Start Where You Are, Not Where You Were

I wrote about why I broke up with CrossFit in January, and concluded the post by saying I was on a quest to find my ideal training style.  And then I promptly stopped training completely.  As a result, I have been on a training hiatus for 3+ months.

I realize this is unfathomable to many.  In fact, it would have been unfathomable to my former self.  At the height of my enthusiasm for CrossFit, I remember often thinking to myself, “I don’t understand how people can live their lives without exercising in some capacity on a regular basis.”  Funny to think about that now.

I think it’s pretty evident in my writing over the past several months that my Christian faith is the most important part of my life.  At the end of the day, I believe I am here on this planet to accomplish the purpose that the Lord has set before me.  My departure from CrossFit (and subsequently, any kind of training) really boils down to one thing – it was distracting me from my true purpose.

When I competed in CrossFit last summer, the result was discouragement.  And in hindsight, I believe that came from the unconscious realization that I had been living my life like CrossFit was my purpose, when in reality, it was far from that.  It had overtaken my life and become far more important than it should have been.  I have a long and colorful history struggling with perfectionism, body image issues, and disordered eating, so training and competing are a very slippery slope for me.

It seems extreme to go from competing and training 6-7 days per week to not training at all.  Moderation has never been my thing – I’m pretty much an all-or-nothing, black-and-white person.  I felt led in a different direction at the beginning of the year, and felt the need to recalibrate my priorities and evaluate how I was investing my time and energy.  And for me personally, that meant a complete break from training.

Over the last few months, I’ve begun volunteering with a few different organizations and I also joined an anti-human trafficking cause group.  I’ve become more involved in my church and spent more time with my small group.  I’ve spent a lot of time reading (even by my standards) about poverty, charity, and human trafficking around the world.  My relationship with God has become stronger, as I’ve spent more quiet time with the Lord in prayer and in the Word.  I’ve been convicted about the lifestyle I lead and am striving to have less stuff and to value material things less.  Once I removed the obstacles to finding my true purpose, it became much clearer to me.  In June, I’m going to Cambodia for 10 days on a mission trip to help educate the people there about human trafficking and to provide medical care (others on my team, not me).  I know I have gifts and abilities that are God-given, and surprise – they are not athletic prowess.

I also had to learn to let go of my need to look a certain way in order to please others.  Over the past three months, I’ve seen the muscle gradually diminish from my frame.  I’ve become softer, weaker, and less defined.  That was no easy thing to go through.  The thing is that not thinking of myself as an athlete anymore didn’t actually change who I am on the inside.  My true friends are still around and they still love me the same.  Most of them at least claim that they don’t notice any difference in my appearance (I, on the other hand, feel decidedly squishier).  Maybe I wasn’t winning praise and accolades for setting new PR’s any more, but I have gotten a lot of encouragement and support from people who have noticed a positive change in the way I live out my faith.  And isn’t that truly my purpose?  To live a life that glorifies God, who over time transforms me to be more and more like my Savior?

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 23-25:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 

Paul also says to Timothy:

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.  –1 Timothy 4:8

1_Corinthians_6-19So, I guess you can say I took a break from physical training to instead engage in training for godliness.  I am still an imperfect, sinful person in need of grace, but despite the fact that the waistband of my pants is a little snugger than it was 3 months ago, I think it was the right thing.

Now that I’ve caught you all up, I am proud to say that I did go back to training this week – yay!  It’s been a humbling experience, I can tell you that.  I am weaker, I am slower, and I fatigue more easily.  This brings me to the title of my post, which is that you have to start where you are, not where you were.   It would be easy to get back to the gym and start choosing my weights based on my PR’s from 3-6 months ago or even try some of the WOD’s that used to be my favorites.  But I have been doing my best to put my ego aside and realize that starting from where I was is just a great way to fast track myself to an injury.  So I am starting slowly and humbly, and with the proper perspective.  God has entrusted me with this body, and I am to be a good steward of it, which means to nourish it, strengthen it, rest it, and love it.  I will never be a professional athlete, and I want to ensure my identity is firmly rooted in Christ, not in the way my body looks or how much weight I can lift.  But I still owe it to myself and to God to be healthy and strong so that I can accomplish His will and purpose for my life.




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