Christian Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Excerpts

Motives: Why Are You Wanting to Get Fit?

  • Dino Nowak Author & Celebrity Fitness Trainer
  • 2005 30 Apr
Motives:  Why Are You Wanting to Get Fit?

Here’s a tall tale for you. Let’s peek inside the life of a couple on their anniversary.

All day long the wife has been looking forward to seeing her husband so she can give him the gift she’s spent so much time searching for. It’s something very special to him. She spent lots of thought and effort getting it for him.

The husband, on the other hand, has been caught in meeting after meeting at work. As the day winds down and his co-workers begin leaving for the home, he feels a knot in the pit of his stomach. What am I forgetting? When he turns down the street that leads to his neighborhood he’s thinking about how much he’s looking forward to sitting down to the delicious, hot meal his wife always makes for him. She’s such an amazing cook. I’m so blessed to have her as my…

“My wife! Oh no, I forgot our anniversary!” He makes a razor-sharp U-turn, tires squealing, and heads for the local florist.

Nice story, Dino, but what does it have to do with motives? Okay, look: both the husband and the wife are doing something nice for one another. But one is doing it out of love and the other is doing it out of fear. One is doing it to give; the other is doing it to avoid pain.

We’re the same way when it comes to our motives for getting fit. Have you received a disturbing report from your doctor? Has all the fitness information around you finally scared the living daylights out of you? Are you after a promotion or some other goal and you feel you won’t be able to achieve it without dropping that fat?

Your motives for getting fit will determine whether or not you succeed and whether or not you stick with it for the long term. Did you know that 95–98 percent of people who start a program quit? A bad motive is the first big landmine on the road to good health.

To get you thinking correctly about this, I’m going to go through a few bad motives I’ve encountered in people trying to get fit. Then we’ll move to the right reason.

Wrong motives

Let’s look at a few wrong motives. It’s not an exhaustive list. Feel free to add others in!

Wrong motive #1: Trying to be what the culture says you should be

None of us has escaped the images of beauty and health that come at us through the media and in the opinions of people and groups around us. Maybe you saw a model in a magazine or someone on the street, and you thought, “That’s what I should look like.” All of us want to be accepted. If that’s the image that will be accepted, it’s very easy to aspire to look like that. We want to fit the mold and be the ideal.

The problem is that we become slaves to that mold. We leave behind other elements of identity and focus only on physical appearance and a certain clothing size. It negatively impacts our body image, self-esteem, and our relationships with others. We become social outcasts because we’re so self-conscious of our bodies and appearance. This slavery keeps us from participating in activities because we don’t “look” like we belong or have the body to be engaging in those activities. It ends in bondage.

The Bible says there is a way that looks right, but it ends in destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Wanting to get fit so you will find acceptance by the culture is a bad motive. Culture, like all slave drivers, is a cruel and ever-changing master. It won’t bring you the peace you seek.

Wrong motive #2: Finding your identity in fitness

You already know my story and how this was a path I tried to follow. I’m here to tell you, it’s a dead end road.

Maybe you have the figure of a model. You are the embodiment of the ideal this culture adores. People practically bow down to worship you. Heads turn. Jaws drop. Or maybe you just want to reach that place because you feel that if you could look like that, you would have arrived.

If you want to be fit so you can be worshiped like this, you’re in for more bondage. If your identity is in this, you’re bound to maintain it forever or you’ll cease to be who you think you are. Who are you when your body betrays you and you can’t maintain that image? Time is not your friend.
Wrong motive #3: Seeking happiness and contentment

Do you think that if you lost weight and looked like the cultural ideal you would be happy and content? You need to know that’s a big lie. Some of the most beautiful people on the planet are among the most insecure.

Think about it: if the reason people want to be around you is to bask in the glow of your outward appearance, don’t you begin to wonder if they like you for who you really are? If you didn’t look the way you do would those same people still be around or would they find someone else? Is that happiness? And then you become afraid to even go down to the supermarket without getting all dolled up lest someone see you looking less than perfect. Is that contentment?

Getting fit is a good objective, but if you’re doing it to achieve some kind of bliss you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

Wrong motive #4: Trying to snag a mate

Now let me speak a moment to my single friends out there. Are you wanting to start a fitness program to look better so you can attract a mate? If so, that’s a bad motivation.

