Exercising first time in 20 years: St Paul putting respect of the body in context


It’s always a good idea to see the doctor when taking up a program of exercise. So I did. He said, as expected, that 90% of any exercise program is diet, only 10% exercise. The diet thing is all about calories, he said. I agree. I’m starting that today, finally, finally following up on this post: Stop! Look! Mountains to climb!

In Rome, twenty some years ago, a tourist bus from Greece ran a red light and picked me off, totally shattering my left leg. Operations, wheelchairs, crutches. After that, I alternated between studies and teaching and pastoral activities, but never making any serious attempt at exercise, letting the bus be my excuse not to do so, what with the leg now sporting many pounds of surgical metal. But now I’m sick of being totally out of shape.

I have a simple program to aim at (I didn’t make it up), involving a sprint, a “long distance” run, sit-ups and push-ups. There is a bare minimum of accomplishment for these things. That’s what I’m aiming at right now. This is the very first time, mind you. The sit-ups left my abs churning madly. The push-ups were laughable. The sprint was more of a jog. The run was a run-walk:

  • Missed the 300 meter sprint by 9 seconds
  • Missed the 1.5 mile run by 1 minute and 17 seconds, but I did finish
  • Missed getting all the sit-ups in 60 seconds by 11
  • Missed getting all the push-ups in 60 seconds by 3

Normally, this might be considered a heart-attack waiting to happen, but it’s said that my heart is in perfect shape. So, O.K. But, really, how out of shape can one be? My legs seemed not to exist underneath me. It seemed to take forever to cool down. Today, better. And that’s good feedback.

I did do everything right after the run:

  • Put on supportive sandals
  • Did some light activities, in this case, “playing with guns” as my internet stalker says (actually keeping up with precision usage of tools). This was actually more difficult than I thought, so destroyed was I by the exercise.
  • Refueled the right way with the neighbors of the hermitage: turkey toes[!], collards, mashed potatoes… Well, one fail: ice cream for the ordination anniversary ;-)

I hear that it’s also important not to shortchange a recovery day, today. Just some situps and pushups and setting up a pre-start pre-program for the quadriceps right above the knees, which of anything are in the worst possible shape ever.


I’m starting slowly. If any of you have been through this and have some advice, let me know. I know that pacing is necessary. Persistence is necessary. Diet is the most important.


Saint Paul supports exercise somewhat, but in context and rightly prioritized:

“Train yourself for devotion, for, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future. This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance. For this we toil and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the savior of all, especially of those who believe. Command and teach these things.” (1 Timothy 4:7-11 nab)

God did give us our bodies, so we should take care of them, but not for any moralistic reason like that, but out of love (it is of value however limited), that is, because our bodies, as Saint Paul also says, are members of Christ, are to be temples of the Holy Spirit, with us offering our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, our spiritual worship, always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.


Filed under Diet, Exercise

4 responses to “Exercising first time in 20 years: St Paul putting respect of the body in context

  1. Milded

    ‘Mountains to climb’ ..I’m just beginning again , also. Because I am so-o-o weak and I know I’m undisciplined I will be looking for inspiration from you, so gun-ho Father, s l o w l y. Of course you have AGE on your side as I’m (81-our secret).

  2. Fr. C

    Just counting calories is NOT the answer. I learned this the hard way. It’s ALL about carbs! Cut the carbs, you lose weight.

    • Father George David Byers

      What about my beloved pasta and bread and potato soup and potato chips and like all that there?

  3. Nan

    You need to break up with those beloveds.

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