Know When to Walk Away, and Know When to Run
Today I have made a decision that I hope will be one of the most significant decisions I will ever make. After going through more than four months of denial, I have broken down and honestly admitted to myself that I’m woefully out of shape. As such, I have decided to do something I once swore I’d never do: I am going to take up running.
This decision was not made in a vacuum. Ever since learning my wife was pregnant with Grace, I have been bombarded with thoughts about the future. I had all the usual thoughts — how we’re gonna afford a kid, what I need to do to make sure Tricia is okay throughout the pregnancy, where the best schools in town are and how much it costs to live there, and so on. But towards the end of her pregnancy, I started thinking about my parents and how they were going to be grandparents. Unbidden, the thought hit me: I wanna be a grandparent one day, too. Then the reality set in — I’m fat. Not only am I fat, I’m what my doctor back home in Tennessee once warned me I could become; I’m a fat preacher.
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not as fat as I could be. There are tons of preachers out there (some of whom I went to seminary with or know personally) who are twice as big as I am. I once had a fellow student in seminary who actually had 300 pounds on me! Of course, I felt for the guy and consoled myself that I’d never be like that. But that’s no excuse.
I used to be an athlete. In fact, there was a time when I was a star baseball player. Oddly, I hated running then. Growing up the only place I liked running was on the basepaths (or playing football at recess), and it showed. I couldn’t run anywhere other than on the baselines. In practice, I was usually near the end of the pack on our daily 1 mile conditioning runs, though I was an extremely smart runner and stole bases with ease. I swore after hurting my knee in high school — and realizing I couldn’t run well anymore — that I’d never run on purpose again. I was never a skinny kid by any measure, but I was always doing something athletic — I lettered on the varsity tennis team and played varsity golf, where we had to walk the course every day. I entered high school at 180 lbs and graduated at a robust but mostly out of shape 225.
I began to put on weight in college, while mired in a nasty relationship that took me away from all sources of physical activity. I graduated at a round 245, and upon entering seminary proceeded to bury my nose in my books and ignore the excellent gym facility. As you might imagine, the result isn’t all that pretty. I’ve frequently had to deal with illness and other annoyances, I can no longer climb stairs without being winded, and I’ve become a couch potato.
I’d been in denial most of this year but had taken baby steps towards actually doing something about it. I started paying attention to friends who encouraged their friends (including me) to take up running. I read their blogs and the resources they recommended. I looked at walking/running shoes. I discovered running specialty stores and clubs in town. My wife and I started walking more frequently after Grace was born, and now that we’ve moved to the new place we walk to the stores and restaurants. I even went so far as to pick up a book on how to run (yes, I have obviously turned into a complete geek). But nothing kick-started it. With the lingering Sinus Monster I’ve had to deal with this week, I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired.
There are two major reasons for this radical shift I want to make:
So, this week I will be visiting a doctor to first try to get rid of Sinus Monster, and second to maybe get a thorough evaluation before I begin my undertaking. We need to find a new doctor anyway, so this would be a good way to start fresh and do it right. I have been cracking open that running book (Runner’s World Complete Book of Beginning Running) and actually reading it. Perhaps next week (after seeing the doctor) I will invest in some good shoes.
I don’t expect it to be easy. Like my Granddaddy said after he was admitted to the hospital after over 50 years of smoking, “I did this to myself.” If I’m to be an obedient believer and a good husband, father and pastor, I need to get myself out of the physical hole I’ve dug myself into. By actually blogging this, I leave myself no real way to get out of taking care of it.
So, I will be off to the doctor, and then the trial will begin. I’ll walk at least daily for the first two weeks to build up leg strength, then I will start some sort of running program, likely the one in the book if the doc approves. I will be holding onto a singular promise from the Lord as I begin this: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
I challenge each of you, dear readers, to examine yourselves to see whether you are honoring God with your bodies. The greatest, most besetting sin in the Southern Baptist Convention is not alcohol, but obesity.