My husband Jonny and I were out on a walk last night. It was at dusk and my daughter was laughing and pointing and chitter-chattering in her stroller. A brisk cool evening perfect for a relaxed sunset walk while we chatted about the things that had gone on during the day and what things might happen tomorrow or the next day...While we were walking and talking a man came up quickly and loudly behind us sounding like running trash bags. In fact he also looked like a large running trash bag. He was wearing one of those sauna suits underneath his t-shirt and sweat pants. As he laboriously "ran" past us with the combo sounds of swishing and grunting I turned to my husband with a creased brow of sadness. The man only making it a few more yards past us before stopping and gasping and trying to regroup before heading back off in his labored gait. I have been running for 21 years, I have a section in my library devoted entirely to running(training for races, eating habits of a runner, preventing running related injuries, and other science about running), I am the person who gets giddy when the new Runner's World Magazine shows up in the mailbox, and I can't help talking/blogging/thinking about it. I am also a gatherer of information(sometimes useless, sometimes valuable) and throughout all these years attentive to the subject of running I have learned what works and what doesn't work for weight loss through running.

Have you ever seen boxers in the movies wearing sweats while running or training in the sweltering heat, sweat dripping from their brows, noses and chins? They often are trying to drop a great amount of weight just before a fight so that they can qualify for a lower weight class. This means a day before a fight they will sweat and sweat to lose sometimes 10 to 15 pounds in one day. One day! A normal person trying to lose weight with a nutritionist or trainer at a gym would be advised to plan on loosing 1 pound per week, meaning it would take 15 weeks or almost 4 months to loose that same amount of weight.

This is what made me sad about this sweat-suited man last night. He was obviously not moving with the ease of someone who has logged in hours of running. He also didn't have the build of a boxer. So why was he killing himself like that?

The 10-15 pounds that a boxer might loose the day before a fight is water weight. It's an illusion of weight loss because the moment you begin to drink fluids again your body absorbs all of those fluids back up and you are back at square one. This means on Monday you might weigh 170 pounds, Tuesday (after sweat-suiting it) 155 and then Wednesday (after returning to normal liquid intake) you'd be back to 170. For someone trying to lose weight for a healthier, slimmer lifestyle this type of weight loss would be pointless much less dangerous, difficult, painful and draining.

I see people constantly doing this with their lives. They have some wrong that they are trying to lose or get rid of and they go to huge shortcut extremes to get rid of it. These extremes end up being unproductive and ultimately putting them right back where they started but now with the added disillusionment that they can never be changed. Being healthy, both physically and spiritually, takes time and hard work. I spend hours even when I don't want to and even when it is hard to make it out the door running and running because I know of the benefits it has in the long run. I spend time in the word or in prayer or listening to teaching of the word or studying because I know that it not only makes me healthier in the short term but also in the long term. Knowing more about Jesus today and why He came, helps me slough off the excess weight of sin, whether anger, bitterness, self-pity, lust, deceit, greed or pride, tomorrow...and the next day...and the next. I hope that some day I can see myself standing before the Father with the thin frame of someone unhindered by that baggage because I was willing to put in the hard work for the long term instead of looking for the quick fix of a sweat-suit.

Hebrews 12:1,2

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.

Posted on January 25, 2011 and filed under Anything and Everything, Running and Ruminating.