Monday, January 28, 2008
My New Step-Counter and Spiritual Growth
GUEST DEVOTIONALIST -- DEREK MAUL
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)
Sometimes it's the simplest gifts that bring the most joy.Take this past Christmas. My son, Andrew, gave me one of those digital "step-counter" devices that records how far I walk.
It was a thoughtful gift, because he knows I've made great strides in the health department this past year. My program has been a no-frills intervention of dog-walking and careful eating. The two straightforward changes have combined to take off 20 unwanted pounds, lower my cholesterol, cut my triglycerides by two-thirds, lower blood pressure, and produce a resting heart-rate around 50.
Now, with the step-counter, I can be more deliberate in my discipline.
Here's how it works. Depending on stride length, around 2,000 steps equals one mile. For me it's closer to 1,900. With two long walks each day and short excursions between, I was starting at around 10,000-12,000. My goal is 50 miles a week which means around 14,000 steps per day.
The genius of the step-counter is accurate feedback. Simply knowing provides immediate results, and the opportunity to walk an extra 500 steps before lunch or to add 250 more during a short break more easily turns into positive behavior when I see the fact of it digitally displayed.
It's a principle that works across the board. People can lower or raise their heart rate while watching a real-time monitor; it's easier to maintain 45mph when the speedometer works; accurately measuring calorie intake can lead to weight loss; cars with "heads-up" fuel-use
displays get better mileage; a large mirror on the refrigerator door... well, you know where I'm going.
Ditto our family health and spiritual lives. Recording TV use leads to less mind-sucking; posting a chart to plan and record family dinners increases togetherness; keeping a journal of devotional time is a great way to grow closer to God; hearing the words "I love you" constantly impacts relationships moment by moment.
Anything we can measure can then be modified. Knowing where we stand is half the battle.
So here's my challenge. Pick one positive behavior you'd like to increase, figure out how to measure it, and then keep records for one week. Now you're 90% of the way toward your goal. Once you have proved the idea with something simple, begin to add some spiritual objectives. Share with a friend to add accountability. Pray.
It doesn't take a lot of personal discipline to grow spiritually, but it does take some.
(Derek writes for the Tampa Tribune. Check out his blogsite and his book.)