Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Mental Potpourri

Today's Word:
Acts 12:24 - 13:5 (Paul and Barnabas are commissioned for the first missionary 'tour of duty')
Psalm 67:2-8 (May all the peoples praise you, O God)
John 12:44-50 ("I came into the world as light")

At this juncture in the season, things seem to be settling down to a pattern of relative normalcy everywhere. That would lead me into studying what is going on elsewhere in the world; but as what is discovered there amounts to so much falling over each other in dealing with our endless self-indulgences - everything from the H1N1 (don't call it 'swine') flu virus to the suburban woman who killed a motorcyclist she didn't see soon enough because she was painting her fingernails while driving - I will look for something on the path less traveled.

As people who are trying to lose weight for better health, my wife and I are fans of TV's The Biggest Loser. The most recent episode has the four remaining contestants returning home for 30 days to get reacquainted with the lifestyles they left behind for the previous seventeen weeks at a...fat farm. (I'm not going to mince words; it's the first term that came to mind. Call it a fitness boot camp if you prefer.)

The Final Four all head for home boasting of the new lease on life they've been given, only to realize in less than three days that weight loss alone will not keep you on the road to optimum health. They're already aware that there is one last weigh-in at the end of the thirty days; now they see the reminders of what they left behind: the fast-food parlors on every other corner, people who don't appear to either diet or exercise and seem perfectly healthy. To top it off, they learn that they will run a full 26.2-mile marathon as their final challenge. They're stressing-out - and I've come to understand that stress will upset your metabolic balances enough to slow, stop, and even reverse weight loss if it isn't dealt with soon enough.

Trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper travel to the contestants' homes to check on them, but also to remind them - perhaps for the first time all season - that there's another dimension to this besides a proper diet and physical activity. Because The Biggest Loser is a commercial reality contest, this dimension is quickly eclipsed by reminders of the game and the prize for which the contestants are vying.

I want to touch on the idea of the 'whole' person for a minute.

We as Christians think of ourselves - perhaps too much - as 'broken.' The state of life around us certainly provides proof of brokenness. Having said that, though, isn't one of the reasons for Jesus' living among us, and the whole of his passion, death, and resurrection - isn't all this designed to make us whole?

Paul of Tarsus, who we're told today is setting forth on the first of his missionary journeys, will later write to one of the communities in which he preaches that "your body is a (T)emple of the Holy Spirit." Most modern-day preachers will take this and apply it in terms of sexual awareness; but there are a few who, like me, also see this symbolism as a reminder to be careful of what you put in your body, how you nourish it and care for it.

Today I attended a health care seminar on managing stress. Again, nobody in the health care industry can seem to mention it directly, but a wholistic approach to coping with stress includes your faith and spiritual beliefs. While it is true that too much emphasis in this area can lead to potential trouble, the lack of it will lead to trouble.

One more observation.

A look at Wikipedia's online almanac shows that May 6 (today) is "International No Diet Day." How curious.

The International No Diet Day (INDD) is an annual celebration of body acceptance and body shape diversity. This day is also dedicated to raise awareness of the dangers in diets. This day is observed on May 6, and its symbol is a blue ribbon, similar to the red ribbon of the World AIDS Day.

The concept of INDD originated at 1992, when British Feminist Mary Evans Young decided to fight the diet industry and to raise awareness of the dangers in anorexia and other eating disorders. In order to do that, Evans Young addressed the local media saying "Fat Woman Bites Back". When she was interviewed on television, she "reminded" the audience to celebrate the International No Diet Day on May 6. This specific date had no specific reason other than its proximity to the television interview.

There are several goals to the INDD:

* Doubt the idea of one "right" body shape.
* Raise awareness to weight discrimination, size bias and fatphobia.
* Declare a free day from diets and obsessions to body weight.
* Present the facts about the diet industry, emphasizing the inefficacy of commercial diets.
* Show how diets perpetuates violence against women.
* Honor the victims of eating disorders and weight-loss surgeries.

If memory serves correctly, I believe it was Shakespeare who wrote, "To thine own self be true." I'd like to amend that to read, "To God and to thine own self be true." That makes lots of sense. Common sense; something that every now and then seems lacking.

Taking a holistic approach is virtuous; by that I mean that it encompasses the virtues of faith, hope, and love. I've come to understand that chasing after every new thing is not necessarily holistic. And I'm thankful that I have a great support system (both human and divine); I owe my very survival to having it in place.

I hope that somewhere along the way, I've managed to be the same sort of human aspect of that support system to others.

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