Build On The Pain

The screams were deafening. The shredding of human tissue insufferable. Body parts washed in lactic acid produced a symphony of sharp, burning pain.

And this was just my biceps.

If there is anything that merits the title of grueling, starting a new exercise regiment at the gym after a few years decade hiatus is one of them. Still, that’s where I find myself this week as my wife and I bit the bullet and signed up for membership at the Health & Wellness Center at Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel.

I know what you’re thinking. A gym at the hospital? I was a bit skeptical at first, too, but the facility is state of the art, and the staff has been nothing short of exceptional. Besides, I’m glad I’m in the same physical structure as an ER just in case I go crazy and push myself too hard.

But the moral of this story is starting over. I will admit it’s been easier, psychologically speaking, mostly because I’m on a bit of a ‘new thing’ high. Lee and I have been waking up early to make 5:30 AM classes (Body Flow kicked my butt, BTW), and we’re motivating each other to start every morning with a fitness routine. But the toll on my body has been tough. Aches, pains, soreness; I know they’re all good and normal for someone like me starting out again, but I look forward to the day months from now when I laugh at myself for having been such a wimp.

Muscle Homer

It turns out that as I kicked off this workout week, my friend Rick Christensen wrote an excellent blog post titled Spiritual Bench Press. It got me to thinking about my recent faith journey, and how five years ago I was a spiritual couch potato in need of working on my faith. Although I always revert to my caveat, “I didn’t have a crisis of faith so much as a crisis of church,” I was very much failing to act like a Christian.

But just as I hope to do so with my physical fitness, I am able to look back now and see how far I’ve come in my spiritual journey. I can see how much stronger I am as a Christ follower, working out my soul by reading the Word and acting on His behalf. I’m not perfect, far from it. I struggle daily with the pitfalls and temptations of life. But I am very proud to see I’m closer to where I want to be than I was this time five short years ago.

And it’s not a destination you reach. It’s a lifelong journey of lifting the weight of your burdens and placing them at God’s feet. It’s a perennial run away from the enemy and towards the light He had provided for us. It’s feeding on the nutrition found in the Bible, the words of life that nourish us from day to day.

The best part is there’s no soreness to deal with or fatigue after a good spiritual workout (i.e. doing good for others). Instead, it’s a feeling of reward that can only be described as exhilarating.

I may never reach my goal weight. My BMI may remain plotted on the ‘unhealthy’ side of the chart. I may forever struggle to do curls with 20 lb dumbbells (seriously …. my upper body strength is so lame), but as long as I keep my spiritual wellness at the top of my priority list, I know I’ll be fine. Besides, God doesn’t care if His soldiers are a little soft around the edges.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1

Clean and Lean

Today officially marks the end of the 28-day, Fast Metabolism Diet program Lee and I began back on January 6. As a matter of convenient clarification, I ended my program sometime yesterday afternoon. Let me explain.

Our goal, as we undertook the commitment to this new diet, was to lose weight. We were both tired of being too flabby around the edges and just sluggish every day. We bought the book, bought the cookbook, planned our meals, and, for the most part, managed to eat on schedule and eat what we prepared. Yes, there were some afternoons we’d forget to snack, and yes, there were sometimes when that, “eat every three to four hours” stretched to four and a half to five. Nevertheless, we completed the 28 days (27.5 for me) with resounding success. My wife dropped 12 pounds and 2 sizes (we’ve already been shopping for new clothes for her). I dropped 21.5 pounds, and I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this good in terms of having a continuous ‘bounce in my step’.

Still, all the planning in the world could not prevent us from having our program end on Super Bowl Sunday. Yikes! What were we going to do?

My wife didn’t care. She made sure to tell our friends hosting the Super Bowl party to not include us in their meal planning since we were going to bring our own food. Then she spent all of Saturday and part of Sunday preparing FMD compliant snacks, treats, veggie trays, and dinner (vegetable meatballs) for us to consume. For the record, everyone at the party raved about Lee’s non-dairy ranch dip. It was amazing.

