As I prepare for my first competition, I am learning something new everyday. Cutting calories and denying the flesh is HARD (but it’s worth it). Cutting calories for 3 months in a row, logging every single thing that hits my lips (including my 5 calorie gum!) has been exhausting and challenging (but it’s worth it). Dieting 7 days a week, not 4, not 5, not 6, but 7 days a week, for weeks on end has been brutal (but worth it). Going from 18% body fat to 12% body fat (and still dropping!!!) reminds me it’s not for nothing, I am making progress (so, again, it’s worth it).
A few days ago I realized I needed to take my dieting up another notch to break another plateau. I flinched in anticipation of additional struggles, temptations and possible failures. Then I realized this: For some odd reason, I feel God wanted me to step out of my comfort zone to do this dang competition. I would have GLADLY bowed out if He even gave me one inkling of disapproval or a closed door. Instead, it was the opposite. Doors swung wide open, support came, confirmation begun. I began doing it (whining a little as I went – ok whining a LOT! lol), but I’m determined to be obedient. Yes, God. OK, if you say so.
But why in the world does God give a flip about my body fat or me being in a teensy-weensy bikini? Really? As always, His ways are not my ways and I don’t doubt for a second there is a bigger purpose than getting on stage. What am I supposed to learn? How can God use me – backstage, during the training, with our team? These questions are not answered yet, but I have peace I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing and waiting for God to fill in the mysterious blanks, even though there is no part of me that wants to be on stage in a bikini in high heels. Talk about awkward!
Maybe it’s for no one but me. For me to learn more about me, and more about relying on him. To learn how to fight the flesh – with both of my tongues; the one that desires food and the one that spews out mean things when I’m grumpy and short-tempered from the training and dieting. Yes, thank you God for pointing out how just out of control my flesh really is. I see I have a lot more work to do.
Now, going back to cutting calories more: I remembered the scripture “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people” Colossians 3:23. It was this scripture that reminded me who I’m really doing this for. While Steve is the one who really wanted me to do this with him, it was ultimately up to God – and He said Go. So, in reality, I’m doing it for Him. Really? A fitness competition? Scripture doesn’t say “whatever churchy things you do, work at it wholeheartedely”, It says “whatEVER” you do – all of it, EVERYTHING! Yes, even this competition.
That really took things up a notch for me. Christians aren’t whoosies. He deserves my best. I don’t want to be the lame fat chick up there who obviously let my flesh rule me. What a poor representation of God’s power in my life. I’m not giving my best for a trophy, or to get praise from judges or the crowd, but I’m doing it because (for some ridiculous reason) He has called me to this so I am to give my 100%.
Maybe I am supposed to understand what hunger is so I can relate better to clients. Maybe it is so I can understand the pressures of being tempted to enjoy the praise of people, and to be reminded the only praise I need is from God. Maybe it’s for a job opportunity. Maybe it’s just to experience this together with my husband, to draw us closer, to work through our “hangry” arguments from our short-tempered disputes from being low on calories – that might expose stuff in us that we need to continue working on. (God knows I sure have had some ugly come out lately, and it’s made me draw nearer to the Lord in the process).
One thing I know is God can use all of us in EVERY part of our life. Whether in a competition or in a stock room. Whether surfing or singing. No matter how great you are at something, to keep God first – it says a lot. Anyone can run to God when things are tough, or when their life is a failure – but to succeed, to get praise of men and STILL say “that’s great, but I care about only one thing, that I can get to heaven and God say “well done my good and faithful servant” – now THAT’s what I want. The praise of one. My trophy is in heaven.
