A Different Kind of Physical Fitness
I bet you’re wondering what I mean by “Christian fitness.” Well, I’ll be honest: I wasn’t quite sure what it meant when the concept first came to mind!
Basically, Christian Fitness (or Christ-centered Fitness) is a different kind of physical fitness that focuses more on honoring and glorifying God with our bodies than on seeking honor and glory for ourselves (1 Corinthians 6:12-20). When we shift our focus, our priorities change.
My guess is that if you’re reading this blog, focusing on honoring God with your body is important to you!
The integration of faith and fitness is also a helpful way to promote the achievement of health goals. One recent systemic review cites that physical activity programming conducted in faith-based organizations improved measures of health and fitness for participants (1).
So now that you know what Christian Fitness is and how it can be helpful overall, let’s talk about what it is NOT.
How Diet Culture Can Hijack Christian Fitness Goals
Can you imagine what the opposite of Christ-centered Fitness might look like? Here are some examples that may sound familiar:
- Obsession with weight loss and thinness
- Extreme or restrictive dieting behaviors focused on physique/muscle-toning/performance
- Excessive exercise focused on physique/muscle-toning/performance
Based on the above examples, it may sound like I’m bashing certain sports and activities that may involve these things (i.e. body-building, fitness competitions, etc.). However, it is not the sports themselves but the pressures these sports impose on their athletes and the motives that are to blame (2).
If your main purpose for physical fitness is to transform your body, this is likely because of diet culture’s influence on you. Fixation on body image is a surefire way to steer away from Christ-centered fitness goals.
But does that mean we shouldn’t care about our body image at all? No! I talk more about biblical body image in this post.
It does mean that our body image isn’t the driving force behind our pursuit of fitness when we fix our eyes on Christ.
At The Joyfully Nourished Life, I believe that one of the best ways to shift our focus back on Christ is to incorporate Intuitive Eating into the mix!
Intuitive Eating as an Integral Part of Christian Fitness
Intuitive Eating itself isn’t associated with any specific faith or religion. However, this is one of the great things about it because it is so universal in many ways.
The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating build on one another to help individuals 1) find attunement with their bodies’ natural physical cues to meet biological and psychological needs, and 2) learn how to block or remove obstacles to that attunement that stem from diet culture and other internal or external sources (3).
That’s just a fancy way of saying “if you’re a human being with a rational mind and physical sensations, Intuitive Eating is for you!”
Christian Fitness and Intuitive Eating go hand-in-hand because God created your body intelligently. Your body functions in such as way that you can truly listen to it to learn how to use it well.
But it doesn’t end there: you can also entrust it to an omniscient and omnipotent Heavenly Father who deserves all your praise and glory for all that it does for you. Yes and Amen!
The 3 Keys of Christian Fitness
Christian Fitness Goal #1: Prioritize living well for the glory of God
When it comes to diet culture, we are surrounded by self-glorification. It’s about striving for “perfection” in order to be more desirable. But you, dear friend, are called to make God more desirable through your lifestyle, choices, and love for him! Let health and fitness be a platform for sharing the good news of salvation in Christ.
Christian Fitness Goal #2: Treat food and nutrition as a gift: with utmost gratitude and enjoyment
Having a variety of delicious foods to eat that nourish your body and soul is something to be thankful for!
When you set yourself apart as someone who has a healthy relationship with all foods and doesn’t label foods as “good or bad,” people will notice. It will also help you figure out what foods help your unique body feel and function its best without resorting to restrictive diets.
Christian Fitness Goal #3: Treat movement like an investment: the better the strategy, the better the return
If you think about exercise as an investment in your future health and vitality, it hits different!
When you plan your time and activities wisely to include types of fitness training that are also Intuitive Exercise (more on that topic here), you’ll have a much better return on your investment than if you were to haphazardly throw yourself into a weight loss or fitness program that isn’t suitable for your body’s needs or capacity.
Key Takeaways: The 3 Keys to Christian Fitness and Why Intuitive Eating Should Be Part of Your Plan
Which of these Christian Fitness goals is your favorite? How can you apply them to your unique Joyfully Nourished Life journey? Feel free to share in the comments below!
Much love, friends! <3
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Much love, friends!