Hey there, Faith Squad! It's a brand-new year, and you know what that means – a fresh page in our journey to being spiritually fit and athletically fierce. That familiar feeling stirs within us: the urge for renewal, the thirst for growth. We envision grand accomplishments – sculpted physiques, unwavering devotion, unwavering resolve. But let's be real: setting colossal goals can sometimes feel like trying to bench press twice your weight on the first try – ambitious but slightly terrifying! How do we bridge the gap between our dreams and the reality of daily life? Let’s talk about taking those small, manageable steps that lead to big wins in both our fitness and faith.
The answer lies not in monumental leaps, but in the quiet power of small steps. Forget the crash diets and punishing workout routines; true transformation whispers, not shouts. Today, let's journey together, exploring how embracing micro-victories can pave the path to big triumphs in both faith and fitness.
January – The Month of New Beginnings
Ah, January, a symbol of fresh starts and unspoiled gym memberships! This month let’s focus on one achievable thing. Maybe it's swapping one soda a day for water or spending an extra 10 minutes in prayer or meditation. Whatever it is, make it doable. Do not let yourself be discouraged by past failures. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19). And hey, no judgment if you’re still finishing off the holiday treats – balance, my friends, is key!
Goal Setting 101 – The Art of Being Realistic
Let’s start with a truth bomb: setting unattainable goals is like trying to reach a high shelf when you're fun-sized – frustrating and a sure recipe for discouragement. So, the first step? Be realistic. Break down your dream into bite-sized pieces. Taking this approach will help increase your motivation, reduce overwhelm, and help sustain momentum. Dreaming of running a marathon? Start with a mile. Want to meditate daily? Begin with five minutes. It’s all about those baby steps!
I’ve stumbled plenty of times in my own faith and fitness journeys, struggling to get back on track. This is how I learned the art of being realistic and realized taking the baby steps helped increase my motivation. Every time I took a baby step, I felt competent, and my confidence would grow more and more. I believed in myself that I could push myself a little bit more, vs. when I would fail at meeting the unrealistic goals I used to set and would feel like a failure and want to give up.
I started with 7-minute workouts, gradually increasing the duration. Often times before the week ends, I’m already at 30-45 minutes, fueled by the momentum of small victories. I use this same method when I have to change my sleep schedule to start waking up earlier. Remember, even 7 minutes is 7 minutes more than yesterday, and something is always better than nothing. “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” (2 Chronicles 15:7).
Celebrating the Small Stuff – Your Own Personal Cheer Squad
Every small victory deserves a celebration! When I finish those 7 minutes, I do a happy dance and start cheering myself on - “You go girl, you got this!” Did you choose a salad over fries? High five! Managed to not hit snooze and do morning prayers? High five! It’s these little victories that add up. So, go ahead and give yourself a pat on the back (not too hard, we don’t need any injuries). Enjoy the journey and don’t forget to celebrate every milestone, no matter how small. A great way to celebrate the small wins is to reward yourself with experiences. For example, treat yourself to a massage or other spa treatment, take a relaxing bath with soothing music, or buy yourself a boutique of flowers.
Faith Meets Fitness – A Heavenly Duo
Now, let's talk about mixing faith with fitness. Trust me, it’s a better combo than peanut butter and jelly. When you’re sweating it out on the treadmill, why not meditate on a scripture? Or use your workout time to connect with God and reflect on your blessings? It's like a two-for-one deal for your soul and body! When I’m lifting weights and feeling like I can’t do another rep, I tell myself, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” Then I tell God, “Alright Lord, I need your strength! I want to be strong for Your kingdom! Show them what you got!” (I really have these conversations in my head at the gym lol). He never fails me either. Reminding myself of God’s strength fuels my determination and turns my workouts into mini praise sessions.
It's important to work out our faith and our bodies. We have to be ready to fight the spiritual battles that will come and be able to handle the earthly tasks assigned to us. I Corinthians 9:24-27 MSG says, “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No lazy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.”
Staying on Track – The Power of Accountability & Progress Tracking
Let’s face it, staying on track can be tougher than refusing grandma’s third serving of pie. The solution? Accountability and progress tracking. It benefits us to surround ourselves with others who better us. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” (Proverbs 27:17). Partner up with a friend, join a community support group, or hey, post your goals on social media for some extra motivation. Nothing like a few hundred people watching to keep you honest, right?
Keep a workout log detailing the exercises performed, weight used for each set, how many reps, and rest interval between sets. If you do cardio track how long you ran and how far. Watching your progress unfold is a powerful motivator. One of my favorite workout logbooks I use is the Global Printed Products Workout Fitness Journal Nutrition Planners, that I found on Amazon. As you get stronger you will be able to lift more reps or heavier weight. Your run time will decrease the farther you run. Tracking this data will help you with future training sessions. I have a blog coming soon with more in-depth details of how to track progress.
Take progress pictures and measurements every four weeks (unless you are like me and are motivated by more frequent tracking – I take my progress pictures and measurements once every week.) Don’t solely rely only on the scale, as that can be misleading and doesn’t tell the full story. If you are trying to lose weight, you may initially see the scale go up and get discouraged thinking that your hard work was in vain. But this increase in weight gain could be due to the time of day you weigh yourself, when you last ate or drank, if you gained muscle, if you gained body fat, hormonal changes, etc. Muscle gain can often mask initial weight loss, so a multi-dimensional approach to tracking provides you with a more accurate picture.
Mind, Body, Soul – The Trinity of Wellness
Your mind, body, and soul are like the three musketeers of wellness – they’re all for one and one for all. Nurture each aspect and you’ll be on your way to holistic health. This means eating nutritious foods, staying active, praying, getting sufficient rest, drinking enough water and yes, even indulging in the occasional Netflix binge-watch– it’s all about balance!
Overcoming the Hurdles – Because Life Happens
Let’s be honest, the path to our goals isn’t always a straight, smooth runway. Sometimes it’s more like a hurdle race where the hurdles are on fire. 2 Corinthians 4:8 says, “We are pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted; but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” And Galatians 6:9 reminds us “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” But remember, every challenge is an opportunity to grow stronger, both in faith and fitness. Stumbled along the way? No sweat, just get back up and keep going. Consistency over perfection. You’ve got this!
The Finish Line – Looking Back and Moving Forward
As we wrap up this chat, take a moment to look back at how far you’ve come. Remember that day when you decided to take that first small step? Look at you now! And the best part? The journey doesn’t end here. There’s always more to achieve, more to explore in our faith and fitness journey.
So, Faith Squad, as we stride into 2024, let’s embrace our journey with enthusiasm, a dash of humor, and a whole lot of faith. Remember, whether it’s a marathon or a sprint, every step counts. Keep pushing, keep praying, and let’s make this year our best one yet!
Share your small steps, your struggles, your triumphs. Let's support and encourage each other as we strive to be stronger, healthier, and closer to God. Together, we can reach heights unimaginable, one small step at a time.
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Stay strong and stay faithful,