I’ve noticed for some time now, that when I am speaking about God or Christianity, that I can often use exercise as an analogy. It struck me the other day because I’m on a training regimen with so many components that building them into my lifestyle is the key to it’s existence and success; just like my faith. I’ll unpack that a bit for you, along with some other correlations that I find helpful. IT’S A LIFESTYLE: To me, there is a 3-Pronged approach to creating a lifestyle: habits, schedule, community. Neither faith or fitness is something that you can implement part of the time and experience measurable results. Your faith and your fitness, if you want to be a warrior in either, have to be lifestyles that include daily practices, recurring calendar appointments, and people. for me: this means that I have certain habits that I do daily: I drink [a gallon] of water a day, I cook my own meals, I pray as soon as I wake up, then I eat breakfast. I also have chosen to be a fitness instructor so that exercise is literally a non-negotiable appointment on my calendar several times a week. “Church” is also on repeat in my calendar. It’s the people who have people at the gym and church who are more apt to stick with the program. Don’t be a loner in a lifestyle that you want to go after. There’s still much more to improve upon, but I live fitness and I live in faith. They are lifestyles. THE PAIN BECOMES GAIN: When you lift weights, you are literally tearing the muscle fibers. Muscles grow larger and stronger when they repair themselves after being torn; so, the situation has to get worse before it gets better. Interesting, huh?! In the same way, God grows our character through trials: periods of loneliness during which we grow closer to Him, temptations that strengthen our character, hopelessness that sends us into intercessory prayer. On the other side of this: we are physically stronger from pushing those weights, feeling that soreness, and bearing that pain. And we are spiritually stronger from the trials that we have endured. for me: this means that I am exhausted at the end of a weight-lifting session, but then I get to see and feel the growth in my muscles and I witness progress with the amount of weight I can lift. I feel accomplished when I move up the weight rack! In my spiritual life, it means that when I look back at the bleak times in my life, I can appreciate how far I’ve come, and I can see the contrast between that and a life with God’s presence in it. THERE IS A DEVIL TO RESIST Both faith and fitness require staying on the narrow path in order to achieve the results or the life we want. These narrow paths are choked by temptations that we must resist. In fitness, it’s chocolate cake, alcohol, and french fries. In faith, it’s sex before marriage, gossip, and unforgiveness. It is in the resisting of these temptations that we can experience the fullness of the body and spirit that we are seeking. Resisting temptation also becomes easier over time. for me: this means that my home is filled with healthy food and Bible verses. I don’t bring things into my home that will thwart my goals. I admire and drink from sources that are respectable leaders in both industries so that my mind stays on track. ACCOUNTABILITY IS KEY Group fitness classes and community worship simply have better success rates than going at these things alone. Even if we’re talking about one additional person, having someone to go to the gym or go to church with will oftentimes mean the difference between doing it or not. Announcing that you’re going on a diet or surrendering something to God increases the success rate as well. Man was not made to go at life alone; hook up with a buddy for the things that are important. for me: this doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a buddy to do everything with, but it does mean that I become related to the people around me: trainers, students, fellow gym rats, pastors, fellow church go-ers, in order to build a community and have accountability. IT TAKES FAITH, TRUST THE PROCESS Anything worth having is worth waiting for, right?! It’s usually around after one month of compliance with a diet and exercise plan that I begin to notice results. That’s one month of just eating and moving in faith. In the same way, we have to take a leap of faith to jump into a life with God and be vulnerable in order to experience His fullness. We have to move into his calling, sometimes against all logic, without seeing any hope, and just believe that He is for us. for me: this means that I operate on faith and that I gobble up fitness success stories and testimonies from faithful Christians to fuel that faith. I live my Christian life based on principle, not emotion and I eat for nutrition, not to feed my feelings. These photos are from Shields of Strength, a company that has fused faith and fitness into fantastic jewelry designs. I love the concept, obviously, and shall be buying one!