You have a weak core. You need to build your core.
These are words that I have heard over and over again this year, as I do exercise. I previously suffered an acute case of “couch potato-yasis” – the condition where you have zero physical exercise in your life. In fact at one time, I used to foolishly boast about my lack of exercise, as if that fact was a gold medal to wear around my neck. Well, now, as I look at the weighing scale, as I pant and become breathless during any sort of exercise, the fact is very clear that I was not wise to neglect physical exercise all those years. My arms are too weak to lift my body, so for now, all I can manage are half sit ups. My abdomen muscles are weak, and I find it hard to do ab strengthening exercises, but I press through what I can. The one thing I keep reminding myself is that I didn’t put on this weight in a day, so it will not go in a day. And I have to think long term. I have to think lifestyle. Physical fitness has to become a lifestyle change for me. And critical to this fitness is building my core.
Core muscles wrap around our abdomen and back, and they support our spine and keep us stable. A strong core keeps us from slouching and looking old. Working on the core helps with managing overall weight and body alignment. I do some core strengthening exercises in Cheza and in the Rwenzori Boot Camp. And yesterday, after spin class, we did some core strengthening exercises. I am sure I will need a strong core, now more than ever, to enable me climb Rwenzori Mountain. Working on the core is not easy, but it is key.
Core strength is not only necessary for our physical bodies. We need core strength to support our mental, spiritual and emotional health. With God at the center, we all need to be:
(1) Committed to truth and reality: We are all prone to self-deception – no exception. If we want to be strong and wise, we must have a commitment not only to external truth, but also to internal truth. We all need to stop pretending, placating, avoiding reality and living in fantasy land. We must face the truth about ourselves. We must know ourselves enough to know the truth about ourselves – the good, the bad and the ugly. We must be self-aware.
(2) Open to growth, instruction and feedback: No one becomes a healthy individual without the willingness to hear feedback and receive correction from God, the Scriptures, as well as wise people. This willingness requires humility. To be taught we must be willing to see the truth, and in order to grow in truth, we must be open to learning new things from God and from wise people. To be teachable means we both lean what is good, as well as do that which is good. Our actions matter.
(3) Responsible for ourselves and respectful of others: We commit to treating others with respect, even when they don’t deserve it, because we understand that how we treat people is more a statement about who we are rather than who they are. We can’t control how others act, but we can control how we act and react. When we chose to treat people with respect because that is the person we want to be, we gain self-respect, which enables us respond wisely, whether we are treated well or not.
(4) Empathetic and Compassionate Towards Others: The capacity for empathy and compassion are hard wired by God into the human heart and brain. We learn that we ought to treat others as we want to be treated, not as they deserve. Treating others with empathy and compassion means realizing that they are just as human as we are – prone to faults and failures, prone to ups and downs.
And so, I remember these truths once again. As I work on my physical core, I am mindful that I must also daily work on my mental, emotional and spiritual core if I am to be healthy and whole, so that I become aligned both outwardly and inwardly. That is true beauty.