I love myths. They are fun to me. This wild and wacky fitness world provides us with a LOT of myths and the problem lies in the fact people believe them. Quite frankly, sometimes I get caught up in the myths. It is very easy to do with all the magazines, fitness gurus and my favorite the internet trainers, dispelling all this wonderful information to the world. EVERYONE is an expert these and its hard to decipher what is correct and what is not. And truth be told, there are no absolutes, sometimes it just depends. So, let us take a stroll down my four favorite nutritional myths, shall we?
If you eat after a certain time, it turns to fat
This one is predominant and would be willing most people believe this. There is no clock on your stomach that says after 8pm everything that is eaten will go straight to your fat cells. It is a fallacy. For example I eat after 10pm (because of my long days and nights) nearly everyday. I workout late at night and my body needs fuel to repair my muscles and replace what was lost. If this myth were true, people in different time zones would be in massive trouble. Its not so we are all safe. However, people who tend to have a regular schedule (eat dinner around 6pm) who cut off their snacking or eating before 8pm tend to take in less calories and do not tend eat out of boredom. However, there is nothing wrong with having a protein shake or some type of protein packed food prior to bed time. In fact, it can be very beneficial while you sleep.
Cholesterol causes heart disease
It has not been until recently that this has been questioned. Most, for a long period of time, have been under the assumption that cholesterol had a significant impact on the increase of heart disease. Now that is starting to be questioned http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mark-hyman/why-cholesterol-may-not-b_b_290687.html. The fact that 75% of people who have heart attacks have a normal cholesterol (whatever that means) damn near debunks this myth. If I had to put something in jail as the culprit for the rise of heart attacks and heart disease, I’d lock up sugar. There you have it.
Eating less calories means I will lose more weight
False. False. False. In the short term this could work, in the long term this will cause metabolic turmoil and can cause you to gain weight because your metabolism is screwed up. We are predesigned to be grazers and eat periodically, even though we had to “eat what we killed” we still snacked on fruits vegetables. My advice, do not play the calorie game, eat whole foods and give your body what it needs to survive. 1200 calories or less or anyone is not going to make that happen.
Whole grain bread is better than white bread
Not necessarily. There is a minute difference in the following: color, fiber and micronutrient content. But this is minute. Even thought white bread goes through more processing and is stripped of its vitamins and minerals, many white breads are later fortified with those same vitamins and minerals. The fiber amount is not that different and you can do a lot better by eating high fiber vegetables than you can eating wheat bread. Simply put, if you are eating wheat bread as a substitute for white bread and to increase your fiber per day, you are better off eating neither and concentrating on your vegetable intake. For more information check this link out http://examine.com/faq/is-whole-wheat-bread-better-than-white-bread.html
Pain is a unique thing. It often comes out of nowhere and in some cases for unknown reasons. We often push it off as arthritis or old age (guilty) in hopes that it will get better. We stretch (not recommended), foam roll, apply Rock Sauce, take NSAIDs etc. to decrease our pain. These are are all great thing and do have some effect on our pain levels but they only deal with the site of our pain, not the source. We often can look to our diets for the reason we are in so much pain.
Make no mistake about, inflammation can be deadly. Whether in the muscles, joints or in the organs, when our bodies become inflamed we are under serious distress. In fact, excess inflammation can cause obesity and diabetes. For more information on that check out this article http://chriskresser.com/how-inflammation-makes-you-fat-and-diabetic-and-vice-versa/.
Now that I have your attention, lets look at five ingredients that cause inflammation:
Processed sugar can go by many names on an ingredient list. Just look for anything ending in “ose” like fructose and lactose. The ingestion of sugar causes the body to send messengers to elicit an inflammatory response. Do you best to stay away.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Not to be confused with the anti-inflammatory Omega 3, Omega 6 fatty acids are still essential but when too much is eaten in the diet, an inflammatory response happens. These are commonly found in; corn, salad dressings, sunflower oil, soy and mayonnaise.
White flour products such as; bread, instant rice, mashed potatoes, cereals are high glycemic and stimulate the production of AGE which causes inflammation.
