It’s A Hard Life, At Least I Hope So

Day 23 – Have I mentioned that gym life is difficult? Yeah, at least a few hundred times, I think. The upside is better health and, for some, a better looking physique. I pretty much gave up on that last part a good while ago.

I have noticed, though, that the harder I work, the harder I get. Some muscles groups are responding well, others not so much. . .yet.  Any lack of fitness training leads to loss of tone. It doesn’t matter if it’s for a few days, a few weeks, or much longer.

The older I get, the more I know I need to work hard to be able to maintain simple things like balance. Good fitness and nutrition leads to stronger bones, better digestion and metabolism, and even better rest.

I worked hard today at the gym; I felt better when I finished. Now that my mind is getting back into the habit of regular physical training, it is much easier to do the work and enjoy the results.

Rolling, rolling, rolling

Day 22 – Last week, after BODY STRONG & BODY ROCK, I talked about the benefits of stretching. I am more convinced than ever that if I had stretched, like I should all the years, I would’ve been injured less and felt better after every workout.  Now I’m learning to do good warm-up stretches before I start working out.

Today, I did another stretching session at home and it really gave me relief all over–especially in my back. My favorite kind of stretching is done with a foam roller. It’s great for finding knotty muscles before gym time and very good for dissipating muscle lactic acid afterward.

I’m hopeful that I’m setting myself up for a better experience tomorrow. We’ll see.

Back to the Steps

Day 21 – BODY BASIC Stepping Class is going to be a favorite of mine this year. It’s kind of weird staying in one place with a routine that’s not terribly difficult on the one hand and one the other hand is brutal if you really get into it. I’ll jus t tell you that after 20 minutes of stepping to the beat, I was dripping wet–worn out and feeling great right before leading a bible study. Thankfully, no one gets very close when I’m teaching on Sunday evening. I’m pretty sure I stinketh.

BODY BASIC Stepping Class, just in case you are interested, is at TCALF (The Church At Lake Forest) on Sunday evenings @ 5 PM in our fitness center. Anyone can come, there’s no charge, and it’s a lot of fun and hard work. As the year progresses, the routines will be longer, quicker, and a little more difficult. But, as always with our classes, you just work at our own level.

Later on in the year, we’ll add some combat training and Tai Chi to the mix just to keep things moving along.  I’ll tell you what I tell my students–do the best you can, don’t give up, and keep on moving.

Breakfast with some crunch

Day 20 – This morning, I had the joy of having breakfast with the old guys from TCALF, my generation. I’ve been trying to spend some time with each generational group lately to hear what’s on their hearts and to encourage them as they walk with God. And, of course, I throw in a little fitness encouragement to boot.

This biscuits and gravy at the old country store were tasty and that set up my Saturday morning workout at the gym. I  was stretched pretty good from Friday so I did a short prelim stretch and went straight to the elliptical for some quick cardio and joint return. After that, I did a few hundred prone crunches and spent some time with free weights before closing out with some more cardio on the stair master. That thing is a beast.

Afterward, I spent some time with Deb and we just hung out together for the afternoon before I retired to my office to get ready for Sunday. That’s  when the foam roller came out and went under my feet while I studied. Wow, that was good.



Day 19 – Thursday night was a huge, sweaty success and it did a number on my muscles, especially the ones in my lower back. You probably already know that if your back hurts, your tummy is likely involved and if your tummy muscles hurt, you probably have some back issues. Either way, I was tight this morning when I got up.

I’ve learned a lot in this latest quest to be consistent in my fitness and nutrition. One of the best lessons though, that I should have been more sensitive to all along, is the absolute need for plenty of stretching.  Much of the time, when I have opted to stay home from the gym in the past was because of “tightness.” Ans sometimes I’ve gone on to the gym to workout only to make things worse by not stretching before I hit the track, weights, and machines.

Today, I started to get a clearer picture of stretching’s importance, so I opted for an elastic band and foam roller workout at home.  By the way, if you do this stuff right, it ain’t easy–but man is it ever beneficial.

A forty-five minute session on the floor did wonders for a sore back, tight calves, quads, and hamstrings. When this 30-day thing is over, stretching days will be a regular part of my program.


Day 18 – I’ve been waiting on this one for weeks. The IFIT strategy is full of good stuff — IFIT Fundamentals — I WILL BE Faithful, Intrepid, Teachable; IFIT Journal — 12 months of scheduled bible reading, meditation, and writing and — IFIT Fitness — a three part, completely gym quality physical fitness program.

Back on Day 14 (Sunday) we did BODY BASIC, a beginner level class; this go round we’re doing a step class; after a few weeks it will be an insane 30-minute workout.

