Almost 11 years ago I became a runner. After my second daughter was born I wanted to lose the baby weight in a healthy way. I joined the gym and adjusted some of my eating habits. Nothing too extreme. I didn’t just want to lose weight; I wanted to keep it off. It was necessary that I change my eating habits. After a few weeks of going to the gym, I could feel a difference in how I felt, but the weight was coming off slowly. I was aware that this was the healthy way to do it, but I needed a long term goal to keep me motivated. My long term goal became running a marathon.
I researched everything there was about running a marathon, picked a plan and began. The first day I couldn’t even run down my block without having to stop for a walk break. Soon, I was running around the entire block without stopping. I can still remember the first time I ran a mile without stopping like it was yesterday. I was in San Antonio. It was a wonderful feeling and sense of accomplishment. I guess that’s when I became hooked. I ran my first marathon six months later and by 2013 I had run 9 marathons, 1 ultra (40 miles), 5 half marathons, a few 15k, 10k, and 5ks. I became a certified running coach and USATF coach. I volunteered as a track and field coach for a school. Running became my identity.
There are many reasons why I loved running. The truth is that it saved me from depression and misery. Not just the running itself, but the community I had because of running. When I was out running, it was a break. I had no one asking me to do things. I had a break from being a mom and a wife. The accomplishment of crossing the finish line was mine. That was something no one could take from me or take credit for. The more I ran, the farther I ran, the more I knew I was a capable of. It was running that helped me realize that I could do anything I set my mind to. All I needed was consistency and persistence.
In 2015 my world was turned upside down when my ex-husband moved out. Years of dealing with his addictions and abuse had brought me to a low that I won’t share in this blog, but living in a new place where I didn’t have any friends and him not being around caused me to have to change my fitness regime. Running long distances was no longer an option with 2 little girls at home and no one to watch them on a consistent basis. I went to church to a small group fair and that day I found a beautiful strong woman who became like a mother, friend, sister, and mentor all in one, Robin Barnes.
Fayetteville Fit Group, led by Robin, is a community fitness group in Fayetteville, NC. The story of Robin Barnes is one to stand on it’s own, but after I met Robin, I was introduced by such incredible people and most of them attended my church, Manna Church. I quickly found myself surrounded by a community of believers who were invested in their health as much as I was. I became a Beachbody Coach, attended Robin’s free fitness group, learned how to properly eat, became certified as a group instructor in many different workouts, and started teaching classes in a local gym, as well at church. I lost 25 lbs over the course of 1.5 years. I’d love to give all the credit to my fitness and nutrition, but the reality is that the last 6 months I wasn’t eating much at all. I was living on coffee and small snacks just so that I wouldn’t wither away because I was teaching classes almost every day and doing my own workouts.
Fitness, being healthy, coaching, etc was how I coped during the most difficult time of my entire life. Honestly, considering the fact that I wasn’t looking to Jesus for comfort, if it wasn’t for fitness and the community I met through it, I don’t know where I’d be right now. With that being said, running, fitness, nutrition, it all became how I coped. Now although I could have coped in my unhealthier ways, the truth of the matter is that fitness became an idol for me. Where I should have been going to Jesus for comfort, I was turning to fitness. How can that be so bad, many would ask. It’s not drugs or alcohol or sex. Well, I’ll be completely honest with you. 1.5 years later, I was the most fit I had ever been. I felt great in everything I wore. I was very confident, but I was hopeless. I felt completely and utter hopelessness. I was in a black hole that I felt I was never going to get out of. Fitness couldn’t offer me hope.
3 years ago I had an encounter with God in my kitchen that changed my life. Lots has happened, but I’m in a place in my life where I want to start running again. I want to be fit. It’s been a struggle emotionally and mentally getting back into it. There are so many negative thoughts, memories and emotions tied to fitness now. I’ve been pushing through all of that because it’s necessary that I live a healthy lifestyle and I will not allow fear to keep me from my goals and dreams. I want to run marathons again. I want to be fit. I just need to learn how to do that without it becoming my entire life.
This morning I spent some time soaking in the Psalms of David. I then went out and worshipped while I ran. As I ran I was meditating on the Psalms I had read earlier and at times even lift my hands in worship while I was running. How freeing! I lost a few dreams when I went through the dark times, but they are coming back. It’s hard to put into words how scary it is to even allow myself to dream those dreams again. Not because they are bad dreams, but because they were tied to some really horrible times in my life. Many words that hurt were spoken to me during those times. Lots of manipulation and control. To be honest, until today I have a hard time knowing what was said in truth and what was lies in an attempt to manipulate. Well, I know what’s truth and lies in reality, but sometimes the words and actions are as vivid today as they were when they were actually happening. It is the truth of my Father’s words and promises that are helping push me through past the pain to a place of healing (when it comes to fitness and health).
I have been healed in so many ways and I know that I am healed in this as well. I will continue to push through and overcome the enemy’s attempt at destroying me with hurtful memories. Like many memories of the past, these too will become just memories where there is no pain associated with them. All things have been new. He is my shelter. I am hidden in Him.
I guess that’s all I have to say for today…Until next time.