Whether its online, in magazines or on t.v., we're constantly bombarded with images of the perfect body. And while those images are forever changing, most women can't help but define their own beauty by the standards promoted by those images.
In pursuit of that beauty, we often find ourselves doing extreme things: going into debt for the perfect clothes, plastic surgery for the ideal curves, and constant dieting plus excessive exercise to shed a few pounds. Soon, thoughts of calories and macros and how many hours you've spent in the gym, take over way too much real estate in your mind. Your life is all of a sudden consumed with clean eating, and never missing a workout, and your heart is left longing for the "more" that God's created you for.
I know this, because I lived this for years. I spent so much time calculating and counting, weighing my food against my exercise to see if I would gain or lose, that the only thing I lost was a little piece of my sanity. I thought about every bite that went into my mouth and felt guilty for every "bad" thing I consumed. On the outside, I looked like everyone else, but my mind was working overtime, and I was tired.
Which is why health and fitness has become such a passion of mine. I truly believe that it doesn't have to be that way. I believe that we can eat, and workout and get strong and feel confident, so that we can live, love and serve without sacrificing our sanity along the way.
Eating well and working out are good things. In fact, this article by David Mathias hits the nail on the head in terms of believers and exercise. But, these things can quickly become idols if we let them.
Women today can and should get stronger, because these bodies we've been given are gifts and can be used to do truly amazing things. I also believe that we should do our best to fuel these bodies well, so they can be full of energy to do what we've been called to do. I even think it's okay to want to look fit and healthy, and that there are certainly occasions where weight loss is a good thing. But, I don't think we should ever spend so much time at the gym that we don't have time for the ones we love. I don't think we should be so concerned with what we eat, that we can't enjoy a dinner out with our spouse. I don't think we should be so obsessed with the "perfect" body, that we pursue it over everything else.
Working out doesn't have to take hours, because we can get strong and lean with short, effective, well-planned workouts. Eating healthy doesn't have to mean cutting out entire food groups because you can make small changes to your diet and see big results.
Getting healthy doesn't have to make you lose your mind. In fact, it can truly help you live with more energy, focus and intentionality. Great workouts aren't the point of life, they are only a piece of life. Food isn't about calories and macros, it's about love, community and togetherness. Health isn't about our bodies looking amazing, it's about the amazing handiwork of our awesome God.
There are lots of trainers out there that are selling a quick fix. There are plenty of companies that want you to buy their cleanses, drink their teas, or use their wraps to scare the fat away.
But, I will always push you to want more.
I will always push you to find a why that is more significant than finding your six pack.
While we burn fat and get lean, I will always remind you that our real goal is strength and energy to do what God's called us to.
When we talk about calories and macros and cutting back on things, there will always be grace and room to eat what you love.
Because being healthy, losing weight, getting strong, and improving your fitness level should never make you lose your mind. Nutrition and exercise should never consume you. Looking a certain way should never enslave you. And feeling strong and confident should never detract from the life God's called you to live.