"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11
You’ve heard the phrase, “Let’s pencil it in.” It means the plan is tentative. Subject to change. Erasable. In other words, not important enough to be a sure thing. This is the story of my fitness journey in a nutshell.
Every year I buy a planner for the coming twelve months. As I flip through the empty calendar pages, I imagine filling them with ideas that will keep me on track to improve my health. When I’m ready to set my goals and guidelines on paper, I sharpen a pencil and get to work writing them out in the daily squares. It’s so motivational to see the plan laid out in front of me. But more often than not, I get to the end of the month in exactly the same place I started, with no noticeable difference. Why is that?
Could it be that by writing in pencil, I’ve not fully committed to the plan?
Or could it be that I’ve been trying to live out the plan in my own strength without the help of the One who knows me best? Maybe a new P.L.A.N. is in order, one that I can fully trust and depend on.
Ditch the pencil and plan in ink!
Pray. Listen. Accept. Notice.
Pray for God’s guidance. While we all have the same basic human structure, we are unique individuals who respond to food and exercise in different ways. What is best for me may not be best for you. Personalized workouts and nutrition are a growing trend because it is advice based on a person’s health status, metabolism, biochemistry, and microbiome. Who would be a better coach than the One who created us and knows us inside and out? Make a point to seek his counsel as you begin to chart your course.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8
Listen for God’s answer. As we grow in our relationship with God and get to know Him through his Word and his activity in our lives, we begin to recognize his voice. Over time, we’ll notice the difference between God’s voice and other voices because of the truth, content, wisdom, and clarity of the thought. We must believe that God wants to speak directly and personally with us, and then we rely on the Holy Spirit to help us understand.
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Accept what God reveals. I know that when I eat nuts, my stomach bloats. When I consume too much sodium, I retain water and swell up. Like Adam and Eve, I have the freedom to eat anything I choose, as do you. However, most of us have learned from experience that not everything that enters our mouths agrees with us or is beneficial. If God reminds us to avoid something, we should trust that it is for our good and save ourselves the inevitable consequence. The same goes with exercise. My aging body can’t compete with the younger crowd, even if my mind (and ego!) wish differently.
Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. Job 22:21-22
Notice how your body responds to the choices you make. Keeping a food journal and exercise log can be very helpful. They can help you understand your habits and patterns, and help you identify when change is in order. Research shows that for people interested in losing weight and improving their health and fitness level, keeping a journal/log can be a very effective tool to help modify behavior.
Notice, also, the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God works within us to direct or warn us. Pay attention to things you might normally dismiss, and recognize that God may be trying to tell you something through a random feeling or thought. Obedience can keep you safe or prevent harmful circumstances.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. Romans 8:12-13 Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5:19
By including God in our plans and relying on his wisdom and guidance in daily food choices and fitness activities, our healthy future begins today!