Fitness and Forgiveness

Have you ever tried to manage life better by implementing a plan? You know, “proper planning prevents poor performance?” That kind of plan? But then you don’t follow your so-called proper plan? And then, instead of adding peace, The Plan feeds frustration with self-defeating thoughts. What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you follow along?

I mention this because I hadn’t planned to write about fitness today. I had planned to dig deeper into forgiveness. But plans sometimes get in my way (well, often) because life gets in my way (often). And then when I get off track, that’s exactly how I feel. Off track. Or, if I just don’t want to stay on track, but would rather travel off the beaten path, then I feel like I need to justify the redirection. To quiet this chatter, I am learning to create a framework without it mandating my every move. This maps out a direction, but if I choose to detour, I do; recognizing that deviations can provide unplanned pleasure.

Today is a detour.

I chose to veer off track to talk about fitness because I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately. I mentioned in my September 24 post that “I’ve discovered something really hard and really rewarding that I absolutely love that is helping me reset my mindset regarding staying active.” But I didn’t go into any detail, so allow me to now.

Holistic Health

I embrace holistic health as one of my core values, and thus believe the best healthcare is preventive health, understanding that I do not have control over ailments, but I can minimize health risks through lifestyle choices. So when I participated in The Mayor’s (New Smyrna Beach) Fitness Challenge earlier this year, I received an InBody scan that revealed low muscle mass and high fat mass, the fat mass solely in my midsection. I’ve referred to my body before as “Not enough and too much.” I’m not self-loathing, just trying to put words to it, but I’ll leave it at that for now. My point is, the InBody scan highlighted what I was already physically feeling, but wasn’t addressing.

I had never done strength training to speak of, and for sure not consistently. And it was catching up. To be more specific, weight-bearing up-and-down movements hurt my knees. Translation: I hated squats and lunges and stairs. And my neck and right shoulder would hurt (from an old high school track injury) every time I attempted push ups, or anything else for that matter. That wake up call was enough motivation for me to try CrossFit during the Mayor’s Fitness Challenge, something I’d been curious about for a while. That was March, and I’m still at it! Even if you could care less about CrossFit, that’s not my point in bringing it up. So please hang with me a bit longer as I share more.

I Love CrossFit

Let’s begin with what CrossFit is because I honestly didn’t know for weeks even after doing it. According to the CrossFit website, it’s “Functional Fitness. Guided by a Coach. Fueled by Community.” In other words, workouts are varied (I ❤️ this!) that incorporate strength training and cardio (I ❤️ this!) and prepares you for anything your body might need to do outside the gym (I ❤️❤️❤️ this!), as opposed to just using the same muscles and movements over and over which is what I was doing when I was inconsistently working out. Thus my knee and neck and shoulder issues.

A coach guides me, which I ❤️ because I don’t want to have to figure out a fitness plan–please, somebody just tell me what to do. Plans can mess with my head. And finally, I workout with others who foster a supportive and collaborative environment (❤️❤️❤️). My DailyWord devotion says it well, “When I work, play, or pray with others, something greater than the sum of our individual efforts and insights results.” So true.

I ❤️ CrossFit for all these reasons.

That’s ten ❤️s, and I’ll add a happy face and muscly bicep for good measure. 🙂 💪🏽

Apparently others love CrossFit too. Besides those buff bodies on TV who live, breathe, and eat CrossFit (ignore them), my gym attracts people from all over my community. Both men and women; young and old; tall and lean, short and stout; tall and stout, short and lean. Young and midlife moms, and Grammies too! Those who want to lose weight and those who want to gain weight. Those who hate running and those who sometimes like it. CrossFit attracts diversity that adapts and grows and becomes more and more of its best.

The Icing on the Cake

But here’s the icing on the cake (which after doing CrossFit you could probably eat a piece of cake, guilt free). CrossFit is hard. I’ve held back tears a few times. I’ve dug deep most times. But I’ve left empowered every time. And this transfers beyond the gym. As my physical strength has increased (3 lbs. of muscle mass in fact!), my mental stamina has bulked up too. I often think, “I conquered CrossFit this morning, I can conquer this hard thing too. I’ve got this!”

