Back to it. Like, for reals..

So many of you know that I hurt my foot last week. (You know this because I am an Olympic-gold-medal complainer when I am sick or injured. This is probably something I should work on, but there are so many other things on that list, and only so many hours in a day.) The really frustrating thing about the injury was that it happened when I was doing something so mundane and average that I didn’t even remember doing it afterward. I am of the belief that if one hurts oneself it should be because of an event that was momentous enough to be remembered. Yeesh.

Anyway, because of the foot injury I was not able to get back to the gym like I had hoped last week. In fact, I wasn’t even able to go for a decent walk for a number of days. Now, at another time of the year, I might have just grinned and thought: oh well, I am going to have to take it easy for a few days…that’s not so bad. But at this particular juncture I was more than a little frustrated. You see, I chose to be fairly (read: incredibly) lazy during my summer holiday. I decided this vacation would be a true break from all of the things I have been disciplined about in the last year. I didn’t track my Weight Watchers points, I didn’t exercise with anything resembling regularity, I just took it easy. And that was a good thing on the one hand: I had been severely struggling to stick to my WW points in the weeks leading up to holidays. Having the break was apparently just what I needed to get back on track: in the past week I haven’t had any issue sticking to my points. Sometimes, you just need a rest.

On the other hand, I lost ground over my vacation. I gained weight and I lost muscle. While being laid up with the foot injury I began to gain some ground on the weight (down 3.5lbs when I weighed in on Sunday thankyouverymuch), but I couldn’t do much about the muscle. Today, I am very pleased to say, I was able to return to the gym. I did a 60min BodyPump class. It was tough. I couldn’t believe how tough it was! But it was also good. My muscles (such as they are), are pleasantly fatigued. I am sure they will be telling me off tomorrow. But I know that today I took another step towards improving my health. Another step towards getting back on track. Another step away from just talking (read: whining) about the ground I have lost in the past few months, and towards actually regaining that ground. I feel strong and I feel accomplished.

I write this down now, because I know in another few months/weeks/whatever something will happen andI will need to be reminded of what this feels like. And I hope some of my friends may point me back to these words.

Any journey has its ups and downs. The ups are usually pretty easy to deal with. The downs are when we need friends to surround us and to speak the truth we cannot utter ourselves. I believe that is why Jesus gave us the church. Because He knew there would be times when we needed each other. When we just couldn’t do it on our own. When the strength of another would be the thing that gave us the ability to keep going.

The good and the bad…

I’ve been struggling with my fitness routine lately. I’ve had some bad binge days when it comes to food and some malaise when it comes to exercising. But tonite I fought my way through the second bootcamp class of the week, and I am pleased with how I feel. I am pleased that I worked hard today – at exercise, at eating well and at my vocation.

Some days are bad. Some days are really hard. The trick, I think, is to not allow those days to be overwhelming. To not allow them to be the end of the story. Bad days definitely come, but so do good days. So do days when it is easy to work hard and live up to the goals you’ve set for yourself.

I saw this on pinterest this evening and it made me smile:

I admit, I am not usually thinking of Jesus during my workout. I’m usually thinking of oxygen and the need for more of it. But I like this picture. I believe the words written here.

And when the bad days come, I need to remember this. Because in this statement of purpose, I find hope. And all that is needed to change a bad day into a good day is hope rightly placed.

Back to it!

After the better part of a week without strenuous exercise due to a cold, some nasty stomach pains, and a general exhaustion, I’m so pleased to say that today I am back to it!

I got out for 90min (about 7.5km) of walking with the puppy today, and then did a tough WOD (Workout of the Day) with the Deck of Cards App on my iPhone. My four moves (assigned to each suit of a deck of cards) were: Kettle Bell Goblet Squats, Kettle Bell Reverse Lunges, Leg Raises and Push Ups. I also managed to do two Jokers: one was 15 burpees (pretty sure my form sucked, but by the time I got to this card I was pretty fatigued, so I’m not complaining) and the other was 20 plank climbers (starting out in plank position on elbow and then straightening each arm before returning to elbows). It was a brutal workout, but it felt great.

I have this bad habit sometimes – I tell myself things that aren’t true. I don’t mean that I lie to myself, necessarily… Let me explain. Take the past few days and my lack of exercise, as an example. I told myself I was too tired, it would be too hard, I wouldn’t get through it and one day off wouldn’t make any difference. Now in some ways there was truth in those things…I have been very tired this week, it would be hard (though, I believe, not TOO hard) to do a workout when tired/run down, one day doesn’t make a huge difference in the long run.

