By Mike Short
Are you still on the fence about getting fit and changing your life? I get it. It can seem like just another thing to fit into your already overflowing schedule, and really, who has time for that?
Most of us have a ton of reasons why not… I’m too fat, slow, tired, busy, and unmotivated… just to name a few. After all, a lifestyle change can demand some key things in our life, such as effort, money and our most important asset… time!
So I’d like to throw out a few reasons for even starting this journey which will hopefully help you find your why.
Our Bodies are a Gift
The Church tells us that our bodies are a gift. And no, not to women (I knew you were going there). Our bodies are a gift from God and they are referred to as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19) in Sacred Scripture.
How, you may wonder, can this stinky, hairy, balding thing we call our bodies be so special? Well, because God has revealed to us that we are made in His image and likeness. We are made to reflect our Creator in and through our bodies. God made a man’s body to communicate in some way His dispositions like courage, fortitude, and temperance.
Have you ever wondered why as children (or even now) we were drawn to muscle bound super heroes like Superman or He-Man? We are seeing though their bodies the power they possess.
There is just something manly and bad a** about these figures who were strong and tough (“By the Power of Grayskull!”). These character’s bodies reflected their desire to fight for the good, not to mention it showed their likely ability to pull out a can on the evil one…insert villains name here.
To express the importance of our bodies, our Lord didn’t come to us as a spirit. He took on human flesh and lived quietly as you and I do for 30 years. Think about that. For 30 years he grew, ate, slept, cried, toiled, scrubbed, laughed, ran, and jumped. He fell, bled, was bruised and scraped. His face was kissed, His lips returned the kiss to His Mother. He knelt in the dirt to pray, walked on long journeys to the Temple, and learned carpentry skills with His hands from His Father.
His ordinary existence was so good that for 30 whole years He lived in His flesh, true God and true Man before His time came. It was only the last three years when he began His ministry, again using His body to cure the sick, raise the dead, and open the eyes of the blind. He taught us all the body means something, the body is good and important, and the ordinary work of the body is real, manly work.
We can see this clearly in our rich Catholic faith. Our faith is a very sensual one, meaning that we encounter God through our senses. We pray in the sun drenched light beaming through stained glass windows. We hear the church bells summon us to Mass and again they draw our attention to the climax of the Mass, the consecration. We smell the aroma of incense being burned to reflect our prayers going up to heaven.
All of these practices reflect greater realities through the things that we can see, smell, hear and feel. In this same way our bodies are to reflect and bring to others the life of our Creator. With this understanding, we can begin to look with aww at the human person and see that taking care of this great gift is important and pleasing to Him.
Scripture also teaches us of this manly strength through kingship. In 2 Samuel, Chapter 11, it says “at the turn of the year, the time when kings go to war.”
You see, the biblical understanding of kingship is much different than what comes to mind when I think of a king from my American influenced perspective. When I think of a king, I just see a pompous, fluffy, arrogant guy who’s only concerned with power and pampering his senses.
However, kings described in the Bible fought for their people, they were the tip of the spear! At some point in our lives we all take on the role of kingship… whether it’s at work or especially in our families if you’re called to be a husband and father. The biblical vision of kingship provides us with the proper understanding of leadership and strength that we’re all called to take up.
Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lord’s, shows us fully what true kingship is about and what it means to possess manly strength. Consider for a moment the amount of strength Our Lord exhibited when he carried the cross up to Mount Golgatha.
According to the Catholic Education Resource Center, an independent scholar named Charles Rohault de Fleury found that the cross Our Lord carried and dragged uphill weighed about 220 pounds!
After being beaten and scourged nearly to death, Our Lord possessed extraordinary physical strength when He carried the heavy wooden beam up to the place where He would lay down his life for us. He willed each strenuous step for you and me… by name. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15: 13).
Men have an innate competitive spirit, I think it’s in our DNA. We’re designed for reward and competing to obtain that reward goes hand in hand. Fitness is a good outlet to regain that fun competitive edge that we all yearn for.
Whether you’re competing with yourself to break your personal record for maximum push-ups in a minute, or competing with friends during a workout when they come over to your new garage gym, men thrive in these environments where there is competition and physical tasks.
Our world is replete with unhealthy distractions… starting with our mobile phones. Fitness, on the other hand, is a healthy distraction which can help you take your mind off the stressful day to day rat race and will help you with energy, focus, and stamina.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a common pitfall that we can run into once we start seeing results and changes in our physique. We have the tendency to allow the gift to eclipse the giver.
This can be seen throughout the fitness culture when people make significant changes and begin taking care of their bodies. It becomes easy to forget that our bodies, and our lives, are indeed gifts and we must not forget our purpose of reflecting the Giver through them.
So now it’s time for you to decide. What is your why?