By Kris Alan Higdon
Over the past six months I have been dieting and started running, OK, well jogging (at best), again.
During this time I have also grown substantially in my faith. One thing that I have learned over the last six months is the importance of slowing down — isn’t it ironic (in an Alanis Morissette sort of way) that someone who is focusing on running is worried about slowing down? Slowing down and taking the time to be prayerful and thoughtful is something that is next to impossible in this world. But that very thing is the only way I can grow in my faith life and grow in my leisure life.
One of the utmost joys I am re-discovering about running is the inability to lie to myself.
Back more than a decade ago when I was running regularly I could always tell when I didn’t eat properly or didn’t stay on my jogging schedule. Out on the road my body would let me know in no uncertain terms when I hadn’t been doing what I was supposed to be doing leading up to that day’s jog. On the flip side, my body would reward me when I did eat well and stayed on schedule — I would feel incredible during and after runs, I would get faster and be able to go farther.
In the years before I first started jogging in the 90′s and the time between when I fell away and now, I found it all too easy to lie to myself.
In the beginning I would lie to myself that taking a few days, a some weeks, then a couple of months off wouldn’t hurt and I could get right back to where I was. However, the times I would actually get back out on the road would be so difficult – read, not as easy as I had been telling myself — that it would multiply my frustration and cause me to not run more. Rather than realizing I needed to scale back, slow down and pick up from less than where I was, I would get frustrated and fool myself into believing that I might as well go longer between runs and eat/drink whatever I wanted because it was going to be hard either way. Of course this only caused more difficulties and less jogging.
I would lie to myself that I wasn’t getting fatter. No matter how much I ate and drank, I could lie to myself that it wasn’t having an impact on my waistline or my health. Even when my cloths started “shrinking” I could fool myself.
My favorite trick was, and still is, to fool myself into believing that I could devour whatever I wanted now and I would “make up for it later.” Of course, the payback part never came — you know, those things that always get in the way of doing what you are supposed to do but don’t want to do: friends, food, TV and any other visceral item that came along — and I would continue to “borrow” against the future.
When I did actually do something like dishes, vacuuming, or even the smallest physical exertion I would (in my mind) burn a lot more calories than what it did in reality. Sometimes I would use vacuuming to account for bad eating habits in the past and would allow me to gorge myself at a buffet that same day. I was exceptional at lying to myself.
I still fight that same battle. I fight it with my eating. I fight it with my exercise. I fight it in my spiritual life. I fight it in every facet of my life. I pray every day that God gives me the grace to, as Blessed John Paul II so beautifully said, “Be Still.” My soul craves the stillness — God is found in the stillness and my heart longs for God.
Kris Alan Higdon is a lawyer in El Dorado, Ark.