God and Gains:This Isn’t for Fun, This is Forever.

I am a ridiculously passionate person when I make my mind up about something. It’s encoded into my DNA. I don’t have a volume button or an off switch so when I focus on something I tend to take it to the extreme. The only thing that I can say this hasn’t been true for is my fitness/weight loss journey.

I have struggled with weight my entire life. I spent my entire childhood as the fat girl. I remember school clothes shopping trips that ended with me sobbing uncontrollably in the fitting room corner in a two-year old like tantrum because I couldn’t find things to fit me. I wanted to look like the other girls, dress like them. But I couldn’t. It destroyed my adolescent heart. I eventually slimmed up quite a bit but I was still heavier than most of the girls my age. Every time I looked in the mirror all I saw was a body that no one would consider beautiful.

I think I was twelve years old the first time I decided to make myself throw up. I had just stuffed myself sick on a countless number of cookies and a half of bag of chips. Immediately, the guilt consumed me to my very core. Why did I just eat that much? How will I ever be one of the beautiful girls if I eat enough junk to feed a small army? The only logical thing I could think of doing was ridding my body of the filth I had just shoved into it. So I forced myself to throw it up. I was only a child but I knew in that very moment I had a problem with food. But I didn’t stop. Food made me happy, being overweight made me sad. This way I could have them both.

Fast forward into adulthood. For years I kept my weight under control. I was always heavier, but just heavy enough to not hate myself too much for it. But as I was transitioning into a new job and a new lifestyle away from the addictions I had accumulated, I needed something to comfort me. I found solace in my oldest vice, eating. In a year’s time I had gained over 80 pounds. At my heaviest I was 315 pounds, diagnosed with diabetes, fatty liver and an array of other health problems. But other than the occasional binge and purge session, I did nothing to get my weight under control.

One day I was at a local amusement park with my son. We got season passes every year and spent a lot of our summer there. He wasn’t quite tall enough to ride the “big boy roller coasters” but I knew the next year he would be and he would need mommy. We were walking by a tester seat to one of my favor coasters in the park. I hadn’t ridden it in ages. I had walked past that seat a million times refusing to sit down. I knew the answer. I had been running from it. But next year when my son would ask could we ride, I’d have to have to sit in the same seat. I imagined a crowd of hundred people staring at me as I was escorted off of the ride because I couldn’t fit. I imagined my son crying in shame and disappointment. I stared at the seat in sheer terror. My heart was pounding and everything in me screamed to just walk away. I looked at Kameron as he waited patiently and confused, not understanding why we had halted at this spot. I mustered all the courage I could find and sat down. It wouldn’t buckle. I lost it. There, alone with my son, in the middle of a crowded amusement park, I was that little girl curled in the corner of the fitting room all over again. It was time for a change.

I started working out and trying my hardest to eat right. The weight was coming off, but so slowly I didn’t think I could ever get through this. So I made the best decision I could at the time and got weight loss surgery. It was blessing. Coupled with exercise, I lost a total of 130 in about 9 months. But I never reached my goal weight. I never achieved the body I desired. In fact, my rapid weight gain and weight loss had done an unrepairable amount of damage. And as much as I liked working out, every time I walked into the gym, I felt like I had no clue what I was doing. Bottom line: I wasn’t consistent.

About a year ago some guy I didn’t know added me on Facebook. Being the social media guru I am, I stalked his page. I saw we had several friends in common. He was a personal trainer and I was currently in one of my “I love working out” phases so I started to pay attention to his posts. This dude seemed to know his stuff and I was still struggling with a gym routine that felt right. I mentioned to my best friend Janae several times I think I should hire him. Her response every time was “go for it”. But I never reached out.

To no surprise, sometime earlier this year I became inconsistent yet again. Two years out from surgery and I had maintained my weight loss. Though I had never reached my goals I had become complacent. After months of not working out, I decided to step on the scale only to face my worst nightmare. I had climbed back over the 200 pound mark. At the same time, I was dealing with an abundant amount of frustration at work and irritation that my progress with other goals had seemed to be spinning in circles. Of course my heart and mind were still focused on God, so I couldn’t help but wonder why the hell things seemed to be digressing for me.

