Guest Post at Haven Journal

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There are two very important rules about running.

1. Don’t run unless you absolutely love it.
2. Don’t stop running when you hate it.

Between those margins, you’re safe to pursue running as a sport, or as a fun, safe and effective means to stay healthy.

Running has become the default mode of all broken exercise programs. It’s simple, requires little special equipment, can cause fast weight loss, and gee, almost everybody’s doing it. However, those who begin running as merely a painful means to an end, such as weight loss, will almost surely find themselves discouraged and maybe even injured.

If you’re sure that running is for you, if it seems to reset you emotionally and physically, if it provides you with much needed time outside in the fresh air, if it is the best start or end to your day that you can possibly imagine, then by all means, grab your shoes! And take notes, I’m going to give you a few pointers.

http://www.havenjournal.com/two-rules-for-running/

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Hereditary, Painful Privilege

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My friend knelt beside her 10-year-old son. She was torn between shaking him and crying right along with him. He didn’t want her to know he was crying; she wished she didn’t know.

It’s my fault, she moaned silently.

Wednesday, after our workout, Delaney relayed this story to me. She hadn’t told her husband, and didn’t plan to tell him. He had just returned from a year-long deployment, during which the depression that had been mounting in her since her own childhood collided with the anxiety of being a single parent while he was gone, the fear of losing her husband in battle, the loneliness of establishing “temporary” homes every two years.

“My fears, anxiety and depression must have bubbled over to Tim,” she told me through reserved tears. “I don’t want him to suffer with this the same way I have.” Delaney had bravely shared with me her brief suicidal impulses during the last year. “Selfishly though, I don’t want to deal with him dealing with depression. I scared myself when I registered the thought, I wish I had another son.”

Delaney drudged through the pain in her heart, piling big shovelfuls of muck to the side her pit of despair. It helped to air out the anxiety, before it sucked her down into its tomb. Watching Tim, she feared that she could spiral back into her old depression.

A Bible verse came to me.

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. For the more we suffer for Christ, the more God will shower us with his comfort through Christ. Even when we are weighed down with troubles, it is for your comfort and salvation! For when we ourselves are comforted, we will certainly comfort you. Then you can patiently endure the same things we suffer. We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. 2 Cor. 1:3-7

I am no stranger to depression, anxiety, fear, loneliness, despair. In fact, if you’ve read this blog with any regularity, or if you’ve even just selected a random post, you probably understand that most of what I write are the shovelfuls of my own muck, thrown up on the side of my pit to air out my own anxiety.

“Delaney,” I said. “God has specifically prepared you to be Tim’s mom, more perfectly than anyone else. You can empathize with his weakness, comfort him as you have been comforted. You will know the right things to say. You can rest in the fact that God has delivered you from this pit and He will just as assuredly deliver Tim.

“It is absolutely not your fault that he feels this way. It can’t be. Tim is Tim and is in charge of his own decisions and feelings. Besides, if he observed your pain, he will observe your deliverance.”

Actually, I wish I had thought to say all that. I did say most of it, but as usual, when I write, I gain greater understanding of my own thoughts. At the time, I didn’t even know the whole passage, but I looked it up to share with you. Amazingly, in Great-Godness, the whole passage is more relevant than part of it.

“We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters,b about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety.” 2 Cor. 1:8-11

There is a privilege in pain – it is preparedness. If our prodigy is a blessing, then so is the pain that fills us with the wisdom and understanding to love them fully.

 

Painful Possibilities

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This week I got the chance to flip back the chapters of my life and re-read some painful pages. At the time, those pages hurt. Quite literally, the lines in my journal are smudged with tears. I don’t re-read them often.

A few days ago, a young girl approached me about personal training. I don’t have many clients yet, so I was thrilled. We sat down at Starbucks to discuss her goals and expectations. Halfway through the conversation, she admitted that she struggles with bulimia. My ears perked up and I listened even more intently to her from that point.

I heard sad things. Things like, “I just want to lose a ton of weight.” Her eyes dodged mine when I asked how often she purged. She couldn’t tell me what she normally ate – if she normally ate. I had hoped that my certification as personal trainer would enable me to foster a healthy body image in young clients. I want to instill a love of exercise in women and a sense of amazement at their body’s abilities.

This young girl doesn’t know Jesus, either. I want every relationship in my life to attract people to Jesus Christ. Perhaps God had brought her to me to be a witness and to lead her gently away from an eating disorder. When we parted, I continued to mull over our conversation – wondering where it would go, if I could help her, and feeling not a little nervous that I was getting in over my head.

I took my concerns to the Lord, and then asked my mom and best friend to pray with me. Nervous or not, it would be a blow to my ego to turn down a potential client since I’m not exactly a busy personal trainer. And if I told her no, how else could I help her? Would training her even be helping her?

