Pursue Your Strengths, Improve Your Weaknesses

photo credit: Joshua Earle

Every day I receive a “Today’s Word” email from Joel and Victoria Osteen. Admittedly, I don’t read them every day. I do manage to read most of them. This morning’s email is entitled, “Pursue Your Strengths.”

Below is an excerpt from the email.

“God has equipped each one of us with specific gifts and talents. It’s up to each of us to identify those gifts and be disciplined enough to develop them. You have to learn to stay in your strength zone. What are you naturally good at? What do you enjoy doing? Take the time to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and as the Scripture says, give yourself to your gifts. In other words, don’t spend all your time trying to improve your weaknesses. Don’t waste valuable days pursuing things that are outside your main gifting. Focus on your strengths. Be bold and step out in the area of your gifting.”

I couldn’t help but to think about how today’s word overlaps with fitness and wellness.

BE DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO DEVELOP.
Consistency. Perseverance. Will. Planned. Purposeful. These are essential ingredients to staying disciplined. Repetition of healthy habits translates into personal and physical development and growth.

STAY IN YOUR STRENGTH ZONE. 
Listen to your body and find your “sweet spot.” This is that special place where you know you are pushing yourself enough to grow, feel challenged, and a little bit uncomfortable. Our bodies love to go through a process called General Adaptation Syndrome*. As a result, we must keep it guessing with purposeful and diverse exercises.


WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING?

This is something I always ask my clients during their consultation. It’s super important for exercise to be fun and challenging. In the words of famous ice creamster, Jerry Greenfield, “if it’s not fun, why do it?” If you don’t know what you enjoy doing, start trying new things. Have fun experimenting with new healthy activities to find your niche!

Disclaimer: I sincerely apologize if I now have you thinking about ice cream and you’re trying to keep this yummy delicious treat to a minimum in your diet. (I scream. You scream. We all scream for what? ICE CREAM!)

IMPROVE YOUR WEAKNESSES.
Although the article suggests to not focus on your weaknesses, part of the fitness and wellness journey is to hold a mirror up to your daily healthy or not-so-healthy habits and identify areas you seek improvement. The magic happens when you can lean upon your strengths to help you improve your weaknesses. For example, if you have a solid knowledge base about healthy eating and reading food labels, use that to help you improve pre-planning meals and prepping your meals each week. Here’s another example. if you’re a super organized person, why not apply your organizational skills to mapping out your weekly fitness and wellness program (days, times, exercises, meal prep days, grocery shopping, etc.)?

It’s amazing what happens as a byproduct of pursuing your strengths. For example, instead of telling yourself, “I need to stop drinking alcohol,” instead try telling yourself, “I drink least 64 ounces of water daily.” As a result, alcohol (or sugary beverage) intake ends up decreasing.

It’s not about what you cannot do, it’s about what you CAN do. There are so many things that we can individually and collectively do. Start there.

“Do not neglect your gift…”
(1 Timothy 4:14, NIV)


*General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) is a process in which the human body’s kinetic chain adapts to stress placed upon it. GAS is divided into a three phase process. The first phase, alarm reaction, involves the body’s initial reaction to a stressor. It commonly results in delayed onset muscle soreness. An example is performing 12 reps of push ups and being sore in your chest and arms the next day. In the second phase, resistance development, the body “increases its functional capacity to adapt to the stressor” (NASM, 2014, p. 305). In other words, your body gets smarter and starts to get used to muscle movement patterns and resistance load. For example, if you keep doing standard push ups over 2-3 weeks, your body will adapt to this exercise. If you slightly alter the push up (e.g., push-ups with one arm on floor and one arm on an unstable surface), your body will be a little confused and go back to Phase 1. The last stage, exhaustion, is a phase we don’t want to visit. Here, you would experience too much physical stress on your body and result in injury, emotional fatigue, and joint pain.

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