Where we get fit and spin (wool)

Posts tagged ‘self discipline’

Fasting

prayer and fasting

Double Minded?

I do enjoy irony, even when I am the source of it. I was just trying to convince a girl at the gym to eat more on Wednesday, and today I am making preparations to join our church on a fast. It did bring to mind that the same activity can have totally different meanings, depending on your purpose.

Fasting is one of those very complex disciplines. It is physical, but has been practiced for spiritual reasons throughout human history. Most, if not all major religions use it to allow their adherents to get their minds off of earthly things and focus on the spirit. Eating is one of our most basic needs, yet it is the one we can do without. You can’t stop breathing for more than a few seconds, and without shelter, hypothermia and exposure can kill us quickly. Fasting is a way of saying there are some things that are more important than even our physical needs.

Eating, or not eating, is the focus of much of our attention each day. We usually eat many times a day, and then there is the planing, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up after. Taking all of that time and devoting it to meditation and contemplation of the spiritual is very beneficial. The bible says:

De 8:3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.

By fasting, we can take God off of the “back burner” and make him the center of our lives.

Most of the time, I’m not a big fan of fasting. My mother was anorectic, which contributed to her early demise. I have seen what eating disorders do, and how they develop. I am a big fan of being as strong and healthy as possible, which requires adequate nutrition. I think people who fast to lose weight are setting themselves up for failure, since it isn’t teaching them to eat properly.

The activity of fasting can either be a tremendous spiritual journey, or a carnal nightmare, as tied up to messed up body images and earthly desires as anything you can think of. Fasting is NOT about punishing your body, or beating it into submission. It is almost impossible to separate the physical from the spiritual, since weight loss is a result of fasting, so even if you are fasting for right reason, you will have physical result that you may desire. I suppose it isn’t a bad thing to have a physical benefit to a spiritual practice. I just think if those two motivations are too closely linked, it can blur your focus, or twist a positive into a negative. I think the biggest deliminator is prayer. Prayer takes fasting out of the physical and moves it to the spiritual. It allows you to pay attention to your motivation and stay on track.

My final statement on this is that I am only doing a complete fast one day a week. During the week I will be fasting certain items, to pare my eating down to what is essential, but I am extremely active, and a complete fast could be detrimental to my health. I have enough trouble holding weight. You can fast in all kinds of ways, by denying yourself earthly pleasures.  Whatever you fast, sweets, meat, or favorite activities, it is prayer that takes it from simple self denial to a spiritual discipline.

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Penny Wise, Pound Foolish?

two wine glasses with sparkes and tinselNew Flash: The holidays are here

I was just listening to a podcast  that asserted that most people gain weight over the holidays, and that they don’t lose it after, so that becomes the bodies new “set point” that it defends, resisting weight loss. Since the holidays are here, and I love talking about fitness under any excuse, I thought I’d look into that. It turns out that most people overestimate the weight they gain, assuming it to be 5 lbs. In reality, most only gain about 1/2  lb of weight that stays past the initial period. The good news is, it’s less than people think. The bad news is it’s relatively permanent. Obviously, it isn’t the only time that we gain weight, since over 20 years that would be 10 lbs. How many people only have ten pounds to lose?

Ok, now that you’re thoroughly depressed. 😦

Seriously, I am just suggesting that we need to stay on top of even small increases in our weight. If you take care of the half pounds, the rest will take care of itself. and, it is so much easier to lose a few lbs than to lose a lot. Most people say: “I’ll start going to the gym after the holidays.” Or, “My New Year’s resolution is to lose weight.” Or, they don’t think about it at all, till that little black dress or the skinny jeans don’t fit. Why wait? Why does enjoying the holidays have to mean gorging yourself and avoiding exercise?

Killjoy.

I can already hear you: “I want to be able to enjoy myself” “What’s the point if I can’t have any fun?” “What fun is life if I can’t enjoy myself?” I’m not saying you can’t have any fun. You can eat a nice dinner, have a slice of pie, or a few cookies, and a glass of wine. In return, exercise daily, don’t make that nice dinner a 2,000 calorie feast, and don’t have the pie and cookies, unless you can restrict your calories for a few days afterwards. Make every day that you are home a bit more disciplined. and then if you do blow it at a party, the results won’t be permanent. Eat a large salad first, with little to no dressing, cheese, croutons or meat on it first thing, then you won’t be so hungry, and won’t eat as much of the rest. Have a large glass of water with dinner as well. That will distend your stomach, giving you that full sensation that many people crave.

I don’t want to hear it.

I don’t want to hear the complaints if you don’t want to make the commitment. If you want to be thin, you have to do what thin people do. Right now, go in your kitchen. Are there chips in there? Cookies, crackers, cakes, pies and/or puddings? Look in your fridge.  Is there fruit and fresh vegetables in there? Weed out your kitchen. Put the things in there you want to grow, and get rid of what doesn’t help you. Never have more than one unhealthy thing in your house at a time. There are many calorie tracking websites, use them. Take an honest look at your diet and start changing it, little by little. Quit getting takeout for lunch, especially if you are eating out for dinner.

In for a penny, in for a pound.

The habits you build now last a lifetime. Which way is your weight heading this year? Then that means your habits are leading in that direction, and will continue to do so until you change them. Don’t wait for New Year, the mythical “after the holidays”. Do it now. Build good habits now. The self discipline you exercise now will grow stronger and continue over into other areas of life, and you will see the benefits in short order.

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