At the same time I think I used these things as an excuse to not do something that is good for me. I wonder if we do that when it comes to faith. Do I use the busy-ness of a day as an excuse not to pray or to read my Bible? Do I say to myself I am too tired for this at the end of a day, and go to sleep without involving God in my day? Do I tell myself that one day off is no big deal, and then realize that it has been many days since I spent time with my Heavenly Father?

Sadly – even in the life of a ‘professional’ Christian (i.e. pastor/minister/clergy) like me – the answer to these questions is “yes, sometimes.” And yet I know that if I take the time it will be time well spent. If I just get off my butt and do it, (whether ‘it’ is a workout or spending time with God) I will be thankful I did. I will find life easier to take and have a strength that surprises me.

I guess I just want to say tonight: if you are in one of those excuse-finding periods of your life right now, take a moment. Talk to God. Tell Him what is going on with you. Pull out your Bible and read some of the words of Jesus or a favorite Psalm. Pull out your iPod and listen to a worship song and actually PRAY the words to God as you listen/sing along. Just do it. You will be glad you did.

(Oh, and if you’re in an excuse-finding time right now when it comes to exercise. Get off your butt! Do it! You will be glad you did!)

 

 

The road is long…

Sometimes, life is weary-ing. My tough week began with a fender-bender on Thursday night, and has continued with some serious health concerns for a family member and some difficult issues at the church.

I am tired and suffering from a head-cold. It’s not the worst cold I’ve had in recent memory, and I’m quite sure it will be gone fairly quickly, but it’s one more brick added to a heavy load.

The lyrics of one of my favourite Neil Diamond songs is going through my head tonite:

The road is long, with many a-winding turn,
That leads to who knows where, who knows when
But I’m strong, strong enough to carry him
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother
So on we go
(Neil Diamond, “He Ain’t Heavy”)

I was thinking about faith and fitness. Due to busy-ness and then illness, I haven’t worked out for the last 3 days. No walking, no WOD, no nothin’. This makes me antsy. I feel nervous. I somehow still have a fear that all of the weight that I’ve lost in the past year is going to suddenly reappear on my body just because I haven’t gone for a walk or done some situps for a few days. It’s irrational, but it’s what I fear. I think that I fear that because I am so aware that fitness is a never-ending-road. This isn’t a project that ends when I hit my goal weight. It isn’t something that has a finish line at all (or at least, the finish line is death, which I hope is so far off as to be almost unworthy of time spent thinking about it). So every new day, every new week, is a new challenge. To do the work that my body requires to reach and maintain physical fitness.

The same thing is true about my faith. I don’t have a list of the tenets of Jesus or the the commandments, or anything else that I am checking off daily, hoping to reach the finish line. Instead, each moment, each situation, each conversation is a new challenge, a new opportunity to try to live like Jesus would.

For some, this might be discouraging. You might think “I’m never really going to GET there, so why try?” You might think you’re not strong enough to continue to travel this long road with it’s winding turns. But I see it in a more positive way. I am always going to have another chance to try, another workout to do, or another opportunity to show Christ’s love. This is a gift, this is a beautiful thing. And the strength I have doesn’t come from me, but from Jesus. I have an endless, boundless store of His strength to rely upon as I face the next leg of the journey.

It is true that sometimes it is wearying, but I think that only means it’s time to take rest, and then get up and face a new day with new challenges and opportunities.

Workin’ it…

I took a Sabbath from blogging last night. The weekend was a little crazy, and last night I sat in front of my computer screen trying to come up with a blog topic. I was so tired, I couldn’t come up with anything. After 2o min of trying, I closed my laptop and went to bed. Woke up this morning and realized I had a topic, I had just forgotten it. Whoops. That topic has been stored away for future use.

Tonite I need to do a little physical-fitness bragging.  I was invited to an Outdoor Bootcamp by a friend. I could try it out for free (well, a food bank donation), and then drop in to any class at $10 a go. So tonite was my first experience with it and it was great. We did burpees (I’ve never done them before. UGH!!!), Superman burpees (super-duper UGH!!!), froggers, long jumps, pushups, ball pushups, ball passes (3kg ball), Ball slams (??? 3Kg ball on the ground, squat down, pick it up to over head, then slam it down to the ground), leg raises and heal touches (abs). I didn’t think it was so bad during class, but I’m still feeling the workout and it ended nearly an hour and a half ago. Killer and awesome!

I’m excited to have another weapon in my fitness arsenal. Also, I was excited to learn some new exercises and variations on exercises that I can incorporate into my Deck of Cards WOD. It was great to work out with others and to do it outside (didn’t hurt that today, though windy, was absolutely gorgeous).

