I was awakened from my deep slumber by my daughter's cries. She was really only whimpering, so I decided to wait and see if she'd put herself back to sleep. It was 1 p.m. and she'd only been sleeping for an hour, much shorter than her typical two-and-a-half-hour naps. Besides, I was exhausted and wanted to sleep more myself.
Unfortunately, Lydia's cries were getting longer and louder and the pauses in between were quickly diminishing so I got up to attend to her. When I walked down the stairs I noticed that the day had turned from depressing gray to beautiful blue in the short half hour while I'd slept. It was gorgeous outside! Despite the fact that it's February, the weatherman had said that it would be close to 60 degrees and thus the perfect day for getting outside for a walk. I quickly decided that the best way to comfort Lydia and brighten my own spirits (Lydia hadn't slept through the night like I'd hoped she would) was to take her outside for a walk. I put her in the snugly, a hands free carrier that enables me to carry Lydia on my front, and we went out in pursuit of better moods.
Once outside her wailing finally subsided for good. There's just something about the fresh air, being held close to me, and the movement of my walking that calms her. And as I drank in the blueness of the sky and noticed that the first signs of spring were appearing, I too began to feel better.
As a teenager in the '80's (remember the "20 Minute Workout?") I first got into exercise because it was cool and I wanted to be thinner. In college I continued to dabble in exercise whenever I felt fat. Once I hit the work force, I still felt fat but I also felt the need to relieve the stress and tension that I picked up at work. Plus I was finding that I was quickly becoming a desk potato because I no longer walked everywhere like I did when I was in school. Eventually, a surprising thing happened, I noticed that exercise smoothed out my mood swings and gave me more confidence in myself. So after years of inconsistent exercise, I finally became committed to exercising regularly, which meant daily workouts if possible and even getting up earlier so that I could hit the gym before work.
After Didi and I married, it became even harder to find time to work out and so my exercise routine stumbled. But then he, too, noticed the difference in me after I'd been able to exercise. It wasn't long before Didi became as committed as I was to making sure I exercised.
These days it's much harder for me to fit exercise into my schedule. Thankfully, through creativity and a supportive husband, I usually manage to work out at least three times a week. Walking outside, as I've already mentioned, is a very easy way to get my blood pumping and clear the cobwebs from my head. It's nice time with Lydia as I carry her close to me and it provides a great opportunity for prayer and praise. I often find myself glorying in the wonder and power of our God who created this wonderfully intricate world that we live in. Of course, I could use a stroller but I opt for the carrier because I get a better workout if I carry her weight as well as my own.
If it's raining outside, then friends and I sometimes take our babies to the mall and use our snuglies to walk inside. That has the added bonus of companionship and window shopping.
I also really enjoy aerobics classes because they push me to work harder and give me the opportunity to hang out with other adults. Usually Didi is kind enough to leave work in time to be home to care for Lydia. Other times he's met me at the gym and we've switched cars so that he could take Lydia home and watch her.
Although exercise isn't specifically mentioned in the Bible, I'm convinced that it's something God wants us to do. During Biblical times cars did not exist and most people did manual labor for a living so exercise wasn't necessary. Now that we have cars to take us wherever we want to go and jobs that keep us seated, keeping our bodies fit requires more effort. If our bodies and our emotions were designed by God, and if they are healthier with regular exercise, then it follows that God intended for us to avoid a sedentary lifestyle.
While exercise cannot and should not replace our personal relationship with God (visit Crosswalk.com's Spiritual Life Channel for information on having a personal relationship with Jesus), exercise can help to even out our emotions, give us a fresh perspective to cope with daily life, boost our energy levels, increase our confidence and sense of well-being. So do something good for your spiritual and physical fitness today, even if it means window shopping ...
Kate's baby diary has chronicled her experiences in the first two months of Lydia's life. Read the following articles about the lessons she's learned: Confessions and Observations of a New Mother, Out With the Old, Phone A Friend, The Importance of Sleep Should Not Be Underestimated, and Nobody Told Me (The Delivery.