Losing Weight

A Spiritual Approach to a Healthy Body

Written By Renée Miller

Two of heaven's greatest gifts are our bodies and the food that nourishes them.  The body is nothing less than a miracle.  It thinks, feels and moves. Unlike all our amazing technological gadgets, it runs without external plugs or rechargeable batteries. No cords to haul around or gather dust under a desk.  With a heart and nerves, blood and muscle, sinew and bone, our astonishing bodies carry us through the journey of a human life.  Mostly, their requirements are simple: proper nourishment, movement, and rest.  

The gift of food not only serves to provide us with nourishment, but also plays a role in feeding the hunger in our souls. Food gives us a way to experience much of the natural world. It helps us celebrate, it helps us think, it helps us find enjoyment.  The textures, shapes, colors, smells and tastes of well-prepared food infuse the soul with anticipation before the first bite, and satisfaction as we relish the food before us.

Yet, food is also a problem. We consume too much of it in the Western world and have become a population plagued by obesity, while the developing world is still stricken by hunger. We often reduce eating to a mindless response to designated mealtimes,  to boredom, or because we are depressed,  lonely or lacking comfort. We eat out not because we want to share a meal with others, but rather because we feel too tired or stressed to prepare food at home. And as our food becomes less wholesome, we find our bodies laboring to perform natural processes.  Movement and digestion are inhibited, our clothes become ill-fitting, and bodily ailments and illness abound. Both extremes—lack and overabundance—threaten our bodies' well-being.

If a group of people were surveyed about their number 1 goal for the new year, an overwhelming number would say, “Lose weight and get in shape.” Yet, even with all the aids available to assist us in dieting and exercise, we still find losing weight and getting fit an incredibly difficult goal to achieve.  Perhaps, we have misunderstood the problem. Perhaps, it's not about losing weight as much as it is becoming well.  It's not so much about not eating, as it is eating with mindfulness. It's not so much about physical weight as psychic and spiritual weight. It may be that the hunger that really longs to be met is the hunger to discover again the wonder of our bodies, the reality of our soul, and the beauty and true taste of food.  

Practice: To experiment with your hungers, try these three tips:

1) When your body feels hungry, don't immediately fill it with food.  Feel the feeling of hunger and in the midst of the hunger offer a prayer of desire to God.

2) When your soul feels hungry, notice the emptiness that gnaws inside, and offer a prayer of expectation to God.

3) When you are ready to stuff food mindlessly into your mouth, stop and imagine the most wondrous food you would want to eat.  Let your mind photograph it for you, and offer a prayer of gratitude to God for it.