Using anger for good

I’ve noticed that I am quick to anger lately – moreso than usual! I am angered by much of the activity in this world. I am angry and the way we judge one another. I am angry at selfish people who have gotten in the way of my and others’ goals and dreams. I am angry.

I have recently been angry – but only with one individual specifically. I have been more an more upset lately by the ways that he inadvertently hurts me. In all reality, I know it is not intentional. But I allow the hurt to become anger anyways. My pattern of letting my feelings boil up inside of me leads to this anger.

Exercise for anger management

Some have asked how they can learn to love working out and exercise like I do. Sometimes I joke that all you need is to be as angry as I am. I have a lot of anger. And disappointment. And frustration. This fuels my workouts.

Working out is a healthy outlet for my anger. It is my natural tendency to allow everything to simply build up inside and to tell myself that the thoughts and feelings will eventually go away (do not misinterpret Proverbs 29:11). This is not realistic. My workouts, however – it is incredible to have this healthy physical release! This past weekend, anger shaved :30 of per mile on my long run. This is evidence to support that a great portion of running ability is mental. And I felt fantastic afterwards – physically and mentally.

Exercise is medicine – for the mind photo (31)

Of all the things in the human heart, anger can be one of the most intense, destructive, and unhealthy emotions that we can experience. If not handled in the proper way, it can have drastic life-changing consequences. It can lead us to want to destroy (and we often self-destruct).

Exercise is a healthy coping mechanism for me. I miss my boxing and grappling, but I have other outlets. Nothing is better than using anger to lift the heavy weights of the ground. I might have my bad a$$ face on in the gym, but I do not care. The gym is where I get my therapy – and more often than not I want to be alone. Just me, my workout, and God.

After my workout, my mind is clear and rational. The anger is significantly diminished, if not completely gone! I have a mind that is constantly on overdrive, so to be able to free my mind from this cycle is the best medicine!!

Sources of anger

I often wonder, what is there to be so angry about? While this line of thinking protects me from hanging onto anger, it does not eliminate the onset of anger.

What makes me angry?

Inconsiderate  and selfish people.

When I do something incorrectly.

When someone offends me or someone I love.

Arrogant people.

Lies and deception.

Unethical marketing and business.

The bottomline

Anger can be good – and even useful. The physiological and psychological responses to anger can be channeled and used productively. (Can I be angry on race day so that I run really fast???)

How does anger impact your workouts?

Do you healthfully cope with anger?

“Is all anger sin? No, but some of it is. Even God Himself has righteous anger against sin, injustice, rebellion and pettiness. Anger sometimes serves a useful purpose, so it isn’t necessarily always a sin. Obviously, we’re going to have adverse feelings, or God wouldn’t have needed to provide the fruit of self-control. Just being tempted to do something is not sin. It’s when you don’t resist the temptation, but do it anyway, that it becomes sin.” ~ Joyce Meyer

My gym is my church

Please walk with me, while I describe my church to you. This is real. My gym IS my church. From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:

photo (2)CHURCH noun
1: a building for public and especially Christian worship
2: the clergy or officialdom of a religious body
often capitalized : a body or organization of religious believers
4: a public divine worship
5: the clerical profession
I have not found a ‘home’ in a gym that was not built on a foundation of Christian principles. My
 gym is where I feel most comfortable and where I am able to be me. My gym is where I fellowship. My gym is where I disciple. My gym is full of respect. The truth is – most gyms are judgement-free zones (not just Planet Fitness!). My gym is intimidating to the outside – aren’t most churches? My gym is an organization of believers, working towards a common goal and helping one another. We lift one another up. We encourage. We inspire. My gym is a positive place – yet a place of chosen suffering!
My gym is where I break myself down in order to build myself up. My gym is where I am vulnerable and quick to display weakness. As a personal trainer I often say, “My job is to make you feel weak while your here so that you can walk out of here stronger.” My gym is where I utilize the passion that has been placed on my heart. I use cues like, “lift your heart to God,” and “lift your arm out strong, as if you were to shake hands with God.”
My sweat is my prayers

I embrace sweat. At UFF we tagged, “Sweat is Sexy – because sweat makes sexy people.” True! But it’s far more significant than this. Sometimes my sweat is bloody – a quality deadlift or torn calluses to thank. When I am sweating, I have no worries of the outside world. I am moving from one exercise to the next, digging deep for strength and courage. I am building the best me possible.  And I am completing the seemingly impossible to get there. I pray for strength, focus, safety — for protection, love, success. I reach a level of mind-body connection that is unattainable in any other setting (for me) — with no distractions and no worldly concerns. It’s me, my body, and God.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13

My sweat is representative of how I care for myself – as one part of His body. Each workout is a personal worship and praise for Him.

