Hi blog friends! I’m so excited to participate in another Freaky Friday Switcheroo.  Today I have an awesome friend sharing her fitness background with you and how it relates to her faith. I’ll be making trouble today over at her blog, Food and Whine. Please welcome Sarah!!

Hi, I’m Sarah from Food and Whine. I have a wonderful husband of 10 years and two kids, 7 and 4. My blog is supposedly my adventures in trying to feed my kids “real” food, but mostly I ramble eccentrically about projects and quilts, repost decadent dessert recipes, whine about my first world problems, and reminisce about growing up in a fundamentalist church and school. I’m so honored Lizzie is having me over today and I’ll try to limit my ramblings to faith and fitness.

Growing up, I was stick thin. My mom still laughs about how she had to “take tucks in the slims” for my sister and me. Blessed with a high metabolism inherited from my dad, I could pretty much eat what I wanted in large quantities and not gain weight. Even with this hipless, skinny physique, I hated my body. I was a 4, but I wanted to be a 2.

This ability to be thin and eat with occasional half-hearted attempts at exercise continued until I turned 30 and had two kids. While I liked my body way more than I had ever before, for the amazing things it did carrying and birthing my children, my metabolism slowed and I couldn’t believe how wide I looked in pictures. I tried a few things, like running, which I find excruciatingly boring; the Wii Fit, which really didn’t (for me) do anything; and Leslie Sansone’s Walk at Home (easy and On Demand). Last summer Craig’s cousin got engaged and I decided it was time for a serious change. P90X and meeting Lizzie got me started, but I had some hang ups to get over.

In my extremely conservative background, exercise looks like this. You body is bad and should be covered. Yoga is a false religion and should be avoided. Music with a beat is bad. Coping is best handled by eating. And by all means, don’t waste your time on exercise.

Maybe you have these hang-ups. Maybe you’re thinking I’m crazy but you’re glad I’m out of the cult. Either way, here’s some lessons I’ve learned the past few months.

Lesson One: Bodies are not bad. God made me a woman and gave me my woman parts, and it’s OK to wear clothes that make me look good. I may never be comfortable in only booty shorts and an exercise bra, but that doesn’t mean you can’t flaunt it if you are. Even in my regular, everyday clothes, I’ve found I feel much better about myself and life in general when I wear clothes that fit and flatter instead of shapeless bags.

Lesson Two: Yoga is only a religion if you make it your religion. Sometimes yoga is just a good stretch. Fitness-style yoga will improve your strength and balance and all that focused stretching can give you a nice, calm feeling of well-being. God loves us; He doesn’t want us to be all tense and tight. If calling a cat stretch Bidalasana bothers you, call it a cat stretch. If opening your mind to whatever the universe has to dump into it bothers you, focus on what an amazing God we have to make such amazing bodies.

Lesson Three: Good music moves the workout along. I really don’t think that you can work up a good sweat to Pachelbel’s Canon in D. If it’s not fun, I don’t want to do it. The fast pace and high energy of Turbo Fire get me moving and sweating before my mind can wander, and Zumba is just plain fun. It lets me try on a booty-shaking persona that I didn’t know was in me. Lizzie dropped this little bit of Zumba wisdom on us last week: “It’s between you, your booty, and God.” [Wow, did I really say that? I blame oxygen deprivation!] The music’s not good or bad, it’s just music ideal for shakin’ it.
Lesson Four: There are other ways to de-stress besides eating. In my other incarnations (BJU student, teacher, new mom), I didn’t have any coping mechanisms for stress or other than food, mostly sugar and carbs. Now if I’m having an overwhelming afternoon (or day, or week) and want a big, fat, chocolatey brownie, at least I go into it knowing that the stress won’t leave with just with the action of eating; I can enjoy it for what it is (or not, because what’s the point of all that punching, kicking, and sweating if I’m just going to consume all those burned calories plus more) and deal with the issues in a practical way.

Lesson Five: I’m worth it. We are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14); finishing a workout, out of breath and dripping with sweat, is a good time for me to reflect of “how blessed I am to be able to work that hard.” (Chalene says that at the end of Fire 45). It’s not a waste of time. Exercise helps me be in a better mood and have more energy as a result, be a better wife and mother (for more on this subject, see Lizzie’s post over on my blog).

Thanks, E, for this chance to do the Freaky Friday Switcheroo!

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and experience, Sarah! I know many of us can identify with the ambivalence about whether focusing on diet and exercise is valuable or a waste of our energies.