At the final conclusion, I am surprised at how God chose to use my painful years of anorexia to minister to this young girl. He chose to use me by not using me. Does that make sense? Maybe it will after you read what I wrote to my potential client.

This is hard for me to write. I’d like to tell you in person, but I know you’re gone this weekend and Monday will be here before we get a chance to talk.
I’m sorry. I can’t in good conscience train you. Coming from a background with an eating disorder, I know exactly the thoughts that are racing through your mind. I know that if someone jumped on board with me, when I was sick, and agreed to help me lose weight, without addressing the cause of the bulimia, I would have spiraled downhill and out of control. I know you think that working out will help you to control the purging, but 15 years experience tells me it won’t. It makes sense that it would, but it won’t. It will simply reinforce in your mind the conviction and drive to lose weight any way possible.
Please understand that I say this out of love. Getting help for an eating disorder is the hardest thing I have ever done. I was a minor the first time I went inpatient and I HATED my parents and preferred to die. Then as an adult, it was just as hard, but because of Jesus, I have always had the strength to keep living. And I promise you, that even if it seems manageable now, to continue in bulimic habits will make your life a living hell.
If you want any suggestions on where to find help, I will gladly help you find the resources, counselor, whatever you need.
So that’s it. No new income. No monumental breakthrough in her life because I heroically shared my story and walked with her through the flames of her eating disorder. But I’m confident that I spoke the truth to her and was obedient to my heavenly Father.
Please keep her in your prayers.
“Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you.” 1 Samuel 12:24

Prayer for Crushing Idols

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Last weekend, I was disappointed because Patrick had to work. I look forward to our Saturday morning coffee times. We roll out of bed about 7 a.m.  and sit our butts right back down in cozy living room chairs with steaming cups of banana nut-flavored coffee and the computer. Sounds romantic right? Well, we don’t get cable and we don’t pay for newspaper delivery, so Yahoo News, and FOX online do the trick. After browsing a few depressing stories, our search deteriorates to the funniest pictures of animals, or YouTube bloopers.

But this last weekend, one of his soldiers got a DUI, so Patrick called the whole company in for a corporal punishment of 8 hours of safety classes. But my greatest Lover, my Heavenly Father, met me right there. This week, I promised to share Scripture prayers with you. The Bible is laced with perfect narratives, supernatural dialogue and personal scripts for prayer. I am without excuse for prayer-less-ness. Saturday morning, God got personal.

I am doing a wonderful Bible study called In His Image, by Setting Captives Free. I had been doing it infrequently, a day every couple weeks, but I’ve been missing out! God has used my study mentor and the probing questions to dig deeply into the lingering worship that I ascribe to food and exercise. The Bible talks several times about the Israelites “following God,” and yet at the same time refusing to tear down their high places of idol worship. I often find myself in that exact position: daily serving and following God, all the while with my idolatrous alters standing in the background. Why? Is it a safety net? The idea that I can always go back?

So, Father brought me again to a place of surrender. I want to share with you the verses that He strung together and draped as a garland around my neck. When I am inhaling, exhaling, gazing at and living in God’s word, then I am beautiful.

“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment,
do not let them out of your sight;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.” Proverbs 3:22

Father, today (Saturday, April 28, 2012) I lay my body and my appetites before you in reasonable and rightful worship. [Romans 12:1] I choose to renew my mind in your word and conform it to your perfect, personal will. I am setting my mind purposefully on your Holy Spirit, grateful for and convinced of your promise of life and peace. Just as you raised Jesus from the dead, you can and will fill my body with life. [Romans 12, 8] I confess to you that I am unable to do this at all – but you promised to help me in weakness. Intercede for me and personally meet my needs and bless me. I am opening my very mouth before you – fill it. [Ps. 81:10] I will feast on your sufficient word, it is my delight. [Jer. 15:16] I hear you call my name. Speak Lord, your servant is listening.

P.S. Check out this WONDERFUL WEBSITE!(picture above courtesy of… 365 Promises

The Gym Can’t Cut It

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Ask almost any fitness professional and they will tell you that no matter how much you workout out, if your nutrition stinks, you will never reach your goals. I once had a boyfriend in high school as me, “How in the world do you eat so much?”

Now, if anyone asked me that, my answer would probably be, “Because most of what I eat is green.” But back then I said, “I workout so that I can eat whatever I want.” It’s true, for a few dreamy years you can eat nearly anything you want. Your waist may not show it, but your heart will.

In fact, this weekend, my husband and I came across an article that proves my point. An average size girl who ate nothing but chicken nuggets for 15 years, collapsed due to malnutrition. She wasn’t fat, she didn’t really over eat, I don’t know how much exercise she did. However, your body craves the nutrients that your Creator prescribed in the first place.

