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I vividly remember the day I decided I needed to get into the gym.
I was a 23-year-old law student, and I had just come back from lunch at Taco Bell, where I had woofed down three soft tacos, a Nachos Supreme, and a bean burrito. I felt bloated, gross and out of shape — and well, I was. I hardly ever exercised, and I regularly ate food-garbage for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But that day, sitting down at my desk with my bloated gut pressing against my belt, it hit me: You are young, and that's the only reason you're not morbidly obese. You'd better get in shape, or it's all downhill from here.
That was over 11 years ago, and I have been working out early every morning, five days a week since then. I have stayed consistent despite studying for law school exams, being an attorney for ten years, moving several times, traveling all over the United States for work, getting married, and having two kids. And here's how I did it:
1. I prayed.
Somehow, I knew He was going to do it, and, wonder of wonders, shortly after I prayed that prayer, the idea suddenly became appealing. In light of my lackluster history with exercise and early-waking, I have no doubt that this was an answer to prayer.You need to understand just how impossible it was for me to pull this off. I was always the kid who shied away from anything athletic, and I woke up late every morning, so the idea of getting up at 5:20 a.m. and dragging myself to a gym every day seemed preposterous. I knew I would never succeed at getting fit without divine intervention, so a couple of weeks after my Taco Bell revelation, I offered this simple request to God: "Please give me the will to go to the gym five days a week at 6:00 a.m."
2. I asked for advice.
Before going to the gym, I went to one of the young attorneys at the law firm where I was an intern, and I asked if she had any advice for working out (she was a former college volleyball player). God bless her; the woman went to her office and typed up a five-day workout agenda for me, and I clung to that thing for dear life as I fearfully crept into the gym for the first time. It would be the first of many, many times I asked for exercise advice from someone who looked like they knew what they were talking about.
3. I showed up.
I stayed motivated to go to the gym — well, for the first month or so. Then I woke up one morning, looked at the red 5:20 glaring at me from the alarm clock, and thought, I was up late last night. I need to sleep this morning. But before I could hit the snooze button, another thought crossed my mind: If you hit snooze, it's the beginning of the end of your consistency. And with that, I dragged myself out of bed and promised myself I would go to sleep earlier that night. That was the first of many times I ignored the temptation to hit snooze, and over time, simply getting out of bed to go to the gym in the morning became as natural to me as brushing my teeth.
4. I set goals.
When I went to the gym, I had two goals that I repeated to myself: I wanted to look attractive to my wife, and I wanted to be able to protect her if she was physically threatened. Keep in mind, I was nowhere near meeting her (she came along five years later), but it kept me motivated.
I also refused to plateau. I always pushed myself harder: I wanted to see if I could lift a little more weight, jump rope for a few more minutes, do a few more push-ups. Meeting my fitness goals (with or without a wife) built my self-confidence and helped me realize that I wasn't a non-athletic wuss who was afraid of the gym. I had what it took to be physically fit, and I had the character to follow through with my goals.
5. I didn't lie to myself.
In addition to getting out of bed, when I showed up at the gym, I did what I said I was going to do. If I said I was going to jump rope for five minutes, I kept going, even if my body wanted to quit after three minutes. If I said I was going to do five sets of leg workouts, I wouldn't let myself quit after four of them. For most people, however, quitting is always an option when it comes to exercise; it's fundamental to their whole mindset.
They make New Year's resolutions, overpromise, and quit under the weight of fitness commitments they cannot keep. For example, they tell themselves they're going to exercise five days a week, and by the second week, they're coming in three days. They say they're going to run five miles on the treadmill, and they spend 10 minutes on the elliptical. They can't believe their own word, so it's easy for them to break it — that is, it's easy to avoid following through on a commitment that they always knew, deep down inside, they weren't serious about.
If there's one Scripture that comes to mind when I think about what it takes to consistently exercise, it's this: "But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’" (Matthew 5:37, NKJV). If you want to get back into the gym, ask yourself what you're willing to do. Can you commit to just two weeks? Then say "yes" to that, and decide after two weeks if you want to do two more. Do you know for a fact that you're not going to be able to go to the gym after work every day? Then say "no" to that, and pick a realistic time to which you can say "yes."
Showing up to exercise is hard, because it's work, and people like you and me are going to have to push ourselves if we're going to keep it up. And here's what pushing ourselves looks like: divine intervention, the humility to ask for help, the willingness to show up, and a commitment to keep your goals even when your body tells you to stay home.
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Sometimes Joshua it takes more than just sheet willpower but a plan and motivating factor. My recommendation if you're finding you can't motivate yourself to go, not sure what to eat or what exercises to do, or aren't seeing results, work with a quality certified trainer (and no, I'm not one myself).
