Why I work out.

4:50 PM

   First of all guys, I am totally sorry about all the comment confusion lately!  I switched things up in my blog layout design and I think it annihilated my poor comment section.  Thank you so much for even wanting to leave a comment in the first place, and I will definitely try and get that figured out but in the meantime, shoot me an email or leave a comment on Facebook!  I read each and every one and I'd love to hear from you.

  In other news, and moving to the topic of this post, working out has reached perhaps the most difficult level it has ever been in my life.  The combination of pregnancy, chasing after little ones and the rainy weather keeping me indoors has resulted in the perhaps the greatest case of anti-physical activity of my life!

   Going to the gym is not even an option in our lives right now, and that has always been my first choice.  Getting out of the house is such a treat for me, and driving all the way there motivates me to make the most of my time (and money) and I LOVE ZUMBA.

   But like I said, it's not an option, and so Youtube has been my only workout companion these days. Well, that and the three little ones underfoot.  Charlotte is especially interested in it, always copying my movements and complaining that I don't have any dumbbells for her too. Here's some of the videos I've been using lately, just in case you too are searching for low-impact, prenatal-friendly, exercise-at-home options.

Fitnessblender Barre Workout
Prenatal Barre
Quick Prenatal Barre
Xhit arm workout
Prenatal strength workout

  Talking about this reminds me of one of the first (and only) times I posted about fitness.  And I will never forget it.

   It was roughly 3 1/2 years ago, and I posted just a bit about what I was doing to lose the baby weight after Charlotte.  I was posting because some readers had asked, but also because postpartum fitness was a topic I was super interested in at the time so....there you have it.  Bloggers tend to write about what they are currently interested in.  No news flash there.

   But what I never saw coming was what happened next.  I received some negative feedback about that post (not publicly) that completely blindsided me, and caused me to quit blogging for a month at a time of unprecedented growth in my blog traffic.  Side note, to this day, my traffic has never been as high as it was then.  That little month-long hiatus from blogging caused a drop-off in my readership that I've never been able to recover.  Well, that and my tendency to blog sporadically and inconsistently.  But I digress.

   My reaction to that experience was to run.  To hide.  To vow to never "blog about fitness again even IF I do blog again".  And it was a mostly negative experience for everyone involved.

   But now that I am raising daughters, and the society that they will grow up in is perhaps more body-image-centric than ever before, I realize now with 100% certainty how silly it was of me to think that I could hide.  There is no hiding.  And so it has caused me to face this topic head-on, and dig down to the root of it all.

   That whole experience has caused me to search out why I DO love fitness and exercise, and the reasons I will continue to prioritize it in my life.  First of all, it's not all about the "end result".  I know that people say that, and it sounds super cliche, because in our day and age of fitness and social media, it's all about the before/after photos and getting into that bikini for the summer.

But that's not my motivation.

   It's fine if it's yours, but it's not mine.  My girls watch me every single time I strain at those weights, or collapse underneath a plank, and I want them to know with absolute certainty, I AM NOT PUNISHING MYSELF FOR HOW MY BODY LOOKS.  I am not sweating and striving because what I currently am isn't good enough, or will never make me happy.  I am not showing them that in order to be a beautiful woman, you have to first change yourself.  But what I AM doing, is showing them that discipline feels good.  Not giving up, feels good.  Facing our fears or our temptations, head on, and straining against them, is worth it.  BUILDING STRENGTH.  That's my motivation.

   I want them to know that "fitness" looks as different as people do.  It is not one number, or one clothing size, or one person's ideal.  I want them to know that strength is the goal, and strength can look a million different ways.

   And maybe it wasn't always this way.  Maybe for a time, I was worried that having kids would "change me" and I would never be the same again.  And I think I worked out for different motivations back then.  But what I've come to realize since then is that having kids HAS changed me, and I WON'T ever be the same again, and I wouldn't want to be.  The 18-year-old Shelley looked different than the 30-year-old one, but I wouldn't trade the current one for a million dollars.  The younger one may have been a little faster, lighter and thinner, but she didn't have a clue.  About what she wanted in life, where she wanted to go, who she wanted to be or most importantly, who she was in Christ.  She was weak.

   And to this day, the births of my children have been the most empowering moments physically, mentally and emotionally of my entire life, and so why would I ever despise the evidences of those moments?  Why would I despise my body for undergoing the miracles that it has been witness to?  I should be on my knees, gasping with gratefulness for the opportunity to have done this 3 times.  For the opportunity to do it again.

    Yet even with this foremost in my mind, I have weaknesses.  The battles I face are always the darkest in my mind, waging war in unseen and unfair and unrelenting ways.  It threatens to suck me down into the deepest pit and sometimes the only thing that can lift me back out of it is reading the Bible and a little exercise.  I am not saying it should be that for everyone, but it is that way for me.  Working out has always been a quick avenue to me to ripping my mind out its dark place and setting it on higher things.  That specifically, is my other motivation.

   And so please don't assume when someone talks about "their fitness journey" that they are on a mission to look better, thinner, whatever.  And even if they are, fine.  That can be their story if they want it to.  It doesn't have to be yours.

   Just give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe their journey has more to do with the battles they are facing and trying to overcome just like anybody else, and not about what size of jeans they will fit into when this is all over.  We all struggle.  It may come in as many different shapes and forms as we do, but WE ALL STRUGGLE.  And it is ludicrous to think that one person is elevating themselves above their own humanity, just by the personal hobbies or interests they choose to have.

I would love to hear from you.  Personal stories, whether it be about fitness or something completely different, that has helped you build strength, take your thoughts captive, and fight your own battles.

I'm rooting for you!


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