A Response to Recent Comments About My Weight

I have received many comments about my weight lately. Most comments have been positive and encouraging, but there have been many concerned questions, too. The time and place have not always been appropriate for me to offer a detailed response, so this blog begins. Yes, I have lost quite a bit of weight since November 2011. I cannot say precisely how much because I have not been monitoring or paying attention to that number. Losing this weight has come as a result of a few changes. Let me explain.

 

1)    Over a year ago I noticed that I often felt tired. I went to the doctor without many specific conclusions, so I became more conscientious about my sugar intake thinking that if I had a steadier blood sugar, then my energy level would be steadier. I have noticed improved energy and stamina since I have significantly reduced the amount of sugar I take in, including high glycemic white potatoes, processed white grains, bananas, pineapple, etc. Regular desserts, especially processed bakery goods, are not enjoyable or tasty to me anymore, and make me not feel well. An internal concern pushed me to make external changes.   

 

2)    One of my assignments in fall 2011 for a Practical Theology course was to choose a topic to reflect on individually and as a class theologically and practically. I, as you may also, often see articles online about food ethics, ‘healthy’ eating, etc. The large volume of these secular articles and some conversations with friends led me to my topic for the semester– food ethics. As this was a 1 semester, 10 page assignment, I narrowed down to focus mainly on a relationship between Christianity and factory farming. Factory farming refers to mass production of food, especially meat and animal-derived food. I watched Food Inc. [which I have mixed feelings about], read specifically Christian sources and not specifically faith-based sources, made observations as I shopped each week, and had many conversations with friends and professors. I am especially thankful for Dr. Jacober’s [and Dr. Tran’s!] guidance during this project. One conclusion that I came to is that current factory farming methods, as I understand them, have evolved [or devolved] as demand has increased, into conflict with my understanding and application of Christian stewardship.

 

I do not think there is a mass evil conspiracy in the food production industry as some alarmists suggest. Rather, over time cheaper and more efficient methods became possible, then were implemented with thoughtlessness or no way of knowing how the changes would affect the food industry and people’s long term wellness. Technology now has capabilities, such as hormone manipulation or abusive poultry practices, to alter animals from their God-given creature-liness by forcing a cow to produce entirely more milk than she was intended to, for example. I believe God made animals to use and to eat, and God calls for humans to be responsible as Adam and Eve tended to the plants and animals in The Garden. As the Amish proverb goes– take what you need and need what you take. I desire to live more responsibly and thoughtfully which includes changing my eating habits.

 

I slowly phased out meat. During the months of phasing out meant, I once bought meat from Homestead Heritage [similar to an Old Order Mennonite community], but found that I did not enjoy it. Even though I knew their community uses responsible agriculture practices, I found that I do not enjoy meat anymore. Another conclusion I came to was to make the best choices with what is available. The Desert Fathers would set aside some spiritual convictions to be good recipients of hospitality, so I thought I should do the same. However, I felt sick after receiving hospitality that included meat. I now try to politely and non-judgmentally respond to my hosts that I would not like any meat, thank you. It is difficult for me to feel like I am being difficult, so thank you for your graciousness if we share a meal together.

 

3)    Also last fall, I began playing intramural flag football. [Go Truett Ngan-inators!] We had fun and won most of our games. However, it quickly became clear to me that I was not able to keep up with the other ladies as much as I would have liked. After the season ended, I committed to going for walks, bicycling, stretching, etc. in order to be more fit. I am thankful to live in a neighborhood and home that safely facilitates outdoor [and sometimes indoor!] physical activity. I typically do yoga style stretches and a few weight reps each day to keep loose and take a breather. On a good day, I enjoy an after dinner walk [sometimes more of a stroll, and other times more of a trot] or a morning bike ride. Overall, I feel good, but I am uncomfortable if I don’t at least stretch each day. My body has changed toward communicating its need for physical activity more clearly. These times of walks, stretching, and so on have also doubled as stress-evaluation and prayer time! Bonus!

 

All of these semi-unrelated changes– sugar, meat, and physical activity– formed a perfect storm of pushing toward a deeper sense of wellness [physically, spiritually, mentally, socially]. All of my doctors say I am in good overall health. [even my dentist and hairdresser say those areas look better, too!] There is no reason to assume that I am ill. Truly, my focus was so much on the internal changes [conviction, attitude, etc.] leading to these external changes that I found myself surprised that I was losing weight, and I certainly never expected to lose this much! I don’t know how long these changes will stay as I take 1 day at a time, or if lost weight will return. I am unsure when I will re-level out and hit a new normal weight. However, I will continue pursuing thoughtful and responsible holistic wellness. I appreciate the well-meaning comments and questions from supportive/concerned dear ones about my external appearance, but I am more interested in internally focused comments and questions such as– what does it mean to be healthy and whole?

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