1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
Our bodies are not our own. They were created by God and bought with the blood of Jesus. Taking care of this gift is a way we honor God. When we do not take care of our bodies, we DISHONOR God.
For most of my adult life, I struggled to honor God in this way. For many years I was overweight or obese. Finally when I was 35 and my youngest was 2 years old, I decided to make a change. I didn’t like my appearance and I wanted to be a good role model for my kids. It began in Christmas 2016 when I received a FitBit from my husband (I asked for it!) and a local gym membership from my mother-in-law. For the first 6 months I mostly walked in my neighborhood, used cardio machines at the gym like the elliptical, stationary bike and rowing machine, or attended Zumba classes.
In May 2017 I decided to go for my first 5K. I found a local race that was going to be in July, found a free 5K training plan at verywellfit.com and started training. I simply did what the plan told me to do, started reading articles on running and races and a new hobby was born. The week prior to the race, I was very anxious and did not sleep well. Everyday I asked myself, “What I have gotten myself into?” Thankfully a younger brother was willing to run the 5K with me and met me early at the race that Saturday morning. One mile into the race, I sprained my ankle, but I was determined to finish. Moms with strollers and senior citizens finished before I did, but I completed it! And my husband was so inspired to see my perseverance that he started running too.
It was good to be exercising regularly, but I wasn’t losing much weight. I needed to change my diet – most of weight loss comes from the food. A friend introduced me to 21 day accountability groups via Facebook and also to counting calories on the LoseIt App (another popular one is MyFitnessPal). Counting calories made it very easy for me to know how much I should eat everyday. I had tried a lot of diets over the years and this was the first one where I found any success. And the LoseIt App/counting calories was free! The free accountability groups hosted by friends (or eventually by me) were very effective with losing weight, establishing good habits and making good food/water/exercise choices.
I started having success and people around me started noticing. Before I knew it, my husband and a few family members were counting calories, as well as several friends. And they also were having success! Within 1 year I had reached my goal and lost almost 25% of my body weight. Both my husband and I had reached our weight goals and our kids were benefitting as well. They were eating a lot more protein, fruits and vegetables, and less carbohydrates. More water and less juice/sugar drinks. And careful portion sizes.
Within 2 years of my first 5K, our family participated in several more running races – 10Ks, 2 half marathons and a sprint triathlon. My husband was running 5K’s and 10K’s, both of my brothers ran 5k’s, my mother in law walked 5K’s, my husband’s aunt walked her first 5K, and several friends and their families ran their first 5K’s, 10k’s and half marathons. And the races all had fun runs (typically 1 mile), which our kids (and any foster children that were be staying with us) ran. A quote that I heard and have since memorized is:
“Don’t just be a mountain climber. Be a mountain guide.”
Several benefits to running is that it not only shaves inches off and burns a lot of calories, but you don’t have to go to a gym and it costs little more than a pair of quality running shoes and comfortable lightweight clothes. Since our kids are younger and can’t be left home alone, I did eventually invest in a treadmill, which makes it easy to run anytime at home (and less sprained ankles). And when my husband is home, I can run outside. I am prone to sprained ankles, but if you too have setbacks, don’t despair! If you enjoy it, find ways to persevere around your unique challenges.
So how did I get to the half marathons and triathlon? When I started working my way to 4-5 mile runs, I got to the point where I realized I couldn’t complete the runs on my own. I needed help from Jesus. I was in the middle of a run one day and chastised myself for trying to do the run on my own power! Now I always spend some time praying during my runs. And thanking Him for the ability and opportunity to use the legs and body He gave me! No more wasting my body or time away – while I still have the health, I will go for it! I tried training for a full marathon in 2019, but even with training and carb loading, I was not able to make it past 18 miles. I am still stretching my limits and seeing how far I can go – maybe I’ll get there one day, maybe not.
Free online training plans were key for both the half marathons and triathlon. And reading lots of articles and reaching out to seasoned runners was helpful. I joined a female triathlete Facebook group and got a lot of good tips on gear, food, bikes, etc. It was a huge jump for me and I was really nervous, but with Jesus’ help, I just made the plunge and went for one of my lifelong dreams. I remember as a kid watching marathons and triathlons on television and wanting to participate too. If you have an athletic goal, go for it! Get off the couch and take those first baby steps. If I can do it, you can too!
Philippians 4:13 (NLT)
For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.