I have a confession to make. I'm a recovering workout addict.
I started working out in high school, running (well, slow jogging) on the hamster wheel called the treadmill. I ran my first 10K in college, just a couple of weeks before graduation and my wedding. I loved the feel of moving my body, of my heart pounding hard and, of course, running across the finish line under time.
I ran and did workout tapes for awhile, tried group exercise at the Y, bought an elliptical machine. During the time that I was in Christian ministry, I tried to make sure that my time with God was a higher priority than my workouts. Not always easy. Prayer time feels less tangible than a great run, and spiritual maturity felt like less of a priority than the 10 pounds I seemed to always want to take off.
I did Insanity in 2013 and discovered muscles I never knew were there. From there I decided to compete in a bodybuilding show and the hard work began. Hours in the weight room, lots of meal planning, morning cardio, more time in the weight room. And, learning how to pose on stage to show off my physique.
It was a wild ride. I backed out of the first show I had planned to do-stepping on stage in that tiny suit was just too overwhelming to me. I backed out of the second show because my body wasn't ready. I finally stepped on stage in June 2014.
All this time, I was spending hours in the gym. In the bodybuilding community, that's normal.
It's not normal.
After the show, I continued to work out excessively. I worked out when I was sick, when I was sore, when I was exhausted. I battled injuries left and right. I ignored my own advice to clients, to listen to your body and adjust your workouts and recovery days accordingly.
I'm currently undergoing a yearlong body transformation program through Precision Nutrition that I'll offer to clients. One of the lessons I'm learning is about evaluating what you've done for weight loss or fitness in the past and asking yourself, "how's that working for you?" Then, if it's not working, what might it look like to do the OPPOSITE?
Hmmm. Hours of exercise, for me, produced overuse injuries and exhaustion. My weight still fluctuated wildly because my diet sucked most of the time. I didn't sleep well because I would often work out at night without a bedtime routine. How'd that work for me? Not so great.
So, here's my challenge: being kind to myself. Eating what I know helps me feel better. Taking a couple of days off every week-a workout that looks like a long walk with my husband while the kids ride their bikes. Listening to my body when my knee feels cranky or my SI joint is giving me the middle finger.
That may be your challenge, too. Take whatever you've done for weight loss in the past, turn it upside down and try the opposite. If it doesn't work, that's cool. It doesn't mean you've failed, only that it didn't work. Try something else.
Over all, be kind to yourself. You are a person created in the image of God. Treat yourself that way!