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This Chubby Catholic

I'm a chubby Catholic.

I vaguely remember not being chubby...but this was mostly during my days as a toddler and young child. At some point I became "fat." I remember dieting as a middle school kid because I was too fat to be beautiful. I dieted, I got sick, I got better, and decided at some point that I loved myself for who I was.  At some point during 7th grade, I weighed myself and found that I was 170 pounds (for a 5' 4'', that's overweight) and was able to maintain that weight throughout high school and 2 years into college. Then I met a boy I liked, we started dating, and I started joining him for breakfast at the dining hall. He was a breakfast person, I was not. Before I met him, I was like a ninja in the mornings I had class. Class would start at 8:30 and I would get up at 8:15. During that 15 minutes, I jumped out of bed to hit the alarm before the second beep (I was on a top bunk), put oatmeal in the microwave, brushed my hair, got dressed, and brushed my teeth. With oatmeal in hand, I got my books, and ran to class. I usually made it on time...but all of this ended when I started joining the now-Fiance for breakfast.

WOW. For someone who had spent most of their life eating a quick bowl of cereal (and now oatmeal) in the morning, I quickly realized just how much I had missed out on. This dining hall had grits (a new favorite), buttermilk biscuits right out of the oven (another new favorite), turkey sausage, turkey bacon, doughnuts, cream of wheat, pancakes, waffles, and all kinds of other tasty food (which all became new favorites at one point or another). I proceeded to gain that infamous freshman 15 like it was nobody's business. Thankfully, I didn't really drink at all during my undergrad years.

One summer, I decided that I weighed way too much (I was 195 pounds) more because of the stretch marks appearing than my hating my body. I felt good about my body, but I was not too happy about my health and the stretchmarks. I figured that it would only go downhill if I continued gaining the weight...so I lost it. All of it. I went back down to 170ish and stayed that way until my masters degree....when the stress eating began. Again, back to the higher end of the 180s, but I managed to get back down to the high 170s by the end of the summer following my thesis defense.

Then I started my PhD and that led to a whole new world of stress eating. I've never been more stressed out in my life like I have been for the past few years between finals, avoiding any grade below a B at all costs, qualifying exams, and a string of failures as a researcher (because who doesn't have those?). I am back up to the 190s. Last summer, I got down to the mid-180s as I trained for a Warrior Dash...but it has been some time since I got back down to the 170s. If you go by body mass index, I am obese at anything above ~175...so you can say that it's been a fight with obesity for about 7 years.

Research life involves a lot of standing around or sitting down, so I don't get as much exercise as I would like throughout the day. I do get at least a good 30 minutes of walking a day...not counting the sprints in Penn Station...but that's about it. Factor in the PCOS with lack of physical movement in the day, and I have to say that it has been HARD to lose weight. I don't want to be model-thin and already have a wedding dress that fits my current size in a flattering way...so I don't want to lose weight for vanity.

I want to lose it because it may help with the PCOS (seems like a catch-22 here, weight loss and PCOS). However, based on the weight log I have kept since last year, I have been fluctuating between high 180s and low 190s for the past year. Don't get me wrong, I am happy that I actually weigh less than I did when I hit the 195 mark...but it feels like a hopeless endeavor at times. Still, I haven't given up.

I've been eating pretty healthy (lots of vegetables, not too much meat, and very little fried food). I still get tripped up with chocolate, especially when stressed out or I've hit that time of the month (at least this has been somewhat regular in the past few years...and now less painful since my surgery). However, I have started an ab challenge as well as a squat challenge. The incremental design of these routines has been pretty good on the knees even if the muscles are complaining now as I type. I haven't lost any weight, but I have already started feeling differences in my legs. They seem more muscular and I can now somewhat-easily (at least compared to before) do 50 squats without falling over dead. I could barely do 16 the first day. I feel that I am making progress day by day, even if it isn't drastic and even if the results aren't as immediate.

I got a couple of comments during a birthday party I went to recently about my weight. I didn't believe them at the time, but maybe they were right. It is finally starting to feel like my body is responding to the exercise and I haven't started slacking off yet. Perhaps in due time, I can get a bit more rigid with my workout...but I will take it one day at a time and see where I stand once these 30 day programs are completed. Right now it seems like I can fit a quick workout at night...but I am worried that it may be tough to keep it up once I have to start spending long nights in the lab. I guess I should just take it one day at a time.

One thing I haven't really done yet is getting God involved in my quest for a healthier lifestyle and body weight. I don't intend to ask Him to make me just lose 10 pounds overnight without any effort on my end...but I simply don't know how to pray for something like this. How do I pray for help in weight management when I am uncertain of how well I can keep it up? How do I pray for help in maintaining a routine...without it sounding superficial? Has anyone out there ever prayed for help in this department? I mean, I have more than enough experienced praying for His help in school, help with the family, the dead, the sick, those who have lost loved ones, etc. These seem like legitimate needs that should be prayed for. Can stress-eating count as a health issue? Is that legitimate enough?
"Manducare Panem Tuam" from Catholic Memes
Praying for weight management just doesn't sound as important as praying for the sick, etc. I mean, I am not really suffering from weight issues (except for the PCOS, which can be more manageable if I lose some weight)...and it sometimes feels like it would be selfish of me to pray for this when there is so much else to pray for.

Anyone out there have any ideas? Has anyone out there tried to involve God in their weight management? Anyone have any success? PLEASE let me know! It's times like these and questions like these that sometimes make me wish that I had gone for a theology degree and not biology...

Pax Vobiscum

3 comments:

  1. I don't think it is silly or selfish at all! My mom struggled with the PCOS/weight loss combination all my life so I have seen how difficult it is.

    God made us body and soul, and what makes us human is that these two parts of our being are not separate but intimately connected, so our physical well being matters very much. It sounds to me like your motivation is good--you're not trying to be a supermodel, you are trying to be healthy. And prayers for that don't somehow "take away" from prayers for "bigger" things. :) I believe God wants us to share every aspect of our lives with him, not just the things that are big enough to feel "important." That is part of what intimacy means.

    As a stay-at-home mother I know I often pray for little things--"Lord, PLEASE help me have the energy to make dinner today." "Guardian angel, please help my baby settle down and take the nap I know he needs!" These things are part of my vocation and I need grace to help survive them! ;)

    Similarly, physical health is important in being who we are called to be. So I don't think that bringing your concerns about weight loss to the Lord is silly, and I don't think you need to worry about how you phrase it. Be honest and above all SIMPLE. View the temptation to stress-eating as a cross that you must carry (it is!) and ask Him for His help in carrying it.

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  2. Oh, absolutely pray for this! Our bodies belong to God, and we need help keeping them running properly, especially since we live in a society where eating on the run and eating processed food is a problem.

    My (much older) body has announced that it's had enough and that I need to be careful. But the thing that has helped me even more than that is that I realized that what I was doing had a spiritual dimension and that I was committing the sin of gluttony. I confessed it as such and then after a couple weeks I took what I would have spent in bad stuff and put it to a meal for the local homeless. I find that adding the spiritual dimension to my quest for a healthier body has helped me a lot more than thinking of it in terms of just a diet or just getting the proper amount of exercise.

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  3. Thank you for your very supportive words! I have started ASKING FOR HELP from above rather than just trying to do it myself... while I may have slipped a few times, I think I have been getting better overall. Perhaps I may have a success story when all is said and done...God willing of course!

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