Over 2 weeks ago I wrote an article titled “Be fit in 2019: theologically primarily and bodily secondarily.” Tomorrow (January 26th) I’m going to be writing an article highlighting the way to become more fit theologically (an Everybody Guide), but today I want to provide the Everyman How-to on how we can be bodily fit as a supplement to our theological fitness. I’m not leaving out women either, because within the next couple weeks I have scheduled for my sister, Chelsea George, to provide her professional advice for women’s fitness in a guest blog post that I’m really excited about. Chelsea is an actual professional with physiology and anatomy to back up her views on things combined with her background in bodybuilding, so her article will probably be much better than mine; however, the following is my attempt at providing an “Everyman How-to” for physical fitness in only 3 steps.
STEP 1: Commit time. Your greatest resource is time, so ask yourself “what time am I going to be able to commit to training?”
This is where the excuses tend to creep in. It doesn’t matter if you are married or not, dating or not, have kids or not, work or not, just watch a ton of TV, or are very active in your church, it is universal that everyone believes they are too busy to actually train effectively. This is a lie! Most people know Charlie Hunnam from the show “Sons of Anarchy,” and he has one of my favorite quotes on fitness I’ve ever heard, “I work 15 hours a day and still go to the gym. Most people work eight hours a day and say, ‘I haven’t got time to work out.’” If we were honest with ourselves we wouldn’t say, “I haven’t got time to work out,” we would admit, “I haven’t got the drive or desire to work out.” YOUR GREATEST RESOURCE IS NOT YOUR MONEY IT IS YOUR TIME! You may very well use your time to make money, and that is your prerogative, however you may use your time to zero in on the things in your life that you deem to be of highest priority (again see previous blog post on fitness from January 8th for more).
So, for all of us, our priorities are going to be different depending on the day. Jesus says in Matthew 6 “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for each day has enough trouble of its own.” So, when you wake up you need to ask yourself “When am I going to be able to get in the appropriate time to train TODAY?” For most people it is not going to be the same every day so below let me run you through a typical week for me to help you think through this dilemma for yourself…
Monday: Generally I have meetings beginning at 8:30 until about 11 AM-these are A priorities
- I have a wife at home who works until 4 PM herself and she is also an A priority, so I know I want to block out time for her sometime in between when she gets home at 5PM and when she goes to bed around 9:30 PM.
- Then there are the necessities of eating, preparing meals, sleeping, etc.
- There are the 12:30PM-5:00 PM administrative tasks necessary, such as answering emails, and making phone calls. These are considered B priorities
- Then there are all sorts of priorities in between that are important, but not most pressing-I consider these C priorities.
- On a Monday, this all gets done for me by the time I leave at 5 PM. At 5 PM I tend to go directly to the gym where I work out from about 5:30-6:45. This gives me enough time to get home, shower, help with dinner, eat, clean up, spend time with my wife before she goes to bed.
- Lately I’ve also been playing in a rec league basketball league on this night, so there is a bit of an adjustment, but you understand (hopefully) that things like basketball rec leagues are more like a D or F priority in the grand scheme of things.
Tuesday: (Day off from Work)
Everyone needs a day off from work. I do not believe we as Christians in the New Covenant need to be restricted to a Sabbatarian view, and so therefore, I find it perfectly acceptable that I have Tuesdays off from work rather than Sundays (a pastor works a lot on Sundays).The principle for a New Covenant believer that we should strive for is to find rest in Christ on our day off from working, and we should focus on the principle rather than the actual day-so it’s alright if we replace Sunday’s rest with a Tuesday.
In our society, we tend to not take our days off very well. Many of us still call work, answer emails, etc. I don’t do any of this. On Tuesday’s I’m off. I don’t take phone calls, I don’t answer emails, and I rest unless there is an ABSOLUTE emergency that cannot wait until Wednesday. Taking one day a week to un-plug and rewind is something we all need. For some of us this will mean spending the day alone, as I do since my wife is at work. For others of us it means being at home for the day with our spouse or our children. Whatever the case, don’t do work-take a day off. On your off day this should give you plenty of time to get a workout in even if you have to do so from home, because you need to watch your children.
For me, Wednesdays and Sundays tend to be the two busiest days of the week. Usually I take Wednesdays off from working out because I usually begin working at 8:30 AM and I don’t go home until about 5:30 PM. Then, I lead our young adult ministry every Wednesday night from 7:00-9:30 PM. Again, this highlights the importance of a rest day. Since I lift on my days off work, I need at least one day a week to let my muscles rest and have their day off work. If you are plateauing in your fitness goals it could be because you aren’t giving your muscles the necessary rest for recovery and restoration.
