Back on the Horse

runningIn 2016 I lost about 120 pounds and took up running. You can read about some of it here. In 2017, however, I suffered some setbacks in my running routine. My knee began to hurt chronically; which I suspect was due to over use. And then my calf began popping and hurting. My unprofessional, WebMD assisted, diagnosis was a partially torn tendon in my calf. Whatever it was, it hurt enough to sideline me and keep me from running for weeks. The end result was a weight gain. By the end of last year, I had regained about 65-70 pounds of the weight I lost. A trip to my doctor woke me up. I was warned to get back on the wagon or risk being put back on the diabetes, blood pressure, and cholesterol medicine I had worked my way off of.

That’s all I needed to hear.

calves
My Calf Armor 

In January, my wife and I rejoined Weight Watchers. I want to lose a little bit of weight before I considered running again. I’m down 17 pounds since I started tracking my food and watching my portions. Today, I restarted the Couch to 5K Program that I completed in 2016. It’s a little humbling to feel like I’m starting back over from square one, but I’m blessed my wake-up came before I gained all my weight back.

I want to lose this weight and honor God with my fitness. It’s gonna be hard, but I’m gonna do it.

And as I do it, I’ll occasionally write about it … because that’s what I do.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Godly Sorrow

On occasion, I’ve written about my weight, type II diabetes, and running. If you wanna get caught up, check out this post. I’ve even written about how food and weight loss is a spiritual issue for me. To make a long story short, I was diagnosed with diabetes and decided to fight back. I lost around a 120 pounds and developed a fondness for running, or at least the slow shuffle I refer to as running. I’m ashamed to admit that my old-self has fought back somewhat. I suffered some nagging injuries and started a new desk job last year. Admittedly, these are poor excuses, but the end result was gaining back about 60 pounds. My last trip to the doctor led to an ultimatum; get control over this or go back on medication for your diabetes. So I am once again fighting back. I rejoined Weight Watchers in January and have lost 13 pounds or so since. Something about paying for my weight loss inspires me to stick with it.

But the point is, I’m fighting back. I even ran today. It sucked, but I did it. I could have chosen to give up and allow myself to be characterized by my many, many past failures. But I chose instead to do the best I could.

It occurred to me today that we often face the same choice in our spiritual walks. Too often Christians allow themselves to be characterized by their past sin and failures. We never experience the abundant life Christ offers us because we simply can’t let go of our past. Time and time again I hear the same cry, “I just can’t forgive myself!” 

50637

Sin is nothing to take lightly and sorrow is the natural reaction to it. Sin should break us and bring us to our knees. But at some point, we have to look up. The Apostle Paul wrote that Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10). There is a reason for the pain and sorrow that sin causes. It causes us to reach out for Christ. Paul also wrote that a worldly sorrow brings death. Romans 6:23 says that the wages of sin are death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. When we neglect repentance, our sin is all pain and all sorrow with no gift. Godly sorrow lead to repentance, worldly sorrow leads to death; it’s our choice.

My sinful relationship with food has lead me to struggle with maintaining a healthy weight and to diabetes. Where has your sin led you?

More importantly, how will you respond? 

Your Body is a Temple: So Why Live in Chains?

ky1w7eac5em-maarten-van-den-heuvelYour body is a temple. Everyone loves to quote this passage of Scripture. You’ll likely hear it anytime someone is encouraging you to work out or eat healthier. In it’s original context, however, Paul is talking about so much more than just exercise and diet:

12 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 13 Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both of them. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 Now God has not only raised the Lord, but will also raise us up through His power. 15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? May it never be! 16 Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a prostitute is one body with her? For He says, “The two shall become one flesh.” 17 But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. 18 Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? 20 For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Paul begins this passage by pointing out that not all things are profitable for us and that we shouldn’t be mastered by anything. And while Paul is talking about food, specifically the levitical dietary laws of the Jewish people, he is encouraging his readers to live morally in all areas of their life. He writes that the body is not meant for immorality. This passage echoes the words of Peter that encourages us to “… be holy for He (Christ) is holy” (1 Peter 1:16). The believer is to strive for holiness in all areas of their life; including their diet and fitness.

The line that speaks to me the loudest from this passage is, “but I will not be mastered by anything” (v. 12). When it comes to food, I am easily mastered. At 368 pounds, food was my master. And I must confess that even now, it tries repeatedly to put me back in chains.

Paul is calling on all believers to glorify God in their bodies. He tells us to flee immorality and not be mastered by anything be it food or sexual sins. Why does he specifically mention these two areas of our lives? Maybe he knew these would be the two areas most of us would struggle with the most.

We live in a world where we are constantly tempted toward sexual and dietary immorality. When you’re watching tv tonight, count the number of commercials that appeal to your desire for food, sex, or both. In our culture, you can’t watch a prime-time sitcom without seeing commercials featuring bikini-clad models eating bacon cheeseburgers. The world wants us to trip up and wants to place us in chains.

