Hear Kathi Graves inspiring Fitness Testimony! She is a solid follower of Christ and a perfect example of how to steward your temple. She’s passionate about eating clean and working out at a local CrossFit, here in Charlotte. She never gives up and she always looks great doing it! 😉 A woman of true fashion to follow too.
“My name is Kathi Graves. I am 58-years-old and still cannot believe that when I see those words in print! I’ve been married to the same wonderful husband, Kurt, for 35 years and we have 2 cats that remind me daily that I’m not really in control of anything. I am a creative, by nature. I spent many years singing and sewing and now I express my creativity mostly as a visual artist and occasional interior decorator. I look for beauty everywhere. I love to come alongside others to help them discover their true selves. I am a loyal friend and encourager. I am also a “realist,” which means I sometimes struggle with the core belief all will be well in the end so my biggest prayer for myself is for more faith and less fear.”
When you think of your fitness journey, what 3 words come to mind?
consistent, transformative, energizing
In relationship to your fitness journey, share the specific triumphs and obstacles you have faced. What has been the biggest area of growth, and the hardest area to overcome with your fitness journey?
I think most people who don’t know me well believe I’ve been an athlete all my life and nothing could be further from the truth. My CF friends who work out with me know better! They see how awkward I (still) am and how I struggle with many of the basic movements. And I actually hate competition. I was a sickly child with terrible eating habits and regular migraines starting at age 2, which lasted into my 40’s. I was diagnosed with scoliosis in my teens, so sciatic pain is a pretty regular occurrence. As an adult, I was diagnosed with Graves’ disease and my thyroid was irradiated at 30 years old, I endured 12 years of (unsuccessful) fertility treatment, 2 surgeries to remove benign breast tumors, 2 bouts (so far) of alopecia and vitiligo is moving across my body like kudzu. About 10 years ago, I began to experience pain in my lower back and down one leg. An MRI revealed a bulging disc pressing on a nerve (likely from a tumble down the stairs years prior), which is why I had to stop running. And now, arthritis is slowly setting in. Oh, and depression runs in the family so there’s that. And yet, here I am. There’s no real way of knowing what the trajectory of my life would have been had I chosen the typical American sedentary lifestyle but now that I’m 58, I don’t have to look far to see how it has worked out for many of my peers. I’m grateful that I’ve been able to manage many of my physical and psychological challenges holistically so far (diet, exercise, natural supplements), with the exception of the synthetic thyroid medication I’m required to take.
What ways have you implemented in your life to allow you to actively pursue wellness?
I realized years ago that I needed community and a more organized routine for my physical fitness because I just didn’t possess the discipline to do it on my own. I still walk/run or WOD at home sometimes, but being part of a class that happens at a set time of the day, and having some friends who expect me to be there definitely helps me with accountability. And how I feed myself and my family is just as critical to my wellness and my exercise routine. I absolutely LOVE researching nutrition so that almost feels like a hobby for me. And vegetable gardening has become a life-giving daily routine for me. Unfortunately, I love gardening and researching nutrition MORE than I love the actual food preparation, which is a bit of a problem. So finding simple recipes and cooking in bulk for freeze-ahead meals helps to ensure that we follow our convictions to eat clean and fuel our bodies well.
Aside from personal relationships, what motivates you on your pursuit of wellness and your fitness journey?
Well, every Christian will likely answer this the same way, drawing on that whole “our body is a temple” reference from scriptures. And, while I definitely believe that is true, I think most of us in our younger years simply have no idea what that really means when we say it. It’s our go-to mantra but deep down what matters most is that we look good in (and out) of our clothes and THAT is the driving factor. If I am honest, I would say that 70% of my motivation in my 20’s and 30’s was about my personal appearance and keeping the weight off and 30% pertained to how it made me feel. Today at 58, I haven’t suddenly stopped caring about how I look, but easily 70% of my motivation to keep this up is driven by the desire to live as vibrantly as I can for as long as I can to accomplish the work that I believe God has set before me. My husband and I joke that we squat today so we’ll have the ability to get up off the toilet by ourselves when we’re 75. It’s a funny schtick but it’s a very real desire.
Among your personal support system, who do you find has been your biggest fan and given you the most encouragement to maintain your training?
My husband, my husband and my husband. I did not grow up in an environment where physical fitness was encouraged so, had I not married someone who considered it a priority, I could easily have slipped back into a “normal” American sedentary lifestyle. He has never pushed me to exercise but it was a foundational value for both of us coming out of college so it’s been a natural part of the rhythm of our family now for so long that I can’t even imagine removing it. We are very aware that it will change as we age but embracing our limitations definitely does NOT mean stop moving altogether.
What has been your experience of fitness training in groups and alone?
I would consider myself to be more of an introvert than an extrovert so I don’t mind doing things alone. However, as I mentioned above, the quality of my solo workouts cannot match what happens when I am working out with others. I just don’t have the self-discipline to push myself when I’m alone and, frankly, I think the pure social aspect of working out with others is good for me too.
How has investing in wellness and fitness changed your life?
One outcome that carries great impact into most every area of life is discipline. Developing a regular routine of physical exercise over many years has helped me with focus and discipline in other areas of my life which is very hard to maintain in our current culture. Our brains are actually being rewired by technology and our social media addictions (guilty) so staying focused on ANYTHING for any length of time has become nearly impossible for most of us anymore. It’s the same with our spiritual habits. Making space for contemplation, meditation and regular study of scripture is becoming increasingly difficult for all of us for these same reasons.
What do you feel the connection between faith and health is?
I went to a college where I was introduced to the “whole man” concept of mind/body/spirit, which set me on a path that was a real game-changer for me. Regular exercise was a required part of our curriculum so that’s where I started running. And we actually had healthy and nutritious food choices available to us so it wasn’t long before I began to see the physical and emotional effects of a different lifestyle. I also received a good education but it was this core value of caring for my body that honestly had the greatest impact on me. It stuck and I’m so grateful that I have carried to with me to this day. (Also, as stated above, having a partner who also values the same thing is a huge advantage.)
“If you’re already doing it, KEEP doing it. If you’re not, then TODAY is the day to begin. Our bodies were created for movement and, in order to move well, we must provide it with optimum quality fuel. Food is fuel AND food is medicine.”
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