Thankful for…Physical Abilities

This past weekend, I ran my first 10K.

I finished the 6.26 miles in 59 minutes and 33 seconds. Around mile 3.5, that mean voice in my head started up: I can’t believe you signed up for this. If you’re tired now, you’re never going to be able to do that 15K next month. You’ll never be able to do that half-marathon. So what did I do? I checked my pace. I was probably going faster than I should have been, which was wearing me out quicker. I took a deep breath. And I told that voice to shut up. Once again, she retreated. I know she’ll be back, especially as I start my next Beachbody program and continue half-marathon training, but I’m getting better at shaking her off.

And fitness is just one way I am doing that. That is why this week I am thankful for the physical abilities God has blessed me with.

A year ago, I would never have dreamed of doing a 10K, let alone of signing up for a half-marathon. I thought my capabilities ended at 3 miles and a few reps of the same workout. But I started small–with 1 mile here and there and a 1 month exercise program. Five months after signing up and beginning my first Beachbody program, I realized I have more in me than I thought I did.

Each day, I pray for continued strength and commitment to my physical fitness goals and that the Lord would guide me each step of the way. Each day, I pray He would help me overpower that voice, the enemy. I have truly felt this commitment is a God thing.

If you’re finding you need a change too, start small. I guarantee you’ll be thankful for it in the future. And if you want to join me on this fitness and faith journey, sign up for the email list for weekly insight and motivation.

Mental & Physical Preparation

This season has been a trying one for me, and God has guided me through ways to navigate it. Through His direction, I have turned to writing and exercise to manage my anxiety and depressive symptoms, both of which are far healthier than the alternatives.

I’ve talked about how running helps me get out of my head, but I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I signed up for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. In preparation for this, I’ve signed up for other races strategically between now and then. And Sunday is race 1: a 10K.

I ran 6.2 miles last Sunday as a practice run, so I’m toning down my running this week. Instead, I’m doing light exercises and some yoga–all from the comfort of my apartment. Nutrition is equally as important as the actual physical exercise, so I’m also being conscious of what I eat.

Only three days in to this “regimen”, and it hasn’t been easy. I’m tempted by cookies and Halloween candy every day. And, admittedly, I bought a pizza for dinner (though I didn’t finish all of it!). But having just completed Beachbody’s 80 Day Obsession, I am feeling confident that I can control myself…at least better than I used to be able to.

But physical preparation is only half the battle. Mental preparation is just as important. And as I’ve only ever run 5Ks before, my mind is doing it’s fair share of negative self talk: Why on earth did you sign up for this? You don’t have self control when it comes to food. You’re no different now. You’re never going to be able to do that half-marathon. 

Unlike the old me, this me isn’t going to give in to that nonsense. There are times on my runs when, even through the music blaring in my ears, that negative voice decides to be louder and I physically shake my head to shake it off or say a silent prayer. There have been times when, mid workout in the privacy of my apartment, I’ve actually said out loud “shut up!” to no one but that voice. There have been moments I have cried out loud “Jesus, please!” when the voice seems to be too much in control. The funny thing is, when I do that, I have this mental picture of, what I call, “bitch-me” making an angry face–lip curl, raised eyebrow, side eye–and giving me a doubting look while she fades back into the darkness. Because she knows she’s been defeated. It may only be for that moment, but she has been. And she will continue to be defeated one moment at a time.

Because that is how progress works. It doesn’t happen overnight. We won’t get rid of negative self talk in one day. We won’t cry out to Jesus and suddenly everything is better right then. We won’t because it’s those moments–the moments we need His grace and His strength the most–that help make us stronger.

Physical preparation means I eat right and do physical practices that will make me stronger but not wear me out or injure me. Mental preparation means I talk myself up this whole week, I excitedly tell others what I’m doing, and tell myself I will finish strong.

I don’t know what being prepared looks like for you, but it’s an important step in getting over any humps and in being prepared for when that negative voice creeps in. Being prepared doesn’t mean dwelling on the negativity; it means knowing what can trigger it and combating it accordingly.

I know my preparation journey–be it physical or spiritual–is far from over. And neither is yours. Stay in it in faith. It will get better, but only if you prepare.

We Can Run, Or We Can Learn

“You are more than you have become.”

“I know what I have to do…but going back means facing my past, and I’ve been running from it for so long…” 

– The Lion King

. . . . .

Have you ever felt this way? Have you ever felt you owe yourself more? Have you run from your past only to realize it will catch up to you eventually? As Rafiki tells Simba (after hitting him on the head to prove a lesson): “The past hurts…but we can learn from it.”

We have to face our past, our demons, if we want to be mentally healthy moving forward. Often when we run, we become worse because we are so focused on avoiding our problems. We think avoiding the problems will make them go away. We resort to other things to numb the pain we–inevitably–feel. Because we know, deep down, that avoidance doesn’t make the problem disappear. It enhances it, makes it worse, prolongs it. The sooner we deal with it–whatever “dealing with it” looks like–the sooner we will be on the path to recovery. Recovery, in turn, takes its own shape based on the issues that need to be faced and the wounds that need to be healed.

I know what it’s like to run. When I graduated from my master’s program, I felt like my life had come to a screeching halt. I had been in school my entire life, and every time one school season ended, I knew another was approaching three months later. But with my tassel moving to the other side of my cap, I realized my life was also transitioning. And I had no idea what to do. I felt I had lost my purpose. And it affected everything else in my life–my passions, my relationships, my marriage.

It took me a long time to realize God is the only one who can fill that void, heal that pain, start that recovery, and deliver my purpose. Because He does not judge us like humans do–He looks at our heart. He sees and feels our pain, He hears our cries, and He wants to help us. We only need to cry out.

If you’re running, stop. It doesn’t matter where you are, just stop. And begin moving forward. Try prayer. Try reading the Bible. What’s the worst that could happen?