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I’m Finally Working Out Consistently. You Can Too.

SELF | Malcolm Henderson | 6 mins

I’ve never been great at taking care of my body, but something this year finally clicked.

God has been teaching me a lot about my physical health recently. And He definitely got my attention when our family decided to take a last-minute quarantine vacation to Myrtle Beach. Because it was so last minute, I didn’t have my normal lead time to shed a few pounds. Little did I know, God planned it that way on purpose.

I’ve struggled with maintaining a healthy weight my entire life. I was known as the ‘chubby’ kid in grade school, and it wasn’t until college that I gained enough motivation to do something about it. Unfortunately, I was always trying to ‘get healthier’ for the wrong reasons—to impress a woman I liked, to get picked up sooner in rec basketball—and because those reasons were shallow and temporary, so was my motivation and results.

I tried every fad diet and workout program under the sun—P90X, Insanity, juice cleanses, gym memberships, intermittent fasting, Orange Theory, Keto, Noom, 90-Day challenge. You name it—I’ve tried it. All of those programs were great. They weren’t failures—I failed myself, over and over again. I realized that there were deep-rooted insecurities that I was trying to hide by getting ‘in shape’ quickly. I was searching society for the answer, not knowing I would never find it. And it took a quick but powerful encounter with God to show me I was looking in the wrong place.

I don’t know about you, but there’s always that first awkward moment on vacation. The one where you have to take your shirt off for the first time on the beach. Typically, this moment was filled with embarrassment and anxiety, caused by my lack of progress in my health goals.

For the first time EVER, I wasn’t nervous when I took my shirt off despite being at my heaviest. Weird, right? It’s because at that very moment, God was speaking directly to me. As I was holding my son, Isaiah, I heard Him clearly say, “Look down—don’t waste this gift I’ve given you.” It was one of those God moments that didn’t require any analyzing or interpreting. I knew exactly what He meant.

I was seeing less and less of my shoes when I looked down, if you know what I mean, but God met me in that moment. Not with disappointment or judgment, but with encouragement and clear expectations on what He wanted me to do. He revealed to me that when it came to being a good steward of different areas of my life—finances, my time, relationships—those didn’t take as much effort. But the body He has gifted me with never made the list. And I knew on that very day, something had to change.

malcolm with son

It sent me on a journey of focusing on my health as a way to honor Him. I was finally motivated by wanting something more significant than looking better. I was exercising out of gratitude for the body God gave me, and that made all the difference. I decided to not just force my way through it but to engage God throughout every part of the process. He helped me realize that there are literally millions of people that would want to trade bodies with me—that mine is currently free of impairments and sickness, and taking care of it is actually an act of worshipping Him.

I felt like God was pushing me to start running again in the mornings. Running was always the way I heard from God most in college. I must admit, there was some initial fear getting back into it. The combination of my complexion, stature, and time of day made me question if that method of exercise was the right choice with our current racial climate. As I started to second guess my decision, God gave one of my best friends, Aaron, a similar conviction around his health. Already, I felt like it was an answer to prayer and eased my concerns around jogging alone.

So we started running a 5k every morning at 6am. I set multiple alarms, experimented with different alarm apps to make sure I oversleep, picked out my workout clothes the night before, asked Aaron to text me when he got up, and sometimes I even said a prayer the night before asking God to allow me to have the motivation to wake up. I wasn’t going to allow any excuses to get in the way of my God-given convictions. Let’s be honest, though, some days were easier than others, but I got up each day and decided to use that workout time intentionally—listening to my Bible app and worship music, praying and listening for God’s voice, talking to Aaron (who I consider a spiritual mentor)—all as a way to connect with God more.

For the first time in my life, He has given me the ability to be consistent around exercising and developing better eating habits. I truly believe it’s because I’m doing it for the right reasons. And I know He’s put the right people in my path to help me along the way.

I’ve lost 33 pounds since the end of June. I feel physically AND spiritually lighter—and I’m just getting started.

I believe this ‘a-ha’ is NOT unique to me. God gave you your body for a reason too. He loves you. He wants the best for you. He wants you to have the energy, stamina, strength, and confidence that being healthy brings. He wants you to connect with Him as you go and find the synergy between physical and spiritual health. Come on this journey with me. Forward this article to a friend for accountability, and ask them to help hold you to it.

You’re worth it, and more importantly, God is worth it. Everything He has given us is worth honoring, and that starts with our physical body.

Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of a body that works. I repent for not taking care of it like I should. And I’m so incredibly thankful for you giving me the opportunity to redeem that.


Written by

Malcolm Henderson

Proud husband and father. Pastor. Only child. Introverted extrovert. High school state bowling champion—yeah, you read that right. Double Stuf Oreo lover. Writes rhymes to pass the time.

Published on Jan 1, 2021
Process, journal or discuss the themes of this article - here's a few questions to get the ball rolling...

I’m Finally Working Out Consistently. You Can Too.

  1. What stands out to you most about this article? Why that?

  2. What’s your history with exercising consistently? What gets in the way?

  3. What generally motivates you to work out? Is it a healthy motivation or a shaming one?

  4. How could you blend your spiritual health and your physical health this year? Think of 3 ways, and commit to giving one a shot this week.

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