Archive Page 2

Trust Issues

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Developing trust in the wake of pain is a challenge.

When you see the person, if you can stand to look, all you can think of is the injuries suffered.

You show off the emotional scars, the aftereffects of being hurt so many times.

Anger simmers beneath the surface, begging to boil over.

Good deeds are hidden by bitterness.

What matters is your unmet expectations — and the price of that failure.

You sit and count the ways you were let down.

You struggle to forgive.

You wish to forget.

Eventually, though, you trust yourself again.

Feeding the Horse

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Here’s a startling fact: exercise won’t help you lose weight.

Though we’ve been told otherwise for years by doctors and fitness professionals alike, it’s unfortunately a fallacy. It is logical to assume moving more and eating less will help us shave off pounds — the simplicity is difficult to argue with.

Our bodies just don’t work that way.

Sure, in the short term, we get a benefit from this unbalanced equation. The initial shock of extra activity without a matching rise in food intake causes the body to grab fuel from the most reliable source it has: excess body fat.

The quick disappearance of five or ten pounds is more from physiological surprise than the effectiveness of the new regimen, though.

Once the body recovers from the scramble to provide energy, it will adjust within (at most) a few weeks.

The endocrine system is finely-tuned to ensure survival however possible. By acting to accommodate varying conditions, stuffed or starved, it keeps the body going — whether we do so at an optimal level is a question for another day.

When push comes to shove, we either increase our intake or decrease our movement.

The body is designed with fail-safe mechanisms to make sure the calories in is as close as possible to calories used.

As a result, choosing to decrease portion sizes or skip meals altogether leaves us lethargic and groggy. As time wears on, we lack the pep to tackle our regular daily tasks, let alone hit the gym and slam some weights around. We naturally downshift to conserve energy for vital processes — the workings of the brain, heart and lungs, for example.

On the other hand, if we run 15 miles a day, we make sure to ingest enough to do so. The chemical signals for appetite ramp up our drive to find food. Regardless of how much we try to stay away from the fridge, we end up tearing through a buffet like the Tazmanian Devil.

This is unavoidable.

If we work like horses, we can (and will) get hungry like them, too.

The End of Life

The first question which you will ask and which I must try to answer is this, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ and my answer must at once be, ‘It is no use’. There is not the slightest prospect of any gain whatsoever. Oh, we may learn a little about the behavior of the human body at high altitudes, and possibly medical men may turn our observation to some account for the purposes of aviation. But otherwise nothing will come of it. We shall not bring back a single bit of gold or silver, not a gem, nor any coal or iron. We shall not find a single foot of earth that can be planted with crops to raise food. It’s no use. So, if you cannot understand that there is something in man which responds to the challenge of this mountain and goes out to meet it, that the struggle is the struggle of life itself upward and forever upward, then you won’t see why we go. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the end of life. We do not live to eat and make money. We eat and make money to be able to enjoy life. That is what life means and what life is for.
George Mallory

One of my high school friends died a few days ago.

Diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis as a child, she finally succumbed to it at the age of 31 — several years more than the typical patient.

I have tried to put myself in her position periodically since I found out Tuesday.

Of those who have the condition, a slim number survive past 23 or 24. Basically, from the time we parted at graduation, she must have known with striking immediacy the clock was ticking. When her sister passed away several years ago, I would imagine there could have been little doubt she was on borrowed time.

It seems she managed to hold on to happiness through it all.

She went to college.

She got married.

She affected other lives in a positive way.

She did stuff we consider “normal,” little things most of us take for granted assuming our lives will take us nearer to 100 than 35.


I would be remiss in attempting to answer for her, but she could have made different choices. She could have run through the last decade or so without a care. She could have been angry or defeated or bitter. She could have withdrawn into herself and waited for eternal slumber.

What I believe, though, is we are all ultimately driven by the desire to have thousands of heartfelt experiences permeated by a fullness of spirit as indefinable as it is universal. It is as though, in those beautiful moments, we are able to breathe in a soulful truth and feel it sweep through every cell in our bodies.

We are forced, if just for a second, to acknowledge something we instinctively know:

Joy is the end of life.

