This is the 2ndBlog in the series #Hacking Weight-Loss, “A Pastors Journey In Physical Fitness.” To start with the 1st Blog in the series, click here.
I have completed Stage 1 (lost 34 lbs.) to reach my goal of 100 lbs. by January 2020. While I am in Stage 2 (loosing 33 lbs.), I wanted to reflect back to expand on my experiences and learnings that have changed my life. May this inspire and encourage you in your journey to total fitness in body & soul for God’s glory.
One fond memory of my 20’s was owning a 1976 Pontiac TransAm. I purchased the car with cash earned from Ebay sales of Beanie Babies (Don’t you judge me!). Today, that might not sound too strange, but in the 90’s most people were still trying to figure out how the digital world integrated into daily life. Ebay was the latest trend that began to pick up momentum.
I can still remember my ear-to-ear grin, as the power of the 400 Big Block engine ignited the tires and raced me down the road. The torque in the rear was so significant that I cracked a few rear axles. This damage became evident by the unusual lifting and swaying of the rear end in an unsteady manner. Then, I called up my local mechanic who would help me source parts and fix the car.
However, that was not the case with regards to another issue. The alignment was off a bit. When I let go of the wheel, the car would pull to the right. Sadly, this problem did not trigger such an alarm to warrant me getting this fixed. The days and months passed. I learned to compensate for the car being out of alignment.
Then one day, I was washing and waxing the metallic firethorn red body of the car and noticed the unusual wear on the edges of the tires. I called up my mechanic. He asked, “Does the car pull to one side on it’s own?”“Well, yes. It pulls to the right,” I replied. “This sounds like your alignment is out and it can cause a variety of issues. Tire wear on the edges is one of them. You should bring the car in to get that fixed,”my mechanic said.
After the car was adjusted, the TransAm ran with such accurate precision that I could not believe I chose to live with the problem for so long.
The Real Problem
My real problem was ignoring & compensating for the car being out of alignment. Further, I did not see any significant issue occurring at that moment. “Why should I fix it? I don’t see any big consequences,”I rationalized to myself. Over time, I had learned to not even notice the issue, manually adjusted my driving habits, which eventually led to costly consequences. The tire damage was just for starters.
Human beings are not like cars that can “get fixed” overnight, after being out of alignment for an extended period of time. We organically change and modify our precision through prolonged choices to live with our problems.
The body adapts by creating new neuropathways, which rewire our brains to accept a “new normal.” While there are warning signals to deal with our problems, the “new normal” (which sets a negative trajectory and a debilitating recalibration) loses its immediate painful experience.We chose to stay the course, because we do not see any significant negative impact.
Why do we rationalize? Well, we tell ourselves what we want to hear, so that we do not have to change. We preach a daily message to ourselves that conditions apathy to fuel our actions.
Why do we wait? We act like ignoring a problem will just make it go away. But it doesn’t!
Change In Human Experience
I needed something to remove me from the frame of my life, so I could see the full picture of body & soul. I needed a revived inspiration and hope!
Today, I am more convinced than ever before- that change is possible! I believe there is something greater than physical fitness that makes overcoming my life’s brokenness possible.
Please stay with me here, understanding this lesson about my human experience helped me step out of the frame to see the whole picture!
It is not that this process God uses for personal change was new to me, but it was newly being applied to my physical health. I have used this process in leadership development and counseling for years. And, I am so thankful to see this process effectively impact my own life. Let me give you the inside scoop.
I believe what Jesus said, “out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).” Jesus was saying that my person is made up of the physical (body) and immaterial (heart). The heart is where I treasure things deep within myself.
The heart can be broken down into three categories: mind (what we believe and think on), emotions (what we desire and feel), and will (what we choose to act on). I can find interchangeable terms used in the Bible for my immaterial part: heart, soul, mind, etc.
Jesus is saying that our dynamic heart stores up an abundance of thoughts, desires, and convictions, which splash out as life bumps into us.
The biblical understanding that human experience flows “from one, unified heart…people are moral agents who conduct themselves from a singular response system for which they are responsible before their Creator.” (Dr. Jeremy Pierre)
- Heart Principle-My stored-up thoughts, desires, and convictions ignite my responses to the brokenness, circumstances and problems of life. To say it a different way, “The people in life, the situations in life, the circumstances in life do not cause me to be who I am, but reveal who I really am.”
- Behavior Principle-My ongoing responses to the circumstance and problems of life form habits, and habits normalize and automate behavior to repeat itself. In the third century, Augustine taught that our habits create a rebounding effect upon our consciences that instill a pressure to make ongoing responses easier.
This synergy of heart treasuring, prolonged responses, habit formation and behavior automation are amazing signs of God’s creative design in me. I am designed to “love the Lord [my] God with all [my] heart and with all [my] soul and with all [my] mind and with all [my] strength (Mark 12:30).”
Jesus is connecting my relationship with God with my true-self, which bears the image of God. He interconnects my soul/heart and my body/strength. He is affirming that my human experience flows through my dynamic heart and into my daily activities.