Paul writes, “I will not be mastered by anything.”

We need to embrace the notion that our bodies truly are temples of the Holy Spirit.  If God has called us to be holy in all aspects of our lives than what we eat and what we think about matters to Him. I’m not saying we’ll go to hell for eating pizza and cheeseburgers, but I am saying we need to foster a healthy relationship with the foods we eat.

If God has called us to be holy, we have a higher calling in diet and fitness than just looking good and feeling good. We are honoring Him when we eat healthy and exercise. 

I’m still striving for holiness when it comes to my diet. I’m thankful I’ve lost some weight, but I’m aware that I’m not there yet. I’m trying to embrace moderation in diet and regularity in my exercise. Why? Because I’ve been bought with a price and I want to glorify God in my body.

If your Body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, why live in chains!

Food is a Cheap Replacement for God

g6g93jtu1ve-aaron-burden“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty’ (John 6:35, NIV).

Certainly, Jesus is speaking about spiritual matters when He calls Himself “the Bread of Life.” Jesus is declaring that those who believe in Him will never hunger or thirst spiritually. However, I don’t think it’s a coincidence He speaks in terms of food.

Too often, we look at food and drink to find satisfaction. In this way, a glutton is much like a drunkard. We have a deep longing for something, and we are looking for it in the foods we consume and the beverages we drink.

There is a quote that is often attributed to Pascal that says we all have a God-shaped void or vacuum in our hearts. I believe this is true. When we face adversity, loss, anger, suffering, and trials we become even more aware of that void in our spirit. It’s at this precise moment we should seek God.

Too often, however, we try to fill that God-shaped void in our hearts with food.

Food shouldn’t replace God. We shouldn’t look to food for comfort. When we do, we are in essence making food our God. Why is it so easy to make that mistake? Perhaps it’s because we do find temporary comfort and solace in the foods we eat. For a moment, we do feel better. But that temporary satisfaction is always followed by regret, weight gain, and remorse. The temporary satisfaction we find in food is a cheap replacement for the eternal satisfaction that can only be found in Jesus Christ.

Jesus said whoever comes to Him will never go hungry again. We need to let our food be food and our God be God!

 

Junk Food is the Porn of Our Diet

fgyekt1e6hc-brandon-morganMy last post explored the spiritual side of food addiction, diet, and weight loss. In my case, my relationship with food and gluttony had reached a point where it was sinful. I suspect I’m not the only one in this boat. What we often mistake as a simple struggle with health and exercise is often a spiritual battle. God’s Word says:

12For Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV).

We often make the mistake of thinking weight loss, health, and fitness are merely physical battles when they are actually spiritual. When I was sick with diabetes and high blood pressure, I was often depressed which inflicted spiritual damage on me that went beyond the physical. I believe the enemy knows this. If Satan can attack us through food addiction, gluttony, weight gain, and lethargy, he knows it will eventually impact us spiritually and damage our relationship with God.

Satan is known as the deceiver (Revelation 12:9). His modus operandi is to take the good gifts of God and twist them into something sinful. He does it with sex all the time. What was meant to be a gift from God to a man and his wife has been twisted into pornography, adultery, rape, promiscuity, and deviance — the same is true with food. Food was meant to be a good gift from God and consumed with thanksgiving to the One Who Provides. In my life, however, it became twisted. I became addicted to fast food and junk food. I became a glutton. My physical being began to suffer, which led to my mental being suffering, and ultimately my spiritual relationship with God was damaged. Point for Satan.

Junk Food is to Food what pornography is to sex. When we settle for an unhealthy relationship with our food and choose fast food and junk food over the healthy and nutritious foods God has provided us, we are buying into Satan’s lies.

We have to recognize this fact. We have to see the spiritual side of the issue if we hope to overcome it. If we attack our struggle with weight loss and food addiction in a way that is purely physical, we may enjoy temporary success. It may even look like we’re winning the battle but, if I’m being honest, I’ve seen many people beat obesity and food addiction only to form a sinful and unhealthy relationship with fitness and health. Both issues are flip sides of the same coin and can damage us spiritually.

Once we recognize our battle is a spiritual one, we must fight it spiritually. That passage from Ephesians continues:

13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:13-17, NIV).

If weight gain, food addiction, gluttony, and obesity is a spiritual attack, we better fight it spiritually. If not, we have no chance to truly beat it.


Note: I am currently reading through a devotional plan called Food is Not The Enemy: Overcoming Food Struggles using the YouVersion Bible app on my phone. The Scripture referenced in this post coincides with the devotional. I highly recommend it.

