O Me of Little Faith

O Me of Little Faith

My Because-I-Can Philosophy

Yesterday I was reading comments to my resolutions post and looking over the resolutions themselves, and was kinda surprised (which is weird, me being the author and everything) how many of them were fitness-related. I’ve always been pretty active, but I guess I’ve gotten on a bit of a fitness kick over the last 3 or 4 years. It’s probably some combination of entering my 30s a few years back, seeing my naturally fast metabolism begin to slow down, and observing three years ago that I had become softer and doughier than I used to be. (I’ve always been skinny, the result of good genes and small bones. But I noticed there was more flesh wrapped around those small bones than before.)


So I started swimming regularly, because I enjoyed it and it provided a decent full-body workout and because it was sorta fun. I started seeing some results in the way of body transformation — I got a little leaner, observed the beginnings of some muscle definition (muscles? I have muscles?!?), and noticed a difference in the way I felt. There’s nothing like visible results to keep you motivated, and before long the swimming-for-health turned to swimming-for-distance and then to strength training and then to triathlon training. So here I am.

Being an introverted writer-type, I’m the kind of person who’s prone to a lot of self-reflection. Which means I often end up asking myself why I’ve fallen into and maintained this semi-obsession with being in shape. I came up with three reasons:


1) I’m a vain knucklehead. I’ve noticed that I look better than I used to. My wife tells me I look better, too. I won’t pretend this isn’t a factor. (This would be a good point to link back to this sad, dorky post involving my hair.)

2) Family. I want to be an active, energetic, jumping-on-the-trampoline kind of dad to my kids. Can’t do that if the trampoline makes me all wheezy and exhausted. Also: I want to be around a long, long time for them, too. Living a healthy life now is like an investment in my long-term future.


3) Because I can. I’m going to expand this reason below, because I think it’s the kind of thing we can apply to lots of areas of life — not just fitness.

One of the reasons I live a very active lifestyle is simply because I am able to do it. I have been blessed with working arms and legs and a decent cardiovascular system. My good health is a gift — a blessing — and what’s the most grateful and polite thing to do with a gift? The answer is pretty simple: Use it.

The guy who started one of the triathlons I competed in last year (Tri to Make a Differencethe fish/vomit one at Lake Tanglewood near Amarillo, Texas) got into triathlons because his son was born with a rare neurological disorder. They soon discovered that he would never be able to walk, ride a bike, care for himself or communicate much. One of the reasons the dad then began running, biking, and swimming was because he could — and because his son would never be able to. Simple? Yes, but really inspiring to me. It’s a way to celebrate your blessings. It’s a way to embrace life and be grateful for what you have. Something as common as the ability to move around is a gift…only you don’t realize how much until the movement stops.


That’s inspiring to me. It’s become a good explanation for why I do stuff. Why do I run? Because I can. Why do I swim? Because I can. I jump on the trampoline and make art and play drums and write books and wrestle with my kids because I can. Not everyone is able do those things, and for me to sit on my natural abilities and never use them is to be ungracious, lazy, selfish, and flat-out ungrateful. To ignore those things so I can spend more time on Facebook or watching TV or otherwise goofing off is to leave a particular gift unwrapped and forgotten in the closet. It’s an insult to the Giver of every good and perfect gift.


Rest, of course, is good. Always good. But so is activity.

Which is why I do a lot of stuff. I live a busy (but very satisfying) life. Why do I do it? Because I can.

I dare not waste a blessing.

Which leads to this question: Are there any gifts in your life that are gathering dust in a closet?

If so, maybe it’s time to dust them off.

Comments read comments(12)
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posted January 7, 2009 at 12:48 pm

One of my reasons for getting fit this year is similar. I have a daughter with mild cerebral palsy. She walks with a limp and can’t grasp things well with her left hand. I see how hard she works just to be able to function normally and I realize it is just a luxury that I can do nothing and still be able to walk and run perfectly. I want to maintain my functioning body in a way that respects the intense therapy she endures just to reach “normal.”

