Ok, I need to confess something. I’ve struggled to workout over the last few weeks. If you know me, you’re probably shocked. But yes, it's true. Most days I haven’t done much more than walk. Thankfully, I live in a neighborhood where I can do that every day. I also have access to several weights, kettlebells, bars, and bands so I really have no excuse. But again, I’ve failed to get regular activity for weeks. During this lull, the Lord has had some hard lessons for me. I hope to encourage some of you by sharing my struggles.
Aside from gym closures since COVID-19, here are a few other reasons I slowed down.
First, I've had an ongoing hamstring injury for a few years. I’ve failed to let it recover or get the necessary treatment because I didn’t want to take time off from the gym. So, I pushed myself up to, and sometimes past, the point of reinjury. Thus, perpetuating the problem.
Second, I was hospitalized right before gyms shut down from a condition that came out of nowhere. Honestly, had I listened to my body in previous weeks and months, I likely wouldn’t have ended up in the hospital. Then once I left the hospital, in typical Lainey fashion, I worked out too hard and pushed my body too much while it was attempting to recover.
Third, I take comprehensive exams for my Ph.D. in a couple of weeks. Sufficient preparation for these exams takes most of the semester. Since everything shut down, I’ve spent hours studying each day. Needless to say, much of my time at home has gone toward comps prep.
In this time, the Lord helped me realize a few things.
First, in terms of my hamstring, I ignored my body for years, abusing it in the process. This was a hard realization because I’m passionate about the body and honoring the Lord with it. So, I accepted my need to slow down, and I’m using this time at home to recover my hamstring.
Second, after being hospitalized, I realized my body had been trying to tell me something was wrong. But I kept ignoring it. I simply didn’t want to take time out from my busy schedule to figure out what was going on. However, cutting back on workouts now has allowed me more time to be in tune with my body. So I’m taking steps to address underlying issues that landed me in the hospital.
Third, with comps looming, my schedule needs to revolve around proper preparation, and if that means I can’t work out as much as I’d like for a time, it’s ok. It may seem silly to you, but this has been a hard pill for me to swallow. At the same time, I realize I must be able to accept temporary changes to my desired workout schedule.
So here are my takeaways for the COVID-19 body.
The Lord can always teach us new ways to honor him in our embodied state.
When working out, consciously overdoing it on a regular basis isn’t virtuous, admirable, or impressive.
Don’t neglect to warm up or stretch well after a workout. Doing so will eventually lead to injury.
If unprecedented circumstances arise that alter workout routines and gains in the gym, fight for God’s perspective on the situation, and be gracious to yourself.
Slowing down for a season is ok.
There are more important things than “PR”ing or losing muscle definition.
The body is a stewardship from the Lord. Sometimes honoring him with the body means engaging in more exercise, but sometimes honoring him with the body means engaging in less exercise.
Idolatry can be subtle. Maybe the Lord will use COVID-19 to reveal idolatrous subtleties for you too.