Friday, November 29, 2013

It's Time to Shape Up

"Diet." "Exercise." I have no affinity for these words, whether alone or in combination. My work and interests are mostly sedentary. Putting all of this together, it will not surprise you to learn that I am obese. I have only my Maker and good genes to thank for the fact that I don't suffer from high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease.

There are many good reasons to shape up, but I have not found those reasons compelling. Sure, I'd like to be lean and fit...but the price of fitness is more than I've been willing to pay. Even the Christian "your body is the temple of God" argument has held little weight with me, as in my understanding that verse is in the context of consorting with prostitutes, perhaps even pagan temple prostitutes, and not physical fitness. As for physical health, with Paul I say with faith, "for me to live is Christ and to die is gain." I know of too many Christians who have been beaten, tortured, and killed for their faith to believe that our health and safety is a top priority for God, and so it has not been a top priority for me.

In other words, I in my own way (like most) am a hypocrite. I, who am investing significantly in preparing to safely survive any number of emergencies and disasters, have not balanced any of that with a concern for the physical fitness that may be required.

Imagine the level of physical fitness for which various scenarios might call. What could you add to this list?
  • Carrying home a 58-pound 7-gallon Aquatainer of water
  • Running away from angry rioters
  • Running away from looters intent on possessing my gear or goods
  • Walking home to San Diego from Orange County or even farther
  • Climbing a tree or climbing over a fence to escape a wild dog
  • Bugging out on foot with 50 pounds of gear and supplies
  • Trying to protect my home from an out-of-control fire raging through the neighborhood
  • Carrying an unconscious loved one to safety
  • Clearing debris from people trapped below
  • Building a rudimentary log shelter
  • Swimming against the current to shore
  • Building a sandbag barrier against water or attack
  • Pushing a car a few blocks
Well, realization of this personal inconsistency--this fly in the ointment of my integrity--has slowly but surely manifested itself in my thoughts and in my heart. I imagined people ridiculing me for my talking and talking about getting ready, all the while blind to a basic sense in which I was far from getting ready. I accepted that something should change, that I should get in better shape. And ultimately I decided that I would--finally--buckle down and discipline myself to shape up.

I'm not aiming real high, but I am aiming to be in good enough shape to be of credible use in an emergency. I'm not just losing weight, but also gaining the strength and dexterity to climb that tree or carry that container of water. I'm in better shape now than a month ago, and that's fine with me--if I can keep on being more fit and less obese each month than the month before, in this arena too I am now getting ready.

Personally, I'm working out at home with the assistance of exercise DVD's. Sometimes I go outside and ride my bike for half an hour or so instead. I've tried going to the gym but that didn't work for me; I felt I was wasting too much time in travel and extra showering. At home, I can wake up earlier than I used to and work out before taking my morning shower--satisfyingly efficient for me. But if you want to get into shape, you should find something that works for you. Consider some activities that will help you to get physically ready for disaster:
  • Ballroom dancing
  • Running
  • Working out in a gym
  • Weight lifting
  • Bicycle riding
  • Rowing
  • Time on an eliptical machine or a stationary bike
  • A martial art
  • A sport such as racquetball or basketball
  • A pastime such as hiking or rock climbing
  • A class such as aerobics or Pilates
If it hasn't worked for you before, it's not real likely to work for you this time, either. Spend some time pondering why you aren't in shape already (I wrestled with this mentally for weeks). Be honest with yourself about the price you're willing to pay, and try to come up with a plan that you will follow.

I've also tried diets before, and they worked; pounds would come off while I dieted, and come back on when I went back to eating the way I usually do. This time I'm trying not to diet, but rather to change just a couple of habits: I'm focusing on avoiding sugar and starches. This is just something I'm trying to do in an effort to change my momentum from being in incrementally worse shape each year to being in measurably better shape each month. I find it kinda weird that prepping is what has finally given me the motivation to make a change in my life.

So far, so good.

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