2.04.2015

How to Prevent Exercise from Becoming an Idol

Preventing exercise from becoming an idol

At one point in time, exercise became my idol. If I missed a workout for a day or failed to eat well at every meal, I was irritated and in a bad mood about it. It would spill over into other areas of my life. I'm not sure at what point I started to realized that this was a really big problem, but thankfully I did come to the realization eventually. It really is true when people say too much of a good thing can be bad, because in my case it most definitely was.

From a Christian perspective, an idol is anything that takes the place of God in your life. For me, that was exercise. Instead of deriving my joy from knowing I was loved by Jesus, I got it through running faster or longer. I spent endless hours at the gym or in the pool just trying to get better for my triathlons. Although I really enjoyed this and had a lot of fun doing it, it had started to absolutely consume me.

At that point, I took a step back from racing and really tried to evaluate the intentions behind my behaviors. I asked myself questions like why do I love this so much? and what about this brings me so much joy? I quickly realized my motivations were not always healthy and that they were surely taking the place of God in my life. Although I was really great at racing, it started to become the way that I derived my worth, which turned it into a huge pride issue. So, I took some time off. Not completely, but I haven't raced in over a year and a half and I frequently miss workouts for the things that I think are more important in my life, like spending time with my friends and being involved with our church.

So how do I prevent exercise from becoming an idol in my life again?

1. I use the time I exercise to be with God. Most of the time I spend exercising I also use to pray or listen to podcasts. It's the time where I just get to come before God with a clear mind.

2. I give myself grace when I miss a workout. I used to get mad at myself for missing workouts. Now, I try to get into my rational mind about it. Meaning, I ask myself things like will missing one workout really set you that far back, Cassie? and are you being unreasonable right now? I'm usually being unreasonable, but this is also an area where I find prayer to be effective. Even when I'm awful at giving myself grace, God has much more to offer.

3. I constantly evaluate where my mind is at and what my intentions are. I have serious conversations with myself about whether this is becoming an idol again. I also talk with others, including my husband, in order to keep some accountability going for myself.

Do you struggle with keeping your idols in check? Has too much exercise ever become an issue for you personally?

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17 comments :

  1. Oh, I've struggled with this. About a year to two years ago I was a workoutaholic. I never saw the bad in it. I lived in a gym, I taught group x classes, and did at home workouts. it was my life. Then I got Injured and realized how consumed I was. I also got a lot out of the no other gods study. That was really helpful in finding my idols and addressing them. Grear post Cassie!

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  2. Such a timely post for me. I've struggled with missed workouts lately and it always puts me in a foul mood. I panic trying to figure out a way to include exercise in my day, and sometimes it's not doable. What are your favorite podcasts? I've never thought of listening to them while working out!

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  3. This is great- I think my body image/the attainment of a "satisfactory" body image has become an idol for me more than once. When I find myself getting grumpy about a missed workout or a bad meal (like you mentioned above!) that's when I know it's gone too far. These are great ideas for keeping oneself in check! :)

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  4. You're so right. I had a similar problem with school- I derived a lot of my worth from it. I'm constantly having to keep myself in check. You should check out the "No Other Gods" study!

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  5. It's nice to know that I'm not alone. Women are put under so much pressure in terms of their body image, and it's so easy to let society consume you!

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  6. Ooh I have so many! I loved the Serial podcast, and I also listen to the Influence Network Podcast, some of Matt Chandler's sermons and sermons from our church (Redemption's Hill).

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  7. Yes! That study definitely helped me take a good look at my idols as well!

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  8. This post could apply to many other things in our lives. TV shows, Games, School, and Work are just a few. I know I struggle with this, especially when it comes to school, but I am like you. I realize what I'm doing and take a step back and readjust myself.

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  9. I think you can substitute anything for running. There are so many things that people are starting to idolize (myself included). This post makes you stop and think and question yourself and your motivation behind so many of our behaviors. Thank you! Great post....but then again, when aren't yours? XO

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  10. You are ABSOLUTELY correct! And thank you- you're too sweet to me :)

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  11. love this. running was always my idol growing up and running D-1 cross and track didn't do anything to remove that idol. however, God so graciously injured me time and time and time and time and time and time.....again. such a broken (literally) time in my life that i am so grateful for. not sure where i would be today if i hadn't ever gotten injured. olympics maybe? still empty? definitely not seeking the lord with all my heart.

    sounds weird, but injuries were the greatest thing to ever happen to me in the running world. <3

    great tips to avoid making XYZ an idol. very insightful.

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  12. Thanks lady. My husband has said the SAME thing about his running injury!

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  13. Girl! So good! thanks for sharing your heart with us!!!! xoxo

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