Friday, July 15, 2016

How I ran for 8 weeks and the surprising reward that came from it

So...I'm scheduled to run 3 miles today. 

3 miles...!

Eight weeks ago I would have scoffed at the idea that I would be running 3 miles in one day. 

All at once. 

By myself.

But today is the day I've been training for. 

Eight weeks ago I wrote to you that I was convicted about my attitude toward my health. I admitted to you that I feel overwhelmed by how hard it is to eat right and stay active.

I told you my secret, and then I asked you to come back and to see what I did about it. Because once I told you, that meant I had to change. That change started with a change of heart that led to a change in my actions.

So, what have I done about the all encompassing shame I felt about my health?

I have been exercising consistently for eight weeks. 

And I'm not going to stand here and tell you it was easy. I'm not going to pretend that I enjoyed every minute of it. I'm not going to lie to you, because I want you to know the truth. 

I want you to be prepared for when you start your journey to better health. Not perfect health, just better. Better is anything that is an improvement on what you're currently doing. 

So, what's the truth about my 8 week journey?

It's not the hardest thing you'll ever do.

It's also not the easiest.

But it is rewarding.

And not just rewarding because I can now see little muscles in my legs (although that is particularly exciting since it's summer and shorts are necessary), or the endorphin rush after the run (which is also nice to get a happiness boost at the end of the day).

I'm talking about the unexpected mental reward that became more clear each step I took.

I ran my  way to a new perspective on my health.

Remember that part where I said I wasn't going to lie to you? Well, here's  some super un-fun truth. There were a couple times where I was in pain and I wanted to quit running. My mind was all like, "Hey girl. What are we doing here? This hurts. Let's just slow down and take a breather." 

And for a second, I was happy to hear that voice. It was convincing. It was what I wanted to hear. 

But then I realized that if I stopped, I'd have to redo this workout tomorrow. All this pain I'm feeling right now will have to be repeated if I give up. 

So I told that voice to scram.

And when I did, I learned a life lesson- one that is painfully trite, but profoundly true.

Never give up. 

Well duh, am I right?

It's so easy to say, and even easier to read, but when it comes to practical implication, I'm way more of the type of girl to give up. 

If something is hard, painful, or uncomfortable, I'll just stop doing it. 

If something is inconvenient or daunting, I'll ignore it.

This has been a common theme in my life when it comes to health (and for complete honesty, my career too, but that's a story for another day.)

But for once in my life, I didn't give up. For 8 whole weeks, I persevered. And this afternoon, I'll get to say that I completed a Couch to 5k. I can run for three miles without stopping. 

I'm beyond proud of myself. *high fives self*

But you know what? I'm also mad.

I'm mad because I realize how much time I've wasted feeling heavy, unhealthy, and unmotivated. I realize how much further I could be if I hadn't given up about a thousand times before.

I am mad because I've been underestimating myself for years. Years!

I've spent uncountable hours of my life believing that I am a quitter, and that I'll never be more than who I currently am.

But it's not true. It's so completely not true.

I'm not some girl who doesn't have self discipline. I'm not a sloth. I'm not incapable. 

I just proved it to myself. I can do big scary things. I can win. I can be victorious. 

There were some days that my workout was hard, and when it was, it was ok. It's ok for things to be hard. It's ok because the next day, I got out there and tried again. 

The real victory is not in the 3 miles. The real victory is in not giving up.

So, why did it take me all this time to figure it out? Why am I 25 before I realized that I'm worthwhile?

The difference lies in the mindset. For the longest time, I'd try to exercise and workout and eat right for personal gain. I wanted to look better. I wanted to feel better. I wanted to be more attractive. None of these desires have magically disappeared, and they are not bad desires. They just weren't the most motivational for me.

This time, I started running to help out my dad. He is the one that asked me to run this Couch to 5k with him, and I desperately want my parents to be healthier, so I said yes.

I started running to help my dad, and along the way I discovered that running to help someone else is a great motivator for me. 

But beyond that, I figured out that when I think about running as a way to worship Christ, that is the most motivational of all. 

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not merely for men" Colossians 3:23

I love this verse. I have it next to my computer. It reminds me of why I work, not for myself, but for Christ. 

So why did I never think to apply this to exercise and eating right? I have no idea. 

It's so simple and so effective, but so utterly counter instinctual. And it made the difference between giving up and succeeding. 

Working for Christ instead of myself was the catalyst for success.

So, my friend, who is reading this and feeling all kinds of emotions about your own health, be encouraged. If I can do something like run 3 miles after eight weeks of training- me who previously believed I was a quitter- then you can too. You can make a change. 

I am challenging you to start something now. Today. Don't wait. 

Make a decision to change your health and do it as an act of worship. 

And I'll be right here with you, in the trenches, grinding away, because I'm nowhere close to being done with my health journey. 

8 weeks did not magically fix my health struggles. 8 weeks did not make my life perfect. But it did make it better, and it made me crave continuance. 

On Monday next week, I'm starting another 8 week strength training program, and I'd like you to start something too. We can encourage each other and struggle together. 

 Will you pray about it? Will you consider it?