Many people who try to go sugar free will opt for the diet sodas and many diet drinks or calorie free drinks. Problem is many of the drinks contain aspartame and that can increase the inflammatory response even more. Aspartame is neurotoxin which means it effects your brain and your body will instantly try to get rid of it, causing an inflammatory response.
Alcohol is the liver’s enemy. They do not get along. It is a foreign substance that should only be used sparingly. Excessive use weakens the liver and other organs the liver interacts with, causing inflammation.
Fact is, when trying to decrease body fat and be “healthy” inflammation is not our friend. When trying to decrease your pain, the foods above and others do not serve us well. Do you best to rid these and watch the body fat and pain go away.
OK lets have some fun. As I sit down to write you today, I can’t help but want to write something that will make you laugh and make your day a little easier. For the serious, educational content click here . To laugh your ass off, continue reading.
So I went to workout today, I couldn’t help but find some humor. The gym is usually serious time for me but today I just took a look around and had fun with and decided today’s piece should lighten our spirits a bit. So, in great humor and fun, here are MY 10 rules of the gym. Have fun! Here we go (print these off and take them with you!):
- No one is staring at you…they are staring at themselves.
Not really a “rule” but a statement! Believe it or not, people are not staring at you working out, in fact they are staring at themselves. Why do you think they put mirrors up? To check our form? No! To check if we are showing definition in the triceps. Duh!
- Re-rack Your Weights
One of the first rules we learn as a child; if you bring your toys out, you have to put them back where they came from. You take the 5lbs dumbbells across the gym to do hammer curls, take ’em back Jack!
- No Grunting Unless you are Lifting Something Heavy
Squat 500lbs, grunt all you want, curling 55lbs, not necessary.
- Get Off the Cell Phone
You are here to workout not talk. Ditch the phone Paco!
- Proper Workout Required
Shorts, pants, t-shirts etc. Not a full leotard with open front. Could get drafty and appalling.
- Don’t Do This…
- No Curling in the Squat Rack
Just don’t do it!
- Dancing on the Treadmill Could be Dangerous and Otherwise Silly Exercise
- Use a Towel in the Locker Room
- Don’t Join Here
I am a firm believer in make everything I can, simple. The more complex things are, the more I struggle with it. So I will work to simplify anything if it will save me time and a headache in the long run. Fitness is no different. I work with a variety of clients and they all have differing opinions on what works for them or in some cases they are trying to figure that out and need my help. I will always attempt to simplify the situation and give them a small number of things to concentrate on to chip away at the goal at hand.
A few months ago, I wrote on the Wall of Aspirations a list of four things that I thought were vitally important in achieving any fitness related goal, no matter the size. I felt like if anyone concentrated on these four items, a lot of their problems would be minimized. Of course, there is no “one stop shop” when it comes to these things, some things work for some people and some don’t. Life will always be life and there will always be exceptions to the rule. However, I write to you today to expound on this list of four, with the hopes it will simplify your fitness quest and help you achieve better long-standing results.
Prepare Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
You either prepare to succeed or you prepare to fail, there is no in-between. If your nutrition is your limiting factor, focusing on preparing your own meals versus eating out or not eating at all, sets you up for success. It is a lot to ask of someone to do this. Most people wake up as late as they can get by with and scoot out the door on their way to work or school. If that is you, prepare yourself something in advance or make something simple like a shake or have a Quest bar (no Power bars Coby!). Regardless of your choice eat something. There is too much research that says eating breakfast, particularly protein packed breakfast, aids in boosting metabolism and helps fat loss. Like Nike says, Just Do It.
Drink 1 Gallon of Water
No matter how you slice it, water is important. It has zero calories, keeps your hydrated and decreases the hunger mechanism. Drink it and drink a lot of it. My advice as always been at least 100 ounces a day, but if you go that far you might as well go with a gallon (128 ounces). If you drink that much, you will feel SO much better, that I will guarantee you.
Workout at Least Four Times
I ask my clients to be active at least four times per week and bare minimum work with weights at least two of those days. We need activity in our lives. And on half of the days during the week we need vigorous activity (i.e. lifting weights). Make this a priority and make time to be active or you will have to make time to be sick and tired. The choice is yours but the outcomes could be so much better if you follow the rule.
