review: 40 days of faith & fitness devo
My faith has always been an integral part of my life. My fitness routine, meanwhile, has been a bit more elusive.
I never managed to exercise regularly in my early twenties. I played tennis and swam sporadically, and I joined tons of different fitness classes - from kickboxing to pilates to yoga - but I stopped committing to them eventually. Oh, and I am not a fan of running.
All that changed when I tried barre, a workout that combines ballet movements with cardio, pilates and yoga. My reasons for embarking on this fitness routine were, to be honest, superficial - I was getting married (there was a pre-wedding shoot in Bali to prep for), and I had put on quite a bit of weight (thanks to a stressful job, which led to a lot of poor diet choices).
Two years on, I've surprised my husband - and myself even - with the fact that fitness is now a big part of my life. And while I'm no swimsuit model, I am proud of the muscle mass and definition I've gained after working out more regularly.
But here's the plot twist.
I still view my body in rather negative ways even though I'm fitter now. It's hard for me to talk kindly to it and to love it at times.
So when I got the chance to review Marsha Apsley's book 40 Days Of Faith And Fitness: A Devotional Journal, I was all for it. It was the first time I had come across a devotional that ties these two concepts together, so I sure was excited to dive into it!
About the book
The 40-day devotional's biggest goal is to help us see ourselves the way God sees us. Every "day" includes a quote from scripture, a short devotion, a prayer section, an action step, and a blank page for journalling in.
Here's a synopsis of the book from Amazon:
This book won't tell you which fitness program is best for you, or why you should (or shouldn't) count calories. It also won't make you feel guilty for not exercising for weeks, or for indulging your sweet tooth too frequently.
What it WILL do is lead you on a journey of self-discovery, framed in the light of God's word.
What I enjoyed
Easy to digest devotional content.
Marsha writes in a very clear, straightfoward manner, and every devotional is short and to the point. It took me about a minute to read through each day's devo, and then a few more minutes to contemplate, pray and journal.
If you feel like you don't have time in your daily schedule to squeeze this in, I usually read it while having my breakfast - it's a great way to start your day right!
Its emphasis on our heart conditions.
The focus isn't on how much weight you've been shedding over the course of reading this devo, but on powerful spiritual truths that we have to believe on the INSIDE for real change to manifest on the OUTSIDE.
Some of the points that stood out the most for me were that we should regard our bodies as God's masterpieces; that we should stop obsessing over our flaws; and that we should keep our eyes on our own progress instead of comparing ourselves with others.
Lots of space to journal in.
I appreciate the fact that the journal section is given its very own blank page, instead of being constrained by boxes or slipped in at the end of a passage.
What I learned
The need to relinquish my negative self-image.
This is an ongoing internal struggle that was also uncovered as I read Steven Furtick's book Unqualified: How God Uses Broken People To Do Big Things.
One of my journal entries in this devotional goes: "Just before reading this, I was observing the lines on the back of my neck and how my cheeks appear fatter, and I felt sad. But I believe this is not how God wants me to see myself. Mentally, I have become stronger and less indulgent in ugly self-talk. Lord, I pray for continued mental growth and healing."
It's not about the numbers.
Prior to reading this devotional, I had decided to stop measuring my weight on a scale. For one, gaining more muscles meant that my weight went up (not something a girl is excited to see, obviously). For two, I felt like tracking my weight was not the point of my fitness routine. I didn't want to get fit just to lose weight any longer; I wanted to get fit because I enjoyed being healthy and wanted to keep my body in good shape.
The devotional confirms this approach to fitness: "Exercise is important not only for weight loss but more importantly for a healthy heart, flexibility, energy, and longevity."
Turning my workout into an act of worship.
This is something the devotional mentions, and I wonder why it never crossed my mind - to use my workout time as a way to spend time with God, whether it's in listening to Christian music or praying to Him.
I've never tried to implement this since my mind is usually focused on getting my pose or posture right (or wishing the workout would be ending soon :p), so it's definitely a new area of growth for me.
To sum up: I would highly recommend reading 40 Days Of Faith And Fitness: A Devotional Journal if you are struggling to start working out, or if you are dealing with a ton of insecurities about your body. My prayer is that you will be changed from the inside out when you read this!