A Woman of Strength

I stopped by Lysa TerKeurst's site Monday and she was telling how her usual 4 mile run turned into a half marathon by accident. I can't imagine!

I've kind of always hated strenuous physical activity. I used my asthma to be virtually excused from most running-related PE classes. When I got to high school and we got to choose which sports we'd do for our PE classes, I chose things like played doubles tennis (you only had to cover half the court), badminton and bowling (I can still keep score without using the computerized scoring system.)

Eventually I all but gave up the "E" word (exercise). I don't know who first said it, but I heartily agreed with the sentiment, "Whenever I get the urge to exercise, I lie down until the feeling passes."

Once my school days were past, I figured I was home free—no one would pressure me to participate in sports or to "exercise." I fell well within the normal/healthy weight range for my age. I could walk the half-mile or so down the street to get an ice cream cone or a muffin without any trouble, and how strong did I need to be to work at a computer, anyway?

Apparently, I needed to be stronger than I was! When I began to have chronic neck and shoulder pain both on the job and off, I was sent to see a specialist. He confirmed that I had tendonitis and was on the verge of carpal tunnel syndrome. I hoped (and expected) his first recommendation to be to change the configuration of my workspace, which I suspected was the source of my trouble. But the first thing he said when he saw my poor grip-strength was that I needed to be stronger.

"Exercise." he said.

"Work with weights." he said.

"WHAT?!" I thought, "I work at a computer!"
I left that job a few months later, and most of my pain went with it, so I kind of forgot about needing to be stronger.

Until I had my first child, that is.

It doesn't take too much strength to carry around an eight or ten pound baby, but they don't stay that small. As Bug grew, I noticed how weak my lower back was. I was a little concerned about being one of those women who threw my back out lifting my son and initiating a lifetime of back troubles.

When Bug was just over a year old and I could no longer put off trying to get rid of the rest of my "baby fat," we purchased a coupon book that had lots of local services. Mixed in with the free oil changes and haircuts was a month's free membership to a women's-only gym that I'd heard good things about.

When I told Hubs I wanted to go, I know he held his breath for fear I'd snap back to my senses and put the notion out of my mind. (As gracious as he always is, I knew it bothered my athlete husband that I never shared his passion for working up a good sweat.)

My first day, I got to the "pull-up machine"—a simple bar that you grasp with hands together and pull up to shoulder height, then push down as hard as possible to maximize the resistance. I couldn't believe when that same old weak shoulder resurfaced! I hadn't worked at the injury-inducing job for almost eight years, and didn't do anything else I could think of to hurt it. But it was clear with each pull and push that my dominant right arm was struggling to carry its share of the weight!

I faithfully worked out four times that week though, and the second week my right shoulder didn't bother me a bit! (I guess the good doctor knew what he was talking about after all.)

After just a couple weeks I dropped one size and reduced my body fat percentage. But I was especially happy to see the increased flexibility and general strength, which was important for being able to sit cross-legged on the floor for assorted toddler activities. I have to admit that since Boo came along, I haven't managed to make fitness a priority; I need to change that.

It's easy for me to feel that it's more important to focus on inner strength rather than outer strength. And it probably is. But if I see my body as God's dwelling place and an important aspect of being ready to serve, then I need to put my external well being on par with other qualities I focus on.

"She girds herself with strength,
And makes her arms strong."
Proverbs 31:17

How do you keep yourself strong? Is it a challenge or a priority to you?


Genny said...

Just wanted to say thanks for your sweet comment today!

Melinda said...

You've spoken enduring truth over my enduring struggle! Oh, but I hate to exercise! Oh, but my body needs me to GET OVER IT!

BethAnne said...

I used to work out before I had my kid, but now I HATE it!!! I wish I loved to run (or even jog/walk), but it is like punishment to me now. When I was single, it was easy, but now I feel like I have no time or I feel like I am wasting time if I exercise....I know it isnt a waste of time and I know I need to , but needing to and actually DOING it are 2 different things unfortunately.

Tiffany Stuart said...

I used to be a fanatic exerciser in my teens and early twenties all for the wrong reasons. Insecurity. For attention from guys. That faded as my soul got well.

Anyway, I now try to exercise with a friend at the Y. I don't like exercise anymore. My love of exercise has disappeared. Now I have to force myself to do it for my health and to keep my bones strong. It's not easy. It was easier when I was in bondage over my body. But I wouldn't go back to that place. I am happier now. God has filled my emptiness with His love.

Thanks for sharing your story. I relate to needing to stay strong! Why is it so hard to work our bodies? I feel so lazy...

RefreshMom said...

Is it terrible to be glad to hear I'm in such good company?

Maybe we can form some kind of accountability group--"The 'E' Haters Fitness Forum" or something. Of course, not until the new year, after the holidays (and the eating) are over. Or maybe in the spring, when the weather is good again. Or maybe...

Lysa TerKeurst said...

Hi Refresh Mom...

Thanks for the NYC suggestion. As far as the delete situation... I just thought it best not to have a big, huge photo of my hiney floating out on the internet. Especially not one that is a negative ad campaign for my beloved MilkDuds... smiles! I heart that company too much for that.

Anyhow... thanks for being such a fun part of this bloggy community.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

I'm an exerciser, but as of late (i.e. this week), I've buried my head under the covers most morning and foregone the discipline. My attitude, along with the scales, are living proof alongside.

Many years ago, I incorporated weight training, but haven't done much lately. I'm thinking of re-instating it back into my routine at least twice a week.

Thanks for the inspiration!

No excuses tomorrow. I'm running. Yes I am...


Sandy said...

Thanks for visiting me! I've worked out for years in the morning with dedicated running partners. I really need the accountability. Just started weights (reluctantly) because I know I need to! :)

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