My strength is my salvation

photo (3)SALVATION noun

1: a : deliverance from the power and effects of sin b : the agent or means that effects salvation c Christian Science : the realization of the supremacy of infinite Mind over all bringing with it the destruction of the illusion of sin, sickness, and death

2: liberation from ignorance or illusion

3: a : preservation from destruction or failure

: deliverance from danger or difficulty

I am strong. Physically, I am stronger than the average woman. Mentally and emotionally, I am likely stronger than the average person as well. Exemplified in my resilience. I didn’t just walk up to the barbell one day and pick it up. Deadlifts – a barometer lift for strength – are my nemesis. I have acutely injured myself on numerous occasions, attempting a deadlift. But I let my body rest, and then I picked myself up and attempted it again. I still have anxiety with deadlifts – and that is when I need to dig for my inner strength and not rely on the physical to get me through.

Where is your church? Is it a cathedral? A cove? A small coffee shop? Yes, I attend a church, where I worship and love on the Lord. But MY church at my gym, that is where my heart is and I know God is right there with me!

There’s hope for 2013! Letting life happen

I didn’t workout on January 1, 2013. I had high hopes of completing a baseline workout that I will repeat in 3 months, but it didn’t happen. And you know what? I’m OKAY with that. I’m not ecstatic, however. I’m not proud. BUT, I’m not disappointed. I will do it today. And not being disappointed in myself is a HUGE step forward for this girl. Those who know me know that I struggle with guilt, disappointment, and negative self-talk when it comes to missing workouts. Unreasonable? Yes…but I work every day to overcome this negative tendency.

This small step in my mental and emotional being gives me GREAT HOPE for 2013. I am finding peace within me. I am finding peace with God. I am finding peace in my surroundings. And all without looking or trying too hard. I am just letting life happen. I’m finding love. While I’m struggling with purpose and combating feelings of failure, I am growing in unimaginable ways. I am more aware of the thousands of ways I am blessed. I can’t think of a better way to begin a new year!!!

I have spent the last month or so determining how I am going to make 2013 the year of me. I have a tendency to lose myself, giving myself to my employer, my clients, my friends…and then there is nothing left for me. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the year of self-absorbed me. I am going to do for myself as I would do for others – which has been ignored for years. And I am going to focus on love – more importantly the love I do have. I am going to focus less on things and what I maybe do not have. I am going to let life happen in 2013. I am going to embrace life this year…and trust all that it has to offer.

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age – Titus 2:11

Where is God when it hurts?

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. – Romans 8:18

I’ve been reading, Where Is God When It Hurts?, by Philip Yancey. For the girl who has tried to manage chronic pain for all of adulthood, this book is proving to be incredibly enlightening and powerful. It quickly occurred to me that I had NO IDEA what leprosy actually was! I had read about it and heard about it and believed it was a disease of the skin. But many who suffer from leprosy have numbness or a lack of feeling in their hands, feet, or legs (disturbingly similar to diabetes symptoms, huh?). While leprosy is caused by a bacterium, it is worsened and difficult to manage due to the absence of pain or sensation in the extremities. Yancey describes individuals who put their hands in fire and wear shoes that wear down toes because they do not feel the warning signs those of us who feel pain heed. Can you imagine? How dangerous is this world for those who may not feel pain??

I know pain. Too well. I spent a great deal of my time, energy, and money trying to manage my physical pain throughout 2007-2010. This came after years of trying to ignore or self-medicate this pain and suffering. My first recollection of pain is from middle school – sitting in the bleachers for a pep rally, hiding the tears that built up because of the pain in my knees. My mother disregarded this discomfort as growing pains. So I silently dealt with it. One morning when I was 16, I could not get out of bed. My back hurt so badly and I could not sit up. I eventually got up and my mom took me to the urgent care – x-rays, muscle relaxants, and steroids were the answer! The cause? According to the x-ray, I must have been dropped on my head as a baby (seriously!) and my spine was being compressed. A few days later a specialist called. After looking at my x-rays he suggested that I seek additional treatment or suffer extensively in the future. I tried chiropractic adjustments for a while, but then I came to rely on unhealthy doses of ibuprofen to make it through my days.

Fast forward 6 years or so to 2004, I was no longer taking regular doses of ibuprofen – I was silently suffering. I was introduced to water aerobics and as I became stronger, the pain lessened! It was not gone, but it became more tolerable. I fell in love with exercise – leading me to where I am today. I learned what my body could and could not handle. I learned what made my pain worse and what made it better. I learned to be in tune with my body. Being a master at ignoring pain – I ignored it too often and by 2007 I had done damage to my knees. I was in agony. I made a too-quick decision to have surgery in December 2007 on my right knee. While this surgery led to a miserable year of pain and suffering, it forced me to rest and protected me from doing permanent damage to my left knee – which exhibited ACL and PCL strains.