Here is the big one. The one no one talks about as it relates to fitness. Sleep. If you lack sleep or quality sleep the following can happen; elevated Cortisol levels leading to increased fat retention, impaired Glucose control leading to irregular blood sugar levels and retention of body fat, and increased adipose tissue retention, basically meaning you will hold on to your fat longer. The part about sleep that people forget is the release of growth hormone, a hormone that decreases body fat and increases muscle tissue aiding recovery. 7-8 hours of sleep is optimal but if you cannot do that, napping has its place as well. To be your best, you must sleep…period.
Simplifying things will more often than not make things better and I hope this list helps a few of you out. I would love to hear about it! Shoot me an email if you’d like.
Let me set the stage for you…
After finishing my last client for the day (shout out to Lauren) I quickly get ready to go work out myself after a long day of clients and before a super packed Friday. I get in my car and go workout at Lexington Athletic Club, a few hundred feet from Aspire. I finish my workout, get in my car, and as I do every night go back to Aspire; re-rack the weights, clean up and turn the lights out. At this time it is 10pm. I get in my car to go home, get something to eat and go to bed before my 5am appointment. I go the same way I always do and pull out of the studio and I am the first in line at the red light to turn left to head home. I am no more than a football’s throw from Aspire.
As I am sitting patiently at the stop light, out of my left ear (my good ear by the way) I hear what sounds like a freight train, I glance to my left and I feel the most vicious impact, almost like Ray Lewis has clotheslined me and hit me with a 2 x 4. I am disoriented, I smell smoke and I panic. I cannot get out the driver’s side door, too much damage. I rip my seat belt off and climb out the passenger side door, still not sure where I am or what just happened. I get out and the most confused I have ever been in my life (that is saying something) there is no car to be found. I start to think, “am I dreaming?” I know I was just hit by something and where is it? There is nothing and no one. After a few seconds and me evaluating my situation I realize my body is shook up and this could of been much worse but not sure how much worse until…
Bystander from the across the street comes to see how I am and leaves me with these words I will always remember, “Hey man, I saw it all from across the street and you my friend are lucky to be alive.” It was real at the point. This could of been it. It could of been my last workout, my last client and my ride on earth. But thankfully the car that hit me, going at 80 mph so the guy said, only got me at the corner of the driver’s door instead of the middle, where it would have T-boned me and I wouldn’t be writing this email. I survived with very minor injuries compared to what could of happened. The driver was never found and was probably drunk, as he/she was so out of control they probably had no idea what happened. Still yet, I am alive and will be able to continue life as I always have…except I have a new found appreciation for time.
You see tomorrow is not promised, hell today is not promised. You never know when its your time to go. So why do we waste time not doing the things we want to do in this world? Or why do we waste time being with people who do not make us better? Or even more importantly why do we put off doing the things that make us happy? It could all be over tomorrow. Your time is not promised. I was not even driving my car, I was parked at an intersection, patiently waiting for my turn to go home and I was violently hit by a car that could of killed me. But it didn’t.
I write this to you all today because every situation we go through in life should teach us about ourselves. Life is not perfect, we are not perfect and one day this will all come to end. I will leave you with this advice:
Leave it all on the field
If you want to do something, now is the time to do it. Not tomorrow. Not next week. NOW! What are you waiting for? There is literally no excuse you can come up with for why you aren’t chasing your dreams. You will not live forever, but you legacy with people will.
Leave something to be remembered for
Not to be morbid but I thought about my funeral the last couple of days. What would people say about me? How many people would be there? This may sound negative to a degree but I cant help but think about it. I still have time to make a legacy for myself and every day counts. Make every day count for yourself. Its not a popularity contest, you know who means the most to you and who will remember you when you are gone. Leave your best for them to remember.
Don’t waste time on people who do not belong
If someone does not add value to you, they are a detractor and they need to go. Not everyone belongs in your life. Surround yourself with people who push you, who add value to you, who will remember you when you are gone. Money and possessions come and go but when you die, your memory with people and how you affected them will carry the longest. Ditch the negative and embrace the positive.
The time is now. What are you waiting for?
No apologies. No regrets. Just greatness.
“The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection.”
