The pursuit of fitness can be divided into seasons. Unlike the recurring seasons of the calendar, fitness seasons vary in their duration and focus. As athletes grow to develop a level of maturity, they recognize the value of this rhythm, and can build their training around the “peaks” of competition or the “plateaus” that come when the focus shifts to other major life events. Rather than pursuing an “all or nothing” training mentality, fitness moves with the ebbs and flows of life. In the midst of discovering this, athletes are often reluctant to change. If a particular strength cycle has worked well, they want to resist the new one on the horizon, instead clinging to what they feel got them to where they are. In both physical and spiritual fitness, the journey is growing into who you are becoming by growing out of who you used to be.
Let’s start with the basic biology of humans. Exchange is a critical component to sustaining life. Take breathing. When you breathe in oxygen, it makes its way through the lungs into your alveoli where it’s exchanged for what? That’s right, carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is breathed out which makes room for the next breath of oxygen. You grow into oxygen by growing out of carbon dioxide. Think about food. Your digestive system is growing into the healthy nutrients contained in everything you’re consuming, while at the same time growing out of anything which adds no value. You were designed to grow into and out of.
Which is why it applies so well to fitness. You grow into being an athlete by growing out of being an enthusiast. You adopt a lifestyle reflective of where you want to go. By nature, you must leave the old lifestyle behind. Two days a week of exercise is insufficient to become an athlete. Sure, you can work out two days a week, just don’t expect to see the same changes in your life as someone committed to a five or six day a week program. The same can be said for nutrition, sleep, or any of the other major components of a healthy lifestyle. Five cheat days and two days of lean greens and protein does not make abs, and you can quote me on that!
I love to use this approach with goal setting. With goal setting, what I often see are people who overfill their plate. They set great goals, but they don’t keep in mind all the things they are currently in pursuit of. It’s the fantasy goal setting session, where you get to make believe all you’re going to do in life for the next year is the one thing you’re dreaming of. Instead, try using this fill in the blank: For me to grow into Your New Goal Here, I must grow out of Something You’re Currently Doing. Do the hard work up front. If you want to grow into becoming a 5:30 am athlete, you must grow out of late-night television.
You can do the same thing with mindset work, especially when you look at it from a spiritual fitness perspective. Let me give you a few to get the juices flowing: Grow into grace and out of unforgiveness. Grow in humility and out of pride. Grow into contentment and out of comparison. Grow into deep relationships and out of digital distractions. Grow into trusting God and out of trying to do it on your own.
Understand your life is moving in some type of rhythm. If you want to experience the fullness and richness of shalom, you must grow into Godly rhythms and out of worldly rhythms. Learn to make life exchange work for you and watch your joy and peace exceed your greatest expectations.
Questions for Reflection:
Do people distort their view of the past? If yes, what do you think is the root cause?
Are you holding onto something it’s time to grow out of? What do you need to grow into instead?