2018 is in full swing it seems. We’re one week down, and this is usually when the rubber meets the road on resolutions. If you’ve never read through Jonathan Edwards’ Resolutions, now’s a good time to do so. But, I’m not going to be talking about them, or that I’m reading The Religious Affections and got the whole set of his collected works for a steal at Logos a few months back (but do look for a review of this book soon).
Well over a month ago, I wrote about how far behind I was on posting reviews. I’d like to say that’s changed since then, but the holidays came and went and now here we are. At least you know the best books I read in 2017, and that I have numerous piles of unread books.
You also might remember I mentioned a TheoFit challenge back at the beginning of December. That didn’t go particularly well. However, I’ve lost 6 pounds since January 1st, so I’d say the current 12-week cut is going well.
I mention these together because I realized the failure related to both was connected. It’ll take me a minute to tie it all together to bear with me…
In essence, I look at accumulating extra weight and having books that I’ve read but not commented on as the same. They are both types of either over consumption, or consumption without proper exercise. When it comes to dieting, it’s not that I haven’t been exercising for the past few years, it’s that I’ve just been eating too much. Likewise, the reason I haven’t been posting reviews isn’t because I haven’t been reading. I’ve just been over consuming.
Moving forward, I decided that I need better sustainable healthy habits. This in terms of both eating and exercise, and the mental version of those, reading and writing. I wouldn’t say this is a New Year’s resolution, although I am fond of those (read this from last year, and this from an earlier year).
I like the opportunity to reflect and refresh each year around Christmas and New Years. As a teacher, there is a natural break that occurs around this time. And as someone living in a state different than where I grew up, I usually have a road trip on my horizon sometime in November/December to sort out thoughts and hit the reset button on life.
My recent trip up to Knoxville to see my parents did just that. Ali wasn’t able to go because of work conflicts, so I had 10 hours in my car twice and the better part of the week in a new/old environment. I spent a good bit of the mornings at the Starbucks I used to work at, tying up end of the year loose ends and thinking ahead.
It proved helpful to evaluate goals and routines and think about how I could tweak the current one and establish a better rhythm. I’ve been thinking as well in terms of a “rule of life” ever since I read Mike Cosper’s Recapturing the Wonder. I’ll unpack that in a different post, but the short version is that a rule of life is kind of a manifesto for how you’re going to divide up the time you’ve been given. Because of that it has concentric circles that cover hourly, daily, weekly, and annual rhythms. I’m still working out the details on that, but here’s I’ve at least gotten the outer framework together.
Which brings us back to TheoFit. I realized that I didn’t need a diet per se, but a new rhythm of life when it came to eating and exercising. The best way to get in lean muscular shape is to alternate between a cut and a bulk every 12 weeks. That’s to say 12 weeks you’re aiming for a 20% calorie deficit, and then the next 12 weeks you’re in a 10% calorie surplus.
I realized that this rhythm would work well if I framed it in terms of months rather than weeks and started the cut January 1st. So, for January, February, and March I’m a cutting phase. This means consuming less, and so I thought I’d import that mentality into other areas. This would mean practicing frugality in terms of spending, and focusing on writing more than reading. I’m also thinking of it in terms of working harder and longer hours on projects like support raising, as well as house projects that have been overlooked.
The next three months, April, May, and June, would be a bulk and so I could focus on consuming more and relaxing a bit more than a single Sabbath. This works out well since it encompasses Ali’s birthday month, as well as the end of the school year when life is rather hectic on its own and maintaining a cut is more difficult.
Then, in July, I’d switch back to a cut, which will helpfully overlap with the beginning of the school, which means after a bit of a break in June, I’d be re-focused and leaning (get it?) into a new school year. Finally, the year would end with a bulk, which is helpful since the last three months include Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This also works well if we think of cutting and bulking in terms of pouring out and being filled. I tend to think of social activities, especially as related to ministry, in this way. So, in this scheme I’m “pouring out” on the front end of semesters, which is when students have more time on their hands anyway. It’s also when it’s more important to establish and build relationships. During the beginnings of breaks, I’ll naturally be back on a “being filled” time, which will help me recharge in order to be more available by the start of the next semester. In the midst of that, I’ll be able to be present for graduations and holidays, but it’ll be in a season of renewal.
In terms of practicality then, this all means that up until Easter, I’m eating less and moving more. I’m reading less and catching up on reviews and other article ideas. And I’m meeting up with students and trying to be more intentionally social. We’ll see how it all goes, but I’m excited to work into this rhythm and see how God works in the process.