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    One of the most common New Year resolutions is getting in shape. Some people think I am a gym junkie. I work out but definitely am not a no carb, vegan only girl. Although I like to stay in a certain size range, it’s not solely about the scale for me.

    When I was younger, I didn’t value myself for who I was. I was my harshest critic, not always embracing how I was built or what I saw in the mirror. After maturation and growing in the Lord that changed. Another pivotal point came when I started hitting up the gym.  After I started working out, I found my esteem went up – not just because of what I saw in the mirror, though. I discovered my physical strength, stamina and developed fitness knowledge. Even better? I began to use my workouts as a time of worship. Turning on a sermon or having a praise playlist not only lifts my spirit but gives me the endurance to compete a workout – especially on days when I’m not feeling it.

    And I must be honest: I am a foodie. At five feet tall, if I didn’t eat halfway decent 60-70% of the time and didn’t work out, I’d be a real-life heavy oompa loompa.

    Getting in shape takes commitment and discipline. It’s a habit that’s not always easy but it can be done. Here are some things to keep in mind, along with scriptures to meditate on as you write the vision for embarking on the path to have a fit 2018:

    Take control of your fitness goals. Self-discipline is critical to achieving desired results. Take small, measurable steps and commit to them. When you do, results will come. Yes, you can reward yourself – with limitations. Example? A cheat meal is fine but that doesn’t mean a cheat weekend. Just sayin’.

    He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Proverbs 25:28

    Temptation is inevitable. Look for the escape route. That may mean passing on hanging out with the girls or leaving the happy hour with the $5 appetizers.

    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

    There will be pitfalls – and times you fall off. That’s okay; be kind to yourself. Fruit of the Spirit can also apply to how you treat you.

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

    Tackling a new fitness journey can impact your emotional being. Fear, anxiety and unrealistic expectations can intrude your mind, thus affecting how you feel. If you are going through a drastic lifestyle change, it an be an emotional roller coaster. Don’t accept thoughts that propel you into paralyzing fear, self- criticism or angst.

    For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

    Train your body and your thought life simultaneously. Again, thoughts matter. As you embark on fitness goals, you may find yourself being hard on yourself or comparing where you are to someone else. Don’t! Think on what is true: you are working on being a better version of yourself – no one else.

    Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

    Tie your fitness aspirations to prayer. God wants you to be healthy in your body and soul; you don’t have to choose one over the other.

    Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 1:2

    Tell yourself daily who you are, according to the Bible. Society enjoys labeling people – especially by their appearance. You’ve heard the saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Well, that means you won’t be a baddie to everybody – and that is fine. What matters is how you feel about you. Wear your confidence by knowing your body is much more than your measurements.

     What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

    I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. Psalm 139:14

    No matter how lofty or small your goals, approach them fearlessly (Joshua 1:9). The power of Christ makes it possible for you to accomplish the mission. Philippians 4:13 tells us we can do all things through Christ, who strengthens us – and we can. But let me add something I learned: we must make sure our motives are pure. If it’s to please someone else, prove ourselves to others or solely vanity, that can become a taskmaster – not a positive motivator. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a six pack or building a better booty. However, we are more than what we look like. Our character and motive matters; the two outlast a banging body.

    Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Proverbs 31:30

    Never forget — your only competition is yourself. Yes, we can glean from others, but neither you nor I should try to “be like” or “look like” anyone. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by somebody but it becomes an issue when we find ourselves trying to keep up with the sista at the squat rack instead of following our personal journey. Your journey is yours; so don’t be discouraged—even with small progress (Zephaniah 4:10).

    Finally, let no one halt your trek! Ignore your critics — especially the social media haters. Keep on keeping on until the task is complete.