I still remember the JOY I felt when I gave my life to the Lord as a teenager. I was struggling with depression so when I gave my life to Christ, I felt FREEDOM and a sense of purpose that I had never felt before!
I knew the Lord had big plans for me...I didn't have any clue what those were but I was determined to figure it out. I decided during this time that I would always make my health a priority so I could serve the Lord to my fullest potential. Looking back, this was just the beginning of my health journey and of the story He was writing for my life!
I had always lived a pretty active life and loved sports. When I suffered an injury that took me out of my favorite sport, swimming, I had to find something else to do. I discovered running, but the funny thing was, for the first time in my life, I wasn't participating to compete, I was simply running for exercise. I never thought I'd learn to love an activity I was doing just for exercise but there was just something about getting lost in your own thoughts or having some serious bonding moments with running friends that led me to keep doing it.
Through this part of my journey, I decided that my health would always be a priority, I wanted, no I needed to make time for exercise. I didn't understand my deeper why at the time…but on the surface, most likely it was because I wanted to be super skinny or wanted to be able to eat whatever and not feel guilty. Turns out that was the WRONG motivation, but I didn’t know that yet… Either way, I feel so much gratitude for that time and how I learned to truly love exercise.
Fast forward several years to me being married, working full time, and transitioning to a growing family. I was suddenly thrown into what felt like chaos and constant busyness. I was trying to do all the things while keeping my promise to myself to prioritize my health. Something had to give. I was quickly discovering that not only did I lack the knowledge of how to really take care of myself and why I needed to, but I also felt so burdened and overwhelmed by the thought of fitting exercise or any other healthy thing into my life…I was exhausted and burnt out.
Enter my stay-at-home-mom phase of life. I thought that all of those feelings would go away and everything would just magically be better if I only had more time. WRONG AGAIN. Turns out that when you don’t actually deal with your emotions, bring them to the Lord, and allow yourself to feel and process them…things don’t usually go as planned.
I quickly spiraled into out-of-control emotional eating, depression and anxiety. As a mom transitioning from one kid to two, the struggle was real. Since I was a personal trainer and health coach, I knew in my head what I needed to do to stay healthy physically and I thought I knew what I needed to do to stay emotionally healthy too… I knew that if I could just get back into my routine, get myself on a plan for exercise and eating right, then everything would fall back into place.
As I focused on all of this, I tried plan after plan. Some worked for a while, some didn’t work at all, and others I completely failed at. I was losing all hope and joy. I was spending so much time and energy (physical and mental) trying to get back to what I thought healthy was but nothing was working. The more I experienced the up and down cycle of trying and failing, the more guilt and shame I began to feel. I felt like I was letting my family down and myself down. I wondered how I could possibly keep going like this when I should be spending more time and energy focusing on my family, my kids. I finally came to a point where enough was enough…there had to be a better way I was going to find it!
Even though I had given my life to the Lord, I spent these years with Him on the backburner. Sure, I still believed but I didn’t have a great personal relationship with Him. One day, I decided to make a commitment to myself. I would start waking up early every day to read my Bible and see what happens in my relationship with the Lord. It was hard at first, really hard.
I struggled to feel like anything was changing, but slowly I began to notice my emotions settling. I began to notice a shift in how I saw myself. Joy was returning and I longed for more of Him because of it. As my relationship with the Lord grew deeper, I also noticed that my desire to live healthy was shifting. It was shifting from burden to freedom and from overwhelm to joy. I wanted to exercise and eat right to honor the Lord. I wanted to deal with my emotions by bringing them to Him. I wanted to fully surrender it all to Him because in His strength, everything just worked.
It wasn’t always easy and challenges were still there, but because I was able to see myself through His eyes, I didn’t live in fear of failure. I began to let go of the shame and guilt of caring for myself. I recognized that when I was healthy in body, mind, and spirit, I could show up as my best self for my family and ultimately for the Lord. Talk about a breakthrough…
It took me decades of learning these things, of watching all the pieces finally come together. One day, God told me, "Put it all together write your story and help other women who are feeling the same way. Lead them to build the foundation for their continued growth toward health and toward Me."
So here I am and that’s my story. The Lord led me on this journey of discovering how to experience freedom in my health, joy in my relationship with Him, and what my purpose and calling is in this life.
I pray my story blesses and encourages you wherever you are in your journey of living healthy and empowered!