Perhaps you haven't exercised in a l-o-n-g time.
Maybe your schedule at work or home demands too much of your time or you simply fell out of the routine. I have good news for you! If you haven't exercised in months, a year or ever—it's never too late to begin making fitness a part of your life.
I know. For most of my life I hated exercise and did not follow a sane food plan. I fought excess weight and overeating since I was a child. As a teenager, I tried lots of kooky diets. I even went on a water fast for 10 days (and believe me, there was nothing spiritual about it; I just wanted to be “skinny”). I became skinny all right. I also developed pneumonia and looked horrible. The weight piled back on shortly thereafter, with an extra 10 pounds on top of it!
After I came to Christ in my late 20s, the Lord delivered me from alcoholism, helped me quit smoking, redeemed my life from the deception of the New Age movement (metaphysics, mysticism and yoga), and brought a loving husband into my life. But overeating and lack of discipline continued to plague me.
“Father,” I prayed, “You have removed so many negative things from my life. Please help me overcome this, too.”
Victory in this area did not come as quickly for me as it did for the other addictions which had held me captive. In fact, the fruit of self-discipline is something I must be conscious of walking in every single day in order to experience the freedom the Lord promises us.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage (Galatians 5:1).”
For me, freedom from “couch potato-ism” and overeating is a choice I have to determine to “stand fast” in daily. Thankfully, the more I “exercise” self-discipline, asking for God to help me, the more I find myself actually wanting to be more active, eat more healthful food and saner portions.
Do we have to exercise?
Well, that’s up to you. If you want to be what I call a “fit witness” for Christ, have a healthy body (“the temple of the Holy Spirit,” according to 1 Corinthians 6:19), full of energy and strength to do all the Lord is calling you to do, it is certainly advisable.
You may already know some of the problems associated with not exercising:
• weight gain
• decrease in flexibility, strength and balance
• increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• aches, pains and other medical issues
Hey! You told me there was good news...
Even if you've not been consistent in years, beginning some regular exercise now can help in a number of ways:
• reduce the risk of heart disease and osteoporosis
• relieve stress, anxiety and depression
• achieve and maintain a healthy weight and fitness level
• strengthen bones and joints
• strengthen the immune system
• increase energy levels
• decrease risks for various diseases (including diabetes, colon cancer, plus high blood pressure, stroke and degenerative diseases associated with age)
While plastic surgery is only skin deep, exercise benefits us inside and out. Some encouraging news for those of us over 30 years old is that more mature women appear to gain the most benefits from exercise. After the age of 30, the body responds quite well to the overall “tune-up” exercising brings.
So, why don’t we “Just Do It”?
I could tell you all the things the world tells us to do to motivate ourselves—all of which boil down to a Nike-inspired, "Just Do It!"
It's not that easy though, is it? That’s probably why research from Johns Hopkins is predicting that there could be a 75% obesity rate in America by the year 2015.
But we don’t have to be part of that statistic. As Christians, we can lead the charge to change. We can be “fit witnesses” for the Lord, leading others to health in spirit, soul and body through a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Does the Bible have answers to help us with weight and exercise? Yes!!!
Galatians 5:22-23 lists the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Patience, faithfulness and self-control are the three fruit of the Spirit I've found most helpful in going from being a "couch potato on a slug-fest marathon" to someone who actually enjoys walking and getting some exercise in every day.
You already know how to yield to the Holy Spirit and the fruit He is developing in your life in some areas.
For example: When someone in line at the grocery store is taking a long time paying for their purchase, you don't throw a wall-eyed fit anymore, do you? You don't stomp your feet, jump up and down and bang your shopping cart into the register, do you? Of course not!
You've learned to yield to the Lord and the fruit of patience. "Okay, I'm letting patience have its perfect work in me. The Word says it's by faith and patience that I inherit the promises of God. All right! I'm up for that!" You may not do that spiffy a job of it, but at least you're trying.
Why not plant some seeds toward developing the fruit of patience, faithfulness and self-control in the area of exercise, too?
Here's an idea:
1. PLAN: Tomorrow—or today—plan to take a brisk walk for 20 minutes. Or do a quick workout (there are several quick exercises and workouts with accompanying scriptures online which you can do at home or the office at my website www.PraiseMoves.com ).
2. TIME: Choose a time you will get some activity in.
3. ASK: Speak to the Lord and ask Him to help you keep your commitment to honor Him by taking good care of your body (the "temple of the Holy Spirit") by doing some physical activity for 20 minutes.
4. DECIDE: Make the decision now that when the time comes to fit the activity in, you will NOT yield to any excuses, but yield to the Lord.
5. YIELD: When the time comes, dedicate the time to the Lord, and go for that walk, Christian Fitness workout, or whatever you've purposed to do.
6. PRAISE: Praise the Lord for His faithfulness to you as you have just begun a new habit. Go through the steps again for the next day, and the day after that.
With time and practice, the fruit of faithfulness, patience and self-control will become more fully developed and you'll find yourself actually looking forward to moving your body and praising the Lord! By giving your time and yourself to the Lord in this way, you’ll find His grace sustains, maintains, contains and retrains us to be all He’s call us to be.
Laurette Willis ©2009
Christian Fitness Expert and author Laurette Willis is the Director of PraiseMoves® Fitness Ministry, offering fitness programs, DVDs, books and instructor training for those interested in a Christian ALTERNATIVE to yoga, plus fitness for spirit, soul and body at http://praisemoves.com . To follow Laurette on Twitter, please visit http://twitter.com/Fit4Christ, and Facebook at http://facebook.com/people/Laurette-Willis/661158603