In a tennis tournament at Sutter Lawn in Sacramento in 2012.

I love getting out and playing tennis. Tennis is something I have loved for much of my life, but I took a LONG hiatus from competitive tennis. In 2010, I returned to the courts and have been on USTA and other teams and played in tournaments ever since. I definitely LOVE it.

Some of you may be wondering the question that I am occasionally asked by Thin Within participants.

“What about exercise?”

First, it is important that I mention: I have a background in exercise obsession. Though I never practiced any other means of “purging,” I did exercise to excess–so that my husband calls one season of my life my “Bulimic Period.” I am not sure a doctor would have considered it clinically so, but I exercised to compensate for my eating.

I had a lot in common with Winnie the Pooh in this video:

If I exercised more, I would eat more. If I ate more, I would exercise more. NOT a good place to be in!

Second, given my previous obsession, when I started blogging and releasing weight (this time for good) in 2006, I resolved not to release weight depending in any way on exercise. I “fasted” exercise as I knew it. I wanted to learn how to exercise for other reasons and that took time. Granted, I lived a relatively active life (for a woman who was 100 pounds overweight). I have horses and kids and dogs and land that always seemed to need fences or something. So, it is true that I released the 100 pounds without doing what I had always done before to lose weight…without a workout routine like I had depended on previously in my weight-loss attempts.

About six months into this leg of my journey (in about spring of 2007), I discovered “Dance Praise.” This is a dancing “game” for the computer that had a floor mat and steps on the computer screen (think “Dance Dance Revolution”) all done to Christian music. I had so much fun with that program and would mix it up all the time with different settings. Given where I had once been with exercise and how “light weight” Dance Praise seemed to me, I felt like it was an acceptable form of being active. I would lose myself in the music and just enjoy moving and praising God!

I haven’t used Dance Praise in a long time, but I do enjoy playing tennis a lot. I sometimes also use a workout DVD to do a step workout or Turbo Fire workout. But I have a rule for myself: I MUST ENJOY IT.

Even since 2006, though, I have noticed that when I feel most out of control in my life, I will revert to exercise obsession if I am not cautious. Therefore, I have to be cautious!

My goal with exercise  now is, simply, to do it 0 to 5. What does that mean? Sort of like 0 to 5 eating or 0 to 5 spending or 0 to 5 drinking of favorite beverages…all things in moderation. I want to exercise if and when my body needs it like I eat when my body needs food…not less than that and not more than that.  I believe that this is an appropriate goal for most people. If we sit with the Lord and ask him what that might look like, I think–just like he is with food–he will show us what that means.

For me, someone who loves to be active and has a history of compulsive exercise, if I am fearful of NOT doing whatever it is, then I have to evaluate the place exercise has in my life.

If I have to chart it, graph it, log it, mark it, track it…then I have to evaluate the place it has in my life.

But, honestly, if I avoid it like the plague, I may want to evaluate the place it has in my life! (Or doesn’t!)

I love exercise that I don’t keep track of. I have logged my routines, my strength training workouts, reps, weights, and sets. I have logged miles, wind-sprints, and so much more. I just won’t go there again. That is one thing about tennis I love. I really can’t keep track in any way.

I love playing a song on my iPod player and just kicking up my heals and dancing. One of my favorite songs is by Mary Mary (and Mandisa has done it too…) Shackles (Praise You). Another one is a fun song by Mary Ann Kennedy about owning a Golden Palomino. 🙂 Whatever has a great beat, I just love moving, but hopefully without anyone around so I can really bust a gut! 😉

So what about exercise?

“All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial. All things are permissible, but I will not be mastered by anything.” (1 Corinthians 6:12) That can be exercise, or lethargy. If you have a medical reason not to move your body joyfully and gently, then by all means, protect your body. It is amazing, though, what you can do in the water (water aerobics is very gentle!) and even sitting in a chair! If you know you physically *could* move your body joyfully and worshipfully without injury, I would encourage you to ask the Lord what He would have you to do with this if you aren’t currently active at all.

Please note…the purpose is not for losing weight. EVER. It is to honor the Lord with your body, to help it be relatively healthy, period!

Since my body is not my own, since it was bought at a price, since I am called to honor God with my body (1 Corinthians 6:19,20), I think it is incumbent upon me to prayerfully ask God to show me what it means to joyfully, gently, and with a worshipful spirit move my body. What will give me the best possible health for the length of time I am on this planet without sacrificing mental or spiritual health or hurting myself physically?

How About You?

What place do you feel God has shown you exercise should have in your life? How are you doing with that? What ideas do you have for improving on that…meaning, if you over-exercise now (which may mean you do it out of fear and God wants to spend time with you on that) or under-exercise now? What do you think? What Scriptures has God used to convince you of His will for you in this regard?