Are You Motivated by Fear or Love? The answer is pivotal...

Megan Dahlman
July 25, 2016

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There is no fear in love

​“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

We may not realize it, but fear is driving many of us. Fear is what may be motivating us to discipline, to exercise, and to healthy eating. It’s a hard pill to swallow.
Stop and ponder this for a minute. Why do you workout? Is it because you are concerned with how your body looks? Are you afraid of being called the chubby girl, or the one that “let herself go”? Is it because you have to be stronger and fitter than everybody else? Or is it because you’re afraid of aging and what that process will do to your body?
All of these reasons for exercise are based on a deep-rooted fear. Fear of what other people think, fear of not measuring up, and a fear of the unknown. These are very scary motivators for exercise, and if fear is the reason you workout so regularly, you probably have many moments feeling defeated and depressed.
What Motivates Me. I am a fitness junkie. I rarely miss a workout. In fact, I have consistently worked out at least three days per week without fail for probably the last 8 years. Feel free to call me nuts…most people do.

But why do I workout so much?
Fear doesn’t drive me. The more I think about it, the more I realize a weird form of love drives me to workout so regularly. At the heart of it, I just love the way exercise makes me FEEL. I love feeling strong and capable, knowing I won’t buckle under a given everyday task. I love the energy it gives me. I’m awake, alert and refreshed. I love feeling limber and flexible. My joints generally feel good, I’m not achy anywhere, and I feel tight and powerful.
The same goes for nutrition. In the beginning, learning to eat better required a lot of discipline and willpower, because I LOVED my lattes and cereal. It was tough breaking some of those habits. But now, when I eat well, it just makes me feel so good! I certainly deviate and enjoy treats here and there, but I pay for it. It makes me feel slow, heavy and lethargic. Yuck. Although it takes more work to make salmon and kale, the feeling these foods give me is so worth it and makes me crave it more.
However, I still have a tinge of fear inside of me. I would be lying if I didn’t say that fitting into my clothes and not being afraid to wear a swimsuit isn’t a driving factor for me. It is. I like being lean, toned and not feeling my stomach spill over my pants. And honestly, if I stopped exercising right now, I would be afraid of what others would say about me.
What Does God Think? Throughout Scripture, God is clear that He has no business with fear of any kind. It’s not His thing. His thing is love. We often think of fear as something more tangible—afraid to speak in front of a crowd, afraid to take the new job, afraid to have another baby. It makes sense to us that God wouldn’t want us to be afraid in these circumstances.

He wants us to feel His love flood in and cast out all the fear as we trust in Him.
But the fear that sometimes drives us to eat right and exercise is still fear. It seems trivial, but even still, God has no part in this. God is love. He doesn’t want you to be pursuing fitness because of fear. Let His unconditional love for you pour in and surpass these feelings.  
“We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” 1 John 4:16
Mindset Shift. Shift your motivation to something that is far more intrinsic and independent of those around you. Let go of your fears and step forward in love.

Recognize how much God loves your entire being (mind, soul and body), and let that motivate you to take care of it.
At the same time, fall in love with how workouts and good nutrition make you feel. Do you feel strong and stable? Are you energetic and healthy? Can you bend, move, jump and play? You won’t always love every step of the process—all the workouts you do or every salad you eat—but you will frequently be able to step back and say “Yes! This is so good!”   
The next time you workout or choose to eat healthy, ask yourself why you’re doing it. Are you afraid of something? Or are you loving something? The difference is pivotal. 

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Trainer, nutrition coach, and Christian mom — in a culture that’s obsessed with “gym-selfies” and a number on the scale, I’m passionate about helping moms discover what it feels like to actually love their bodies and thrive in them.
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Self-Care Simplified is for Christian moms that want to be equipped and encouraged to take simple steps towards the healthy life you want for yourself and the people you love.
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