I am so excited to introduce you ladies to one of my sweet friends Kaitlyn from She is Gathering. Like so many of you Kaitlyn and I met through Instagram only to discover we lived just a few minutes apart and worked in the same neighborhood. Kaitlyn and I quickly discovered that we share very similar heart beats for faith and fitness and after just one coffee date we had a list of ideas on how we wanted to collaborate going.
So today I am sharing our very first (of many) collaborative reads for you ladies on exactly how we believe you can use your fitness to grow in your faith!
Let's hear from Kaitlyn first...
Here’s a super quick overview of my broken experiences with fitness before I realized that God not only should be but also wanted to be involved in this area of my life...
Elementary School: christian group sports for fun (shoutout to OneGoal lol)
High School: lots of solo running, trying to outrun the angst of being a teenager and dealing with hard life issues
College: hiding in the dark cardio room at my globo gym, struggling through eating disorders, intense weight loss followed by intense weight gain and lots of self loathing
Post-college: found CrossFit and started wanting to eat better and stop purging so I could have the nutrients in my body to support harder workouts; still using fitness as a crutch even though it was a more positive obsession than controlling my eating.
Today: intense freedom, love working out for the sake of strength and community. Eating healthy yet intuitive, no shame attached to “less healthy” choices and I have the ability to pursue short-term weight loss or strength goals while always returning to a balanced diet... and even UNDERSTANDING what a balanced diet means for me is a huge win.
For so many years I tried to be fit without God, probably because my goals were selfish:
Now let me be clear... none of these were evil reasons, but they were selfish. They disclosed God and made me the center of attention, which was really perpetuating the problem - thinking that I had to be, look or feel a certain way to be worthy.
Also... these standards I was trying to reach... I don’t think I ever really knew what they were. Did I want to just be thin and lanky? Toned? Muscular? Big butt with a skinny waist? The eating disorders began and were worsened by confusing and conflicting voices, all chiming into the larger echo saying that “I am not enough.”
The shift happened when I decided, against all fear, to let God take control. This means being okay with whatever giving up “control” meant... I could keep talking about what bound me, but I want to shift and focus on who freed me!
Who I am in Christ:
What I mean to God: I mean enough to Him that He sacrificed His own flesh and blood, He gave up a good, pure life for my ragged, dirty one. Whenever I’ve felt less beautiful or less valuable than I should, He has sought me that I may know that His love covers all of my blemishes and that the life He has given me is so much more valuable than where I fall on today’s cultural beauty scale.
I didn’t stop pursuing or desiring to be beautiful, but now that pursuit looks totally different. I want to glow with the joy of the Lord, I want to be beautiful as I dance before Him in worship, I want to give life to others and make them smile just by being near them. I want to glorify God through all that I do. Whether I’m coaching a group fitness class or working out or posting pictures to Instagram, I want someone to look at that and see God. I used to listen to a lot of stacie Orrico and one of her songs said “don’t look at me, look at Him.” When we can get people to do that through everything we do, whether that’s being college, while working out, while doing the dishes, while driving to work... if we can be a mirror for God’s grace and His mighty power, then what we are doing is beautiful and will bring life to so many.
If you are absorbing negative energy, self doubt, self loathing, and self harm, then these are the only things you will be able to put back into the world. Have you heard the phrase, “hurting people hurt people?” Well it’s true, but have you ever pictured yourself as that original hurting person, the one who wants to uplift others but can’t because you’re so buried under your own shame, exhaustion and confusion? Maybe you don’t even have the space to want to uplift others right now, maybe you just want some breakthrough for yourself so you can start breathing again. It starts within your heart, and it starts with God. If He is allowed to transform your insides, then your outsides will naturally shine for Him.