La Sierra System

Speaking of conquering, have any of you heard of La Sierra High School in Carmichael, California? I hadn’t until I stumbled upon a documentary about “The Insanely Difficult Standards of History’s Hardest P.E. Program.” Google it. I was fascinated. And still am. To quote, “The so-called ‘La Sierra System’ was born in a time when World War II was over, the Cold War was still heating up, and prosperity and technological advancements were making life increasingly sedentary and comfortable. In this atmosphere, there existed a national concern over whether Americans were becoming too soft, overweight, and complacent to not only defend their country in war, but to vigorously meet the challenges of peace.”

To think that Americans were already being viewed in this “soft and complacent” light in the ’50s and ’60s. I wonder how we would be viewed today from back then if they could have time warped to 2023? Hummm.

JFK’s Soft American

In 1960, President John F. Kennedy conveyed in “The Soft American“: “physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body; it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity…We know what the Greeks knew; that intelligence and skill can only function at the peak of their capacity when the body is healthy and strong; that hardy spirits and tough minds usually inhabit sound bodies…Thus the physical fitness of our citizens is a vital prerequisite to America’s realization of its full potential as a nation, and to the opportunity of each individual citizen to make full and fruitful use of his capacities.'”

This La Sierra System reminds me of CrossFit to some degree. Mostly that it’s hard, not as in out-of-reach hard, but as in all the anxiety and stress and worry that I bring with me to the gym, has-no-place-in-my-body kind of hard. All of it gets worked out and replaced with self-affirming thoughts that then transfer into my day. Generally speaking, this is what fitness provides. I happen to specifically be drawn to CrossFit because I need strength training. I need a coach. I need community. I am needy. But my point in writing about CrossFit today, is that I believe in functional fitness, where I feel my best well beyond my workout.

Falling Upward This Fall

As I explore the idea of “falling upward” once again this fall season, and how we can use difficult times and situations for our own betterment which ultimately transfers for the betterment of all, CrossFit reminds me of this. And when I don’t want to go, I think about my community of people and my coach and my fitness goals of getting stronger while saying good-bye to the ab flab while being able to conquer stairs and lift heavy things; and I get up and get out the door. Fitness is a gift to not only ourselves but to all those in our world who benefit from our healthier bodies, minds, and spirits. I ❤️ CrossFit.

The Insanely Difficult Act of Forgiveness

And just a few things about forgiveness to end on since I’m starting my book discussion this week on The Book of Forgiving

Forgiveness, like fitness, is perhaps one of the hardest things we can do too, but perhaps one of the best things we can do to care well for ourselves. Self-forgiveness, in fact, presents itself a lot when I’m working out, as I learn how to push myself but not too much. That sweet spot can be difficult to decipher when the monkey mind shows up with thoughts like, You could’ve done better. Or, be careful, you’re not as young as you used to be. Trusting myself to know best between “not enough and too much,” and forgiving myself when I don’t trust “me,” as opposed to self-loathing, is more of a discipline than the workout itself.

Fitness and forgiveness. I offer you both this week. Unplanned. Off the beaten path.

Call to Action

Be strong. Get physical. Engage in a fitness program that works for you. Maybe it’s CrossFit?? 🙂 💪🏽

Beginning Tuesday, October 10, from 5-6:15 p.m. ET, and continuing October 17 and 24, I will lead a virtual book discussion of The Book of Forgiving. Part One, which we’ll discuss this week, focuses on “Understanding Forgiveness” and explores: why forgive, what forgiveness is not, and understanding the fourfold path.

If you hadn’t “planned” to participate in a book study this month, perhaps you can veer off your beaten path and make room for a spontaneous side trip. It’s not too late. You might be pleasantly surprised what you discover. Register here.

“Forgiveness is a conversation, and like most important conversations, it needs a language that is clear and honest and sincere. This book will help you learn the language of forgiveness.” p. 7, The Book of Forgiving

I invite you to join the conversation.

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