With the exception of two mushroom and cherry mini-quiches (they were prepared by our friend Jason who is a chef, and they were spectacularly divine), and my four-pack of gluten free beer (I had to have some brew for the big game and I figured gluten-free would be a happy medium), I stayed on plan during the party. I thought I would just cave and revert back to my pre-FMD ways for the party (especially with the beer), but I did not want to risk feeling like absolute crap in the morning. I also didn’t want to have a huge setback after twenty seven and a half days of culinary discipline.

The thing is, I’m done with eating poorly. This FMD experience has been a ‘proof in the proverbial pudding’ trial that has lent tons of weight (pun intended) to what so many of my friends have been telling me for years: It’s about eating clean. The feelings of sluggishness and lethargy are gone. The afternoon headaches are gone. The episodes of having my stomach feel upside down are gone. I feel better, stronger, and more agile than I have in the past decade. The weight loss is just a bonus on top of the more healthy feeling and appearance I’m displaying.

The best example I can give is this. My mother-in-law Patsy, who lives with us, has also been participating in the FMD. In addition to the dietary changes, she also gave up her Coca Cola and smoking (all at the same time and all cold turkey). She, too, has lost 12 pounds. More importantly, her well being is noticeably better. We had a bit of a cold front pass through here in Florida, and Patsy mentioned how her arthritis would normally flare up with the cold weather. It didn’t this time around, and there’s no doubt in my mind it’s because of the change in diet and her improved nutrition.

Haylie Pomroy’s Fast Metabolism Diet has been a life changer for us, and we look forward to staying the course with regards to clean eating. Yes, we will introduce some items back into our diet, and we may not necessarily eat phase-specific,  but we are committed to not going back to processed foods, fast food restaurants, and impulse buys at the checkout counter. Those days are behind us, and it’s cleaner and leaner on the road ahead. A road, I like to think, that’s been made a little bit longer as a result of this lifestyle change.

Happy eating, everyone.

Nancy Peterson

198/365 Last Time For A Long Time?

So …. Lee and I are on what I am calling a minimalist diet. We’re trying to cut out 95% of the meats we’d normally consume and go as vegetarian or vegan (really … vegan-ish) as we can.

Like Freshman on the first day of high school, we are really small fish in a ginormously huge and new pond. It’s not that we don’t know what we’re doing, it’s that we don’t even know what it is we’re supposed to know. Still, thanks to Pinterest and our circle of informed and healthful diet friends, we are managing to ease into this new mindset with some success (and by we I mean Lee b/c she’s been the research hound. I’m just eating what she makes).

The goal: clean up how we eat. The process: eat more whole and plant-based foods.

Don’t get me wrong. I can never go 100% vegan, if for the only reason being that honey (somehow inexplicably to me) is not vegan, and I’ll be damned if I am not going to drown my salads in some zesty honey mustard dressing. That and the fact I can’t imagine a true breakfast without eggs, or a special dinner without steak. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think I am crazy for even trying this (but I digress).

What is really going to be an adventure is trying to minimize our dairy intake. Talk about tough! No cheese. No milk. No ice cream. No *sniffle* frozen yogurt from our favorite froyo shop (Cherry Berry).

The good news is that I am going into the healthful eating plan knowing I cannot/will not get a 4.0 on my final grade. I will fail to be vegan. I will barely pass at being vegetarian. Still, I WILL make a difference in the fuel I put into my body, and I am confident that it will yield both short and long-term positive results on my well being.

So as I polished off the last of our cow milk and dropped the gallon jug in our recycling bin, I can’t help but think, “When will be the next time I go out and buy some more cow milk?”  We’ll just have to wait and see.

PS. Before you judge, those empty cans of Coke are not mine. Part of our new plan is to cut out all sodas. The empty can of Monster and the discarded bottle of beer, however, are totally mine.