We are walking in the light of God
The un-diet, un-exercise routine
For most of my life I have been underweight and for a period of time in my teens and early twenties, I was severely underweight and under a doctor’s care for weight gain. So the idea of going on a diet to lose weight was a fairly new concept to me. This all changed when I hit my 40s and 40s. The metabolism slows down and the pounds creep on. Now the question is HOW does one loose the weight the doctor recommends?
The practice of a diet is NOT new to me. Since 1976 when I was in Navy boot camp, I have been producing and passing kidney stones (19 at last count and still more to go) and I have had dozens of doctors put me on a low calcium-oxalate diet — in short, anything that is heart healthy and good for you and that I am not supposed to eat or drink. This was until I met my new urologist — a retired Navy doc. He asked the first time I met him, “I bet you have been on a diet forever!” “Yep,” I responded. He went on to suggest to me that it is virtually impossible to stay on a diet forever, so he was going to use a medication to stop the forming of stones. My reaction was “oh, where have you been for the past 37 years?” This Navy doc got me thinking about how I might follow my other doctor’s recommendation to lose some weight — paying attention to what I eat and get moving.
A couple months ago I attended a CREDO2 conference. CREDO2 is an eight-day conference that invites clergy to form a rule of life around the themes of vocation, spirituality, financial, physical, and emotional well-being. One of the physical well-being recommendations from CREDO is to take 10,000 steps per day. Since I have never been a fan of “exercise” I thought that the idea of walking was right in my wheelhouse — walking I can do. So I combined some technology to my desire to get moving and bought a Fitbit One to count my daily steps and the iPhone App TacioHeath to track how I have been doing.
Since returning from CREDO in April, my bride Susan of 27 years and I have been making daily walks, even after long work days. These walks combined with my general running around the parish campus averages my daily steps somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 steps every day. That’s about 6 to 9 miles a day of running around.
I also have found that when on the occasions when my calendar allowed me to walk to work, this was a great time to enjoy the air and say my prayers; all the while my body was appreciating the movement and Mother Earth was appreciating my not riding my motorcycle or driving my truck.
Daily walks (not runs or power walks, just walks) with my bride have been a great opportunity to chat and review the day, make plans, and, in general, share the journey. It has been a profound way to share our partnership and at the same time do something good for our physical well-being.
The other thing that Susan and I have been doing for our physical well-being is paying attention to what we eat and when. We have not bought diet food, or counted calories, or followed a diet plan. If we go out, we look at the caloric count (we are grateful that chain restaurants are now publishing their nutritional information) and we make an informed choice. We are simply paying attention. We generally know how many calories we should eat per day, and make choices based on that knowledge.
The other change we have made is to eat when we need to eat rather than when we are hungry. It is amazing to recognize how much less food we NEED to eat as opposed to how much food we may want to eat. This has been a bit of a spiritual journey for me. Formerly, when I was hungry, I simply ate something. Now, paying attention to my energy level and the physical needs of my body has helped me to determine do I need to eat or do I want to eat. If the latter, I tell myself to wait until I need to. And while I wait, in that moment of recognition, I say a prayer for the millions of people who inhabit this globe with me that NEED to eat right then, but can’t for lack of food. It has been a profound way to help adjust my thinking about what I need and what I want around food.
So, what’s the bottom line? What have these daily steps and paying attention to food done for us? In the eight weeks that we have been walking and paying attention to what we eat:
• My blood pressure has returned to normal levels, something that has not happened since I developed hypertension like everyone in my family of origin does in their 40s.
• We have seen the community we live in with whole new eyes as we stroll through it.
• My bride and I have had daily time to just focus on each other and the world around us.
• Energy and ease of movement have exponentially been increased in our bodies.
• I have become more aware of what my body needs rather than what it wants.
• And of this writing, I have shed 17 lbs. of excess weight.
So for us, the un-diet and un-exercise routine is transforming our lives and we invite you to simply pay attention to what you eat (and when) and go for a walk!
Are you inspired by Mark’s story?
Check out this CREDO resource for an individual, partner or group walking program:
Walk and Be Well — A Four Week Walking Program developed for you by CREDO*
Jesus spent much of his ministry walking. From town to town across Galilee, Samaria, and Judea, he walked and talked, in the company of his disciples, his followers and God.
CREDO’s Walk and Be Well offers a way to follow Jesus both in words and action, with a walking program attuned to both body and soul. The Walk and Be Well reflections in both text and audio are brief guideposts to help you begin your daily walk with one of three CREDO writers: Jackie Cameron, Elizabeth Moosbrugger, or Bill Watson. Reflections can be downloaded as podcasts, streamed from the CREDO website, and printed as pdfs; use them while walking solely or share them with your walking partner or group.
Click here for information on the program and links to podcast downloads or join the walking group on facebook: http://episcopalcredo.org/wellness/health-resources/walk/.
*CREDO is a wellness program of CPG
23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health? Walk for 30mins!
Woman with dogs: By Peter van der Sluijs (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Walking image: Author Cme, walking in Swiss / Caminando en Suiza, (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Caminando_-_Walking_-_en_Suiza_-_13082006(006).jpg)
Beach walk: By Giorgio Minguzzi, iz4aks, Taken on November 17, 2012, Porto Corsin, Emilia Romagna, IT (http://www.flickr.com/photos/iz4aks/8196054751/)