Self-inflicted Pain

Last year I decided to “get in shape”. Now for the record I wasn’t actually out of shape because technically I had never been in shape. I liked being kind of soft and mushy and my solution to my ever-expanding waistline was brilliant: buy new clothes. But after a high blood pressure reading, some aches and pains and a general feeling of fatigue; I decided that I didn’t want to be fat, frumpy and fiftyish anymore.

So I embarked on my odyssey of self-improvement or as I prefer to call it – self-inflicted pain. I know that diet and exercise is more appealing when we refer to it as “a lifestyle change” but let’s not kid ourselves – it’s still DIET and EXERCISE. What’s particularly frustrating (to me anyway) is that it works. I wanted to take a magic pill or buy some fancy machine that would transform me into my vision of health and fitness. The infomercials on T.V. make it look so easy – hmmm, could it be that those ads are deceptive? What really helped me get kick-started was a “Biggest Loser” competition we had at work – I love to win stuff! So I started counting calories, making healthier food choices and began the dreaded exercise regime.

Turns out exercise isn’t that much fun. But I’ve learned to adjust my way of thinking and I usually start my day out on the treadmill. I have an hour of quiet time – sometimes I pray; often I listen to music via my iPod; and sometimes I just enjoy the peaceful silence (although my panting and gasping initially was a distraction). I give myself the morning for me – the fact that I’m walking has become incidental – I have reserved that time just for me. And that’s the beauty – it feels a little selfish and indulgent – and I like that!

BEFORE

As far as the DIET, I have just increased the good stuff and decreased the bad stuff. Again, pretty simple concept. I was fortunate enough to meet with a dietician and get some sound advice: DON’T DRINK YOUR CALORIES – FIBER IS YOUR FRIEND – EAT SMALLER PORTIONS – BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. And I love my new foods and I’ve learned that water really is God’s perfect beverage. So I guess it is “a life-style change” and it works. But I hate to admit that sometimes I have ‘doughnut dreams’.

I also joined a gym and I had a few sessions with a trainer named Jake (but after the first session I had another name for that little sadist). We worked on ‘my core’. Which was startling to me because I didn’t know that I possessed a core and I didn’t’ realize that ‘working’ on it would make me want to cry like a little girl and then throw up. Did I mention that I HATE Jake? Now I go to the gym a few days each week and I continue to work on my core and well as cardio and other stuff. I still give Jake the ‘stink-eye’ whenever I see him – that little jerk! But each day at the gym is a day that I’m not sitting on my bottom. So I guess it’s true – that you can either use it or lose it. I’m not power lifting or anything like that; I’m just hoping to hang on to what I’ve got – it seems that after 50 what doesn’t fall off – falls apart. I’m just trying to slow that natural progression.

AFTER

The good news: Diet and exercise works! I’ve lost 50 pounds. My blood pressure is great. My cholesterol is low. And I feel better than I have in years. So it seems that my self-inflicted pain has paid off. And my reward is that I can (maybe) look forward to a longer life.

Now I had better start thinking about making some changes on the inside – that’s where the real work is needed. More acceptance – less judgment. More tolerance – less prejudice. More joy – less regret. More love – less hate. This change won’t require self-inflicted pain. It should be the opposite. Surrendering to God’s love won’t be easy (for me) but the only painful part will be letting go of my need to be in control. This past year I transformed my body; it might take a little while longer to transform my soul but I’ve got an excellent trainer in Jesus…

My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope. Psalms 62:6

Peace,

Denis

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