As I have mentioned before, I hate exercising. I thought I really hated the elliptical, but now I long to merely do that. Because I have had to turn up the heat.
Recently, my anxiety has relapsed. I knew it was inevitable, but I have been shocked and scared of it. I was doing a lot better, using good health behaviors, those that gave me easy, consistent access to dopamine, to build up my resources so I could accomplish things without needing to flood my body with adrenaline to get things done (and my brain is well-practiced at stirring up my anxiety to produce adrenaline). And then sickness hit.
When you have a horrible virus of DOOM for a week, things understandably go by the wayside. I couldn’t exercise (because I couldn’t breathe to begin with). I was not on top of my housework. My schedule was abandoned. My work got pushed to the “do it later” pile. I did nothing musical or creative. And I could not spend time with friends (because Leggett germs are not to be shared). So basically, all my good health habits, the things that I did to build up the stores of dopamine in my system, were out of reach.
When I started to feel better, I realized HOW ABYSMALLY BEHIND I WAS. So my body fell back into old patterns of generating adrenaline to form SUPER PRODUCTIVE JO. Which produced a lot of energy, but at a high cost. Because my mind and body take those hormones raging through me and let them go wild in out-of-the-blue anxiety. So I’ve been a mix of my mind spinning, my patience razor thin, my fears expounded, my tears a thought away, and my ability to keep my eyes open unpredictable.
I want this to go away.
So my wise husband has set me back on track of my good health behaviors, which include daily exercise. But instead of my happy time on the elliptical blasting The Greatest Showman or some other soundtrack, he recommended I do higher intensity workouts like this.
I do not enjoy this workout. I’m pretty sure you have to have muscles like the ones pictured to feel successful when doing this. I mean, I’ve been doing daily moderate exercise, yet I feel like a total loser as I’m watching the countdown clock and wondering how we aren’t half finished with the 20 minutes yet! Like all self-respecting women, I turn my feelings of shame into anger and rage against the millions of types of jumping jacks they have developed (I’ve given birth too many times to do jumping jacks!). But despite my obvious dislike for everything that has to do with high intensity interval training, I obediently do these videos because I believe that my good health behaviors will transform me into a woman who is able to do more to bring God glory.
I would honestly rather not do all the hard work to manage my anxiety. First choice – an out-of-nowhere miracle of it being gone forever.
While I’m listing desired miracles, I’ll just go ahead and ask that my abs be miraculously transformed into those in that picture up there.
Except that few would really think that enough prayer will transform your body. It takes exerting a ton, painfully and consistently working, being ok with relapses, and obediently putting effort into it.
We do that, don’t we? Think that somehow our minds are not a part of our bodies? We fully understand our agency in getting our abs in shape. So why do we believe that transforming our minds requires no work on our part?
I wonder if Christians often take the passive voice in Romans 12:2 (be transformed by the renewing of your mind) to indicate that God does it all without any hard, painful effort from me. He certainly can, but it’s not consistent with how He set up the world (or how He talks about things like don’t worry or control your tongue). He’s absolutely and totally the driving force behind any mind transforming into something different from the pattern of this world. Yet I’m learning more and more about the consistent work that is required of me to develop a mind that is no longer encased by this illness of anxiety. To stop falling back into old patterns of thought and behavior, I have to intentionally “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Cor. 10:5; and that’s active. It doesn’t say “let your thoughts be taken captive). And my thoughts aren’t going to be captive unless I change the way my body develops and uses hormones.
This is a ton of work. The load of it seems especially heavier when I have life forces that I cannot control (viruses being some of the least of these) beating against it. Also harder when results are distant. And when relapses are humiliating. Yet I am committed to obediently doing what He’s called me to do, engaging in the transformation with Him.
Because I recognize God is glorified through my humble obedience.