I have to remind myself of this often: if my ultimate goal is heaven, I can’t exclude God from anything. Not even fitness!
This hammered in during quarantine. Add that to the lessons learned in 2020 list!!
I lied. Eeeeeks. That’s not too grand for a Catholic blog. The faith and fitness pairing actually started two months prior in January.
I was longing for a community of people with like-minded interests in the form of nutrition and exercise. So I signed myself up for an experiment (what I call every new thing I add to my life) by identifying a Beachbody coach who was leading a group of ladies about this matter.
WONDERFUL women but I didn’t agree with the way they approached these topics. However, experimenting with their programming for a few months put me in the working out at home tribe…before the governor told us that was our only option. 🙂
I started in a spare bedroom that we only use for ironing clothes. But that room doesn’t have blinds and it felt odd if our neighbors were watching. They definitely weren’t but I moved to the living room. But that was too close to the back door so our dog would go in and out nonstop.
I ultimately landed in the office. I liked the office! It has space to move freely AND it’s far enough away from my sleeping husband because my optimal movement time is in the morn. Beyonce playlist before 7am? YUP!
Another perk of this room: there’s a crucifix on the wall that was gifted to us on our wedding day by my college professor. That crucifix slowly impacted my workouts. When I grew tired, I noticed that I didn’t fixate on the Beyonce lyrics to avoid the temporary suffering. Rather, I turned my gaze to the Lamb who was slain for me.
Being in the presence of my Savior who embraced suffering taught me to embrace it too. About 5-6 mornings per week, I began talking to Jesus through the discomfort. He surely knew the same feeling after taking on human flesh yeaaars ago!!
When gym doors opened back up, I rejoined the one I left in January. Contradictory to most NYRs lol. I walked back in with new tools through that time of literally being at Jesus’ feet for a few months. Praise God for Beachbody experiments and at-home YouTube workouts!!
Here are three ways I now invite faith into fitness:
- Talk to God first.
I don’t allow myself to workout unless I have sat down, opened my Bible, and journaled out my thoughts to my Maker. My iced black coffee and massive blanket are there for the party too!
They say to do the most important thing first in your day. Please don’t ask me who “they” are. But I listen to these mysterious folks and keep the most important thing on my agenda before brushing my teeth.
Prayer is my time to slow my mind down. It’s time to praise and thank the God that gifted me one body to take care of. It’s my opportunity to ask for intercession for myself and loved ones. It’s reflection on my entire life purpose which is ultimately to love.
Nothing good comes out of skipping that order of operations!! Pray first, move second. Always. Except when I get lazy and that never turns out for the best.
2. Select an intention to lift up during my workout.
Exercise is signing up for suffering, correct? We push our bodies to get uncomfortable so we can be more mobile, strong, and healthy. Even walking can entail slim suffering when the weather isn’t optimal or you’d rather be doing something mindless indoors.
So answer these questions for me: why not pair that suffering with an intention? Why not pick a person(s), cause, or current event to lift up during that temporary pain?
Ever since I started doing this about four months ago, my performance has amped UP. My little sister is the one to thank because she was a college athlete and told me that praying for each member of her team during practices and matches was fruitful to the max.
Pushing out one more rep for the Holy Spirit to move in the minds of mothers contemplating abortion – that’s easily two more reps.
Holding a plank for an extra ten seconds for eternal rest for a deacon at my church that passed away – make it 15.
Finishing a set for my uncle’s health during surgery even when “Eh, I’ve already done enough today” kicks in – ohhh we are finishing what we started!
After implementing prayer while my HR is increased, I can’t imaging forgoing prayer during this alone time. I set the intention during #1 (my quiet time before I put my tennis shoes on) and let the rest be sanctified.
3. Remain in the presence of a crucifix.
Don’t worry, I don’t take my home décor with me to the gym! When I transitioned into leaving my home to exercise, I simply made sure I was always wearing my crucifix (and Miraculous Medal) necklace.
When Evan and I joined bank accounts after returning from our honeymoon, our banker asked what was around my neck. After my response, he told me that Jesus and His Mother are the best duo. I agree, Mr. Fifth Third!!
I figured that if I was leaving the image that gave my workouts so much more purpose, I needed to bring the image with me in a reasonable way. The best duo came with me in the form of jewelry.
Yes, it can be annoying when it bounces around as I’m jumping. To that, I stick it in the strap of my tank top and move along. The opportunity to grasp Jesus and the Blessed Mother or look down at them is more powerful than any annoyance.
Forgetting to put my necklace on is up there with forgetting my headphones aka NO FUN! But regardless if you’re rocking Jesus on your chest or not, calling Him into your presence during moments of suffering elevates the ordinary.
That’s my main three!! I could’ve extended that list to discuss rest, Christian tunes, showing up when you don’t want to, and choosing strength training for both the interior AND exterior life. But trios are excellent.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Prayer, intention, and a crucifix.
Boom boom BOOM.
Enjoy your next workout sesh that I hope is fueled by something so much greater than yourself!!