By: Crystal Cochen
I have been thinking about “influence” lately. Whether we realize it or not, we all influence others, either directly or indirectly. Sometimes, people want to follow our example. Other times, people want to do the exact opposite of what we have done. The reasons for following or not following our example are as varied as the folks who watch us. You may be saying to yourself, “No one is really watching me” or “I only have a small sphere of influence.” I used to say that. However, I have been pleasantly surprised lately by my influence on some of my brothers and sisters in Christ, in terms of health and fitness.
When I turned 40 a few months ago, I knew it was time to get it together. The perfect storm of events caused me to start taking my health seriously. Before my husband and I joined a gym two weeks before my birthday, I lived a sedentary life. I practice law during the day. So, I am either sitting in my office or sitting in court waiting for my cases to be heard. During the evening, I would usually crochet something to sell in my online boutique. I was doing way too much sitting. Way too much. No bueno. I was taking medications for high blood pressure and cholesterol. The scale that my husband and I own not only tells the weight, but also indicates the percentage of body fat. One day in early April 2012, the scale hurt my feelings. Twice. Hence, my new gym membership. I looked in the mirror one day while getting dressed and realized that I needed to make a change in my lifestyle.
In addition to exercising and eating right, I started writing the My Faith and Fitness blog to document this new journey of good health and fitness. When I attended seminary, one major issue that I noticed about my colleagues and myself was that many of us rarely made time to take good care of ourselves. It doesn’t help that there is always some fried chicken at a church dinner. That never helps. Consequently, our health suffered. Writing my blog is a way to encourage my Christian brothers and sisters, especially my colleagues in ministry, to participate in self-care by making health and fitness a priority. We also support and pray for each other as we journey on the road of healthy living. Just as Christianity requires a lifetime commitment, good health and fitness must also be a lifetime commitment.
After my birthday, I happened to mention my new healthy and fit lifestyle to my fellow church members and friends from seminary. Just in passing. Little did I know that my transformation would influence others to join me on this exciting journey. Exercise is not “exciting” but the changes that I am experiencing are exciting. I’m losing weight at a healthy pace. I can walk faster and longer and on a higher incline on the treadmill without getting winded. My body feels healthier. My muscles feel stronger. I have much more energy than I had before I began this journey. I can’t describe the feeling, but I know that I feel good. When I told people about my decision to live a more healthy life, I expected people to say “Oh, that’s nice” but not much more than that. They did say that. More importantly, some of them began to contemplate the state of their health. Many of us church folks usually don’t think about health and fitness until something goes wrong. I was happy to learn that some of the members of my church either joined a fitness center or re-activated a defunct membership. I even exercise with some of them at the gym. Additionally, many of them cut back on the fried chicken. I have cut back as well, although I do miss it sometimes. Be blessed.