Jesus and Weight Lifting: My 2018 Journey

I've tried to sum up my experience at Iron Tribe Fitness for a while but I keep coming up blank. I tried to start with the story about how I found out about it: at a work event with a girl who was on a meal plan and couldn't eat carrots. I tried describing the process and how it works: healthy eating and safe workouts. I tried starting by talking about the staff: they're fantastic but more about that later. But none of it stuck.

Instead, I want to tell you about the why. I didn't join to lose weight and get skinny. Although, I did need to lose weight and have lost over 20 lbs in the past 3 months there. I joined because I wanted to be healthy and strong. Emphasis on the strong part. I didn't want to lose weight and be thinner; I wanted to be strong. I wanted to lose weight and have no issue carrying 10 bags of groceries up the two flights of stairs to my apartment. I wanted to be able to do push-ups and pick up heavy things. When I joined, I wanted to be healthy.

I'm unmarried so it seems silly to worry about but I also wanted to be living a healthy lifestyle before I got pregnant. For my theoretical future babies, I want to be as healthy as possible. And I want to be able to bounce back easier after I have the theoretical future babies. And then I want to model a lifestyle of healthy choices to said theoretical future babies.

I don't know if I'll ever get married. And if I do get married, I don't know if I'll be able to have children. That's all for future me to find out. Regardless, my healthy body is honoring those theoretical future babies, myself and God.

And I'm stronger. But not just physically, I'm mentally and spiritually stronger.

It's funny. In 2016 and 2017 I shared blog posts about my word of the year. Courage and rooted, respectively. In 2018, I choose cultivate but I never wrote about it. 2016 was the year of taking risks and doing things even when I was scared. 2017 was the year of placing roots in my new phase of life and my location. When 2018 rolled around, I knew I wanted the word to be a continuation of 2017. The roots were placed but I wanted them to grow. I never really know what the word means and how resonant it will be until at least halfway through the year.

So after prayer, I came up with the word cultivate. After you plant something, you cultivate it to make sure it grows. You water, fertilize, make sure there's enough light. Cultivating is treating something with care.

But cultivating isn't always about adding good things. Sometimes it's about removing bad things. Toxic relationships, unhealthy work environments, fried foods, processed sugar, sin, and selfishness, etc.

You take out the bad and add in the good. That's what cultivating is about.

This year Jesus is cultivating my life. After begging him to save me, he removed the toxic relationship from my life. My sense of community and belonging grew from tenuous and a bit lonely to connected and thriving. Bad things have been removed and good things have been added.

A major way that I, with help from Jesus, have cultivated my life this year has been through fitness and healthy living. Joining Iron Tribe is one of the the best thing that's happened in 2018. Maybe it's the healthier foods, maybe it's sweating out toxins like my dad always extols, but I feel like working out and becoming physically stronger has made me become mentally stronger. I mean if I can make it through a 45 minute workout consisting of 120 squats, with Jesus's help I can handle the rest of what life throws at me.

It's too early to wrap 2018 up in a blog post but I feel like it's been a pivotal year of personal growth. My relationship with Christ has deepened, and as I grow more aware of his goodness and grace, I grow more aware of my need for it and my utter sinfulness. Maybe Iron Tribe is a metaphor for that. As I get stronger, I'm able to handle more weight and do more reps, and so the workout isn't any easier than it was the first day in.

Another metaphor for life is that I'm stronger than I think I am. In the beginning, I would tend toward one of the lighter weights because I didn't want to overdo it. And without fail, the coaches would tell me "hey you can handle more." While I didn't necessarily I agree, I did respect their knowledge and wisdom in an area I was a beginner (but seriously if any of y'all are reading this: Tori that time you had me use a 45 lb kettlebell was rough) .

Likewise, after arrogantly deciding to "take a year off from serving" at church God called me to do more than I had done in the previous two years. Because I was capable of more. And I can only imagine that this will grow me too.

I should give a little more info about Iron Tribe now. If you're interested in joining, you should go to the website and learn more. The meal plan I was provided with is basically good foods in good portion sizes. The workouts are doable for any fitness level. They introduce you to all the exercises slowly and ensure you have correct form.

I feel a little guilty that Tori got a shoutout since I've spent the least amount of time with her of any of the coaches at the 150 location. But she also followed up outside of the gym when she found out I was going through something emotional. In the short time I've known her, Tori is one of those people who loves on you and challenges you to grow. She's a gem. Of course, the other coaches are too. First is Zach, one of the PM coaches. He knew my name after 2-3 classes which was impressive to me because there's a lot of people in and out. There's Luke who was my "assigned" coach at the beginning in the 6 week challenge. He's kind, knowledgeable, patient and a little bit goofy. There's Matt who's the best example of a consummate professional who connects with everyone on a personal level. I don't slack when Matt is watching because I know he'll hold me to at least try to do my best. Last but not least is Meghan. The 150 gym manager. Meghan made me comfortable in my uncertainty about the gym and was super encouraging of my goal to be strong. She cares about people and wants everyone there to succeed.

So there is it. You should try something like Iron Tribe that challenges you to grow. Allow Jesus to stretch you.

For the record, this glowing review is 100% sincere. I was not paid or compensated in anyway to say this. It's that awesome there.

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