After having worked as a personal trainer for almost 12 years, I still come across some people who ask, “It seems somewhat superficial to build a career around looking good. As a Christian woman, why would you choose a field that focuses so much on aesthetics?”
That’s a great question. My response is always this: “My body is not mine. I was created by God. I find satisfaction in keeping my body in good health and strength to honor Him. The Bible teaches us that our body belongs to God. So, we must take good care of our body and use it for His purpose. “
Social media, magazines and movies all glorify images of perfect looking bodies. People make a big effort, spending lots of time and money to look a certain way. Why is this so important? Does looking good make us feel better or happier, or is there more to it than that.
Some questions to consider:
What is God’s purpose for your body?
How do you think about your health? What does it mean to you?
How do you prioritize your bodily health? How important is living a healthy, active lifestyle to you? Why?
Do you have a unique personal philosophy or motivation regarding health that you can share with us?
How do you keep away from overeating and generally overindulging?
Please share your thoughts below.
I find Cathy’s statement to be very inspiring. I would like to adopt it as a way of looking at training.
I find satisfaction in challenging myself through training, particularly in running. (I call it running.) I am training for a half marathon on June 27, so I ran 11 miles on Saturday. There are stages of the mental activity, as one moves through a 2-hour run. There are also uphill stretches, and downhill, etc. I believe running allows me to approach life tasks more calmly and with confidence, and persevere. I also get a lot of inspirations during running.
I find that barre and yoga classes clear my mind from distracting thought. Barre is really hard and I am intimidated by each class, but experience satisfaction upon completion. Also, Taeko and I do the classes together.
I wonder what happens that causes those inspirations to come during exercize (especially running!). At almost seems like we were designed to receive a reward, in the form of inspiration, from the pain & suffering experienced while exercising. There must be a chemical involved? The pain while exercising experienced by the older generation is much greater than that experienced by the younger generation. So, I expect the inspiration the older generation receives must therefore be much more powerful! Here (attached) is a photo of an older generation athlete (me) suffering much more than the younger generation athlete (Cathy), under the same competitive condtions (Spartan Sprint @ Fenway Park). But for some reason, the younger generation athlete looks to be the MORE inspired of the two. It doesn’t seem fair… On a serious note, my struggle with exercise is that it takes so much time out of the day. I think… Read more »
Haha! That was a GREAT day! Thank you for the picture!! Yes, I do think that as we age, we need to take on forms of exercise that still challenge our aging bodies but do not put more impact than the aging muscle tissue and ligaments can afford to handle! Light strengthening that takes up 30-40 minutes of your day is all that is necessary to maintain strength and bone health. Stretching and more mobility takes on greater importance as we age too! I myself sometimes feel guilty spending 40 mins to an hour before to exercise because it can seem selfish. However, when I think about the positive impact it has on my mood and how that affects how I take care of my family, I realize that exercise is not just for me but for others! Taking care of our bodies allows us to be healthy, strong, and… Read more »
Those two areas of your advice are very helpful to me.
1) Stretching + light exercise, that sound more like what I should be doing. I tend to always feel I need to punish myself when I work out. Perhaps I retain that from my Crossfit days. I think I need to get far away from that .
2) Yes, I need to change my motivation for taking time for exercise. It is definately better for those around me if I stay fit and confident in my physical well being. It is particularly beneficial for my wife. I can see this as reasonable application of the principle of “Living for the Sake of Others.”
Thank you for your comment! I find it wonderful that you use exercise as an opportunity to clear your mind and gain inspiration. I look at running the same way. The fact that you and your wife exercise together is wonderful to hear! Good luck on your half marathon!
I agree with the previous comments that maintaining fitness allows people to engage in strenuous activities that are also enjoyable. That seems to be the majority, with a minority who do it mostly for their appearance. Most people, especially as they age, also consider that staying fit reduces the chance of illness and of an early death. All good reasons to stay fit. Yet some don’t maintain their fitness. Is it because they don’t find any of these reasons compelling? Or don’t have the self-discipline? Or other reasons?
Great questions, Chris! Yes most people who are active physically seem to understand the incredible health benefits that exercise offers them. However there is a staggering number of people who don’t seem to engage in any physical activity. I think you hit on two important points. In my experience, the biggest hurdle for many people is finding or making the time to exercise. However, those who find the time understands the value of exercise while those who cannot make the time do not grasp the value of it as much as the others.