The quest for perfection. The perfect body. The perfect life. The perfect marriage. The perfect job. We all want what we consider to be “perfect.” When something isn’t good enough for us, we drop it and move to something else and then the viscous cycle ensues. Nothing is good enough for us anymore. We are chasing perfection in an imperfect world. We want what we can’t have and once we have it we don’t want it anymore, because its not “perfect.”
The Nirvana Fallacy, is a concept that is defined by, “comparing actual things with unrealistic, idealized alternatives.” It simply means we chase perfection and perfection is not attainable because perfection does not exist. My career as a fitness professional has been spent training and getting to know a vast variety of clients, all of whom want to make some type of change. Every so often, I will find someone who is never satisfied and is always chasing, in their mind, the perfect something. In most cases it would be the perfect body. They will do and try anything (within reason) to attain such an unattainable quest. It can be frustrating and in a strange way admirable that people will go to such lengths to get something they want. I find it somewhat difficult to “harness the reigns” on some people because they give it their all and their all is not adding up, in their mind, to what they want. Perfection does not exist.
The media is great at the projection of perfect. Go to any magazine stand and pick up a Cosmopolitan or Women’s Health or some other vanity focused magazine and you will see the following, “perfect abs in 30 days,” “10 ways to a perfect relationship,” “perfect love making for you and your spouse.” So we as a society think we have to chase this concept of perfection because if the magazines say its possible, it must be. This leads to trouble especially when it comes to people’s body image and concept of who they are.
We have a selection of our population turning to fad diets, crazy supplements and in some cases drugs because of the attempt to have the perfect body. Look at some of the most popular Instagram pages and you will see “fitness pros” who look like they are carved out of granite rock performing exercises and showing you what they do. They look outstanding and in some people’s minds, perfect. However, we all need to eat some humble pie and realize these people are not perfect, we have no idea what they did to look like that, and how long that is sustainable for us long term. I am here to tell you, where there is smoke there is usually fire. No movie star has added 30 lbs of lean muscle tissue without some help. No music artist has six pack abs in their 40s unless they are blessed genetically or have had some surgery. That is a fact jack.
So what the hell are we doing? Why are we killing ourselves chasing something that does not exist? And why do we quit when we realize what we wanted either isn’t achievable or too hard to make work? These are great points to ponder. I suggest the following:
Chase Progress Not Perfection
With your body, your marriage, your relationships. Work on improving things, not being perfect. No situation is perfect. No solution is perfect. So why focus on it. Everyday get a little bit better. This will make a world of difference.
Walk Your Walk
Guess what? Some people won’t like you. Not every one will like you or love you. You aren’t the perfect human being. You are human. Welcome to the land of imperfection. We all live here. So why not relish in the fact we aren’t going to make everyone happy, but we can make ourselves happy. Walk your walk and forget what everyone else says. You know who you are, no one needs to have an opinion on the subject matter.
I leave you with this….
“Why, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No – the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect.”
Be authentic. Be you.
When life imitates art its time to take a step back and evaluate the situation. For some reason it always takes me a few days to get over hard losses, whether its just my passion for Kentucky basketball or I view it as an outlet or some other reason that is not apparent, I take loses to heart. But with every loss there is time to reflect, not just on the season at hand but also on you the individual. For the players, they evaluated where they sat skill and NBA readiness wise and as a fan I evaluate what I learned from the season. I took this; nothing and no one is unbeatable, sports as in life aren’t fair, team work and hard work conquers all and finally do your best to make everyone around you better.
So I am just a crazy Kentucky fan right? Maybe. But I do have an ability to learn from literally every situation and that is a skill I pride myself on. (By the way, this piece will have no fitness related advice in it, I am still on the motivation/inspiration tip this week.) So as I am reading this week, preparing for what I am going to write about, I see a picture with seven statements on it. It is essentially a code of how to live your life to the fullest. So I feel the need to share those seven principles with you tonight. So, here we go…
Make Peace with Your Past
I raise my hand and admit there are some things in my past that are hard to left go of. BUT to look to the future, you cannot be concerned with what happened in the past. Past failures do not predict the future. If there is something back there that needs tending to handle, if not keep moving forward.
