And So We Talked About Exercise

by Audrey on March 3rd, 2014

​For those of you who check this website from time to time, or follow my ministry in any way, you are aware that I have been teaching all things pertaining to the body this year.

I covered this topic from three different angles - much like a photographer might take a photo from three different angles.  All three photos would overlap - each having some of the same images in the photo, yet each one would be from a different perspective.  As I covered this topic, the first photo focused on our look - how we dress, how we carry ourselves.  The second photo focused on our bodies and how we are so obsessed with trying to make them perfect.  And the third photo focused on glorifying God with our bodies.  All three photos have some of the same images, yet from a different angle.  

I told our women that in the last message, I would share my own exercise story before making some closing remarks.  

My Exercise Story

I was very active growing up.  I loved the outdoors.  I grew up with no choice about working in the garden, at the barn, in the house, in the flower beds.  It was just what we did. One of the often repeated phrases I heard when I was growing up was, “Get outside and play.”  So I did.

I always cared about my body – but never really had a weight problem. When I entered college, I had my heart set on being a journalism major. As an incoming new student, I began taking courses to prepare myself, and I even took a job at the UNC News Bureau that I loved. I worked there three years.
But also, as a freshman adjusting to college life and as so many freshmen do, I gained some weight. Not the "freshman fifteen," but I added a quick ten. So to get those creeping pounds off, I began to run with some girls on my hall. 
We would typically do this at night, after studying, and after gathering in someone’s room to gossip and eat junk food. The running paid off. I saw the ten, then fifteen fall off and I decided then that I wanted running to be a regular part of my life - forever. Not only were the extra pounds gone, but I felt absolutely great.  I still ate junk food sometimes, but not as a constant habit. As time progressed, my focus shifted from journalism to health and by my sophomore year, I changed my major to Health Education.
I kept writing, however. I wrote stories, poetry, book reviews, essays, and eventually all kinds of pieces about health and physical activity. I wrote some articles for a few small local papers - one being my hometown county newspaper. 
In my final two years of college, and especially during my internship, I gave health talks in different venues and to different groups from elementary schools to senior citizens. 
It was fun and encouraging and kept me focused.

Then I got married, and then I had children.  And in all of this time, instead of using  my college degree on the general public – I used it on my children and me. 

Being physically active was just how Carl and I raised them.  

Though I started running as a habit in my freshman year in college, there was a blip in the road.  It happened with my first baby.  I stopped running, ate like a pig, and gained 54 pounds with my pregnancy.  Eating chocolate covered raisins at night didn’t help.  Not running during the pregnancy didn’t help.  Big tent dresses didn’t help.  Somehow, I just thought those pounds would magically fall off after he was born.  Didn’t happen. 

When my son was 3 months old, I was surprised that basically 36 extra pounds were still attached to my body.   So, to get something done about this, I called my doctor’s office and said to Betty, my nurse, “I’m still fat.”

I don't know what I expected from her.  She was this sweet, petite, fifty-something woman whom I had grown to love.  She had such a wonderful mothering heart and I just knew she would empathize with me.

However,  she simply said,  “Audrey, get outside and push that baby in the stroller and quit eating so much.”   

No sympathy, no stroking – she just told me what I knew was true and exactly what I needed to hear. 

I took her advice.  I got outside and pushed that baby so much and for so long that by the time he was 11 months old, the weight was gone plus some.  I pushed that baby so much – that  I started running with him in tow.  And I didn’t even have a jogger. 

But I found out a few things:  1) I didn’t want to eat so much - my appetite changed.  2) I didn’t want to spoil my run with fattening foods.  3) I slept better and felt better. 4) Clothes fit better.  

When I got pregnant with my second child, I was determined not to gain 54 pounds.   I kept a log of everything I ate and I mean everything (it's amazing how writing it down affected what I put in my mouth) – along with every mile I ran.  With him, I gained 30 pounds and began pushing that baby as soon as I could. The weight was gone by the time he was  three months old.

As our house began to fill up with young children – I either ran when Carl was home, or did aerobics while the children napped.  Sometimes they just joined me.  They liked to jump around with me.   I ran while they rode their bikes alongside me.  We did races.  Also, in a pinch, I would run laps around our house with a baby monitor on the front steps if a baby was napping.  Lots of people think that’s boring but how is it any more boring than going to a gym and running on a treadmill? 

As I’ve grown older, my weight has crept up a few times. I know that's a natural thing - metabolism slows and it's easy to gain weight even if you're eating the same.

I especially began to notice it when I entered my forties –  so I added distance/frequency/speed to my running and I also began to cross train again with aerobics. 