If you compete, already decide ahead of time, it doesn’t matter what the judges think. That’s merely men’s opinion. Don’t get me wrong, caring what people think about me and fighting my own vanity is just as much a struggle for me as it is to restrict calories or hold my tongue when hurt. However, it’s not a fight I plan to give up on. It’s a lifetime battle – fighting the flesh in every way. So, just as everything else you do in this life, choose to train and diet as if you are doing it for God Himself. I also remind you, He can see if you are cheating or lying to your trainer about what you eat. #JustSaying 😉
You are more than a competitor. You are more than 4th place. You are even more than 1st place. Do not let the crowd’s reaction define who you are. If you compete, use it to fuel you to reach a goal, but realize life is more than looks, body fat or attention. You will get much better, more honorable attention, by living a pure life, an unselfish life, and a life full of love for others. While fitness can be a very vain community if you let it, keep your eyes on eternity and you won’t get caught up in the body-focused world of fitness, but the health-focused self-improvement world of fitness. Work constantly to improve who you are – inside AND out. Remember, your body will shrivel up and eventually not be very attractive, but your spirit can remain beautiful your whole life if you keep your priorities right!
Remember what I posted a year ago – “It would be a shame to work so hard to be fit for this world, and be unfit for the king.”
If you don’t think God has an opinion on fitness and training. Think again! Here’s a great scripture that warns us about bodily training…
“While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in EVERY WAY, as it holds promise for the PRESENT life and also the life TO COME.” 1 Timothy 4:8
“Why her? Why does she look so good? Why does it seem so easy for her? We do the same workout and she drops fat like it’s nothing. I workout harder. I’m stronger. I’m faster. I’m better. Maybe it’s her genetics. Maybe she has a faster metabolism. Maybe it’s her supplements. Do you think she is doing steroids? Do you think she has “help”? Maybe the doctor is giving her something to help her get faster results. Maybe I need to see my doctor. Maybe my body just doesn’t work like hers. Maybe it’s my thyroid. Maybe I’ll never be able to look like that.”
This is one downward spiral fueled by an unrealistic negative mindset that is focused on blaming on ANYone else but yourself. We can’t judge a person by what they do in the gym. It’s an hour a day. Have you ever thought that it could be what she is doing the other 23 hours a day that’s getting her the results you want?
I see this in boot camp all the time. People do the same exact workout. They get the same information, yet one person loses 30lbs and gets shredded while their BFF leaves the same weight as they started. Did the BFF lose fat and gain muscle? Probably. But did they radically change like their friend? No. Why? It wasn’t what they did in the gym. It was what they weren’t doing when they left.
Think of it this way. We all know going to church won’t get you to heaven. There have been plenty of criminals who have gone to church. They might have even served as a deacon. They could have had the best intentions. They might have gone down to the front, or raised their hand, to say they wanted to change. They might have cried buckets of tears in complete misery with how they were living life, begging God to help them to change. They could have attended every service, gone to every Bible Study, and did everything other church members did, but their life would NEVER change if they didn’t change the way they lived OUTSIDE the church. That would require surrender. It requires discipline. It requires perseverance. It requires a lifestyle change.
Transformation requires DOING not just HEARING. We teach our fitness competitors the SAME stuff we teach our boot campers and clients. Some reach their fullest potential and some never even scratch the surface. Why? Like with church, the “message” is the same. My pastor is giving the same message to 4 different services, and hundreds of people. Each time his words penetrate our hearts and we take it home and practice it (practice also means we try and fail, and we keep trying anyway).
Our life is not the same as it was the first time we showed up. Our lives are being transformed – and we are not alone. I’ve seen radical life changes – HUGE transformations. So why isn’t EVERYONE that goes to our church having these same awesome experiences as we are? Because the keep going right back to the same way they are living, without applying what they are hearing. They expect to magically be transformed by the one-hour spiritual workout a week – and they fail.
I’ve gone to church all my life. I failed in life when I quit applying what I’ve learned at HOME. It’s not what I do at church or the gym that transforms my life. My workouts are almost the exact same now as they were when I was 20lbs heavier. What changed is what I was putting in to my body on a daily basis. It’s the consistency of eating clean and denying the flesh what it craves (chips and salsa, cookies, overeating, snacking, etc). If I eat junk, I’ll look like junk. If I eat too much, I’m going to weigh too much. If I eat clean, I will look lean. If I eat healthy, I will feel healthy. What I put in my body (and soul) absolutely has a radical affect on my life.
