It’s that time of year, men. The lunch bags are packed, the book bags are filled with papers and books, the mornings are filled with silence in our homes, etc. You know the drill? You send your kid off to school to learn, to grow, and hopefully (by the grace of God) become great people of society. Something happens between the classroom and the bedroom. Something happens between the school bus and the church bus. Something occurs that we, as fathers, don’t always understand. Let me explain.
God has always given me this gift of talking. I could get a brick wall saved just to get me to shut up. I have always had a gift to teach and to lead. However, unbridled, these gifts have taken me to a whole new level of learning. When I was younger in my school days, I was a talker. When I say that I was a talker, I don’t mean that I talked most of the time, I talked all the time. I have the report cards to prove it. They had check marks all across them for “excessive talking”. The teachers loved me and my parents loved me, but you know they were all thinking, “when will he ever be quiet?”
Now, God has a sense of humor. A beautiful wife and three cutie pies later, I have found myself reaping what I have sown. I see now why people loose their hair at such a young age. As a father, I believe I have mastered the phrase “because I said so?!” I swore I would never stoop to that level but here we are at the end of our ropes and using the last bit of ammo we have.
Sometimes, I wonder if God feels that way about us as His children. I see where I keep beating my head on the brick wall of life just to find that He has already said it over and over again, “no.” Nothing very spiritual about that but perhaps we are finding as fathers that we are connecting with the Father on a whole new level. Perhaps He has told you no and it was because He said so. Sometimes we don’t need to know the why but that He is in control. I often think about the things that He has shielded us from so that we won’t walk in fear or even be angry about. How often does He keeps us from knowing the many times that we could have been in great danger? How often has He left us with “unanswered” prayers?
I am reminded of the Garth Brooks song “Unanswered Prayers” and where he talks about the many times that he asked God to make this woman his wife only to find that God had someone better for him? I used to ponder what would have become of me if He had answered every prayer that I had with a “yes.” Who knows what kind of mess that I would have been in. Because God’s greatest gifts are often unaswered prayers.
Recently, I encountered something that was a bit different. Most men wouldn’t admit it out loud to their wives or even their friends but they lose steam or they will lose their joy. After eight hours of work, following their dreams and the vision that God has given to them, after the kids are in bed, after the supper is eaten…. men lose steam. I had this happen to me after Sara and I had been married for a while and had had our children. I was going to work, driving in traffic for an hour, dealing with stress (or not dealing), driving home in traffic for an hour, coming home to three girls under three, noise, choas, dinner, baths, church, business….you get the point. I was overwhelmed! The positive side to this is that my wife took note and did all that she could do. But it wasn’t her responsibility to keep me happy. It was mine and mine alone. It was here at this moment that God put this in my heart “What happens when Daddy runs out of gas?”
Friend, that’s exactly where I was at. I had no gas. I had no energy. I had no ambition. All I wanted to do was go somewhere and sleep. So I had to come to the point where I asked “what happens when there’s nothing left to give and the reserves have been dwindled to a mere drop? What happens when Dad is running on fumes?
I wasn’t sure how I would address this or even how I would approach it. I felt that the Lord was directing me to address this subject head on. It’s a messy subject unlike many that men face. Dad’s all across this great nation decided one day to quit. Why? There’s no gas in their tank. These are a few things that I have worked out and found success. You may do something totally different. You may think this is completely idiotic. Hey, I am not the one whose out of gas and reading this on empty?
- Get in the Word. It’s religious. I know that some of you will look at that and say, “I know that but with what time?” You find it. You make it. The Word of God is your life line. The Word of God is your direction. When you don’t know what to do, go to God and He will give it to you (James 1:5). Without the Word, you will run out of gas.
- Get alone. Most men won’t admit it but they are overwhelmed with being a father. We are truly equipped to be the men of God that we are called to be. However, there are times when a father needs to get alone. Go out for a walk for an hour or so. Work on a fun project. Go to the library or the coffee shop. Get out. Get alone for a brief period of time. Sometimes a fifteen minute break will completely refresh you for the net trial.
- Get away.Several years ago, I had gone through a rough time and I was battling a darkness that was out of this world. I found myself doubting and I couldn’t hear God. I told my wife that I needed to get away. Away we went camping for a night. I recognized that I needed some time away from the kids and home to get my mind wrapped around the important things. Don’t get me wrong men, our children are very important to us. However, we need a few moments away from the business of raising children. After the 18 years that they are on this earth and move out, you don’t want to find yourself looking at your wife and say “who are you?” I needed my woman which leads to my next point…
- Tell your spouse your needs. We as men aren’t built for communication. No shock there. But often we shut down at pivotal moments when we have a need to be met. We close off because are prideful or we don’t want to put our spouse out. I struggled with this in the first few years of our marriage and still at times find myself putting my needs on the back burner. The only problem with this is that it closes communication and it also causes resentment. God put those needs (sexual and non sexual) in men so that there can be a relationship and communication.
- Forsake Not The Assembly. Men are notorious for staying home from church and leaving behind the wife to be the spiritual head. Honestly men, this is absolutely absurd. When you act as the spiritual head, you gain a lot of the strength that you need to get through the tough times in your life. Start small. Get involved in an online group like www.Godlydaddy.com. When you start small, you will build up to being around other people even more.
Men, it’s time that we take our responsibility as men of the house and when we need a refill, get it done. Being a Godly Daddy means being a healthy daddy. Let’s get going men!
Okay, so if you read my first entry, you know that we undertook Martial Arts as a Family group and it helped us collectively as a family unit. In addition to the TKD, I began meeting some fella’s at the gym at 4:30am. Yep, you read that right. We met 3-4 days a week at a gym and worked out. We even did P90X not once, not twice, but three times. Not because we were that great of shape, but because it took us three full attempts to kind of be able to do all the things it called for. Additionally my oldest Son (Dalton) decided that he wanted to start working out with me. Hold on to your hats folks, this meant that I would now be going to the gym twice on some days.