Each time  weight dropped off without dieting or some special plan.   It was gradual – but it came off.

I am determined to keep running and doing aerobics as long as God has given me a body with which to do it.  And I know with each year, metabolism will continue to slow down and the body changes and it wants to accumulate extra weight – so I have to be intentional.  I have to make my body my slave. 

Benefits of Running

I love running.   It clears my mind.  The sweat feels good.  I like to imagine all the stress and toxins leaving my body with every drop.  I like the feel of salty skin and sticky hair.  I even like running in the rain.  I like the thud of my feet on the ground. I like hearing the birds.  I like seeing the trees.  

I like it too because of all the ways you can use your mind while you're running.  You can pray - listen to music - listen to a sermon - listen to Scripture - practice Scripture you've memorized.  I like running because you can do it by yourself.  You don't need to gather people to form a team.  I've run in a few races over the years, and that was fun - but I much prefer running alone.  The only exception was running with my children when they were growing up and now, I love running with my grandchildren.  It's different than running alone in terms of goal-setting and listening to music.  But it is incredibly fun, challenging, and refreshing.

Running is inexpensive.  The only expenses are a good pair of shoes and a very good running bra.  I would run barefoot if I wouldn’t tear up the bottom of my feet.  Though I have been known to run in flip flops. 

I try to run at least an hour 5 days a week. I can't always do this if I am traveling  - but there are many ways to get exercise.   Sometimes I have thought about investing in a treadmill for weather issues – but on those days, I usually do aerobics or run in place.  And most people I know (except my daughters-in-law), who purchase a treadmills – assemble, admire, turn them on, dust them (or not), look at them, and finally sell them. 

I have learned that running is always flexible even with the changing dynamic of family.  You can run while your children bicycle next to you.  You can run laps while watching your children play in the yard.  You can go to a park and run. You can do races with your children.  Children who grow up with physically active parents tend to be physically active their whole lives.  They tend to keep themselves fit. 

With running, you don’t have to be fast.  I’m not fast - unless you think a 10-minute mile is fast. Sometimes I can do an 8 minute mile but sometimes I'm dragging and it's a 12 or 13-minute mile. I just keep at it.   You just have to get your heart rate up so that it is a true aerobic activity and sustain that pace for at least 40 minutes.  When you first start out, I know this is too much. But you start out with whatever you can do, and then push yourself.  I brushed up on my college textbooks and purchased some books from trusted experts on physical fitness.  I applied what I was learning in a fresh way.  I measured myself and weighed myself and watched my eating.  I got out my jump rope that I used when I crosstrained in college.  I was determined.  I wanted to be a healthy mother.

I hope this encourages you.  When I first began running, I couldn’t go a quarter of a mile without being winded.  But I kept at it – I did a walk/run. I set goals for myself.  And when I reached a mile without stopping at my target heart rate – I cannot tell you how I felt. I was over the moon. 

But please remember – although I love running – it's not the best for everyone.  I know there can be all kinds of issues - but the good news is there are all kinds of exercise!  The very best exercise for you is the one you will actually do.  

Let me write that again:  The very best exercise for you is the one you will actually do.  

Other Fitness Factors

Unless pushed for time or it’s raining – I park in the farthest spot; that way I get in a little extra exercise.  You can waste a lot of time driving around in a parking lot looking for the closest spot.  Save those spots anyway- for the mother with several toddlers or the truly disabled.  You’re not disabled just because you’re tired.  The brisk walk will energize you.

I usually take the stairs unless I can’t find them. Generally speaking, I walk fast.  I work fast. I move fast. 

Over the years, I have used 5 pound weights to tone my arms when I didn't have little children to carry around (it's amazing how toned my arms stayed without using weights when I had small children).  I've done traditional crunches and leg lifts and stretches. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve added some Crossfit routines at the encouragement of one of my sons – it’s astonishing what you can do on the floor in your living room.   

As far as gyms are concerned - I have had times in my life when I have gone with a friend. When we first moved to Beaufort, I had a great Marine wife friend and we would get up in the wee hours of the morning and go to the Parris Island gym.  I loved doing that with her.  But she moved away and I've never joined a gym.  I probably would if I lived close to my  nephew, who owns and operates one in North Carolina.  Living near him would be awesome because then I could workout with my sister, Hope, which would be a win-win.  She's the one with the pink jump rope second from the right in this photo working out at her son's gym (isn't she cute?) I love this picture of her. She knows why!
My Marine son tells me I would love being part of a Crossfit gym.  And I will say, when we're traveling or on vacation, I take advantage of gyms because I'm a big baby about running in unfamiliar areas.  