If you want to transform your life – whether physically or spiritually, you have to quit feeding your flesh (quit literally feeding your body the things it wants opposed to the things it needs – both physically and spiritually). You need to do more than rely on a Sunday message or a motivational mantra. It takes more than “good works” or a good workout. It takes a life change – 24 hours a day. Will you fail? Heck yeah – and you will STILL be SO much better off trying.
No more complacency.
No more pointing the finger.
No more excuses.
Before you can set goals, before you can change your ways, before you make any big decisions, before you commit to anything, there is something you must do first. You must consider the cost. Then, you weigh the cost with the reward.
Most people fail because they are too focused on the reward to consider the cost. They don’t dig deep enough to find out exactly what sacrifices are required. They jump in blindly ready to get the reward, without really being prepared for the work. As a result they fail, they quit or they get fired, divorced or unfriended.
How many times do we see this is the job place? People seem so excited to get a job, to get the paycheck, to enjoy the benefits….but they seem shocked they have to do a job – as if they had no clue they’d be expected to actually work for the pay.
You see it in the marriage. People love the idea of being loved, but forget there is a cost. Is it worth it? Heck yeah!!!! But, sadly, many people never really, REALLY think about what will be expected of them if they want to continue to be loved “til death do us part”.
When it comes to fitness, there is also a cost. Being fit costs time. It normally cost some amount of money. It may even cost you relationships (typically unhealthy ones you don’t need anyway). It will likely cost your favorite food fix, giving up a few bad habits and it the price of hard work. Sacrifices must be made. The question you have to ask yourself is “are you willing to make the sacrifice to get the reward?”.
David (in 1 Chronicles) was smart and understood true sacrifice. After he screwed up big time, he desired to pay full price for the sacrifice he was going to give to the Lord. Even after being offered a gift, he insisted on paying FULL price. I believe we should have that type of desire in everything we do. We should live in a way where we aren’t always looking for shortcuts all the time, but we are looking on ways we can pay in full – and be excited to do it.
As we say in the fitness world, EARN IT. Not that we can ever earn God’s forgiveness or love, there is something to say about how good it feels to earn our pay and to earn our good health. Even as a Christian, it’s great to know we are doing the right thing. It’s the earning process that is the learning process.
If we mess up, we need to accept it fully, and be willing to pay for our mistake in FULL. If we ate too much, if we were lazy and if we were irresponsible, we deserve where we are and we should be OK with paying for it. Anything else would be cheating (like David felt).
We can’t expect to fix a mistake without cost. We also can’t expect there not to be repercussions to our mistake and act surprised or irritated when we face them. We can’t expect to have someone else fix us. We can’t keep trying to find someone, or something, to take the blame.
We must be willing to pay full price for our mistakes. We must embrace the work, realizing it’s the work that will make us proud. It’s the hard work that will grow our character and shape us into the person God desires us to be. Short cuts cut corners, including cutting out important part of our personal growth. Not only that, they rarely work.
Insist on paying full price!
This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. When life throw it’s toughest punches, it’s human instinct to punch back. However, the best reaction is not always your first reaction.
Next time you feel attacked by people, work, finances or trials, the best medicine is to do something great. Fight stress by focusing on meeting other’s needs (it takes your mind off your own sorrows). Fight meanness by loving others. Fight laziness and fatness with exercise and eating healthy. Fight depression by surrounding yourself with people who lift you up and encourage one another.
The devil wants you to respond negatively to his negative attacks. And don’t you think for a second that people are your target of anger. It’s ultimately the devil that’s behind it all, so direct all your anger toward him. People are just the instrument of destruction. And he would love to use you too if you let him!
If you realllly wanna get him back, give him exactly what he DOESN’T want – anything positive. It truly is the biggest black eye you could ever give him. And then you get to smile, knowing you won.
[strengkth, strength, strenth] noun
Are you ready to get STRONG?
If you are struggling, remember what strength is. It’s not the weight you lift in the gym (definition #1: muscular power), it’s the being the woman you were called to be. It’s sticking to your goals and seeing them through no matter what (definition #3: firmness). It’s focusing on being a blessing to others (definition #3: moral power) – and you surely can’t do that if you are neglecting yourself. Blessings are very powerful – they strengthen both the giver and the receiver.