Meditate on these verses when you need to be reminded of what true beauty is and how valuable you are to God:
> Beauty does not originate from the outside, but from your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit which is of great worth in God’s sight. (1 Peter 3:3-4)
> You God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
> God created YOU in HIS OWN IMAGE. (Genesis 1:27)
> You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
> I am altogether beautiful. (Song of Songs 4:7)
> You are more beautiful than even the most breathtaking flowers (Matthew 6:28-29)
> God wants your heart, He’s looking inward and not at your outer appearance, His power is not limited to our physical appearances (1 Samuel 16:7)
> When you seek after your Father’s heart, you are more precious than rubies; a tree of life (Proverbs 3:15-18)
> Beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30)
Free to download “I am” positive-declaration cards
> full 2018 calendar, or just grab the individual designs
> I AM confession cards
** when you allow God’s truth about your beauty to transform you from the inside>out, you won’t even have to always tell people about your transformation, just you living out the fruitful life God has given you access to is testament to His glory. Your breathing sings of His wonderful grace!
And now from me...
For the first 24 years of my life I tried to do my health and fitness journey on my own. From the time I was 16-24 years old it was all about the way I looked. Fitness and healthy eating was never about taking care of my temple and honoring the Lord, but looking a certain way. In my mind I was never small enough and always had more weight to lose, even at my smallest. I was consumed and was always looking for the next quick fix.
So what changed? Thanks to the Lord's intervention, I finally experienced FREEDOM in my health and fitness journey! I found great resources to pour into me (The Daniel Plan and Made to Crave) and got some accountability! For me the accountability was one of the missing links that made the BIGGEST difference. Having women who constantly sharpened me and pushed me back to Jesus made the biggest difference and kept my mind and heart from wandering back.
It's been amazing to see how the Lord has used my health and fitness journey to make me more like Him! I am so so thankful for the lessons I have learned during those hard times of discipline, focus and consistency. Ladies are always asking me how I do it. How do I keep my focus on Jesus? Let me first say it won't happen overnight, but if you will COMMIT to allowing the Lord IN He will do the rest! Here are 5 tips I have found to be VERY VERY important to keeping Jesus at the center of my health and fitness journey. Praying this helps you sister! I PRAY that everyone experiences freedom in this area of their life!
1. Let go and let God! You have got to stop making your health and fitness journey all about you. It's not bad to want to loose some weight or feel confident in your own skin, but the MOMENT it becomes obsessive or consumes your thoughts then you're on a slippery slope sister. You have got to quit trying to do this thing on your own. Let go of what you think the "perfect body" looks like. Let go of what you think losing the weight will do for your social life or "success". The only thing that should define your worth is Jesus. The first thing you have got to do is start praying that God would give you discipline and that you would let go and allow HIM to fill those holes in your heart.
2. Get some accountability. Surround yourself with people who speak truth into your life and push you to continuously give every area of your life to Jesus! That has been a game changer for me. I joined a 30 day faith + fitness challenge two and a half years ago and the Lord used it in MIGHTY ways in my life. I experienced freedom for the first time in my health and fitness journey and man did it feel good! That's what the Lord wants for us: FREEDOM. Even better, I did get great results as well. Why? Because for the first time I quit trying to get instant results and pressed into His discipline and power.
3. Dig into God's word and fill your mind with things of Him. This world will try to tell you what beauty looks like, but we know as daughters of the King that true beauty is found in Christ alone. He is our strength. Our worth is found in Him alone, BUT we have to press into Him and remind of ourselves of that daily if we are going to beat this war against our flesh. We have to stop sitting back and waiting for things to get better. We have to BOLT UP and be on guard against the devil and his schemes.
4. GET RID OF DISTRACTIONS! I think this is one a lot of people forget about, but I truly believe that if we are going to keep our focus on Him we have to STOP putting ourselves in situations to compare and pick ourselves apart. So here is what I want you to do, go through your instagram and unfollow all the fitness accounts or people who are constantly making their fitness journey about themselves or the way that they look. As my mom used to say "garbage in, garbage out!" What we put in our mind and allow our eyes to see will drastically impact the way we see ourselves when we look in the mirror. We already have enough distractions in this world, why invite them in?
5. Remember your WHY. Take a second and right down exactly why you want to get fit and healthy. When we know our why we will be able to figure out HOW. If the why is truly big enough, the how will be pretty easy. When we don't have a WHY, the moment things get difficult we will give in and give up. Your WHY will help you keep your focus on honoring the Lord and take it off of yourself and personal performance.
Praying God uses this BIG in your life ladies! Have a story you want to share with us? We would LOVE to hear what God has and is doing in your life! Share it here.
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