Take the dread & obligation out of your workout by making exercise an act of worship.
I hear all kinds of things about finding your fitness motivation. Some people recommend keeping a dress you love in a smaller size to motivate you to shed extra pounds. Some surround themselves with pictures of skinny people that they aspire to look like (I really hate that method). Others find their motivation in Pinterest quotes or buying the newest fitness tracker.
I do love my Fitbit, but it’s an extra accessory to my motivation, not the foundation. All of those reasons above are…fine. They will probably work for a while. But the main reason you exercise has to be something you care about greatly because you know how easy it is to avoid it altogether.
Willpower only takes you so far and there is never a lack of excuses. That reason you choose has to be big enough to fight through the “I don’t wanna”s, “I don’t feel like it”s, and “I’ll do it tomorrow”s.
I don’t know about you, but the promise of a pretty dress isn’t enough to pry me out of a warm bed on a cold morning to go running.
But if it’s an opportunity to grow closer to God? Those take priority. The trick is being able to fix your eyes on God and make exercise an act of worship.
How to Make Exercise An Act of Worship
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Understand Your “Why”
Now, I exercise to glorify God by honoring Him with my body, but that sure wasn’t always the case!
I used to exercise to look good, for myself and others. I wanted to get rid of my muffin top, chisel my abs, and firm up that flap that hangs underneath my arms. Most of my motivation came from a place of hating my body the way it was.
That is not what God desires for us. He doesn’t function out of hate and He is the Creator of that body you criticize so harshly. Everything He does is out of love, and exercise should come from that place, too – not out of a love for a toned and perfect body, but out of love for Him.
Realizing the connection between God and working out shifted exercise from being a dreaded (and constantly procrastinated) chore in my life to an activity that I am actually thankful for (no, really, I mean it!).
God created you intentionally and for a purpose and I guarantee it goes far deeper than chiseled abs. To be able to passionately live out that purpose, glorifying Him and serving the people in your life, you need energy and stamina, which only comes from taking care taking care of your body.
Your mind, your body, your emotions, and your soul are not isolated from each other. They are all intertwined and if just one is off, all of them are affected.
Exercise to draw nearer to God in heart, body, mind, and soul.
Step Out of the Comparison Trap
It is really easy to view exercise as punishment. It takes a heck of a lot of willpower and it leaves you huffing and puffing and sore afterward. And, for me, I felt like it unveiled all of my flaws.
I was never strong enough or fast enough or fit enough (and what is “enough” anyways?). Going to the gym was always an invitation for my insecurities and discontent with my body to flood my thoughts. So, maybe you can’t do certain things. But there are a whole lot of things you can do.
Exercise doesn’t have to be a big comparison game. Your body was not made exactly the same as anyone else’s, so is it any surprise that it doesn’t function exactly the same way either?
It’s not about how you measure up against others, it’s about doing what you can with the body that you have.
Start With A Heart of Gratitude
If you hate your body, you aren’t going to treat it kindly. Exercise is meant to nurture, not abuse.
That body of yours that was fearfully and wonderfully made is a gift. Not something to be criticized and punished, but something precious to be nourished, tended, and accepted with a thankful heart.
This takes a very intentional shift in your focus. Every time I look in the mirror, I can easily pick out all of the flaws. I would encourage you to start searching for the blessings instead – eyes that see, ears that hear, legs that walk, and fingers that tickle. There is so much to be thankful for, you just have to look for it.
Exercise is not about glorifying your body, it’s about glorifying God.
Focus on the Relationship
My relationships are my top priority in life. My relationship with God, with my family, with friends, withpeople at church. Those connections matter so much more to me than my how fast I can run a mile. I used to see exercise as wasted time that I could be spent doing other things.
What I didn’t realize back then is that exercising affects my relationships, every single one of them! It puts me in a better mood, boosts my energy, and gives me focus to be more productive.
And now, I put that exercise time to good use. When I’m running or on the elliptical machine, I no longer feel like it’s wasted time. It’s time I spend listening to praise music, praying, or memorizing Scripture. Or I exercise with people (I love running with my mom to catch up on our weeks) to mix quality time with fitness.
Worship is an activity of the heart, and when exercise is focused on our relationship with God, it becomes an act of worship itself. God is not focused on your outward appearance, but He sure does care about your heart.
It isn’t about performance or perfection, it’s about relationship.
It’s a choice, it’s hard, and I don’t always feel like it, but it’s worship – an act of love.
So, next time you are trying to muster up the motivation to get up and active, don’t just think about your New Year’s resolutions or that 10 pounds you would love to lose before your cousin’s wedding.
Think about your relationship with God.
How are you going to make exercise an act of worship in your life?
What are some ways you can fix your eyes on God while you workout?