Today I’m happy to welcome Tim Fall back to the blog for a guest post! Thank you, Tim!
I’ve known for a while that working out can take the edge off my hunger. Now there’s research
that explains why. I won’t go into the details, but this short article gives a good explanation of the
chemicals released by exercise and what our brains do in response. It also suggests that eating
heavily after exercising may be more a function of our mind having certain expectations than our
body signaling it needs more fuel.
The Mind and the Stomach
The explanations in that article sounded familiar to me. I finish a workout and think that I
need to replace what I’ve expended. That sounds good in theory. But the replacement can be
completely out of proportion to the expenditure. After all, as one researcher points out, running 40 minutes at a 9 min/mile pace burns about 450 calories, and there are 500 calories ina Starbucks Venti Mocha Frappucino (with whole milk and whipped cream).
All righty then. No mocha frappucinos for me, venti or otherwise. (And by the way, am I the
only one who refuses to use words like grande, venti, etc., when ordering coffee? Good thing I
prefer to get coffee at Peet’s.) A lot of people fall into this mindset of thinking they can take in
a meal – or treat themselves to something – larger than the workout justifies. But it’s just that, a
mindset. It’s not the body talking.
The Mind and the Flesh
Reading that article reminded me of Romans 7, where Paul describes the battle he has with sin:
Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s
law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me
a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! (Romans 7:21-24.)
Paul’s dilemma is one we all face. God’s law demands perfect obedience (James 2:10) and we are
incapable of meeting that standard. (Romans 3:23.) He rightly calls himself wretched, and then
points us to our deliverance:
Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me
through Jesus Christ our Lord! … Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in
Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free
from the law of sin and death. (Romans 7:24-25, 8:1-2.)
And in case his readers were unclear on what “the law of the Spirit who gives life” looks like in
contrast to “the law of sin and death,” he explains:
Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever
loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You
shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command
there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does
no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Romans 13:8-10.)
I think it’s clear that Paul is telling us not to get hung up on following legal requirements
like the 10 Commandments, or even whether we are giving enough (after all, he does use the
word “debt”). Every legal requirement there is is fulfilled by one thing:
For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Following the Ruler Instead of the Rules
I like rules. Tell me what they are and at least I know what’s expected. I also hate rules because
being able to keep them is impossible.
That is the problem with the exercise and eating thing. People will tell you the rules they insist
must be followed – eat before/eat after, hydrate while running/don’t drink a thing during a run,
load up on carbs before a workout/protein loads after a workout are important, etc. None of us
can follow them with perfect obedience.
And as we saw in Romans, this applies to spiritual matters as well. I think that’s why the Bible
tells us not to encumber ourselves with rules but to focus on the Ruler. When we do, the burden
of the rules falls away and we race along with Jesus.
Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with
perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of
faith. (Hebrews 12:1-2.)
Now that’s a workout that gets results.
Check out Tim’s blog at http://timfall.wordpress.com/