New Ears Hear

"The Return of the Prodigal Son" by Rembrandt

Music should mean something.

I have long maintained the virtue of song — or any art, really — is the ability to reveal common feelings with uncommon technique. The magic of inspiration allows one person to open their soul and, in so doing, give others the key to their own.

Sometimes we are reached in an unexpected manner, as though our eyes are opened and our ears hear for the first time all over again. Our brains are set ablaze and something of life makes sense to us, regardless of the artist’s intent.

This Fall, I became acquainted with the now-Grammy nominated Mumford and Sons.

The worship pastor at my church, a tall, blond Californian who would look just as appropriate holding a surfboard as he does playing a guitar, recommended the English folk band to me. I had approached him to express my appreciation for bluegrass-inspired renditions of our typical praise music and he encouraged me to give them a listen. He raved about the “passion” and “energy” as though the foursome had managed to corner the market in delivering emotion.

I headed to YouTube and did a search, then watched the most popular video, “Little Lion Man.” Sufficiently intrigued, I purchased Sigh No More, their big-label debut, and went about listening to it the next day during my commute.

From the very start, I felt moved.

Beyond the thumping rhythms and charged vocals, the words spoke to me — a rarity on anything short of the twelfth or fifteenth spin for a given album most of the time.

I could identify parallels between the lyrics and my blossoming life.

There are references to being made to meet your Maker and living life as it’s meant to be.

One song, though, continues to hit home more than the rest: “Roll Away Your Stone.” The title itself highlights the resurrection of Christ, yet an examination of the poetry contained within the four-plus minutes describes the soul’s rebirth. Have a look:

Roll away your stone, I’ll roll away mine.
Together we can see what we will find.
Don’t leave me alone at this time,
For I’m afraid of what I will discover inside.

Engaging faith is a lot like stepping into sunlight after enjoying an afternoon matinée — we stumble around confused and half-blind at first until we adjust. Encountering the past and evaluating attitudes is enlightening, to say the least. Sometimes we find a person we have trouble liking at all.

You told me that I would find a hole,
Within the fragile substance of my soul
And I have filled this void with things unreal,
And all the while my character it steals.

Coming to the end of ourselves, we find all the different means by which we attempted to cover up our ache for the Father. We realize what we’ve given up in doing so — the fools we’ve looked chasing money or the selfishness we’ve displayed towards others — and come to grips with the ramifications of that trade.

Darkness is a harsh term, don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see.

We all wish those decisions had been better (though they can and will be used for good), yet we realize how much our misguided choices led us into bad spots and possibly even self-destruction.

It seems that all my bridges have been burned,
You say that’s exactly how this grace thing works.
It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart,
But the welcome I receive at the restart.

Having wandered as far down the path as possible, we are often left with nothing before we turn towards God. When we encounter His love, when we see Him running to greet us, it is difficult to be anything but overwhelmed by joy.

Darkness is a harsh term, don’t you think?
And yet it dominates the things I see. (2x)

Stars hide your fires,
These here are my desires
And I will give them up to You this time around.
And so, I’ll be found with my stake stuck in this ground
Marking the territory of this newly impassioned soul (2x)

What was once important — the pursuits apart from our purpose — fade into the background as our attention shifts. We take the wishes of our heart and lift them up to the Father, doing our best to make our lives His sovereign province every day.

You, you’ve gone too far this time
You have neither reason nor rhyme
With which to take this soul that is so rightfully mine.

Then we turn back to the world, determined as ever to follow the path He carved for us — aware we’ll still falter from time to time — and claim the future He has in store.

Well, that’s what I hear.

How about you?

This is Healthier

Four Weeks' Difference: 1/16 (l) and 2/13 (r)

Some things we have to see to believe.

Four weeks ago, I wrote a revealing post about my desire to shift my body composition in subtle ways by paying more attention to what I eat.

I gave up sweets and focused on eating more meat, seeds, nuts and leafy vegetables.

I decided to work out again — in the way I always told myself would be ideal.

The change is evident.

