I made this promise with myself and well, the world, that I would be spiritually and physically fit by twenty-two. You may want to read that first for context purposes. But here’s the spoiler, I was incredibly physically fit by the time of my birthday. My lowest weight was an accurate measurement of the frightening dedication I had. The disappointing reality is I failed to get spiritually fit. I was so invested in preparing my body for the weigh-in and photoshoot that Jesus got thrown on the backburner.
“The better you look, the worse you feel” is a quote from Dr. Greg Doucette. For the majority of you who do not know who Dr. Greg is, he’s not a doctor. He is an IFBB Pro Bodybuilder and coach. In the fitness industry, he’s one of the few who will not lie to you. Be careful of the Gymshark athletes that you listen to. Be careful with these fitness influences that ignore the rules of thermodynamics. But I am getting off-topic, “the better you look, the worse you feel” and for me, that was the upsetting reality, but not for the reason you may think.
When I was dieting I did not face this constant hunger nor the need to cave and cheat. To all my friends who are curious about fitness and losing weight healthily, I fully support anabolic recipes. Dieting does not need to translate to “boring foods only.” If I was eating only chicken, rice, and broccoli, I would have quit after a week. On my diet, I was able to have lava cake every day. It was great! If you read this and your takeaway is to not take care of your physical health, you are absolutely missing the point of this post or rather I am doing a poor job presenting my case. If you are reading this and thinking this is your excuse to continue to put off your diet and exercise routine, you are missing the point completely and I’d encourage you to leave this blog now. I’ll see you next week, no big deal! To those who want to know what happened, this is the embarrassing and brutal truth that I have been hiding.
The intensity of my physical goal was so severe that I convinced myself I only had time to focus on my diet. Meal prepping, working out and taking the time to learn what I was doing so that I was not losing weight too quickly created less time for Jesus. I shall add that this brutal physical goal on top of work, school, this brand, and my somewhat of a social life created less time for Jesus. Let me be more truthful in my wording, I chose to put in less time for Jesus because this goal unintentionally became an idol in my life.
I read every single chapter of Hebrews but it pains me to admit that I was going through the motions. I failed to realize that up until the moment. I attempted to write a blog post on the book of Hebrews and I had nothing. I was trying to write on empty, like retrieving water from a dried-up well. Physically, I felt mostly fantastic, but my spiritual health was not doing so hot throughout March and it began to show.
My obsession with fitness and food was only evident to me when I gained all of that weight back and a little bit more than two weeks after I took those photos. I panicked and have been hiding under oversized hoodies even though there’s nothing to hide. I say “there’s nothing to hide” figuratively but also, I carry my weight in my face. If I truly wanted to hide any sort of weight gain or loss, I’d need your burglary-used choice ski mask. I did not understand how much I attributed my body and weight to my worth until I started to see unwanted results. “The better you look, the worse you feel” and my spiritual health was hurting. That’s how you know if something has become an idol in your life. You look at your priorities, what matters to you, and what you find your identity in during your worst days. Ask the convicting question, if God removed it from your life, would you be destroyed? In my case, if God removed my body goals, would I be emotionally destroyed?
Maybe for you, it is a relationship you have with a significant other, your grades, your job, or maybe your journey with fitness seems all too familiar when you hear mine. Where is your worth? The good news is this is not the end of my story. There is hope.
Within the last two weeks, though I have gained weight, my heart has been on fire for Jesus and I do not believe that is merely a coincidence. The easiest switch I made was changing what I listen to on my daily walks, rather than listening to a fitness podcast, I’ve started listening to sermons. Instead of spending my free time reading more about dieting, I’ve spent more time reading and reflecting upon the Bible, hence the spike in blog posts. There’s a little secret for you, consider yourself lucky. The frequency at which I post is often an accurate representation of how I am doing spiritually.
Do not be fooled. I am merely a college student that is trying to wrap her mind around an infinite, omnipresent, and sovereign God. With that preface, I think this challenge presented a painful reality moving forward. With the number of commitments and priorities I have, I cannot look as lean as I do in those photos. At least, I cannot go about looking as lean as I did with what I did in March. Focusing more on Jesus means I have to focus less on my fitness goals or rather approach them at a slower pace. That’s the reality of it. What are you willing to sacrifice to follow Jesus? What do you have to let go to grow in Him more? We, Christians, are often motivated to say “Yeah, I’d die for Jesus” yet we forget about the little sacrifices. We forget that sometimes following Jesus means losing weight slowly rather than drastically.
The fulfillment you can find in Jesus is better than anything in this entire world. You are worthy because you are made by a Designer who has given you worth regardless of what you look like, what you do, and who you are. There is significant and hard-to-believe truth in those cheesy Christian stickers and sayings. Jesus is better.
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ. Philippians 3:7-9
Paul was not talking about a fitness journey, but I do think these verses are relevant. There is nothing that compares to the joy and glory in knowing and accepting Jesus. There is nothing else in this world like the unconditional love God has for you. You know that chasing earthly things has never truly made you happy. It has never worked, ever. There is an everlasting hope, eternal security, redeeming grace, unexplainable love that are beyond anything in this world. His name is Jesus.
I must emphasize, if you leave this post thinking that I am telling you that you cannot work out and have a relationship with Jesus, you are missing the point. If you use this post to excuse excessive and problematic eating habits, you are missing the point. That’s not what I am saying at all. Do cardio that you enjoy. Eat a well-balanced diet. Build muscle. Watch your macros. Live a life that honors the body your Creator has given you. Emily Hayden is a prime example of someone that can balance that out in her specific season. She is a Christian IFBB Bikini Pro Competitor.
So, now what?
As I sit here typing on Google Chrome in the tab to the right of it is MyFitnessPal where I am tracking my caloric intake. As I sit here typing, I’m about an hour away from a brutal leg workout. I am still dieting. I am still working out. I am still learning about fitness. The biggest change is I am not doing all that I can to be as fit as I can within 30 days. I am approaching my fitness and health goals at a slower pace. I’ll still reach my goals but maybe I will in 60 days rather than 30 or maybe even 90 days rather than 30. I believe being a follower of Christ does not mean you have to give up everything, but rather, you must put what you worship in its proper place.
In this current season, I have a better understanding of what I can do and what I should not do based on my priorities and time commitments. In this current season, that means spending a little less time on my fitness goals. That’s what I learned from the month of March. If anything, this was the biggest wake-up call to getting my priorities realigned and thank God. Nothing in this world is comparable to knowing who Jesus is and what He says about you. As someone who has struggled with placing my worth in grades, relationships, body image, work, hobbies, eating habits, my rule-following nature, and well, we can be here forever jotting down all that I’ve put my worth in, yet nothing compares to seeing your worth in Christ. There is nothing more favorable than knowing you are a child of God and emotionally understanding what that all entails. You know nothing under the sun can truly fulfill the deepest cravings of your soul, would you consider what it would look like if you sought above the sun and found The Son? His name is Jesus.
“So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18