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A burden to carry

I know in the past that I have reported starting a workout regimen. I’ve bragged about my late night infomercial purchase of a magic bullet program. I’ve bought equipment proclaiming that the investment would ensure my commitment. I have done all those things; but no, I don’t ever recall providing an update of my utter failure to follow through. So, why start now. Instead, I am happy to report another attempt to improve my health. My daughter and I have joined a fitness club together.

Is that the right term, fitness club? Or are they health spas or work out centers – or gyms? Well, a rose by any other name… would still smell like sweat. So I guess it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that this time I have a new strategy. My daughter is now my workout buddy- a nice way to say task master. She not only desires to work off stress for herself, she is prodding me to make good on my promise to build some muscle to address my osteoporosis.

Over a year ago I was told my condition is severe. The doctor prescribed medication and sternly directed me to build some muscle to support my bones. It’s not that I haven’t thought about complying. I’ve just been really busy. And lazy. I don’t like to exercise. It’s hard. It’s boring. It’s inconvenient. Worst of all, it’s no fun.

But, I also hate being scolded. So with my one-year follow doctor’s appointment coming up in less than a month I have new motivation to get started. So together Hannah and I took the plunge. To increase my comfort level, we joined a gym that is devoid of the stereo-typical macho feel, where one might find muscle bound tattooed men or curvaceous valley girls, both more interested in picking up each other than picking up weights. When I explained this choice to my daughter she condescended, “Mom, have you been watching Flashdance again?”

Maybe gyms have changed since the 90’s, but I just wanted someplace that was less about showing off and more about burning off. Our new gym is perfect. When we walked in nobody even looked up, which is a good thing since we looked more like lost tourists than fitness buffs as we wandered gawking at the maze of machines. The good news is I recognized two of the contraptions – the treadmill and the bicycle. The bad news is I needed to use the weight-bearing machines that looked more like instruments the CIA might employ for interrogations than something made to help people.

Forging on, we made an attempt to follow the diagrams on each of the machines. As we worked our way from device to device two things became clear almost immediately. First, a picture is not worth a thousand words. I fell off two of the machines. Second, I am a puny weak excuse of a woman. While my daughter set each machine at 40 pounds or more the first day, I could barely lift the absolute minimums. At one point I stopped letting Hannah go first because it was just too humiliating to keep moving the weight peg to 10 pounds.

All in all, our first visit was unproductive. We were not even sure if we had done a single thing correctly – though the next day our muscles testified we had indeed employed them. The next day we asked for help and the owner of the facility instructed us on the proper use of each machine. He then questioned us each about our personal goals so that he could personalize a training plan.

When I explained that I needed to be ready to “pass” my doctor’s appointment in two weeks he was kind but blunt.

“So you realize that building muscle is a long-term goal? You won’t see the results you need that quickly.”

He misunderstood. By “pass” I meant I just wanted to say “Yes,

doctor, I am exercising.”

And so, yet another attempt at fitness begins. This time however, I am more hopeful it will continue. Having a partner provides something that my home-based Hip Hop Abs, Sweatin’ to the Oldies and Jazzercise don’t offer: accountability. Hannah is committed to going to encourage me because she wants me to take care of my health. And I am committed to going with her because she needs a way to handle stress. While both of us might easily give up on ourselves, we are unlikely to give up on each other.

In the real world, living out God’s Word to “look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:4) to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and “bear one another's burdens” (Galatians 6:2) for us means building muscles and bearing weights together. What does the Word of God look like exercised in your life?

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