Think about it. Many people who want to excel at something often work with a coach, teacher, or mentor; they don't just go at it alone. And most of us get that. Why would developing a healthy, fit lifestyle be any different? A trainer can help create a plan to reach your goals (strength, weight loss, etc) and make adjustments to what you are eating (hint: other than the usual excess in fat it usually has too many carbs and not enough protein).
As for the motivation, if health and vanity(?) aren't enough, consider that if you sign with a trainer, signing up with so many sessions and paying in advance. For every session you brush off, that's money down the drain. I understand finances is an issue for some, but I'd argue that it's also a question of priorities. Maybe you don't need to stick with a trainer for the long term, but enough to develop a habit.
Take it from someone who was in a similar situation to Joshua many years ago.
Sure - do that too. Whatever works!
--As a christian who is no stranger to the gym let me say that it important for us christians to, in humility, remember that we really shouldn't be there in the first place. Jesus is pretty clear about what we are supposed to be doing and it is all about seeking the welfare of others at the expense of ourselves. And there is a long christian tradition of mortifying the body, not one of building it up. And our membership fees, Where did we get those if we've given all our possessions to the poor like he commanded? The gymnasium, and with it the idea of perfecting the male form, is a Greek one, a pagan one. The gymnasium built in Jerusalem that stood during Jesus' time was regarded as a sacrilege. It was Theodosius, the emperor who made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire who abolished the Olympics. When we are in the gymnasium we are in enemy territory.
--God wants us to be good stewards of everything he has given us, and that includes our bodies. Sometimes that requires going to the gym, and it certainly requires developing healthy eating habits, even though junk food is cheaper. Saying that we shouldn't take care of our bodies because we should be ministering is a very short sighted view. We take care of our bodies so we can minister longer and do more. I couldn't run after kids in a Children's program if I were obese. Nor could I be as effective on mission trips. Working out isn't just so you can look good in a bathing suit, it is so that your body can run properly and you can live a healthy life.
--Jack, your view could pretty easily lead someone down a legalistic road.
I mean, think about it: if I follow your advice as precisely as I can, it means I'm only allowed to exercise if it's outside of the pagan gym. But even if I love running or doing pushups or whatever, I should probably stop if it improves my physique and my wife compliments me, leading to pride. Well then let's say I stop all that exercising and we have an awful winter during which we're regularly blanketed with snow. If I find myself tempted to serve my elderly neighbors by shoveling their driveways on a weekly basis, I should beware - because shoveling snow is some really hard exercise (seriously, it is such a killer), and I might end up looking more trim if I help them. Things could get really self-righteous really quickly.
At the same time, I am positive that being fit and healthy can turn into its own type of self-righteousness apart from Jesus - you start to look more fit, you get compliments, and there are twisted messages inside that say "I'm more valuable because of the way I look." So that's another side of the coin of self-righteousness.
Scripture does say that bodily exercise is at least of "some value" 1 Tim 4:8 ESV) - but it's going to take the Holy Spirit's intervention to keep us from valuing it too much.
--From Saint Paul to the Inquisition people have noticed the Jesus' teaching is foolishness to the world. The world says that we should take care of our bodies but Christians have traditionally turned their backs on such things and instead focused on things eternal.
I'm not saying that we shouldn't go to the gym. Like C.S. Lewis, I have a certain fondness for pagan things. But I keep in mind that when I'm there, or otherwise attending to the perfection of my body, that I am being a bad Christian. It keeps me aware of the possible spiritual traps--pride being just one of them--and it keeps me humble. It keeps me mindful of the log in my own eye lest I complain about the splinter in someone else's.
--Jack, your last comment almost sounds a bit gnostic. To care for one's body isn't a worldly tradition, and keeping your body healthy is not mutually exclusive to focusing on eternal things. ANYTHING (literally) can be made into an idol. Because idolatry is a heart issue. And regardless of whether the gym is a pagan place or not, I tend to recall Jesus hanging out with a lot of pagans. IF Christians stay away from everything "pagan" and remain confined to our holy huddles, we will have effectively done everything but the great commission. if you avoid non-believers, non-believers they will remain.
--What Jill said.
--Soooo, @Jack. Not to promulgate a dogpile, but let's talk about some stuff.
