Blog : Food & Health

Second Fitness Marker         “Check In”                        #HackingWeightLoss

Second Fitness Marker “Check In” #HackingWeightLoss

I have recently passed my 2ndFitness Markerin loosing 67lbs on the journey of loosing 100lbs by the end of December. I am now training to finishmy last 33lbs.


After reflecting on life following high school and college, my health and fitness was continually put aside.  

  • I would yo-yo diet
  • I would try the latest gimmick
  • I had even bought multiple gym memberships, which resulted in going for only a week. However, I kept the membership for at least the year, because I felt cancelling was giving up on myself

In hindsight, I was not really looking to take responsibility, which would have resulted in doing whatever was needed to honor God with how I cared for my physical health.  

Discovering CrossFit

Then one day in August of 2018, God led me to discover CrossFit. 

One reason I love CrossFit is that it gives me a vision for living life today!

The functional fitness model(being ready for anything) converts into everyday practicality- at home, work or the church.

Before entering the CrossFit box, I park my car and pray to affirm my desire 

  • To present all of myself to the Lord as a living sacrifice, which includes my body & soul, Romans 12:1
  • To honor the Lord with a view for total biblical fitness, Mark 12:30-31.
  • To train to be prepared to face the day ahead, 1 Timothy 4:6-8.

I’m preparing for the unknown and unknowable at least from my perspective.

Whether I am participating or cheering others on, the CrossFit workouts, competitions and games become a “living parable” for me in following Jesus Christ.

Living Parable

How does CrossFit become this “living parable?”

Mark 12:30-31, speaks to “Loving the Lord your God with all..”

  • your heart, soul, and mind– I see this as my Spiritual Fitness
  • your strength– I see this a my Physical Fitness
  • and love your neighbor as yourself– I see this a my Community Fitness

God engages all three of these aspects of total biblical fitness in my life at the CrossFit Box. 

  • My inner person (thoughts, emotions, and will) is tested
  • My outer person physically is tested
  • My relationships in community with those around me are tested

I can then gauge my total fitness and take wise steps in training to become more prepared for each day.

Illustrating Athletic Training

The Bible gives an illustration of athletic trainingto picture the Christian Life. The apostle Paul said,

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.” (1Cor. 9:24-27)

  • Athletes exercise self-control 
  • They run with purpose and direction
  • Paul says he disciplines his body and keeps it under control

“train yourself for godliness” (1Tim. 4:7) literally exercise for Christlikeness.

  • As a Christian, I need to train to be a kind of person that responds like Christ to the unknown & unknowable circumstances of life.
  • Gospel transformation extends beyond my professionto seeing God’s fingerprints at work in training me to be like Jesus…today.

“forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:13-14)

  • Every Christian is called to pursue total biblical fitness
  • As part of my “pressing on,” God led me to participate in CrossFit at CrossFit Elgin, and to be connected with the ministry of FaithRXD to help me un-compartmentalize my life and pursue total biblical fitness.

Inspiring Others

I pray that God will use my story to inspire others (especially other Pastors and Leaders) to authentically un-compartmentalize their lives too.  

I lived too long believing a lie: that I could sacrifice my physical fitness on the altar of caring for my family and ministry. In addition, the lie blinded me to the dynamic interrelationship of the whole person God has created me to be. 

It’s been said that, “self-leadership always precedes team leadership.”

As a pastor and biblical counsellor, I set an example for others to follow after…

Did you know…

  • 45% of pastors say they’ve experienced depression and/or burnout to the extent that it required them to take a leave of absence
  • 50% of pastors are obese
  • Clergy submit more health claims than the general population
  • Obesity combined with being overweight…are the 2ndleading cause of preventable death

This was the road I chose to travel by believing the lie, and compartmentalized an area of my life. I was 300 lbs in Aug 2018, having experienced 5 years of Kidney stones, resulting in pain increased throughout my body; which impacted everyday movements and endurance to became a serious struggle.

So yes, I’m thankful for God’s personal correctionin my life to love me enough to do whatever it tookto help me experience life as He designed it to be…

  • Can you imagine what it would be like, if more pastors and leaders were experiencing total biblical fitness?
  • What would this kind of example model to othersabout total surrender and spiritual discipline of one’s life for Jesus?
  • How would following this example of self-leadership, personal discipline, and love for God and othersimpact our families and ministries?

Vision For Living

This “vision for living”that God has used CrossFit to provide me with is this:

A Christ-like person leads by example by training to increase their preparedness to live like Jesus from the inside-out, starting with a gospel transformed heart, amongst the people in life and the unknown & unknowable circumstances of life for God’s glory! 

Each day circumstances confront me and literally test the quality of my fitness in living like Jesus, I am choose how I respond to them from out of my heart, Proverbs 4:23; Luke 6:45.

Then, with the Spirit of God’s help, I can adjust my training to mature through preparation for Christlikeness, Romans 8:29; Philippians 2:12.

God indeed completes the work he begun in me, Philippians 1:6.

Two questions I leave you with:

  • Are you compartmentalizing areas of your life and believing a lie? 
  • Are you training to increasingly be prepared to deal with whatever comes at you in a Christlike manner from the inside out?

We don’t try to be like Christ,

We train to be like Christ!

This is the 3rd Blog in the series #HackingWeightLoss, “A Pastors Journey In Physical Fitness.” To read the previous blog in the series, click here.

What My TransAm Taught Me About #Hacking Weight-Loss

What My TransAm Taught Me About #Hacking Weight-Loss

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.

The Illustration

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) 

  1. 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.”  
  2. 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.

And, then…

  • 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 
    • I did some googling, as I said in my previous blog.  
    • FaithRXD helped me see how CrossFit was a good choice for me.
    • So, I DID NOT WAIT and STARTED CrossFit Elgin the next day for their Foundation Class to orient myself and practice the basics of CrossFit.