Strength is LIFTING others up. Weak people try to expose other people’s weaknesses so they APPEAR stronger. Strong people realize other people’s strengths and allow it to inspire them to improve. It’s creating support groups (even if it’s just a workout partner and yourself) for more accountability and strength in numbers (definition #5: strength in numbers) so you can be your absolute best. As you choose your circle of friends, you are choosing your area of influence, whether good or bad. This is why you must choose friends wisely, choosing people who can help strengthen your faith, strengthen your body and support you on your journey (definition #4: power of reason by influence).
Strength is having victory over the fork and power over the mind (definition #2: mental power). It’s practicing inner AND outer strength. Strength starts in your mind, flows out in actions. As Joyce Meyer always says, “where the mind goes, the body follows”.
Do you want to be strong? Truly strong? You CAN be as strong as you decide to try to be. Strength isn’t based on genetics or your personal upbringing. Strength is a DAILY DECISION to do things and think on things that strengthen you.
Here are 12 scriptures and promises that strengthen me when I get weary:
- I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
- Two are better than one (reminding me of the need for support & fellowship when I’m tempted to go it alone), because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
- For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight (you don’t have to fight battles alone) for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’ Deuteronomy 20:4
- God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability (if you are facing it, He knows you can handle it), but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. 1 Corinthians 10:13
- But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength (a reminder that strength can be renewed); they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (a reminder that it is still work). Isaiah 40:31
- But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness (a reminder that it’s in the weak times that we remember our need for the Lord’s strength, and it’s in OUR weakness he can show himself to you and others).” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
- Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
- And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (motivation to keep going). Galatians 6:9
- Be strong and courageous (notice it’s a command, meaning you have the option and the ability to do it). Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6
- Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Ephesians 6:10
- And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good (reminding us that nothing is wasted. He can use all of our struggles and weaknesses for good), for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
- So I do not run aimlessly (a reminder to live with purpose); I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control (and a reminder that God wants us to be disciplined and not let our body boss us around), lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9: 26-27
Think about your last workout. What if, after that workout, I asked you “was that the best you could do?” What would your answer be?
During the Nixon presidency, a speech writer by the name of Winston Lord was writing a speech for Henry Kissinger & President Nixon. According to an interview, Kissinger asked Lord for a draft of his speech. The next day Kissinger asked Lord, “Is this the best you can do?” Lord replied “Well, I thought so, but I can try one more time.”
Lord turned in another speech and Kissinger gave the same response, “Is this the best you can do”. Well, this went on eight times – Kissinger asking Lord if this was the best he can do and Lord giving another crack at it. Finally, on the 9th time, when asked the same question Lord replied “I can’t possibly improve one more word”. Kissinger’s response was, “In that case, now I’ll read it.”
Giving Your Best
Obviously, Kissinger wanted to know that Winston Lord gave him his very best work. This made me think about whether or not “this” is the best “I” can do. Can you imagine if God swooped you up and asked you that question? I would be BEGGING for another chance to come back and do things better. I would want to redo many things. I’d want to treat my body better, be a better wife, be a better friend, be a better boss, be more patient, be more loving, be more giving (the list would go on and on). All in all, I would have to be honest and say “No, this is NOT the best I can do”.
Can you imagine how much harder we worked if we worked for God himself? I bet you wouldn’t cheat on your diet or skip a workout if HE was your trainer! However, that is what he asks us to do – He asks us to treat everything we do as if we are doing it for Him. I think we only apply that principle to the areas WE feel are most important. Yet, scripture doesn’t say “in SOME things” it says “in WHATEVER you do – that means EVERYthing”. Yep, you guessed it – that means the way you act in traffic to what food you choose to eat.
So, if you think you can have great work ethic at home, but a crappy one on the job – think again. If you think you can not cheat on your taxes, but cheat on your diet – the answer is no. We should strive for excellence in ALL we do, whether we are managing our bank account or our weight.
