I used to hate that eight-letter word. You know the one, exercise! Today, though I love my exercise time and guard it carefully.

My exercise of choice is water walking. I walk IN the water, not ON it. I’m not that spiritual!

water+walkI exercise six days a week for at least an hour sometimes an hour and a half in the water even in sub zero degrees. I would go on the days there was piles of snow on the ground if the indoor pool had been open.

One piece of advice I heard a long time ago was to find some type of exercise you enjoy doing.  Here’s the deal, I never liked ANY type of exercise.

I could get A’s in all my classes except P.E. How I hated that class. First of all, it was all the way on the other side of creation in a very large high school. Second, you had to change clothes, then shower and dress all over again plus exercise all in the span of 55 minutes.

Worst of all, you had to sweat? Sweating and me just don’t get along at all.

The one time I liked P.E. was when we had a semester of swimming. I loved to swim. You can get a good workout, but you never have to sweat. And you can look cute in a bathing suit. Or at least I could in high school.

One of the many occasions I went on a diet and lost a lot of weight, the counselor insisted I do some sort of exercise. I was working for the university at the time and  they offered a water aerobics class at a local gym. I joined and found I really liked it.

Like so many other things in my life, I didn’t continue with it after the eight-week session was over.

After I had gastric bypass I was encouraged again to exercise. So I joined our community pool and began attending water aerobic classes. Can you just picture a 430-pound woman in a bathing suit? No, you probably ought not.

The pool, though, is a leveling agent. I’ve always been bigger on bottom than top. Once in the pool, the bottom part is not as readily seen.

I enjoyed the water, but I found some of the water aerobic movements taxing on my joints. Plus, I was forever missing the beginning of the class.

As I began to regain weight, I stopped the water exercise all together. Another on-again, off-again scenario that defined a large part of my life. I was as bi-polar about exercise as I was about the food I ate.

When I started my sugar-free, gluten-free journey about four years ago, I was going to the pool intermittently, whenever I felt like it, which wasn’t very often.

My counselor recommended the start-stop method,  which says if you stop something, you need to start something in its place. At the beginning, I stopped eating candy.

He challenged me with what I would start. I said, “Exercise.” He didn’t let me get away with such an illusive answer.

“What kind of exercise will you do?”

“I’ll walk in the water.” I was proud of that answer, but even I knew it was still pretty illusive.

“How is that different than the on-again, off-again water exercise you are currently doing?” I silently kicked myself for revealing that piece of information.

That was a really good question. I didn’t want to be nailed down on this one.

“My schedule is really full. I’ll just have to do it when I can.”

“If you have an appointment, how do you make sure you get to it on time? How do you keep track of your appointments?”

“I schedule them in my calendar on my phone.”

“What would happen if you scheduled exercise like an appointment and kept it every day? What if you saw it like an appointment you are keeping with yourself.

It was obvious, it was hard to argue with. At first my plan was to exercise three times a week for 30 minutes, but that first week I went every week-day for 45 minutes. I decided I would walk the water track as that did not require me to be there at an exact time.

The water has a rhythm of its own that soothes my soul. Any cares or worries seem to wash away as I walk. I also find it to be a great time to pray, listen to God’s instructions and meditate.

It has become a time God knows He has my attention. It’s as if He is walking with me. I do at least an hour in the water, six days a week if I am in town and the pool is open.

Today, I’m speeding up and running at least half of the time I’m in the water. And guess what, Jesus runs right along with me.

The water helps my joints and the pain in what my neurologist calls a broken peroneal nerve in my right leg.

The water doesn’t hide the sagging skin on my arms and legs. I’m OK with that, though. I wear the saggy skin gladly. It’s a reminder of where I was.

It’s a place to which I never will return.

One day as I was running around the water track, a rather upbeat secular song came on the radio. It was as if I could picture Jesus tuck up the bottom of His robe and begin to dance.

I laughed and said, “Jesus do you like that kind of music?” He said, “Girl, I invented music.”

And Jesus and I danced around the track while the life guard, who by now knows I’m crazy, just shook his head.

At times it does feel as if I’m walking on water with Jesus right beside me and the angels lifting me on the wings of heaven.

I am free. I will never go back to bondage. Never.

“The Lord your God is with you; His power gives you victory. The Lord will take delight in you, and in His love He will give you new life. He will sing and be joyful over you,” Zephaniah 3:17 GNT


Teresa Shields Parker is a wife, mother, business owner, life group leader, speaker and author of Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor and Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction. Get a free chapter of her memoir on her blog at Teresa Shields Parker.com. Connect with her there or on her Facebook page.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach, podcaster and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds and kept it off since 2013.

Her books include: "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor"; "Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds"; "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy"; "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help": "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation"; and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, more information on both is available under the weight loss tab. Don't miss her weekly podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, where she shares tips from her personal journey of losing weight and discovering healthy living. Find that under the podcast tab and anywhere you find podcasts.