Here is an example of what a regular workout & TKD week looked like:
Monday – Wednesday – Friday:
04:30-05:30 1hr of routine weight training (mostly standard routines or have been shown by others )
05:30-05:50 Drive home to wake up and pick up Dalton
06:00-06:45 45 minutes of routine weight training (standard lifting such as bench, squat, curls, etc.)
17:00-1800 (5-6pm) Tae Kwon Do session
Tuesday – Thursday:
Evenings 1-2 hrs. of TKD
Whew, I am just tired looking back on that schedule…….
The answer to the next question that may come to mind may surprise you. Here’s the question: “I bet all this exercise and movement got you guys get into great shape?” The answer is a bit painful……it did help a little; however, all of this really did not help my overall fitness and personal weight. It seems unreal that all the early morning exercising, practicing, sparring and evening sessions would not influence major weight changes and cause major overall improvement of my fitness. The cold hard fact is “I simply COULD NOT out exercise my own BAD DIET“.
After some serious personal soul searching, I realized the need for me to make real changes in order to reap healthy benefits. I began a quest to seek out how other people with my similar weight issues were able to make successful long term changes. Sure, we’ve all seen the infomercials for the latest Magic Diet or 20 Minutes Exercise program that will change us into chiseled granite. Just 19.99 or 99.99, and you too can look like the TV models. At first, it felt like a never ending process of reading about things I had to buy or try. Don’t worry though; I am not going to point you to the magic solution or even a program that I would most recommend you buy. Instead, I plan on using this forum to share some principles of change that have been followed successfully for years by physically fit and overall healthy people. Nothing I post or state will be earth shaking new or something that has not been known by many folks for years. However, I am living proof that implementing these principles do work and they helped me (and my family) to improve health & overall fitness.
One of the hardest things that I ever did was have my oldest son take a photo of me without a shirt on. Why did I do this? Well I needed to actually “see myself” in an unaltered painfully truthful way. Oh man, this was painful! There before my own eyes was the brutal reality of years of poor choices. Could that big bellied rascal ever really look different? Was I destined to always look this way due to my genetics? After all, I couldn’t possibly workout more…………..then the words from years past, spoken to me by a Friend (who was a Natural Body Builder), echoed in the deep closets of my mind. “Chris, in order to achieve lasting changes to your body, you have to first change the junk that you’re eating”. Of course, I just shrugged at the time while mumbling “Yea, whatever”.
As many of us men can be, I was too stubborn to reach out to him or maybe just too embarrassed to face him. Whatever the case, I knew that my eating had to change in order to see a physical change. Furthermore, I needed to be the example for my kids of how to eat healthy and how doing so will reap benefits. You know it always seems to come back to living by example and not talking about it. This holds true for our outward living for Christ as an example for our kids and all other aspects of Fatherly areas of guidance that should be led by our example.
After some thoughtful consideration, I decided to share a visual of where I physically started from and what today looks like. Before looking at the pic, please understand that this is in no way intended to be a fishing expedition for comments. I just want you to know if this fat rascal can change, then so can you!
Before starting to make changes, my daily regiment including taking High Blood Pressure medicine (12+yrs), Re-flux Meds (10+yrs), and other Heart related meds (10+yrs). After the first 30 days of change, God blessed the efforts by allowing me to get off all of the medicines. Additionally, I still have not had to take any of these medicines for the last 9 months. It still amazes me when I take my blood pressure how it has dropped and maintained near perfect readings.
Hmm, does that mean that the key to the health mobile is not found in exercising and the latest program fad? All those long slow cardio sessions and long workouts following the latest Exercise Guru in futile attempts to lose weight and get my blood pressure down, didn’t really help a thing. Are you kidding me…….Ah, but that’s a story to be shared another time. My belief is that the actual KEY to Fitness and Health can be found in what we eat! Of course, many also subscribe to the belief that it’s more about quantity of food and not so much quality. We’ll start slowly to peel back the layers of this complex onion.
“Where do I start”, is often the question that I have been asked. I would say start with the elbow before any other body part. Get that thing slowed down and pointed in the right eating direction. One of the fella’s that I interacted with during the early stages of change is a Pastor named Mark who lost over 100lbs. Now 100lbs of fat loss is pretty incredible, but that’s not what stuck with me. It was a statement he made that has stuck like glue. When Mark is asked what does he eat? He responds, “If God created it then I eat it”. Seems simple huh?! I add a bit to that simple statement when asked what I eat. I usually respond with, “If God created it, then I’ll eat it. But if man added to it or messed with it, then I leave it”. That statement sums up the basis for my posts on eating & diet moving forward.
Now Step One, get a pencil and a paper and write down every single thing you eat or drink and what time you consumed it. Do this every day for a week (or two). You’re probably asking yourself about now, “Is this really necessary?” My response is “Yes”. If you do this first, you’ll see some trouble areas right away. In fact, this same process is the one that I still use today. Now, I am not suggesting writing the complete details for every product like the carbs, protein, calories, sugars, etc. Just document the name and portion size if possible. Keeping a simple food journal allows you to identify not only the bad, but as you lose weight, you will identify what works for you (or does not work).
So, that is your virtual homework until the next time. Remember that our body is God’s Temple, so we will explore some ideas on doing our part to take care of it!
Until the next time…….
BTW: I plan on alternating these posts between exercise activities and diet related topics. Please feel free to leave me comments on the topics that you want to see for fitness or eating and I’ll try to address them in the future.