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Ingram Gang

posted January 7, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Jason,I just stumbled upon your blog and I know who you are from PBC. Actually, I really know your family members, but well…you get the point. I loved your reasonings for working out and think you are really wise for taking the time to determine exactly why you ‘do what you do.’ Doing that always provides a level of accountability for me. You are an extremely talented writer. Ashley Ingram

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Susanne Barrett

posted January 7, 2009 at 2:14 pm

I am trying to work back into fitness, but for me it’s going to be a long journey. Seven years ago this month I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Since then I’ve also received diagnoses of rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. I was in a wheelchair for three years and only with heavy narcotics (fentanyl patches for three years and now methadone pills) can I live a 50% normal life; I’m still in constant pain but it’s liveable most of the time. I can walk for about five to ten minutes and have worked up to ten minutes on my recumbent stationary bike. I use a four-pronged cane everywhere but in our home, and still need a wheelchair for long shopping trips, going to the zoo or amusement parks, etc. Each night I have to soak in my special jacuzzi (made esp for people with RA) in order to sleep fairly well.So the ability to exercise is sweet to me. I wish I could do more. I used to be very active — swimming, bicycling, playing tennis, hiking, long walks, but that isn’t possible now. I appreciate that you value your ability to exercise. I get a little peeved at people complaining about exercising when it’s a blessing to be able to move one’s body without pain. Anyway, the fact that you CAN DO IT is indeed a blessing, and I’m glad that you view it that way. I pray that it can also a blessing to me as I *slowly* try to work up to walking and biking. I tried too much biking last week (18 minutes) and was couch-ridden for two days. Thanks for not taking your ability to exercise for granted. :)

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Jason Boyett

posted January 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm

Thank you, Susanne, for your honesty about your journey and contribution to the discussion. You’re exactly right about those who complain about exercising…or just about those who complain in general (which, admittedly, I can occasionally be). All the best to you as you continue to “catch up” and fight against those physical challenges.

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posted January 8, 2009 at 12:13 am

I still wanna hang out with fake Jason. He doesn’t make resolutions.

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posted January 8, 2009 at 8:36 am

I find it interesting that if we look at the original Hebrew word that gets translated as “blessing” – it’s not so much the idea of getting stuff as it is having a sense that you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and being who you are supposed to be – the idea of living “in the zone” kind of thing – which means something very different for each individual. I often find myself wondering what this world would be like if everyone experienced that kind of blessing – and did everything just because they could.All that to say, keep doing what you’re doing – fitness, introspection, the whole thing.

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Jason Boyett

posted January 8, 2009 at 8:44 am

Thanks, Ken, for that insight. I think defining a blessed life as “being where you’re supposed to be” or “being who you are” is a fascinating, hopeful definition. I’d like to learn more about that in relation to the Hebrew. Can you point me to any online resources that talk about this?

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posted January 8, 2009 at 11:18 am

“I dare not waste a blessing” My new favorite quote! Wow. So simple, but so transforming! Thanks!

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Angela Hart

posted January 8, 2009 at 2:01 pm

This is inspiring to me as well as I’m currently wasting my abilities to run, bike and swim. I do triathlon’s as well, believe it or not. I did a handful of sprint ones last year and one full Olympic tri. That said, I’m the most reluctant exerciser I know. Seriously. And so far 2009 has seen me in the pool for about an hour and that’s it. One hour of cardio. Seven days, each with their set of a full 24 hours. So I take inspiration where I can get it and in this moment, that’s your blog. So thank you. And YES WE CAN!! (Now I’m going to forward this post to my exercise guru who is the second most reluctant exerciser I know.)

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clarissa h.

posted January 23, 2009 at 9:33 am

it is obvious i should have left my first comment as an abundance of caution, i should focus on my work before my boss thinks she is paying me to read blogs….in this economy, you don’t want your boss to catch you being unproductive….well she isn’t here, so i guess i can read a few more entries and comment. i must say you are on the right track, exercising is great, something i should do too….whether you are physically fit or carrying a little baggage, we are all blessed with bodies that our heavenly father wants us to take care of…so whatever inspires us is good enough.

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Janet Oberholtzer

posted September 8, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Good for you! Congrats on your physical goals/accomplishments. Love your #3!!My girlfriend and I started a running club last year called "Because I Can" And we are now happy to have shirts with the name on – we feel so official;)I have a nasty leg wound (think shark bite) from a vehicle accident – docs told me running was in my past and would not be part of my future. But thanks to God, skilled docs and amazing healing – I run again.

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Jason Boyett

posted September 8, 2009 at 3:39 pm

Wow. Thanks for commenting, Janet. That's inspiring. Thanks for linking to those photos. Keep it up!

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