05 May 2023

On Bodily Discipline

1 Corinthians 9:27 (ESV). But I discipline my body and keep it under control…

My body doesn’t like working out. My body prefers sitting in a chair and mindlessly surfing the internet or reading a good novel or binge watching something. But what my body prefers is something that gets regularly ignored. Some years ago I got into the habit of working out (especially M-F). When I was working at the International Center, my noontime workout was how I kept my sanity! I used to joke: Oh, I work at my gym. They’re amazing! They provide an office for me for use before and after workouts.

It took some thinking when I started working from home again, trying to decide the best time to workout. It didn’t seem to work to do the same noontime slot. So I shifted to early morning. Usually I have my cup of coffee and enjoy the sunrise, pray from The Treasury of Daily Prayer with Cindi, pray Matins (using the KJV schedule), do readings from Book of Concord and some devotional material (currently Lewis and Walther) and then finish up coffee and puzzles (yes, addicted to Wordle, Worldle, Quardle, Knotwords, Blossom, and Nerdle). Then before anything else, it’s time to workout, time to make the old bod do the stuff that it doesn’t ever want to do, but which ends up giving me tons of energy and makes me feel so much better.

Lately, I’ve been doing a circuit in the house. By the time I’m done, I’ve climbed down and up the stairs 24 times, and walked all around the interior. I start off with 25 pushups. Walk around and down. Do anywhere from 5 to 9 pull-ups and 5 to 9 45 lb. kettlebell swings. Then run up the stairs and back into my study to record this. Then I walk around again, sprinting up and down the stairs, and maybe catching a drink of water. Then time to do pushups again. That’s my regular Monday to Friday. Add to this, I aim for at least five miles walking each day (and hit that most days). So this week, thus far, I have walked about 25 miles, done 1200 pushups and 320 pull-ups and kettle bell swings each. I’ll rest Saturday and Sunday (though will try to get the walking in) and then resume again next week. And then there’s Tuesdays and Thursdays! That’s when I do what my body does not merely dislike, but actually “loathes, despises and abominates” (anyone recognize that?): 30 minutes of high intensity interval training. I do that using the Apple Fitness app. It’s a killer. I have a love/hate relationship with trainer Jamie Ray.

The cool thing is that discipline, as many have noted, has a way of spilling over in our lives from one area to another. So from exercise to sleep, from sleep to dietary choices, from dietary choices to financial decisions, and so on. But I think it makes great sense to start with disciplining the body, making it do hard work, and ignoring its pleas for “hey, let’s take it easy” and “lighten up, will you?” I think it’s simply a great place to start. I know that I cannot imagine a life now where my workout wasn’t a regular feature of my week. And let me stress that at the beginning of regularly working out, it was nowhere near the intensity I’m doing now. What matters is making that body MOVE and ignoring it’s whiney “but I don’t WANT to.” What matters is to learn to say, “Tough, body, YOU are not in charge; you WILL do as you are told. Got it?”

P.S. One more thing my body doesn’t particularly enjoy? Cold showers. But I end every shower with over a minute of nothing but cold water hitting the skin all over. Like the workout, despite the body’s protests, it ends up making you feel simply great!

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