In some ways, my journey back to the body began in my early 40s, when doctrinal Christianity started to lose its meaning for me. There’s only so much energy you can put into polishing your theology. While other people still seemed interested in arguing over the finer points of doctrine, I got bored with that. With that boredom came the realization that my Christianity was mostly a cerebral thing. Desperate to find meaning in the faith that had been so important to me, I turned to more monastic practices of ritual prayer, silence, and meditation. I started making rosaries and chanting. I started sitting in the woods behind our church and listening. Anything I could do to get my body involved in the practice of my faith. I found that cerebral faith exercises, like obsessive theology polishing, tend to lead me toward doubt and despair. But body practices tend to calm me down and bring me joy.
Then I met an episcopal priest who used to play college baseball. I had the crazy idea that we should get together and play catch once a week while talking about the lectionary texts for the upcoming Sunday. I loved it. Unfortunately he moved away and I never found a suitable replacement. I was desperate enough that I bought a box of baseballs and went to the middle school diamond where I threw them from second base into the backstop behind home plate. Then I’d run around the bases and do it all over again.
I think I was looking for something. Some unconscious impulse was getting me ready for what was to come. And then I started seeing this infomercial on television:
I’m embarrassed as hell to admit it, but this informercial hooked me. I didn’t want to become obsessed with my body. But I liked the idea of a 90 day “boot camp” kind of experience that I could use to spring into a new way of living. I thought I could commit to just about anything for 90 days.
Still, it was an infomercial so I didn’t do anything about it. I just kept watching it and feeling bad about how out of shape I was. Then I ran into Reggie Freakin Regan. I hadn’t seen him in a couple of months. He had lost 20 pounds and looked great. I asked what he was doing and said “It’s a program called P90X.”
That was it. I decided it was a sign. If you used to read my old blog you know that Reggie Freakin Regan is my hero. He can do anything. It’s not just that he CAN do anything. He actually does stuff. Builds things and invents things and fixes broken things and saves lives and shit.
I talked to Jeanene about it, and she said she was in, which was cool because we’d be doing it together. We bought the program and spent about a month reading the instructions and making plans. If you try this, I HIGHLY recommend not rushing into it. You’re looking at a major exercise and diet commitment. We examined the diet and made plans for how we would eat. I bought a chin-up bar and some dumbbells. We had a couple of yoga mats from sometime in the past where we thought we were going to start doing yoga but, of course, never did.
The whole thing was scary as HELL. The diet was more frightening than the exercise. I mean, it’s food. How and what we eat is so deeply tied to our comfort. But my biggest fear was failure. I kept thinking that if I couldn’t do this now, I never would. I was 49. It wasn’t going to get any easier.
We set a date on the calendar to begin. Then I got scared and found some reason to delay it. But finally that first Monday morning came.