It can be easy to look at workouts and exercise as a just a way to destress or get fit, but for me workouts hold so much more power. I am a big believer that workouts and physical exercise can be one of the most efficient forms of therapy. Exercise is a part of how we train ourselves for life, day in, day out.
There is so much power in moving your body intentionally and purposefully for a set period of time every single day, and I can personally attest to that. It is a common myth that in order to get a workout you need an hr a day or a gym but that’s nonsense. All you really need is intention and the willingness to set aside just a few minutes every single day.
Training to Survive an Abusive Marriage as a Christian Woman
During the difficult and deteriorating years of trying to survive my ¨marriage.¨ I had 3 lapses of 15 minutes every day that I looked forward to. I dreaded every single part of my life but those short lapses in my day allowed me to move forward to the next day as I tried to sustain my sanity. Those 15 min were sacred.
The first 15 min of my day was when he would get up and leave to work. I made sure I dedicated the very first 15 min of my day to reading my bible and praying. I was never sure when he would suddenly come in through the door to check on me and be upset about who knows what and attack me, so I had to prepare my soul every day to be strong enough to get out of bed and try to survive. There was no way to do that without the armor of God.
How Exercise Helped Me Deal With Abuse and Marital Rape
The next 15 min of my day where I felt I could breathe and live a bit was my afternoon workout. Throughout the day I had to constantly attend call after call of possessive angry check-ins most days this was every 10-30 mins. If I did not answer immediately I knew within min he would come home at that moment raging with anger so I would build up an immense amount of anxiety as the day started and progressed. I would dreadfully wait for him to arrive home for him to eat and as soon as he would take a nap I would go downstairs and workout. I couldn’t workout for longer than 15 min as I feared he would wake up and interrupt my workout with some sort of attack, so I had to be very diligent and focused during those 15 min.
I can genuinely say those 15 minutes were incredibly powerful for letting go and releasing all the tension, stress, frustration, fear, pain and anger that my body carried throughout the day. It was during those 15min that I allowed myself to actually listen to my body and move it intentionally towards healing and releasing. Sometimes that meant a combination of strength and cardio followed by some stretching. Other times that meant lots of deep breaths and holding my ground in certain poses. Every now and then that meant challenging myself to try a weird or wacky exercise as I tried to encourage myself that my body was stronger than I thought.
I also lived through marital rape at that time, so another important aspect of my daily workouts was forcing myself to sweat it out, the anger, the pain, the shame. I would remind myself that I although I could not escape physically in that moment, I could chose to renew my strength and have the ability to at least take control and decided how I wanted to move my body during my workouts. This also lead me to make better choices when dinner time came.
I was kind of a health and nutrition nerd as a kid, so biochemistry class and biology was pretty engraved in my mind. I would try to select vegetables or salads or foods that would nourish my body as I would remind myself that it was the foods I ate that would allow my body to build better, stronger cells that would rejuvenate all my organs, specially my skin.
I would tell myself this skin and body he had touched would no longer be here in a couple of years. That when I would finally be able to escape and be free the skin he touched would be completely replaced by all the new cells formed from the healthy nourishing food from my meals. I tried to do a Whole30 every three months to make sure I kept up with this.
I needed to work everyday intentionally to provide my body with the nutrients it needed to rebuild itself.
15 min of Mental Wellness
The last 15 minutes of the day were when I would lay in bed. At first these were the hardest 15 min. I was always good at writing stories as a kid, so I tried to apply this to my life. I would pretend and retell my day to myself at night. I would try to erase or readjust whatever horrible thing had happened that day so I could try and sleep ok. Slowly though, God helped me realize I could not continue to cover up my painful reality and so I started to face myself, my fears, my reality.
Eventually the last 15 min of my day became harder and yet more encouraging. As I lay in bed I would close my eyes, pray and ask God to get me out, then I would talk to myself. Sometimes that meant really admitting to myself how scared, angry, sad, and upset I was at me and my life, then I would give it to God and try to fall asleep. Other times I would talk to myself in the mirror as I brushed my teeth before bed, I would stare at myself in the mirror and cry out the pain or just try really hard to say a few encouraging words to myself, reminding myself to not lose hope of one day being able to escape.
When You Work Out God Works In
Everyday I worked OUT as I allowed God to work IN me. Every single day I learned to face myself, my reality and make small 15 min shifts in my mind, my body, my soul towards an exit. It did not happen overnight, but it did happen. After 5 years of abuse I was finally able to leave and not walk out broken or destroyed but renewed and fully rejuvenated, as I rejoiced in the Lord for saving me. My story is different from most, who made a decision and from one day to another left, my circumstances where different, but I know our stories can be the same in regards to the life we can lead after we leave.
Remind Yourself You Still Have Power Over Your Thoughts
I know we can leave behind the bruised skin, tormented mind, and tired soul and learn to wear our purpose every day. We can train ourselves in love, inside out and then step out into a world where we shine and thrive, not just survive. I know I was able to and so can you, there is nothing you cannot do, no hole too deep, no mountain too high.
God will get you through if you are willing to train for the journey. You can and you will be the empowered woman you are meant to be, if you are willing to set aside a few intentional minutes every single day, for the rest of your life.
You are worthy, you are worth it.
Tell me in the comments what are the things holding you back from starting to train for a more intentional and empowering life.