Tag Archives: Discipline

Physical Training Anniversary and New Challenge

One year ago today I embarked on a project to renew my body. I’d gained flab and lost fitness. I made a meme of Frosty the Snowman with my face superimposed because I looked like a snowman. I don’t look like that today!

I won’t go into all of the details of my diet and exercise program here. If you want to look back at earlier entries in this blog you can discover what I did. Suffice it to say, what I’ve done worked. I’m maintaining less than 10 percent body fat and have gained muscle mass. My waist is at 29 inches. My goal is to gain about 10 more pounds of lean body mass and keep the fat percentage where it is currently. However, I’ve encountered an obstacle: injury.

Over the years, I’ve seen a repeat of the same issue. I’ve gotten myself back in shape and then sustained an injury to my shoulder(s), which results in my not being able to train my upper body. I get disappointed, don’t do other exercise, let my diet go, gain weight, and remain out of shape until long after the injury heals. I re-injured my right shoulder while doing benchpress last week. This is sad because I had gained strength even though I still have a mis-located (broken) collarbone sustained while doing incline benchpress. I’m afraid I’ll have to find other chest exercises. Bench has proven destructive. Yes, I warm up. Yes, my form is correct. 

I’m not giving up, but I am learning. First, I’m not afraid of gaining too much fat, even if my workouts are curtailed while this shoulder heals. Why? I’ve found the golden ticket to fat loss and maintaining lean body mass. It’s called intermittent fasting. You could also call this scheduled eating. I’m not the expert here. You can look it up. Read books by Jason Fung. Watch YouTube videos by Thomas DeLauer and Dr. Eric Berg. What I will tell you is, it works.

Intermittent fasting means I fast periodically for at least 13 hours, up to 24. Typically I stop eating between 3pm and 6pm and don’t eat again until the next day until noon. On the 13 hour fasting days I drink Bulletproof coffee and/or eat eggs, no carbs in the morning. Secondly, I limit my carbohydrate and sugar intake. I eat almost no bread, no pasta, no potatoes, and limit the amount of fruit. Of course, I avoid all sweets, and don’t put sugar in my coffee or tea. Intermittent fasting is easier on a low carb diet. When I eat carbs I’m hungry all the time. When I eat healthy fats, I’m not. The simple reason for this is, when you eat carbs, your body uses that as fuel immediately; therefore, it wants you to keep supplying those carbs throughout the day. When your body doesn’t have carbs/sugar for a longer period of time, it learns to burn fat. This is what happens when someone follows the now famous keto diet.

A keto diet is a good place to start before entering into longer periods of fasting (ie. longer than over night). Once your body is in ketosis, it isn’t craving carbs for fuel. Fasting becomes easier in this state because your body is used to burning fat, and will easily burn body fat in the absence of food. That’s what you’re looking for, at least if you need to lose some flab.

So, I’m injured. I’m disappointed. However, I’m not giving up, and I’m not going to get fat again. Fasting is a discipline often associated with religion. In fact, every major religion practices fasting to one degree or another. Sadly, many Protestants or Evangelical groups do not practice it. We should. It’s healthy, both spiritually and physically. I’ve written about this as well. The reason I bring in the spiritual aspect at the end of this entry is, I believe God’s providential reason for allowing my current injury is to move me away from focus on self and toward increased spiritual discipline, or what the Bible calls training in godliness. The essence of this kind of training is focus on God instead of self. Fasting is one of the spiritual disciplines I want to pursue. There are others.

I’ve just purchased the Kindle version of Richard Foster’s classic A Celebration of Discipline, along with Dallas Willard’s The Spirit of the Disciplines. One year after my physical transformation, I will now focus on training in godliness/a holy life. Basic to this is becoming more like Jesus. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I’m impatient. I’m easily frustrated. I complain often. I’m lustful. Just saying no to these things will not stop them. I know because I’ve tried that approach my entire life. What I need is to learn to say yes to a good and loving God, and that includes saying yes to spiritual training and discipline.

for, while physical training is of some value, godliness is valuable in every way, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8, NRSV)

Advertisements

Push through the Disappointments

It’s been nearly a month since I determined to lose 16 lbs by the end of 2017. I’m happy to say that I am on track. There have been some disappointments along the way, however. On two occasions I was on target mid-week and magically picked up a pound the next day. My body doesn’t want to lose fat. It is not easy to make the transition from burning carbs to burning fat. I’ve cut both calories and carbs. I’ve increased my activity level. I’ve been working out more often. In spite of all that, there were those two disappointments.

