Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Out with the old and in with the new

I am having a terrible morning for one reason.  I feel fat.

In my opinion, I have been eating a lot recently.  In addition, I have not been exercising.

In my mind, those two things need to be delicately balanced in order to maintain a healthy weight and healthy attitude.

In the past, I have lived by the rule: food=matter and exercise=anti-matter.  Without getting into all the details, I falsely believed that every morsel of consumed food would directly attach itself to my body.  And if I don’t exercise, I will increasingly continue to gain weight.

However, the body is a complex system.  Even with all the scientific advances and knowledge available to us, we do not know everything there is to know about nutrition and health.  Each person is unique.  And each person has their own metabolism, hormonal balance, digestive system, wants, needs, cravings, likes, and dislikes.  Not to mention, everyone has a heart, mind, and soul, as well as a body. When you eat, you nourish more than just your body.

This weekend, I felt like I ate when I was still training for my marathon.

I feel bad now because I don’t normally eat that way.  My body is not used to those amounts of food in that short of time.

I also feel bad because I feel guilty.  I regret what I ate and can’t seem to move on.  I feel like I have to run 10 miles to get the food out of my tummy and out of my thoughts.  I still hold on to those beliefs that everything I eat is going to make me gain weight.

To make it through, I have to remember two things.

First, if I trust myself and listen to my body and my needs, I will find balance and peace…maybe not today or tomorrow, but in time.

Second, it is okay.  So what if I ate more than usual?  It is NOT the end of the world.  All is NOT lost.

Eating healthier and finding balance after eating large amounts of non-nutritious food is a desire that originally comes from good intentions ingrained in our human nature.

Lots of people feel the need to eat a few more vegetables after the holidays.  After a long winter, some people feel like trying harder to exercise when the weather starts getting nice.  Or after big parties or events, you hear ultimatums left and right about starting "that diet" tomorrow.

You see, embedded in our human nature is the basic desire to refresh our body and begin anew.

Since we have a fallen and sinful human nature, we have to keep trying over and over.  We know in the depths of our being that we are meant for something greater; we are meant for perfection in eternal life.

This human characteristic is manifested in the “big picture” goal and in day to day life, as well.  It feels great to take a shower or get a haircut.  A personal favorite of mine is wearing clothes straight from the dryer.  In society, we love the thought of a blank new year, the start of the next week, and a fresh sunrise of a new day.

Would you leave a baby in a dirty diaper because he is just going to poop in it again soon?  No way!  You change diapers again and again, no matter how many times it gets smelly.

Further more, as Catholics, we love the beginning of Lent for the chance to start anew with good intentions to improve ourselves.  In addition, confession is a wonderful way we cleanse our souls and begin once more to live a pure and sinless life.

So, in light of all these examples, you can see that it is inherent in our human nature to purify ourselves and start over with a clean slate.

Now, the desire to start over is a two-fold process; out with the old, and in with the new.  I am pretty good at the “in with the new” part.  I am willing to change.  I want to change.  I think change is a good thing.  However, when it comes to the “out with the old” part, I have to be careful of how I go about the process.

My good intentions to start over can become obsessive.  If I am not careful, I can take it too far.  Instead of just getting rid of the old, I try to completely annihilate myself and re-build from scratch.  I treat myself more like an old building to be demolished and less like a human person.

Can I completely destroy myself and start over?  No.

I have struggled with this concept, however, for many years, especially when it comes to food.  After this weekend, all I wanted to do was refrain from eating and exercise until I dropped.  In reality, I really just wanted to strip my body down to the bones, and start again.  I pretty much wanted to kill my physical self and rebuild from my soul out.

As you can see, completely killing the body while still living in spirit is impossible.  We do not have the power to perform that task.  Yet I have tried to do this over and over again.  I am still tempted to do this even now, even after I see how crazy it is to try to do.

God is the only one who can separate our bodies from our souls, and that happens at the time of our death.  Our Lord teaches us through the Church that this phenomenon of body/soul separation is only temporary.  At the end of time, we will be rejoined to our bodies.  We profess in the Creed at Sunday Mass, “[I believe] in the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting”.  Amen!

So, how do I tie all this together?  The only answer to my question is to lead with my body and let my head catch up (See yesterday's post).  My head wants to obliterate my old body and start anew.  But I know those thoughts, coming from good intentions, are not good, to say the least.  I have to lead with my actions and ignore my brain.  I have to go through the motions of making myself a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and eating it even if I’d rather starve myself.  Hopefully, by the end of the day, I will at least feel good about not giving in to those temptations to annihilate my body.

Our bodies are good.  Treat your body with dignity and respect.  Your body has infinite value.  Why would God go through the trouble to reunite our souls to our bodies at the end of time if our bodies were bad?  Why would He give us back our bodies if they were not valuable?

Just some light thoughts to ponder today and discuss with your friends over lunch…

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