When it comes to exercise, I wonder how many of us fail to achieve the consistency we desire because we are so very focused on doing exercise the way we think it is supposed to be done based on what we read, what we assume and what we see in other people we know. I sure have seen this in my life.
There was a time in my life where I felt like I should take up running because everyone was doing it and I had several clients that were runners. My only success with running was to participate in a 5K Turkey Trot. I was glad to complete it with my family, but I honestly did not enjoy the running part. As much as I felt like I should be a runner, running is just not for me.
My husband Bob could tell you about the number of pieces of unused indoor exercise equipment that have been in our house at various times over our marriage. It seems so logical to have some good exercise equipment in the house for the winter months. But the truth is that I greatly dislike exercising indoors by myself. If I do exercise indoors, I want to be with other people in an exercise class set to some great music.
Other than T-shirts, there is pretty much no area of life where we are “one size fits all.” In scripture we see that we all have different roles and gifts (Romans 12:4-7) and from creation we see that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) with a distinct personality, strengths and weaknesses. The result of our uniqueness is that comparisons no longer make sense. Consider the words of Jesus to Peter when Peter began to wonder how John’s future journey would compare to his own:
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them…When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:20-22)
Jesus’s answer is interesting – “What is that to you? You must follow me.” Peter was to focus only on walking out his own unique calling rather than focusing on how it compared to John’s.
We often get into the trap of comparing ourselves to others rather than walking out our own journey based on our own uniqueness. And that includes our health goals and habits.
When it comes to exercise, why should we look outside of ourselves to discover the type of exercise we really enjoy and therefore will do consistently? Our kids were a great example of this. When our kids were at home, Bob and I encouraged them to live a healthy lifestyle by making cycling trips a regular family activity. Almost every Saturday during the warm times of the year, we would pack some snacks, put the bikes on the rack and drive to a nearby trail for some exercise and fun family time. We noticed that, when we took those bike rides, our kids distinct personalities emerged in the way they approached our cycling activities.
Stephanie would always ride behind us on the trail. Not because she was unfit, but because she was curious and interested to explore the surroundings. She would want to bike at a slow to moderate pace to take in the sights of nature and she would stop and get off her bike often to watch a frog on a lily pad or examine a beautiful flower or leaf. This was true to her personality as she is our creative child who, as an adult, has a day job as an editor and writes her own novels at night. Stephanie loves to take time to enjoy, explore and create beautiful things and it shows up in many aspects of her life.
Matthew would always be cycling a good distance ahead of the rest of the family and enjoyed going as fast as we would let him. He wanted to complete the bike ride and he wanted to finish first. This was true to his personality as he is our child who loved cross country races and thrives on conquering whatever is in front of him. As an adult, he works as an engineer who works on design projects with a focus on getting the job done by solving problems making sure things are completed correctly and on time.
Our two different children with two distinct personalities made our bike rides sometimes challenging, but they both experienced the fitness benefits of our consistent family cycling trips because they had the freedom to enjoy them in accordance with how God made them.
So, if you are struggling to exercise consistently, here are two good questions to ask yourself:
1. What moves me to move? What adds fun and enjoyment to my exercise session?
The things that move me to move are:
2. What kind of physical activity did I enjoy doing as a child when I engaged in exercise/movement because it was fun?
Around the topic of exercise and fitness, there is so much written information and so many innovative fitness products to sort through. But the one central truth about exercise is this:
The best type of exercise is the one that you will actually do because you enjoy it! And consistently doing what you enjoy will not be all that hard because it is based on your own God-given unique personality and experiences.
What about you? Are you struggling to succeed at exercising consistently because you are more focused on what you think you are supposed to do rather than what you really enjoy doing? Why not make your own list of what moves you to move? Knowing yourself and honoring your own uniqueness is an important key to a consistent exercise habit.
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About the author:
Hello! My name is Ginger Hill and I am a Christ follower and a wellness professional. Over the years, I have personally and professionally seen the benefits of healthy living and I have also seen the hardships of struggling to practice good health habits in the midst of a busy and sometimes stressful life. I am passionate about helping myself and others to live a healthy lifestyle and I believe that good health is essential in helping us to do the good works that God has called us to do. Because I am a work in progress, I write these blog posts to encourage myself and I share them with others in the hope that they may be encouraged as well.
Psalm 92:12,14 (NLT)
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