Those of you who know me well, and those of you who follow my blog know that I go to the gym on a regular basis. I’ve been going faithfully for about a year and a half (give or take) and I can tell you that it has made a huge difference. Not only in how I look but more importantly in how I feel. Every time I leave the gym I feel more alert, more energized, stronger and accomplished. And I’m healthier too. I started at the gym with my goals being to gain some weight, tone up and get stronger. As of now, I’ve put on almost 10 pounds and I’m actually proud of that fact!
Being at the gym for any lengthly amount of time, you observe all kinds of people. There’s the mom, with her kids in tow behind her so that she can have some time to work on herself for a change. (The gym I go to has a daycare.) There’s the “bodybuilders” (men and women alike) who I’m not too sure how they even got through the front door without having to turn sideways. There’s the elderly “late gym bloomers” who have decided to attempt to turn back the hands of time in the “winter season” of life. And then there’s the “gym bunnies.”
Out of all the different types of people you can possibly run into at a gym, this group is by far the one that actually gets under my skin a little. I’ll explain why. I remember not too long ago while I was attempting to conquer some cardio on the elliptical, there was another girl over by the weights section. She couldn’t have been older than 19 or 20. She was dressed in matching tights and a sports bra and sneakers, her hair neatly up in a pony tail and make up. Her “look” was clearly intentionally planned and coordinated. When she wasn’t on her phone, she was positioned in front of the mirror lifting what appeared to be 3 or 5 pound weights, never taking her eyes off of herself. After lifting a 3 pound free weight a few times, she then stood up, gave her best supermodel wanna be pose and took several selfies of herself in front of the mirror. She then gave her phone to her friend and proceeded to do a handstand against the wall to which she then asked her girlfriend, “Does it look better with both my legs up or with just one leg up? Actually just take both.” For the next few minutes they critiqued and scrutinized over which gym selfie to post. Complete with the hashtag #gymlife no doubt.
I couldn’t help but laugh to myself because this girl didn’t even break a sweat or do any heavy lifting whatsoever. Her fingers got more of a work out on her phone more than her body did. She wasn’t there to really work. She wasn’t there to sweat or put in any amount of real effort. She wasn’t there to see change. She wasn’t there to get stronger or to improve her health. She was clearly there to look cute, take some brag worthy pictures for appearances on social media and go home. Ladies and gentlemen, The Gym Bunny.
If there is one thing I have learned from going to the gym is that if you wanna see change, if you wanna get stronger, you gotta sweat! And in order to sweat you need to either add more weight or some type of resistance. If there isn’t some level of difficulty or even slight discomfort, you’re just wasting your time.
When I first started at the gym, I started light. I didn’t want to injure myself so I began with 10 pound free weights for my biceps. When that become too easy, I stepped up to the 12 pounders and so on etc. A year and a half later, I was able to do 20 pound free weights, which were actually starting to feel a bit too easy after awhile as well. So I’ve recently started using the “long bar” type of weights and I can lift 40 pounds for my biceps now.
The way I knew I needed to go to the next weight level was because the level I was at was becoming too easy. What used to feel difficult, I could now do with relative ease. There wasn’t as much resistance like there was when I first used that particular weight size. My body and my muscles had become stronger and used to that amount of weight. If I was serious about building strength, I couldn’t stay at the weight level that I was at. I had to add more resistance. More weight. Otherwise, my body would plateau and I would actually start to lose some of the progress that I had made. I had come so far from where I had started and was proud of what I had accomplished so far, I didn’t want to plateau. I didn’t want to lose momentum. I wanted to keep going. To keep getting stronger.
I think we make the mistake of expecting life to be easy and smooth sailing. No one ever guaranteed this to us, yet somehow we’ve, especially in North American culture, adopted the mindset that we all have a right to an easy life. With as little resistance as possible. This is certainly not the case for millions of people around the world who face all forms of adversity on a regular basis. Hardships that here in North America, we can’t even begin to imagine. And if we do run up against any form of adversity, we throw a fit because things didn’t go our way. We expected easy but instead we’ve experienced more weight than sometimes we feel we can bare at the time.
One of my favourite verses from the Bible says this, “Whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4
Having joy, endurance, being strong in character and ready for anything doesn’t automatically come to us naturally. It’s learned. It’s a choice. It’s built up and gets stronger over a period of time and under an intense amount of pressure. Just like you can’t build up muscle without resistance, discomfort and added weight, you can’t build up your character, endurance and the ability to be able to take on anything life throws at you without hard times. Without pressure.
When we go through difficulties, our first response is usually to wish it or pray it away. But I have learned recently instead to ask, ok God, what are you doing here in all of this? What are you making space for in my life? What good can possibly come of this? How can I become better? Rather than beg for things to be easy and simple, perhaps we could use the extra weight life throws on us to build us up and make us stronger so that we can be ready for the next thing that comes our way. So instead of lying down, feeling defeated under the weight of it all, we can push back and come out on the other side stronger than ever.
Every positively successful person that has ever lived, if you get to know them, has a story of heartbreak, pain, endurance, overcoming and pressure. Every person that God ever powerfully used in the Bible went through adversity and hardship. You’ve most likely heard the saying, “To whom much is given, much is required.” (A saying which is based on the words of Jesus in Luke 12:48.)
If you want to be stronger, you have to endure more weight. If you want endurance, you have to keep going even if it hurts or you don’t necessarily feel like it. If you want joy, you have to be in a situation that tries to take it from you so that you can make the conscience choice to hold onto it.
Let’s be people that aren’t afraid of difficulty. Who don’t back down because of pressure. That when life starts adding more weight you smile and say “bring it on” because you know you can handle it and are ready for anything. Because you know that God is using all of it to build you up and make you tougher than you used to be. Remind yourself that you’re not here to look cute. You’re not going to cross the finish line barely breaking a sweat. You’re here to win and to conquer…even if you have to give everything you’ve got.