Lutheran Church Extension Fund

"Round is a shape." Let's redefine fitness.

We were discussing physical fitness on a retreat when a pastor told me,

“You know, round is a shape, too.”

He proceeded to make an excellent argument. Some of us are by nature and genetics born with an endomorphic body style: a naturally thicker build and prone to easily add muscle mass and to carry more body fat. Doesn’t mean we’re out of shape.

Just because natural mesomorphs with their broad shoulders and narrow waistlines are featured in all the fitness ads on TV doesn’t mean they’re the only ones in “good shape.”

And endomorphs like myself, who labor endlessly in the gym and in the buffet line to put on weight, are not necessarily fit because we look thin.

It’s more a matter of response-ability.

We’re created to serve. Service is love in action, and it’s the action part that should be defining our fitness.

If God calls, if my family calls, if my neighbor calls and I’m unable to respond because I have neglected the care of my body, then I’m being irresponse-able. (Is that a word?)

Martin Luther suggested that care of God’s gift of the body and life is an act of Christian faith when it is directed toward the calling to serve. Far too much of our culture’s emphasis on body image and fitness is a form of self-centered idolatry.

So let’s redefine the purpose of the essentials of physical fitness: rest, nutrition and exercise.

(We’ll save stress management for another day.)

Rest. Sleep is God’s way of saying, “Shut it down. You’ve done enough.” Getting enough sleep is an act of faith; it’s even preparation for our entry into eternity.

When you lay your head on the pillow and shut your eyes, in essence you’re saying, “Lord, I trust you. If I should wake before I die, I pray the Lord to show me why.”

Fully rested (and few of us are!) is how we serve best. Creativity is enhanced. Having enough sleep makes us vigorous, attentive, ready to respond when called.

Sleep is like a servant’s secret weapon. A BMI of 18 does no one any good if you can’t get off the couch.

Nutrition. My mechanic uses engine diagnostics to check my car’s fuel burning efficiency. Your health screenings for cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar will tell you whether you’re eating to live or living to eat.

If response-ability is the key to fitness, then the proper fuel in the right amounts will keep the body running smoothly.

It’s simply a matter of figuring out which fuel helps you run best. If your ability to serve hard and rest well is reduced by the kinds of food you eat, try something else. I recommend food the way God designed it, not the way Sara Lee did!

And finally, Exercise. Move it or lose it. Walk a lot. Stretch some. Tone your muscles. Mostly walk.

And don’t idolize the mesomorphs on TV. Round is a shape, too.

Thanks for reading.