What Other People Think of You Is None if YOUR Business
Easier said than done, but what some one thinks of you is just that, a thought. Lets take Kentucky’s coach John Calipari as an example. A hall of fame coach, multiple final fours, one national championship, produced some of the best NBA talent in the game today. Yet, he is vilified and thought of as a cheater. Truth is, he is the best at what he does and his approach is about helping others more than helping himself. What is so bad about that? Nothing. He doesn’t care what anything thinks of him, as long as he is doing his life’s mission, that is all that matters. We should all practice the same.
Time Heals Almost Everything
It may hurt today and tomorrow, but give it a few weeks and the hurt will subside. All you need is time.
No One is in Charge
No one is in charge of your happiness. No husband/wife, girlfriend/boyfriend, car or purse. Literally nothing on this earth can make you happy but you. Usually unhappiness comes from lack of purpose, if you are feeling that way think about your purpose. If you don’t have a purpose, find one and chase it.
Don’t Compare Your Life to Others
This can work a variety of ways. We all have problems but when it comes down to it, we would keep our problems instead of trading them with someone else. It can always be worse. On the flip side, comparing yourself to someone else is a waste of time. You don’t know their struggle and what they are going through.
Stop Thinking Too Much
Face it. You don’t have all the answers. No one does. So if you can’t control it, why are you worried about it? I like to use the adage, “Don’t think, just do.” Over the years I have seen clients and friends crippled by their own thinking. It is necessary. Do not let your mind run roughshod on your life.
I know, I know. You are sitting there saying, “this dude never smiles.” I get it. I need to and I will continue to improve on this aspect. However, even through all the dark days the easiest thing to do to make a difference is a simple smile. Try it. I will.
It is all so simple yet all so complicating. It’s life. It was designed this way. It is a grand challenge but remember your purpose and be driven toward it.
I truly believe the statement to the left ; to be the best you must be able to handle the worst. Whether we like it not, can deal with it or not, adversity will always be in our way. No successful person, in any field, has gone through life without adversity. It makes us who we are. Some will quit when faced with it and some will rise to the occasion and champion the responsibility and use it as a learning experience. Either way, every situation in our lives cannot be perfect. As sure as there will be death and taxes, there will be adversity. It is how you faced it that counts.
Control what you can control and accept what you can’t. However, do not point the finger and feel that you cannot change the situation because you absolutely can. It may not be immediate, but all situations can be changed. Remember, at all times you can control your own destiny.
Focus On Solutions
If all you do is focus on the problem, you will become frustrated and quit. Focus on the solution to the problem or at least do something about the problem. Complaining will do nothing for you here. Compartmentalize the issue and focus on a game plan to fix it.
No matter how bad it gets, never have fear. Easier said than done but fear nothing or no one and watch what you will achieve. There is a supreme difference between fear and danger, danger is real fear is not. “Fear nothing, achieve everything.”
Have a Sense of Humor
This one I am working on. Everything will pass in life, might as well have fun with it. Make fun of the situation and yourself, keep your sense of humor and it instantly becomes better.
Quitting solves nothing. Quitting says it wasn’t important to you. Quitting is an easy way out. Never give up on something you truly want.
Adversity makes the best out of strong people. Let it make the best out of you
Words of wisdom from what may seem like an unusual, the Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger. An Austrian born man, who came to the United States with no money and hardly speaking English. He transformed himself into the greatest bodybuilder, the greatest action movie hero and even the Governor of California. One has to ask their self, “how did that happen?”
With persistence, relentless hard work and a little work, that’s how. If you watch the video above it shows Arnold going through his six rules for success. Below I will go through them in my terms and how I relate them to fitness and life. Here we go…
At the end of the day we can only rely on ourselves. No one can care about our success or failure more than us. We must trust ourselves and go with our gut feelings. Continue to strive for personal greatness and always remember nothing is fatal or final. Finally, believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one will.
Break the rules
To hell with the rules. Your not suppose to do this or do that. Screw them. We don’t need them. We set the rules. We are the measuring sticks by which all are judged and we didn’t get there by playing it easy and playing by the rules. Break them and break them often. Keep it legal but turn the “I can’ts” into “I will.”
