Today, I am reminded of a place that I was for a long time and the freedom that I have found from giving up living life as a body. I think it was easy to excuse away my growing obsession and addiction with food and exercise because it was my job as a personal trainer. I was able to justify the daily workouts, the nonstop dieting and why I spent more time on my body than my heart, mind, spirit and relationships.
It really didn’t even seem like I was justifying anything, because this was just what I did and just who was. The gym wasn’t the only place that I had allowed myself to be reduced to results, this was how I was raised. Although many things had changed in other areas of my life and I was living as a whole-person, nothing had changed in the gym. Until, I decided to take what I had preached and practiced for 15 years to another level and I took my diet and training to a near perfect level for 12 weeks to prove that at 40, I was stronger and leaner than I had ever been.
Guess what? I did it and in reaching that goal, I was also forced to see how freaking shallow my life had been, how lonely and exhausted I was, how much I had ignored my actual physical, mental, emotional and relational health, how much I didn’t know, accept or love myself and how I had reduced myself to just a body to reach my sick-pack ab goal. I remember laying in bed exhausted, lonely, hungry, crying and asking myself a lot of “whys?”. Why was I doing this? Why was I living my life in a gym? Why didn’t having a good looking body give me love, joy, hope or the peace that I was desperately trying to get?
In finding the courage to ask myself some hard questions, I discovered truth that started to set me free. I discovered that it did not matter what I looked like, I could never get love because love cannot be gotten. Love can only be given where we are known and accepted. I discovered as long as I was using my body to get something, I was setting myself up to be consumed not loved.
Living as a body does not allow a person to be known, accepted or loved, it allows them to be consumed by anyone looking for a body.
I discovered I had been living for a body for a long time. I had learned to judge myself on what I did, how hard I worked, how busy I was, how hard I could play and how I looked. Because I judged myself on my appearance, performance and doing, I not only allowed others to judge me the same way but I also thought that’s the only way anyone looked at me.
It was easy to judge myself in the gym. I just had to use my body to get results. I didn’t have the time or space to feel or think…and get to the gym everyday. I had to reduce everything in my life to fit into my eating and training schedule. To get six-pack abs, my entire life had to work around that goal. Now, it makes sense that achieving such a superficial goal did not give me the peace, hope and joy that only flows out of love. If anything being judged by the truth, achieving my goal encouraged hopelessness, exhaustion, obsession and sadness to flow out of a growing emptiness that I had helped create.
I look back at my time in the gym and I accept it. I didn’t know who I was or how I was designed to live. It was where I had the greatest illusion of control and why it lasted for so long. It’s been almost 2 years since I walked away from the gym and from squeezing my whole-person into a training program. In this time, I have discovered health, life and love outside of gym because I made space to breathe, listen, ask, look and move to love and care for my whole-person, which allowed me to love and care for other people. We are not designed to focus all our time and energy on our bodies without this focus consuming us and reducing all hopes, dreams, desires and passions to fit in a gym, in a picture, post or anywhere else we can just be seen and not experienced as a whole-person.
We are designed to for so much more than six-pack abs or what we eat, how we look, how we exercise, what we have and what we do and don’t do. So many of us are suffering from reducing ourselves to just bodies. My six-pack abs could be someone else’s eating to numb their feelings, another’s posting selfies to get some bit of attention to feel good about themselves or just having sex to feel some connection. We all can reduce ourselves to being just bodies in so many ways and act like it’s different but it’s not.
We will never discover the amazing things we are designed for by just living to be seen and our bodies cannot sustain all the ways we misuse them to get what can only be given. We have a beautiful design that works when we live as we are designed and we are designed for our bodies to be a reflection of our spirits, hearts, minds and relationships being full of love and truth. When we live as we are designed, we will naturally and easily look and feel our best in a community that loves us for who we are and not what we look like or what we can do. We are designed for so much more than living life in one, two or even three dimensions.
I gave up living for a result and found freedom in my heart, spirit, mind and body that has led me to discover how we are all designed to VIVE. I created a space for you to find freedom too.