It is time to kill the “Rocky” theme song. The 70’s movie that inspired us all to run to the local gym (pretty sure that this was a secret marketing ploy) and body build like professional boxer’s has run it’s course, at least in my world! It is over, finished, the dirge has been sung. And I could not be more happy!
Have you ever had a “Rocky” moment? I have. I decided that on this certain day I would eat everything I want, totally pig out because tomorrow I will transform into Rocky! I will run flights of stairs, I will drink raw eggs, (are we supposed to be drinking raw eggs?) and put nothing unhealthy in my body for like…the rest of my life! There will be no sugar pass my lips and no french fries tempt my mouth! I will, by sheer WILL power get myself in order!
Not just my physical self mind you because I need to deal with the spiritual as well. I mean, if Amy Carmichael or George Mueller got up at 5:00 a.m. every morning to pray, then who am I to whine that is too early? And what about David Brainerd? That great missionary to the Indians prayed so much that there were worn spots on the floor where he had been on his knees day in and day out for hours! Heavens, I’ve got to start praying on a wood floor! What about personal goals? Let’s add them to the daily disciplines of life as well! I need to read this many books, take up these new hobbies, volunteer for these great causes, organize my home so it runs with no clutter and perfectly spelled out weekly menus! After all, we are told to “think big”, “the sky is the limit”, “you can do anything you set your mind to”!
I am here to testify to the fact that it just doesn’t work that way. At least not for me. The reality is that I did the Rocky thing. I ran the flights of stairs and then couldn’t walk for a week. I drank the eggs and threw them up. I saw a cookie and I ate it (I liked it too!) I decided that because I caved in and ate one cookie, I would have to pay penance and eat at least a dozen more. And heck, why not go get an order of fries since I had already blown the whole day! Besides, if I walked to get the fries, maybe that would erase any damage my binge brought on (true fact: it takes about 5 miles of walking to burn 300 calories!) and all could be hunkey- dorey, at least for that moment of denial. Well, forget that idea, after the huge mess made of the day I may as well eat everything in sight! Maybe next week will be better and I will try again after my body recuperates! Did I mention that ‘next’ week turned out to be a repeat of the last one? Sigh…
Oh and about the spiritual disciplines. I got up one morning at 5:00 a.m. to pray and I fell asleep on God. I was talking to Him and then I decided I should listen and He must have sung a lullaby or something because I was a goner. But, I was pretty sure if I rested up for a week and got plenty of sleep, I would be ready to try that prayer challenge again! More than likely God showed up for that following planned appointment, but unfortunately…I did not!
Remember the part about the goals? Well, they didn’t quite pan out either. I had all these books I wanted to conquer in a certain period. Something like five new books to read in a month. Somehow life’s interruptions, such as people needing fed, house needing cleaned, phones ringing, etc. seemed to constantly take a priority. Imagine that, and I had all these books that needed read! Oh and picking up the hobbies and volunteering? I tried to get interested in some things others were doing but It does no good to start quilting if one hates to sew and work with fabric. Or scrapbooking if I got bored doing it beyond the first few pages! It would have to be something I loved to do if it was going to happen at all. Or to volunteer somewhere when I didn’t have enough time in the day to accomplish all the other goals I had set for myself not to mention life’s daily tasks! How about those great weekly menus all organized? Suffice it to say that when I cleaned all the clutter in my house while I was on a roll, the menu list got accidentally thrown away and I didn’t have the time nor the sanity to start all over! Ugh!
Obviously, the “Rocky” moment wasn’t working and I could see that it never would. Why? We got to see Rocky knock himself out (no pun intended!) and whip himself into shape, become a champion and win the girl all in a two hour movie! Can I get a witness that most of us do not live a life that is a two hour movie?! Talk about frustration and setting oneself up for failure. Been there, done that.
However, there is another way and it has worked well for me. It is the idea of thinking small and changing a few things here, adding a few things there. Gradually adjusting my life with what I believe is attainable for my circumstances, my personality and my priorities has made a huge difference. Maybe this comes with age but over the years I have studied myself and I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I have learned a lot in the process!