First and foremost — because I know you’re wondering — I did lose a fair amount of weight. I was 170 pounds when my brother, sister-in-law and I did “before” measurements on January 16th, four days into adopting the Paleo lifestyle.

I clocked in at 155 on February 13th, fifteen pounds lighter — a misleading number, for the record. A nasty case of stomach flu tore me apart that weekend, leaving me either in bed or on the toilet for the better part of 30 hours. After a snack early Saturday afternoon, I was unable to eat or drink anything until Monday morning.

It was Tuesday before I returned to full strength.

Dehydrated and starved, my weight skewed downward.

The next evening, after eating three meals more like my normal intake, the scale hovered at 160 — what I played soccer at in college. I consider this “unofficial,” as I stepped on the scale merely to reassure myself (as I said before, my intent is to be lean, not emaciated) and skipped taking other measurements.

Looking at the pictures, you’ll notice the differences in two spots, primarily: the face and abdomen.

A comparison of the jawline highlights the change: it is far more apparent on the right than left. Though it would be unfair to say I was chubby before, a distinct streamlining has occurred in a highly-noticeable area. This is why I advise anyone tracking weight loss to take up-close-and-personal facial photos — when the rest of the body seems to lag behind, those pictures tell the (encouraging) truth.

Now, notice the beltline. My waist slimmed by two inches, a portion of which must be attributed to my inability to take (or even sniff, really) a bite of food at the time. Still, the visual is telling: an increase in tone and decrease in, ahem, “softness” at the area most men stealthily begin packing on pounds after college.

Despite being very pleased, I have to admit the pictures tell a small part of the story:

  • Sleep feels deeper and more refreshing
  • Energy levels are more stable throughout the day
  • Meals satisfy appetite longer
  • Exercise recovery seems faster

This weekend, we decided to incorporate some of our old favorites back in. I had some pizza, a couple beers and some of the desserts I used to enjoy again.

The fast food was bland.

The fries turned my stomach.

The cookies were unbearably sweet.

I look forward to my next slab of meat and handful of baby spinach more all the time.

This is Not Healthy

What We Were, Are and Will Be

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After your death you will be what you were before your birth.
Arthur Schopenhauer

We all wrestle with the concept of death.

Most of each day is spent in blissful ignorance of our fleeting nature. Other than the occasional action to push our last day further into the future via exercise or eating a certain way, the majority of our time is swept away in the river of mental occupations we encounter.

That’s fine, maybe even necessary.

Here, though, the German philospher taps squarely on the immutable fact of this life:

The soul is boundless.

What makes me me and you you is shuttled around in a body of four dimensions — length, width, height and time — for a set period before shaking free of the mortal coil. The qualities that define us, our quirks and habits and motivations, would all remain if we could somehow trade bodies as though they were T-shirts and jeans.

What does this mean?

Our uniquity is undeniable and unending.

Scripture speaks to this in various places, yet one in particular evokes a telling image:

The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way,
Before His works of old.
I have been established from everlasting,
From the beginning, before there was ever an earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
When there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled,
Before the hills, I was brought forth;
While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields,
Or the primal dust of the world.
When He prepared the heavens, I was there,
When He drew a circle on the face of the deep,
When He established the clouds above,
When He strengthened the fountains of the deep,
When He assigned to the sea its limit,
So that the waters would not transgress His command,
When He marked out the foundations of the earth,
Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in His inhabited world,
And my delight was with the sons of men.
Proverbs 8:22-31, NKJV

God had all of us under His arm as He breathed the universe into existence.

Before there was heaven or earth, light or dark — before before — He set about forming every soul to ever exist, each one different and precious — sacred.

Then, like any attentive parent, He must have huddled us together and gone to work shaping a cosmos so vast and intricate and beautiful we are able to comprehend a mere fraction of it.

He sculpted every mountain and valley and stream.

He flung the stars across the sky.

He set galaxies in motion.

We were present.

And we will be again.

Morning Workout, 2-16-11


150 Squats

As needed to complete prescribed reps

Perform 150 squats as quickly as possible, stop to rest briefly as necessary. For me, this is usually broken into six sets of 25 with 10-15s of rest between.

4.5 minutes

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