Today’s Thanksgiving Run

So I stepped out my door this morning with the intentions of heading to the gym to get a treadmill run in, but I discovered the temperature outside was a little warmer than I expected at about 40 degrees. So instead of the gym, I hit my usual running path. I’ve been running inside too much lately, so I was thankful that the weather here in Ohio cooperated and gave me the opportunity to do something different.

I started off with a warm-up walk to shake the dust off and ease into my activity. My goal was a shorter run at a little faster temp than my longer ones … I ended up with a two mile run that dipped down to a 14:00-15:30 pace for it’s duration; which, though slow for most runners, is up tempo for me. So I had a good time. But, it was fitting that on this day of Thanksgiving I found myself praising and thanking God that I was able to run and get outside. There are times I get so focused on the task of losing weight and discouraged by minor setbacks that I forget to just be thankful for all God has done for me. Last year, a run on Thanksgiving Day would have been the furthest thing from my mind. When I was a hundred pounds heavier and beset with high blood pressure and diabetes, I couldn’t run. So I’m thankful God has given me the opportunity to change that. He truly has blessed me.

morningrun
Thanksgiving, 2015

I was also thankful this morning for the beautiful sky God painted. I was the only one on the path this morning so I felt like I was sharing the sky with Him alone. It’s a sky that I wouldn’t have noticed had I stayed in bed … so I’m glad God gave me the nudge out the door this morning.

My beagle Sadie

I’m thankful for other things as well. My wife, children, and church family are more than I could ever ask for. My little grand daughter Molly is simply the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I even find myself thanking God for my beagle who, believe it or not, was an answer to my wife’s prayers. I am thankful for a God who has extended me grace, mercy, and forgiveness when I didn’t deserve anything but judgement. It is a testament to His character that I have been given a chance to live in the shadow of Jesus Christ. And I am thankful for everything He has blessed me with in the process.

Is my life perfect? Nope. I still screw things up from time to time and it seems like I fall short in some way every single day. But God is helping me focus on the blessings in my life and to forgive myself for my shortcomings. Sometimes, I tend to make the obstacles in my life bigger than my God … and that needs to change. I want God to be the biggest thing in my life so that all my troubles seem smaller.

My goal is to take the Apostle Paul’s advice:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (Philippians 4:8, NIV).

My prayer is that this spirit of Thanksgiving becomes my daily attitude from this point forward. It is also my prayer for you.

Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving!

New to Running? Here's What I've Learned

y-3ryjiqlgu-jacob-millerI’ve been running for about three months now. Since I started I’ve been reading books, magazine articles, and blog posts targeted for beginning runners voraciously. Through that reading, and through experience, I have learned a few things …. here’s my list of takeaways so far … offered humbly to others who may be toying with the idea of taking up running.

  • Before you run, you should walk. I walked regularly for a couple of months before I ran my first step. I walked because running scared me and I hadn’t lost enough weight yet to feel comfortable going faster. Turns out, walking was one of the best things I could do. I built up a base of mileage, strengthened my legs and heart, and developed a routine of hitting the walking/running path. If you have never run before, you should start off walking.
  •  Add to your miles slowly. Increase your miles no more than 10% per week. This may seem like slow progress to you, but it is the safest way to progress. Your heart will adjust to running long before you ligaments, tendons, and muscles will. If you increase too much too soon, you are at a greater risk for injury.
  • It’s okay to go slow. In fact, it’s probably preferred if you’re in this for the long haul. Go slow, take plenty of walking breaks, and don’t worry about speed if you’re new to running. Again, ignoring this advice puts you at risk of an injury that will end your running hobby before it gets off the ground.
  • Be consistent. Running will help you lose weight. Running will improve your health. But not if you only do it once every other month. For the last three months I’ve aimed for three runs a week. I’m just about to move to four.
  • Rest intentionally. You’re not a slacker if you take a rest day between runs. You’re smart. Running can be hard on your body so take the time to recover.
  • Don’t worry about how silly you look. None of the other runners care. Nine times out of ten you will get a friendly wave and a smile when they pass you. Those who ignore are probably afraid you think they look stupid.
  • Drink pretty of fluids. Dehydration sucks.
  • Buy good shoes, running shorts, and a shirt. A good set of running clothes is far superior to a cotton tee shirt, sweatpants, and your lawn-mowing shoes.

And most importantly …

  • Have fun, relax, and praise God you are able to get outside and exercise. Plenty of people out there wish they could walk, run, and exercise. No matter how slow you are or how stupid you think you look – you are blessed.

Bringing Gluttony into the Light

gluttony
Pic Found on Pinterest

Over the past couple of years I have slowly lost some weight. The weight has finally started to add up to the point that people are noticing and I keep getting asked how much weight I’ve lost. Well, I really didn’t know because I hadn’t kept track. I was trying to make changes in my diet for health purposes. I had to have my gallbladder taken out a couple of years ago and last year I was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes. All of this, including high blood pressure, finally prompted me to make some changes. Well … I went through some old medical records to find out what I actually weighed at different points over the last year or so, plus I’ve been doing Weight Watchers with my wife for the past month. So I finally have an answer when someone asks me how much weight I’ve lost.

