I quit the gym.
Yep, at the turn of the New Year when everyone is busy making resolutions and signing up for gym memberships, I walked into the enrollment office and signed my membership cancellation papers. Shocking, right?
But there is a good reason I quit the gym and maybe a good reason for you to do the same.
A year and a half earlier, we sheepishly walked into that same membership office with a wholehearted commitment to get fit. The inspiration came shortly after my daughter’s graduation party when our entire family came together to celebrate. It was impossible to not see our genetically-inclined future and recognize that being fit and healthy now would behoove us in the long run.
So we plunked down the credit card and reprioritized our schedule to get to the gym multiple times a week. Within a few months, I could see the results of being stronger although not lighter. I knew I had at least ten to twenty pounds to lose and figured all the extra Zumba I love to do would shake it off. Well, it never shook off.
I kept going to class after class to no avail so I booked an appointment with the gym’s nutritionist. She promised to help me get healthier with her six-session package, yet the first three sessions she did nothing but affirm my health choices and suggest I reduce the sweets. I didn’t gain any strategies or accountability for making changes.
I was becoming hopeless.
Maybe that’s how you feel today.
Eventually, I quit the nutritionist, since why pay for a program that wasn’t working. I kept going to the classes but the scale didn’t budge. A few months later, I found myself crying out in pain in the chiropractic office as he diagnosed me with a pulled chest wall muscle. . . a by-product of having a connective tissue disorder known as Ehler-Danlos Syndrome. The only way to heal was to lay off the Zumba as well as Yoga for six weeks. Well, six-weeks turned into six-months and six more pounds.
Maybe you’re wondering if this story turns towards a happy ending.
Yes, it does. That same chiropractor suggested an anti-inflammatory diet to help with the EDS, which meant reducing, if not eliminating, sugar, carbs, gluten, and processed-foods. With my increasing gut issues combined with the lifetime of joint and muscle pain from the EDS, I decided to do Whole30 to pinpoint my health issues. If you’ve read my story, you know what happened next. I lost 10 pounds in 30 days and discovered that I was a sugar addict.
Thirty days turned into sixty.
Sixty days turned into six months of whole-food, processed-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free living.
Eighteen months of a gym membership and I lost no weight.
Six months of eating clean and I lost more than 25 pounds.
During those six months, I didn’t go to the gym a single time. I was partially scared to do any of the Zumba or Yoga after my EDS diagnosis and struggled to fit the classes into my work schedule. I didn’t quit exercising altogether. Instead, I got intentional about walking 2 miles with friend or family at least once a week and getting on the treadmill or doing a dance video at home two other days a week.
We need to move our bodies in order to maintain good heart health and muscle strength.
For some of us, that looks like the accountability and structure that comes with joining a gym and attending a class. But that gym membership doesn’t guarantee weight loss. In fact, having a gym membership may add more stress to your life, as you feel guilty for missing another day at the gym. Don’t misunderstand me, however.
Exercise is absolutely necessary for heart health as well as reducing anxiety, stress, and depression.
But having a gym membership is not the same as cultivating an exercise habit1
Friend, here’s the truth we must get our mind around . . . caring for our physical body begins with what we put in our mouth. If we ignore our diet, exercise alone won’t counteract that impact.
So what will be your motivator for changing how you eat AND how you move?
What will it cost you to stay the same?
What will be the reward for deciding to change today?
To be educated about the food you’re eating.
To be intentional about what you put in your mouth.
To be determined to keep cultivating new habits.
Friend, you can change.
Don’t let the lies you’ve believed in the past about food, fitness, and the body God gave you dictate how you care for yourself from this point forward.