Sunday, July 29, 2012

contentment and weight management

Okay, folks, I have an admission to make. It’s an admission that afew folks in my family have known for the past few years. Not many people who look at me can see it at first glance. I have struggled to maintain my body weight. O”Okay?” you ask. “So, what? Many Americans today struggle with that issues. Some live and let live. Others find a program with they can identify and stick so as to achieve weight reduction goals. Others find some means of exercise to become thinner, fitter, sleeker. Okay, maybe, I’m not admitting so much about me. I’m admitting my issue with the social pressures that jerk us as a culture in two seemingly opposite directions with regard to our weight. You and I notice the type of commercials playing on TV, especially now that the Olympic Games are on. One commercial emphasizes a “sexy,” slim-trim physique so we can look just as good if not better than anyone else. Then, you have commercials that say, “Enjoy the drinking…to your hearts content….But, think before you drink….” My admission, then, is I believe our struggle with weight management goes back to a culture that doesn’t want each person to become contented..with the weight, appearance, or abilities that God gives us. Not everyone who wishes to look good and enjoy a well-built physique has to be a carbon copy of Michael Phelps, Ryan Lockte, LeBron James, or Kobe Bryant. These guys are athlete. Their sport—their vocation in life—demands that they keep their body mass index below 2.5 or 5.0. To swim or play basketball at the professional or Olympic level requires the energy that only a person with such a build enjoys. On the other hand, no one- wants the challenge of struggling with excessive weight gain. Yet, in itself, is such a struggle a sin against God’s Law? No, not unless we intensionally overindulge ourselves to the point of gluttony. And, this point is often relative for each person. It’s not anyone’s fault if they’ve inherited the tendency to overeat and gain weight by leaps and bounds. For health’s sake, I know such folks—many of them—try hard to curb such effects, whether through medical attention, extra trips to the gym, diets, or a combination of the three. Each way of managin our weight is a preference each of us makes. Often, that preference matches with some level of comfort and enjoyment. When I was in elementary school, junior high, and high school, I weighed half again as much as many of the guys who were in my classes. I also stood a head taller than many of them, too. Yet, because I weighed so much more, I developed a stigma. Instead of motivating me toward weight loss, it froze me—that is, until, to conform with unofficial expectations—I joined the wrestling team. Now, don’t get me wrong. I loved wrestling. I thought about competitive swimming for my school. But, I was never very good at either sport when growing up. Oh, I also enjoyed working out with my fellow swim team members in high school when I was the team scorekeeper/manager. Yet, still it was partially due to social conformity. Everyone did it, so I kept up with everyone else. When I entered college, I resumed a struggle with weight that drove me nuts for several years. Suddenly, one day in my second year of grad school, I was feeling a bit happy after receiving an excellent grade on a paper I wrote. I went to my dorm room, turned on the TV, and out of nowhere, started doing a few sets of push-ups. Okay, no play words on here. A weight lifted from my shoulders. I exercised then because I enjoyed it, not because anyone made me. Don’t get me wrong. I knew beneath my workouts, my struggle to maintain a healthy amount of weight remained. If I let up at all, and I have over the years from time to time, the weight crept back on. I’ve tried a couple weight loss programs over the years since grad school. God bless them. Their purpose is fantastic. But, I will tell you. Mentally, I went back to the old fear of compulsion that I faced back in junior high and high school. I never knew what weight to make for the invisible standard that said, “I achieved my goal.” Thanks be to God that such weight management programs exist. They benefit millions. The big one here in Kansas City is KC SLIM. I’m not sure if its affiliated with a larger company nationwide or a particular brand of supplements. But, I know for a fact, and statistics in KC Fitness Magazine and elsewhere bear out-it is a huge success in marketing and helping people with their weight. For me, the solution goes back to my enjoyment. I once heard an interview ESPN did with Charles Barkley some years after he retired from the NBA. The host asked him how he went from keeping his weight down during his playing days compared to regaining a great physique after some leisure time. His answer, and I paraphrase, “Work out more, and eat less.” That advice set no standards for me. It only gave me a simple, motivational phrase. It’s relative for each person and allows for a lot of leeway depending on each of our likes, ability, and limits to which we are able to push ourselves. Okay, I confess I don’t always stick with that simple advice. There are times when my dedication to “eating less” and “working out more” fades. Times bring me back around to where my drive increases. So, when people sometimes ask me, on the way to the gym or grocery store, to know the secret to myphysical comfort level? I admit to them I have no secret. It’s up to each of us to find that combination of health, drive, and enjoyment—whether or not we struggle with our weight. Our lord gifts us each with differing personalities, needs and desires. He gives us our reason and senses, and daily cares for them. He defends us from all evil and, most of all—whether we are heavy, light, thin or otherwise—He enfolds us each who trust in Him in His saving grace.

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