How Working Out Changed My Body And My Faith



I started working out when I was about 20 years old.

I’d tried the odd DVD before that nothing had really stuck due to my inconsistency and desire to never exert myself beyond what was necessary. Around that time, I decided to change my life (yes, dramatic) and (as usual) went to the extreme:  I began Insanity. True to its name, it was insane – the craziest thing I’ve ever done to my body. Although the intensity of that workout was like nothing I’d ever faced, I managed to get through 60 day plan.

During that time, I also decided to take up jogging. My older sister had just begun training for a marathon, and true to younger sister form, I became intrigued with the new thing my big sis had become obsessed with. She encouraged me, we set goals to run marathons together (big lol) and off I went, jogging for 2 miles, 3 times a week.

I must say (as this is a Christian blog) that I never, not even once, endeavoured to change my diet. Even though I wanted to change my body, to finally take off the fat suit that I had been wearing since the age of 7, I never once exchanged my hamburger for an apple.  In hindsight, if I had been serious about changing my life, I would have at least attempted to stop eating 6 pieces of fried chicken at a time, or would have made my once-a-week-pick-me-up a salad bar instead of the Chinese buffet down the road. Despite my shoddy diet, my weight loss was marginally successful: I ate what I wanted during the day and killed myself at night prancing about, being Insane, in the hopes of becoming the slimting I’d always dreamt of.

Later that year, I fell ill. My nightly Insanity workouts and jogs around the block became a distant memory. Instead, I was bed bound, barely able to move, stand or breathe.

I still remember the first the time I was able to run again after I’d accepted that my life, as I’d previously known it, was over. I remember the strain on my calves and the pain as my feet adjusted to being hit by concrete after weeks of dormancy. I remember the wind and the rain, tears sliding down my cheeks as I realised that God had healed me and that I really would be okay. It was all very dramatic for a morning run.

To be honest, gratitude had clouded my judgement. I was so happy to be able to use my legs properly that it took me a few months to realise that while my sister loved running, I did not. In fact, I hated it. I hated running. I hated the metal taste in my mouth, the way my eyes would water excessively, the wind slicing through me and my unsupportive sports bra, and the weird men that would slow down and call out to me. Yes, running had done wonders for my mental health and overall (despite having a questionable diet) was having an impact but I did not enjoy it. Did I even like working out? I wasn’t so sure anymore;  I’d near killed myself with Insanity, I’d punished myself with those painful, arduous jogs and I’d shamed my body to the point that I could barely look in the mirror. I was a mess.

Fast forward to January 2014. I joined a gym, began to attend every class under the sun and realised that working out didn’t have to another form of self-harm. Instead, it could be positively challenging, therapeutic and invigorating.

Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt while running on the treadmill or squatting with weights.

Keep going

I used to run at night so I often couldn’t see my destination (or where I was going).

We won’t always know what lies ahead of us, or what the next season in our life will hold. Knowledge of the next step can even be harmful, causing us to feel as though the task is too big for us and the goal insurmountable. During those dark nights, I learnt that while the goal is important, the next step is more important because if it isn’t taken, we remain in the same place.

It’s all in the mind

Every battle is won and lost in the mind. A lot of the time I don’t feel as though I’ll be able to put on my gym clothes, let alone complete an hour’s workout. I’ve noticed that once I have made up in my mind that I am going to work out, nothing on earth has the power to stop me, not even my own body.

You won’t always feel like reading your Bible, praying, going to Church but if you make the decision to in your mind, you’ll get there.

Be consistent

If you exercise once a week/bi-weekly, it is incredibly unlikely that you’ll see any results. In order for results to be achieved, you must be consistent (at least 3 times a week) (oh, and change your diet!).

In the same vein, reading your Bible once a week isn’t going to do anything for your growth as a Christian. You must be relentless in your pursuit of Christ (if He is what you desire, of course) and that includes reading the Bible daily, watching sermons, and picking up little devotional books that can help you along the way.


Every time I step into the gym, I am reminded that we are all on different journeys.

There’s a man who attends my gym who is over 300 pounds, can barely see and has to be assisted upon entry until the time leaves. Another woman runs on the incline at 15mph, jumps off, squat jumps at an astounding pace, then jumps back on and runs again. Is she more successful than the man who is overweight and walks at 3mph? Of course not. Success is showing up, doing your best and completing the task. We all have such different goals and destines, comparison (as Precious so rightly said last week) is dangerous. We are all different.

The gym taught me that everybody begins in a different place; it’s not about where or how you start, it’s about where you end.

Have a beautiful weekend,

Joy xx

6 thoughts on “How Working Out Changed My Body And My Faith”

  1. Challenging and thought provoking. I needed to hear that for where I am at this moment. A blessed weekend to you too


  2. Awesome blog! I also had a similar experience when I did Insanity and then sprained my ankle quite severely in week 5 (recovery week). I actually did enjoy insanity but I didn’t enjoy changing my diet. However, I came to the realisation that the same thing that once worked for me didn’t work the second time and now I’m finding new ways to get fit!

    Thank you. Tendai xx

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