Friday, September 9, 2016

Moderation: Let's Try This Again

I keep trying to tie my appetite/habits to the liturgical calendar and seasons, while also trying to live out the Rule of St. Benedict, as well as some of what Pope Francis talked about in Laudato Si' - it really feels right, like it's a way to find moderation, to tie it to seeking virtue, and uniting my efforts to the cross. Here's another try, making it simple to the best of my ability.

Seafood: They recommend eating seafood at least three times a week; to the best of my ability, I'll eat seafood on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My attempt to have fresh fish on those days proved too expensive at this time, so I've purchased frozen fish and am trying to make some recipes other than a fillet with veggies on the side.

Vegetarian meals: Under normal circumstances, my lunch is usually a salad, but dinner on Tues, Thurs, and Sat (when not a feast or Solemnity) shall also be vegetarian (either another salad or a vegetarian meal). I have several cookbooks and websites that offer wonderful and creative vegetarian meals. Plus, I'll allow myself to enjoy a pasta meal as a vegetarian meal, no more than twice a month (because I always overdo things - it's very easy to eat WAY too much pasta).

Wednesdays & Fridays: Fast days; as the Church recommends, on these days only one full meal and two smaller meals, that when taken together, do not exceed the size of the full meal. Additionally, these days are ones of abstinence (no meat). For better use of my time, I also fast from social media on these days. The same will be conducted on Ember days.

Waste Not, Want Not: I have a cupboard absolutely filled with ingredients - dried and canned beans, brown rice, bouillon, seasoning, herbs - and it continues to sit there, month after month, as I spend, spend, spend on new ingredients. For once, I'm going to be a real home cook and prepare the stuff I have at home; to be creative, and to use what I have on-hand (perhaps I might run to the store for an onion or broth or something like that, but until I cook it all, I'm not buying anything else on a grand scale). Starving people would kill to have what I ignore in my pantry.

Solemnities (including Sundays) & feast days: Days to eat meat during one of my meals, and to enjoy alcohol (other than wine, which is consumed daily with dinner); no junk food. Ever. Even on Solemnities. No.

Snacks & Dessert: Most modern "diet" plans recommend eating every two or three hours so as to keep blood sugar/insulin levels level, which helps in weight loss and in regulating hunger; I've found all of these things to be true, so I will continue to do this. I usually take unsalted nuts, fruit, string cheese, yogurt, and Organic Protein from Stoneyfield Farms - stuff like that. Dessert will continue to be mainly sugar-free Jello or some sweet fruit.

Eat/drink according to season: I want to live closer to the cycle of seasons, to enjoy a deeper relationship with Creation. One of the ways I hope to do that is to incorporate more products of the season into my diet; for instance, since autumn is starting soon, I'll try to make some meals that use squash, which is more abundant this time of year. Also, there are particular beers that are brewed in particular seasons and on the rare times I choose to have a beer, they will stay within that seasonal range.

Quality of products: My dream is to eat organic foods, and foods that are as natural (the least processed) as possible. Sadly, I just can't afford that kind of lifestyle right now - perhaps in a few months, after changing some of my purchasing habits. In the meantime, I'll continue to buy some organic and non-GMO products. Also, I will continue to eat whole grains over "white" foods.

Holidays/vacations: These are the rare times during the year, even though it may not be a Solemnity or feast, where I enjoy meat on a non-meat day (except Fridays) or have a few extra beers or a slice of cake or something. I'm talking about things like a person's birthday, July 4, Memorial Day, the day or two after Thanksgiving, or the rare times I'm on vacation; so we're only talking about a couple weeks' worth of days scattered over the course of a year. Every realistic "diet" plan suggests that you don't cut yourself completely off from these "naughty" snacks because (especially since I suffer from an addiction to overeating) you'll find yourself obsessing over having them until you explode and gorge. If it turns out I cannot handle having these things, then I'll have to use prayer and support in order to avoid them forever (kind of depressing, isn't it?).

Exercise: My least favorite part of all of this, but a necessary part. Right now I try to get 10,000 steps a day, mainly through my normal activities at work and in the home, as well as walking in the park for some fresh air. However, that's not enough to help me lose weight and burn off excess blood sugar; it kills me, but I'll probably have to rejoin a gym or buy some home exercise equipment sometime soon. In the meantime, I'll do my best to...

Get outdoors: Mentally speaking, I need to get out more often. Walks in the park, trips to the beach, star-gazing, fishing, visiting local parts, hiking, perhaps camping. I'd like to do this kind of stuff at least once a week. I can't spend my whole life indoors being lazy, and being out in nature will help me orient my life to caring for Creation, as set out by Pope Francis in Laudato Si' (carrying on what was started with St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI).

I try to do these things because I've never cared about my health for me. Whenever I lost weight, it was for someone or something else: to stay in shape for a loved one, to get into shape in order to attract someone, and other such reasons - it's never been because I deserve to be healthy or because our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit that should be treated with dignity and respect, especially since we're made in the image and likeness of God. So, I have a lot of self-image stuff to work on, to see my health as important, that I deserve to live a healthy life, because that's what God intended for me. I want to get off the medication, get my life in order, and live for the Lord and my neighbor to the best of my ability - I cannot do that while sitting on the couch, too sore to move, too full to stay awake, and too focused on myself.

I know God loves me no matter what my size, but the proof that God doesn't intend for us to be obese is the fact that obesity leads to hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, bad joints, and all sorts of other health issues. I used to disregard my health because I never cared about my appearance, seeing such a thing as vanity, plus convincing myself that I wanted people to only care about what was on the inside. Lastly, I have never been interested in living a long time - to this day, as long as I have been to confession, the Lord can take me anytime because I believe in him and believe that he is faithful to his promises. This world sucks. I long for the day when Jesus triumphantly throws Satan, his demons, and even death into the pit so that Creation is fully renewed and we once again live in the loving presence of God forever and ever. Why would I want to delay my part in that plan by trying my best to live as long as possible? No, I want to live forever, but not in this world - in the next. How could I not? Just watch the death and destruction, hate and violence, on the news and then look at just some of the promises God has made to us:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid, and the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The sucking child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Is 11:6-9).

...and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Is 2:4).

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband; and I heard a great voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away" (Rev 21:1-4).

All these bad reasons for losing weight, plus dealing with what I believe is a lifetime of food addiction, I never cared about my health. However, meditating on the Rule of St. Benedict, becoming an oblate, praying the Daily Office, trying my best to go to daily Mass, continuing my education, and reading the writings of the saints (and our recent popes), my conscience is being challenged to live a life that's a bit more meager, offering to others, the less-fortunate, what I don't use on myself; it also keeps my mind more focused on the next life instead of just on this one. Lastly, it helps me remember how much I'm loved by God, even on those days when I'm frustrated, or angry, or depressed, or sinful. That's why I cannot give up on myself - because God never gives up on me.