I love being a personal trainer and there are so many reasons why! One of the biggest reasons I love training women is because working out and getting healthy is NOT just physical. It fully involves the emotional, spiritual and mental – the fears we carry, the insecurities we walk in and the limits we put on ourselves. The problem is most of us don’t connect our physical struggles to our emotional, mental or spiritual wellbeing.

We easily find fault with our bodies but rarely link it to the deeper condition of our hearts.

We quantify gaining ten pounds but don’t see the tough season spiritually, relationally or emotionally that led us there.

Last weekend, a friend and fellow trainer in town and I hosted an event for women in the city called “Fit and Free.” Though we taught practicals on eating healthily and creating exercise plans, our desire was to tie our health, nutrition and fitness into this great, big journey with God. What if God wants to teach us something through the discipline of getting up in the mornings and exercising? Or through giving up our comfort foods so we can find comfort in Him?

I believe we can all learn what it means to live fit AND free this year and for the rest of our lives! These are some of my top tips:

  •  View health and fitness as part of a deeper journey God has for your heart. It’s all connected! I know from personal experience God can reveal amazing things about us and about Him through the trials of discipline and getting out of our comfort zones. He wants to lead you into something good through your health and fitness!
  • Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Sometimes we get so caught up in all the information available to us that it gets overwhelming. We believe if we can’t do something perfectly, then we just shouldn’t even try at all. Our own striving for perfection is the very thing keeping us from making progress. We have to release expectations of perfection for ourselves and just be excited for every step forward we are able to take. Celebrate the small things!
  • Don’t compare your journey to someone else. We don’t know where people are, what they’ve gone through or how long they’ve been journeying. It is unfair to look at someone else and for us to feel “less than” because we are not there. Jesus meets us exactly where we are – in the midst of our spiritual brokenness, weakness and mess and He still transforms us. Why wouldn’t He do the same for our physical bodies? So many people give up or don’t even try to take on a healthy lifestyle because they assume they are not as ____________ (strong, lean, young…fill in the blank) as the person next to them. Let’s let God’s direction be our standard.
  • Avoid extremes. The extremes of high-discipline and high-grace can be unhealthy not only for our bodies but also our hearts and minds. The Bible says whoever fears God will avoid all extremes (Ecclesiastes 7:18). Extremes are comforts in disguise that we depend upon instead of Jesus. If we fear God, we know we can’t rely on extremes to accomplish our goals. Know what you tend to fall toward and ask Jesus to help you find the balance you need!
  • We can’t rely on our willpower, but need the power of the Holy Spirit. The truth is: your willpower will always fail you. Zechariah 4:6 says, “’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.” We need the Spirit of God in every area of our lives, including our health, fitness, nutrition or whatever you’re doing for physical wellness. Stop mustering up shear willpower and invite God in!

My prayer is that as we invest in our physical bodies our hearts and minds are transformed in the process! Wherever you are today, whether you workout or not, whether you eat healthily or not, you can make changes and choices that will influence your journey with Jesus for the long haul. Let’s get fit and free this year, church!

By Alexa Wible, author of Kitchenspired, a blog devoted to creativity and inspiration through cooking and creating yummy meals with good ingredients.