“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18
We may not realize it, but fear is probably driving many of us. Fear is what may be motivating us to discipline, to exercise, and to healthy eating. We're so deeply afraid, and that's the only reason why we're doing any of this. It's a hard pill to swallow.
Stop and ask yourself this: Why do you workout and try to eat healthy?
Is it because you want to make your body look super sexy? Are you afraid of being called the chubby girl, or the one that “let herself go”? Is it because you have to be stronger and fitter than everybody else? Or is it because you’re afraid of aging, perhaps even ultimately afraid of dying, and what that entire process will do to your body?
All of these reasons for exercise are based on a deep-rooted fear. Fear of what other people think, fear of not measuring up, and a fear of the unknown. These are very scary motivators for exercise. And if fear is the reason you workout so regularly, you probably frequently feel defeated and depressed.
What Motivates Me. I have to ask myself the same question constantly: why do I do all of this?
I admit, I'm a fitness junkie. I rarely miss a workout. In fact, I have consistently worked out at least three days per week for probably the last 10 years, with only a couple vacation breaks. Feel free to call me nuts…most people do.
But why the heck do I do this to myself?
Crazy enough, fear is not a major motivator. The more I think about it, the more I realize a weird form of love drives me to workout so regularly. I truly love the way exercise makes me feel. I love feeling strong and capable, knowing I won’t buckle under a given everyday task. I love the energy it gives me. I’m awake, alert and refreshed. I love feeling limber and flexible. My joints generally feel great, I’m not achy anywhere, and I feel tight and powerful. And I love seeing my body get better at things, even in my mid-thirties with two pregnancies behind me. It feels great!
The same goes for nutrition. In the beginning, learning to eat better required a lot of discipline and willpower, because I LOVED my lattes and cereal. It was tough breaking some of those habits. But now, when I consistently eat well, it makes me feel so good! I certainly deviate and enjoy treats here and there, but they always make me feel slow, heavy and lethargic. It's just not a great feeling. Although it takes more work to cook an egg and make a salad sometimes, the feeling these foods give me is so worth it.
I believe that because love is my major motivator, I have been far more consistent with all of this than those that might be only driven by fear.
Think about that.
However, I still have a tinge of fear inside of me. I would be lying if I didn’t say that looking good in a picture and not being afraid to wear a swimsuit isn’t a driving factor for me. It is. I like being lean, toned and not feeling my stomach spill over my pants. And honestly, if I stopped exercising right now, I would be afraid of what others would say about me.
Fear is still a factor. I'm working on this.
What Does God Think? Throughout Scripture, God is clear that He has no business with fear of any kind. It’s not His thing. His thing is love. Constantly, when He shows up on the scene He has to keep reminding us humans to "not be afraid". We're perpetually drifting into fear, so prone to fall into its grips, and He knows it.
We often think of fear as something more obvious—being afraid to speak in front of a crowd, afraid to lose your job, afraid to fly, afraid to have another baby. It makes sense to us that God wouldn’t want us to be afraid in these circumstances, and we know we should trust Him.
But the fear that sometimes drives us to eat right and exercise is very real, too. We're afraid of what others will say, we're afraid of being seen as squishy and out of shape, and we're afraid of failing. It seems trivial, but even still, God has no part in this. God is love! He doesn’t want you to be pursuing fitness because of fear. He knows it leads to obsession, poor body image, pride, and ultimately your demise. He loves you too much to see you go down that road.
“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16
Abide in love, not fear!
Don't be afraid. When I see certain gym-goers, I can't help but notice how deeply afraid they are, even the extremely fit ones. At this point, it might look a little like pride, but underneath that, they're scared to death of what their body would be without it all. They're petrified of failing, and paralyzed by the opinions of others. They're abiding in fear. They have set up camp smack dab in the middle of fear and are letting it rule their lives.
Oh momma, shift your motivation to love. For all of this to stick, you must be doing it for something that is far more intrinsic and independent of those around you. Cast off your fears and step forward in love. Start to notice the things that you're afraid of and how they're affecting the choices you make.
Recognize how much God loves YOU, (your mind, soul and body), and let that motivate you to take care of it.
Start to fall in love with how workouts and good nutrition make you feel. Do you feel strong and stable? Are you energetic and healthy? Can you bend, move, jump and play? Be attracted to fitness because you love its effects.
No, you won’t always love every step of the process—discipline isn't easy—but you will frequently be able to step back and say “Yes! This is so good! I love this!”
The next time you workout or choose to eat healthy, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you afraid of something? Or are you loving something? Where are you abiding?
Is This Hitting Home?
I would love to hear your comments and learn more about your own fitness journey.
And if you feel trapped in this spiral of fear and need an out, I can help.
I'd love to pray for you, and also point you in the right direction with your exercise and eating habits. If you need a better fitness and nutrition program, one that helps pull you off the path of obsession and helps you find your true value, please join the Strong Mommas Membership. It's only $1 for your first month, but worth far more than that.
Come check it out here.
Megan P. Dahlman
Hi friend! I'm a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach, Wife to Scott, and Mom to two crazy boys, Calvin & Peter. I train hard, eat well, rest just enough to keep going, and do my best to maintain a heavenly perspective. I'd love to coach you to do the same. Cheers!
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