Stepping Up to the Challenge

My co-workers and I are currently competing in a daily steps competition at work.  We formed teams and were given pedometers to track how many steps we take a day.  Each week we average our team’s steps per day and see how they compare with the other teams.  It’s a four-week long challenge and we’re on week two right now.  We have all gotten pretty competitive about it and it has been a lot of fun.  But as I hear my coworkers talking about how much they are working out to increase their steps, I can’t help but wonder if I should be doing more.

I consider myself in pretty good shape.  Like most women, I would like to shed a few pounds and tone parts of my body.  I do my best to workout at least three times a week and to eat healthy. I work a desk job so I know my work days aren’t the most activity filled and I try to make up for that outside of work.  I’m not trying to be a size two supermodel, I know that isn’t my body type.  But I am pretty happy with my overall weight and appearance.  According to the BMI charts and my latest physical, I am  in good health and my weight is normal.  So why should I feel the need to do more?

You always hear the media talking about how America is overweight.  You can find new articles daily on things like “Five Ways to Tone Your Abs Fast!” or “10 Healthy Foods to Lose Weight.”  It is important to take care of our bodies…but when does it go too far?

We are made in the image of God.  In 1 Corinthians 6:15 we read “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?”  Our bodies belong to God and are made in His own image.  We are called to take care of our bodies because are “a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)  Part of taking care of our bodies is physical fitness and healthy eating. 

I believe that while taking care of our bodies is important, we need to realize what is most important in our lives and prioritize accordingly.  We are told what our number one priority should be from Jesus Himself.  He tells us in Matthew 6:33 to “Seek first the kingdom [of God] and His righteousness.”and that we are called to “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).  Our number one priority should be our spiritual relationship with God and how we share His love.  Spending time in prayer and in strengthening our faith is more important than doing an extra set of crunches or spending excessive time researching the latest and greatest fat trimming workout routines.  Taking care of our spiritual selves is more than just prayer.  It involves reaching out to others through our words and actions to share God’s love.

For some, physical activity becomes a part of spiritual expression.  People who are successful athletes have the unique opportunity to help inspire others and can share their faith in that way.  My sister, Amanda is a serious competitive runner.  She uses her running as a way to give back to God and uses her fame of sorts to connect and share her spiritual journey with others (check out her blog  How cool is that?  I am not an athlete by any means.  My jog around the park is fun for me and my dog, but hardly anything newsworthy!  Instead, I try to inspire people through my regular daily activites and through the volunteer work I participate in.   Working out just isn’t a priority for me. 

My priorities after God go to my family.  To spending time with my husband, keeping in touch with my sisters, talking to my Mom, catching up on the latest sports news with my Dad.  After a long day at work, I come home to make dinner and relax with my husband.  We both know that we won’t always have this time together just the two of us and I want to cherish this time.  After Mass on Sunday we might take a nice walk in the park, but then I like to relax and enjoy the rest of our day off together. 

For me, working out is something that I schedule in about three times a week to keep in good health, so that I can take care of my “temple.”  Through this steps challenge at work I have been feeling that I need to schedule in extra time to workout even more.  But I realize that adding time for exercise simply isn’t a priority for me right now.  I am not willing to give up extra time with my husband  for more workouts.  I am healthy and in shape and happy with the way I look.  For me, I am going to keep working on my faith, sharing God’s love in the ways I can, and spending time with those I love.  I may not win the steps challenge at work, but I am stepping up to my own challenge to balance the things in my daily life and keep God at the front of it all.

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