Two years ago yesterday I sat in a flourescently lit room, as a seemingly unreally fit (in the sense of the word that existed before ten years ago) noted down my goals. "Errr.. lose three stone" I heard myself say. "When by?" came the reply. "Easter".
And so began a journey. The day I nearly bought a breadmaker. I used the money (and then some) to invest in some personal training sessions, and my life changed. At the risk of sounding like I am writing for a health magazine I should put some flesh around that statement.
Let me start with the raw facts.
I have lost 80lbs in weight. Thats about 36 kilos. Five stone and 10 pounds.
I have lost about 14 inches off my broadest parts! In some areas I have lost 5 dress sizes, in others just three.
I have gone from being obese to be healthy in BMI terms.
I have gone from not being able to walk up two flights of stairs without puffing to being able to run a half marathon.
What the raw facts don't tell is the story, because aside from being a different shape and size I feel like I have actually changed in my soul somehow. Not all of it is good: but we will come to that.
Lets start with the good stuff. I was talking to my Bishop about this as a discipleship mechanism: for in it I have learned a tenacity which nothing else has ever taught me. I'm clever so I never really had to work hard in school or at uni to get by. It made it easy for me to never have to do anything that taxed me. If it got hard I would give up and do something else. In training (especially in running) I have learned that you can't do that if you want to get better. I learned that I have to push through when I think I can't. I learned that most barriers are simply in my head not in my body.
I learned to push through and get better gradually. I learned that sometimes you just have to grind it out. I remember trying to get to the elusive 3km of running mark. I was so bored. It felt so slow.. But I got there. I picked up ways of alleviating boredom (one of my most disturbing traits is how quickly I get bored). And weirdly I went from 3k to 10 in about three weeks.
I learned that talent is no replacement for training. I am naturally pretty adept at sport. I mourn a bit that I could have been very good if I had been prepared to train when I was younger. Instead I relied on just raw talent.. there's a lesson for me about gifting and character.
I learned that its good for me to have something concrete to aim for.
Which leads me to the downsides.
Life is not wholly like training. Making disciples certainly isn't. And leading churches (institutional or otherwise) often seems to bear no resemblance at all. You see training teaches me that by sheer hard work I can do anything. But thats not the nature of church leadership. Hard work is important. Pushing through is. But you cannot expect results to just deliver themselves as they do in training.
Because people and God are not like that. And when we think they are we miss something. I can't just make targets and think that hard work will get me there.
But this could run the risk of getting existential..
Other bad/ odd things..
My feet have changed shape. Not in a bad way but I used to have really cute curly toes and all the running has splayed them out.
I get a weird joy in buying clothes that are sized according to your Body Mass Index.
I love that bit of training (normally on the wave machine which I hated at first) where the sweat begins to drip into your eyes- because then you know you are working really hard.
BUt mainly there are a love of things that I love.. here are just some.
I love getting out to run before the sun rises on a really cold day. I love the steam that rises off your hat as you pound the streets.
A bit of me loves it when someone starts to copy what you are doing at the gym.
I love the gym.
I love running on trails where you have to watch like a hawk where you are going but you get to leap and spring and feel like a mountain goat (don't think about that too much).
I love it when a run feel more comfortable after thirty minutes than it did after five.
I love that I can run round the parish and offer it in prayer (sort of).
I love that I get to wave at parishioners as I go by.
I love that I can walk into nearly any shop and buy clothes off the peg.
I love that if I stay this shape I will have to put on fat when I'm 40 to be healthy!
I love that its not done yet!
And on that note.. I shall end, for now.