Journey to Health

With the New Year behind us and spring ahead, it seems change is inevitable. But what about change that happens within you? Have you slowed down for a season recently and reflected on your own life, your thoughts, your emotions, your decisions–and your journey to health?

I am co-facilitating a small group called Journey to Freedom at a local gym. The course has forced me to take a look at my life and how I feel about change. The past several weeks have been a scary but rewarding journey. Here are a few of the things I’ve learned in the past few weeks:

Embrace Your Fear and Change Anyway

The small group requires daily readings and reflection questions. A recent reflection question that will change my life is “How would you live differently if you weren’t afraid?” I laughed when I first read it and thought, “I would be set free in everything I do if I lived like I wasn’t afraid.” And then I thought about it again. Could that really be a reality in my life? Could I really live as if I wasn’t afraid? I’m going to cling to the promise that with God all things are possible, and I’m going to practice living this way!

In his book Journey to Freedom, author Scott Reall says this about fear and worry:

“Worry is the enemy of change. We worry that we will not be able to change. We worry about not being worthy of change. We worry that change will broadcast our faults to the world. But as long as we are in bondage to worry, we will never reach out for the possibility of change.”

I have several personal training clients who have admitted to failing past diets because of their obsessive fear of failure! When I ask them why they continue this cycle, they say, “I don’t know how to change.” Fear holds us back. Rather than pretending we are not afraid of change, we must embrace the fear and change anyway.

Trying versus Training

As the founder of a personal training company, I coined the slogan “Stop trying, start training, get inFIT today!” This is your season to stop trying. Yes, I just said that: stop trying.

When I would ask my clients how their week was, I would often hear, “I tried really hard this week; I hope I made some progress.” I would then ask them to define the word “try.” No one ever gave me a good definition.

Scott Reall says this about trying:

“Willpower is an element of change, but it is not the deciding factor. The way to overcome the self-defeating behavior of giving up is to train, not to try. When we try to change and do not succeed, we tend to give up after a few attempts. But when we train to do something, we set our minds on learning. No matter how many times we fail, we see ourselves as being one step closer to succeeding.”

If you are currently looking at your life and desire to make a lasting change, you must first look at your journey, progress, and successes as one long training practice. Every small success is worth celebrating and every fall is worth redeeming . . .

Grace, Hope, and Grace

Every fall is worth redeeming . . . this is grace. Some of us have no problem extending grace to others when they mess up, but how about extending a little to ourselves when we fail again and again? Those who forgive themselves and learn from their fitness and nutrition mishaps are more likely to lose weight and get healthy. Reall says, “We are on a journey to freedom. It takes discipline and trial and error. So keep this in mind. Give yourself room to fail…. It may take a while to see the results of change…leave space for God to work. Don’t give up. We have to learn the steps…change, recovery, growth and healing are all about hope.”

What does “hope” mean to you? I always thought my hope is in the Lord, but I never took time to think about if that statement was true. It turns out that my hope is often not in the Lord, but in my circumstances. I have been confusing hope for wish. For example, I think (and sometimes worry), “I really hope my kids will stay healthy.” Will my faith be shaken if they get sick or even die? No. So why do I place my hope (and worry) in their well-being? After reevaluating hope, I now think, “I really wish my kids will be healthy, but my hope is in my savior Jesus Christ who wants the best for me and my family. If something happens to my children, I may not understand, but I trust in Jesus and in my Father in Heaven.” Real hope is freeing. Real hope takes so much pressure off of me and my narrow-minded expectations.

Here’s the good news: When God calls you into a season of change, he provides the resources you need and walks with you through thick and thin.

Whether you started a New Year’s resolution and quit already, whether you’re going strong in your new goals, or whether you still avoid change altogether for fear of failure, have hope that God has a plan for your life. He’s not finished with you yet. God knows you and loves you more than you can imagine.

“At some point, healing and growth require concrete steps. This is the opportunity set before you,” says Reall. “This has been your life so far, but it can change. Look upon the next six weeks [or new season] as a challenge.” This is your year . . . live it to the fullest.

Ashley Darkenwald

Author Ashley Darkenwald

Ashley Darkenwald is an inspirational speaker and the author of Living Wellness, the book encompassing her 10+ years as a fitness professional, club owner, and nutrition fanatic. Ashley enjoys homeschooling her two children, leading worship at the WHY church in Elk River, and playing sand volleyball in the summer. Ashley’s favorite speaking topic is FREEDOM through the practice of exceptional health.

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