As we head into the summer we are continuing our ‘Healthy Living’ theme with a 6 weeks series on fitness by my dear friend Lu Crenshaw. Fitness is key to living long and healthy, and Lu is absolutely the best person to share with you, our dear readers, on this subject. Lu and I have been dear friends for several years and her expertise in fitness (she is a full-time Crossfit athlete and trainer) coupled with her remarkable wisdom and insight into people make her a trainer unlike any other. Three years ago she introduced my husband Jeff and I to Crossfit and totally revolutionized our lifestyle! For more about Lu PLEASE go to our ‘about us’ page and read up! ~Beth
Growing up, I was that little girl who came home with holes in my shoes and grass stains on my knees. When I was in 5th grade, one of my teachers sat me down and told me that if I didn’t stop playing football at recess and start acting more like a girl I wasn’t going to go anywhere in life. She told me I needed to start acting more girly and wear more dresses.
To say those words cut like a knife is an understatement. For years I questioned my own beauty. I think there are days when I still question my identity. The problem with those words is that they were spoken to a girl who wasn’t great with music, didn’t have a beautiful voice, didn’t twirl around in dresses. I was really fast and could beat most of the boys in any foot race, I could outlast them hanging on the bar in the chin-up test in 6th grade. Athleticism was the gift that God placed inside of me. It’s not often though that you hear people say, “Wow you sure are a beautiful athlete.” The things I heard were, “Wow you’re a beast, badass, freak of nature.” Guys would ask me to flex and kids made fun of the muscles on my legs and my arms. Yep…I wasn’t the chubby kid; I was the fit one and I still got made fun of. I grew up hating my body, my muscles, I wanted to be stick thin, weak and unable to run really fast.
I have been an athlete all my life and most of the time I hated it, because it left me feeling, well, NOT beautiful. If this was the thing I was good at though, what was I supposed to do? I didn’t know anything else. I went to college on a full ride division 1 soccer scholarship. After college, I became a personal trainer….I was really good at that too. After years of working for corporations I decided I could do this training thing on my own. So at the age of 24, I opened a personal training facility and had great success in that for the next 7.5 years. But I was still lost and broken; I didn’t know who I was.
Fast forward a few years later and I meet Bethany Reid at YWAM…yep I decided to do a YWAM DTS at the age of 30. Then it all began to make sense. I was really created for this. I am beautiful, but it’s not because of what I do or what I wear or the size of my muscles; it was who I was on the inside…that ground needed to be cultivated, tilled, replanted. Over the next 2 years I left my business and God did more and more in my heart in YWAM.
About a year ago I came back to the gym I once owned. I came back as a trainer and God asked me to cultivate the athlete in me again. ”BUT LORD I DON’T WANT BIG MUSCLES, I WANT TO BE A DAINTY WOMAN. I don’t want to be an athlete anymore, I want to be a wife and a momma.” The lie that strong, athletic women are not beautiful was still bouncing around in my head. Then a friend of mine said to me, “Lu what you have to understand is that the strength that you possess on the outside protects the gentle spirit on the inside.” Those words changed everything for me. It made my training in the gym worth it. My excellence in taking care of my body is protecting the spirit of God inside of me.
The Lord has been so faithful in my return to the world of personal training. He has given me His eyes for my body and I love every part of it. I am stronger and more athletic at 33 than I was in my days as a college athlete. I look at pictures and I see my strength and I love it. But even more than that God has given me eyes for His people. His desire for people to take care of the body they have been given. The idea is not to strive for a perfect body, but it’s to take care of it with excellence and with the realization that strength cultivated on the outside affects what’s on the inside and vice versa.
It’s so important to understand that our bodies and our spirits go hand in hand. The way in which you do or do not take care of your body tends to be what you actually believe about yourself.
We are not dualistic in our humanity. We have a mind and spirit dwelling inside a physical body and we have a physical body where the mind and spirit reside. To think these independent of one another poses quite a problem.
Over the last 11 years I have watched thousands of bodies move. Only in the last few years have I had my eyes opened to how much the matters of the heart and mind are manifest in the physical.
When put into a situation that is physically taxing there is a level of vulnerability that arises and different people respond in different ways.
You see, the way in which you workout tends to expose the way in which you live life. Yep, you heard me, your tendencies in a workout look a lot like your tendencies in life. So for the next five weeks I will be diving into each one individually. I find that people fall into these camps, many have subcategories but I will just leave it at this:
- The “I’ve Got it all Together” group
- The “Not Quite to the Line” group
- The “Too Afraid to Start” group
- The “I’m Just Not That Good At It” Group
- The “People Pleaser” Group
Some of you may be looking at this list and know what group you fall into. Others of you have absolutely no idea. I am excited to begin to unpack each one of these over the next month. If you feel like talking about wellness or fitness is a silly subject think about something: without your body you cannot live out your dreams, you cannot pursue your passions. Your body is your vehicle to change the world, your feet, they carry the Gospel. You have been given one body, just one. Let me leave you with this question, are you taking care of it as you should?