As we turn the page on another new calendar year, many of us have the desired goal of “getting in shape” for the New Year. This is definitely the case in my own life, but the more I ponder my motivations, the more I find that I’m not simply looking for physical changes in my life this year. The truth is, I’ve come to accept some of the changes in my aging body over the past few years. My experience with treatment for non-invasive breast cancer made me more aware than ever of the need to care for the gift of my physical self, but also to treasure strength over size.
So my decision to pay closer attention to my weight and fitness level in 2012 is directly related to this goal. I’m not aiming for a certain dress size, but rather for the power and stamina to do the work God calls me to each day. My vocation as a wife and mom of one teen and one young adult means rising before dawn, toting laundry, cooking (and cooking, and cooking), keeping our home in proper maintenance, and lots and lots of prayer. My work for CatholicMom.com has me traveling quite a lot, keeping erratic hours in front of the computer, writing (and writing, and writing…) and keeping the New Evangelization as my greatest priority in my work. Both of these dual aspects of my vocation require physical stamina, good health, and a great deal of energy. So fueling my body properly and keeping myself fit for the tasks in front of me becomes more than a body concern — it’s a matter of spiritual importance too.
Thanks to so many of my great friends around the Internet, I’ve been discovering a whole new set of tools this New Year to help me keep on track and enjoy the process of getting fit. I’ll share some links below, but before doing that, I want to share a few thoughts on why I’m blogging here about these goals and sharing them in places like Facebook  and Twitter . The truth of the matter is that accountability helps me to keep on track. By sharing the fact that I’m trying to get in shape, I have friends praying with and for me, but also perhaps joining me in the challenge. My online contacts have shared so many helpful tips and tools, but most importantly I know that we are urging one another along — and for me, this helps in moments when I feel weak, tempted, or frustrated. The additional gift of knowing that any physical sacrifices I may be making can be offered as a gift to the God who has blessed me so greatly is the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae (that I won’t be eating any time soon).
And now for a few suggested (and free!) tools you may enjoy checking out:
- My Fitness Pal  – Free calorie counting website, smartphone apps, calculators and more
- Fitocracy  – Turns fitness and exercise into a social game
- Gym Pact  – For those who need motivation to get to the gym, some financial motivation might be just the ticket!
- Runkeeper  – Track your miles and routes and share your goals with an online community
- Couch to 5K  – Use the website or your smartphone to go from sedentary to your first 5K in weeks
- Sparkpeople  – An online community of people working to get healthy together
- Lose It  – Free app helps you to set and track weight loss goals
- Health and Holiness Podcast  – Fr. Roderick gives you something motivational to listen to while you’re exercising
- Rosary Workout  – Helpful resources that combine spiritual and physical fitness
A few rules of thumb that are helping me to use technology to achieve my spiritual health and fitness goals are:
- Sharing my progress and obstacles with social networking communities and honestly asking for (and accepting) support and encouragement
- Keeping my iPhone stocked up with great apps that help me quickly and easily make fitness a priority
- Using a bar code scanner to check out food nutritional information while in the grocery store
- Tracking my calories before the food goes in my mouth
- Listening to quality podcasts to keep me entertained and motivated while exercising
- Taking photos of myself to track my progress
- Journaling my experiences and challenges online to help me work through what issues cause me to make less healthy choices
Perhaps you too feel the need to recommit yourself to the physical care of your body. If it will help you to stay accountable, please drop a note in the comments below and feel free to do so anonymously. I will be praying for you, and ask your prayerful support for me and our other friends journeying towards good health this year.