In my 5 and a half years of full-time pastoral ministry, Thursdays have always been my social days. These days are a little looser for me in the office since I don’t have immediate responsibilities on that day. So, I try to make Thursdays a “people” day. If I have counseling I want to get done, I try and do it on Thursdays. If I want to get a meal with somebody, I try and do it on Thursdays. If I need to make a hospital or nursing facility visit, I try and do it on Thursdays-and you get the picture…This makes my schedule less demanding and more flexible. Also, my wife has her ministry commitments on Thursday nights, so it gives me more time in the evenings to complete a workout, cook dinner, and clean-up before my wife gets home at 9:30 PM. Then, I spend time with my wife before she goes to bed.
Fridays should be the days we all meet deadlines and get our work done, so that at 4:30-5:30 we can go blast a quick workout before we even THINK about socializing. This is a day when I hear some of the most excuses. People say things like, “I CAN”T workout today because I have some social activity…” Excuse me, this is an excuse. You CAN workout you’re simply prioritizing your social activity over the workout. Here is a way for you to fix the problem—get your workout in immediately following your work before you even think about hitting up a Happy Hour or driving over to your friends or family’s house. There is nothing going on socially that people can’t wait for and your workout, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, is a higher priority than whatever it is you’re doing that night. If you wanted to do dinner at 6:00 then there’s no reason why you can’t do it at 6:30 instead if it means allowing you the time necessary to run a couple miles on your treadmill. Or, if you really really really wanna be somewhere Friday at 6:00, then force yourself to wake up an hour early and get your workout in before the day begins. Think about it.
I understand everybody’s Saturday is different. Some of you have kids sporting events you gotta get to. Some of you work. Some of you do nothing. Some of you just hop from one spot to the next. This is the day you have to be most creative to make sure you get a good workout in. Again, there are all kinds of excuses that could be made for not working out, so always go into Saturday’s with Ronnie Coleman in the back of your mind, “Everybody wanna be a body builder but nobody wanna lift no heavy weight…” Or, “Everybody wanna be healthy but aint nobody wanna go run round the track…” Or, “Everybody wanna reach they goals but aint nobody wanna play racquetball for 30 minutes on a Saturday or do 17 minutes of Ab Ripper X first thing in the morning…” You get the point.
Sunday’s: I’m exhausted on Sundays. I start at 6:30 and I don’t stop until 7:30. I usually do not work out on these days because quite frankly, working out is not as high of a priority on this day as other things which come up. Also, I’m usually legitimately physically and mentally worn out.
I’d like to point out that mixed into each and every single one of these days for me includes my study for the school program I’m currently in, as well as my top two priorities for the day—prayer and Scripture reading. I’m going to talk at much more length about these priorities tomorrow (Jan. 26th) when I give the Everybody How-To article on theological fitness. For now, I’m trying to hone in on physical fitness.
Step 2: Commit to a goal. Everyone has to figure out what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.
I was an athlete from the day I started Kindergarten. My fitness goals developed naturally from the fact I was a baseball player, a basketball player, a track runner, a football player, and a rugby player. So, my goals depended on the season. In the summers I was preparing for football, but immediately following football I had to get into basketball shape, and from basketball I had to start putting weight back on and also go back to sprinting in short bursts.
When I got out of college and my athletic career was complete my goals changed. I had some health concerns over high blood pressure so I had to increase the amount of distance running I was doing. Once that was under better control, I set goals for myself in powerlifting once again, because powerlifting is my hobby. Powerlifting may NOT be your hobby. Your goal might be losing body fat, or getting into better shape with your endurance, or maybe you have a goal of running a half marathon, or riding your bike 150 miles, or climbing a mountain. WHATEVER YOUR GOAL IS YOU NEED TO COMMIT TO IT!
The beautiful thing about physical fitness is that it is different for every person. Just because I like to lift heavy objects, put them back down, and then pick them back up again doesn’t mean you need to have the same interest. Just because you “have fun” by swimming laps in a pool doesn’t mean I need to be interested in that (I literally have zero interest in doing that). Just because some of you enjoy playing rec league soccer or speed playing a golf course that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. The point is that we need to make a goal and then commit the time necessary to reach the goal.
My goal is burning body fat, staying lower in weight (relatively), and being overall in better physical shape gradually, while also increasing strength. I do this through powerlifting and cardio and IT WORKS! So, I said this is an “Everyman How-To,” and here is what I do-feel free to incorporate it into your weekly routine if it fits your goals and if not then go ahead and just discard it.
