Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Food Was Meant For The Stomach

Fr. Dale Matson

I have struggled with being overweight since my early 20’s. I was called “Butter Butt” by my platoon sergeant in the army, but not for long. Basic and advanced individual training (AIT) brought me back down to a reasonable weight of 170 pounds for my 6 foot frame. Unfortunately, it has been a matter of up and down since that time.

In the early 1990’s I discovered what I thought was the silver bullet. It was exercise. I became a long distance runner with marathons and ultra-marathons. I did learn to see food as fuel and kept a reasonable weight but still struggled, since running is a gravity sport that challenges every overweight runner. I did not want to be in the Clydesdale class of marathoners. Most distance runners know what their ideal running weight is and it is usually about 10% below the “normal” average for their height.

I also joined weight watchers in 1999 and although this is not intended as a promotion, they did raise my level of consciousness about portion size, keeping track of calories “in” and eating only until you are satisfied not until you can barely breathe. I have been a lifetime member of the clean plate club also. I was trained by my parents to finish everything on my plate to qualify for the reward of a desert.

I have been blessed (yes, blessed) to have a genetic family predisposition for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high triglycerides. All of these factors can be moderated by exercise, diet and weight.

Here is the rub with calories “out” as a means of weight control. Eventually, you will become injured and or older with a slower metabolism. This purging through exercise is not the way to control weight nor is it the proper focus.  I have found that Proper diet is the single most important factor in weight maintenance. For me it was almost, “Too soon old, too late smart”.

So, what does this have to do with God? Once I broke through the denial and stepped on the scales to learn what my pants had already told me, I gave this problem to God. Well, how did He help in this? He allowed me a wakeup call. After a routine treadmill stress test, my blood pressure was so high; my doctor referred me to a cardiologist. Yes, the blood work revealed my cholesterol was way too high also. What a birthday present that was! The cardiologist told me that 90% of the people he worked with had lifestyle issues. I promised him I would lose weight and try the treadmill again.

On October 1st I went on a diet that reduced carbohydrates, increased protein (fish, chicken), reduced portion size  and for the first time in 30 years, I actually ate a breakfast. I still exercised but actually reduced my time on the bike, in the pool, and running. I still worked out with weights three times a week because muscle does require more calories than fat. I recorded my prayers about this every morning and asked God to help me with being disciplined. I also ate slower and thought about the blessing of adequate food in great variety that was available to me. As a runner and backpacker, I was well aware of the full multiday pack (35 pounds) of extra weight I was carrying around every day. Sharon was supportive and helped with nutritious meals with moderate portions.

I thank God that He has allowed me to finally lose this 35 pounds gradually and it has been mostly fat loss not muscle loss. My Systolic blood pressure is down 20 points and cholesterol is down 50 points.
I offer this as encouragement for those who may read this and hope those who struggle with lifestyle issues like me seek God’s help in this, along with good medical advice. God sends us to doctors also. Remember, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. Praise God that He is the savior of the whole person. Amen

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