Written by Ejiro Erogbogbo, MS - Founder & Owner of WorkFit Wellness (click link)
Growing up as the oldest of four kids, being a good example at home, in school, and in life was the expectation. For the most part, I was up for it since I set high standards for myself. I felt it was my duty to be someone my siblings and others could look up to. In many ways, I still do. I also come from a strong Christian family and grew up serving in the church. I fondly look back on many memories filled with Sundays in the choir, holiday speeches, and good ol’ vacation Bible school.
I followed all most of the rules, made good grades, was active in church and athletics, had no crazy boy problems, made time for friends, and planned a career path that “looked good” to everyone. I was a “good girl” and everything just worked.
But… along with being a great example came a case of the perfectionist and people pleaser syndrome. The real and perceived pressures put on me by myself and others to always be on my “A” game, always make the “right” decisions, and always have a smile on my face were heavy. Fail and fear were four-letter-words that often haunted me behind closed doors. What if I stumble, change my mind, and/or things turn out differently than planned? Would I still be worthy and qualified to help others?
Well, stumbling and changing my mind/plans definitely happened. Because, life and learning happens. One day during my second year in college, in the midst of all the transition, excitement, and distractions, I noticed myself feeling stuck + unhappy. I distinctly remember asking God why. He showed me what was missing: steady involvement in church and running. Man, I knew I fell off some, but I didn’t think it was that bad… until it was. It’s crazy how things can slip away without constant intention. That day, I promised God and myself that I’d plug back into church (I found a wonderful one) and get back to running (strength training also entered my life here).
Reunited and it felt SO good. I got my foundation, groove, and peace back.
It’s truly a gift how fitness strengthens our faith + gives us freedom:
-It allows us to be good stewards of our bodies and minds. It’s a way to show gratitude for our health and well-being. It’s definitely a form of worship.
-Overcoming physical challenges empowers us to overcome spiritual challenges too. We know the battles we face aren’t just against flesh and blood. Just as you endure a tough workout, with His help, you have what it takes to endure life’s attacks in faith.
-The same intentional mindset, planning, and dedicated efforts put towards your fitness goals can be applied to your prayer life, involvement in church & community, and operating in your purpose. It boosts your metabolism and your spirit.
-Exercise unleashes your confidence and shows you your power. Once you conquer something new (that HIIT class) or reach a new level (improve your 5K time), you have less self-doubt and fear. That confidence permeates all areas of your life and that’s such freedom!
-It frees you from the bondage of failure. You won’t always finish your workouts and you’re guaranteed to miss some days. When those times come, learn to keep it moving and go “on to the next one.” When you miss the mark, keep the end in mind and know that when you fail forward, you’ll ultimately succeed. Have grit and give yourself grace.
-You have freedom to bask in YOUR gifts and passions… and no one else’s. Do you love music and choreography? Join a Zumba class! You don’t have to be a runner. Does running make you feel alive and you’re horrible at ball sports? Great, do that! You don’t have to join that volleyball league. Are you blessed with muscular quads that other girls may not have? Work it and do your thing with soccer! You don’t have to be a yogi. Or do yoga too if you want. I love that fitness offers something to everyone. There is no interest, size, weight, age, ability, race/ethnicity, or “cool enough” limit.
God gave me a passion for running to get through this crazy/beautiful life. I still desire to be an example to others, but it’s now fueled by my purpose versus perfectionism. It’s shown me my strength + power and I’m determined to use it to glorify Him the best I can in my personal and professional life.
You have that same power! Choose and commit to exercises that light you up and make you feel good. And do them with all your heart. As a result, you’ll have a very happy and healthy heart. You’ll also be equipped and strengthened to show love and grace to everyone you encounter. I encourage you to keep pressing towards the goal!
Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)
“(12) I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. (13) No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Health & hugs,