How often have you paused to ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing, in terms of exercise, and how it’s benefiting you? This is a spot I found myself in a few years ago and it’s completely changed my focus on how I treat my body.
Having Type-A personality traits my entire life, I’ve always been an intense person no matter what activity I’m engaged in (case in point: I would push classmates out of the way to be first in line in kindergarten!). When that drive and energy is channeled appropriately it can be a wonderful thing, but it has also pushed me to injure myself and isolate others.
To further describe what made me tick (full speed ahead, of course) is when I decided I wanted to take up running. Naturally I decided I ought to start with a marathon! After sharing this idea with my brother, an experienced runner, he suggested I aim for a 10K to start, and I took his advice.
One year from that inaugural running event, I did go on to train for and complete my first full marathon. It felt like a great accomplishment; however, that’s where the injuries began and the isolation of others occurred. Training for a marathon requires an immense dedication of time, which fed my already self-centered approach to life, as well as an immense physical demand that’s placed on the body. I did cross the finish line in tact, but it wasn’t without strains and pains throughout the training and the race day. These were strains to my body as well as my family while I was out pounding the pavement so often.
My drive continued for the most intense classes at the gym and boot camps, which all took a painful toll on my physical body. It was time to look at the big why. Why did I feel the need to push so hard? What void was I seeking to fulfill? What was my body telling me?
The answers came one-by-one, revealed as God began to pull back the layers of pride and self-centeredness, and show me how I was trying to fill places that only He can fill in my heart. I believe that I was pursuing accomplishment with such intensity, but it was a futile attempt to find the identity and fulfillment that only He can provide.
Fast-forward to today, and you’ll find that I still enjoy exercise, but it is in a much more balanced position in my life. I discovered the most amazing core strength exercise methodology that is challenging yet kind to the body. It’s completely opposite of what I’d been doing and what’s popular in the world around us, because it’s not about pushing past your limits, and it’s not about maxed out or rapid movements. We can gain the benefit without the beating!
Today I also exercise a lot less and find I’m fulfilled a lot more. I channel much more of my energy into my relationship with my Creator, and that’s where our true identify and fulfillment comes from; this leaves me filled up and serving others more.