No Pain, No Gain….But why does it have to hurt so much?

In case you haven’t picked up on it, exercise and working out are not high on my list of activities. I understand the value and recognize the need, but I have not found the proper level of discipline and motivation.

Our base gym has a fantastic service called Peep Drop. It used to be that the parent signed up to volunteer to watch the kids. For every hour you volunteered you got so many hours of gym time and your kids could be taken care of. This was a pretty good deal. Apparently, however, this volunteer for gym hours still wasn’t enough to get me to the gym. Recently, they took away my last excuse. Now you don’t even need to volunteer. You automatically get 10 (I’m pretty sure) hours a week. No more excuses. I couldn’t justify not going anymore.

Image from picjumbo.com
Image from picjumbo.com

So, twice this week, I’ve gone to the gym. The first day for a class and the second for some time on a treadmill (i had hoped for a second class but misread the schedule – oh well, I probably would have fallen over in the class anyway). As I sit here writing, I would love to not get up for the rest of the evening. I am so sore!

I was telling Ben about my aches and pains and he laughed. “But it’s a good hurt” he said. “My hamstrings won’t move because I did legs yesterday. It’s awesome,” he boasted. What?? How on earth is that awesome? Maybe I am missing a few synaptic pathways in my brain that have to do with exercise and the body aches it causes.  I mean, I get it, kind of. The main means that you worked the muscle and as it heals, it grows stronger. That’s nice and all, but the process hurts.

Since my body aches every time I move for the most part, I’ve obviously spent a lot of time dwelling on it. There are a lot of things in life that are for our good and overall benefit that involve a process of pain. How many times does a child learning to walk fall before acquiring the core and leg strength and balance necessary? How much did your head hurt when studying for a difficult final or exam in school? How much did it hurt your pride to have to admit an error or mistake at work was your fault? So many lessons in life are learnt through a process of pain. But we grow because of it. We learn to walk. We retain the knowledge from the test which shapes our future learning experiences. We grow as an individual when we own up to the mistakes we make.

Even faith grows in a similar manner. St. Peter tells us, “So that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7) Even though tested by fire – sounds painful to me. But, if my faith deepens and grows because of it, isn’t it worth it? If I am able to more clearly see the hand of God in my life and am better able to trust in the good plans He has crafted for me, isn’t that enough?

If we expect our faith to carry us, then our spiritual muscles need training to go the distance. Habits of prayer, sacrifice, communication, service, self-denial. All these are elements of a healthy, active and growing spiritual life – spiritual muscles.

If we neglect one area, we may find some fatigue, some soreness or discontent, not unlike what my body is presently experiencing. The challenge, just like with exercise, is to go back even though you are sore, confident that any pain or frustration is temporary and that good will come from it. So, maybe it’s time to stop complaining and start training.

Mamma duck and her ducklings

When we walk through parking lots, we tend to get a couple stares from passersby. Typically, I am holding the baby in one arm and holding the hand of one child with the other. This leaves one free toddler, so we all link up. Usually I hold Rosie’s hand and she holds John’s. It’s a rather comical train, trying to find the right pace for everyone’s different size legs. Then John will try to run and poor Rosie will be stretched between. Or Rosie will run and John will get swung out on the end. It’s a sight, I’m sure.

Mamma duckAt some point, I started telling the kids that I was the Mamma duck and they were the ducklings. The ducklings all have to follow their Mamma duck just like they do in a pond near our house. They love it. Rosie enjoys rattling off “You are the Mamma duck, I am the girl duck, John is the boy duck, Daddy is the Daddy duck and Clare is the baby duck!”

We had a new iteration of Mamma duck and her ducklings the other day. I mentioned in another post that I am not a super disciplined person. Working out/exercise has never been high on my priority list and the few occasions it has risen the ranks, I haven’t been disciplined enough to actually stick with it.

My husband recently found a new exercise app. He is starting to train for a 100 mile bike ride in the fall and I think was looking for a new way to structure and regiment his work outs. He was saying this app was good because you told it your goals (weight loss, general fitness, build muscle, etc.) and it tailored work outs to that goal. Every day you say how you are feeling (sore, fine, great) and it will increase or decrease the difficulty level. I had to admit, it sounded good.

So, I downloaded it too. I don’t know why, I get so embarrassed, anxious, and silly about exercising. The first day, it’s funny to say now that I waited until he went to work to even open the app. The app had me do some stretching and then it wanted me to walk for 15 minutes. Well, I knew if I took all the kids for a 15 minute walk we would barely make it around the block, probably not the heart rate target the app had in mind. I decided to just walk around the house. I could keep up a decent pace and even had the added “bonus” of carrying Clare for 10 of the 15 minutes (someone should really create a work out plan/app for moms with children under 18 months to do at home, but take into account the fact that they will be carrying said child. It would be awesome, someone please do it. I might even try it out. But I;m starting to digress).

There I was, attempting to walk at a decent pace through my house and both John and Rosie start to follow me. Mamma duck was back with her ducklings trotting (swimming?) along behind her.

These kids want so much to be like me and my husband. It’s what kids do, it’s how they learn – imitation. They observe my reaction to a situation and try to emulate it in their own lives, for better or worse. Even if you don’t have any children, people are watching you, observing your behavior, wondering about your thoughts and reasons for acting as you do. I don’t mean that people are judging you, but we are naturally a curious species. We are inquisitive, we wonder, we ask questions, we try to understand. We all have people we look up to, those we wish to be more like. God made us this way and it is a beautiful thing because it allows us to learn from each other.

This all gets me thinking about who my role models are. Who has been a role model and ceases to be – why? Who are my present role models – why? Who else could be a role model – why?

I’ll share a couple with you:

I am inspired fashion-wise by Joanna Gaines from DIY Network’s Fixer Upper show. I like her simple style of dressing, nothing flashy, simple color palette and strategic use of jewelry.

I am inspired as a parent by a good friend who always to remain rational with her children, even when they are acting and talking in highly irrational ways. She usually maintains a calm, steady voice, and tries to see things from their perspective. She is respectful of their irrationality until they are able to calm themselves to a more rational state of being.

I am inspired as a mother by Chiara Lubich, the founder of a movement in the Catholic Church called the Focolare. Chiara writes about a universal motherhood, based on imitating Mary, the mother of Jesus. Chiara challenges: “In practice we have to …behave toward every neighbor I meet, or for whom I shall be working, as if I were their mother…A mother is always welcoming, always helpful, always hopeful, and covers up everything. She forgives everything in her children.”

I am inspired as a wife by a woman in a small group I am in. She and her husband retired to our area after 30 years in the Air Force. Military life for them involved deployments and separations as you might guess. I have always thought about how wonderful life after the Air Force will be some day, to be able to leave all the separations behind. For this couple, life and job had other plans. Presently, her husband is working 7 hours away from her and a job he loves and they both agree is the best situation for him. They see each other on the weekends. They will continue like this for at least another year. Her poise, confidence, loyalty and faith are contagious.

Who inspires you most today? Who do you hope is inspired by you?