Hey all. Sorry for the long pause, but I was caught up in Christmas/New Years celebrations and then a week-long vacation that took me to Memphis, Tennessee, and Breckenridge, Colorado. I hope everyone out there had a fantastic Christmas celebration with friends and family and was filled with joy thinking about the gift God gave us on that day.
As for fitness goals, they really take a hit around the holidays, don’t they? I started back into my fitness regimen this week and it hurts. All those cookies, cakes, egg nog, and beer really take a toll. However, I was introduced to a new winter workout while in Breckenridge last week: skiing. While this probably isn’t new to most of you, I’m usually a winter-hater that refuses to go out in the cold and prays for April. Living in Iowa also limits your exposure to skiing: no mountains (or even hills) around here.
So that is why skiing was such a nice surprise in Colorado. Instead of sitting on the couch and watching football or re-runs, I was training my legs in a way they have never been trained. Skiing puts near constant pressure on your quads, as you are always leaning forward with bent knees. It also strengthens your knees, ankles, and hips, as you are constantly turning your body with your legs. As a bonus, your mid-section gets a great workout because it has to balance all of this effort and keep you upright as you go speeding down the mountain. All of this is one exercise!
Now, if you were working all of these body parts in a gym, you would get results but it wouldn’t be much fun. Skiing is fun. You are flying through the snow while going down a beautiful mountain, for Pete’s sake. There are huge pine trees rising up on either side of you and a gorgeous mountain landscape out in front of you. Now, if you’re from Colorado or Wyoming or Utah this probably isn’t as exciting, but it is rare and beautiful when you are from Iowa.
Besides a great physical workout, skiing in this scenic place also offered me a spiritual renewal. I was able to really connect with God (I always do better when I’m outside in His creation). I could look at the mountains, trees, streams, and animals he created in their natural setting and I felt so blessed to be healthy and active enough to be a part of it in those moments. Sometimes I forget just how big His creation is, but a trip into the mountain wilderness will quickly remind anyone. It’s a beautiful world, and if I can get some exercise and hang out with God in it at the same time, then I guess I’m a pretty lucky guy. Getting healthier in my body and mind is the goal of this journey, and my trip to Colorado did both at once.
“Motherf***** b**** coming at you strong, let’s go p****!”
That is my iPod as I work out. Do you listen to a similar “song” as you’re exercising? If you’re a young guy that has spent years lifting with his high school football team and then with other college guys, then you might. I know I have a lot of “lifting” music on my iPod that contains explicit language and vulgar lyrics. I also know it isn’t good for my mind or for my relationship with God. Your eyes and ears are the gateway to your heart, and stuffing those with explicit lyrics certainly can’t help.
But I also don’t want to work out to classical Bach, ya know? There is something in that rap music and rock music that gets me going. It’s aggressive and it gets my blood pumping, fueling me to get the most out of my body. What are we supposed to do?
Luckily, I’ve accumulated some “clean” lifting songs over the years. Now, I don’t claim to listen to these every time I work out, but I’m getting better. They get me pumped up and they also don’t pollute my mind. So here are 5 artists (with 5 songs) you may recognize and that you can use to get pumped up:
Skillet is an American Christian rock band. They’re from Memphis, TN, and have been around since 1996. If you like rock, then you will like these guys. They have a ton of good songs to choose from; they go hard and their lyrics are meaningful. Song: “Hero”.
Mase is an American rapper who burst onto the scene under P. Diddy’s label “Bad Boy Records”. Mase left the rap industry in 1999 to pursue “a calling from God”. This led to him eventually leading an international ministry. He made a comeback in 2004 and he has a lot of great, clean tracks if you are a rap fan. Song: “Breathe Stretch Shake”.
I’m guessing you’ve heard of these guys. Foo Fighters is an American rock band from Seattle, formed by Nirvana’s former drummer after Kurt Cobain’s death. These guys don’t mess around and they will scream at you until you are in a full sweat. Song: “Pretender”.
Another American rock group that you are probably familiar with. I saw Trapt in concert and they play a great show. Everyone probably remembers their single “Headstrong” from 2002, so I’ll go a different direction with my recommendation. But these guys also have a lot to choose from. Song: “Contagious”.
Lecrae is an American Christian rapper and ministry leader. If you haven’t heard of him, check him out. The man knows how to rhyme, and he chooses to use this gift to rap about God instead of drugs, money, cars, sex, and the other stuff that every other rapper covers ad nauseum. Song: “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
Not all of these artists are the best role models and they don’t produce 100% clean music, but they have given me the above songs that I’ve used for several years now. Try them out! And I’d also love to hear your suggestions of what music works for you. I’m always looking for new songs to mix up my routine so leave a comment or tweet me your favorites!