Everyone has their motivations for getting fit. Ranging from looking good and feeling better to recovering from injuries and preventing them, there are no shortage of reasons to get fit. I certainly have my motivations: I want to honor God with my body. I want to be attractive to my spouse. I want to be able to keep up with my children well into their adult lives. But these weren’t my initial motivations… not even by a long shot. Those began in my youth.
I’m the youngest of three sons, separated by roughly four and eight years. I was active and healthy when I was young, but I was chubby. You probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it as I didn’t stand out in a crowd, but I stood out in my own eyes. And no matter how charming you are (and trust me, I was plenty charming), the chubby eventually becomes the center of attention.
I’m 38 now, but I can still remember sitting on the stairs in one of my best friend’s basement when I was in 3rd grade or so. We must have been rough-housing and sweaty because I didn’t have my shirt on. When he saw my fat rolls, he pointed at them and commented. I don’t even think he was being malicious… it just came out. But nevertheless, thirty years later, I can still feel that remark.
One summer break in middle school, I remember some friends (that were girls) sending me a postcard from Florida with some ripped dude in Speedos on the front. On the back they wrote, “You wish.” They were trying to be funny, but they kind of sucked at it (and my mom certainly didn’t like it).
Another time in middle school, we were playing dodge ball during recess. Must have been one of my less charming days because I got into a little bit of a shouting match with a kid on the other team and I remember him saying, “Well at least I’m not chubby.” I even remember where I was in the gym when he said it. That was over twenty five years ago.
I remember in high school, before my growth spurt, not wanting to take my shirt off at swim parties or for shirt/skins basketball games. On the basketball team, I was a decent shooter, but didn’t get much playing time, in part, because I was so slow. I was one of the last ones to finish any kind of speed drill. I dreaded practice because of the running and the humiliation. That was over twenty years ago.
It wasn’t until my early twenties that I got in really good shape for the first time and it felt awesome. There was no going completely back to the old me. That said, there certainly would be “lulls”. During one such lull, on family vacation, a family member said to me, “Remember when you use to be in really good shape.” I know my family loves me and wants the best for me and it probably just slipped out. But it hurt. That was probably 10 years ago. I don’t think I’ve had much of a lull since then. In fact, I recently went from good shape to getting great results with P90X2.
If it doesn’t kill you, it just makes your stronger, right? Well, in this case, yes. It’s a legitimate source of motivation for me. At the time, I certainly wouldn’t have been thankful for the statements people made. They created insecurities and wounded feelings. But now that I’ve healed, I’m grateful as they serve to propel me. There are scars but no pain. Only reminders of where I was, where I am, and where I want to be.
Those of you who read the Bible may be familiar with the following verse (a favorite verse of my amazing wife I might add):
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28
Notice that it doesn’t say that in “some things” or a “few things” or “only through good things” God works. And it certainly doesn’t say, as many misquote, “all things happen for a reason,” as if God isn’t working and things are “just” happening. It says that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him…”. I don’t want to over-spiritualize this topic, but I love Him and I believe He has, is, and will continue to work these things in my life for my good and for His purposes.
I also believe that ultimately, it’s not what happens to us that defines us. It’s how we respond. It’s what we do with what we’ve been given, good or bad. I have chosen to use both as motivations for my fitness journey. What will you choose?