Every day we wake up, we get to “write a new draft”. We get to look at yesterday and ask ourself the question “is this the best you can do?” – and we get a chance to make corrections. If we treat every single day like this, our life will be very different – and it would be far from mediocre.
I challenge you this week to treat everything you do as if you are being tested – like you are running a race and going for a new PR. Your work, your workouts, your diet, your family, your decisions – make them your best today.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain that prize…” 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Be YOUR Best
Today was my first day running again after I injured my ankle. First, I must say YAAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOO!! I have to admit I was totally dreading even trying. My brain had to talk my fat lazy butt into it, but it didn’t take a quarter mile to start feeling encouraged and feeling so good!
While I was running, I caught myself wondering when my ankle would start hurting. So funny, how negative we can be. I had to tell myself to stop thinking that! It was like I was running, expecting to fail. Dumb! Dumb!
Then, I heard a very profound statement, “you can’t pick and choose what you will trust God with. You can’t have faith that he will work in our life, but not trust that He will do a work in your spouse, your workplace or your children”, paraphrased from Joyce Meyer’s podcast (I listen to her while I run).
I have to admit, I have trusted God with a LOT of things in my life (key word: MY life). I’ve trusted that He knows what’s best for me. Yet, when it comes to other people, or even ailments, I think I struggle to trust Him in those things too. Instead, (as if He can’t handle it) I tend to take things into my own hands. Many times that comes in the form of telling someone how to change, correcting someone when we have no business correcting them, trying to convict someone before God does, etc. We begin to make poor decisions, out of pure impatience, rather than sit back and wait – and just let God work in US, while He is also working (at HIS pace) on everything else.
Who’s Behind the Wheel?
If you reeeally think about it – we trust complete strangers with our life more often than we trust God. I never once called the manager of the department where my car was built to see if everyone did their job. When I drive my car, I trust that other people will stop at the stop lights and drive in their own lane. When I have new tires on my car, I assume they put all the lug nuts on properly. Sadly, I often times trust people more times a day than I trust God. That’s the reality.
So next time you want to test God, question God, doubt God …maybe we need to get our priorities straight and treat Him juuuust a little better than people. Ya think? We can’t keep trusting people more than we trust Him. What an insult. Shoot, we can’t even really trust ourselves sometimes!
Maybe we should let him drive our life, and quit being the worst backseat driver ever – telling Him where to go, what to do, when to stop, when to go, go faster, go slower… Honestly, it’s ridiculous! Frankly, it’s amazing He puts up with any of us! BUT, like a daddy loves his child, He loves us and He wants to give us a million chances to learn, to grow and to become all that He created us to be.
We’d do the same for our child right? Would we lead them astray? Would we not be SO quick to help if they needed us? Sometimes I think we need to remember He is not just God, he’s our Father – and as great as my daddy is, He loves me even more.
Let go and let God.
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
(read the entire chapter if you are hungry for more) 😉
Sundays are the days I really reflect on my prior week – what i did, what I didn’t do, what I want to do better, what I have to change. I think about the things that need to be removed, and the things that need to be added. This requires me to strip away the flesh (the skin, muscle, clothing, make-up & appearance) and think about what is underneath it all. Then I ask myself, “what needs work?” Of course, my answer is a loooong list, but I know the things I need to tackle first – I think we all do.
However, if we don’t stop to purposefully analyze our life and give ourself a little spiritual “check up”, it is so easy to let the days slip by, the problems build up and our soul deteriorate. Just in the same way our muscles deteriorate when neglected – so does our relationship with God when we neglect Him.
The question for me today was “Are you where God wants you to be?”
Am I doing what God called me to do?
Am I being obedient – in the big and the small things?
Am I ignoring Him?
Do I even know what I am supposed to be doing?
Am I giving Him enough time in my week to even let me know?
These are all things I am reflecting on today, and just wanted to share my thoughts with you. While we are on a quest for physical fitness, we should want to improve all areas of our lives – not just our body. I don’t know about you, but I have a LOT of work to do! 🙂
Have a great and reflective Sunday!