This is probably the wrong time to broach the subject of weight. Advent and with Christmas time is not when we want to think about losing or maintaining our weight. In celebrating this time of year, food is often at the center of our parties and exchanges: potlucks at work, Christmas parties, New Year’s parties—food is all around us. All the eating often instigates regret; we overeat, over-imbibe, too much sugar, too many rich foods. We lament the weight gain that comes with this time of year. We do not turn down food offered to us, because we know, “Jenny’s famous apple pie is to die for.” Others prepare dishes as an expression of love for others in their lives, and to turn down such a gift would be offensive. I find myself in this position every holiday season, and this year I decided to head this off before I got in over my head.
Now, I am not at a weight that I am comfortable with. I am a yo-yo. My weight goes up and down frequently. I have had three significant weight losses in my adulthood, followed by three reversions to the original weight I had started out with. The first two gains were due to pregnancy—never took off that “baby weight.” The third was graduate school—no time to exercise or plan meals. I have had a million excuses. I know I will get to that frame of mind to get back on that horse and lose the weight, but that time is not now.
However, it is eating season. I told myself I cannot let myself gain any more than I already have. I need a means of maintaining so that my health does not suffer and keeping up with an eight year old little dancer is not a labored effort. Vanity is no longer the issue it was when I was younger, but this is a matter of being a disciplined individual in all aspects of my life, so that is where my faith comes in. I believe that God wants me to be a person who is not gluttonous, but not vain either. Losing weight is often about looking a certain way, but at this point in my life, I find it is about focus and discipline– two attributes that will help lead me to Heaven. If I look at it that way, losing weight serves a greater purpose.
I need to move my body more and celebrate this gift that God has given me. My body is capable of running and dancing and jumping and playing. A stagnant body does not celebrate the gift God has bestowed me with. Focus and discipline of course are parts of exercise; I need to initiate these more in this realm as well. All this takes strength, strength I am not always sure I have.
I know that when I need strength, I must turn to prayer, so why should my weight loss or weight maintenance or exercise efforts be any different. I decided to ask God for discipline this season: to enjoy food as sustenance and for the love with which it was prepared, but not to overdo it. I started a 54 day Rosary Novena which will end at Christmas. This has helped me with discipline of prayer. Every morning before I begin my day, I pray this meditation, asking Mary to intercede on my behalf for the intention of strength and discipline, among other intentions. I follow up the Rosary recitation with a Novena to Mary prayer, acknowledging my struggles and weaknesses, and then complete my prayer with The Memorare.
After several weeks of this, I have found that I am empowered when it comes to food. I am not serving myself as much in quantity; gluttony is not overtaking me. I look at food and appreciate it more for aspects other than taste: the amount of love that went into preparing it, the energy that it sustains. I am not looking at myself in the mirror with disgust any longer. (Yes, unfortunately, I was doing that too often.) I have no inclination to weigh myself either. I do not know if I have lost weight over the last several weeks, but my clothes are not quite as tight. I am becoming motivated to exercise and offering it up as a way of praying and valuing the healthy body I have been given. I have prayed the Rosary while working out on the treadmill– walking the Our Father, and running the Hail Marys. When I have found myself wanting to eat out of stress or boredom, I ask the Blessed Mother for her intercession. A simple Hail Mary usually helps. I have sampled holiday goodies, but I am not serving myself full pieces of pies or pastries. I pray I can continue to use this strategy to get into an earnest mindset of significant weight loss by becoming disciplined in my eating and exercise habits.
Weight issues plague so many of us, hopefully my approach might help someone else who has these same struggles. Are there any strategies associated with your faith or prayer that have helped you become healthier and disciplined?
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Charla is a life-long Catholic, married since 1995. She has three children who attend Catholic school and university. Charla has been teaching high school English literature at the same Catholic high school she attended for over 15 years. She has Bachelor of Arts degrees in English, Latin American Studies, and Secondary Education, as well as a Masters degree in Education. Charla has served as a lector and Eucharistic minister at her parish and school. She enjoys reading, cooking, running, and all activities involving her children. Her special devotions are to the Blessed Mother, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and the Holy Rosary.