Tuesday, January 01 2013
I asked Pastor Bill Beyer to write a guest blog on exercise, since he recently adopted a new fitness focus similar to my 7 Reasons to Quit Your Gym. CrossFit is a whole body workout that requires little to no fitness equipment. I like their philosophy that “Fitness is the ability to do real work,” which is why I pair exercise with faith. The best exercise for each of us is that which best equips us for the tasks God has set forth for us. I hope you find his story as inspiring as I do...
I was never the epitome of health and fitness. In fact, on any given morning I could easily down six chocolate bars with a 20-ounce soda. My physical exercise was limited to walking to the car. Needless to say, I was a mess inside and out.
Over the years I experimented with different diets, but I disliked calorie counting and salad eating. I am a meat and potatoes kind of guy! I also had difficulty reading diet information and not understanding it. “Eat foods higher in X,” but no one ever explained what that meant, and it was too much work to learn.
In 1998 I discovered one aspect of eating biblically. This was an easy adjustment, as I saw it as a spiritual discipline. Avoiding pork, shellfish, and other unclean meats as outlined in Leviticus 11 was actually easier than I thought it would be. Through this I learned that one CAN adjust their diet when properly motivated.
On the physical side, after a lifetime of digestive struggles, I was finally diagnosed with Celiac’s Disease in 2007. This gluten protein allergy forced me to remove all wheat, barley, oats, and rye for physical reasons, after removing pork and shellfish for spiritual reasons. But if I did it once, I knew I could indeed do it again.
Even though I successfully restricted another group of foods, it did not stop my bad eating habits. I still drank soda like it was water, and sugar like it was the main staple of my diet. Finally, in 2010, I took a good look at myself. I officiated at wedding and the bride sent me a few pictures. At 5’11’’ I weighed 207, and it was not a good 207. I was very disappointed in myself. How could I have done that? What did God think about how I stewarded my body? And at the age of 46, what on earth could I do about it now?
I discovered a diet that works for me. It sticks very close to the farm, avoids processed foods and doesn’t require calorie counting. But diet was only part of the equation. For years my doctor told me that I needed to get some physical exercise. I joined a gym and logged MILES on the treadmill and the elliptical (a machine I am pretty sure if of Satan), but this did very little for me.
In April of 2012 a CrossFit gym opened in our town. CrossFit uses full body workouts in a class environment, but it can also be done at home. It is very hard to not see results when you work out with others. CrossFit uses a combination of Olympic weight lifting, natural movements, and cardio, and it has given me a new lease on life…and it is fun to boot! (Here's a good place to start if you are interested in finding out more.)
Within six months of combining diet and exercise, I weighed in at a svelt 175, and I am in better shape at 47 than I have ever been in my life! One of my motivating thoughts came from Maimonides, a 12th century Rabbi, who stated that taking care of your body is an act of worship. Our bodies as Temples of the Holy Spirit deserve our best inside and out.
As you look in the mirror and set New Year’s resolutions, you might think, “Gee, what can I do at this stage in my life?” The answer is everything! You just need the proper motivation. God has blessed us with a unique machine called the human body. The more I learn about how it works the more I am amazed at the gift that God has given us. Use it wisely!
About the author
Bill Beyer is an Associate Pastor overseeing Adult Education in a mainline Protestant congregation in south central Wisconsin. Bill has been serving his congregation since 2001. Bill and his wife, Karla, are raising two wonderful children. As a student of the Torah and the Talmud in a mainline Protestant church, Bill finds his ministry both challenging and rewarding. His blog is Notzrim Reaching Out.