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Sunday, November 1, 2009

If There Were an ALL SAINTS DAY in Weight Loss...

Today, November 1, the day after All Hallow's Eve, is well, All Hallows Day--All Saints Day. Christians commemorate those who have been blessed with the beatific vision, ie, they are in heaven in utter and total bliss with God.

I know some who are there, now, among the holy. :)

But in thinking about the significance of today, I had this weird tangent of a thought: What if there were an All Saints of Weight Loss Day? These are not people in heaven, but here on earth who, rather than having attained purity and holiness with the Creator, have achieved harmony and health and a normal weight through strong efforts and self denial--and perhaps a solid dose of heavenly grace, too. I never discount that.

After all, the path of spiritual holiness is one of self-abnegation, learning new habits of godliness, giving up the old sins for new virtues, learning to think and see and feel in ways contrary to what our physical/worldly nature may lead us to think and see and feel, changing oneself into a better state. It involves often having a mentor or many mentors who are walking the same path. It involves daily effort and concentration. It involves self-awareness for the purpose of a new becoming. It involves, often, rituals that are tried and true. It involves affirmations (holy texts, prayers, chants, songs, poetry). It involves commitment and vows. It means having a very clear goal(s) and wanting it wholeheartedly. It involves the mind and soul, not just the body. It may mean losing old friends who are hindrances and acquiring new, supportive friends in a like-minded community. I could go on...

I think you see the correlations.

It's not easy attaining a goal, whether spiritual or mundane. And even something like successful weight loss--as far as I've observed from those who have done it, lost a lot of weight and KEPT IT OFF long-term/forever--requires the sort of steps that gaining holiness does.

It's time-consuming, requires dedication and persistence, requires a change of life that is significant, may result in many failures before there is success, and it is life-long. You don't stop and get results.

Those of us who admire saints, who take saints names for our middle names in rituals of the faith, who understand that they were mere mortals just like us, but somehow by the grace of God and their own will and desire, accomplished notable things--we understand that they are examples and motivators. If we're selfish or materialistic, we can learn from St. Francis or St. Claire how to free ourselves from the bonds of wanting things in order to want something better. If we think a sickly woman can't make a difference, we can look at St. Teresa of Avila and see how that is a lie. If we feel cowardly, we can learn from St. Peter that cowardice can turn into great boldness through faith.

For those of us feeling bound by fat, trapped in gluttony or sloth (ie, we eat too much and we aren't active enough), we can look to "Diet Saints", those who have gone before and been successful and share their experiences and diet "rituals" with us. I think we've noticed that while all journeys differ, since all journeys are not equally full of obstacles and setbacks, those who succeed share at least some similar traits. They had to stop a and do b, learn x and unlearn y and adapt to z. In successful weight loss, unless we're really, really not observant, we can see the obvious similarities among the "saints".

But the differences in journeys are helpful, because we may find kinship in A's journey moreso than B, as they are more similar to us in situation, health, obesity, financial status, etc. I cannot identify with a 20-something with 20 lbs to lose. But I can identify with a 40-something with 100+ pounds to lose who has chronic health issues. We each look for our own "saints" to guide us.

Doesn't look like there is an official patron saint of dieting/dieters, but man, given the obesity epidemic, someone in charge should get on it. I do like the suggestions that are implied by this charm bracelet. (Although I always thought St. Catherine of Siena was more like an eating disorder saint, frankly.)

If there were an All Saints of Weight Loss Day, we'd be celebrating the ones who got slim and fit and kept up the good fight til the end.

Do you have someone who is your Diet Saint? Someone that you look to as a role model for virtuous eating and self-sacrificial exercising? More than one?

If not, look for one. We all need some kind of saints in our lives.

5 comments:

Jim Purdy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim Purdy said...

"Do you have someone who is your Diet Saint? Someone that you look to as a role model for virtuous eating and self-sacrificial exercising?"

No, because I think self-sacrifice is entirely the wrong approach. I think that a workable diet or lifestyle has to be one that people can stick with, without sacrifice.

For me, my food cravings seem to be caused by carbohydrates, and a workable and easy diet for me is apparently going to be a low-carb diet of some kind, like Atkins.

I'm no self-sacrificing saint, just a heretic.

So burn me at the stake as a heretic. Or would burning me at stake make me a saint?

Anonymous said...

Nah, I don't consider low-carbers heretics. If it works for you, it works for you. But you still had to give up a lot of carbs. I tried low-carb, but I could not live without pasta and pizza and bread. I'm not a saint when it comes to that kind of self-sacrifice. :)

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