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Do you ever ask yourself why you workout?  Do you find yourself feeling like you have to workout or you’ll feel guilty?  Why do we torture ourselves?  I’m asking you to find your reason for doing.  Not what your specific goals are (ie. bodyfat % or weight loss) but actually why you do it.

My reasons have changed over they years.  I first started working out because I felt insecure as a kid and I wanted to be strong and sexy to attract girls.  Then, as I dreamed of a career in collegiate and professional sports, I worked out to improve my performance.

After my sports career ended, I continued to workout hard.  But my reason had changed.  In fact, I lost my reason altogether through most of my twenties.  I worked out hard, but it was almost abusive.  I was not kind to myself.  My reason had become very ego-driven.  I wanted to look great and feel sexy.

Now, that’s not a bad reason.  It’s just that you can’t sustain it.  Anything ego-driven is ultimately unsustainable, particularly where happiness is concerned.  So what if you look great but you’re miserable inside?  That’s not healthy.

I’m bringing this up because I believe it’s very important we have a healthy, positive reason for doing.  When we have a healthy relationship with exercise, we are more likely to stick with it and then derive the health and physical benefits.  The relationship to exercise has to come first.

Which brings me to my topic today:  fitness as a spiritual act.  Ok, let me get on the record right away as not espousing any kind of ideological point of view as it pertains to God or religion.  I consider myself among the many millions who identify themselves as spiritual but not religious.  I use the word God loosely.  Define it as you will.  Sometimes I call it the Universe.  Whatever you want to call it, I’m talking about accessing a deep and powerful love, the source of all creative energy.  I’m talking about exercise as a form of creative expression, the chance to be one with God.

I’m not trying to get all deep or pretend to be some kind of spiritual guru, I’m trying to get to the heart of what makes an all-around healthy person.  Just because someone is ripped and super, physically fit does not make him or her healthy.  (Steroids, anyone?)  But, if you understood your workout time to be the time to express yourself physically, the time to exert yourself so that your body is better able to utilize oxygen — the magic element, the element of life — you might have a healthier relationship to exercise.

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I define fitness as the balance of mind, body, and spirit.  A lean, fit body is merely the by-product of a commitment to personal excellence.  I’ve had some of my most inspired moments while working out (ideas for songs and stories).  There is something about exerting ourselves physically that brings us closer to God, or if that’s too new-agey, closer to that profound feeling of peace and calm.  It’s a feeling I felt after climbing for what seemed like an hour to a Hindu temple at the top of a mountain in the lower Himalayas in India.  Profound peace and oneness.  Call it what you want.

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Respect your body, enjoy your body, love your body, feed, clean, and heal your body.  Exercise and do what makes your body feel good.  This is puja to your body, and that is a communion between you and God… Your body is the manifestation of God, and if you honor your body, everything will change for you.

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