55 pounds.

I’ve got quite a ways to go before I get down to my goal weight, but I don’t really think just in terms of weight loss. I try to focus more on my overall health and fitness. Plus, I see it all as a way to honor God. I have a problem with eating too much food and that leads to Gluttony. Gluttony is a sin we Christians like to ignore. It is much easier to focus on those sins we don’t entertain in our own lives. If we admit that Gluttony is a sin then we might have to make some changes in our lives … and that’s brings our faith just a little too close for comfort!

The Bible clearly teaches Gluttony is a sin. Proverbs 23:20-21 warns us, “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags. Proverbs 28:7 adds, “He who keeps the law is a discerning son, but a companion of gluttons disgraces his father.” Proverbs 23:2 figuratively declares, “Put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”

Scripture advocates moderation and temperance. Unfortunately, gluttony reveals a problem with over-indulgence and control. And this presents me with a quandary. I love to eat! Pizza is one of my favorite things in this world. But I am on staff in my local church. I teach Bible Study and am sometimes afforded the opportunity to preach. I have often said that when our lifestyle doesn’t line up with Scripture we are presented with a choice. The onus to change is on us because God’s Word remains constant. Unfortunately, my weight and my gluttony didn’t line up with God’s Word … and I had to make a choice. I could practice what I preach or I could continue to wallow in hypocrisy.

I’ve decided to change.

It isn’t easy … and I don’t consider what I’m doing as a diet. If I want to eat pizza, I’ll eat it and thank God for it … however, I’ll have to eat it in a way that fits into the lifestyle I’m pursuing. I want to honor God with my life. I’m less concerning with my goal weight than I am with living in the manner prescribed by God. My weight will figure itself out as I make these changes.

I know from experience, however, how easy it is to fall off the fitness wagon and into my old ways. So, to hold myself accountable I have created a Weight Loss Blog/Journal. You can follow my pursuit of fitness at the below web address:

Finding Clark

I won’t be posting long essays there. It’s a Tumblr blog, which is new to me, but it works perfectly for pictures and brief posts about my weight loss exploits. Plus, I don’t have to bore my readers here with stories about what I had for dinner! Feel free to follow along as I try to change my lifestyle. And if you are tempted to over indulge and need to lose a few pounds yourself, feel free to join me!

 

Weekly Weigh In: 4/12/15

scaleIf you read any of my twitter posts, you’ll know that I’ve been doing weight watchers for the last few weeks. In an attempt to make myself more accountable, I’m going to start tracking my weekly Weight Watchers weigh-ins here … both good and bad. I’m also going to start writing every once in awhile about weight-loss in general. Not because I’m some kind of expert mind you, but weight-loss, and gain, has occupied a great deal of my time, energy, and thoughts lately. So, I need an outlet.

Normally, I weigh in on Tuesdays, but other commitments necessitated my wife and I go on Saturday this week. As a result, we were actually weighing in for a little more than week, so I had high expectations for a big drop and was expecting somewhere in the range of three pounds.

I didn’t quite get it.

However, I did lose 1.6 pounds. This puts me at a 20 pound loss for the month and one day I’ve been doing weight watchers (and about 66 pounds over the last couple of years). That was the good part of the weigh-in and meeting Saturday. The bad? It seems I broke one the toes on my right foot. Like many people, I weigh-in in my sock feet. I don’t have a clue how much my shoes weigh, but I’m not taking credit for it. Well, clumsy me accidentally kicked a chair with my shoes off. Result, broken toe! It hurts like the dickens, but it could be worse I suppose.

Now I have to decide if I want to go back to Tuesdays for my weigh-in day or stick with Saturday. I’m not sure which direction I’ll go, but I’ll post the results here when I do!

 

 

Review of Half-Assed: A Weight-Loss Memoir by Jennette Fulda

half-assedAfter being diagnosed with type-2 diabetes last year I’ve been on my own weight-loss journey of sorts. I’m down a little over fifty pounds since last year and recently joined Weight Watchers to help keep myself headed in the right direction. I found this book on Scribd and thought it might be inspirational. In reality, however, it really didn’t provide that much inspiration. The author was, however, likable and just funny enough to keep me from quitting part way through the book. It reads kind of like a blog and, if nothing else, does demonstrate it is possible to lose massive amounts of weight and maintain a positive and healthy attitude during the process. If you’re looking for a “how to” book, take note that this isn’t it. The author offers no recipes, exercise, or weight loss tips. She does bring honesty and a good sense of humor to the table. Readers should be warned that while the author is not profane, she does have a tendency to use some foul language at times.