(First appeared as a guest contribution post on Sanctuary Ministry Wives - August 1, 2016 blog)
I’m in the ministry. I’ve got faith. Why do I need fitness?
Simply put, to honor God and bring Him glory in all areas of our lives.
The body, mind and soul all work together. One overlaps the other. Each affects the other. It makes sense that if Christ came to give us an abundantly satisfying life in body, mind and soul, the devil has a counter mission to steal, kill and destroy that body, mind and soul (John 10:10). But, God offers His strength to empower our choices, including our fitness and nutrition journey.
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
In 2012, my husband and I had transitioned from a state leadership position held for almost twelve years in our denomination to ministry more of missions-fundraising. Travel intensified from within one state to around the USA and the globe. Days and nights sitting in a car or plane or at meetings around the dinner table of high calorie and fatty meals were grabbed with convenience in mind. In no time, an on-the-go-sedentary life and poor nutritional choices piled on the weight. Additionally, we were genetically predisposed to health issues.
That December, my husband suffered a heart attack.
I sat up all night in a dark corner of his hospital room praying and observing the attentive cardiac team and listening to my honey’s breathing and all the various beeps from equipment monitoring his life on earth…his life with me. Being a Believer in God’s power for healing, I didn’t want to hear comforting words of well-meaning friends. I just wanted to sense the nearness of my Savior, Jesus Christ. And, I did.
A couple of weeks prior, God had been dealing with me about diet and exercise. Now, there was purpose. With our motivations being defined, we drove away from the hospital making a pact to pursue good health. We moved forward and have not stopped.
Allow me to offer 8 hard-learned suggestions to help you discover a healthier YOU.
(1) KNOW YOUR WHY. Knowing why you pursue something is much like knowing your calling to ministry. For it is in those difficult times, when it would be easier to throw up your hands in defeat, instead to wrangle resolve knowing what holds you to the commitment.
For us, the motivation to be physically fit was to live without fear and to live fully for God, family, ministry and ourselves.
(2) IT’S A LIFESTYLE. Shifting from years, even decades, with little to no thought toward the consequences of poor nutrition and no exercise has on your body, requires a complete change in mental process. You CAN do this! How bad do you want it?
I could make gravy and mac-n-cheese from scratch! I had to learn how to make low-to-no fat meals. We opted for food and beverages naturally sweetened. Discovering which fast food restaurants have something to offer was frustrating, at times. It’s not about restriction. It’s about the freedom of living and feeling better! And, when people start seeing the changes, you’ll know fitness has been your witness to draw others to Christ!
(3) FIND A FITNESS REGIME THAT MAKES YOU SMILE. The first TWO WEEKS of your new exercise regime will be the hardest. After the initial fatigue and muscle soreness, you may want to give up. Stick to it! Consistency is the key. If after a month (at least 3 times each week), you still do not like this particular brand of fitness, try something new for another month.
“If I’m moving, I’m winning!” This became and is still very much my fitness motto.
(4) FOOD PREPARATION. The two toughest challenges in a nutritional change are *not giving up and *preparing meals, especially if you have a busy lifestyle.
When I don’t prepare a menu or if I skip weekend food prep for the meals ahead, my hubby and I will end up making poor nutritional choices.
(5) HYDRATE. You simply must drink more water, especially during your fitness session. Tell-tale signs you may be dehydrated: Dry mouth and lips. Gently pinching skin beneath your bottom eyelashes, and it stays pinched. Feeling thirsty.
There are conflicting reports of just how much H2O a person should consume daily. MY TIPS: However much water you’re drinking, drink 8 ozs more. AND, let the first thing you consume in the morning and the last thing you consume each evening be a glass of water. AND, try flavoring your water with sugar-free mix-ins or fruit or essential oils.
(6) WELLNESS EXAM. If you can financially swing it -OR- if your health insurance covers a yearly exam, do it! You’ll have a good base of numbers to launch forward. Find out cholesterol, weight (ugh), blood pressure, thyroid (TSH) levels, etc, and then, you’ll know what type of nutrition to pursue. Don’t be overwhelmed if your physician suggests meds to control these areas. Typically, they opt for fitness and nutrition as their first prescription.
(7) ACCOUNTABILITY. Fitness can be fun. Fitness with friends is the best! Why? Laughter, support, and celebration! Fitness friendships spur one another on with encouragement and a healthy dose of competition… or, if you konk-out, someone is there to call 9-1-1! C’mon, I’m just kidding!
(8) CHEAT MEAL. Sure, those cravings for chips and fudge brownies will still be there, but it’s important not to destroy your hard work for a steady diet of them. Go ahead! Enjoy a cheat meal to get it out of your system! Then, get back on track. More than likely, you will notice the sluggish feeling these cheat foods induce.
I am happy to report my preacher-man is doing great! He gets me moving when I have a case of the Idontwannas! We brought down cholesterol levels significantly. Together, we run 5K and 10K races and half-marathons. Finding new places to hike while traveling for ministry is fun!
I never thought fitness would be a platform to share the Gospel, but it has become an integral part of weekly ministry for me! I became a REFIT® Revolution Instructor and absolutely love helping others to pursue a lifestyle of fitness and nutrition! FITNESS IS MY WITNESS!
It bears repeating, ministry, faith and fitness go together. YOU can do this!
Dessert Menu: (suggested books and media)
SanctuaryMinistryWives.com founded by Bridgette Tomlin
REFIT® Revolution founded by Angela Beeler
The Body Tithe Devotional written by Matthew Pryor