Chances are, some type of fitness goal made it to your list of New Year’s resolutions, especially if you’re middle-aged like I am and realize that not paying attention to our health is not an option.
How are you coming along with your resolution(s)? Are you still on fire or do the flames need some serious stoking already? If there’s barely a spark, don’t beat yourself up for being totally normal. A little google searching reveals that resolutions typically last less than a month. Ouch.
Our will just isn’t as strong as we believe it to be. The same old resolutions and startling failure rate are the best evidence that we are very weak beings, indeed.
“Psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos says the problem is our lack of patience. With our ‘millennial instant gratification mindset’, we set ‘unrealistic goals’ and demand overnight success. When the glitter begins to fade and results haven’t been immediately achieved, many of us lose heart, berate ourselves and end up giving up or reverting to old habits.” -Spectator Health
The good thing about being middle-aged is that I’m finally learning the importance of paying attention to ALL areas of my life — my physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental self.
In the past, my tendency was to focus on one aspect of my life to the neglect of the others. However, our body, soul and mind are intricately woven together. Efforts to improve our lives should factor in all of our being, not simply one part of it. Our problems are never ALL physical or ALL spiritual or ALL psychological. Give attention to ALL OF IT.
According to “Dr P.” in the article above, a weak mind is wreaking havoc in the body. There are many factors to consider in our individual lives, but generally speaking, unrealistic goals and impatience sabotage our efforts at self-improvement. Rather than simply focusing on a fit body and behavior, we need to include our need for a fit mind — we need to build a healthy perspective.
A Healthy Perspective
A healthy perspective is a combination of realistic goals and patience.
Our tendency is to choose extreme measures for big/quick changes. Not only is this unrealistic — it’s overwhelming! We need to set smaller goals that we can commit to over the long haul. That doesn’t mean we can’t dream BIG, it simply means we need to break it down into smaller, bite-sized pieces. By setting smaller goals and enjoying little successes over a longer period of time, we’ll find that we’re developing our confidence.
We also need permission to fail. We’re human and that’s what humans do best. We have this idea that we should be able to do whatever we want without lots of practice and failure, but this attitude only leads to defeat. Instead, we can look around at the many examples of people training day in and day out to do the thing they want to do. They regularly fail because they are regularly trying. They practice getting back up. We won’t attain perfection, but we’ll make progress. This mindset of acceptance gives us the grace to keep at it. We’ll find that we’ve developed a deeper resolve when our training includes patience.
“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward towards success.” -C.S. Lewis
Encouragement From The Outside
Have you noticed how popular it is to use inspiring and encouraging quotes? They’re everywhere! Why is that? Why do football teams have coaches and cheerleaders on the sidelines? Why do boxers have trainers in their ear? Why do children need parents to applaud their efforts and victories, and encourage them in failure? Because we were created for relationship — to share our lives — the ups, the downs and everything in between.
We cannot do life all by our lonesomes like we think we can (especially not the most difficult things), neither can it be “just me and God”. He never intended for us to need only Him. We need strength and encouragement from other people — a support group of some kind to help us stay strong in our resolve. We continue to fight lifelong battles deep within us because we keep doing what will never work – fighting alone. Behind every success story there is lots of support.
“Count it all joy, my brothers [and sisters], when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” -James 1:2-3
The most encouraging thought of all is knowing that this is all by God’s design. Our body is like a temporary teacher requiring discipline for fitness, which is a picture of our spiritual life as well. Through confidence, patience and grace, He’s building us to last.
I’m in your corner (and your ear) reminding you (and myself) that we won’t feel joy when we’re dealing with the failures, the blows and the pain, but as we remind one another to count it all as joy — we build a healthy perspective and life. Lord, help us be realistic, patient and encouraged, together. = )
In life, faith & art ~ Jamie