Fitting in Fitness
Five years ago, I took off twenty pounds and kept to my baseline weight, much to my satisfaction. Yet, just this year, that weight began to creep up again, or so my morning bathroom scale check told me. I kept thinking, Hm-m-m-m. Need to get back on a weight loss program; in fact, I need to take off the next 15 to 20 pounds. One friend says she took off weight because she wanted to look good in her coffin! I just want to look good for the years before I hit the coffin.
So this is the summer that David and I have seriously committed ourselves to weight loss through a nutritionally-based detoxification program. Perhaps this incentive comes from the fact that our daughter and son-in-law have lost a cumulative total of 49 pounds—and I am getting nearly daily telephone briefings from Melissa, “Doug’s taken off 29 pounds so far; I’ve lost 20!”
Now I know that there are literally thousands of diet plans and schemes and scams out there. Most of them are costly and many of them are only temporary in their impact; pounds lost, after a few months, is often pounds gained back again. Nothing was keeping me from loosing weight except that I didn’t have a plan. We are leading full lives and finding time for cooking is not always a priority (I’ve often said to David that the pick-up food he brings home for us because of my neglect is destined to kill me).
To quote my nutritional guru, Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I know the right thing to do. I believe in it. I just don’t do it!
More to the point, what I was really looking for was a health plan that would help me sleep at least seven hours per night (my average is between four hours and six) without medication, give me relief from the aching in my lower back that is beginning to debilitate my daily productivity (I’ve been diagnosed with early stages of degenerative arthritis in two spinal discs), and help me keep from hitting the fatigue wall every afternoon somewhere between noon and three (which even after short naps or some time with my feet up continues into the evenings.) Losing weight is really a side benefit of healthy eating. So I appreciate that Doug and Melissa’s plan is designed with healthiness first as its motivator.
Yep!—it’s time to get serious about these small physical annoyances that have the potential to become large, quality-of-life-limiting disabilities.
I began to show up more regularly at Curves©. Three half-hour sessions per week tamed the tingling and numbness in my right arm that often wakes me at night and threatens to limit my range of motion during the day. My right knee, which I injured in an office fall last September, has also strengthened. Now I can walk up the stairs like an adult rather than taking the steps like a two-year-old—one at a time. I understand clearly that my body is defining my physical regimen—no more skimping on the exercise routine—not if I don’t want to be crippled, at any rate.
Then, I made an appointment for a consultation with a friend’s chiropractor—she kindly told me that as my friend she felt compelled to comment on the fact that I was slouching more and more. So with her “friendly” urging, since May I’ve been undergoing twice-a-week soft tissue massage, twice-a-week spinal adjustments, as well as coaching on good-posture exercises. I’ve also been applying the recommended essential oils to pulse-points as a sleep aid.
Could I possibly fit in a nutritional program with all this going on?
I suppose it was when Melissa said, “Mother, Marie (a business partner) has lost twenty pounds, seen her doctor and he’s taken her off her high-blood pressure medicine … ” that I finally thought, OK. OK. I better pay attention to this.
David and I plunked down the money, and we are trying to stay on top of the eight-ten daily glasses of water, the two nutritional shakes per day, the tablets that keep the glucose levels steady, the bowel regulator capsules, the energy booster drinks and the chocolate squares that act as appetite suppressants. We are building up to two cleanse days per week (which the literature says acts on the cellular level, purging the body of the chemicals and impurities we all absorb in our toxic food culture.) We have eliminated caffeine of all kinds, no longer pick up processed, junk or fast foods; we are controlling our carbohydrate intake and are eating fresh (farmer’s market and neighbor’s surplus) vegetables and salads with grilled fish or skinless chicken—our allotted one 400 to 600 calorie meal a day.
I’ll let you know how it all goes. What I do know after three weeks on this nutritional plan, and after three intense months of paying attention to my physical being, is that I may be one of the most self-neglectful people on the planet! When someone takes your medical history they ask questions like, “So how long has your back been aching like this? (Uh, about two years!) How long have you been experiencing tingling and numbness in your arm? (‘Bout the same amount of time.) Describe your afternoon fatigue? (Feels like I’ve been hit with a load of bricks. Can’t write. Can’t exercise. Just tired on all levels.) How many average hours of sleep per night did you say you get? (Four to six hours. I generally wake between two A.M. and three.)
Because I don’t have diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer, I’ve erroneously concluded that I’m basically healthy. (Oh yeah, there’s that little matter of a high cholesterol level.) Paying attention to these other symptoms—fatigue, back pain, etc.—has convinced me that I need to make my physical condition a number one priority.
We can’t get healthy without a plan, and it has to be a plan that we can make work for us.
The same is true of healthy spirituality. I’m concerned that we Christians in the West are being conformed to our culture more than the culture is being conformed to Christianity. So as I’ve been taking a serious look at my physical condition, I’ve also been taking a serious look at my spiritual condition. What is the plan I need to put together that will bring me to optimum spiritual health? What are the symptoms that indicate I may be in a languishing spiritual state?
It is tempting at this point to pull out a whole bunch of Scriptures that talk about the “feeding of the soul” but for the sake of originality, maybe I’ll go to that Diana Ross and the Supremes classic, “Stop! In the Name of Love.” The full lyrics are a plea against a lover’s infidelity.
This is not too far from the laments of the Jeremiah passages I’ve been stuck in all summer. The prophet records God’s cries of anguish, “Long ago you broke off your yoke and tore off your bonds; you said, ‘I will not serve you!’ Indeed, on every high hill and under every spreading tree you lay down as a prostitute.” Stop! In the name of love/before you break my heart—.
My primary goal for the rest of this summer and for the rest of the year is to learn how to fit in physical and spiritual fitness. As I said before, I’ll let you know how it goes.
(Oh, yes, David and I have lost eight pounds so far.) And I’m determined to center myself constantly in the One about whom Voltaire is supposed to have said, “God is a circle whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” Living daily in that place seems to me to be the epitome of spiritual health.
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"We can't get healthy without a plan, and it has to be a plan that we can make work for us. The same is true about
Half the Sky
Both David Mains and I (and many of our friends) read Half the Sky this last spring or summer. The subtitle is: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide and it is written by the husband/wife journalism team of Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
The authors make the point that more girls have been killed in the last fifty years, simply because they were female, than men killed in all the wars of the twentieth century. This is hard reading, to say the least because Kristof and WuDunn deal with the four great terrors that conspire to diminish women and girls completely: the worldwide sex-slave industry, poverty and hunger, child genital mutilation and the accompanying view of women as second class creatures, and the lack of education.
Efforts in any of these areas will help to lift women out of their worthless status. The authors make the point that any nation that wants to advance itself economically and politically in a global environment must advance the cause of its women and girls. The Chinese saying, “Women hold up half the sky” is the source for the title of this book.
In fact, the authors credit China’s recent meteoric rise partly to the economic empowerment of the women in Chinese society. This has been dubbed by some to be the “girl effect.”
What is remarkable about these two journalists’ approach is the fact that they make a compelling argument for the worldwide advancement of the female sex not only through moral appeals but by documenting case studies of women who have undergone the worst kind of prejudice and hardship to make something of themselves.
This is a must read for concerned Christians. You will be angry, you will be appalled, you will become determined to work toward change. And if you do (as I think you will do), sign up to hold a Global Bag Project home party. We are putting the fall to Christmas schedule together now as we attempt to empower women in Africa to create sustainable incomes and take control of their own futures. Contact Carla Boelkens, Global Bag Project Director, at Carla@globalbagproject.org.