Food Factors

Generally I eat what I want – fruits, vegetables, protein, dairy, and fiber.  And plenty of water.  Those should be the building blocks of a healthy diet anyway.  It's difficult to keep up with all the caution out there about GMOs and other food concerns (which change every year), not to mention everything including soaps, detergents, lotions.  We can get so caught up in the minute details that we worry ourselves to death - and worrying about every little thing can quickly become an idol in our lives.  We must trust God.  We live in a fallen world and we just simply cannot control everything.

God gives great instruction and comfort in His word about how He provides everything we need in this life.  I love 2 Peter 1:2-6 and how God reminds us that He has given us EVERYTHING pertaining to life and godliness.  Then He gives us a list of very important character qualities we are to be intentional in increasing . . . 

"Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.  For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust. Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."

He also encourages us in Matthew 6:25-33

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body,as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much moreclothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

We walk with God, obey Him, make the best decisions we can, and trust Him.  Also, there's  a lot of money to be made by playing on the health fears of people.  God doesn't want us to trust in our health or our food or our drink - He wants us to trust Him.  And He has told us what is good ~ He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

So as I walk with God, I  watch my habits/patterns.  Sometimes my habits get away from me. For example,  I LOVE ice cream.  I would be so skinny if it weren’t for ice cream.  

And the fun stuff? All the stuff laden with sugars and fat that are so delicious?  Moderation. The problem comes when we pack it in.  

Some Common Sense 

To lose weight, you have to eat less/exercise more.  No tricks, no gimmicks, no fads.    Calories consumed must be less than calories expended.  Period.  Most people do not have a glandular problem or some hidden issue.  The main issue for the overweight is eating too much and exercising too little.  

To maintain weight, calories consumed must be the same as calories expended. 

To gain weight, calories consumed must be more than calories expended. 

This photo was taken after one of my runs back in the day.  My baby boy was in the stroller while my older boys rode their bikes.

Suggestions for Exercising with Young Children

  •  Invest in a good jogging stroller.   If you can afford a cell phone, cable, Internet, satellite, - you can afford a good stroller.
  • Use music like The Donut Man or Kids Praise or Veggies Tales  (anything with a good beat)  and jog in place or dance in your living room.  Your children will love it!!  Even a tiny baby loves to see Mama jump around in front of him.  I still remember the sweet face of my second little boy when he was 3 months old - sitting in his bouncy seat watching mommy bounce.  Some images are forever etched in your mind.
  • Purchase an aerobic DVD and do it while the children are napping or having a rest time.  Or they can do it with you!  Guaranteed fun!!
  • Go for a run when your husband gets home.
  • Trade childcare with a friend who wants to get in shape as much as you do.
  • Get outside and play tag with your children.   Run sprints, do relay races, play soccer or baseball or football or childhood games like Red Rover, Kick the Cans, and 1,2,3 Redlight.  Jump rope with your children and say rhymes. Play hopscotch.  Do three-legged races.  Or like one of my daughters-in-law, purchase a set of children's bowling pins and bowl with your children.  These things are so much fun - and there's more: croquet and all kinds of lawn games.  
  • Go for bike rides.  Make the investment in a bicycle baby seat.
  • Young children love to be active.  Use it to your advantage.  Instead of trying to get  your children to calm down when they really need a little exercise,  go outside and actively play  with them or you can set up a chair and cheer them on.  The outdoors, even for a short while, is so good for them (and you), and it will tire them out and make quiet time in the afternoon a welcomed friend, instead of the dreaded enemy of all things fun.
  •  Take lots of walks together.  I know this seems like common sense - taking walks together - but so many families just do not do this simple activity.  It is like a balm.  Children love it and it gives them much needed family time.  So many wonderful things are accomplished - talking, exploring, bonding . . .
Closing Thoughts I shared as we finished the series:

1 Peter 1:13-16 tells us, "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,  but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;  because it is written, 'You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”

See, one way holiness is expressed  is in the physical realm.  
Our bodies are not ours-God owns them. We are stewards of all He gives us, and we need to be good stewards of our bodies as well.
 The fruit of the Spirit  is self-control and it is with self-control that we deny both gluttony and starvation and obsessive attention to the body.
As we renew our minds with Scripture, we are able to see past the superficiality and plastic of our culture's demands and reject the extreme makeovers and eating disorders that want to master us and eventually destroy us.
Just as the Lord saw Adam and Eve’s problem – that they had a problem of the heart, so God sees your heart.