>> As a christian who is no stranger to the gym let me say that it important for us christians to, in humility, remember that we really shouldn't be there in the first place. <> Jesus is pretty clear about what we are supposed to be doing and it is all about seeking the welfare of others at the expense of ourselves. <> And there is a long christian tradition of mortifying the body, not one of building it up.<> And our membership fees, Where did we get those if we've given all our possessions to the poor like he commanded? <> The gymnasium, and with it the idea of perfecting the male form, is a Greek one, a pagan one. <> The gymnasium built in Jerusalem that stood during Jesus' time was regarded as a sacrilege. It was Theodosius, the emperor who made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire who abolished the Olympics.<> When we are in the gymnasium we are in enemy territory.<
--Truly sorry about the double post. It appears my citation style, born from old Usenet days, totally thrashes the comment parer on Boundless. Here's my original comment, with a more normal style of quoting. =)
Soooo, @Jack. Not to promulgate a dogpile, but let's talk about some stuff.
Quoth Jack: "Jesus is pretty clear about what we are supposed to be doing and it is all about seeking the welfare of others at the expense of ourselves. "
Not true as stated. The summation of the prophets and law is to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind and love thy neighbour as thyself. The Bible, and thus its Author, is not willing that he should write a non ending laundry list of what that looks like in a practical sense otherwise we'd truly all be legalists, looking for a low to justify doing a pullup. And if there was a law for doing a pullup, we'd then outlaw doing two pullups. Unless there was a law for doing two pullups, in which case we'd look for one that says we can't do three, and should we bend our knees or cross our legs and what's up with those guys doing neutral grip position?! BURN THE WITCHES!!
We are to glorify God in mind, body and spirit. Simply 30 minutes a day in a gym will increase you lifespan, decrease your illnesses, and overall make you a more productive human being. Thus increasing your chances for a Godly life. It's the positive logic form of "Don't smoke, it's bad for you." Certainly no verse exists that says "Do not inhale burning nicotine" and yet we can extrapolate that it's probably not a Godly thing to do based on many different passages of scripture. Positive logic says "Be good to your body because it's the only one that God gave you." A few crunches, a few pullups, and a little running or cycling would do us all good.
To those that say "That's such a first world problem. The Apostles didn't have to worry about core strength!" Oh but they should have. "DID HE JUST SAY THAT?!" Yes, I did. First, we know that the lifestyle they lived in times past was much more full of manual labor than us today. However, if they had access to modern medicine, I'm sure they would have taken flu shots and antibiotics to preserve and enhance life. (The scriptures does not negate modern medicine, but encourages the use of the means necessary to remain healthy). If they had known about basic body mechanics to the degree we do now, based on Scriptural principles of being responsible with one's body, they would have had no excuse to not do a few squats. Lift with your legs, dawg, ain't nobody want a herniated disc!
Quoth Jack: "And there is a long christian tradition of mortifying the body, not one of building it up."
Not true as stated. While we can find plenty of examples of someone, claiming the name of Christ, doing one thing or another all in the name of Tradition (Hello Origen, how'd that castration work for you?), we must turn to Scripture for our guidance. Christians have jumped form "When you pray, enter into your closet..." to full blown hesychasm, and yet an interpretation of Scripture using standard rules of verbal communication will not lead us there. Unless we embrace gnosticism and look for hidden meaning, in which case let's hold a seance to summon Fred Rogers because we've just crossed into a land of make believe.
Also let it be known that I've entered this discussion before anyone bastardizes 1 Timothy 4:8 as an excuse to avoid exercise.
The Bible takes some measures to speak of healthy eating (1 Proverbs 23:2) and even remaining physically strong to do your job better (Proverbs 31:17 - yes, it is exactly what it sounds like). No, there is no verse that says explicitly "Thou shalt get ripped", but there's a lot of verses that aren't in existence. "Thou shalt own an automobile," "Thou shalt not get that no-down mortgage in 2007," and "Do not take Elm Street because there was an accident earlier in the morning," are all missing. However, the Bible demands wisdom and discretion of us, so we should be able to figure out that buying a care is normative and reasonable for most people, you should be financially responsible and have a basic understanding of risky debt, and that in modern times it's not sin to have a GPS unit help you make reasonable travel decisions.
Quoth Jack: "And our membership fees, Where did we get those if we've given all our possessions to the poor like he commanded?"
Not true as stated. We are not commanded to give every shred of our existence to the poor.
Quoth Jack: "The gymnasium, and with it the idea of perfecting the male form, is a Greek one, a pagan one."
Strawman, and untrue as stated. The gymnasium is not promoting the idea of perfecting the [gender] form. It's there for a broader purpose than perfection. The abuse of a thing does not define that thing. As for the Greeks, they do not play a specific role in this discussion. The human form existed before the Greek culture, as did the uses and abuses of it. The human form was designed by God to work best under certain circumstances and with certain types of input, both dietary and mechanical. That includes exercising and eating right.