If I see progress, it is much easier to stay motivated. When it appears that what I am doing is not helping, I am tempted to go to one of two extremes: quit or eat nothing. Either extreme is unhealthy. Fasting for a short period, even fasting a day or two per week may be healthy. However, fasting slows the metabolism and inhibits muscle growth. Yes, I did try it, and yes I will continue to include it in my regimen. There are spiritual reasons for this as well, which are contained in another article I posted here.

Whatever I do it must be sustainable. If I lose this fat, then go back to old habits, I’ll gain it right back. I know I can do this because I’ve done it before. In 2012 I got down to 7.5% body fat and stayed there for over a year. Even after that I stayed under 10% for two more years. What caused the weight gain? Disappointment. I inujured myself and couldn’t do the intense weight training I was accustomed to, so I gradually gave up. Not completely, but enough to gain 20lbs over 4 years.

I will face disappointments. I will miss a workout. I will have a day where I eat more than my allotted 1750 calories. My body will, inexplicably, gain a pound. I’ll injure myself, or be so sore that I cannot work out. What I have to do–what I have done, and will keep doing–is to persevere. Tenacity is important. I must keep moving forward, even if it appears (or feels) as though I’m not going as fast or as far as I expected or planned.

So, I pressed on toward my goal, and I’m over halfway there. My determination remains strong. I don’t want the things I did before because I have a higher prize in front of me. Saturday was a big temptation. The micro-brewery down the street from me had its anniversary with special beers. I considered taking a cheat day and going in there. However, I was 1.4 lbs away from my weekly goal as of Thursday, so I couldn’t afford to cheat. I resisted temptation. I met my goal this morning.

This all has spiritual application as well. There are many things I’m tempted to do that I resist, not because I’m afraid, but because I am pressing on toward a higher prize: becoming like Jesus in his resurrection. “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14). Keeping my eyes on the ultimate prize keeps me from doing many foolish, worthless and destructive things. It keeps me from believing lies like, “Oh, that’s not so bad.” Or, “Everybody does it.” And the most damaging, “This isn’t really wrong.” Christ’s character and commandments determine what is right and wrong. If I am going to be like him in my character, and follow him in his resurrection, I must have faith first. Then I have to follow that faith with obedience. That will make me different than many people in my culture. That’s ok. A 55 year old man with less than 10% body fat is rare too. I don’t want to be obese, and I don’t want to be un-Christlike or immoral either.

So, I press on…

Lent: Reasons to Fast

The season of Lent is a time many Christians choose to fast. For 2016 the season begins on Wednesday, February 10th

The following are some reasons for fasting, and not just for Lent. Fasting may be beneficial at any time.

1. Fast as an Act of Dedication–  Jesus went into the wilderness and fasted after his baptism and prior to entering into his ministry. Perhaps he did this to gain confirmation and clarity by intensely focusing on God.

2. Fast as an Exercise of Discipline–  Learn to say no to “me.” All of the temptations Jesus underwent in the wilderness were attempts to get him to act expediently and egotistically. If the Lord had given in it would not have been an exercise of faith, but, rather, the wildly alternating swings between self-doubt and presumption. I need to learn to say “no” to myself.

3. Fast as an Affirmation of Dependence–  Learn to rely on the power of God. Jesus’ first statement in response to Satan’s temptation demonstrates this. “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Deuteronomy 8:3 as quoted in Matthew 4:4, also John 4:34).

4. Fast to Establish Determination–  Learn to have a tenacious and unshakeable faith. “This kind can only come out by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29, Matthew 17:21).

5. Fast as an Act of Desperation–  Cry out to God in repentance (Joel & Israel, Jonah and Ninevah). “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” (Joel 2:12 NIV). A need to hear from God at all costs (Daniel 10 & 21 days of prayer), David seeking the healing of his 1st child by Bathsheba.

