I’m ‘trying’ to get back into my exercise routine after another injury followed by just plain ole lack of motivation. I say trying, because I’m really having a hard time starting back consistently. I can think of 100 other things I’d rather be doing and sadly going to the dentist had made the list.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t love exercise. I love the benefits it gives me and I know I’ll feel better once I start, but starting—not so much.
So I finally got back to the gym a few days ago and I heard this message in my spirit …
“If you want a thing to be,
take your time and go slowly
do one thing and do it well,
simple things are holy.”
It’s not a new message. The quip has been playing in my mind for the last 20 years, but this time I really tuned-in to understand what it meant in this particular situation.
Once I got to the gym, I noticed the old familiar conversations starting to play in my head—you know, those conversations you have when you make promises to yourself that feel good at the time but deep down inside you know you don’t really them.
“I’m never going to stop working out again!”
“I’m going to go to the gym everyday!” I told myself.
And, “I’m going to train hard.”
“When I get home, I’m going to go on the internet and find the perfect program.”
I heard all of these great plans that I often make, but never last.
My desire is to exercise consistently and stay healthy. I’m so tired of the starts and stops and inconsistencies.
So, as I left the gym the other day, here are the lessons that the Holy Spirit confirmed in my spirit for me. Maybe they will resonate with you too.
1. Don’t make it a production. We overthink our exercise. How long should I go for? Should I do the treadmill or the StairMaster? Is it better to go everyday, or 3 times per week? What’s the best exercises for fat-burning? I don’t want to gain too much muscle. And on and on we go, ‘getting ready to get ready’ and never taking action.
The best exercise is the one you do, so forget all the spreadsheets, internet research, shopping for the right outfits, waiting for your new Amazon workout, and just ‘do something’.
Yes, you want to be knowledgeable, but all the knowledge is useless if you don’t ever get off the couch. If you’re really serious about getting active, you don’t need a gym membership, or a new workout video. Right where you are right now, you can ‘do something’.
2. Take it one day at a time. Don’t worry about tomorrow and if you’ll be able to maintain your momentum. Don’t waste time agonizing about how you’ll be able to fit it into your busy schedule. Focus on today, focus on what you can do to be more active today. Focus on moving your body to the best of your ability today. Worrying about tomorrow will leave you feeling stressed and may lead to procrastination because you may tell yourself that what you do today won’t make a difference anyway, so why bother.
Secondly, no matter what the voices in your head tell you, don’t put it off. Don’t tell yourself later, because later will never come. Don’t tell yourself you’ll do it tomorrow because tomorrow will come and go and you still won’t do it. Adopt a do-it-now policy and don’t talk yourself out of it. You will never regret exercising.
3. Focus on incorporating exercise into your everyday life. This goes along with the first point about not making exercise a production. Choose a simple activity that you can easily work into your daily life such as walking for 5 minutes, dancing for one song, doing leg raises while talking on the phone, marching on the spot while washing the dishes, or doing 10 squats over the toilet seat! Get as creative as you can! Make it a game to look for opportunities to move throughout your day.
We make excuses like, ‘We don’t have a gym membership’ or ‘We don’t know what to do.’ Working it into your daily life is a great way to start. This strategy takes all the excuses out of exercise.
4. Focus on fun. We quit exercising because the thought of it can be overwhelming or painful. Until we change the way we think about exercise, we will continue to put it in the negative category. Try something fun like dancing to one song per day; engage in some friendly competition with a buddy; enter a contest or a challenge (if that motivates you). Try tools like a Fitbit to track your steps.
When I was at the gym, I listened to an eBook and some praise music. This energized my workout and made me feel both energized and efficient.
5. Ground your motivation in Christ. Studies show that people who exercise because they ‘should’ or because they ‘need’ to lose weight are not able to maintain their motivation. Your desire to exercise should be intrinsic—meaning you should do it because you want to take care of your temple; you want to glorify God; you want to do something good for yourself.
Spend a bit of time and ask yourself why getting active is so important. Come up with as many intrinsic reasons why exercise is important.
6. Make exercise time prayer time. For many of us Christian women, it’s easier to do things for other people than it is to do for ourselves. Use your exercise time as a time to pray for others.
Another tip is to quote scripture while lifting weight. For example, when I’m doing a bicep curl—when I’m raising the weights I say, “I can do all things through Christ” and when I’m lowering the weight I say, “Who gives me strength.”
Exercise may never be on your list of things you love to do, however, you can begin to change your mind about how you feel about it. Try one or two of these strategies.
I pray they have a positive impact on your mindset about exercise.
P.S. if you are tired of circling the same mountain over and over and want a Christ-centered approach to lasting weight loss without feeling guilty, deprived, or overwhelmed, be sure to sign up for our video course program right away at cathymorenzie.com