Discipline can be incredibly beneficial in our lives. It is the act of direction, routine, training, or instruction. When we think of someone we know who exemplifies this trait we consider it a strength. We prefer to think of the positive side of discipline. We don’t often consider that it can also manifest itself through control, regulation and rules. I’ve definitely struggled to find balance with discipline in my life. As someone who is passionate about helping others with their health and fitness goals I’ve learned to love what most people hate. I love having a routine, working out and eating healthy meals. There have been times in my life where my goals required “extreme discipline.” I think it can be beneficial over a short period of time but ultimately you have to find balance and sustainability. It took me a while to figure it out.
At some point the extreme became normal to me and I realized I had a hard time relating to people. The standards I set for myself around food and fitness were often unsustainable. It felt like suffering. I found myself resenting other people who could care less about their body image or what they ate. I wanted to feel normal again. But it was so hard to give up the control I thought I had. In reality the extreme discipline was controlling me. Rest days gave me anxiety and I was terrified that if I allowed myself to enjoy food I would gain fat and no one would want me as their coach. This mind was the result of a combination of things. My own pride, insecurities and vanity. Listening to the culture around me. The fitness industry pushes diet culture, food rules and no rest days. They promote unattainable standards and act as if we can transform ourselves over night and live without carbs. NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE IN A WORLD WITHOUT DONUTS! Just saying! Of course comparison plays it’s part too. Fitness influencers are all over Instagram posting workouts & offering weight loss solutions. It’s hard not to compare ourselves to others.
Finally, as the Lord does he lovingly disciplined me. It was late October 2017 and I sustained a minor back injury that kept me out of the gym for a few weeks. He cared for me so much that even after fifteen years of living life for me He perused me. He made himself known to me in I way I’ve never experienced before. He revealed the sinful condition of my heart though a gentle sermon about pride. I was so focused on my body image that I couldn’t see how much damage I was doing to myself and those around me. I was in the gym all the time so much so that I didn’t have relationships outside of it. My hormones were shot, I couldn’t stay injury free and I wasn’t giving my body the nutrients it needed to sustain my activity level. Deep down I knew I was seeking the affirmation of the world & others around me rather than living to please God. I knew I needed to dive into scripture and allow his word to wash over me. I felt the tug to get back into church and community. It wasn’t my body that needed a cleanse it was my heart.
The were so many verses that transformed my lifestyle, my thoughts & the way I interacted with others. “Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts.” 1 John 5:21 Without realizing it I allowed fitness to take the place of God in my heart. If I had a bad day or didn’t know how to deal with my emotions I would workout instead of spending time with the Lord. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 , I began to recognize that I was working out in excess & it was doing more harm to my body than good. I felt so broken & humbled & at the same time I could feel God’s unfailing love. I knew only Jesus could heal what was broken in me. “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1Corinthians 10:31, It took a while to understand that God made food for me to enjoy. I eventually came to the realization that food doesn’t have morality (it’s not good or bad) and I was giving it power over me. Eating pizza and ice cream doesn’t make me bad but eating too much of it doesn’t make me feel good. I had to learn the difference between temptation & treat. I had to learn to let go of control & trust God.
In time I felt free. I felt like a different person. The things I used to desire suddenly didn’t appeal to me anymore. I had a burning desire to know what God wanted for my life and who he created me to be. It was as if my identity had been stripped away & I had become someone new. I didn’t want to live to please myself anymore. I was eager to serve and figure out where I belong. It’s a slow and sometimes painful process. At times I felt confused and overwhelmed by our circumstances. The future was so unclear and sometimes it still is. The more I drew near to God the clearer my calling became. I wasn’t created to be a go getter in cooperate America, I wasn’t going to be a superstar athlete & I couldn’t spend all of my days hanging out with Ella at the gym. It took a while to build me back up. First, he blessed us with our second child. Then things really got interesting when we found out we were being stationed in Colorado. Still he was faithful through it all. He led us to an amazing church community & I made friends quickly.
Over time I felt lead to start my own fitness group for women (mostly moms) called Fitness Freedom. During summer months we meet outdoors near a playground so we can get a great workout in while our kids play together. We use minimal equipment & focus on functional movement, endurance, strength & resistance training. Every workout is different & scaleable based on individual needs. Our group is small is continuing to grow online so women anywhere can join in. It’s amazing to see what God is capable of if we choose to be obedient. He called me out of darkness and into the light. I owe everything I am and have to Him.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a few practical ways to set boundaries around discipline:
- Surround yourself with community and support. You are more likely to reach your goal if you have accountability. Other people can have godly insight to help keep things in perspective.
- Clear out your social media & only follow people who promote a healthy approach towards reaching your goals or lifestyle in general. Comparison is the thief of joy & there is nothing wrong with taking time away from social media if it helps your mindset.
- Routine is good but ridged rule following often leads to a feeling of defeat or inadequacy. Keep your goals attainable & be flexible.
- Have Fun! Yes, fitness or financial goal setting often requires hard work but you should experience joy along your journey. Mix it up, be spontaneous & do something adventurous! Get off that treadmill & hit the nature trails.
- Take care of yourself. Don’t let tasks, deadlines or training consume you. Prioritize faith, family, & your mental & physical health. Sometimes that means REST. Vacation & relaxation. Give yourself grace!
Thank you so much for reading my blog I hope it was encouragement to you for the rest of your week. As always if you have health or fitness goals please feel free to message me on social media or email me at fitandfree15@Gmail.com, I’m currently taking one on one nutrition clients as well as adding people to our Fitness Freedom online community which includes 5 days a week of programming, video tutorials & weekly check ins.
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with the fruit of your salvation—the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ —for this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Philippians 1:9-11