Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fuel for the run

I have to be honest. One of the reasons I run is so I can eat what I want. Oh, come on - most of you other runners out there have to admit that's at least part of the reason you run, too. I like the idea that I can have the occasional dessert dripping in chocolate...or one more slice of pizza with extra cheese...or just a few more hot breadsticks dipped in butter. Okay, I'd better stop before this becomes a trip down "fattening" lane.

The truth is, however, that as I'm getting older I find I CAN'T eat whatever I want - not if I want to really run. As I've gotten older, those "I can eat this" episodes have left their marks in the way of extra pounds. Those extra pounds are playing havoc not only on my speed and endurance but my knees and ankles as well. It's time I admit that what I put in has a direct connection to what I am able to "put out" on the track come race day.

You can find articles on what you should eat to help you lose weight and run better with a simple google search. The thing is, I already KNOW what I'm supposed to's just that it's easier and more tempting to eat what I want. Television doesn't help me....why is it that I wind up on the food network watching cupcake baking when I am at my weakest? Or after a really hard day, the pizza and hamburger commercials look so much better than anything I have in the kitchen. Fish is good for me, but I have a feeling those battered and fried strips I see bouncing across my screen are NOT what the doctor ordered. See, I know what I'm doing wrong...I just keep doing it!

If I want to drop those extra pounds that are keeping me from running "my" race, I'm going to actually pay attention to what I'm fueling with. I'm going to have to plan my meals, cook (oh, that horrible thought), and CHOOSE to do what's right. I'm not saying I can't have an occasional treat or splurge, but it's not the occasional ones that blessed me with the extra weight I'm trying to pull around the track! To be very honest, it's been a series of choices where I chose to just go with the flow and do whatever was easiest.

The Bible talks about what we put into our bodies and minds.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (God's Word translation) "Someone may say, "I'm allowed to do anything," but not everything is helpful. I'm allowed to do anything, but not everything encourages growth."
1 Corinthians 6:12 (Message translation) "Just because something is technically legal doesn't mean that it's spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I'd be a slave to my whims."

I have a feeling I've fallen into the area of thinking because I run, "I'm allowed to do anything"...and I can, but it won't encourage growth. My spiritual walk isn't that much different. I can fall into the mindset that since I'm "working for God" that I don't have to be careful what things I consume mentally and spiritually. I can think that since I have enough sense to NOT take poison, that the little "slips" in judgment won't really hurt me. So what if I watch a tv show with questionable content, (I have to be honest, if I had Jesus sitting in the chair next to me, I'm pretty sure I'd change the channel!) I can dismiss it and think that it's not that big of a deal with I join in a gripe session at work or pick apart the pastor's sermon as I pick up my fork for lunch on Sunday. I can even try to convince myself that I deserve to sit and worry about how bad things are getting in the world today. And to be honest, yes...I can - but it comes with a price.

Just like the chocolate cake and donuts and pizza and fast food leave their mark in the way of pounds, my choices of what I consume mentally and spiritually leave their mark in the way of weight that slows me down in my walk with God. In a previous blog, I talked about the fact that running alone wouldn't seem to make the weight disappear. A marathoner friend of mine commented that I would have to watch what I ate as well....sigh. Well, in this race for God, just working harder for Him won't make the weight fall away either. I've actually got to pay attention to what I consume and that means changing the channel, walking away from conversations, making a decision to focus on His Word rather than the worry around me. Dog-gone it, this training is hard work!

There's a verse about that too! Romans 12:1 - 2 "Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Yes, it is tough at first. I've got to retrain my way of thinking. I've got to be conscious of what I put into my body and my mind. The good news is this, once I've done it for a while - it gets easier. I find I don't miss the sugar and salt quite so much after I spend time eating things that are good for me. Even my favorite sweet tea seems a bit too sweet after a steady diet of ice water....and I know the same will hold true of my spiritual consumption as well. I might actually start to NOTICE when something I am watching or participating in is contrary to what I believe. Maybe I can even get to the point that it becomes quite distasteful. I won't necessarily go around criticizing others for their choices, but I won't sit down for a big pig-out on grumbling stew either!

I guess it's time to get real with this running, both physically and spiritually. I can't use my "activity" as an excuse to do as I please - not if I want to run this race like I really want to. It's time to make some decisions. Do I really want to do this, or am I going to plod along for the rest of my days wishing I could do more? As for me - I think it's time to fuel for the run and leave that extra weight behind.

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