Never be afraid to fail
You will fail. I will fail. However, we must not be afraid to fail because where there is failure there is success. The only way to succeed is to fail. If you have never failed you have never tried. Push the envelope of what you think is possible. You will learn a lot about what it takes to succeed. Just remember, what you are most scared to do is often the one thing you should do. So go out and do it.
Don’t listen to the naysayers
As John Calipari says, “haters gonna hate.” Do not listen to them. Nothing is impossible. With a strategic game plan and a hellacious work ethic, anything is possible. Don’t listen to people who say you can’t do it. They are only feeding your drive to do it. Follow your heart an your gut.
Work your butt off
Hard work is a given. Nothing will be given to you. You want it bad enough you will go get it. Work your ass off every day with your goals in mind. When you take off remember there is someone out there working towards what you want. Keep pushing and never let up.
Pay it forward. Give back to what has given to you. When you succeed teach others your ways. Mentor young minds to stimulate greatness in them. Leave a legacy no one can match. Be the measuring stick. Give back to the community, donate money to a genuine cause, be an example for others to follow. These add up over time. I am proud to say that on Saturday we raised over $300 for the American Diabetes Association for diabetes research. Give back.
All things are possible through fitness. The above list, if followed, will produce success in any field or endeavor. This is short, simple and easily applied. Go toward your greatness.
During a recent routine physical, my doctor found some concerning results in my blood work and asked me to come in for some follow up tests which indicated I needed to see a specialist for still further tests to rule out anything serious.
I felt like I would probably be OK but was concerned and that night after I told Rebecca about it asked if we could pray together and she said, “Yes. Of course.”
I felt comforted by my wife joining me in prayer. I believe in the power of prayer and couldn’t imagine anything but good coming from it. Rebecca and I had done this before at the suggestion of a friend who told us praying together can be a great habit for couples if you can not worry about “sounding eloquent” and stay focused on your own praying and not your partner’s.
We knelt down, held hands and I prayed first. I asked God to please help me be free of the health problems that were concerning me and then added some “filler” prayer about other people and things so it wouldn’t seem to Rebecca (or God) like I was being overly self-centered and praying only for myself.
Then it was Rebecca’s turn. She asked God to please give her a “fuller heart” and then something else I couldn’t quite make out. I asked her to repeat it. I figured if I couldn’t hear it, God may not have been able to either. Rebecca again prayed for God give her a fuller heart and then followed with a more detailed way of saying what she had already said. Frankly, I didn’t feel the second part of her prayer added much at all. But I was trying to focus on my praying and not Rebecca’s.
We both said “Amen” and then stood up and hugged. As hard as I tried not to think about Rebecca’s prayer, I couldn’t help notice she never asked God for me to be free of any health problems. I figured it was just an oversight on her part. I couldn’t imagine Rebecca purposely not praying for my health because she felt like she would give up an important chit with God that she was saving for something more important. So, I just let it go.
The next morning Rebecca and I got coffee and saw a good friend from church who had gone through some serious health challenges a few years ago and now was doing well. I shared with him my recent health concerns and he kindly assured me, “John, I’ll be praying for you to get a good medical report.” I made sure Rebecca was listening and responded, “Thank you. I’ll be doing the exact same thing myself!” I paused and looked over at Rebecca to see if she had anything to add. But she didn’t. Rebecca just smiled and hugged our friend goodbye and wished him a happy Derby weekend.
This was Rebecca’s second prayer snub for me in 24 hours and was obviously much harder for me to dismiss as just an oversight on her part. I didn’t say anything but was definitely bothered by it.
That night Rebecca and I were at dinner and she asked how I was doing. I told her I was a little anxious about the follow up blood tests being done the next day and hoped everything was OK. I tried to resist saying anything more but couldn’t resist. “Do you remember when we prayed last night?”
“Sure.” Rebecca answered lovingly.
“Well, I kinda noticed when we were praying that you didn’t pray for me for my tests to come back clear.”
“What? Yes, I did!” Rebecca shot back defensively.
“No. You really didn’t. Because I was listening closely for it and it just didn’t happen..” I paused to let it sink in and added, “At first, I thought it was an oversight. But when you had a second chance to pray for me this morning at coffee and didn’t take it, it bothered me.”
