“Watch this!” Steve exclaimed with sheer delight, “I haven’t been able to do this in years!”
I had met Steve less than an hour before when I offered him assistance with a treadmill in the fitness center that my husband owns and operates. As a head custodian in a local public school, Steve was participating in a program geared towards helping at-risk students, faculty, and staff make healthy lifestyle changes. He had told me upon our initial greetings that he was so thankful for what my husband, Ché, was doing for him and the other participants. Now, after having completed his work on the treadmill, he was bubbling with the joy of meeting a couple of his top goals. His first: to walk a mile “without stopping”. He quickly let me know that not only had he achieved this, but was now jogging a little “here and there” throughout his mile so that he could eventually run the whole thing. His second, which he proudly and promptly demonstrated: to bend over to pick something up off the floor. “Two weeks ago I would have had to put a knee on the ground and then do some work to stand myself back upright, but now, look, I can do this all day long,” he went on, beaming with pleasure, as he repeatedly squatted to pick up some imaginary object from the floor. “It might not seem like much to some people, but believe me, it makes a big difference in my line of work!”
The Ultimate Homespace
With the newfound abilities and functionalities of his body, Steve had experienced a sense of accomplishment that is incomparable. Our bodies are the homes to our souls. Throughout our time on this Earth they are our primary and permanent homespaces, if you will. It is disheartening that in this age of obesity and innumerable other life-threatening illnesses we focus so little on the cultivation and maintenance of our health. Don’t get me wrong, we are overly concerned, some even obsessed, with the outward appearance of fitness and wellness. How many people do we know whose goal every New Year is to get back in shape to look good in a bathing suit for the upcoming warm season? I admit, the thought of prancing around half-naked in front of family, friends, and strangers alike is enough to motivate anyone to cut out some sweets and give the gym a few visits! The disappointing part is that we are often setting ourselves up for failure. When we focus on the superficial aspects of fitness… looking good in a bathing suit, losing just 5 more lbs., we inevitably set immeasurable goals and choose methods to reach them that we know we can’t maintain for any substantial length of time. Are we really going to eliminate all carbs for the rest of our lives? Never again eat sugar? Is it reasonable to commit to several hours a day in the gym? Forever? Not likely. So why do we continue to do this to ourselves? What if we begin to see the maintenance of our ultimate homespace, our body, as an outward expression of our soul?
When we focus on the spiritual and profound implications of a healthy body, we experience changes that are indescribable. If we approach nutrition and exercise from our inner selves and focus on the functions of our bodies, health and fitness become authentically integrated into our lifestyles. Ask the 80-yr-old man who just walked up a flight of steps for the first time in ten years, the 50-yr-old physician whose exercise halted her menopausal symptoms, or the 25-yr-old who was just taken off of medication for high blood pressure. Setting and reaching fitness goals will inevitably change your physique for the better, but the real change in your appearance will be in your spirit. It will light up your face with joy, you will radiate positive energy, you will approach life with determination, you will exude confidence. And you won’t quit! How many people do you know who train for one 5k and then never do another one again? Not many, because when the motivation is from the inside, it grows and multiplies. As you approach meeting one goal, like Steve, you will already be planning your next goal!
What’s your goal?
So the question is, where do you want to start? Swim 100 meters? Walk a mile? Run 3 miles? Bike 10 miles? Set a goal for yourself! Make nutritional changes to help fuel your body to reach it. What if you replace 1 soda a day with a glass of water? What if you add an extra fruit or vegetable to one meal a day? Yes, your body will change, but MOST importantly, your life will change!