It’s the start of a new year and that means many of us will take up the challenge of new diets and fitness regimens. Though many do not succeed past January, I am enamored when people step out to get healthy and in shape.
Second, only to my faith, my fitness journey has been the most impactful transformation of my life. And in a God be Goddin’ moment, it was this journey that helped me realize the significance of our health and fitness to our faith.
Before my fitness journey, I always saw faith and fitness as two separate worlds in life that didn’t intersect much if at all. The scriptures however paint a different picture.
Beloved, I pray that in every way you may succeed and prosper and be in good health [physically], just as [I know] your soul prospers [spiritually]. 3 John 1.2 AMP
Good Health Is Good Stewardship
To the extent that we can control, our physical health reflects the stewardship of our bodies. Scripture refers to our bodies as the temple that God’s Holy Spirit lives in (1 Corinthians 6.19). It’s also our vehicle for our time here on Earth. Nothing that we do, even spiritual matters like prayer, happens without a functioning body.
So it also goes that without a healthy body, we can become very limited in what we’re able to accomplish and even experience for enjoyment. Our health and fitness is not just a matter of formality, it’s about the principle of stewardship. How do we use, protect, and share what God has entrusted us with (our body) and to do so for His Glory?
When I began to view my health and fitness through the lens of stewardship — everything changed.
Of course, we can’t talk about health without doing so holistically. It’s impossible to steward your body well without also stewarding your mind, soul, and spirit well too. Why? Because they’re all connected. True good health is never limited to just one branch of life, but is holistic and produces wholeness. This blog will primarily focus on physical health.
Faith And Fitness
Over the next 3 weeks, I’m going to share with you 13 lessons from my faith and fitness journey in this blog series. Over the years, I’ve gleaned many nuggets and revelations on this journey (some spiritual, some practical) that I hope will inspire and equip you on your fitness journey to a better life.
What I love perhaps most about these lessons is that while they were experienced on my fitness journey, they’re multidisciplinary and can apply across other areas of our lives beyond fitness. For example: Discipline and preparation aren’t just fitness principles. They’re life principles with many applications in things like work, finance, parenting, education, and so on.
While some of these lessons have a supporting scripture, not all of them were directly derived or inspired from scripture when I received them. However, as with anything in my life, I share these lessons consistent with a biblical worldview. My goal is to illustrate scripture’s affirmation, where appropriate, of the underlying principle. I take great care in not correlating principles that scripture doesn’t contextually support by the author’s original intent.
1. Good Health Pays Dividends In Every Area Of Life
Scripture affirms the value of physical training to our health (1 Timothy 4.8). When you prioritize your physical health (eating right and exercising), it pays dividends in every other area of your life: mental clarity, more energy, greater emotional stability, spiritual alertness, and an enhanced immune system.
Good health also requires discipline, as does any fitness regimen. If you can discipline your body, you can do just about anything. Consider this verse from the Apostle Paul.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run [their very best to win], but only one receives the prize? Run [your race] in such a way that you may seize the prize and make it yours! Now every athlete who [goes into training and] competes in the games is disciplined and exercises self-control in all things. They do it to win a crown that withers, but we [do it to receive] an imperishable [crown that cannot wither]. Therefore I do not run without a definite goal; I do not flail around like one beating the air [just shadow boxing]. But [like a boxer] I strictly discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached [the gospel] to others, I myself will not somehow be disqualified [as unfit for service]. 1 Corinthians 9.24-27 AMP
A byproduct of fitness is that cultivates discipline and self-control (a fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5.22-23).
One day I was meeting with a financial advisor to help me with some planning. We discussed everything and he provided me with an action plan. As we were wrapping up, he said, ‘I have no doubt that you could do this. Just look at your physique. I can tell you’re disciplined.’ And I agreed .
Before that moment, I never connected the dots that discipline in one area of your life can apply to and serve as a launchpad for discipline in any area of your life. I left this meeting and later went on to start new regimens at work, in my finances, and for other goals applying the same basic discipline principles that I learned through my fitness regimen.
Since my fitness regimen was successful, it gave me the confidence and basic structure to apply discipline in these other areas of my life. Even including my prayer life.
2. Begin With What You Can Do Consistently. No More, No Less
Taking on too much too soon can often result in it all falling apart. This applies to more than just fitness, but work, and anything else in life. Some of you know this as the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid).
In my early days of working out, I failed a lot and had several start-stop and re-starts because I took on too much soon. I wanted to go in blazing 5 to 6 days a week, journaling everything, doing all of the top exercises, all of the body parts without a focus, and on and on. I could never keep up with it all consistently and the failure would eventually discourage and deter me.
I wanted to do more but didn’t realize progress until I allowed myself to grow into what I was doing, gracefully. Translation: I had to be patient with myself.
But the key was to start simple with what I knew I could be faithful to. I had to master that and then build up, expanding into more and more. It sounds really simple, but keeping a schedule and regimen that I knew I could be faithful to gave me enough wins and the courage to want to go for more and bigger goals.
Discipline (self-control) and consistency (steadfastness) go hand-in-hand.
For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness… 2 Peter 1.5-8 AMP
The Next Step
The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step (Lao Tzu). God wants us to have good health and we can achieve it with the right motivation and equipping.
What inspired you about these lessons from my own fitness journey? What are some of your favorite lessons from your own journey? Sound off in the comments below.
Check out part 2 of our Faith & Fitness blog series — Going For The Win.