Lots of ideas rolling through my mind this morning after a thought-provoking and inspiring small group discussion last night, but first, let’s check in on my March Challenge thus far:
Yesterday (March 1st!):
- Workout: My new most killer favorite workout: 10 Reps of Burpee/Push Up Row/Squat Clean & Press Up Combo (Rest 30 seconds; Repeat 10 times). The kind of exercise that you love to hate, this one stimulates as many muscles groups as possible into one exercise, and has all the necessary components to pump up your muscle building and fat burning potential. It’s a full body exercise that involves explosive power and speed and draws on as many muscle fibers as possible to make your heart rate soar and crank up your metabolism (paraphrased from Shin O’Take). Ohhhh yes, it’s a good one – and a perfect workout to kick off my March Challenge!
- Water: Didn’t get quite as much in today – probably only 1.75 L of strictly water (excluding some other liquids throughout the day like tea and a bit of coffee). Today’s a new day though, and I’m already well into water bottle #1 out of 3!
- Eating: I started my day out with a delicious bowl of overnight oats, and I was glad to see in this article that oatmeal is a food that helps fight belly-bloating (right on!). This makes eating my usual delicious bowl of oats even more enjoyable. That’s about as far as I am into my eats for the day, although I’m already anticipating a great green smoothie and maybe some chick pea burgers for lunch – no mindless eating on this cold Wednesday.
As I look over these little goals, I’m reminded that I really don’t like the idea of “goals,” and indeed have never made resolutions (hence the reason I connected with the Simply Switches so much at the beginning of 2011!). With goals come this sense of dread and oncoming guilt for many people, and although I think it’s important to set challenges for yourself and push yourself forward with them, the idea of moving in a direction and taking simple steps in that direction appeals to me more. I think having direction is really important and having dreams and ambition to help move you in that direction.
“Dreams, yes, but ambition?” you ask. “That’s a little intense. I mean, I believe in goal setting and hard work, but I’m not trying to take over the world or anything!” I think often the idea of ambition scares us, freezes us in place, and puts us off. And often that’s because we live in a society here in North America where we don’t have to have ambition because we can live in luxury. As Donald Miller puts it in his sermon on “Story,” we don’t have to have ambition because if we want, we can stay at home and play video games all day and still have money leftover for a Taco Bell meal. People in other countries, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of living without ambition – they have to get up, walk 10 miles to get water, and come home if they want any water at all that day. What a different reality!
So what are we to do? Or, to put it more famously, how then should we live? Goals, direction, ambition, lead us to this greater idea of story. What kind of story are you living right now? Are you living a story that’s predictable, day in and day out? A story that inspires? A story that’s trapped in a time of conflict right now?
I truly believe that we have an active role to play in our lives, and we canchoose to make our lives count. Let’s take fitness as an example: are you simply a runner, and have sworn off other types of workouts (storylines) like yoga or weight training? Why keep things boring and predictable! It will help your body if you change things up and give those running muscles a break and engage your core, stabilizers, and muscles differently through different types of movement.
Are you in a food rut? Buy some new, good-for-you foods like kale, sweet potatoes, blueberries, quinoa, and experiment with something new! Make a change in the storyline of your daily eats and watch your body adapt and change.
On a bigger level, are you dealing with conflict in your daily life? An injury that’s got you sidelined or an emotional hardship that’s leaving you as a less active player in life? Choose to deal with that conflict and embrace it, however hard it might be, because conflict creates meaningful change in your life. As James says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
Maybe you need to set some goals (or, if you’re like me, look more at direction and make your intentions become reality as you live with ambition) and time for you to make steps to change your storyline. Not that life has to be a grand, exciting, non-stop adventure all the time, but it certainly doesn’t have to be predictable and monotonous, regardless of your circumstances. If you’re in a time of conflict (as every great story must have), how can you embrace the difficulty and let it change you? Interact with it and let it have that full effect so that you will become more complete? It helps to know where you’re going and what story you’re living, and I am blessed to know that I am part of a bigger story – God’s story – of bringing all things imperfect, flawed, and wronged to redemption before him. We’re all a part of this story! And that makes the conflict more bearable and the ups and downs of not knowing what life will look like more interesting and purposeful rather than scary and unstable.
Fitness-related, food-related, relationship-related, internally-related goals, direction, steps in your story. Remember that you are part of a bigger story, that you have been uniquely created with dreams all your own that may or may not be lived out like you envision them, but why not take steps in their direction? When God gives a story to your heart, write it! Put the work in (burpees! nixing mindless eating! treating your body well and hydrating!) and know that the end result, the end story, will be worth it.
How will you challenge yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, with others? Write that story, embrace it, and live well today. Have a beautiful Wednesday,