by Father Mark Goldasich
A few weeks ago, someone posted a picture of a baptism on Facebook. The first thing that I noticed was the priest: He was a bit chunky, his shape like that of a cookie jar.
When I looked closely at the parents, I realized that I knew them. I also recognized the church. And it turns out that the chunky, “cookie jar” priest was — gulp — me! I became aware of two things at that point: 1) I definitely “filled out” the vestment I was wearing; and 2) If I keep going along as I am, I’ll soon have to buy my clothes at Topeka Tent and Awning.
Still denying what my eyes were seeing, I pulled out a scale, blew the dust off of the top of it and climbed on. As the numbers spun by, I was grateful that I didn’t have a talking scale. It would have no doubt said something like, “One at a time please!”
Also on Facebook recently was a picture of a parishioner smiling broadly because he’d just finished his first 5K. I immediately sent him the following note: “Congratulations! In another few months, I will have accumulated enough distance for a 5K. I started counting the distance when I was a junior in high school! I’m impressed that you did it all at once!”
These two incidents — the “unguarded” photo of me, and that parishioner doing a 5K — reminded me of this little story:
Though skeptical of his teenage son’s newfound determination to build muscles, a father followed his teen to a store’s weight-lifting department, where they admired a set of weights.
“Please, Dad,” pleaded the son, “buy these for me! I promise I’ll use ‘em every day.”
“I don’t know, Jimmy. It’s really a commitment on your part,” said the father.
“They’re not cheap,” said the father.
“I’ll really use ‘em, Dad, I promise,” said the teen. “You’ll see!”
Finally won over, the father paid for the weights and headed for the door. After just a few steps, he heard his son whine behind him, “What? You mean I’ve got to carry them to the car?!?” (Found in “1001 Illustrations That Connect,” by Craig Brian Larson and Phyllis Ten Elshof, general editors.)
Uh-oh! I resemble that kid in the story. I really like the idea of exercise; it’s the reality of it that I’m not so thrilled about. But that is starting to change . . . ever so slowly.
I can thank Pope Francis and his new encyclical letter for that. I’ve found it particularly challenging to my status quo. You probably know at least its title: “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” The pope’s words on caring for our planet certainly hit home, but I also began to think about another, much-closer “home”: my body. How well and lovingly do I take care of it? It, too, is a gift from God that I’m called to be a good steward of. Sadly, I’ve had to admit that I’ve taken this body for granted and not really treated it with the respect that it deserves.
I know that many people struggle with their weight for a variety of reasons, often related to medical conditions, mobility struggles or genetics. I don’t have those issues. My problem is I’ve just gotten lazy.
With that in mind, I decided to change things. First, I went online to open an account on MyFitnessPal, which allows me to track everything that I eat in the course of a day. Then, I bought a Fitbit Charge, which tracks the number of steps I take each day. Both of those things have opened my eyes and made me aware that I underestimate the number of calories that I consume each day and overestimate the amount of physical activity I get.
With knowledge, though, comes power — the power to change. I’ve become much more aware of what — and how much — I eat. I’ve started to choose more fruits and vegetables and fewer chips. I’m parking father and father from the door when I go to work
or to shop, to get in as many extra steps as I can. And while I don’t have any plans (or desire) to do a 5K, I’m determined to work at getting those 10,000 steps most days. (I’m at half that goal right now.)
It’s high time that I refurbish this home, my body, so that it can be fit — and not fat — for the King. Laudato Si’, Praise be!