I took this picture this morning on my jog. The fact that I go for a jog in the mornings in and of itself is fairly amazing. I didn’t think I would be able to “indulge” in something like that with two small children, but I have found that when you want to make it work, you make it work! I think exercise is one of those things where it seems as if there are so many reasons (or excuses) why we can’t do it. Not only do we not really want to get all gross and sweaty, but it takes time out of our already busy schedules and at times it can feel like it just isn’t worth it. But it is so important to make that time – not just for the physical benefits but for the emotional and mental benefits as well.
I am one of those people that lives in Southern California despite hating the heat with a passion. I’m also “that” mom who has my children in bed by eight o’ clock every night – just the time it begins to cool down around here. So my best bet is getting out of the house as early in the morning as I can. I make my kids a smoothie while they are still asleep, and when they wake up I get them dressed and pop them in the double stroller with their smoothies. Then I go for my jog! I rarely “feel” like it, but I always feel good about myself after we get back.
I think something else to address about exercising is that everyone comes from a different place. God has put each of us in different stages of life, physical situations, and has given us bodies that react to different things. I jog because it is one of the things I can do easily while pushing two small children in a stroller. Somebody else may enjoy lifting weights, joining a class, or just going for a walk to start with. For years I did walks, and when I started truly applying myself to exercise I was largely walking, because my body was not ready to jog like I do right now. My stubborn personality has been a huge asset in building my exercise program because I always like to do a little more than I did the day before. Whether it’s making it past that fire hydrant halfway up the street or adding in a steep hill, I like feeling like I am progressing, pushing, and challenging myself.
I think this need I feel to always be “adding” in areas of my life comes from this verse:
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge; self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8
I know this is not a typical verse somebody would apply to exercise. But I think the concept ties in perfectly. You want to be growing and adding to yourself all the time, so that you do not become stagnant, or ineffective, or unproductive. You want to keep on increasing the gifts you have been given, right? So if you have been given a body, use it! If you would be adding to yourself by taking a stroll around the office every day at lunchtime, then go for it! If you would be adding to yourself by walking the dog at night, do it! Choose to add to yourself, not in hopes of chasing something that seems unattainable, but because you are thankful for what God has blessed you with. It doesn’t matter if that gift seems small to you compared to what someone else has, it just matters that you are thankful for it and a good steward of what you have been given.
I have noticed that other gifts come along with the exercise, when I discipline myself to be faithful to it. I have definitely noticed an increase in stamina and fitness, but also there are things like seeing that sunlight breaking through the clouds – a demonstration of God’s love, right there on my jog in the morning. I would miss that if I wasn’t putting myself out there where I can see it. I notice that my mood is better throughout the day when I exercise, which definitely has to do with the endorphins being released and everything you hear about in that area – but also that is one of the rare times in my busy days where I can think and reflect on what God is doing in my life, when I can prepare for what I have to do later, when I can daydream and plan and be inspired. Those personal times don’t come easily to a mother of young children, let me tell you! But by being faithful in taking care of my body I find that I can have that time daily.
So I want to encourage everybody to keep on adding to themselves. And expect God to bless you, to encourage you, to be faithful to strengthen you in the process, because He will.