For most of my life I have enjoyed some sort of a fitness routine. I have definitely been through some peaks and valleys concerning how routine I really was. There were the aerobic/step classes that went away due to a college budget (although I did not miss step kicking into my neighbor or jump jacking my way into a mirrored wall...I know that you are supposed to eventually "get it" but I never did). Then I tried swimming my way into good health until my schedule collided with the little swimmers program. When I took a hiatus from the gym so did my health. I decided to write my own program. I bought a bicycle and made a decision to ride five miles a day. This would have worked if I would have sprinkled some other activities throughout my weekly rides. Limiting your body to one type of exercise, IE riding a bike around town, results in shin splints and overworked hamstrings.
Once my career took off, or took me off on a three year 90% traveling regimen I had to put away the bike and become fitnessly (new blog word and I think a marketing gem) creative. I began stretching and doing Yoga type movements, which gave me more energy for longer hours and stamina for all of those days on the road. I eventually invested in some DVDs for my laptop, a mat, and some bands (not the musical kind) and found myself desiring a healthier menu and more restful choices.
So there I was stretched out and happy with my little comfortable weekly workout program. My daily twenty minute workout kept my health good, got me through two pregnancies, and helped to keep my calendar productive. I would even spice up things sporadically by lifting some small weights and enjoying summer swims. I had a plan and I had stuck to it....comfortable, accomplished, steady...why should I change?
Well, my husband began a new workout program and after a few weeks significant results began to manifest. So I decided to learn his new approach and what kind of commitment his program required. At first I caught myself making excuses like "That is just not for me," or "I just had a baby," and of course the kicker, "I have my workout all ready established... it works for me.".
Now I am not advocating making unwise choices or jumping in over your head without having laid proper ground work, but there is also the other side of never challenging yourself to move to the next level. I had to get "real" with my choices and make a decision to breakout of my comfort zone if I wanted a new set of results. This required the ability to let go of my cozy lifestyle and to press through (literally push-ups, squats, power crunches...need I say more) to the end of my workout set, even though it did not feel good.
Whether it is exercising or stretching ourselves to the next level, in our spiritual walk our comfort zone perimeter must be accessed and continually challenged. Just like with fitness we learn and grow a little more with each movement and repetition. Resting is important but too much can cause us to become stagnant or trapped in the pride of what we have accomplished causing us to use our trophy as an excuse instead of an incentive.
With each step I move forward and just like a personal trainer would say, "It is okay to take a break, but just don't quit," and "If you want the results you have got to keep going". As I spend time with the Lord and ask for his wisdom and knowledge I remind myself that I am not where I used to be, but if I don't want to return I must keep on challenging myself for daily improvement. God, my life coach, knows exactly how to motivate me, because "Well done, good and faithful servant," (Matt 25:21), are the words that I strive to hear at the end of my life's workout.