Self-Love and Health: Redefining Exercise

I don’t know about you, but I have spent my life despising exercise. I ate like a bird and had a high metabolism, so no one was the wiser, but ask me to exercise and you would get a million excuses why I couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t. Running was equivalent to ancient Chinese torture. Can you relate at all? If you can, phew! I’m not alone! If you are one of those women with a love for going hard at the gym, I applaud you! I went through thirty-one years of my life and Navy bootcamp thinking exercise was something we HAD to do and that there was not a single way out there of doing it that I would enjoy. Boy was I wrong!

Do not be conformed to this world.”

Romans 12:2

This verse holds true to exercise and how we view it as well. It doesn’t have to be an hour long torturous event. See, that’s where I always got tripped up. I thought I had to set aside a half hour or hour of my time every single day for at least five days a week in order to be healthy and that’s just not true. I thought exercise consisted of running, jogging, lifting weights, riding bikes, or taking group classes like Pilates or Cardio Step. I didn’t know there was a whole world of exercise out there that could actually be enjoyable, or that I didn’t have to do it all at once in a day for it to be effective!

Let me tell you a little about how I figured this out…

Throughout 2018 I gained a good 20 pounds. I ate more than I ever have before and I moved less than any person should. Some days it would be a struggle to walk 2,500 steps! I know this because I have a smart watch that tells me when I’m being lazy. I still wasn’t motivated to do something about it, though, until the dreaded realization that if I didn’t do something about it I would be saying goodbye to the majority of my wardrobe and spending a fortune buying bigger pants and shirts. That woke me up. Ask me to spend money on clothes and I recoil. In January 2019, my boyfriend and I decided to participate in our church’s corporate “Daniel Fast”. That was the beginning of it all. My body got used to not eating as much, rationing its portions and making better choices. The beauty was I didn’t even realize what was going on because my focus was on God and growing closer to Him through fasting and not on dieting or losing weight! There was one awful side effect to this, though. One that is no stranger to me and one that I have been struggling with my whole life, as I’m sure many of you are as well; lack of energy! I’ve tried getting 8 hours of sleep every night, eating better, drinking more coffee, but nothing gave me the energy I needed to not be a zombie throughout my day (especially between 2pm and 5pm, never fails!). That’s when it happened. I don’t know when exactly or how, but a voice inside me (God) said, “Get up and run in place for 5 minutes at your desk.” Seriously? Run? Ick! But you’re God, so okay. You know what’s best. So I did it. I did it every hour while I was at work except during lunch and guess what…I didn’t hate it! And it worked! Here’s my theory on why…

Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.”

3 John 2:2

DON’T MAKE IT ABOUT LOSING WEIGHT: Once I took the focus off the extra pounds I’d added and shifted over to wanting more energy, the task did not seem so daunting. I knew if I ran in place for five minutes it would get my blood flowing and I would feel better, more alert, less likely to make mistakes. Granted, I have a private office where I can do this, but hey! Don’t be afraid to start a movement in your workplace and lead by example if you don’t have your own office. By not thinking about weight loss, I’ve lost 11+ pounds and counting. And I have more energy than I’ve ever had before! I FEEL good, and that’s what is most important, ladies!

Image result for energetic woman

DON’T OVERLOAD YOURSELF: The thing that always turned me off from exercising was the time consumption. With that 30-60 minutes a day, I could be doing something much more useful! (Though I doubt I ever did) But, by breaking up my exercise into small, staggered increments throughout my day, it became manageable! I didn’t feel I was giving up much of anything to do it. It was no longer a burden but a short burst. This is most likely not popular because we’re told if you don’t sweat it’s not a workout. I’m here to tell you that’s not true at all! Thanks to my handy-dandy smart watch, I know that if I run in place for five minutes I am burning between 20-30 calories. Do that five times a day and I just burned 100-150 calories! And it was easy too! Slow and steady wins the race, ladies. Otherwise, we are inclined to burn ourselves out and give up.

Image result for Simple exercises

MAKE IT FUN: Exercise does not have to be conventional. It does not have to be a five mile run to count for something. It does not have to be a $100/month gym membership to be worthwhile. A lot of the things we enjoy burn calories right up without us knowing it (if only we did them more often!) I’ve included a few of my favs and the amount of calories they burn for me. Of course, calories burned varies with weight but that’s what all these neat health apps are for, right? Figuring it out for us!

  • Taking a 20 minute walk with the family after dinner (72 calories)
  • Horseback riding (If this interests you but you don’t have the means to buy your own horse, because come on! They’re expensive boogers! Call around to local stables and ask about leasing a horse monthly. I did and got to ride 4-5 times a week, 16-20 times a month, as long as I wanted for only $200/mnth. Not bad! Better than that gym membership in my opinion!) (30 minutes= 169 calories)
  • Hiking the local trails (30 minutes= 163 calories)
  • Walking around the track with my gal pals for good conversation (30 minutes= 108 calories)
  • Dancing like a maniac to Taylor Swift videos with my four-year-old (about 40 calories per music video)
  • Swimming intentionally (20 mins= 123 calories)
  • Yoga and stretching (Mommy & me and on my own) (10 mins= 25 calories)
  • Running in place for 5 mins (as you well know, I swear by it) (25 calories)

Exercises I would like to try out but am having trouble fitting into my schedule or finding the motivation to do it: aka I’m being lazy. I’ll admit it!

  • Boxing with a bag, which we have set up and ready to go in our basement, by the way… (10 mins= 131 calories, yowza!)
  • Archery (10 mins= 44 calories)
Image result for Merida on horseback shooting arrows
Yes, this is exactly how I envision myself exercising every day in my dreams! (Brave, Disney 2012)

BE FORGIVING OF YOURSELF: We have a tendency to be hardest on ourselves and give up if we make one mistake. The best thing you can do for yourself when trying to get healthy is not have a all or nothing attitude. If you miss a day of whatever you choose as your awesome exercise, it’s okay. That doesn’t mean all is lost! (I know how tempting it is to be self-defeating in these times. This was me all the way when it came to exercise! Missed a day? Well, I might as well just give up. NO!) Even if you miss five days, doing something those other 2 days, little as it might be, is still better than nothing. ANYTHING is better than nothing. This is the attitude we need to have when improving our health. This goes for eating healthier too, ladies. Don’t over do it and swear off all carbs, cakes, and candies from the get go. Set limits and be forgiving on the days you don’t stick to them and rejoice in the days you do. Don’t cut off all joy in food or you will most likely be miserable. Like birthday cake? Awesome! Me too! Don’t give it up completely and then hate that you’re missing it. Eat half a slice instead of a whole slice. Honestly, if weight loss is your goal it’s very simple. Use your Samsung Health app (or whatever the Apple equivalent it) and track what you take it and what you burn off. What you burn off should be more than what you take in. Done. The end. That’s it! Simple! However you achieve that very achievable goal is entirely up to you. Isn’t that freeing?

So there you have it. Simple, but wise. Take care of yourself. Eat well and get moving. Your body will thank you for it! It doesn’t have to be this huge ordeal. Do what feels right for you. Find something you enjoy daily. Don’t make it about how you look or how much you weigh. Make it about your enjoyment and feeling good inside and out. You are beautiful no matter what the scale says, Warrior Princess. Too much or too little, it doesn’t matter! God only cares that you take care of yourself and you do what you can to stay healthy; mind, body, and soul!

Body and soul, I am marvelously made!”

Psalm 139:14 (MSG)

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