I love to experiment in the kitchen. A few of my favorite resources are Eating Well and Clean Eating. Usually, I start with something they suggest and modify it until I have something only remotely similar.

Kale is my new favorite find. I don’t know how many times I passed it in the grocery store, not knowing exactly what it was or what to do with it. Now, I have two giant bags of it in my fridge and Patrick keeps finding it in everything (:

Try this one, courtesy of the 21-Day Kickstart Vegan, a fantastic App available for the IPhone.

Southern Beans and Greens

1 C vegetable broth

3 C drained cooked or canned beans (you chose) my favorite was actually chickpeas

1/2 tsp crushed garlic

4 C chopped fresh kale, stems and center ribs removed (I skipped this step)

1 tsp olive oil

sea salt to taste

pepper to taste

Tabasco to taste

Combine beans and broth and garlic in a large saucepan. Place chopped kale on top of beans and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until kale is tender, about 15 or 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in olive oil, salt and pepper and Tabasco to taste. I topped my serving with feta cheese.

I think I served this to Patrick once and then decided to eat all the leftovers myself. It is delicious!

Sweet, Sweaty Success

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The first week of Moms Who TRI was a smashing success! We had about 12-15 people everyday, counting moms and kids. God was gracious to give us sunny, cool weather each day.

On Monday, I had the kids doing a full workout with string – limbo, cross-overs, side bends, over-head squats, jump rope, over and unders. I surprised myself with how many active things one can do with a piece of string. And it’s wonderful to me how easily kids are fascinated by the simple things. Just a piece of twine to call their own and they would have worked out with me for hours.

Kristen took the moms to the other end of her yard and put them through the paces – jumping jacks, mountain climbers, bench dips, pushups and planks. All of them reported back with sore buns and tired triceps – but that’s a good thing. I switched things up a bit for them on Wednesday and Kristen exercised the kids. On Friday, we threw all organization to the wind and had fun with exercise. We did all kinds of relays, an obstacle course and an Easter egg hunt.

Now, we are in the process of planning some PE programs with a home school coop in the area. We are also considering some indoor places to take our workouts when summer arrives with full force humidity, bugs and heat.So, what do you do if you don’t live near Moms Who TRI, can’t afford a gym membership, don’t know what to do on your own and are bored to tears of all your old workout DVDs? Try this…

Ten Minutes Anywhere

Do each exercise for 50 seconds, rest for 10 and begin the next exercise. Go through the list twice and if you have time – do it again!

1. High knees

2. Burpees (that’s a push up, jump to your feet and then jump to the sky!)

3. Bicycle crunches

Jump lunges (put one leg forward in a lunge, then jump into the air and switch your feet landing with the other foot forward)

Regular pushups, if you’re feeling really brave, in between pushups rotate all the way into a side plank and alternate sides

Let me know what you think. And believe me, if that’s too easy, I can make you work harder!

There’s the Rub

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I really don’t have the energy to write long today. My emotional fuses are blown. I feel like I’m plugged into so many sockets (not just over-committment but too many “good” things) that my circuitry is fried. Do you know what I mean? In fact, Patrick and I have been discussing joining a small Life Group at church for more intimate connections and spiritual growth. Personally, I have several small group connections with Christian women, but Patrick doesn’t get any of that with other Christian men. However, as I look forward into the week or months and consider which group we can commit to, I panic. The last thing I want or can handle is another emotional connection. That sounds terrible, but it’s true.

That said, as I mumbled and humbled to God about this today, another training similarity came to mind. Somehow, I want someone to just give me the answer. I want someone I trust, or God, to just say, “Abby, here’s the group you and Patrick need to join. You’ll be so glad you did. You’ll both grow together and in Christ by leaps and bounds.” or “Abby, sit tight. God is working right now in your heart and life and marriage. Don’t try to assume one more thing that you think will be ‘good’ for you to do.” But no one is telling me anything – even if it isn’t what I want to hear.

There’s the rub. When it comes to working out, no one can do it for you.  You can’t ask you best friend to do crunches for you. You can’t lose weight and improve endurance by watching your husband go for a morning run.

There’s a gentleman that comes to South Run RECenter that has earned the nickname “Flash” by the front desk staff. Flash comes to the gym daily and contrary to his name, paces slowly up and down the aisles between the equipment and down to the water fountain. No one has ever seen Flash do a single exercise. And Flash looks like he’s put on a few pounds.

In the same way, unfortunately for me, no one can do the tough stuff for me. No one can say, “No.” No one can pick up the Bible study and attend on a Tuesday night for me. There’s the rub. For growth – muscular or spiritual – you have to put in the hours, the effort, the sweat and tears by yourself. However, there is the other side of the coin. You, Yes YOU, will also enjoy the increase – muscularly and spiritually.