If you’re a man, are you comparing the girls you meet to the ideals you’re fed in magazines, movies, and television? Are you comparing yourself to the abs-of-steel men on the fitness magazines, thinking that if you could only look like those guys then a girl would like you? If you’re a woman, do you think that if you looked like the Cosmo cover then you could score a husband?

I don’t have to tell you this is not even close to being the right motivation. “Why?” you may ask, “What’s wrong with wanting to get in better shape and health to find a spouse?” Guess what happens when you do find that special someone: you stop doing all those healthy activities. Maybe not right away, but eventually. You figure, “Hey, who do I have to impress? I have someone now. My work is done. Honey, where are the chips?”

Don’t think I know what I’m talking about? Well, according to a study done at Cornell University and published in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine, researchers discovered that newlyweds gain more weight than singles or even people who are divorced or widowed. Interesting, you say. Another study, reported in Obesity Research, demonstrated an average weight gain of six-to-eight pounds in just the first two years of marriage.

Here’s the other thing: if the person you married wanted you for your looks and then you let your looks go, what’s going to happen? Do you really want to be married to someone who cares about you only for your appearance? How long are you willing to keep it up after you get your mate that way?
The right motive

Have you ever rented a car? I want you to picture a trip on which you get stuck with your least favorite car in your least favorite color. Now, even though you’re not exactly crazy about this car, you still exercise a certain degree of caution when driving it, right? You also you don’t get depressed over it because, guess what, you’ll be giving it back soon.

You take good care of it while it’s signed under your name. You don’t run into curbs, scrape the tires, bang it into things, or anything else. Why is that? Because the car is not really yours, and eventually it has to be returned. While you have it, it’s your responsibility, so you treat it well.

It’s the same with this body God gave you. As much as those of us who are Christians would like to think otherwise, our bodies are not our own: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit … and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:19–20).

You see, your body is merely a rental. It houses your spirit until that day when you will be given a perfected and glorious new body (Philippians 3:20–21). When you realize you’ve been entrusted with this body, it should cause you to think twice about how you treat it.

This body you’ve been born with doesn’t belong to you. You’ve got it on loan. And anyway you’ll be getting a new one later. You’re not stuck with it forever! So does it make sense to become depressed and not enjoy life while we’re here? Does it make sense to isolate ourselves because we think we don’t compare to this culture’s standards? Of course not. This is the body God has given you for this life. Learn how to rejoice in it.

However, let me ask you something. Would you intentionally ding up that rental car or pour cheese wiz into the gas tank? I hope not. One, it’s not smart, and two, it doesn’t belong to you. In the same way you should not mistreat your body. You are a steward that has been entrusted with a special gift. You’re to care for it and keep it in good condition until it’s called in for return, regardless of shape or size it’s a blessing.

The proper motivation for getting fit is to be a good steward of the body God has given you.

You have a spiritual responsibility to care for your body. Why? Because your physical health directly affects your ability to serve God. Christians are the hands and feet of Christ on this earth until He returns. How effective you are in this is directly related to your stamina, strength, endurance, and perseverance.

Look at it as if you were a soldier in God’s army (which you are). Would you be fit to serve if the call came today? Are you in shape to do whatever your commanding officer requires? Or would you be disqualified from some amazing mission because you’re just not physically able to do it? A good soldier must be able to take the physical challenges, tests, and training required by the job. You don’t want to be passed over for assignments. You want to be ready at a moment’s notice, whether it’s to hike to some African village or be on your feet all day at a soup kitchen.

The right motive for getting fit is so you can do anything and everything God calls up on you to do. Your body is the vessel God has put you in for these years. It’s the rental car. Treat it well and it will take you far.

From "The Final Makeover."  © 2005 by Dino Nowak.  Used by permission of Siloam – A Strang Company.  All rights reserved. 

A physical fitness expert, Dino Nowak has trained and consulted high-profile artists in the entertainment industry in both the mainstream and Christian markets.  He writes and produces a weekly radio program and is a frequent contributor to several fitness magazines.  Nowak is certified through the American Council on Exercise, and the Cooper Institute.