Sunday, April 13, 2014

How to Turn a Healthy Discipline into a Holy Desire

I often coach my classes and clients reminding them that they are in control of their body, and they tell their body what to do — their body doesn't rule them.

Here I'm summarizing the 5 zone heart rate interval training program at Orange Theory Fitness. 

While most of the time, I'm emphasizing proper form and hoping that my instruction will remind them to keep their back straight and head up in a dead lift, my statement has a two-fold meaning. Your will determines how you live your life, and your willingness to change your body begins in the mind.

God gives us free will ... the power to choose. In everything we do, whether we realize it or not, we are making a choice. Some choices we make out of habit and others we take more time to consider our options.

The choice to wake up at 5 a.m., and work out may not be something I feel like doing, but I make the choice to do so (or sometimes I do) out of discipline, because I trust it will not be done in vain but rather done as an investment in the future of my physical body. What I've discovered about my physical disciplines, is that the more I connect it to my spiritual disciplines, the more blessed I am.

I think clearer. I feel deeper. I rest easier. I receive wisdom. I literally glow — or so I've been told.

In Ephesians 5, Paul tells us how to open up our heart and mind to the power of the Holy Spirit, so that our will mimics his for our life. He tells us to speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, urging us to discipline ourselves to live in worship. This passage struck a chord with me ...

Fitness is widely agreed to be a physical application of discipline, but worship? I've never thought of worship as something I might discipline myself to do. When I worship God, I usually do so because I feel like it. But what about when I don't feel like it?

We must instruct ourselves to humbly worship and tell our soul to not grow weary.

Even when we feel tired and frustrated and restless and anxious, if we lean on God's promises and choose to discipline ourselves both physically and spiritually, his word is always fruitful. He is always faithful.

We don't always feel like working out or eating healthy. But, just because you don't feel like it, it doesn't mean it's acceptable to to not do it. What if we always did what we felt like? I feel like our society would look a lot more like the one in The Purge. ... Not so pretty.

Here I'm giving a cooking demo on how to use whey protein in simple recipes.

Living the healthy way may not be your first choice according to your flesh. Shoot, when it comes to my flesh, my first choice usually involves sugar and frosting and a braid-shaped roll.

Do it out of discipline at first and soon enough, it will become your desire.

Just like we must learn to make habits out of healthy eating and exercise, we must learn to make habits out of worship. We expect to get stronger after choosing to work harder in the gym, and we should expect to get stronger when we choose to humble our hearts and worship God.

It may not be your first choice to put everything else on hold and praise God, especially when circumstances have you confused or even angry with Him. But your spirit controls your mind and your body. You tell it what to do. Command it to worship. Command it to grow. If you do it out of discipline at first, God has a way of shaping it into your desire.

Practical Tips for Physical & Spiritual Disciplines

  • Spend five minutes in the morning praising God and claiming his victories in your life.
  • Jot down 5-10 foods that trigger you to lose self-control and toss them out of the house.
  • Organize your closet and/or drawers, so that your workout clothes are near the front.
  • Make one small change to your nutrition a week (i.e. eating breakfast consistently).
  • When you catch yourself getting stressed, stop and vent to God before venting to anyone else.
  • Instead of immediately giving into a food craving, tell yourself you will wait until the next day before eating it, and if you wake up still wanting it, you will allow yourself to have it. Most of the time, you wake up and the craving is not near as strong.
  • Make appointments to work out with someone who positively influences your attitude.
  • Keep yourself accountable by telling people when you're going to exercise and what your goals are.
  • Download the Bible app and listen to the audio version while lifting weights.
  • Make a playlist of worship songs with a high tempo and beat.
My hope is that my stories inspire you to press on with your own story, and that my heart song plays loud enough that you know that this journey keeps us all engaged at our own level. None of us ever reaches the end because that would indicate we could reach our full potential. I believe our God is consistently sparking a light in us that may waver in the wind but never, ever burns out. We are constantly growing in Christ and deepening our relationship with him. 

My prayer is that you find how to write your heart song of worship in a way that speaks to your passions and your hobbies, as well as a place that gives you a desire to worship the Lord with your body, and get fit from the inside out. 