I have not observed that “making time to exercise” is the biggest hurdle. Of course, exercise takes time, but we all have the same 24 hours in the day; and the busiest and most productive people are often also fit. Rather, it seems to me that poverty plays a big role: poor people have bigger challenges every day in maintaining a healthy lifestyle than do the rich. Culture also seems to play a role — the importance of being fit varies culturally, as does self-discipline.Traveling all over the world, it is striking to see the differences in obesity from one culture to another.
Yes, absolutely culture plays a role in achieving a healthy lifestyle! And I also agree that we all have the same 24 hrs in a day and those who value exercise and fitness will make the time for it. Perhaps what I am getting at is how people can “value” exercise as a priority. If people do not see the value in something, their priorities will be elsewhere. I see many people at my local Planet Fitness where members can sign up for just $10 a month and as little as $1 for their first month. However, there is truth in that people who cannot afford to EAT healthy will face health problems and obesity. You can’t out-work a bad diet. People with less income tend to buy heavily processed foods because they are cheap and have easy access to them: think Dollar Store grocery shopping and McDonalds Dollar Menu.
My biggest motivation to take care of my body is so that I can do adventurous and skillful out-of-door activities successfully and without getting injured. The better shape I am in, the more agressive and confident and I can be in doing my out-of-doors adventures. The outdoor activities (skiing, surfing, biking, hiking, whitewater paddleboarding) are an important source of inspiration in my life. The more fit I am, the more inspired an experience I can have in the out-of-doors. Ultimately, the question is, why is engergetic outdoor activity a source of inspiration? Why do I want to stay fit so I can do it well? I think it is because a life giving spirtual energy is received during those experiences. Perhaps that is an experience of God? Perhaps one of the reasons God gave us a body and wants us to take care of our body is so that He… Read more »
Thank you so much for your personal insight! I think there is great truth in what you said about being involved in outdoor experiences as an experience of God. Doing strenuous outdoor activity makes us appreciate our incredible physical bodies and what it can do for us. It allows us to be thankful for the body we have and encourages us to take care of it and treat it well with exercise and nutrition.
The reason I did not ever smoke was due to my High School gymnastics coach. He had one simple rule, his first warning was, “there is no smoking on my team.” The second rule, was “if you are caught you are off the team.” I missed that time period when kids started and just never did. Thank you coach!
We only haver one body, so we should take care of it. It allows us to live, to fulfill everything we want to achieve and without our health, we are burden upon our family and society.
My wife and I have practiced tai-chi for 11 years now. Slow, continuous movement, stretching and balance was taught and practiced. It is especially important as we age, as balance, strength and the ability to move becomes more important. This is, hiking, gardening and soon biking are our main ways to stay healthy.
Wow! What an amazing coach you had to encourage you to stay away from smoking. I can see how that particular guidance has made an impact on you as an adult and as a couple. It’s so wonderful for me to hear of couples engaging in exercise together. You are absolutely correct. Exercise is so important especially as we age for all the reasons that you have stayed above. Thank you for sharing!
you know it’s funny …I had an insight about this after having a grandchild. Whenever I babysit I dress not for myself but for the baby…I choose the colors he likes and even buy earrings that will make him happy. The first thing he does when he sees me is checks out my earrings observing the colors and the design…first one ear and then the other. I dress to make the one I love happy which in turn makes me happy.
What a sweet story!! Thank you for your comment! Yes! We find the most joy when we give and please others-especially those we love. Whether it be in fashion, in exercise, or anything else we do, when we can honour and return love and appreciation, it makes any activity that much more enjoyable.
Hi Cathy. I also believe that my body was created by God, and I want to honor the ideal that it was intended for. Since I enjoy sports, I focus more on performance than looks. For example, I did not smoke as a teenager because it would affect my lungs, and reduce my ability to hold my breath going under the waves when I was surfing. Now I try and exercise in order to live longer!
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! It’s truly wonderful to me when I hear about how people approach exercise as a way to honor their body. How inspiring that you stayed away from smoking so that your lungs can be healthy for being under water when surfing. When people find meaningful reason and a purpose to keep their bodies healthy, exercise no longer becomes a chore but a privilege and people tend to enjoy it more and find value in it.