Confessions of a Former Gym Rat

I ran the other day for the first time in a while. Let's get one thing straight: I am not a runner. I enjoy running but I'm not good at it (yet). I'm training to run a 10K with my family this August so I've been running more. And when I mentioned this to someone, they asked me what my time was and how far I had ran. I didn't have an answer. I simply ran. I didn't have a timer or an app to tell me how many calories I burned or how fast I am.

I just ran. For the first time in a while.

No numbers, no counting, just fresh air in my lungs, feet pounding pavement, endorphins pumping through my body.

Then it hit me how glorious that fact was because I joined my first gym when I was 16. I started a serious work out regime in the 6th grade. I've meticulously recorded my calories burned, hours worked out per day, personal records, reps, sets, goal weights, current weights, starting weights.

Through high school and college, the gym became my safe haven- even despite me realizing that. That room of mirrors and shiny silver equipment, people in spandex and the smell of sweat was somehow always glamorous to me. I turned to it to make me feel better, emotionally and physically. I've found my identity and worth wrapped up in calories burned and miles ran...for years.

Those 3 or 4 little numbers, lit up red on the tread mill, has defined me and told me how beautiful and worthy and bikini ready I am for a LONG time.

Finally, at the suggestion of my boyfriend-someone who sees the red flags in my life far before I do- I quit the gym last year once and for all. Goodbye, pressure, expectations and the numbers that made me their slave for so many years. I can finally say with a thankful heart and sigh of relief those days are over.

Now I run so I can spend time being healthy with my family. I run so I can see new parks and sights around my beautiful city. I run so I can breathe fresh air after a long winter of being cooped up. I run so I can feel the burn of my lungs and the ache of my calves and know I was kind to my body today.

By quitting the gym, I have learned that what I thought was being kind to my body- working out- was really torturing and putting shackles on my mind. I do not need numbers to define my success or my strength or my personal achievement. Neither do you.

I'm not saying working out or going to the gym is bad by any means. But letting it control you is way more detrimental than working out is beneficial. There are so many ways to be kind to your body- and easing up on the unrealistic expectations of yourself is the first and most important way.

Quitting the gym has been the healthiest thing I've ever done. Now I can run without guilt of wasting money on a gym membership if I miss a day, without feeling creeped out by the skeevy personal trainers, without feeling the need to compare myself to the girls who show up to the gym with makeup on (I don't understand that one..) and without the burden of those little red numbers.

"Body and soul, I am marvelously made!" Psalm 139:14
Declare that truth over yourself today. You, body and soul, are marvelously made.