then I would double down.

Time and time again, I would emerge from that moment with more energy and focus to complete the workout. But I always had more left than I realized. It just took a push. Athletes are famous for pulling a move out of nowhere when the odds are against them and it seems like their tank is empty. But this “push” isn’t just reserved for athletes, it’s a trait of the diligent.

The soul (appetite) of the lazy person craves and gets nothing [for lethargy overcomes ambition], but the soul (appetite) of the diligent [who works willingly] is rich and abundantly supplied. Proverbs 13.4 AMP

Consistently throughout scripture, we observe that God honors diligence. And He expects it even in matters of faith. The diligent don’t go away easily and keep pressing when pressing is hard.

12. Muscle Grows During Recovery

This is a fitness truth that’s true for life as well — whether it be a physical muscle or something like our mind. Rest and recovery is a vital component of progress.

One of the keys to effective bodybuilding, weight loss, and overall health is rest. This includes rest from activities and work, but also actual sleep. Rest and sleep even affects our mental and spiritual health (1 Kings 19).

We’ve popularized the grind today, team no-sleep and no-days-off. But that isn’t practical or biblical. From the beginning of creation, rest has been a part of God’s created order (Genesis 2.2-3).

From a fitness standpoint, you’re inflicting microdamage to muscles, ligaments, and tendons when you’re exercising. For weightlifters, this means that we’re literally creating microtears in our muscle fibers during lifts. All of this gets repaired (or doesn’t) during sleep. As a result, the muscles grow new fibers producing strength and mass. Similarly, the fat burned during exercise is expelled during recovery (rest). Believe it or not, you don’t actually lose weight once you get off of the elliptical. It gets excreted later.

Without proper rest (time off + sleep), you’ll inevitably stunt your growth and may likely induce greater health issues. Rest shouldn’t be viewed as a weakness or necessary sacrifice but rather a priority if we’re going to truly perform at our best.

Yes, people can and do run off fumes. And there are even seasons where you will have to figuratively sprint for a while because of life’s demands. But you can’t sprint forever and our bodies were never designed to. God will always get the Sabbath from you somehow — either voluntarily by resting or involuntarily in a hospital.

13. Learning Up Takes Time

In lesson 10, embrace the pain, I mentioend how I ignored the warning signs from bad pain that resulted in 4 injuries and 1 surgery. Thankfully, I learned something new from each of those moments.

As an avid weight lifter, I had to learn to never put major weight behind a new exercise. Take the time to learn it right and perfect your form. Growth comes in the details.

Scripture affirms that patience is a fruit of the spirit that God desires for us to have (Galatians 5.22-23). We need patience not just for spiritual and relational matters, but practical ones too.

Also it is not good for a person to be without knowledge, and one who hurries his footsteps errs (sins). Proverbs 19.2 NASB

When we don’t take the time to learn something properly, consequences that could’ve been avoided are inevitable. Knowledge comes through experience. And that experience doesn’t always have to be bad if we’re patient with the process. 

Whenever I’m starting a new exercise, I begin with low weight to develop and rehearse the proper form that I want to grow into. When I’m increasing weight, I gradually do so to also allow my body to “learn up” and adapt to the changes successfully. Too much too soon rarely ever, if ever, ends well.

The Next Step

I believe that if we’re willing enough to set a goal, then we owe our goal a win. The best way that we can asssure that is being accountable to our future; not just for our goals but being accountable to God’s greater purpose for our life here.

God wants us to have good health and we can achieve it with the right motivation and equipping. I hope that you enjoyed this journey with me on sharing my fitness journey, and hope to hear about your favorite lessons from your own. Sound off in the comments below.

If you missed the blog series, catch up here:

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