Back when I read Born to Run (and loved it!) one of the most important lessons I learned was just one sentence in the book where the author is ready to start eating better in order to run better. He has been carrying around some extra weight and his trainer tells him that as he keeps increasing his miles, his diet will work itself out, but the author wants to start making dietary changes now. He decides to start eating salads for breakfast as a first step in his transformation. He writes:
"I have a cyclist friend who dumps his water bottles before riding uphill; if twelve ounces slowed him down, it wasn't hard to calculate what thirty pounds of spare tire were doing to me."
12 ounces! Such a tiny amount and something that a less skilled cyclist wouldn't even worry about. And salads for breakfast! That sounds extreme to my eggy ways. But he was determined to make a change, and he did. I think about this little lesson all the time when I'm running. How much easier would it be to run without carrying around this baby weight (can I still call it that even though my baby is 15 months old?) It's not that I'm berating myself, I really wonder what it would feel like to run at 10 to 15 pounds lighter. I think I could go much longer and faster and I want to be in that body already! But, what am I doing about it? I'm not eating salads for breakfast. I'm not denying myself that third dessert on Thanksgiving. How badly do I really want it?
I follow this mom on Instagram, Biceps After Babies, who is super fit and inspiring and smart. One of her posts really struck a chord with me. She said people come up to her all the time, saying that they want to be able to do pull ups like she can. Great, she thinks, but what are you doing about it? Such a simple truth that makes you think. I have literally said that I wish I could do pull ups, wish I could run at a faster pace, wish I could do 50 push ups in a row. But then I don't actually do anything to get me to that goal. How can I want to improve physically yet not want to do the work that's required?
I was telling all of this to Phil and he (because he is the best) pointed out that it is exactly the same with our spiritual life. We can desire to become holier, kinder, more generous and loving people who end up as saints in Heaven one day, but what are we doing about it? Are we taking the baby steps required to move forward or just sitting with our bag of sinfully delicious Doritos wishing for a change? Are we willing to dump even the smallest conveniences from our life to earn the next?
I think this Advent is a great time to look inward and truly ask myself if I'm on the right track in ALL areas of my life. And then instead of wishing for a different outcome, actually make the changes to get there. There's a reason we are called practicing Catholics, because much like elite athletes, it takes a whole life time of practice and training to make it to the glorious finish line.