2008 was the year of great suffering. I had complications following surgery that significantly limited my rehabilitation, exacerbated pain, and led to a second surgery. Doctors and specialists told me that I would never run, jump, or squat again. I was told to stop exercising (or anything that caused pain – living caused pain at that time). At the same time, I was told to lose weight (at 5’7″, 155lb.) and to do so without exercising or much physical activity at all. I was recommended to try an experimental antibiotic regimen that had been shown to help osteoarthritic patients – I declined. Going into 2009, I was told that I would spend my lifetime managing my pain with medications (which by the way did nothing to alleviate my pain) and that the chances were good I would require joint replacements and invasive surgeries as early as age 30.

I was angry. I could see how my pain and suffering were molding me into the wonderful professional and woman I am today, but it was difficult to cope. I now know my body better than most people you will ever meet. That little tweek in my hip means no heavy lifting. The pain in my right temple is actually my trapezius screaming for a rest. I will not give up. I will not stop. I will use my pain as a barameter. I will love my pain – as it protects me from evil, injury, and even death. So where is God with it hurts? I don’t know about you…but I’m thinking that I may be safely protected in His arms when it hurts. It’s certainly something to consider!

…nine months of waiting and preparation, intense labor, then the ecstasy of birth. – John 16:21

This is YOUR life – SHINE

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.  – Matthew 5:14-16

This is YOUR life…do what you LOVE and do it often – SHINE. Live your DREAM and SHARE your passion – SHINE.
This is your life

Sometime last year a friend spotted this picture and sent it may way. I immediately ordered the poster and have used it every day since as a guide to live by. Easier said than done! And I  read on…LIFE IS SIMPLE. This poster provides advice that shows us how simple the answers to our struggles are. But simple does not equate to easy.

I certainly don’t think that life should be easy. I do often wonder why it has to be so hard. For example, I didn’t like my job, so I quit…and I started doing the things I love. Overall, my life has drastically improved. I reclaimed my soul from the corporate world’s firm grip. I share what I love and I SHINE every day. But there is still something missing. If I were a five-point star, I think that only four points would be glowing bright. Reading the poster, I think that my next lesson is to stop over analyzing. If I could master that one I think I might be just fine!!

Step by step, I am moving towards my dream – sometimes little steps and other times big steps. SHINE-ing. And it creeps into my mind, is my dream the same as God’s dream for me? I am pursuing my passion, and using my talents for the greater good? I SHINE…

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive and inheritance from the Lord as a reward. – Colossians 3:23

Do you SHINE?

He is glorified when we allow ourselves to be His vessel to reach others and we are blessed for our obedience – Genesis 22:18

Letting go is NOT giving up

Many of us have great difficulty letting go. Letting go closely resembles quitting or giving up, yet these are not synonymous. Unfortunately, knowing this doesn’t free our thoughts and feelings from relating them. I, for one, am terrible at letting go of things I love and value. I don’t want to let go of things that give me comfort or allow me to experience that feel good feeling. But how often are the things in life that we love and value actually harmful? How many of us love someone who often hurts us? How many of us find comfort in our daily routines, afraid to step out into something different? Yet sometimes we easily give up – for example on diets, exercise regimes, Bible studies, school, jobs, etc. It is almost as if we hold onto what is easy and give up on what we perceive as hard…and then often finding ourselves needing to start over.

If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up.

I think that something can be said about allowing something other than God to have too much control or power over our feelings of happiness and comfort. With all the significant change I have been going through recently, it often feels like I’m quitting time and time again. I am one who sticks to commitments through the dire end. But I have been in a few situations that have challenged my morality and integrity – both as a professional and as a woman – and in which I have had to strongly consider letting go of those commitments. How do we know for ourselves when we are letting go rather than giving up? One way of thinking about this is to think of letting go as an act of giving it to God. I’ve had a couple of relationships that I have had to let go of this past year. I can honestly say that I let go, because I implemented some healthy boundaries and I put the next steps in those relationships into God’s hands. I also equate giving up to being easy to do and letting go to being more difficult. Lastly, I would say that giving up leaves me feeling uneasy, whereas letting go provides a sense of relief.

What are some of the reasons we quit or give up? I am known to quit when I think that I am not good at something, feel like I’m not perfect and as a result will fail. I tend to quit, kidding myself that when it is my choice it is easier to cope with the failure. The truth is, it’s not easier. Another truth is, I am more than likely NOT failing at whatever it may be.

So how do you know you are letting go versus giving up? I think we all need some assistance clarifying the difference.

Isaiah 55: 9 “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”