The power of food

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It was a normal workout at Crossfit solafide. Tough, but normal. Time trials get my adrenaline pumping.

image credit: Flickr user CrossFit Pulse

I blew through the 400m run. Smoked it. I felt a little more gassed than normal. “No big deal, though,” I thought. “I’ll recover.” At least I didn’t tear my quad.

Next was 100 pullups. Normally, this is something I could blaze through. But by 30, I was spent. My energy was zapped. I bumped it up to 62 by the 5 minute mark. A bit of encouragement helped.

100 situps, 100 squats. Got ’em.

But then I thought I was going to die. Right then and there, on the black gym mat that smells like rubber and sweat and stale, crusty socks.

I was staring into the face of 100 push ups.

Realize this: Cross Fit is often as much of a mental exercise as it is a physical one. And you’re not going to beat me mentally. I’m like the Evander Holyfield of mental exercises. Or, wait…that’s too early-2000s.

Turns out that this day, it was the physical side of the workout that got the best of me.

I made it through the 100 push ups, but thought that my lunch was going to join that cursed black mat.

Finally, it was a 500m row. Done and done.

Immediately afterwards, I still felt like I might get the distinct privilege of seeing lunch again. I’ve had this feeling before, but this time I couldn’t shake it. Then came a case of the dizzies. Lightheadedness. ‘I can drive home,’ said my sweet wife. “Nah…I’m ok.” Note above: you’re not going to beat me mentally.

Driving home, I couldn’t bring myself to talk much. Dizziness continued and I felt like I needed to lay down.

Then my hand cramped so hard I had to pry it open with my other hand. A few times. Then came the chills, and I had to lay on the floor in our den to hold myself together. Turns out it smells a little better than the gym floor.

It was only after I ate a little food and drank a protein shake that I began to return to normal.

I had been dangerously close to…something. I don’t know what, but I was dangerously close to it. (just hang with me…being dangerously close to something adds dramatic value, right?). All because I hadn’t eaten much throughout the day. A small breakfast, smaller lunch, and some water were not enough for me to sustain a tough workout. I ran out of gas. When I was at the bottom, I had no reserve to draw from. My tank was empty, and I still had a few miles to go.

The turn

Isn’t the same thing true for us spiritually? You get out what you put in…or what you don’t put in. Spend time away from God, and you’ll find yourself drying up spiritually. Quit feeding your soul, and when tough times come, you’ll have nothing left to give.

It’s when life falls apart that these inadequacies come to light. It’s after a few tough rounds that you realize you’re not where you want to be spiritually. Or, at the very least, not where you thought you were.

Listen to the Psalmist:

Oh, the joys of those who do not
follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
    bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
    and they prosper in all they do. – Psalm 1:1-3

Plant yourself beside the River and you’ll not wither under the burdens of life.

The way you handle life is a reflection of what you have put in to your body. And the training starts now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Now. If you wait to work on your spiritual life until things fall apart, you’ll find yourself face-down on a crusty-sock-smelling gym floor.

Want to grow up spiritually? Start now.

Want to be a better mom? Start now.

Want to mature in your leadership? Start now.

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8



Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • ThatGuyKC

    First, I’ve passed out before from being dehydrated and not eating enough. No fun. Gotta fuel the body if you want to be a beast.

    Second, I’m gonna have to checkout this Crossfit thing. Sounds like a monster.

    • Ben Reed

      Do it, KC! I absolutely love it. As long as I have enough fuel.

      • ThatGuyKC

        Do you download workouts from somewhere? Or are they posted at the gym?

        • Ben Reed

          Ours are posted here every day:

          • ThatGuyKC

            Duly noted AND bookmarked. Thanks.

          • Ben Reed

            Let me know if you give any of them a shot!

          • ThatGuyKC

            You’ll either see me #HULKSMASH on Twitter or start whining in pain and agony :)

  • Jordan English

    1) Any post that includes Crossfit is a good post in my opinion. 

    2) Am I taking it too far to say that when I am struggling to dive into quality quiet times I struggle more with Crossfit? (probably, but I see a correlation)

    3) I really like the image of shrugging people off and saying “Nah…im okay.” I think I do that too much. However, It’s humbling to know that people can tell if, and when, we are struggling, especially spiritually. Like you said, it’s the same as when we are unable to do another push up, getting the post workout dizzies, or viewing lunch for the 2nd time, we simply need fuel, rest, water, or encouragement. I think Crossfit can be a great example of what getting into the Word and living in community are suppose to be.    

    • Ben Reed

      1. Yes!

      2. Nope. I think the two can easily correlate. I’ve seen it go the other way, too…weeks when my workouts are going well, my daily time with the Lord goes better, too.

      3. Agreed. Community is huge for both!

      • Jordan English

        Okay, the most random thing just happened. I read your post this morning then raced off to my crossfit gym here in KC. I show up and there is a girl wearing a purple shirt that says “Crossfit Solafide” and said she started doing crossfit in Tennessee before she moved here. Random. Is this the same gym you go to? 

        • Ben Reed

          Yep…same one. Who is it?!? You catch her name??

          • Jordan English

            Her name is Amy. Tall. Brown hair. Mid-twenties?

          • Ben Reed

            Not ringing a bell. Might know her if I saw her. Small world, isn’t it?!?