And I am amazed that somehow, in the past year of journeying towards greater physical health, working my body hard like this has become a form of worship. I am, during a workout, aware of my body and the things it can do. I am aware that it is a gift from God, and one that, sadly, I have abused for much of my life. I am aware that as I work out, I am treating this gift well, pushing it to its limits, making it better and stronger. I am aware that during a workout I am valuing the gift given to me by my Loving Father. It is amazing to me that something as seemingly mundane as a workout can also become a deeply spiritual exercise (pardon the pun).

Random!

I have had a lot going on lately and could use an early night, so I am doing my blog early. I don’t have a theme for today’s post, just a number of random thoughts. I have one friend who is a blogger who does “Random Thought Thursdays”…I’m sort of stealing her idea (thanks Becky!), but not doing it on a Thursday. Here we go:

1) I have mentioned before how blessed I have been by my colleagues in ministry. This week I have been especially blessed. A lot of really awesome friends-who-are-pastors have given me some of their time. Some have called (Alton! Jeremy!), some I have called (Janet!) and some have had time to grab a bite to eat (thanks Fred!). In each of these encounters I have been deeply blessed and hopefully have found a way to give back some blessing.

2) Haven’t been able to walk as much as I want to because Koski is still recovering from her spay surgery. I have intense guilt about leaving her in her crate in her cone while I go out walking. She FREAKS out. It’s not fun for either of us. So in order to get enough exercise, today I tried a workout from an iPhone app called Cards WOD (WOD stands for Workout Of the Day). It’s a great little program. You assign different moves to the different suits and then it ‘shuffles’ them and you do the number of reps that corresponds with the card value and suit (8 of hearts equals 8 jumping jacks, 2 of spades equals 2 pushups, etc.). Aces are a value of 20 and face cards are a value of 10. The jokers are one-offs that totally suck (50 burpees or 200 double unders). I only did about 80 percent of the work out (and no jokers) today, but it was a good workout. And as I get better at it, I should be able to do it in half an hour.

3) Loving the weather. It is warm and sunny and breezy today. It is supposed to be warm with a surplus of sun. It’s great to feel like the long grey winter is coming to an end. Can’t get enough of Spring!

4) Having coffee with a congregant this evening. It’s hilarious to me how much I look forward to a Skinny Vanilla Latte at Starbucks! Yum!

5) I am doing well on the financial struggle front. I have been able to stick to my budget and make adjustments where necessary. I was very worried about this month because it was time to buy Koski’s food ($100 output, but it feeds her for more than 3 months). But by the grace of God, I’ve been able to adjust the other expenses during the month to absorb this. If things go as expected for the next two weeks, my VISA should be completely paid off for the first time in a couple of years and I will be well on my way to rebuilding the loan I took out of savings to pay off the majority of the VISA. This is awesome, and I am feeling much “lighter” about the whole thing. I like knowing where my money is going and I haven’t felt really deprived of shopping. It’s become a bit of a game to see what bargains I can get when it comes to grocery shopping, as well.

Press on…

I have decided to kick up my physical activity as I continue to try to break the weight loss plateau that I have been on since Christmas. So this week along with the walking that I do (on avg, 90 min a day) and the stability ball core strengthening (3 times a week, about 15 min each time), I have added 20 min on the elliptical trainer, about 4 times a week.

People keep telling me that I look great and that I could quit losing weight now. But the thing is – I have a goal. And at this moment I am 25 pounds away from that goal (I put on 2.6 pounds at last weigh-in). I want to reach my goal.

At first I was quite down hearted about the plateau that has plagued me for several weeks. But on Monday it hit me that down-hearted-ness was getting me nowhere. If I wanted to break the plateau, I was going to have to DO SOMETHING to break the plateau. It also hit me that if I am as serious about my goal as I say I am, the the only thing to do is to press on towards it.

Paul wrote these words to the church in Phillipi while he was in prison: “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:14 NLT)

Even locked in a cell, Paul refused to give up on the life to which Jesus had called him. I admire his determination. Often I have felt a lack of determination in myself. I am, at heart, a lazy creature.

But ever so slowly, Jesus is growing me up. And as he does that I am discovering things about myself that I never really knew were possible. I am determined to reach my fitness goals (and it really has become more about being fit than being skinny I. The last few months); I am determined to keep a blog as a spiritual practice – part of my ongoing relationship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

For the first time I feel like I have an affinity for Paul’s phrase “press on”, and I think this new determination will serve me well in the long run.

My friends, whatever you are facing, may God give you the strength to press on, too!