6. Fast as a Means of Detoxification– Because of constant exposure to an impure environment your body collects all sorts of toxic and destructive substances. Consider Daniel and his friends who would not eat the meat and rich food offered them by their Babylonian overlords. Instead they ate only vegetables and drank only water. They were healthier as the result.

A vegetarian diet that allows only organic foods can be a healthy way to rid your body of toxins. When you fast, especially for longer periods, the digestive system and liver can rid you of accumulated poison.

The same principle applies to the mind. When you remove TV, movies, video games, godless music, social media, you give your mind the opportunity to rest. Replace these things with worship and saturation in Scripture.

7. Fast Regularly to Diet– Limiting the amount of food you eat is a means of controlling calorie intake. Most of us eat too much. We take in more calories than we burn off, so we gain unneeded fat. Periodic fasting if done in moderation and balanced with a healthy, calorie controlled diet, is an effective tool in losing fat and maintaining a lean body.

Whatever you decide to do, remember the following four principles.
A. If you make a commitment, keep it. Consistency is important for any discipline.
B. Choose something that will really require discipline to give up.
C. Giving up what you shouldn’t be doing to begin with is not fasting, it’s obedience.
D. It is not a good idea to make promises to God, better to rely on his promises for you. So, you aren’t fasting to get God to do something for you. Trust him to help you through.

ZMA and Balance

I took a supplement last night that’s supposed to help people who lift weights to gain more muscle. It’s called ZMA. Nothing exotic; just zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6. Within an hour I wasn’t feeling great; in two I was miserable. It’s hard to pinpoint how I felt, except to say that my head hurt and I was jittery in a strange way. I looked at the label and the B6 dose is really high, like over 500% of the daily recommended dose. I looked up side effects of excess B6 and it can cause nerve damage. Good grief! Why in the world are companies permitted to market and sell a product purportedly to help someone get healthier, which can actually cause physical harm? Unbelievable.

The lesson I learned from this is one I should have already learned. Do the research before you start taking the supplement, or medication, or anything else you put into your body. Get the majority of your nutrition from natural food, not pills and powders. Believe it or not, I did look at the ingredients in ZMA, as I do the other supplements I take, and thought it’d be good because what it contains are natural substances that the body requires. Problem is, you can take toxic amounts of some vitamins and minerals. I think that was the case with this product.

While I was experiencing the reaction to ZMA I was praying that God would heal me. I ate a little, vomited a little, took an over the counter pain reliever, drank water, and waited. I believe God answered my prayer fairly quickly. Within an hour I felt well enough to lay down, and I eventually fell asleep. I feel great today! Thank God.

I wrote an essay about balance last week, and this is another example of the need for that practice in life. Too little vitamin B6, zinc or magnesium will cause a variety of physical problems. Too much of these essential nutrients is toxic and causes different problems. What we need it proper balance. I am in balance today and I feel healthy.

Today is leg day in my weight workout schedule. Legs are difficult because it’s such a large muscle group. I’m in the middle of a protocol known as German Volume Training or the 10 Sets Method. The idea is to do ten sets of ten repetitions of two different exercises in a superset. On leg day. I do squats, which require a lot of effort normally, but they are paired with leg curls. You do ten repetitions of squats, wait 90 seconds, then do ten reps of leg curls, wait 90 seconds and go back to squats. Back and forth I go until ten sets of both exercises are completed. It takes a lot out of you. 

I didn’t want to do that leg workout today. I started to make excuses: I don’t feel well because of last night, my legs feel tired, I feel tired. However, I went to the gym and did the workout. Actually, I did eight sets because it felt like there might actually be something amiss. Now I feel great. Balance. The body needs to be active in order to remain healthy. If I would have sat around it wouldn’t have been healthy. If I would have pushed it, it may have been too much (today). 

The Bible has something to say about discipline, which I believe applies here. “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but in the end it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (Hebrews 12:11). That verse is speaking about receiving discipline from God, but it applies to self-discipline as well. In fact, if you discipline yourself by being obedient to God and doing what He says, He won’t have any reason to correct you with outside discipline.

So, eat healthy, stay active listen to God and do what he says. He speaks through Jesus Christ, the Son, and in the Bible, his written message. In this way you’ll stay in balance and be happy.