Today is January 2 which means that many people are taking the first steps in carrying out their New Year’s Resolutions. Like a lot of people, I’ve made a resolution to get in better physical shape. My goal is to go from 220 pounds to 190. Today is the first day I’m starting towards this goal. Since I am 68 years old, I already know how difficult it is to lose weight and to keep it off. Indeed, I have failed in this a lot more than I have been successful. However, I believe that 2019 will be a year in which I succeed.
You might be wondering how I plan to do this? First, I’m going to cut as much sugar as possible out of my diet. The reason for this is two-fold: I’m boarder-line diabetic and that, and the weight loss, will help get rid of this condition. Plus, I’ve been diagnosed with prostrate cancer and cancer grows on sugar. I don’t care to feed the cancer if I can help it. Second, I’m going back on the Mayo Clinic diet, which, in the past, helped me lose 40 pounds. (It’s taken me nine years to gain back 25 of the lost pounds.) Finally, I will increase my walking, exercise and include weight lifting 3 days a week.
The second question you may ask is why would I do this? Let me assure you it has nothing to do with getting my beach body ready for the up-coming summer. (I like the country-western song, I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore. Losing a few pounds won’t help much at this age.) Nor do I plan to beat up the bullies who, when I go to the beach, have been kicking sand in my face. I’m doing this for three reasons. The first one has to do with my health. It’s important for me to live longer than Harriet. If I get seriously ill or die before she does, who will take care of her? I’m sure you’ve heard the story of the guy who decided to get in shape so that he would live longer. He quit smoking, cut back on drinking and fatty foods, and started exercising every day. It all came together for him and he got in the best shape of his life. However, one day he was jogging down the street and got run over and killed by a cigarette truck. This little story reminds us that there are no guarantees. You can do everything right and still die sooner than you hoped. But getting in shape will increase the odds that I will indeed live longer than she does.
The second reason why I need to get in better shape has to do with some of the tasks Caregivers need to do. When Harriet gets to stage three, I will have to help her get around. The seminars I’ve watched, books and articles I’ve read, all speak about helping loved ones in stage three get in and out of bed, go to the bathroom, and into the shower. If it is necessary for the loved one to go somewhere in the car, they need help getting in and out of it. I realize that, to be able to do this without injuring myself, I will need some training. This will be difficult even if I am in good shape, but impossible if I’m not.
Finally, I struggle with depression, which, if I’m not careful, goes right into despair. Despair is an absence of hope and without hope there is no strength for the day. In the same way that we need oxygen to live we also need hope. What good will I be to Harriet if I am paralyzed by a deep depression. Vigorous physical exercise helps lift depression.
I have learned that Spiritual exercise also helps lift depression. Saint Paul writes that we should, “Give thanks in all circumstances,” and “Rejoice in the Lord always,” He also says that we shouldn’t be, “anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer, and supplication, with acts of thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God. And the peace of God, which exceeds all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Paul writes these words as he sits on death row waiting to be decapitated for following Jesus. When our youngest son was in prison I went into a deep depression. In spite of this, every morning I would go into the sanctuary, pray and sing songs of praise. I didn’t feel like praising the Lord, or even want to, it was just how I’ve started my day since I became a pastor in 1985. There were many days when I would be singing, and the Holy Spirit would fill my heart with joy and hope. I believe that this was the only reason I never became suicidal. Physical and spiritual exercise will be an important part of my 2019 plans.
The Psalmist writes that, “The wise person sees trouble coming and prepares for it while as the foolish person continues on without thought.” People who have already been involved as a caregiver for their loved ones, have been warning me of trouble that lies in the future. These are days of preparation. Pray that I will have the wisdom, strength, and discipline to keep this New Year’s resolution. Pray that the Lord will allow me to stay in good health and to live longer than Harriet. Thank you for your continued prayers and support. May God bless you, in every way possible, in 2019.