I started running, though, for two related reasons. First, I found myself winded after ascending the two flights of stairs to my office each morning, and that troubled me. This led to the second reason, which is that it got me to thinking about what I do as an ADF Priest, and what sorts of things I feel I ought to be able to do. Namely, I carry ritual items from my car to the ritual site and find myself winded reasonably often, and I don't want to be that Pagan Priest who can't get to a wedding deep in the woods.
Being a Priest doesn't have any physical requirements, obviously: mostly, you show up, pour some oil, and talk a lot. It's not particularly physically demanding, so long as you have people to carry your stuff and your rituals are next to the parking lot. It was this notion of being able to walk deep into the woods, on trails or off, and do ritual without waiting to catch my breath (if I even made it that far) that really stood out to me, though. I wasn't in such poor shape that it would cause a problem today, but I thought, "What if this continues?"
I had also been considering thoughts that eventually became my post, "Reviewing the CTP, Discipline, and Other Thoughts," and I realized that I wasn't willing to recommend that require that anyone do something I wasn't willing to do myself.
So, on May 1, I started running a mile per day, which takes about 10 minutes. And by "running," I mean, "jog .5 miles, walk .25 miles, jog .25 miles." It was just as mind-numbingly boring as I thought it would be, but I began to see improvement almost immediately. I could walk up stairs without being winded in less than a week. I had more energy and I could walk a lot further and a lot faster in my daily routine.
Shortly after I posted about discipline and potentially including physical activity as such a discipline, I was turned onto a new form of physical practice by sleepingwolf
This practice was called Shovelglove, and I've found it remarkably beneficial (as well as stupidly common-sensical). By adding the 14 minutes of a shovelglove workout to my 10 minutes of running, I had 24 minutes of "exercise." And here's the thing: it wasn't hard. I'm now, suddenly, exercising with more regularity than I ever have in my entire life, including the four years I was a varsity athlete at Ohio State.
On top of this, the Shovelglove doesn't stand alone: it's part of what Reinhard calls "Everyday Systems," and he's got non-complicated ways to deal with most of humanity's vices. One that caught my eye, though, was the "No S Diet," which is a very common-sense approach to eating. Basically, three rules and an exception make up the diet: No Snacks, No Sweets, No Seconds, Except (sometimes) on days that start with "S." It's very different from the usual way I eat, doesn't require me to buy a stupid cookbook or drink disgusting shakes, and makes sense. And that's what attracted me to it.
So here I am with a regular diet and regular exercise after nearly three months. Most people who have known me only over the 'net won't understand how weird that is for me, but my close friends will. On top of this, I've lost nearly 15 lbs. in that time, can see my toes, and actually have some muscle mass for the first time since I was 20. It's like some sort of "miracle diet and exercise regimen" you might read about in a tabloid, except a) this makes sense, b) doesn't cost you money, and c) it doesn't require me to do anything except maintain my body in the way a human body should be maintained.
I'm not exactly "perfect" on any of this: I don't run every weekday, don't shovelglove every weekday, and don't stick strictly to the "No S" philosophy. I might go an average of 3.5 or 4 days each week being "on target." But discipline is not about being perfect, it's about being consistent. None of it is high-impact or complicated, either. Honestly, I just feel better, and that's all I wanted from this.
I didn't set out to lose weight, to get in shape, or to do anything silly like that: I was just looking for the balance and non-windedness that comes with a small amount of regular exercise so that I could better serve the Folk in the long run. The more I do this, the more convinced I am that some level of activity and moderation is probably important for our Priests: there's no argument that exercise doesn't help people live longer and healthier lives, after all. I think that a discipline requirement for "being active" might not be a bad idea, especially when we come to a point where we want to cover our Priests with health care coverage. But that's down the road, and will require more discussion.
Suffice it to say, I'm seeing tremendous benefits from just three months of this. I cannot imagine what a lifetime might eventually look like.