Quoth Jack: "The gymnasium built in Jerusalem that stood during Jesus' time was regarded as a sacrilege. It was Theodosius, the emperor who made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire who abolished the Olympics."
An interesting piece of history, but entirely unrelated and extraneous to the discussion at hand.
Quoth Jack: "When we are in the gymnasium we are in enemy territory."
Not true as stated. For further reference see: Holy Bible, books 1 through 66 (unless you're Catholic, in which case you've got a few more books to peruse, but I'd advice against holding too closely to the apocrypha. But I think that whole transubstantiation vs consubstantiation thing will trip us up if we keep going.)
--Incidentally the easiest way to drop out of a healthy gym habbit seems to be getting fat and happy followed by lots of stressful life change. I'd agree with MikeTime, though, I did the best at the gym when I knew I had someone who was paid to work me out there that was not going to get paid if I didn't show up. I also took the much-coveted 5:00-5:30 or 5:30-6:00 timeslot in my Single-Ashley Gym-Faithful days and I felt terrible for taking up such a popular time and then ditching on my trainer. (Also, be nice to your trainer and they will *hook you up* with awesome timeslots.)
Unfortunately, I never hit that fitness-addict wall that some people seem to break through, and the call o' the sofa has claimed me once more. ;) I know I'm chubbin' but I just do NOT have the willpower to haul myself out of bed and to the gym before work and (sorry Josh, 'bout to get sexist up in here) it must be *wonderful* to be able to hit the gym, shower, dress and go to the office without having to worry about styling your hair, wrestling with pantyhose or putting on makeup (all, incidentally pre-coffee. Kill me now!). I've found that my rigorous workout routines are really difficult to work into married life (;D So here's one of those areas where singles really do have the edge!). It has also been a challenge to adjust to cooking healthy meals for the two of us, when I *really* want to make my husband a bucket of homemade mac and cheese with blue-cheese-stuffed chicken breasts slathered in wings sauce because I know he loves it ;) Add to the equation that he is currently basking in the post-military glow of not having to PT himself to death in prep for a test in 6 months and the fact that it's colder than the inside of a fridgidaire outside and you've got a perfect recipie for the two of us becoming a couple of balloon shaped Obesity statistics :P
Has anybody who has to be home at night had any success working evening workouts into their daily routines without watching their household collapse? Any ideas for creative cardio without running which is basically my least favorite thing in the world?
"I did the best at the gym when I knew I had someone who was paid to work me out there that was not going to get paid if I didn't show up."
Actually, it was the contrary for me. If I didn't show up the trainer would STILL get paid. So essentially I'd be throwing money away for nothing if I didn't get my lazy rump over there. Now, if it were only $10 for an hour I might be able to justify it. But if were $50 for an hour?! (Mine wasn't that much but it was more than $10). Now not so hard to blow off.
--I was kind of disappointed with this, I mean....I was hoping that, with that title promising "how to get into the gym" and "how to stay there," it was going to be funny. The title sounded funny.....Alas. The humble brag strikes again. So, here are my tips:
9 Steps to Get in the Gym
1. Get into the car. 2. Drive there . 3 Buy a membership and enter. 4. If lacking funds, buy a hoodie. 5. Pull hoodie over face and try to duck behind large bodybuilder as he enters. 6. If lacking large body builders, enter through a back door, pretending to be a pizza delivery driver. 7. Be an actual pizza delivery driver dressed as a towel-person and deliver pizzas through the back doors to the poor people forced there by societal expectation. 8. Profit. 9. With your new-found wealth, build your own home gym and never have to figure out how to get into the gym again.
How to stay in the gym
1. Buy superglue. Lots of superglue. 2. Bring it with you as you get into the gym. 3. Sit on the squat machine. 4. Take off your shoes.
5. Liberally apply superglue to soles. 6. Place the shoes, sole down, firmly on the floor. 7. Place feet into their respective shoes and tie laces. 8. Stay in the gym....forever.
;-) (Haha, sorry. Have I been spending too much time with zany 9-year-olds? I think so!)
--@Mz_Natalie13: love those suggestions, haha! Gotta get me some superglue now ;-)
My own personal solution is a small home gym of sorts (as in just a few things, not anything major) with a variety of weights including a kettlebell, a variety of cardio equipment, including an elliptical, and Doctor Who while I workout. And yes, I do workout 5 days a week, despite it being at home and not the gym. But that's just what works for me, and my life.
--Mz_Natalie13 You are hilarious!
If I met a guy who was spending many hours a week and $$$ pursuing the goals of becoming more physically attractive and a personal bodyguard for an imaginary woman (excuse me future wife), I would find that vain/creepy/weird. But that is just me.
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