I do not like working out.
I am not particularly strong.
I have never been described as athletic or coordinated.
When things hurt I don't feel like a she-warrior by carrying on, I feel like it is my body saying I should quit.
Despite these truths, I returned to the gym last week after a several month hiatus. I signed up for Crossfit primarily because the trainer was a woman I trust. I was able to confess all of my icky feelings and insecurities about working out to her and with a graceful smile she agreed to help me.
It has not been easy. I am weak and out of shape. My daily nutrition is not what it should be and the workouts are challenging. In order to not quit, I have had to search for motivation--and frankly, health or appearance alone just wouldn't work for me.
As my face was on a smelly black mat today and my body was begging me to just let it rest rather than do another push up, I realized that this in a mental & spiritual battle. I want to quit. I want to return to my comfy, contemplative and sedentary lifestyle.
But I also want to be able to tell my children they can do hard things without cringing inside at my own hypocrisy. Why do I keep challenging them to tenacity while not giving much attention to my own struggles with it?
I want to raise children who value their health and to treat their bodies with respect. But more importantly, I don't want to train up children who quit when something gets hard.
So I am going three mornings a week. And when I want to quit, I pray--and then I visualize.
When I just don't want to run one more lap, I think about my husband's faithfulness to bear an incredible workload.
When I am doing the 45th air squat and can feel my face grimacing and my legs beginning to shake I will think about R's tears over spelling words.
When I struggle to get my body to do another 5 burpees, I will think of P's frustration with catching up physically to those whose bodies run faster and more agilely than his.
When my trainer says softly, "two more minutes you can do anything for two more minutes," I will think of the determination in my K's face as she is swimming laps and the wall doesn't seem to be getting any closer.
I am finding that even though I am there for my physical muscles, there is much work being done in my heart and mind too. Towards the end of my workout today when I was fighting back complaints and exhausted tears my trainer simply said, "I have been there. I know how this feels. Keep going."
Rather than simply tossing out encouraging words from the sidelines, she was able to relate. It was incredibly encouraging! What a lesson in the way to be real encouragement to others--not by hollow words that downplay where they are, but by remembering, relating and encouraging from that place.
I can't wait to be able to kneel next to a tearful child and look him/her in the eyes with these authentic words, "I know. I've been there. Keep going."
And while I hope my muscles are getting stronger and my posture improves, I know that my character is absolutely being worked! Honestly, it doesn't make me enjoy working out even one iota more, but it does give me a reason to push on.