Janae and I were on the phone one day when she told me she had signed up for the gym and hired a personal trainer. In all the months I had been working out, she never expressed any interest in coming with me. Sure she supported me. She even bought be this fitness journal for Christmas. But my fitness dreams were one thing we didn’t seem to have in common. I asked her why the sudden interest and she says, as she often does, one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard. “we are both addicted to worship. But how can I possibly give God my best praise if I can barely breathe doing it.” I know y’all, she is wise beyond her time. For months I watched her progress, wishing I could see the same results. Every time I saw her and she was looking particularly snatched that day, her words rang in my head.

Soon after, my other super-duper saved friend Shardey started strength training again. When I met her, she had been training hard. I watched her get stronger. I watched her as the pounds fell off and she sculpted her body into what she wanted it to be. I wished I could see the same results.

I started going back to the gym yet again. I worked out several times with a few friends and their company was great. But I still felt like I was running in circles. I wanted to see the same results as my friends. But truth was I hadn’t seen them because I was standing in my own path. Fear of failure, fear of being pushed out of my comfort zone had left me stranded in the same body and physical health that threatened my self-worth. Enough was enough. I reached out to the trainer dude and I finally hired him.

I really had no idea what I had just gotten myself into when I hired Kenny. But from our very first meeting, I was left feeling like I made the right decision. As we discussed my fitness goals he began talking about how my physical health directly tied into my mental and spiritual wellbeing. I clearly remember his words, “what you are about to do will push you outside of your comfort zone and prepare you mentality for what you are trying to accomplish spiritually.” I remember thinking “oh he’s good, he must have practiced this speech a million times.”

When we began our training sessions, right off the bat he pushed me. My work outs with him were harder than anything I had ever done alone at the gym. Yet I felt more accomplished than I had ever felt before. He was tough, yet encouraging and I appreciated both. The nutrition plan I started was strict and being that I’ve battled with food addiction my whole life I was terrified I’d fail. But he reminded me that even if I messed up one day it was no excuse to give up on my goals. Start fresh the next day. For the first time in my entire life I felt like not only could I conquer my work outs, but I could overcome my struggle with nutrition too. But what I wasn’t expecting was that he asked me about my goals outside of fitness. He asked me about my spoken word and writing and encouraged me to make sure I was pursuing them too. We weren’t friends. I didn’t know him, he didn’t know me. I hired him to make me skinny, so why did it matter? But I remembered our first meeting. I remembered Janae’s words about being able to give God her best praise. I remembered the many times Shardey talked about her fitness goals she also mentioned her body being God’s temple.

It is no coincidence that the two women I turn to the most for spiritual accountability are now the same two I turn to for accountability in this fitness journey. God’s plans are well thought out and designed long before we can see the bigger picture. Because the fact is, pushing yourself physically to become healthier and stronger can break you down mentally and spiritually if you are not prepared. Like Kenny said, the three go together. It was no mistake that my prayer partners, my intercessors, my spiritual warriors are also the most understanding in my fitness journey. We are all on the same path and together we will be undefeatable.

I mentioned to Kenny I had low key stalked his social media the past year before I decided to hire him and he responded “see that’s weird” with a little laugh. He’s probably right. But there was a reason it happened like that. There are a countless number of personal trainers. There are countless people who could help me. But those countless people weren’t going to be the right fit. Those countless people would not understand how what I am doing in the gym directly ties to this blog or my next performance.

I want to chase my dreams. I want to walk in God’s purpose for me. I want to change the world. But I can’t do that if I am not taking care of myself.

This first month has been incredible. I have reached goals I wasn’t expecting. I have already seen an incredible amount of growth in my strength. And when I look in the mirror I don’t just see a body I dislike, I see a body being molded into what God wants it to be. Just last night I lifted more weight than I ever thought I could and it’s just the beginning.

So yea, maybe I’m a little obsessed. But I have a right to be, I have NEED to be. This time, things have to be different. This time I will not stop climbing until I have reached the top of this mountain and declared it be another obstacle overcome. I cannot afford for this to be for fun. This is my new forever. All I want is God and gains, and the two go hand and hand.

-Kristen

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