Here is an average week at the gym for me:
Flat bench 4X6-rest 60 seconds in between
Pull-ups 4X7- rest 60 seconds in between
Incline dumbbell press 3X10- rest 60 seconds in between
Bent over rows (barbell)- 3X8 rest 60 seconds in between
Standing hiked curls 6×6 and overhead raise with 100 pound plate 6X8—no rests in between
Cardio-light jog for 25 minutes
Barbell deadlift 4X6- 2 minute rest in between
Barbell lunges-heavyweight 4X6- 2 minute rest in between
Squats (low-bar) 3X8- 2 minute rest in between
Leg curl machine 3X8-60 second rest in between
Calf raise machine 4X12 with box raises in between 4X12-no rest
Cardio on stair-stepper for 25 minutes
Maybe take some time to stretch
Maybe go for a walk with your kids or spouse, but for the most part rest that body and take Aspirin if you have any soreness!
Flat bench 5X5-rest 90 seconds (my goal here is to reach peak weight each time)
Rack deadlift into a shrug-6X6- rest 90 seconds
Overhead press superset with EZ curls 8X8-no rests
Cardio-25 minutes jog
Front squats 4X6- rest for 90 seconds
Box step-ups with 45 pound plats in each hand 4X8- rest 60 seconds
Goodmornings 3X6-rest 60 seconds
RDL or stiff-leg deadlifts (whichever you prefer) 3X10-rest 60 seconds
One leg calf raises weighted 4X12
Cardio of your choosing for 25 minutes
Farmers walk-heavy straightaway of the track X 4 –rest 45 seconds
Sled push down straightaway and back on the straightaway 6 sets of 30 meters-60 seconds rest
Rope pull machine (my gym has one yours might not) 90 seconds light setting, 90 seconds one arm, 90 seconds switch arm, 90 seconds as heavy as you can go- rest every 90 seconds for 30 seconds
Kettlebell swings- 4 total sets of 15 heavy
Set 1-regular swings
Set 2-left arm only
Set 2-right arm only
Set 3- Kettlebell bottoms up
You’ll notice I don’t really do abs-they just aren’t a goal of mine + if you eat right and burn big fat by lifting big muscles you should have no problem having at least some abs definition. The only Ab workouts I do are a superset of 4X25 legs-up crunches combined with 4X20 neck rolls, and I do this 3 times a week (M,W,F)
The other elements of my working out include stretching (especially my back) and foam rolling.
Step 3: Commit to healthy eating. You won’t maximize your goal if you don’t make changes in your diet.
This is the hardest step for me as I’m sure it is for many of you. Many Americans are good at saying yes, but we’re not good at saying no—this isn’t good when it comes to our health and fitness goals. This means that yea, you’re going to the gym and doing what you need to do, but when you go home you’re not saying no to what you shouldn’t be taking into your body, and so you’re not really getting much better at reaching your goals. Another thing people don’t understand is that just because you ate one way when you were 20 doesn’t mean you can continue eating that way as you age. Fitness is just as much about sacrifice as it is about service-just as much about not doing as it is about doing.
A little background here… I was an athlete growing up, but my diet was AWFUL! I ate boxed macaroni and cheese and hot dogs on the reg. The problem is that you couldn’t tell my diet was bad by looking at me, but then I got diagnosed with hypertension when I was only 18 and had to go on blood pressure medicine! Even that didn’t help me change my ways, because I wrongly thought since I was still fit and relatively thin I must be doing OK. Well, this all changed when I got married and gained a little bit weight. I went from being about 195 without much effort to being 220, and so I decided I needed to make a change. My goal was not to change so that I weighed less (I’m a powerlifter so a lot of my weight is muscle), but my goal was to drop the body-fat I was carrying around.
In the past 2 months I’ve finally gotten myself to a diet that is healthy, affordable, and practical and here is my current daily eating routine for those of you interested…
8:00 AM: 6 egg whites and some lemon juice
8:30 AM: either a banana or oatmeal
10:30 AM: can of tuna and a protein shake
12:00 PM: one piece of white meat, a carb (quinoa, or rice), and a vegetable with hummus
3:30 PM: a protein shake and 2 sweet potatoes
Before workout: pre-workout
After workout: protein shake
7:00 PM: salad and another piece of meat
The goal here is to get one gram of protein for every pound I weigh. Another goal is to cut out all unnecessary calories (soda, candy, potato chips). It’s wise to just not buy snacks at the grocery store so you don’t eat em! I also drink about 8 fl. Oz. of coffee per day and I don’t even know how much water I drink but I do know it’s a lot. I have a sweet-tooth and I admit I still give in at times, but that’s OK, the point is I’m getting a lot better and this general diet has really helped me build muscle and also decrease body fat.
Well there is the 3 step Everyman How-To for physical fitness. We all can commit time, commit to a goal, and commit to healthy eating. Tomorrow I will focus our minds on an Everybody How-To for theological fitness, and then Chelsea will pick up her article in a couple weeks re-visiting this topic when she tells of her fitness journey and gives her advice for the Everywoman how-to for physical fitness.