(Edited on 7/16/2016)
The blog post below was written over 9 years ago (May of 2007) on my old blog. It would be an understatement to say that I was a different person then: spiritually, mentally, physically and emotionally. This blog post is important to me because I wrote it at the beginning of a long season of transformation in my life. The person who wrote this post was very different from the person editing it now. I think the “old Eric” would be both afraid and proud of the Eric who writes this update. Afraid of him because he would eventually put most of the “old Eric’s” dreams to death. -And proud of him because he had the courage to do so. This blog post is a watermark in my life.
It seems that as with physical activity, for any positive change that we attempt to make in our lives there are “negative” forces that come against us. Often those “negative forces” are causes of pain, sometimes great pain. With weight loss and physical fitness, the pain is physical. However, there are other times when the pain can present itself in different forms. I truly believe that there is a lesson to be learned in “not running” from the pain. From my experiences, I have found that great benefit can be found by confronting, enduring, and at times even submitting to the pain created by making a positive change. I have lost track of the physical aches and pains that I have experienced over the past nine years as I attempt to stay physically active; something is always sore. However, the results that I see in my body and in the way I feel far outweigh any ache or pain that I have experienced as a result of working out and becoming more healthy.
I believe there is no “happily ever after” when it comes to our health. Staying healthy has not been easy; especially since moving back to south Louisiana. As of right now, I weight around 225 pounds -roughly what I weighted when I graduated high school. I have been as heavy as 315 pounds and as light as 200 pounds. This has been a journey; a journey of ups, downs and hard decisions. A decision to get out of the bed at 5:45am in the morning to go workout, a decision to NOT go to the Chinese buffet for lunch, an overall decision to eat healthy food and live a more active lifestyle. -AND many, many decisions to get “back on the wagon” after I had fallen off. But the “painful” decisions do pay off and the results are worth every ounce of pain caused by the “negative” forces that came and still come against me.
The most humbling realization that I have had to come to terms with is the fact that I still struggle in my relationship with food. I know that there is the potential for me to “fall off the wagon” at any moment and go back to my old lifestyle. I HATE that fact, but I am learning to come to terms with it and cope with it. I wish I could say, “I have obtained total victory over my relationship with food,” but I would be lying. This is probably a struggle that I will have for the rest of my life. I can honestly say that I think I have a hint of what it feels like to be an alcoholic, drug addict, etc. The alcoholics and drug addicts may get the most attention, but we all know there are a number of things that we can be addicted to; and yes food is ABSOLUTELY one of those things among many, many others.
We live in a society that runs from pain. We intoxicate ourselves with “painkillers.” Food is the potential painkiller for me; just as physical fitness, alcohol, drugs or even sex can be a painkiller for someone else. In the midst of the pain, and all of our assortments of our painkillers, there is a Man named Jesus who commands us to pick up our crosses and follow Him. Has it ever occurred to you that He commands us to deal with the “pain” of life by bearing “our own” crosses? But, maybe that is the whole point of taking up our crosses? If we stare the pain down, endure it, and face it, then maybe that is how we can overcome it. (When I first wrote this, I had no idea of the depths this nugget of wisdom would take me to.)
My weight loss is the most noticeable change in my life only because it is a physical change. God has made more profound changes in me in these past nine years that cannot be seen with the naked eye. ALL of those changes required me to deal with the pain of facing situations and coming against negative forces as I made positive changes. Often times the pain caused by those changes seemed simply unbearable, and I mean that literally. There were times when I wondered if I could handle the cross I was bearing… -the cross that God refused to take from me. In the end, when God finally weaned me off painkillers and refused to give me anymore, I faced the pain. I endured the pain. And then I overcame the pain. It was not pretty. It was not fun. But I am so glad that I did it. –And God ***proved*** His faithfulness to me in the process. –No pain, No Gain.
We often look for a painless gospel; I have found that it simply does not exist. Therefore, when we attempt to fashion a “painless gospel” it is counterfeit and therefore a “cross-less gospel” and a “power-less gospel.” We wonder why we do not see the power and hand of God revealed or lives transformed. Perhaps our Christ-less gospel becomes empty and dead religion -full of judgemental people and lifeless rules.
My blog post from nine years ago is below. I weighed approximately 310 pounds at that time. It is also worth noting that I first attempted this “change” in May of 2007. It was not until the end of that August that Amy and I made the health changes permanent. In other words, I FAILED and fell back into my old routine for 3 additional months after I wrote this post.
REPOSTED FROM WEDNESDAY, MAY 2, 2007
No Pain, No Gain…
During the past few weeks I have been making some lifestyle changes. My latest change that I added yesterday was jogging every morning. I got up at 5:15 (a.m. that is) and walked/jogged for 30 minutes. I was not naive going into this; I knew it would be difficult and painful at first. When I started yesterday, it was not that bad. I walked for about 1/2 mile to warm (and wake!) myself up and then I jogged for 1/2 a mile. Then I repeated that routine again. My first morning jog woke me up and stimulated my mind and body. Then… this morning happened. When my alarm clock went off my legs immediately made me aware of their condition. I had not jogged in over 10 years. Overnight my muscles must have went into shock or something; my whole lower body was very sore.
Even though my aching legs contested, I forced myself out of the bed. As I headed out the door I was determined to at least walk for 30 minutes and stay committed to my new routine. After I walked my first half mile and painfully loosened my muscles up a bit, I decided to continue my jogging and repeated the same walking/jogging routine I had completed yesterday. By the time I made it to the second 1/2 mile of jogging, it was really tough and painful but I made it.
After I finished, I completed my regular morning routines and went to work. When I got out of my truck at City Hall, I realized that my legs were very, very sore. To make matters worse, I had a large blister on one of my heels- I’ll spare you the gory details but let’s just say it was a bad blister. I found myself almost limping up the stairs to my second floor office, in pain the entire time. Every time I had to leave my desk today it was very painful. This was probably the most pain that I have felt in years.
However, a strange thing happened to me during the day as I limped around in pain. In an odd sort of way, the pain I was feeling fueled my determination to stay committed to my new routine. You see, I knew I was feeling the pain because I am out of shape. The very pain that I was feeling reminded me of the process that was taking place in my body. The muscles in my legs were being torn down and rebuilt- better and stronger, my metabolism was increasing, and my heart rate would begin to drop. The sometimes EXTREME pain I was feeling served as a reminder that I was on my way to being a healthier person and thus a better husband, father, and pastor. Therefore, I found myself driven by it.
Then, this thought hit me. “What if those of us who have committed to the journey of following Jesus viewed pain the same way?” What if instead of running from the pain and discomforts we sometimes experience as we follow Jesus, we embraced them. What if we realized that during the times of our pain, discomfort and sacrifice, he is actually crucifying our flesh, imparting life to our spirits, building our characters, and teaching us a different way to live. Though this process may be painful, it is necessary… and good.
What if, rather than running from this pain, discomfort and sacrifice, we embraced it? What if we allowed ourselves to be driven by it?