The problem was that I…
- chose to ignore what God said about care for my body
- replaced God’s perspective with my own and fast food cultures perspective
- treasured those lies and acted independently of God
- pridefully aspired to follow those false gods of my own making
False gods, Really?
You may be saying, “what has this to do with health and physical fitness?” Everything! Just stay with me and track with my conclusions. I am now going to include us all in the conversation by changing from using “I” to “We.”
We are worshiping beings. We naturally find awe in something- either God or something else. That which grips my affections, informs my thinking, and develops my convictions to act is what my heart worships!
If we are in awe of God, then we pursue a free life to follow the best plan, which God designed to allow us to truly live. God is worthy of absolute and exclusive worship. He is good, pure, and trustworthy. He is all powerful, all knowing, and all wise. He has eternally existed before space and time began. Do you get a glimpse of the nature and power of the God of the Bible? Therefore, He is the one and only true God that deserves our worship and service in following His design.
However, if we are in awe of our career, personal agency, enjoying food, or even physical fitness, then we are setting a trajectory of slavery to those things. Those aspects of our lives, mentioned above, are not bad in and of themselves, but should be understood in the context they were given.
Sadly, we trade off being in awe the Creator for the creation. We believe lies that re-program the meaning and experience of life. Our thinking gets warped and over time we develop habits that drive us to bow down to gods of our own making. In the end, the lies we believed will result in damaging our lives, which could have eternal consequences.
Okay, back to my journey and the lesson learned.
The Fitness Connection
Unlike the TransAm, I could not just go to the mechanic and come home living with new accurate precision. I recognized the increasing significant impact that my choices to not care for my body was producing.
So, what do I do now? The process is similar to how I can change in other areas of my life.
- Stop Blaming Everything Else & Making Excuses
- I needed to be honest with God and myself.
- I needed to break this ongoing cycle by an act of humility.
- I needed to acknowledge that I was choosing to ignore and replace God’s design for me to care for my body. “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?…glorify God in your body (1Corinthians 6:19-20).”
That meant I needed to stop making excuses, turn from my current way of thinking, and start saying the same thing that God says about my health.
- Start Taking Personal Ownership
- I needed to start thinking about my body and health from God’s perspective and design.
- I needed to start a trajectory of making choices that aligns with my new thinking. And, it did not matter if I didn’t feel like all the time, because I know my emotions often reveal the struggles with temptation inside my Dynamic Heart. Over time, my new thinking and choices can shape new desires.
- I needed to start acting in positive ways to set up a pathway to success. Not great leaps, but steps forward.
The Step Forward
What steps forward would set up a pathway to success?
What would be the “Next Best Step” to take to humbly and courageously take personal ownership?
- STEP To Control The Inner Dialogue- I talk to myself more than anyone! So, I needed to get truth and not lies to filter the self-talk.
- Wake Up Routine (30min total)- I needed to prepare myself to start my day by including some key actions. Two of the actions were musts for 15 minutes: A) I read through Philippians from each section per day & repeated once I got to the end. B) I would spend time praying what I just read back to God, asking for His Spirit’s work to shape my character by it.
- Theme Songs- I picked a couple key songs that resonated with what I was seeking to change. They are played them often to connect my thinking and emotions together. Lauren Daigle’s “First” is one of my songs.
- STEP To Identify & Start A New Fitness Lifestyle
Then I took another step and another step.
Jocko Willink is a decorated retired US Navy Seal officer. He has written on leadership and provides leadership instruction to civilians. In a podcast episode, he answers the question- how to step into bravery, face your fears, and start to learning. Jocko gets to the point, “step…this simple attitude…this simple action…how do you get to the gym?…how do you change your diet?…the first step you need to take is just that, step.”
Jocko’s focus in this video is on starting new behaviors without any more excuses. In order for me to create new habits, I must take the next best step forward and then another step. I do not need to have a PhD in health & fitness to take a step. I do not need to procrastinate any longer and just step forward.
My First Big Lesson
I have tried to summarize my thoughts in this blog to present my first big lesson learned in my journey to hack weight-loss.
My TransAm taught me an important lesson: If I ignore the warning signs about an issue in my life, whether or not it is producing big and immediate problems, then I will set in motion a trajectory that will lead to costly consequences. (By the way, this is true at church, at home, or at work.)
This lesson expands into practical applications:
- I can best understand my human experience through interacting with my Dynamic Heart, which God created for my good.
- After processing my thoughts, desires and choices about my health from God’s perspective in His Word, it was time for me to stop blaming, making excuses, and turn from the lies I had believed to begin following after God and His revealed design in the Bible.
- In addition, I took personal ownership for my health & physical fitness, which led to the next best steps forward. I wanted to get control of my inner dialogue by filtering it through God’s truth, connecting my thoughts and emotions with themed Christian music, and identify and start a new fitness lifestyle for God’s glory!
I keep this lesson and those applications in the forefront of my mind to maintain focus and ongoing steps forward!
Thanks for staying with me. I hope you can see the connection of my Christian Faith and Fitness, which has given me real hope and excitement for the journey of life ahead!
Look for my next lesson learned in the first stage of loosing 100 lbs. by January 2020.
Series, “Hacking Weight-Loss” – previous blog click here.