Competing in the Ironman Triathlon has always been a dream of mine. It’s the premiere event for endurance athletes that takes place in Kona, Hawaii. Remember, I said that I dreamed of “competing”, not winning the event; however, every athlete who qualifies, participates and finishes the race is a winner! It’s a grueling 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile bike ride, and topped off with a 26.2 mile marathon run. You are fighting against heat, humidity, trade winds and complete exhaustion. The official winners are professional tri-athletes who devote their lives to training; the rest are amateurs who are in it for the satisfaction that comes from achieving a lifelong dream.
My body has long since passed the point of realistically being able to take on such a massive challenge; however that does not release me from the spiritual responsibility of maintaining a healthy body. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 we find the warning that our bodies are “a temple of the Holy Spirit”, that we “are not our own” and that our response to God’s ownership of our life should be to “glorify God in our body”. In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul near the end of his life writes “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” My “Dream of the Ironman” does not have to die; it just needs to be refocused to a more important goal. Although I am not a physical trainer, I want to share with you some thoughts that have helped me get a better grip on “glorifying God” with my body.
Stop living at a frantic pace. According to the National Institutes of Health “long-term stress can increase the risk of depression, heart disease, and a variety of other problems.” In Psalms 46:10 we are instructed to “Be still and know that I am God.” We can manage our health just by “being still” and reflecting on “God”.
Think about your health. When was the last time you sat down (or got up and walked) just to think about your health. I assure you that it is better to do it now while you are “healthy” rather than to be sitting in a doctor’s office or even worse in an emergency room someday listening to a physician giving you “orders” to change your ways or else…
Reduce your intake. We are constantly bombarded by requests to “super-size” our menu choices or are presented with a plate of food big enough for two people. I have found that by reducing my portion size and quitting before I am full is really helping me to lose weight. Consistency in this area allows us to enjoy ourselves at a celebration.
Eat healthy. In conjunction with “reducing our intake” we need to make healthier choices in what we eat. This is really tough for me when certain foods are available. By eliminating unhealthy choices from the house I increase my chances of success. I have found that by not “dieting” (eating only rabbit food or some other weird fad) I can control urges to binge on the “unhealthy” delicacies. Healthy eating must be a lifestyle.
Track your progress. The “melancholy” part of my personality type would go overboard on this area if I let it; however the need is still there to have some sort of accountability or record of your progress. Try to limit yourself to recording some “type” of measurement only once a week. Your goal is to be healthy not crazy! For instance, you can create a lot of stress by weighing yourself ever day. Make a plan and keep it simple.
Change your lifestyle. This is the part where everyone tells you to “check with your doctor” before you start any type of exercise program; which is actually good advice so you don’t attempt anything that will “hurt more than help”. My main objective is to move more to help my heart and reduce my weight so that I feel better. You can park farther away, use the stairs or take brisk walks every day. There are hundreds of activities more beneficial than sitting in the recliner watching television. When all of these small changes are added together you will be able to really enjoy the last tip.
Have fun. Honoring God by making healthier choices isn’t a “life sentence” to take all the fun out of life. It’s actually a way to enjoy life more. When we are healthy we feel better, look better and can enjoy more of God’s creation because we are able to experience it through activities we never even dreamed of doing before.
CENTERING ON REAL-LIFE EFFECTIVENESS
My “Dream of the Ironman” is still alive; but my focus has changed from the Ironman Triathlon of Hawaii to being the “Ironman” that God wants me to be, physically and spiritually. Proverbs 27:17 says “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” This week I would encourage you to “STRETCH” yourself. Consider each point and “check your pulse”. How are you doing? Celebrate your strengths, evaluate your weaknesses and make plans to be an IRONMAN or IRONWOMAN for God!
“Ironman in Training”