The Key to Staying Healthy: Mirrors?

Today I’m revisiting a post from a few years ago. As my blog has morphed to be more about body image than fitness and spiritual growth, I want to make sure that you read to the end of this post to really understand what I’m saying figuratively about mirrors. Some of you who struggle with BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) and poor body image may need to avoid your actual mirror in order to find more health. I know women who have covered or fasted from their actual mirror and that was a very healthy practice given their specific struggles. This post is about mirrors, yes, but read on to see what kind of reflection I’m talking about receiving here!)


Have you ever wondered why there are so many mirrors in gyms?

Is it because people who spend time in gyms are generally vain and they enjoy the opportunity to see themselves from every angle? Is it because gym owners ant overcrowded spaces-packed with people and equipment–to look bigger? Is it because those in the fitness industry have no interior decorating skills?

Of course not. 

Mirrors are vital for exercisers because they help you check your form.  You need mirrors to see, for yourself, if you are doing the exercise correctly.  You can feel like you are doing it right, but unless you have the ability to see that you are also doing it right, you probably aren’t.  And, in the case of exercise, that can be very dangerous.

The spin room where I teach does not have a single mirror in it.  (It’s borderline unsafe.)  I can remind, demonstrate, beg, and plead for participants to correct their form but they have no reflection to look in and see for themselves that they are, indeed, not doing it correctly.

Sometimes, I can physically move them into the right positions, but they don’t stay there because they can’t see the difference.  Truth is, I’m also in danger of being a poor role model because I can’t see when my own form slips.

So, I’ve requested that mirrors be put in that room. And, when I tell my classes that I hope they are coming soon, I always get an enthusiastic response that goes something like this:  

“No, not mirrors! I don’t want to have to look at myself while I’m in here.”

The truth: I feel the same way. If my interest was only in helping everyone feel good about themselves during my class, then mirrors might not be the best idea. Sometimes it can actually hinder a workout if you are fixated on the mirror — using it to critique your appearance rather than correct your form. And, trust me, I have never enjoyed teaching the standing climb position (where you stick your butt back as far as it can go) knowing that I had a mirror behind me and that the image of my rear end would be reflected so that everyone in the class could see it. That type of humiliation should pay better.

But my goal is to help my students get in shape and to help them avoid injuries.

To get fit and stay healthy you need mirrors. This is just as true when you step outside of the gym.

Without mirrors we cannot keep our hearts healthy. Without mirrors the form of our lives slips.

Mirrors are the key to staying healthy. (But, read, on because I don’t mean a piece of looking glass . . .)

Just like my spin students, most of us don’t really like mirrors. We avoid them. We prefer to not take an honest look at our own reflections.

Mirror imagery fills the Bible. We are called to reflect Christ Jesus. We are to mirror him in our lives so that others will see Jesus when they see us. We are made in the image of God, we bear his image–just like a large piece of reflective glass.

Jar of clay in front of a mirrorSo, how do we keep our reflections in check?  How do we keep the form of our lives and our hearts healthy?  How do we keep from slipping or conforming to images of the world instead of images of Him?  Where do we find these mirrors?

The answer: Community. When we live alone, when we try to do life in isolation, we are attempting to work out our salvation and to shape up our hearts without a reflection to check our form.  We are exercising without a mirror.

Most of us think we are self aware. We can acknowledge a weakness or two (blind spots we call them) and think we’ve got it.

Truth is: We really can’t see all of our blind spots (Duh, they are blind!).  The Bible tells us how difficult it is to know our own hearts and that our hearts can even deceive us.  The same verse in Jeremiah also calls the heart, “desperately wicked, who could know it?”  Yes, our hearts are changed when we allow Christ in, but we still must guard it (Proverbs 4:23), and ask God to test it (Psalm 17:3, Psalm 26:2, Psalm 139:23).

Just as our exercise form is prone to slipping, our hearts are prone to wander.  The Holy Spirit will convict us of sin and speak to us, lead us and guide us. But, we need to be in community with other believers where we can speak into each other’s lives…helping each other, encouraging each other (Hebrews 10:25).  We need to lose the “super Christian”–permanent smiley face act and get real, especially with others who are striving to reflect Jesus.

We need each other.

So, who in your life knows that sometimes your workouts are sloppy?  Who in your life has the freedom to speak the truth to you and correct your form?  

Do you have a mirror to check out your heart?

As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person. Proverbs 27:19 (NLT)

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