I didn’t always value being strong. On the contrary, for years I chased after “skinny” as a means to seize control when I felt my world was falling apart.
My newfound love for fitness and interest in nutrition became twisted, turned on their heads and taken advantage of by self-pity and toxic despair. I was seventeen and had not yet experienced the power of a broken heart first hand. My first breakup showed me in an instant how very real and far-reaching the repercussions of grief can be.
The gym became my sanctuary. Before and after school, I would flock to it like a drug addict needing her next fix. During lunch, I would sit in my car, crying as I’d eat my half apple and few bites of chicken. At restaurants and at the dinner table, I ate only plain, steamed vegetables and just enough meat to keep me full. Even chewing gum and mints were off limits. The treadmill, spin bike, elliptical, and step mill were all enlisted to make me feel as though I were making progress. Every calorie burned was a victory. Every baggy pair of jeans was a trophy. Every pound lost was a conquest.
It would take an entire book ( and in fact, it’s taken several), to explain how I escaped the ruthless clutches of anorexia, exercise bulimia, and binge eating disorder. Suffice it to say, I had to surrender all of it, every prideful thought and self-destructive habit, to my Lord and Savior. He taught me some of my greatest life lessons during that season. And to this day, when the tempter inevitably makes his rounds to deceive, distract, depress, and derail me, God draws me near once again, showing me new parts of my soul and psyche in need of His grace and intervention.
“She girds herself with strength, and makes her arms strong.” -Proverbs 31:17
If there had been gyms back in the Bible days, I’d be willing to wager that the Proverbs 31 woman would choose deadlifts as her exercise of choice. Words cannot describe how incredible it feels to use every muscle in your body to lift a massive barbell off the floor and hold it in your bare hands. The act of standing before an imposing, seemingly immovable object and rallying together your thoughts, your will, your courage and strength to make it leave the ground has proven a marvelous metaphor for me. Deadlifting heavy not only strengthens my body, it fortifies my mind, assuring me that whatever unwieldy burdens and “impossible” hurdles come my way, I’ll be able to overcome them.
When I deadlift, I’m reminded of the proverb above. I’m reminded that working out, no matter the form it takes, is ultimately a living parable that complements my spiritual walk. It should never be about, as it once was in my life, being dangerously thin or coping with stress and negative emotions. Rather, fitness should be a discipline that enables us to fulfill the many plans and purposes to which the Almighty has called us. It should be about progressing “from glory to glory” as we seek to honor God with these bodies, these temporary tents, that were never ours to begin with (1 Thess. 5:5; 1 Cor. 6:19-20).
” … in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” -Romans 8:37
I hope that this blog will be a source of motivation, inspiration, and information for you. A healthy body is important, no doubt, but it’s my prayer that we will view the body as one, tri-part unit (body, soul, and spirit), of which fitness is an integral part to be surrendered to our Father and pursued with His glory, and never our own, in mind.
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Diana Anderson-Tyler earned her degree in Radio-Television-Film from the University of Texas and her personal training certification from the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. She is also a Level 1 certified CrossFit coach. She’s the author of five faith and fitness books for women, including Fit for Faith: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Total Fitness and a memoir, Immeasurable: Diving into the Depths of God’s Love. Her first novel, a faith-based Young Adult Fantasy called Moonbow: The Colors of Iris, was published in 2015. She has been interviewed on The 700 Club, The Harvest Show, and has also been a guest on a number of radio broadcasts and podcasts. Diana currently writes entertainment and media-related articles for movieguide.org and contributes regularly to the health section of charismamag.com.
Diana lives in San Antonio with her husband Ben where they own and coach at CrossFit 925, watch documentaries, Jeopardy reruns, Pixar and Marvel movies, play Scrabble regularly, and lift heavy weights with friends.