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:

  1. I can best understand my human experience through interacting with my Dynamic Heart, which God created for my good.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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.

#Hacking Weight-Loss

#Hacking Weight-Loss

Hacking Weight-Loss

A Pastor’s Journey In Physical Fitness

Hacking weight-loss seemed like only a dream that others got to experience. I was 300 lbs.  Further compounding matters, I am only 5’7″ inches tall, which means I was a dead-man walking.

As I was driving home from a family vacation in early August 2018, my mind was fighting with itself once again. 

There was a battle against the self-condemnation and self-loathing that lobbed stones at any hope for change. Those stones were from 5 painful moments over the past 5 years in struggling to pass kidney stones. This culminated in the fall of 2017 with a surgery, because I had a stone the size of pocket change in my kidney. That one was not passing naturally!  

However, it had been 9 months since the surgery. Once the pain of recovery ended, so did my aspirations to change. During this drive home from vacation, it felt like a long road of self-torture, as I tried to answer- “How did this all go so wrong?”

I have been a business leader with 13 years of experience in leading teams successfully.  Also, I been blessed to serve as a non-profit leader with over 12 years of experience, which includes being a pastor and biblical counselor. 

In my vocation, God has taught me to demonstrate consistent leadership, be strategic keeping vision-mission-and the plan before you, invest in team development and group goals to achieve results, and express a passion to live out my faith in Jesus Christ. 

God indeed does change lives through the outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ, as I have seen in individuals & marriages, families & communities, and vocations & church ministry.  These years of leadership have been a privilege to work with so many people from diverse backgrounds.

The answer to hacking weight-loss came to me, while I was alone in my home library. I was searching the Bible for answers. God did not redeem me from the brokenness of my life (Ephesians 2:1-10) and teach me so many things about Himself and life to just die in a self-induced depression. 

I just could not accept that God’s good work that He began in me (Philippians 1:6), which inspired me to purposefully serve as a pastor and counselor to help others would end so aimlessly. As I kept reading through Philippians, I came to chapter 4:9- “what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me- practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

I almost fell off my chair, so stay with me to see how the answer to hacking weight-loss came together for me.

Yes, God has called me as a pastor and biblical counselor to help others. However, the strength of my pastoral care is rooted in the personal example of God’s power to complete the work He began in me. In Philippians 4:9, the Bible said “practice these things”- what things? The things that I have learned and observed in those Christian men that are my mentors, which have genuinely shown fruit in their life. 

The hack to weight-loss was taking on definition: I must extend my redemptive relationship with God and His gospel truth into all areas of my life.

I was compartmentalizing my health by choosing to put all my time into vocation and family.  The result was to convince myself that I was being sacrificial and caring more for others. 

However, over the years, I believed a lie that God was only concerned with my soul and not my body.  This lie warped my understanding of God’s perspective on living today and overlooked His restorative care in all areas of the brokenness of my life- which includes my health.

The Bible says, “by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice…which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).” My total person (body and soul) is to be consecrated in authentic awe of God. This means that my physical fitness can be an expression in worship of God, if my intent is to honor God with my body. 

The Bible goes on to say to the Christian, “do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1Corinthians 6:19-20).” 

My physical fitness can be an expression in worship of God, if my intent is to honor God with my body. Click To Tweet

Therefore, as a Christian, this is the hack I discovered to weight-loss: I need to continually live in consecration of my total person to God and allow my active worship of God to motivate my physical fitness, so that God is honored all areas of my life. (Romans 12:1)

This hack for weight-loss extends motivation beyond a fad diet or new years resolution. It is rooted in something eternal- my relationship with Jesus Christ. By uncompartmentalizing my life, I can now experience freedom from that depresive bondage, which sought to destroy my hope. I can now live as God designed life to be experienced.

Okay, so what was the next best step I could take? I wanted to see this principle in action. So, my computer pulled up a google search about Faith RXD. Becky Conzelman was being interviewed about her pursuit of faith and fitness. She has a powerful life testimony that you need to watch.

CrossFit was not completely new to me. A friend of mine, who was a pastor, had taken a similar journey. He had been going to a fitness studio that included CrossFit. I could see how this had a big impact on his life, so much so that he has run in multiple Tough Mudder races.

Also, I remembered overhearing a fellow student at Heritage Seminary talking about his experience with CrossFit.  

Okay, so I have the Biblical direction from God and testimony from others, now I searched for a CrossFit box near me.

There were a bunch of locations with various pricing and offerings. On the list was CrossFit Elgin, I scanned to see who the coaches were and recognized the guy from Seminary.  Long story short, Rhys got me into the CrossFit box on August 17, 2018 at 7am. 

Since that day in August, I set a goal for myself to loose 100 lbs, and broke this down in 3 stages of weight-loss (34 lbs, 33 lbs, 33 lbs). This was a big challenge. 

However, I believed in truth that changed my inspiration, since it connected my relationship with God and purposeful worship of Him.

January 15, 2018 is when I hit my first progress marker loosing 34 lbs, which means my new weight is 266! 

The hack of weight-loss that I have shared has provided a strong foundation, which ultimately used those painful kidney stones to build a cumulative positive result.  

The most amazing benefit is that I am walking more authentically in my Christian life with God, which has empowered how I respond to the unknown and unknowable of each day. I know better today what the Bible means in saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I know live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).”

In future posts, I will be expanding on my experiences and learnings that have changed my life. My prayer is that they will inspire and encourage you in your journey to total fitness in body & soul. 

This is the 1st Blog in the series #Hacking Weight-Loss, “A Pastors Journey In Physical Fitness.” To read the next blog in the series, click here.