So 2012 will probably be the year that I look back and remember that I got my weight back. For more than decade I have been struggling
with my weight. I never put weight on until I was thirty; I guess soccer three times a week and running 13 miles a few times a week helped keep me trim. When you are thin until you are 30 then you never see yourself as fat. Those who get to know you after your thin period never see you as thin. It is an interesting tangling of identities. Anyway, this year I took on the flab and won. At least I am currently winning. The good thing about being way over weight is that when
you lose 52lbs people call you “thin” even if you are still officially in the overweight band! There are a few pounds to go yet but in some quarters I am a slimmer of some substance! How did I do it and were there spiritual lessons in the dietary mix!?
First the physical secret. Slimming World. Not that I went to a class. No, my mother was doing Slimming World and when she got a
second book for her home by the sea she thought I needed it more than her hideaway apartment. What made me think I might like this diet was when she gave me a fry to get me started! Lean meat? OK! Eggs? OK? Nimble bread was a price to pay but hey! Eating this tasty diet meal, my mother explained that I was able to eat as much potato, boiled rice and pasta as I liked! Lean meats were also
permissable and of course vegetables and fruit. What have ejected I from my diet? Well, cakes and donuts for sure. Chips, ice cream and that half packet of biscuits I might have dunked in one cup of tea! Muller Light Yogurts have become my best friends especially the chocolate sprinkled ones and the Greek ones! These cover my sweet tooth’s cravings. Also, and this has been important, one Weight Watchers’ Chocolate Digestive after tea and supper! Disciplining one
biscuit has been vital and these are actually very tasty!
The Slimming World regime took a couple of stone off in a couple of months; very quickly. After three months it was both necessary and
actually enjoyable to up the exercise. I needed that first 30lbs off to make it safe! I started on the exercise bike but I was always a runner so I started running the hills when we went out with the dog. Eventually I was doing a little running. This has been a psychological battle. When I was in my twenties I thought I’d go for a run and on my first attempt ran 9 miles and didn’t feel stretched. I was able to average 6 minute miles over 6 miles and 7 minute miles over 13
miles. To be starting with half a mile at an average mile pace of 10 minutes has been humiliating but apart from a break for illness in December I am building the running up. Then Zumba entered my life like a blessing. Janice and I met Lorna McIlwaine after a walk in Lagan Meadows. After a chat about her Zumba classes I suggested she did one in Fitzroy and within weeks she was. I have found Zumba physically effective and also enjoyed the fun. Without doubt Zumba, added to the running, has shifted the last 15lb. I always weigh in after that class and what a fun, if physically testing, class it is.
This physical work has been dressed up in a spiritual truth that cannot be underestimated in my fight of the flab. I realised about the
middle of October that my life in general was a little more chilled than I remembered it being in a long time. I was more relaxed and had more time to walk the dog or spend time with the family. Haunted by the Protestant work ethic I worried I was slacking in my job but after some inner investigation I realised that the answer was a new sense of place. For some twenty years I had been working hard every year to find my place in a new group of people. I had been a University Chaplain for 15 years and so every year there was a new student community to force my way into. That led to stressful mad effort and when I found my place they had graduated and I started all over again. Being in Fitzroy for over three years was new ground and feeling that I had found my place and my people allowed me time to find myself. I have no doubt that that has been a huge contributing factor to the success of this regime; spiritual belonging!
One last thing. If you know someone who is losing weight be a Christian brother or sister. Imagine their battle with food as you
would an alcoholic’s battle with drink. If your friend was an alcoholic you would not go on about how good the whiskey you are drinking is. You would not constantly ask them to come to the pub with you. You would not drink their favourite drinks beside them. One of the many imbalances of evangelical Christianity has been to see drink as the big danger to the “Temples of the Holy Spirit” and to treat other physical dangers less seriously. I have had some of my community help me by avoiding putting that plate of buns in my face at Church functions but others have carelessly taunted me with temptation. This battle is tough. So help!
And so... on into 2013 with even more ambition. More weight loss. More fitness. Back in May I suggested at the front of Fitzroy that
we should have an over 50s Relay Team in the Belfast Marathon. It was a rash commitment but here I am positively believing that it is achievable and after that who knows what...