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Pinnacle Presbyterian Church

Echoes Blog

The Orange Theory of Life

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And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone… Matthew 14:23  

A little over a year ago, I joined a new gym called Orange Theory. They claim to be a 5 zone interval training gym.  Each zone is based on a percentage of your max heart rate. The grey zone, is light activity with a heart rate zone up to 60%. Blue is a warm up with the heart rate between 61 to 70%. Green is 71% to 83% and should be challenging but doable. Orange, the ideal zone, 84% to 91% should be uncomfortable. The last zone is red, which is all out at 91% and higher.

With a name like Orange Theory, my first day in the gym I thought the goal was to spend the entire 50-minute workout in the orange zone. Hence the name Orange Theory. So on my first work out, I did everything I could to stay in the orange zone. I ran fast, rowed hard, lifted weights as fast as I could, all while keeping my heart rate in the orange zone as long as I could. I even went so far as jogging to refill my water, in an effort to get as many minutes in orange as possible. It was hard and uncomfortable, I was barely able to catch my breath in my effort to stay in the orange and red zone. At the end of that first class I looked up exhausted, but with pride as I spent 39 minutes of the 50 in the orange zone. Despite the fact that I felt like my heart was going to explode, I rocked it!! I spent more time in the orange zone than anyone else in the class, and it was only my first day. I thought it wouldn’t be long before I was able to reach the 45 to 50-minute mark.

Being full of pride, the trainer took me over, after the workout, to discuss how I did. I was excited by the expectation of hearing her say, “I have never seen anyone destroy a workout like that before!” I sat there waiting, but instead of praise I got, “That is a good start, but we need to work on getting you out of the orange zone.”  I was confused because what I thought was the goal, actually wasn’t the goal at all. The goal is only to spend 12-16 minutes in the orange zone, and the rest of the workout in the green or the doable zone. That is the ideal amount of time to burn calories. Any more than that exhausts your body, causing an excess level of physical and emotional stress on your muscles and ligaments. I found out that the workouts are designed to raise your heart rate up into the orange zone and then drop you back into the green so that you get the most out of the workout without having burnout. 

We often find ourselves spending our lives the same way I spent my first class, always in the orange zone. We feel if we run hard enough, if we spend enough time in the orange zone teetering on red, we will be better off or that we will get more done. That is a lie the world tells us. Running our lives in the orange zone should be uncomfortable, but for many of us, it is the norm. However running our lives at 84-91% every day only leads to burn out, isolation, anxiety, and depression, and it is not what Jesus had intended for us when he talks about having an abundant life. If we want to live the life that God has intended for us, we have to spend less time running our lives in the orange and red zones and more time in the green.  The only way to do that is to slow down.

Jesus knew the importance of taking time to rest. After a long day of teaching, ending with him feeding 5000 people, he dismisses the crowd, including his disciples. Jesus knew he had spent enough time in the orange and red zone, and he needed to rest and more importantly spend time in prayer. This isn’t the only time in the Bible where we find Jesus intentionally removing himself from a crowd and the needs of the community to seek solace and to pray. Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah, the one who walked on water and raised the dead, knew that it was essential to take time to rest. So why is it that we often have a difficult time doing it ourselves?  Is the stuff we have to do more important than the things that Jesus did?

October is almost over, and we are gearing up for the holidays. I would like to encourage you when you find your life running in the orange zone or even the red, to take time to slow down, rest, and pray. If you take the time, you will be amazed at how much better you will feel and how much more enjoyable life is, when you only spend 12 minutes a day in the orange zone.