As a prenatal and postnatal fitness specialist, I delight in verse 25 that says this ideal noble woman is "clothed with strength" and verse 17 which, in the NAS, reads "She girds herself with strength and makes her arms strong." Me and my fellow fitness friends have had several laughs over the mental image of Solomon's weightlifting wives. Inevitably, however, the conversation turns to one big question: How?
How do I find time for "strengthening my arms" with everything else on that list? How do I exercise when my body is hurting and sore from bearing and caring for children? Well, ladies, I have such a sweet blessing of an answer for these questions, and I hope it brings you hope. Just as I have confessed my struggle with several parts of this scriptural passage, let me now encourage you in yours with my professional expertise in women's fitness.
First, let me say that I have such a desire to reach Christian women with the good news that motherhood doesn't have to equal sacrificing their health. God didn't design us to have babies and fall apart. He designed us to become stronger with each birth. Eve's curse means pain in childbirth, but we serve Jehovah Jireh, our provider, our healer, and the anatomy of our bodies is designed to heal itself after each pregnancy and injury.
However, our current culture does not support the patterns that yield that metamorphosis anymore, does it? You have likely shuddered at what's available to you in terms of "shredding" and "ripping" and "chiseling" your abs and backside back to their pre-pregnancy state, all in the company of scantily dressed models that you are certain have never experienced motherhood. Our Creator's plan for your fitness is so different.
Consider these verses in light of working out:
- Matthew 11:30 "For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." Jesus doesn't ask us to beat ourselves up spiritually or physically! You can be gentle to your body. Besides, if we were to stay as busy as the Proverbs 31 woman, we'd likely be in pretty good shape through all that functional movement! Ask yourself what simple movements are already built into your day, and figure out how to string them together. For example: dust for 10 minutes, vacuum for 10 minutes, wash windows for 10 minutes, all combined for 30 minutes of physical activity.
- Hebrews 12:1 -- "... let us run with endurance the race that is set before us." Not run with sprints? No, we are to run with endurance, and that means setting a pace for ourselves that we can sustain. Buying workouts that promise huge results in short periods of time through long, strenuous routines will not be a sustainable pace. Ask yourself what physical activity you would ENJOY and feel ENERGIZED doing every day.
- Ecclesiastes 8:9 -- "All this I have seen and applied my mind to every deed that has been done under the sun wherein a man has exercised authority over another man to his hurt." This one convicts me deeply, dear ladies, because as a group fitness instructor, I have done this. The fitness world taught me "no pain, no gain." My degree taught me that soreness is necessary for true muscle growth. But my experience has taught me that I do not need to hurt myself or hurt others to promote health. Ask yourself if your current routine helps you be a better woman or leaves you so worn down, sore, or even injured that you cannot function for your family.
I could write so many more verses that have spoken to me as ministering tools to help other women understand that our Lord wants our bodies to function the way they were created to function. Childbirth can tear us apart. Old sports injuries can keep us hobbling around. We can either accept that dysfunction or seek healing, not just through prayer, but real action.
Discern exactly which physical strongholds that Satan has tricked you into accepting: Do you have a bad knee? Are you abs split in a diastasis? Does your lower back bother you all the time? Ask around for resources to help you begin treating these issues, so that you can be a stronger woman of character in your community!
Find a physical therapist in your area who specializes in women's issues. Bowel and bladder trouble are health issues that should be addressed not ignored.
Ask for accountability from your family when it comes to walking and staying active in other ways. Katy Bowman of Aligned and Well says that walking facilitates all the mechanisms necessary for life.
What if it costs money? How will you find time? Well, let's consider some truly hard and emotional questions... Ready? How much will your physical health issues cost your family down the road if you don't address them now? How much does it cost your kids every time you tell them you can't pick them up because your back hurts? How much does it cost your community when you can't volunteer for physical activities? How much will you spend in purchasing pads to hide your leaking? How much time will you spend in bed next week or - later in life - in a rest home, if you don't strengthen yourself now? Read my story about deciding to get knee surgery by clicking HERE.
Oh, those questions make me uncomfortable just asking them, but we must ask them! We must take care of ourselves! We must count the cost of our health choices today and realize that a few minutes of loving movement and self-care today means more ability to fulfill Proverbs 31 to our families and communities. God's plan is NOT for you to give up when you're injured, obese, weak, or just simply tired. Jesus came so you could have abundant life, and have life to the fullest.
CEO and Founder of Fit2B Studio
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