The turning point for me was actually when I was expecting our first baby. I was always a yo-yo dieter and would binge on junk one day and then promise to be disciplined the next. With pregnancy I could not do that anymore. Not just because I had to eat healthy for the baby but because my body could only tolerate certain foods and keep them down. I craved real, healthy food and occasionally sugar but not on overload. If I wanted a cookie I ate one. Just one. If I wanted a milk shake, I got a small one. A small one. This wasn’t every day all of the time but after the baby was born I found that eating normal sizes even with a treat here and there left me healthier and thinner than before I got pregnant. This has carried over until now. There isn’t a need to binge or diet anymore, just be sensible with amounts and be choosy. Food in moderation and more with an idea of healthy not skinny. Skinny should not be the goal for me but nutrition. I think a lot more in terms of very healthy eating on weekdays and keep it light. Chill on weekends and take a break. I am terrible about drinking enough water. After reading the benefits of starting your day with a glass of lemon water I decided that was an easy, beneficial addition to my daily routine. Somehow, that also mentally keeps me on the water thing throughout the day..
As far as exercise goes, it is the same thing. I have never liked high powered aerobics or faddish exercise gimmicks. Having asthma most of my life has made being a runner not the best choice for me. However, at age 25, I took up walking because I knew that it is something I could stick with into old age and it would be good for me. I wear a pedometer and try to get in 10,000 steps a day. I have added a new goal to up my metabolism and tone my upper legs by marching in place quickly, with high steps 100 times any time in the day X 10. Easy and not time consuming. It takes less than a minute per set, so a total of around 10 minutes a day. I can do it while I am reading, watching something on t.v. or being at the sink. I don’t do it outside though, the neighbors might call the police or send a clip of me to “America’s Funniest Video’s”!
In assessing my spiritual life, I learned a secret years ago from a famous missionary’s wife. Her husband, Jonathan Goforth (I know, I can’t believe that is his real name either!) was a Godly man who spent hours in the Bible and prayer. His wife admired his devotion and close walk with God and tried to emulate it. This did not work in her world because she lived in China in the 1800’s and had many children. No doubt, there was rarely a moment for her to sit and potty, let alone spend hours in quiet time with God. So here is what she discovered; She learned to pray and meditate on scripture all day long. While she was doing dishes, laundry, walking to the market. It became a part of her daily routine. Of course she had some time she carved out to sit before God and be still but it wasn’t going to look like it did for her husband. Getting in God’s word and having time to pray is important to me daily but some days I hit the floor running and I don’t get the time I really want. So, I sing praise songs and pray while I shower or while I am driving on those days. I meditate on one scripture passage as I fix my hair and face. The important thing is to get to spend time with God and know Him better, not to run a marathon. Some days I have much time to dig into God’s word and prayer but if I become legalistic about a certain amount of time then I might guilt myself on those 5 minute days and do nothing. If I get one bible verse to apply to my life in a day, it might not be a chapter, but it is a still a step forward in growing in Christ.
About those goals and hobbies? Well, I started this blog to fine tune my writing skills. I do it when something inspires me. I practice some keyboarding here and there even if it is just 15 minutes or so. I try to read at least 30 minutes a day. I walk a few miles several times a week. One of my spiritual gifts is exhortation. It is wired in me to need to encourage and cheer people on. Facebook and phone calls keep me connected in doing that. It is one way to keep in touch with people I don’t always see and know how to encourage and pray for them. Making time for women to mentor or just be a friend is important to me. I would die on the vine if I didn’t have an outlet for connecting with people. I love worship and singing so am on the worship team at church. I sub at our church pre-school, I am always in a bible study for fellowship and personal growth.
The main thing is to know yourself, know what works in your world and where you want to head. Work with the gifts, personality and calling God has given you and for heaven’s sake, stop trying to be a Rocky! I am pretty sure his stair running days ended when the movie did. Thinking small and building, adjusting and adding positive goals and direction is something that disables excuses and over the long term will show results that will pay off in a positive way! Just make sure you aren’t playing the “Rocky” theme song in the background, or if you do, turn it down really low and play it super slow!