If you or someone you know struggles with getting fit from the inside out, consider contacting me for fitness/nutrition consulting. If you're in the DFW area, stop by one of my classes atRob's FitnessGranite Park or Orange Theory. If you're a girl, and you like to have fun, consider booking your next party with me. These and other services are provided by Amber Michelle Fit, LLC.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

3 Reasons You're Not Making Progress in the Gym

The number one reason you may not be making progress in the gym is that you're not working outside the gym. 

I've said it before, and I'll say it 'till I'm blue in the face ...

The only way to be truly healthy is to get fit from the inside out. (That's tweetable.)

It's a journey. It's a progression. You have to constantly be improving, seeking change, making a difference, evaluating, re-evaluating, experimenting, and reflecting.

1. You Haven't Become King of the Kitchen.

Most people who kill it in the gym but still aren't seeing results are lacking the same control at the kitchen bar that they have at the squat bar. They're allowing food to rule over them. You have to remind yourself daily that food is simply fuel for your body. You're the one in charge of what you feed your body. Food doesn't rule you.

If you feel confused or like you don't know what you may be doing wrong in the kitchen, ask for help. While there's a ton of information out there to school you on proper nutrition, it's often overwhelming to try to make the necessary changes to our habits and busy lifestyle. Part of becoming better involves humbling yourself, becoming smaller and constantly learning from others.

2. You're Going the Distance. But, You're Not Going for Speed.

I'm not going to say that you may be overtraining, because I believe a few hours spent training per day is not going to kill you when we, as 21st century citizens (and may I say majority 1st world-ers), spend 15-20 hours sitting on our rears. However, you may be spending too much time training the wrong way.

Let me tell you a very short story. Once there was a girl (me) who started running outside everyday when she noticed she lost some weight spending a half hour or more jogging every day. That girl deducted that the longer she jogged, the leaner she'd become. Thus, that girl spent the next five years running up to 25 miles every week. It wasn't until she decided to try something different (bodybuilding) that she learned she had been wasting away her muscles, not to mention her time, running and running and running.

You don't have to spend an hour on the treadmill, elliptical or any other cardio machine to get lean - or even skinny. 

The only thing pure steady-state cardio like that will do for you is condition your heart over time to make it insanely hard for you to raise your heart rate into 85-90 percent of your max heart rate and keep it there for 12-20 minutes, which in turn, puts your body into EPOC (Excess Post Oxygen Consumption), which is a long, wordy term used to describe the state in which your body can burn extra calories for 24-36 hours after your workout while you're just sitting there. Can I get a hallelujah?

So, the moral of the story is.... Keep going the distance, as in never stop pursuing a healthier lifestyle, but don't neglect your speed. You need to change it up. You need to freak your body out once in a while. Practically speaking, interval training, sprinting, plyometrics and weight-lifting all need to be included in your gym routines.

I save my leisurely jogs and cardio machines for my appointments with God. Steady-state cardio is not part of my workout, although, it's an essential part of my healthy lifestlyle, which brings me to my next point ....

4. You're Working Out for the Wrong Reasons.

You must come to terms with yourself and all of your flaws, mistakes, bad habits and hurdles before you can expect to get past them. You must be able to see that Crap in yourself (because we all have Crap), grab it by the scruff, and look at it square in the eye, saying ...

"I see you, and I'm not going to allow you to define me. I'm thankful that God redeems the broken and he uses Crap like you to humble me, make me relatable and give me a testimony. Although I know you, Crap, will keep piling up, I want you to know that my God is bigger, and he comes to scrape you away every day. I choose to honor him by honoring my body, and in turn, giving him the glory!"

Remind yourself that God created you in his image and you are perfectly and wonderfully made. God calls you his masterpiece. You must learn to see yourself the way he sees you.

If you are not a good steward with what God has given you now, why would God bless you more? While we can ask ourselves that question in regards to many areas of our lives like finances, business, and family, we can also apply that principle to our fitness life.

If you can honestly say that you have been working hard at conditioning your physique and fitness level, but you continue to verbally abuse it or not fuel it properly, why should you expect to see any progress?

Start setting apart time to meet with God, and thank him for your body. He is the giver of life and all things good. Ask him to give you a pure desire to pursue fitness and improve your physique. He is faithful, and he will produce results.

If you or someone you know struggles with getting fit from the inside out, consider contacting me for fitness/nutrition consulting. If you're in the DFW area, stop by one of my classes at Rob's Fitness, Granite Park or Orange Theory. If you're a girl, and you like to have fun, consider booking your next party with me. These and other services are provided by Amber Michelle Fit, LLC.
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