By Jaime Douglas
Why is fitness so hard?
“Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4 HCSB
If you look through Scripture, particularly in the New Testament, you will come across a lot of verses that can be applied in the fitness world. When I ran half marathons and a grueling full marathon, I wrote verses on notecards to aid my focus in every mile. I read them. I spoke them. I tried to pass them along to fellow runners to encourage them. In mid-race when I was mentally and physically exhausted, Scripture helped me finish the literal race set before me.
After I crossed the finish line, I always thought, “Yeah, I still don’t like this.”
I desperately wanted to enjoy running. I signed up for race after race with the highest hopes that I would fall in love with the sport. The love never came. One day, my husband asked me why I continued to run races when I hated them so much. I gave it some thought and determined that I just enjoyed getting a medal and a T-shirt.
Ultimately, we decided there were easier ways to get those medals and T-shirts. I love to compete, and we found something that was a lot more fun: powerlifting. I get to lift heavy things, I still get T-shirts and medals, and the sport lends itself to my body’s strengths.
So why don’t we like fitness at times (or at all)? It’s a commonly asked question. Here are five reasons why you might not love fitness.
1: You really don’t want to “exercise.”
Not everyone likes to exercise in the traditional sense. Not everyone enjoys running aimlessly or to lift as much weight as they can bear. Workouts, gyms, training programs and fitness fads aren’t for everyone. Find what you enjoy doing. If you like to run, sign up for a race, train for it and race away. If you enjoy sports as exercise, find a league and sign up. There are apps, online videos and seemingly endless resources out there. Decide what you want to do.
2: You are working out just to lose pounds.
In our fast-paced world, we want results and we want them now. We want to look like someone else, or we develop an often-unrealistic idea of what we could look like. If your only concern is for numbers on the scale to go down, you might need to rethink your goals. Body image, self-body shaming and eating disorders are far too common.
Rather than obsessing over that scale, find an attainable goal that is right for your body. Then, and most importantly, be patient. God created our bodies to do amazing things but we need to allow time for change. Don’t forget that He’s still working on you. Our bodies are fearfully and wonderfully made and will respond to diet and exercise in different ways. Safety first, though. Check with your physician before you begin any fitness program, and remember: Safe goals are good goals.
3: You are doing too much too fast.
Remember the thing about patience? Every year as New Year’s resolutions are made, many of us set ambitious goals. We want to lose 20 pounds and get a cover model’s body by February or March. For many, those unrealistic goals result in desperation and despair. Bodies don’t develop quite as quickly as we thought they would, the weight we’re lifting isn’t as much as we expected and we just can’t run like we did in high school. Discouragement sets in, and many returning gym-goers and newcomers tend to quit far too soon. Start slowly, even if that means walking for just a few minutes. Develop a foundation and build on it. Getting fit is a process.
4: You are in pain.
Why does pain sometimes develop? See reasons 2 and 3 above. You go too hard too fast. Pain is a deterrent. Maybe there’s an old injury and it hurts to walk, run, lift or do anything that places stress on your body. Don’t let that be your excuse. Yes, injuries are serious and need to be looked after; however, there are so many options to manage pain not caused by serious injuries. If it hurts to run, walk on an incline. If squats hurt, change the way you squat. Find a physical therapist or trainer who can help you get back on track. Don’t just give up because it hurts.
5: You don’t have time.
This is my all-time favorite excuse. There are 24 hours in a day. That’s 168 hours in a week. I know life can be busy with kids, jobs, after-school programs and church events. If you plan well, you might just have some time to sleep, eat and be active, too. I don’t want to discredit the value of time. You will need to schedule time to be fit.
If you need to open your calendar and write “4:00-4:30 p.m.: 2-mile walk,” then do it. Don’t give up and say you don’t have time. You will always have time for the things you truly want to do.
If all else fails, find some good music, a podcast or anything to help you focus. Get moving until you find what you like. Set goals, find a trainer, invite a friend to go along with you, and have fun.
Jaime Douglas is the Fitness and Recreation Minister at First Baptist Church Jackson. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.