Rebecca explained, “The reason I didn’t ask God for you tests to be clear is because I have been taught only to pray for ‘God’s will to be done’ instead of asking for specific things that I want Him to do for me.”
“What?” I responded incredulously. “You’re saying you didn’t pray for my health because of some new prayer orthodoxy you just learned?”
“Yes. I’m serious. ” Rebecca defended herself.
I sighed and shook my head. “I’m sorry. I just don’t think I can buy that. If you were praying for our children —or even our dogs for that matter —- I suspect you would ask God to ‘please help them be in good health (or whatever you wee wanting for them) and then maybe after that add ‘If it be Thy will.’ But I can’t see you just praying, ‘Thy will be done’ without offering God other suggestions if it involved our kids or our dogs.”
Rebecca looked both perplexed and exasperated.
I continued, “Look, I’m not mad. I can’t tell you how you should pray. That’s between you and God. All I know is that if you were the one having medical tests tomorrow, I would ask God for your tests to be clear”
“OK. OK. OK! “ Rebecca interrupted, “I’ll be sure to ask God for your tests to be clear the next time we pray.”
“Don’t do that.” I said defensively. “I’m not even sure I want you now.”
“What?” Rebecca blurted in confusion.
“I sure don’t want you to pray for my health if it’s just to make me feel better. I want you to really mean it.”
“Of course, I’ll mean it,” Rebecca said . “I’m just not very eloquent at praying and wasn’t thinking. I want nothing more than for you to be well. I just forgot to say it.”
“Really?” I asked. “Do you mean that?” Rebecca assured me she did and I began to feel better about things and changed our conversation to a lighter topic.
Later that night before bed, Rebecca and I knelt down again and held hands in prayer. Rebecca went first this time and asked God for a “Fuller and more loving heart” but this time added, “And please help with John’s health”
I have to admit I was a little disappointed. “Please help with John’s health?” seemed weak and vague to me –and unlikely to have much of an impact at all. But I didn’t say anything. I was just glad Rebecca was trying. I bowed my heard and took my turn, I asked God to please help me to get “A clean bill of health with my medical tests” and before I could finish my prayer, Rebecca interrupted and added, “And please God help John to get a clean bill of health with his upcoming medical tests.”
Rebecca nailed it that time. Sure, she was just repeating my prayer verbatim, but I felt like Rebecca finally “got it” and was fully on board with doing all she could, prayer-wise, to help me out.
We said, “Amen,” and stood up and I thanked Rebecca.
The next day at the doctor’s office Rebecca and I held hands waiting for my results to come back. It was a long wait. I apologized to her for being so silly about how she prayed for me. I told her I was scared and wanted all the help I could get. She kissed me on the forehead and I said, “Thank you for being hear with me today. As always.”
Rebecca said, “Of course. That’s what I do. I’m always here for you and the kids. That’s my life.”
I smiled and said, “Well, I guess ‘being there for the ones you love,’ is about the most important job a person can have in this world.” Rebecca kissed me again on the forehead and we continued to wait.
Eventually the doctor came in and told us that the new tests didn’t indicate anything that we should be concerned about. It was a huge relief. There would be some follow up tests but I was essentially getting a “clean bill of health.” I hugged Rebecca tightly and thanked her for being such a good and supportive partner.
That night Rebecca and I knelt again to pray. We thanked God for all our blessings —with a special mention for my good test results. There were no special requests this time for either Rebecca or me. I was willing to pray for something for Rebecca if she wanted me to but she said she couldn’t think of anything. I did throw in a special thanks to God for providing me with such a loving an supportive spouse. I felt like it was the least I could do.
Praying together as a couple is a very good thing. But not as simple as it sounds.
I know we aren’t supposed to focus on each other’s prayers, but Rebecca noticed my special thanks to God for her and thanked me afterwards. There was nothing more I had wanted from Rebecca prayer that night.
It felt feally good and I was already looking forward to praying together with Rebecca tomorrow night.
And secretly hoped Rebecca would thank God for giving her such a “loving and supportive husband.” But decided I probably wasn’t going to say anything if she didn’t.