The Daniel Plan
A few weeks ago I was invited to share my love and expertise of both faith and fitness with members of my childhood church. I began attending Great Bridge Presbyterian when I was 5 years old. I still very much consider that church to be my home and while I don’t visit every Sunday, I feel extremely comfortable there after 32 years.
This summer, the church provided an opportunity for members of the congregation to learn and even take part in living Daniel Strong by way of the Rick Warren Best Seller, The Daniel Plan. You may be familiar with the author from his well known book The Purpose Driven Life. Each of these books have been extremely important in my life and I have read or referred to them in one season of life or another. The Daniel Plan has been broken down into a 4 part series. Week two was all about fitness and provided me a platform to share. Here are the highlights from The Destination Daniel Strong workshop I put together for the group.
We opened with reference to the following verse.
1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 “19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
I shared my interpretation of this verse and my testimony from when I first realized how much faith and fitness actually went hand in hand. It was on a Nicaragua mission trip nearly 15 years ago. During my discussion, I described the fitness and faith levels I witnessed demonstrated by the Nicaraguan people. Their day went something like this:
Living in more privative conditions with limited technology and innovation, they don’t think…they just do. They physically haul buckets of rocks up and down the hill to fill paths, complete projects, and undertake construction. When Americans picture hauling buckets of rocks in the way of fitness we picture a CrossFit competition or some episode of Steve Austin’s Broken Skull Challenge. I realized it was because of their faith that the Nicaraguans were able to accomplish such feats of strength and in fact may have been the originators of this concept.
In The Daniel Plan Book, Warren refers to 10 principles to becoming Daniel Strong. I took those, shook them up a bit and came up with 5 elements that you can implement now. Because 5 is more digestible and attainable than 10.
1. HAVE FAITH OVER FEAR: This is the most important and should be considered first in your health and fitness journey. Consider these questions: Are you practicing your Christian Faith when it comes to your own health and fitness? Are you praying about it? Why do you want it? We pray for family, finances, and relationships daily. Why would we not pray for our own health and fitness. It is because of our ability to live healthy and fit that we in turn are able to share our own gifts and talents.
WHAT: Determine what do you like to do to be active. Be ageless with this and kinda selfish. Do you like running, weight training, swimming, dancing? Try something new! It should not be what your husband, wife, child does to stay active – unless you truly enjoy it too. Fall in love with it. Let it become a daily/weekly habit. Then, you are ready to increase the intensity level or regularity of it.
WHERE: The possibilities are endless. Where do you like to do that active thing you do? God’s surroundings can be the prefect backdrop for fitness. Get outside and hit the trails, beach, backyard! Gyms can be great and can foster a great environment to get fit, but the air outside can’t be beat. I don’t know about you, but the idea of a stair climber or a stationary bike indoors sounds more like work than fun. It can certainly be an option, but it could become a chore that is short lived. Also, are you being mindful of what you are listening to? Positive music is proven to uplift your attitude and increase your energy.
WHO: Once you have said your prayer, picked your preferred fitness activity, and determined where you want to do it, you might want to add in a buddy for extra support. Having a buddy in your corner can be powerful. I run with a large group of other runners twice a week. Knowing others are out there chasing the same healthy lifestyle and goals motivates me to continue, even on the toughest of days. I also talk regularly with those fitness friends throughout the week. Sharing challenges or hopes from my own journey makes me feel supported and encouraged. We share our prayers with friends and family because we believe in the power of prayer. Use that same philosophy here.
- WHY: We know that exercise is good for us, but do we understand how important that is. Exercise alleviates depression, increases energy, keeps weight in check, aids in decision making, increases heart health, and is a proven mood lifter. Walk through this visualization exercise. Picture the fittest person you know. What do they look like? Study their physical attributes. Are they smiling? Now picture the most fit version of yourself. What do you look like physically? How do you feel? Spiritually? Emotionally? What are you wearing? What are you doing? Is this a future self vision? Or a vision of you from the past? What is stopping you?
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