A little over a year ago I wrote an article about body image. One day I woke up and was 20 pounds overweight. When I looked at all the options, I was dizzy. Every ad seemed based on the idea that your physical appearance is one hundred percent responsible for a bad self-esteem. Grown women crying and depressed over their extra twenty pounds popped up everywhere. They felt they had gained weight and lost themselves. Honestly, I didn’t feel that way. My whole life and self-worth is not attached to a number on my clothing. I didn’t feel depressed or worthless, or even ugly. I just felt, well, overweight. I turned away from the multi-billion dollar diet industry, which by the way is built upon perpetuating bad self-images for women. (But that’s another article!) As I had written previously I discovered biking and I fell in love with a healthy and fun, not tortuous, lifestyle! One year later, I have lost 21 pounds of fat and gained 5 pounds of muscle. What a great adventure it has been. Physical change is usually accompanied by mental and emotional changes, for good or for bad. In my case over the past year the changes and growth have been all positive. Not necessarily painless, but positive.

The first step on the long and steady road was being aware and open. Life has a way of showing us what we don’t have, what we haven’t done and what we have done wrong. Mistakes and disappointments swirl in our brains 24/7 and feed everything that is toxic in our bodies and souls. At this point we have a choice. We can swim in this misery or we can take the plug out of the drain and let it all go. Unplugging the drain will undoubtedly lead to two things. The first thing is that we will be free spiritually, psychologically, emotionally AND physically from the poison we have ingested so nicely. This costs something, which brings me to the other thing that will happen if we choose not to be the victim. This seems easy, but in choosing not to be the victim, we lose the attention and sympathy of those we try to convince that life is somehow harder for us than anyone else. This is otherwise known as the “martyr complex”. We have all been this or known someone like this. This is the type of person who refuses to live in the present or look forward to the future. I recently spoke to someone who was rehashing an old grudge from over 50 years before. When I asked her how long she lived under these difficult circumstances for, she said six weeks. Now, over 50 years of water is a lot to drown in. For goodness sakes, pull the plug! It’s important to be aware of what it actually is that we’re dealing with. It is just as important to decide that we will let the past go, commit to our present and our future. Weight loss and health has everything to with the belief that life is worth living.

Many of us spend all our time on our responsibilities, problems and “emotional stuff” we do not even know what we like to do for interests or hobbies or how to enjoy leisure time. Try new things. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to find what it is you are good at or what it is you enjoy doing. For example, it took me 43 years to find biking. Biking led to weight loss, good health and friends who appreciate good health and clean fun. Finding other enthusiasts has opened my world up to many new possibilities, like a 200 mile bike ride along the Erie Canal. In one year, I have found happiness because I found something I like to do that is good for me. Recently, I had the opportunity to bike in Melbourne, Australia. What an adventure it has been. I look forward to what comes next.

Through volunteering in the Christian healing ministry for the last fifteen years, I have seen miracles. I have had my own miracle. I have witnessed other miracles before my eyes. However, I have also seen many who are not healed. Those are the cases I remember. How I wish human suffering could be wiped out all together forever. In many cases there is no rhyme or reason as to why some are healed of physical ailments and some are not. Though for some, it is because the person suffering will not accept healing. It reminds me of the question Jesus asks of a blind man in the Bible, “What do you want?” I believe God asks each one of us if we approach Him, “What do you want?” Essentially the question is do we really want to be better? Are we ready to accept our humanity with all of its flaws, mistakes, and ugliness? Can we let go of being the martyr? Can we let go of the past and reach for the future? Can we look up and accept that He wants us healthy, well, and happy? Back the decision to be happy. Know you deserve it. If God offers you a second chance, grab it!

Physical exercise is not a vacuum. It is tied to a belief that you want to find the best in the present moment and in your future. Reaching for wellness or improvement takes confidence and courage. Having confidence that “someone up there likes me” enough to want me well gives us the courage to let go of the past and find our happiness.

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