1 Samuel 16:7 tells us, "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

You may look pretty good on the outside – your muscles may be all toned, and your face flawless -  but God knows who your master is.  He wants to be your master.

1 Peter 3:3-4 tells us, "Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God."

He wants that hidden person of your heart -  He wants you from the inside out.

Physical appearance is important to God in that it reveals the glory of His creative abilities.
We are to appreciate the beauty God has given us. 
We’ve been reminded through this series I've taught at Woman's Life  that God created each of us to look exactly as we do, for His own perfect reasons.
No matter what we do – no matter how we try to improve ourselves and despite our very best efforts, we will never even come close to the beauty and majesty of God.
Our very bodies were formed in His image. In ways we cannot understand, we reflect the beauty of the Lord.
God places some value on appearances – if He did not, we would all look the same. It is not a wrong thing for us to notice and appreciate physical appearance as well.
God judges our hearts, not our physical appearance. It is the inner man that is an even greater creation. We have souls that will never be destroyed, that live on forever in heaven or hell.
Scripture teaches that our outward appearance should not be our focus. Yet for so many of us, it is.  And see, if the reason you try to be the perfect weight, wear the best clothes, have facial treatments,  and surgeries is so that you can impress other people, then you have become your own god.  Your  physical appearance has become idolatry.
We should be humbly aware of our appearance – wanting to glorify God through it -  rather than trying to conform to the world’s standards.
Sometimes, as we women grow spiritually – we assume that we shouldn’t care at all about the outside.  We conclude that all attention to physical appearance is vain. This too is a wrong perspective.
God wants us to reflect His beauty.
The caution is this:  we must guard our hearts from anything that pulls us away from God, including the often extreme emphasis the world places on appearances.
God does not want us to love the world or anything in it (1 John 2:15) and we are not to think as the world does (Romans 12:2).
 God has shown us His own amazing power and beauty and love in an incredibly diverse creation.
We should be humble, not committing idolatry in worshiping the created - ourselves -  but rather we are to worship the Creator Who is blessed forever.
Some women who are reading this are very far away from God.
And your fascination and preoccupation with your  physical image is just a symptom of that  separation.
We’ve learned that it’s not about the food, the surgeries, the dieting – God wants to use those things to draw you to Himself.
He is holy – we are sinful.  Our sin separates us from a holy God.  And God said that the wages of sin is death.  Man must die. 
That’s why God became a man.  Jesus took on a human body – He became a man so that He could die in your place. 
He left the glory and majesty of heaven to become like us – to live in this sinful world.  He took on a body – a physical body that felt all the effects of sin.  He was God – He was sinless yet He humiliated Himself by taking on flesh.
He endured beatings, His body suffered.  Nails were driven in His hands, a spear was thrust in His side, a crown of thorns was pushed down on His head.
Blood poured from His body.  This sinless Son of God was disfigured for you and me. 
He did just the opposite of what you and I do.
We clamor for beauty and the perfect body.  He left beauty and perfection to walk among us. Isaiah 53 tells us that He was not handsome by the world's standards.  He had no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.  He was despised and forsaken of men.  He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  He was like on from whom men hide their face - 
Not only that but He also left heaven to become permanently disfigured - for all of eternity.  Read these words from John 20 - the day after His resurrection, when He appeared to the twelve:
"So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.'  And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side.  The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
So Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.'  And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.'  But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.  So the other disciples were saying to him, 'We have seen the Lord!' But he said to them, 'Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.'  After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, 'Peace be with you.'  Then He said to Thomas, Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.'  Thomas answered and said to Him, 'My Lord and my God!'  Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.'"

In His resurrected body – the scars remain.  And when we meet Him face to face – we will see them.

Will you one day see Him face to face?  I mean, have you believed?

God promises that those who truly believe have passed from death unto life, and are secure forever in His hand.
 The Apostle John wrote, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)
In this one verse comes this truth -- what we are and what we shall be centers solely in the person and work of Jesus Christ. 
And if you are a believer, God says this about you:

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;  who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself."  Philippians 3:20-21

What a way to end a wonderful study.  I am eagerly waiting for my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of my humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.  What a day that will be.

Posted in Biblical Womanhood, Fitness    Tagged with no tags


Anthea - April 1st, 2014 at 9:42 PM
Hello Audrey

Thank you for your minstry to women.

I have enjoyed your radio programmes over the years, but I much preferred it when you had mp3 podcasts that I could download. I live in the UK, and cannot listen live. We have one computer in our home, in the front room. I would love to be able to listen to you in the kitchen. If you could fix that, I'd be very happy.

BTW, we home educate our children, so all your advice is much appreciated.

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