Tonight, we restarted BODY STRONG & BODY ROCK. Body Strong is a 30-minute nonstop core training class utilizing a mat for floor exercise, a 10-pound plate for strength training, and an elastic strap for stretching. BODY ROCK is a class that. . .rocks!  The Body Rock circuit is 24 separate exercises that rotate to challenge the body with extreme weight training, jumping, balance, and endurance. We have brand new equipment, a new look in our fitness center, new music mixes, and a fresh commitment to overall fitness.

I am so tired and still excited to be leading this. I love to see the young people and the senior adults working hard to be FIT.

. . .do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you; whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 {ESV]


Full Speed Ahead

Day 17 – Back to the gym with brand new shoes; I’ve been training for the last couple of years in stability shoes because my ankles pronate a little (rock inward when I run). Sometimes, shoes can be the difference between a very comfortable workout and one that causes various kinds of pain. Deciding to go back to a neutral shoe, I spent over an hour busting out a great workout that yielded my biggest burn to date, no residual back, leg, or foot pain, and the realization that sometimes I need to go slow to go fast.

The two previous days of stretching and light upper body work. . .worked. I’m feeling very grateful today that I can still do this.

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the nations. 1 Chronicles 16:8 [ESV]


Day 15 & 16 – Have you ever been involved in something, going full speed ahead, when you just knew it was time to slow down and pull back a little? That’s a really hard idea for me. Usually, I run wide open until I crash. Maybe I didn’t do it this time because I’m older and wiser–older, anyway.

All the stretching and pulling and lifting and stepping and crunching and running and, and. . . .it started to put some undue pressure on my low back and I started to experience some sciatic pain, not much, just a little.

So, I moved the gym into the home, at least for a couple of days. I have all the tools at home to do careful stretching to ease the pressure on my back. I also have a really good chiropractor who helps keep everything in line. A visit to him and some stretching seem to have alleviated what would certainly have become pain that would have sidelined me.

Two days of gym rehab seemed better than two weeks off. Wisdom or common sense? A little bit of both, I guess, plus a lot of years of doing this trying to take care of myself. Taking care of myself. . .a good idea.

Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm  46:10 [ESV]

A little side step is good for the soul, sometimes

Day 14 – Two down, two to go, weeks that is.  I’d like to say I’ve enjoyed it all so far, but that wouldn’t be exactly true, mostly, but not completely. Trying to improve physical conditioning, even when it’s not too bad to begin with, is difficult.  And the older you get, the harder it gets.  Things don’t respond quite like they used to. For me, soreness last longer and results take longer.

So, instead of busting it in the gym today, I did enjoy a little side step. It just so happened that, after a few weeks off, the IFIT strategy at church cranked back up this afternoon.

I started a new version of BODY BASIC utilizing step aerobics. Stepping is just as new to me as it is to those taking the class. And it’s not as easy as it looks. We’re starting slow (slow stepping is moving pretty quickly) and hoping to work up to much faster routines in the future. I really like it. And, a little later on, we’re going to add a combat routine and a Tai Chi routine.

I enjoy doing cardio on the machines, lifting weights, and doing all the other stuff I do in the gym most days. Doing something entirely different, taking a side step as it were, keeps things interesting–not to mention providing muscle confusion.

So, it’s been an interesting two weeks and I’m looking forward to the next two and beyond. Physical fitness is the perfect companion to a fit spirit for fit mind.


Day 13 – This has been a really good day. I didn’t have to get up early, brewed some fresh, hot tea, took time to dig into my morning bible study and journaling, and headed out @ 7:30 for breakfast with some of the guys from church.

Not being overbooked today, I had a chance to get a head start on my new fitness class that begins tomorrow evening at TCALF; it’s part of the IFIT strategy. The new BODY BASIC class is all about stepping. It’s gonna be good.

After some study time and a nice afternoon nap, I headed over to the gym for a long, slow workout.  I spent a full hour pacing myself to do something I haven’t been able to do in a while.  I warmed up with 15 minutes on the elliptical and moved over to the crunch bench. 1,000 crunches ( 2 sets of 500) was a goal I set for myself when I started two weeks ago.  I met that goal today and it felt good.

What does that mean? Not much, really. 1,000 is a lot, no doubt.  But it’s not as much about how many as it is about reaching short term goals to enjoy long term success. I won’t do 1,000 crunches at one time every week.  But that will open the door for more doable goals, better fitness and, ultimately, a stronger me.

I’m not competing with anyone but myself. I’m not comparing myself to anyone. I’m not trying to make a big point about being in good shape (although I AM trying to get in good shape). I’m just trying to improve my fitness and overall, general health so  the testimony of my body–which is the temple of God–matches the testimony of my mouth. It’s really hard to talk about taking care of others if I don’t take care of myself.

So, as I approach another Sunday morning and another opportunity to preach the Word, if you are reading this missive, please pray for my physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. I want to be strong inside and out for the glory of God.

May the Lord give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace. Psalm 29:11 [ESV]