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On the Way to the Kingdom: My fat temple

Marjorie Campbell

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”  1 Corinthians 6:19

Events in December conspired against me.  I got off the scale at my annual physical, my mouth hanging open in amazement.  “I’m so sorry I weigh so much,” I mumbled to my doctor who gave me a gentle, warm pat on the shoulder, much like a teacher accompanying a miscreant to the principal’s office.

“This happens, dear,” she murmured quietly, as if her staff was not listening, amused, “particularly around this time of life,” she added with the empathy of a fellow 50-year-old menopausal woman.

“But, wow,” I began, unable to find words to match the pounds measured out,  “I mean, wow.” I was too embarrassed to say what I was actually thinking, that the last time I had tipped the scales that far, I was eight months pregnant.

If my physical was not enough to motivate a change in consumption, my husband’s sudden preoccupation with his own weight, which made body weight the focus of every morsel of food and conversation, annoyed me into action.

“How many calories do you think that was?” Bill would chirp, as if discussing a winning baseball score or favorable stock price. He’d become the Count Dracula of Calories.

“Honey, you ate five raisins,” I sighed with exhaustion.  “I don’t know if there are any calories in 5 raisins and why would you count them anyway?” 

He replied with an irritating enthusiasm. “Oh no, I am tracking everything I eat right here in my Food Intake application,” Bill proclaimed, as he poked away on his I-phone, triumphantly locating a per raisin calorie count. His happy dedication to counting calories had quickly become consuming; and the reality that I ought to be counting along too triggered fantasies of heaving his I-phone out the window.

Yet I knew he was doing the right thing.  Over our years together, he’d led me reluctantly down other paths of improvement. For example, during a prolonged period of miserable communication, we’d spent considerable time working on spiritual development and tending the sacrament of our marriage with purpose and care. The exercise, the discipline, had born spiritual fruit for us beyond our imagination and understanding. It had taught me to trust in “right behavior” and embrace that behavior with confidence. 

Now, it was abundantly apparent that our temples of the Holy Ghost suffered deferred maintenance and needed overdue attention and reverence. For me, I targeted nutrition and exercise, not weight loss which I initially found too overwhelming. Like my spiritual work, I decided to take small steady steps toward a healthier body, convinced that I needed new habits, not a quick fix. Using an online program MyFoodDiary.com, l immediately learned that I had a seriously bad diet, deficient in calcium, iron and fiber as starters. Not surprisingly, I had fat to spare. The program I used evaluated my daily intake against my daily needs and provided a daily report which guided an interesting and educational discovery of healthier consumption.

“Did you know, Bill,” I asked happily as he entered the door one night from work, “that lobster has no cholesterol?” We proceeded to dine on lobster tails I’d found on sale and then compared the nutritional information from our respective programs. We began to have fun at this, but tried mercifully to spare our friends our obnoxious nutritional sparring. 

Just as I got comfortable with a new regime of consumption, Bill raised the stakes.  “Honey, you need to add resistance training or you are going to lose muscle mass,” he encouraged with glee one evening.  “It’s just a fact, dear. We are getting old and holding onto muscle mass requires discipline.”

“Give me patience, God,” I prayed silently to myself, ruefully pondering whether muscle mass and weight loss might not conflict in some dreadful, potentially fatal way.  But, again, Bill proved to be correct and I added simple floor exercises to my other exercise – that my fat temple might not lose what muscle mass it had left.

We continue to help each other, in ways that encourage, annoy and, often, entertain. Last weekend, I caught Bill at a naughty game. He “taxed” our son’s glazed donut by taking a large man-sized bite.  “How many calories is that, dear?” I asked impishly enjoying the moment.

“Oh,” he gazed innocently at me, “taxes don’t count.  If it’s a bite of someone else’s food, you don’t have to log it.” 

I broke out laughing – he was busted!

We both have achieved some weight loss.  But, more, we have developed an awareness and a focus of taking care of the aging bodies God gave us with this blessing of life – his fat temple and mine.

Topics: Health , Personal Growth , Relationships

Marjorie Murphy Campbell, J.D. LL.M.  An inaugural speaker for California Catholic Women’s Forum on True Feminism for Real Women, Marjorie has 15 years experience as a radical feminist followed by a reversion into the Roman Catholic Church.   She practiced criminal and bankruptcy litigation;  published as a law professor and, now, Catholic writer; raised a family and appears as a speaker on social issues from the perspective of New Feminism.  She has blogged with Deal Hudson and has written for www.InsideCatholic.com, now Crisis online, which compiled her humor columns in a volume On The Way to the Kingdom, with an Introduction by Teresa Tomeo.  She currently writes for Catholic Womanhood at Catholic News Agency and is completing her Canon Law degree at Catholic University of America. 

View all articles by Marjorie Campbell

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April 20, 2014

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Lk 24:13-35

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